David Collings, an actor who appeared in many Doctor Who stories and spin-offs both on and off the screen, has died. He was 79.
David Collings was an actor that was recognizable to many fans of cult British TV shows of the twentieth century. His many, many credits included Blake’s 7, Sapphire and Steel and of course, Doctor Who.
If you’ve watched much of the Classic Series, you’ll likely have noticed that it had a habit of recasting actors in a variety of roles. Collings was one such actor, one who played three roles in the TV series: Vorus in Revenge of the Cybermen, Poul in The Robots of Death, and Mawdryn in Mawdryn Undead.
Out of these three roles, it’s his performance as Poul that stands out, due to the complexity of the character. Intelligent and highly observant, Poul is at first an ally to the Fourth Doctor and Leela. In fact, he’s the closest thing they even have to an ally, at first. But over the course of the story, he starts to have a breakdown due to his deep fear of robots, and eventually snaps. Collings’s performance of this complex character is one key reason why Poul was so memorable.
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Beyond the TV series
Like many other actors, David Collings’s association with Doctor Who didn’t simply end with the TV series. In 2002, he played Poul once more in the audio series Kaldor City by Magic Bullet Productions, this time going under the name of Paullus. It wouldn’t be the last time that he’d play the character.
In other audio series, he played the delightfully sinister villain Sanders in Series 2 of Jago & Litefoot, and was reunited with Tom Baker and Louise Jameson in the Fourth Doctor audio The King of Sontar, this time playing a new character called Rosato.
More than that, however: David Collings even once played the Doctor! Back in 2003, Big Finish Productions released Doctor Who Unbound – a series of audios exploring massive “what if” stories, featuring brand new Doctors. In the story featuring David Collings’s Doctor – Full Fathom Five – we were given a deliciously dark take on our hero, one who went further than any we’ve seen on TV. It’s a great story in its own right, and well worth a listen.
Interestingly, we’ve yet to hear his final performance. A short while ago, it was announced that the second volume of Doctor Who audio spin-off The Robots would feature Pamela Salem and David Collings, once again playing their roles of Toos and Poul from The Robots of Death. It feels strange knowing that one of Collings’s final performances was as one of his most memorable characters in Doctor Who.
David Collings died suddenly in the early hours of yesterday morning. He is survived by his wife and his children.