10x10 - Roger Delgado - The Master

Episode transcripts for the TV show, "Doctor Who Documentary".
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10x10 - Roger Delgado - The Master

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NARRATOR: Roger Caesar Marius de Delgado Torres Castillo de Roberto, better known by his stage name of Roger Delgado, was born in Whitechapel, on the 1st of March, 1918.

With continental parents, Matilda and Roger Delgado Sr.

, the younger Delgado was an only child.

Formative years spent venturing between various European countries, often visiting relatives, made him a very travelled youth with command of several languages.

KISMET MARLOWE: His mother was French and his father was Spanish.

Oh, they were beautiful.

I don't mean to look at, necessarily.

His father was a good-looking man.

And his mother had, what I would call, a very French face.

It was odd but she had a lovely, daft sense of humour.

NARRATOR: After Roger settled in England, his parents moved to the Canary Islands.

Nevertheless, keeping in close contact with their son, and also, following their marriage in 1956, with his wife, Kismet.

We got on so well.

I couldn't believe it.

I thought perhaps she'd dislike me or something, you know.

But it wasn't the case.

So, we used to go out to see her as often as we could.

Her and him, of course.

NARRATOR: Schooled at Cardinal Vaughn Memorial, with a further education at the London School of Economics, Roger then joined a bank for 18 months.

However, having developed an interest in acting, he eventually joined the Nelson Repertory Company in Leicester, making his debut in You Can't Take It With You.

The outbreak of World w*r II temporarily interrupted this path.

He was accepted into The Royal Leicester Regiment, after initially being turned down due to his mixed parentage, and saw active service, finally ending up in The Royal Signals in India.

He worked with Mountbatten, at a time, for some time, about six months.

NARRATOR: At the end of the w*r, Roger returned to acting at York Rep, spending three years there, honing his craft.

York and Scarborough used to do a fortnightly rep so that you It would The show would play, say at York, and then move to Scarborough, like a little tour.

A new one would be put on in Scarborough which would then go to York.

So there were two companies alternating.

NARRATOR: In 1949, Roger Delgado spent a season at the Midland Theatre Company playing notable roles, such as Mr Hartley in Guinea Pig.

Sir Robert Morton in Winslow Boy and Shylock, in The Merchant of Venice.

However, with the booming radio industry and with television gradually building up steam, a move to the new media was beckoning.

Writing to producers at the BBC, he requested an interview, and, by 1950, had joined the BBC Repertory Company.

He liked the BBC and they seemed to like him.

Not just because he very often looked like the part.

NARRATOR: The next year, Roger made his radio debut.

He was one of the first actors to read the Ashington stories, Somerset Maugham stories, they were spy stories.

And he was brilliant, he was absolutely brilliant.

I remember, I used to rush home so I wouldn't miss the episode.

NARRATOR: He would maintain his association with this medium even after moving in to film and television work, including the memorable 1966 drama, The Slide.

ROGER DELGADO: The overflow of this substance, which we have come to think of as mud, I must tell you now, I firmly believe, to be a dangerous thr*at to us all.

(PEOPLE CLAMOURING) This mud, ladies and gentlemen, is a k*ll.

NARRATOR: He made his first appearance on television in 1952's Operation Diplomat, and became a regular contributor for BBC producers, such as, Rudolph Cartier, Shaun Sutton, Rex Tucker and Alvin Rakoff.

In 1954, Roger played Athos, in The Three Musketeers, alongside Paul Whitsun-Jones.

The following year, Cartier cast him in a brief but memorable role, in Quatermass II.

The things come in what appear to be meteorites.

Contact with them produces violent infection.

(PANTING) Ten minutes ago, I became the victim of one.

I I don't think, I can't I can't Are you getting this?
Subjugation to the intention of the thing is widespread.

NARRATOR: Cartier also employed Roger in The Cold Light, an apocalyptic play from 1956.

And why do we always have to lose, Jean-Marie?
It's very simple, my lovely-precious, because we don't concentrate, eh.

What do you mean we don't concentrate?
Well, instead of watching the ball you're watching me to make sure that I'm watching you, which naturally I am.

It's very nice but it's not tennis, yes?
All right, but I want to win at tennis, too.

Oh, my lovely-precious, vous etes admirable.

NARRATOR: Shaun Sutton, now an almost legendary figure in the BBC, would play a pivotal role in Delgado's life.

Shaun Sutton, I knew him.

And he said, "Would you like to play a tiny part in one of the shows, Kismet?
" So I said, "Whoo! Yes.

" (LAUGHING) I was a model at the time, you know, on the catwalk.

And, so I went along and had lunch with him and around the table was Roger and there were about eight of us, altogether.

And we got to know each other.

He was quite a deal older than I was.

Thirteen years older.

Wejust got on.

On, practically, every matter, we hardly ever quarrelled.

He had a lunatic sense of humour.

He used to write.

He wrote one or two plays.

He used to draw, he was very good at drawing.

Much better than I was.

I worked with Roger Delgado three times, on Huntingtowerby John Buchan, The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier and the Queen's Champion by Shaun Sutton.

And I mention Shaun Sutton because Roger and I, along with Paul Whitsun-Jones and Nigel Arkwright and Barry Letts, we were, sort of, part of the Shaun Sutton Repertory Company.

He'd been the producer and director at two repertory companies.

Buxton was the one where he'd worked mostly.

(CLEARING THROAT) And if you'd done that, you get to like the idea of having a company.

And without Shaun, we'd have starved.

KISMET: And for some reason, he took a liking to Roger.

(CHUCKLING) And then when he met me, he took a liking to me.

Used to invite him back to our house for food, and his wife, of course.

She was a lovely lass.

LETTS: In a production of an Arabian Nights story calledThe Three Princes, Roger played one of the other three princes.

And very, very good he looked, too, and very good he was in performing an Arabian Nights Prince, as you can imagine, with his face.

The Queen's Champion, funny enough, Roger and Barry Letts, who went on to direct, produce and whatever Doctor Who, they had a swordfight, because Roger Delgado was playing this Spanish don with the beard.

Looked typically Spanish.

Elizabethan, is set in Elizabethan times.

LETTS: I was trying to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I and he was a Spaniard who was part of her court.

He was a goody.

And he eventually ran a rapier through me um, in the sea at Hastings, St Leonards.

NARRATOR: Roger also worked extensively for other companies, including Manuela, for Ivan Foxwell Productions.

The Coward for Intel Films, starring alongside Patrick McGoohan.

And Sea Fury for S.

Benjamin Fisz Productions.

He would also play a memorable role for Rank, in The Singer Not The Song.

Back at the BBC, in 1960, Roger appeared opposite Patrick Troughton in two productions.

Firstly, he appeared in The Splendid Spur episode, Joan of the Tor.

The King's messenger said that the Earl of Stamford is coming up with a big army to meet Ruthvin at Braddock Down The devil he is.

Tell him that's why Ruthvin ventured from Plymouth last night.

Now, General, what action do we take?
If we attack Ruthvin here, and defeat him, before Stamford can reach him.

-We'll attack this very day.

-Good.

NARRATOR: Later that year, Delgado and Troughton appeared in the fondly remembered biblical epic, Paul of Tarsus.

Had to round him out of the city, we did in our town.

But in other places, he's been getting quite a following.

Who cares what following he has among the Gentiles.

May he perish in ignorance with them.

But to defile the temple (EXCLAIMING) Children of Abraham, do you hear?
He has taken heathens into the house of God.

The house of God is defiled.

(PEOPLE SHOUTING) NARRATOR: That same year, Roger worked again for Shaun Sutton in The Long Way Home, a production which also featured future Doctor Who producer Barry Letts in the leading role.

He was a Gestapo agent who was chasing me all over occupied France.

How did you get this far?
We know the Resistance helped you.

Nobody helped us.

-Give us their names.

-We came on our own.

Very well, we're in no hurry.

You won't be able to tell us fast enough when we really get to work on you.

NARRATOR: The BBC's popular Maigret series also cast Delgado twice within the space of 18 months.

I'm sorry, Fouche, but there's nothing I can do.

If you will take no action, Mr Duvet, I shall appeal, I shall appeal to the ministry.

And be told that you're lucky to have the advice of a man like me.

Advice?
Do you realise he's making enquiries about me, and about you and about Rivaux?
I don't see how you can stop him.

Don't you?
There are more ways than one of putting an end to such interference.

NARRATOR: The second episode, directed by Rudolph Cartier featured Roger, playing the seemingly innocuous Pepito.

But, by this time, the actor had already found himself falling into a certain type of role, the villain.

(WOMAN SCREAMING) He was always cast as the villain because I think he had a European look um, so he didn't look like the suave Englishman.

He also could have been leading-man material, but I think he was very, very convincing as somebody who could be evil.

You know, it was the look of evil.

He was slightly pointy.

DICKS: He looks incredibly sinister, you see?
He doesn't act sinister.

Socially, he's perfectly nice, but the minute he starts working, you know, I mean, when he starts acting, as it were, you know.

And he's got these burning eyes.

Without even trying to do anything, Roger could just stand there and go whoof! And he had a sort of a power about him.

And you looked into his face and those wonderfully warm, glowing eyes went (TOWB EXHALING) They went cold on you.

He had the most extraordinary eyes.

They were hypnotic.

He always did that brilliant thing of looking as if he had a secret.

That he knew something that other people didn't know.

So he was very, very, you know, convincing as your archetypal villain.

But he brought something else to it, which was intelligence.

WILLIAM GAUNT: He was happy to play featured cameo roles in movies and in television.

He had, as I remember, very black and penetrating eyes.

And he developed and carved out a beard for himself, I remember, which was rather, a sort of goatee shape, with dark, sort of slightly saturnine around here.

I've played a lot of parts, in my time, where I've got to be scared, you know, out of my wits.

And there were only two actors I ever worked with, where I didn't have to act.

(LAUGHING) They scared the living daylights out of me.

And one was George C.

Scott and the other was Roger.

Because he was such a nice, good person, he could play villains wholeheartedly.

Whereas people who've got a dark side of their own, can't go for it a 100 percent because they're afraid of giving themselves away.

Roger hadn't got anything to give away, so he could do a 100 percent nasty.

NARRATOR: Despite his reputation for playing the bad guy, Delgado did make appearances in some lighter shows, showing his talent for performing comedy.

In 1963, he appeared in an episode of Comedy Playhouse, written by Galton and Simpson.

What is your name?
(BREATHING HEAVILY) Name?
Lawrence, Colonel Lawrence.

Lawrence! He has come back! (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) We must humour him.

You are safe, my friend.

You are in the tent of Omar Abdullah.

The hospitality of my tribe is at your disposal.

(BREATHING HEAVILY) Thank you.

When he was cast as someone nice, he was absolutely staggered.

(LAUGHING) NARRATOR: In 1968, Delgado again showed his comedy skills playing opposite Harry Worth, in James Bond, Where Are You?
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) What have you got in here?
A bacon sandwich.

NARRATOR: Aside from the occasional venture into comedy, Delgado also worked on several documentaries during his career.

In 1966, he was one of a number of actors to provide dialogue for Chronicle - London's Burning, the story of The Great Fire.

HUMPHRY: I, Humphry Smith, of a people called Quakers, lying in Winchester jail, in the year 1660 say, as for the city herself, and her suburbs, the fire would kindle therein, and the burning thereof was exceeding great, and the fire searched out all the hidden places, and the vision thereof remained with me, as a thing that was shown me of the Lord.

He was desperately interested in it all.

All the books we had at home, there were The place was practically filled with books, and a lot of them were to do with history.

NARRATOR: Some four years later, Delgado appeared in vision to presentThe Missing Centuries.

Here was the innocence of childhood being celebrated, long before Iva Blake or Wordsworth did it.

"How like an angel, came I down.

"How bright are all things here.

"When first among his works, I did appear.

"Oh, how their glory me did crown.

" NARRATOR: In the early '60s, Roger had found a certain amount of recognition playing Mendoza, in ITC's Sir Francis Drake and had also appeared in The Avengers.

THORSON: The episode that Roger was in was called Stay Tuned, playing a character called Kreer.

Patrick had worked with him before and seemed to know him very well and really was thrilled that he was doing another episode.

During that period, in the 1960s, late '60s, there were several television series being made, The Avengers, The Prisoner.

But I think in that same year he also did an episode of Randall and Hopkirk.

And he also did an episode of The Champions.

So, he was a rather familiar face around Elstree Studios, where they were all sh*t at that time.

In The Champions, he played a besuited Arab He was so sweet, and he was, kind of, like, a very old-fashioned guy, you know, extremely polite and almost In fact, I think he did kiss my hand.

He struck me as a very urbane man, very bright, very intelligent, uh, aware that his looks, because of his Mediterranean background, uh, would channel him into a certain area or parts.

And he was also very, very interesting.

He knew lots and lots about things, if you could ask him about things.

And he'd travelled widely.

There weren't very many actors who could play ethnic roles suitably, and with as much dignity and strength as Roger could.

The thing that Roger liked to do was rehearse.

And a lot of actors who came on the show just came in to sh**t their scenes.

But he had gone to Patrick and said, you know, "I'd like to rehearse the scenes to get them.

" I think his reputation, mainly, was for clarity and professionalism.

NARRATOR: Despite some 20 years performing roles in theatre, radio, television and film, Delgado's most recognisable role arrived in the early '70s, as a new, recurring character, in Doctor Who.

We always liked to have some sort of gimmick to start a new season, you know, something different.

And we were having one of our many conferences in the BBC bar, Barry and I.

The relationship between the Doctor and the Brigadier had become very like the Sherlock Holmes-Doctor Watson relationship.

I think I remember I said, "What he needs is a Moriarty.

" Again, it became obvious, we wanted another Time Lord, a really renegade Time Lord who was a villain.

Perhaps somebody he'd been friends with but who'd gone to the dark side.

In that same moment, I said, "And I know exactly the person to play him.

"And that's Roger Delgado.

" It was the next day that Terrance came in and said, (CHUCKLES) and I've got the perfect name for him, he's the Master.

And so nobody else was ever considered for a moment, for playing the Master, the first Master.

It was always going to be Roger.

Of all the villains I'd ever worked with when I'd been an actor and a director, he was the best and also absolutely suitable for the Master.

Who the heck are you?
Well?
I am usually referred to as the Master.

Oh, is that so?
-Universally.

-Mmm.

Well, I am Luigi Rossini, internationally.

And conjurers I don't need, okay?
Unfortunately, I need you, Lew Russell.

Get off my pitch while you're still safe.

Why, you insolent primitive.

Oh, so you want it the hard way, do you, right?
(GROANING) He just loved it.

He really did.

He thrived on it.

That he was really brilliant as the Master and that's what he is most remembered for.

Say, I will probably be most remembered for Tara King from The Avengers.

I think he was a terrific foil for the Doctor, because he too, was very serious.

He never camped it up or did anything like that.

He took it deeply seriously.

TOWB: He had very warm, brown eyes.

And very friendly.

Well, the light disappeared from them.

I think he was sensationally good, because he believed in it whole-heartedly, which is important.

The answer, Doctor, is this.

The tracking mechanism was in the light accelerator.

Yes.

Now this will compensate for the deficiencies in your dematerialisation circuit.

And with a little ingenuity, I may be able to join one to the other, but, it'll take time.

Roger was a very gentle person.

He was so unlike the Master, that you can't imagine.

He was charming and courteous and pleasant, never any trouble.

Never any difficulty Once you met Roger, you never forgot him.

He was, dare I say, incredibly good-looking.

He hadn't a nasty cell in his body.

Everybody liked him, that I know of.

And he never seemed to quarrel with anybody.

If you walked into a studio and Roger was there, um, he was a sort of a plus for the day because he was a very friendly guy.

MANNING: He was just beautiful.

He was the most extraordinary man.

He was the kindest, funniest, sweetest man.

And you know what good friends people are, when you find that you want to be with him beyond a working day, which is every day.

It was always a friendly environment.

I mean, Jon made this possible, 'cause he loved to joke around.

MARLOWE: I knew Jon before I knew Roger.

Because, the girl across the road, when I lived in Brighton, was his Although she was married, she was Jon's friend, shall we say.

(LAUGHING) And it was through her that I met Jon Pertwee.

He was very sweet, he really was.

HAYMAN: I think there was a degree of rivalry between him and Jon.

But that is reasonable.

I mean, if you have two dominant, leading men there's going to be, isn't there?
But in between takes, it was a lot of mickey taking and practical jokes and things.

And Roger was no slouch, he could hold his own if you were sending him up.

We'd get a lightning riposte from him.

We socialised together.

And we used to have dinner with him and his wife.

Usually, there were about six or eight of us having dinner, and Jon was usually there.

And a lot of my growing up, a lot of the input into those very, very important years to me as an actress, came from Jon and Roger.

My actual mentors were these two men.

And they were as important as my own father.

And that meant so much to me because I lost my father.

And so, I had these two people, who supported me, who cared, and believed in me, as an actress.

NARRATOR: The final story of Delgado's first season was The Daemons, a serial that ranks as a favourite with both the production team and fans of the programme.

Why should I believe you?
Rationalistic existentialist priest indeed.

-Listen to me.

-You're a fool, sir.

If you won't help me, I must find someone who will! I had not worked with Delgado before, but I'd seen him act and I thought he Very powerful personality and I could see how some of these scenes would be, working with him.

Calling in covens and saying He was an extremely effective actor in that role.

When I first got to the hotel in Marlborough, where we were staying, Roger and his wife, Kismet, were there.

And we all had dinner together.

He liked the fine food bit.

I used to go with Roger, very often, 'cause he didn't like us to be apart.

I know that sounds a bit naff, but it's true.

We liked to be together most of the time.

BARRY: We managed to use the good villagers of Aldbourne, who were naturally wanting to watch the filming going on, on their green.

And this was a Sunday afternoon.

And when he was led away, they wanted to cheer.

(CHUCKLING) But, in fact, we were rather more anxious that they should boo.

Like that, is it?
He and the Doctor had to have a sword f*ght.

Now, he was very good with the sword.

He'd done a lot of, you know, wicked villains and pirate films.

He had trained and he was a proper fencer.

I think he'd won some awards.

And it was a sport that he enjoyed.

WARE: He'd had a lot of experience.

And Jon had, too.

Jon was an amazingly physical man.

So, I had two very good people there who would take instruction.

He had been injured in a car crash.

And he had bruised his chest very, very badly.

He couldn't do much fast action or jumping about.

So, I did the bulk of the f*ght, including, I think, flying over a table at one point.

You're good, Doctor, but you're not good enough.

Ah, but you haven't seen the quality of my footwork yet.

(MASTER SCREAMING) Jon always used to say that when they were doing The Sea Devils, Roger was absolutely terrified of, you know, being in the water and things where he might be drowning.

Roger's family, and I think, his wife have denied this, you know.

Jon liked to cast himself in the heroic role, you see.

And he might have been saying, "Well, I was fine," but poor old Roger was a mass of nerves, you know, so Maybe if that isn't true, the balance ought to be redressed, you know.

He wasn't in any way like the action man that Jon was.

You know, Roger would have done anything perfectly competently, you know, that was needed to be done, I'm sure.

We were so pleased with the character of the Master that we made him the villain in every story in his first season.

And that was just plain silly.

It's a very difficult problem because what we then started doing was having him pop up occasionally.

Now, this was fine for us and it worked very well.

It wasn't fine for Roger.

And he said, "Everybody thinks I'm a permanent member "of the Doctor Who team.

"And so I don't get offered other work," he said.

"And I'm not getting enough money to pay off my mortgage.

"And so I'll have to leave.

" And I said to him, "Do you want to just quietly not be used or", I said, "would you like to go out with a big bang?
" He said, "Oh, let's go Let's have a big bang.

" It never came to more than, sort of, general chat about a big, climactic story.

LETTS: The Doctor and the Master had been friends.

It was even a feeling, that we might even say that they had been brothers.

I think the idea we had was that the Master And there will be some huge menace.

The Master and the Doctor will be forced to work together.

And, in the end, the Master would die in circumstances where it's possible he might have sacrificed himself to save the Doctor, you know, we'd leave it a big ambiguous.

But maybe he couldn't bear, you know Maybe he did the noble thing as the very last thing in his life.

NARRATOR: Despite an apparent issue in getting regular work, Delgado did make a notable appearance in the BBC's adaptation ofThe Adventures of Don Quixote starring industry legend, Rex Harrison and Frank Finlay.

Ride off while you are still free to do so, foolish knight.

I ask you, in a kind and gentle manner, but deny me and beware my sword and the valour of my arm.

Put that basin back on your head and trouble us no more.

(DRAWING SWORD) (GASPING) DON QUIXOTE: Come on.

(DON QUIXOTE GRUNTING) I bring you freedom in the name of my lady, Dulcinea del Toboso.

(MEN GRUNTING) NARRATOR: With a strong finale for the Master in the offing, it looked likely that Roger Delgado was set to make his final appearance in Doctor Who at the end of the series' 11th season.

In the meantime, Delgado was offered a role on Bell of Tibet, a comedy, due to be filmed on location, in Turkey.

MARLOWE: I was in the garden, doing the garden up before he came back.

The front doorbell went, even though it was open all the time.

So, I just yelled, "Come in, come in!" And a policeman, which was at the end of our road.

Uh, this was a place called Teddington.

And he came in, he said, "Oh, Kismet, sit down in your chair.

" (CHUCKLING) I said, "What's the matter?
You're sounding like some silly film.

" He said, "Sit down in the chair.

" So I did, 'cause I could hear the sort of timbre in his voice.

He was going to tell me something curious.

He said, "I don't know how to tell you this.

" And then he went on to say Roger's died in Turkey.

And I can't remember exactly how I felt, but, when I talk about it now, it makes me feel most peculiar.

A young taxi driver, a young, hired-car driver, who tried to go too fast round a bend and went over an embankment and k*ll himself and Roger.

When we heard about that, we were absolutely devastated.

He was a very loved individual.

And for him suddenly to be taken away like that, in such a trivial way, so to speak, is awful, is awful.

It wasn't It wasn't acceptable in any way, you know.

It wasn't that he'd died in a Doing something brave or something like that.

It was just a plain, silly accident that shouldn't have happened.

MARLOWE: He said to me, "I'd like you to come but I think you better hadn't "because I'd be working long, long hours and I'd probably only see you, you know, "when it's time to get into bed to get up in the morning.

" So I didn't go and I wish I had 'cause then we'd, probably, both would have gone together.

Roger's death had a sort of shattering effect on the whole team, because it was so completely out of the blue, you know, so unexpected, I mean, particularly, I think, to Jon and Katy, you know.

I mean, they were genuinely shaken by it.

And we were all saddened because he was such a nice man.

It was in the paper and it was Well, it was on the news on that day.

And it was very People were very, very sad.

He was much loved.

LETTS: We were so sorry too, for Kismet, his wife, you know.

She was devastated, really devastated.

We went to his funeral, you know.

And she, as the coffin was going into the crematorium, through the little doors, she came forward and she said, "Goodbye, goodbye, my darling.

" And I Broke my heart.

Roger always gave the impression of being a very together person.

I'm sure that his life would have been a very tidy one, very organised.

THORSON: As a 20-year-old, you know, working with him, he gave me that, you know, that wonderful idea that it was an honourable profession.

LETTS: He wore desert boots all the time.

And I once asked him, 'cause I liked wearing desert boots too, how do you keep them so clean?
And he said, very easy, he said, "Put them under a tap "with a nail brush and you just scrub them.

" And so I started doing that too.

So my desert boots started being clean, just because of Roger.

MARLOWE: Wonderful man.

He did all the things I like to do.

Just a lovely, lovely man.

Stupendous.

I was so lucky to meet him.

I really was.

(EXHALING)
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