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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > The Essential Doctor Who: Adventures in History > Past Lives

Past Lives

For Anneke Wills, The Smugglers and The Highlanders are two highlights of her time co-starring in Doctor Who. And she’s delighted that Polly’s adventures in history still continue today.
Polly (Anneke Wills) cradles the unconscious Ben (Michael Craze), watched by the innkeeper Jacob Kewper (David Blake Kelly) and the Squire (Paul Whitsun-Jones) in Episode 1 of The Smugglers (1966).

Patrick, Mike and I loved doing the historical stories,” says Anneke Wills, remembering her Doctor Who co-stars Patrick Troughton and Michael Craze with affection. “As actors, I think it’s much more interesting to ‘do’ history. Patrick absolutely adored doing the historical ones. It was such fun for him, dressing up and using outrageous accents.”

The regular cast’s enjoyment of monster-free adventures was short-lived. In late 1966 and early 1967, Doctor Who was undergoing momentous changes as William Hartnell, the show’s leading man, was replaced by Patrick Troughton. The cast wasn’t the only thing that was transformed. “As far as I can remember,” says Anneke, “they dropped the historicals because Doctor Who was considered by the high-ups at the BBC to be science-fiction: that’s what they wanted and that’s what they thought the audience wanted. Especially with Pat coming in new, they stuck to what worked – when in doubt, give him the Daleks.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

“History sometimes gives us a terrible shock, and that is because we don’t quite fully understand... We’re all too small to realise its final pattern.” Doctor Who’s first journey in 1963 took viewers back to the Stone Age. Since then the TARDIS has visited many other landmarks in a unique chronicle of the Doctor’s favourite planet. Purely historical stories were once a mainstay of the series, but for more than 50 years significant periods in Earth’s past have provided evocative settings for more fantastical adventures. This unprecedented guide takes a trip back in time with the people, places and classic episodes that are essential parts of Doctor Who history.