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Donald Houston (1923-1991)

  1. Charles Gray, The Legacy, 1977.  Failing to be Harry Liebnecht, immolated in Jimmy Sangster’s literal horror - with Hollywood leads, of course (Katharine Ross, Sam Elliott) in an English country house, of course - were the obviously much relieved Harry Andrews, Bernard Archard, Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, Patrick Troughton (the second Doctor Who, 1966-1969), Peter Vaughan. Plus two Donalds: Houston and Pleasence.  Gray was totally mis-cast. Better German accents would have from the also listed Peter Arne, Anton Diffring, Christopher Lee and Herbert Lom. Elliott (who wed Ross in 1984) warned the Associated Press: “I wouldn’t rush out to see it. It’s about 15 years behind its time.”
  2. Bill Fraser, Doctor Who #110: Meglos, TV, 1980.      Co-writer John Flanagan created General Grugger for Lee Marvin (!) - and was staggered when new producer John Nathan-Taylor chose Fraser, a sitcom clown. Akin to subbing Marvin with Phil Silvers. Some thought was also given to JN-T’s favourite Z Cars cops - Brian Blessed, James Ellis, Stratford Johns, Frank Windsor - and the Houston brothers, Donald and Glyn. Plus Harry Andrews, Bernard Archard, Peter Cushing, Ronald Fraser, Peter Gilmore, TP McKenna, Donald Pleasence, Leonard Sachs, George Sewell, Nigel Stock, John Stratton, Richard Todd and Peter Vaughan… very familiar names on Nathan-Taylor’s casting (dart) board throughout his eclectic and scandalous 80s’ reign .
  3. Emrys James, Doctor Who #112: State of Decay, TV, 1980.    There were 21 potential Aukons and all - except James - had been this way before, standing at the Whoverse portal, awaiting a callback. Houston, Peter Arne, Colin Baker, Steven Berkoff, John Carson, David Collings, Peter Gilmore, Michael Gothard, John Hallam, Martin Jarvis, Michael Jayston, Ronald Lacey, William Lucas, Ian McKellen, John Normington, Patrick Stewart, Anthony Valentine, Peter Vaughan, David Warner, Peter Wyngarde.
  4. George Baker, Doctor Who #111: Full Circle, TV, 1980.     The baker’s dozen actors up for Login were familiar names from 80s Whoverse casting. Houston, Baker, Joss Ackland, Brian Blessed, John Carson, James Ellis, Frank Finlay, Bernard Hepton, Jeremy Kemp, William Lucas, Alfred Lynch, McKenna, Edward Woodward. And they stayed listed until they became available. Some, like Houston, never did… Unlike his younger brother Glyn, aka Professor Watson in # 87: The Hand of Fear, 1976, and Colonel Wolsey in #131: The Awakening, 1984.
  5. Michael Robbins, Doctor Who #119: The Visitation, TV, 1982.     One of Doc5 Peter Davison’s three favourite tales, although Robbins hated his rôle as much as scenarist Eric Saward disliked the performance. Also up for Richard Mace were such Whoverse regulars as Bannen, John Carson, Frank Finlay, Ronald Fraser, Donald Houston, William Lucas, Glyn Owen and Donald Pleasence.
  6. Keith Barron, Doctor Who #127: Enlightenment, TV, 1983.    A strike struck many actors out as… wait for it… Captain Striker. After Peter Sallis withdrew because of his Last of the Summer Wine schedule, Striker was shopped around to Houston, Barron and Richard Griffiths…. for the first (and only) Whoverse episode scripted and directed by women, Barbara Clegg and Fiona Cumming. Houston’s younger brother, Glyn, also preferred acting to coal-mining) and guested with Doc4 Tom Baker in Who #87: The Hand of Fear, 1976, and Doc5 Peter Davison, in #131: The Awakening, 1984.
  7. Patrick Stewart, Lifeforce, 1984.
  8. Michael Gothard, Lifeforce, 1984.
  9. Aubrey Morris, Lifeforce, 1984.
  10. John Stratton, Doctor Who #140: The Two Doctors, TV, 1985.  The two (?) Time Lords were Doc2 Patrick Troughton and Doc 6, the short lived Colin Baker. Shockeyes were more plentiful. The 22 prospects were: Houston, Stratton, Joss Ackland, George Baker, Ian Bannen, Brian Blessed, Denholm Elliott, James Ellis, Frank Finlay, Ronald Fraser, Michael Gothard, Don Henderson, Freddie Jones, Jeremy Kemp, Roy Kinnear, Ronald Lacey, TP McKenna, Aubrey Morris, Donald Pleasence, Peter Sallis, George Sewell, Peter Vaughan.




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