On the 18th June 1973 the chauffeur driven car that Roger Caesar Marius Bernard de Delgado Torres Castillo Roberto was travelling plunged over a ravine. At the time he was filming in Turkey and sadly all that were travelling in the car died. Roger Delgado was the first actor to portray The Master and did so to perfection in eight stories. Tragically he was to feature in one final story with Jon Pertwee's Doctor and Roger's death has often been quoted as one of the reasons Jon decided to leave the series.
In this affectionate and loving tribute to the archest of The Doctors enemies, I will talk about why I believe Delgado's portrayal was the original and best. It set the standard, high, for all those to come after him. Roger's on screen presence was tangible right from the first scene in Terror of the Autons. He seemed to exude evil and malevolence without uttering a word. His planning was much more subtle yet still formidable, however the aim was always the same. Complete and total obedience to him and absolute destruction of The Doctor, normally after humiliating him first!
Delgado's Master had impeccable dress sense, normally opting for sharp black suits. His, literally, hypnotic eyes seem to bore into the poor unfortunate souls who crossed him and they soon were under his influence. Even when he seemed to be defeated it was never wise to let down your guard as he could always be relied on to pull another little twist and escape.
Delgado's relationship with Pertwee both onscreen and off was close. This may be one of the reasons that Delgado is so effective as The Doctors adversary. Their performances together show complete trust in each others acting abilities and this just adds to the delight in watching any stories they feature in.
I am sad to say that my recollections and affection for Roger Delgado only began some 15 years after his death. As I was born in 1975 my first encounters were in watching repeats of those classic stories and also with the brilliant writing within the Target books. Even so, I was totally amazed and in admiration of this actor who could deliver such an intense and powerful performance. Here, surely was a match for The Doctor's intellect and someone to be feared. I always felt that when The Master was around The Doctor was always in more danger than with any other foe (something which was ably proven during Logopolis)
Roger Delgado's legacy is obvious. He provided such a fantastically strong foundation for The Master that Doctor Who has been able to continue the characters development through 7 incarnations. Each new actor that portrays The Master, like those who play The Doctor, add something different. But all owe a great debt to the original, and in my opinion, the best.
|The Master attends a Black Sabbath Concert.|