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The Real Reason Peter Davison Left Doctor Who

Nobody's ever really "done" with Doctor Who. Once you've signed on to play the Time Lord, even if it's just for a single season, those quirky British tendrils are in you for good. Hell, William Hartnell, the man who debuted the Doctor character back in 1963, has been dead for almost half a century. They still brought him back in a few more times, either via archive footage or clever recasting. No matter how dramatic an actor's exit gets, and no matter how permanent it seems in the moment, they know deep down that one day they'll wake up with a TARDIS next to their bed and a script full of technobabble in their agent's outstretched hands.

So maybe it's disingenuous to say that Peter Davison "left" the series in after his third year on the job. After all, he's spent the last 20 years contributing his voice to Big Finish's Doctor Who audio dramas. He returned for a mini episode, donning the old celery and appearing alongside David Tennant in 2007's "Time Crash." Then, in 2013, he wrote, directed, and starred in "The Five(ish) Doctors" for the show's 50th anniversary celebration. But for a brief moment in 1984, it looked as though the fifth Doctor was gone forever. Fans were distraught when the actor announced his departure — they were only just getting over the loss of longtime favorite Tom Baker. Why would Davison abandon his post?

As it turns out, he left for the smartest reason in the world: the Doctor had told him that it was time to go.

The Doctor dodges a bullet

Davison, according to Digital Spy, was asked by the show's producer, John Nathan-Turner, to stick around for another year. He declined, citing advice from his Doctor — more specifically, the second Doctor, acclaimed character actor Patrick Troughton. Troughton's tenure had stretched from 1966 to 1969, and he claimed to have left due to fear of typecasting, though a production schedule that called for upwards of 40 episodes a year was also a motivating factor. Troughton apparently told Davison to only stick with the part for three years, and Davison took it to heart, according to the BBC.

The good news for Peter Davison was that starring in 70 episodes of Britain's most British TV show had made him a hot commodity — his IMDb profile attests to the fact that he spent the next 20 years working steadily in a variety of roles. But did he regret the decision in the long run?

Good question. Davison's feelings on the matter have been wibbly wobbly over the years. When his departure was first announced, the actor described his three years in the saddle as "not really a short time." More than that, in the commentary for the show's 19th season Blu-ray release, he described the show as being poorly handled, and despite acknowledging that the writing got better as time went on, referred to putting the part behind him "dodging a bullet."

Many fans view the end of Davison's tenure as the beginning of the end for classic Who. Upon his exit, perennial favorite for "worst Doctor ever" Colin Baker took over, lasting just two years before being unceremoniously regenerated into Sylvester McCoy, whose seventh Doctor ushered the show towards its hiatus.