Coming Soon: Peter Davison’s Autobiography, Is There Life Outside The Box? An Actor Despairs

If you happened to pick up Doctor Who Magazine #503, you’ll know that Peter Davison can tell a story. So imagine what he’ll be able to do with a whole book, spanning his entire career from childhood, to drama school to jobbing actor, and then, the Doctor and beyond.

In this new autobiography, Is There Life Outside the Box? An Actor Despairs, Davison, along with help from writer Andy Merriman, explores the key events of his life with delightful candour and a rich vein of self-depreciation.

As for Davison’s own thoughts on the book, speaking in DWM, he said:

“I wanted the book to be quite light and funny. Maybe it’s too funny, I don’t know. About halfway through I decided I didn’t care if people like it or not. I was really doing it more for me than anybody else – to reassemble my life. Also for my children and my grandchildren, should they choose to read it. For that reason, I tried not to embellish it, otherwise that seems to me to also make it a bit pointless”.

The 288-page hardback book will be published by John Blake Publishing Ltd – after the last published, according to Davison, ‘got a bit funny’ over the title.


The full synopsis reads:

“Peter Malcolm Gordon Moffett would go on to secure his place in science fiction history. In the process becoming a veritable icon of British television he took the hardest job in acting filling the shoes of the legendary Tom Baker as the fifth Time Lord, Doctor Who.

Peter’s father, Claude, was born in British Guyana of mixed race. Claude left Guyana when war broke out and joined the Royal Signals. He felt it was his duty to serve and had been told that the streets were paved with gold. He went to France a month after D-Day and met Peter’s mother, Sheila, in Pairs, where she worked for British Intelligence.

School Years

Peter admits to being very lazy at school and failed his 11plus exam. He used to forge his reports and so parents never found out how badly he was doing. He took five GCSEs, passing only one (English Language). I was the only person ever to have failed CSE woodwork the teacher was absolutely appalled, ‘All you have to do is to recognise a piece of wood!’

Becoming the Doctor

When first offered the role of the fifth Doctor, Peter took a week to decide about taking on the part and nearly turned it down. He was daunted about playing a childhood hero: Tom Baker had played the part for 7 years and a tough act to follow. Peter was also very young the youngest Doctor Who at that time.

His first day on the set was the regeneration scene when he had to morph into Tom Baker’s persona. Peter was covered in thick white make-up and had to have three make-up girls scrubbing hard to remove the slap. Peter was thus in a bit of a panic when he was rushed through to the set and says his first ever close up on Doctor Who was a natural expression of alarm and terror… needing no acting ability whatsoever.”

You can pre-order Is There Life Outside the Box? An Actor Despairs now from Amazon for release on October 6th for £13.60.