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David Warner (1941- 2022)

It’s with great sadness that we have to report the passing of David Warner.

Warner is perhaps best known to Doctor Who fans for playing Professor Grisenko in the 2013 episode, Cold War, in which he displayed wit, courage, and, above all, warmth.

It’s no great surprise, then, that he has been on the wishlists of many fans as the Doctor-we-never-got. It’s even less of a surprise, then, that he has played the Doctor — albeit the so-called Unbound Doctor for Big Finish, a parallel incarnation of the Time Lord who first appeared in 2003’s Sympathy for the Devil. This Doctor was brought back for Masters of War, plus numerous other productions, including The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield, acting with his partner, Lisa Bowerman.

Unbelievably, it was only yesterday that we reported Christopher Eccleston’s enthusiasm for a 60th anniversary project with Warner.

David passed away on Sunday 24th July 2022, as confirmed in a statement from his family:

Over the past 18 months, he approached his diagnosis with characteristic grace and dignity,

He will be missed hugely by us, his family, and friends, and remembered as a kind-hearted, generous, and compassionate man, partner, and father, whose legacy of extraordinary work has touched the lives of so many over the years.

David Warner was born in Manchester in July 1941. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and made his professional debut came at the Royal Court Theatre, in their 1962 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company the following year. His association with the Bard meant he played the lead in Hamlet, Richard II, and, in many adaptations, King Lear. That included for Big Finish.

His credits are extensive, and a mere glance means some obvious highlights stand out, including Titanic, The Thirty Nine Steps, Mary Poppins Returns, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Mad Dogs, The Secret of Crickley Hall, Penny Dreadful, Inside No. 9, and Ripper Street.

And then you see the list of sci-fi/fantasy credits to his name too! Those include Tron, Gargoyles, Men in Black: The Series, The Omen, Biker Mice from Mars, Batman: The Animated Series, Iron Man (The Animated Series), Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, and, perhaps most notably, numerous Star Trek appearances, including The Next Generation, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

I met Warner a few years ago, and what a lovely chap he was. Sure, I asked him about Doctor Who, but my focus was actually on another role of his, one maybe largely forgotten but which played an important part in my childhood: he played Dr Herbert Landon in 12 episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series in the 1990s. Landon wasn’t a nice man. In his first appearance, a two-episode story co-starring the X-Men, he lied to his peers and tried to wipe out mutantkind. It all goes wrong and he’s left in a monstrous state. And that leads him into the vice-like grip of the Kingpin, for whom he works for the rest of the show.

It’s one of the most important programmes in my life. That and X-Men: The Animated Series introduced me to Marvel and I fell in love with storytelling. I think it’s fair to say that, without it, without Marvel and how I was introduced to reading (thanks, too, to my parents for encouraging this at every turn)… I’m not sure I’d be a writer.

So yes, Warner’s character was part of the rich fabric of my childhood. I told him how important the animation is to me; in turn, he was encouraging and stressed how important stories and the people who want to tell them are. He was also pleased to see the picture of Herbert Landon I took to get signed; “you do these voiceovers, but you don’t really see how it turns out, what that character looks like actually in the show”, he enthused.

Thanks, David, for being so wonderful.

Warner is survived by his partner, Lisa Bowerman; his son, Luke; and daughter-in-law, Sarah. Our thoughts go to his family and friends.

Philip Bates

Editor and co-founder of the Doctor Who Companion. When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. Writer of The Black Archive: The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, The Silver Archive: The Stone Tape, and 100 Objects of Doctor Who.

David Warner (1941- 2022)

by Philip Bates time to read: 3 min
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