At the BFI event for Doctor Who The Collection: Season 2, guest Peter Purves revealed what he would like for the future of his character if he were ever to appear on the series again. And it might surprise you to know that he would want Steven Taylor to return as a villain, pitting his wits against the Doctor.
He went on to explain how, when the Doctor left Steven behind to help bridge the gap between societies at the end of The Savages, that Steven would have been corrupted with power and become a despot and that one day the Doctor returns to find his old companion has gone completely insane with power…
“The Doctor does return and finds him there and ousts him, which I think would have been an interesting story,”
Personally, I’m not entirely sure how that would work; Steven as a character was far too nice to become corrupted like that but following on from his Big Finish stories that explored what happened to him once he was left behind, it’s shown that his life was anything other than easy with a daughter usurping him and him being forced to live in exile. So maybe then something like that could work with Steven angry at the Doctor for forcing him to live this life.
Conversations, of course, then switched to Purves’ rather abrupt exit from the series, which might also give some insight into why his co-star Jackie Lane was so weirdly removed from The War Machines.
“We were just about to start [1966 story] The Savages and Innes Lloyd came in as producer, introduced himself to me, and the following day he took me to one side and said, ‘I just thought I’d let you know early on, we’re not going to renew your contract,’ so I knew I had four weeks. That was it. No reason. I did ask for a reason. I said, ‘What have I done wrong?’ and he said, ‘No, you’ve not done anything wrong, it’s just policy now – we’re only going to keep companions for one year’. It might’ve been true; it might’ve not been. I think it was a load of b****cks myself.”
It’s no secret that there were some turbulent behind the scenes issues when it came to Doctor Who in the mid-’60s with production crew coming and going in rapid succession, so it’s no surprise that this affected the main cast. But I don’t think that Peter Purves was particularly happy at having to leave when he did. But it would be a little strange to see a version of The War Machines, The Smugglers, and The Tenth Planet with him in it.
So could an evil Steven make a return to the series? I think it’s a possibility but probably not one that we will see on television — maybe on audio? With all the stories they created showing what his life was like after the Doctor left, maybe meeting a later incarnation like the Sixth or Seventh Doctor might make for a good story, with the Doctor having to take a look at how his companions’ lives are affected, especially the ones who get left behind as opposed to those who choose to leave. There might be a great story in what Peter Purves wants!