The Doctor Who Companion

Get your daily fix of news, reviews, and features with the Doctor Who Companion!

Matthew Waterhouse Didn’t Originally Like Adric Being Killed Off in Earthshock

1982’s Earthshock featured one of the most shocking endings in Doctor Who: for the first time since 1966, one of the Doctor’s companions actually died. Even nowadays, with writers killing off characters then bringing them back either between heart-beats, or as sentient puddle creatures, actually killing off a companion arguably hasn’t really happened. So when the Doctor couldn’t get to Adric in time to rescue him from a spaceship crashing into prehistoric Earth, the shock that you can die while having all these fantastic adventures still packs a punch today.

In an interview published in the most recent issue of SFX, actor Matthew Waterhouse spoke about how he first reacted to the news that his character would: A) be leaving the show, and; B) getting killed off. It isn’t something he hasn’t spoken about before (he reflected on this in the commentary track for Earthshock), but as Waterhouse was a huge fan of the show, it must have come as a shock to find that he was being killed off.

Waterhouse had known in advance that he would be leaving the series in 1982, but not the way in which it would happen and he was originally very shocked by the finality of it. He explained:

“[Peter Davison’s script] was on the table up in the café at the Acton rehearsal rooms, I was sitting there having a cup of tea and I flicked it open. My first thought was, ‘Oh God, that’s very final’. I didn’t like it at all. Later, I realised how interesting it was, and how good it was.”

While some fans probably praised his exit, no doubt there were some younger viewers that were really upset by how the character was written out of the series. But there can be no denying the lasting legacy and impact of Adric’s death. From then on, no companion was truly safe: arguably, the Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa spend a couple of stories trying to come to terms with what happened to Adric, something which has been further explored in novels and Big Finish’s audios. The Fifth Doctor’s last words were “Adric?” (Though they should have really been, “Kamelion??!!“) And Tegan and the Doctor even discuss Adric’s death when she has to face off against the Cybermen once again in Jodie Whittaker’s finale, The Power of the Doctor.

Waterhouse spoke about what his acting career was like after Doctor Who and how hard it was to get a job being seen as “that boy from Doctor Who.” It was this that gradually pushed him into doing more theatre work and then going into writing.

No matter how you may feel about the character — and trust me, I find him just as irritating as you all do — in terms of exits, Adric is pretty important. The safety net was torn away and I would argue it put the Cybermen back on the map too: remember, they hadn’t been seen since 1975 in the rather lacklustre Revenge of the Cybermen and as Tegan and the Doctor talk about in Power of the Doctor, it’s clear that the pair of them have never completely gotten over Adric’s demise. That’s not a bad legacy for a companion who appeared for two years in the series over 40 years ago.

Jordan Shortman

Matthew Waterhouse Didn’t Originally Like Adric Being Killed Off in Earthshock

by Jordan Shortman time to read: 2 min
%d bloggers like this: