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Sylvester McCoy (born Percy James Patrick Kent-Smith 20 August 1943) is a Scottishmarker actor. He is best known for playing the seventh incarnation of the Doctor in the long-running science fiction television series Doctor Who from 1987 to 1989 and a brief return in a television movie in 1996.


Early life

McCoy was born in Dunoonmarker, on the Cowalmarker peninsula, to an Irish mother and English father. He was raised primarily in Dublinmarker. In his youth, he trained for the priesthood, but gave this up and spent time working in the insurance industry. He worked in The Roundhousemarker box office for a time, where he was discovered by Ken Campbell. He currently resides in London.


He came to prominence as a member of the comedy act "The Ken Campbell Roadshow". His best known act was as a stuntman character called "Sylveste McCoy" in a play entitled An Evening with Sylveste McCoy (the name was coined by actor Brian Murphy, part of the Roadshow at the time), where his stunts included putting a fork and nails up his nose and stuffing ferrets down his trousers, and setting his head on fire. As a joke, the programme notes listed Sylveste McCoy as played by "Sylveste McCoy" and, after a reviewer missed the joke and assumed that Sylveste McCoy was a real person, Kent-Smith adopted this as his stage name. He was also reportedly a bodyguard for the Rolling Stones. Some years later, on discovering that there were thirteen letters in 'Sylveste McCoy' and feeling that this might be unlucky, McCoy added an 'r' to the end of 'Sylveste'. Notable television appearances before he gained the role of the Doctor included roles in Vision On (where he played Pepe/Epep, a character who lived in the mirror), an O-Man in Jigsaw and Tiswas. He also appeared in Eureka, often suffering from the inventions of Wilf Lunn. McCoy also portrayed, in one-man shows on the stage, two famous movie comedians: Stan Laurel and Buster Keaton. He also appeared as Henry "Birdie" Bowers in the 1985 television mini series about Robert Falcon Scott's last Antarctic expedition, The Last Place On Earth.

Doctor Who (1987–1989, 1993 & 1996)

He took over the lead role of Doctor Who in 1987 from previous incarnation Colin Baker, and so becoming the Seventh Doctor. He remained on the series until it was shelved in 1989 (see List of Doctor Who serials). As Colin Baker declined the invitation to film the regeneration scene, he briefly wore a wig and was the 6th Doctor in the regeneration scene. He played the Doctor in the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time, and again in 1996, appearing in a cameo at the beginning of the Doctor Who television movie where he handed the role over to Paul McGann. In his first series, McCoy, a comedy actor, portrayed the character with a degree of clown-like humour, but script editor Andrew Cartmel soon changed that when fans argued that the character (and plots) were becoming increasingly lightweight. The Seventh Doctor developed into a much darker figure than any of his earlier incarnations, manipulating people like chess pieces and always seeming to be playing a deeper game. McCoy generally approved of this, as it allowed him to play more of a dramatic role.

A distinguishing feature of McCoy's performances was his manner of speech. He used his natural slight Scottish accent and rolled his rs. At the start of his tenure he used proverbs and sayings adapted to his own ends (eg. "There's many a slap twixt cup and lap" — Delta and the Bannermen), although this characteristic was phased out during the later, darker series of his tenure. In 1990, readers of Doctor Who Magazine voted McCoy's Doctor "Best Doctor", over perennial favourite Tom Baker.

Career post Doctor Who

McCoy's television roles since Doctor Who have included Michael Sams in the 1997 telemovie Beyond Fear, shown on the first night of broadcast of Five. He has also returned to play the Seventh Doctor in a series of audio plays by Big Finish Productions.

In 1988, while still appearing in Doctor Who, McCoy presented a BBC children's programme called What's Your Story?, in which viewers were invited to phone in suggestions for the continuation of an ongoing drama. He returned to host a second run of the series in 1990.

He has also acted extensively in theatre in productions as diverse as pantomime and Molière. He played the role of Snuff in the macabre BBC Radio 4 comedy series The Cabaret of Dr Caligari.

In the early 90s, McCoy was attached in the role of Governor Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl when Steven Spielberg was planning on directing, but Disney did not give permission for the film to be made. McCoy was the second choice to play the role of Bilbo Baggins in the Peter Jackson The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

He appeared as the lawyer Dowling in a BBC Production of Henry Fielding's novel, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling.

In May 2006, McCoy had the main role in The Pocket Orchestra performed at Trafalgar Studios, Studio 2 in London.

has appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and in King Lear in 2007, playing the Fool to Ian McKellen's Lear, a performance which made use of McCoy's ability to play the spoons. The RSC production with McKellen and McCoy was staged in Melbourne, Australiamarker during late July/early August 2007 and Wellingtonmarker and Auckland, New Zealandmarker during mid to late August 2007. It came into residence at the New London Theatremarker in late 2007, ending its run in January 2008. He appeared as the Fool in the 2008 television movie of the same name. In May 2008 he performed with the Carl Rosa Company in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, playing the title role. He only performed with the company briefly, for the week of the show's run performing at the Sheffield Lyceum. Despite being set in Japan, he was able to demonstrate his ability to play the spoons by using his fan. In 2009 McCoy played the character of Mr. Mushnik in the Chocolate Factory's production of Little Shop of Horrors.

He has also made guest appearances in the television series The Bill, the Rab C. Nesbitt episode "Father" as Rab's mentally ill brother Gash Sr. and the Still Game episode "Oot" (AKA "Out"), where he played a hermit type character adjusting to life in modern Glasgowmarker, having remained in his house for over 30 years. In October 2008, he had a minor guest role as an injured ventriloquist on Casualty. In the same month McCoy guest starred in an episode of the BBC soap opera Doctors, playing an actor who once played the time-travelling hero of a children's television series called The Amazing Lollipop Man. The role was written as a tribute to McCoy.

Video games

Sylvester McCoy returned to the role of the Seventh Doctor in 1997, recording new audio for the video game Doctor Who: Destiny of the Doctors.


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