ANDREW YOUNG speaks to Jon Pertwee, third of the seven Dr Whos,

stepping out of the Tardis, summoned to save the world, during Mayfest

when the President of the United States has been kidnapped and there is

the danger of alien domination by the Cybermen and the Daleks.

HE may not have knocked them over in the aisles when, as a vaudeville

comedian, he appeared at the Empire Theatre, Glasgow. But Jon Pertwee

made me laugh as he recalled his appearances at what was described as

the graveyard of English comics. A Tardis leaving for another time zone

would have been useful.

J. B. Priestley took the dying a death aspect a little far in the

novel, Lost Empires, with the ageing comic -- played by Laurence Olivier

in the television adaptation -- shooting himself in his dressing room

after being booed off stage in Glasgow.

''My experience did not make me want to commit suicide, although I did

consider forming an escape party. It was many years ago, in the fifties

I think, when I was touring the Moss Empires as a stand-up comedian. I

was on a bill with Max Wall, Jimmy James, who was a wonderful comic, and

topping it was Monte Rey, the big-voiced singer,'' says Pertwee.

He remembers doing his act to stony silence. ''When I came off I said

to the manager, a lovely old chap, Please sack me. Send me home because

this is disastrous. But he said I was a great success. A success? How

did he make that out? Well, I hadn't got the bird, had I? Was that the

criterion? Yes, it was, he assured me.''

When Jimmy James -- ''one of the funniest men I've ever seen'' -- went

on he died the death. When he came off he said with a stutter: ''I told

Cissie Williams (the booker of the shows) . . . I bloody told them,

there's only two types of people that go down here. That's piano

accordionists and bloody negroes.'' He was referring to the Glasgow

Jolson factor, and there was no race relations business then. One of the

most popular accordion acts in Glasgow was Mackenzie Reid and Dorothy.

Max Wall, undoubtedly one of the greatest entertainers of all time,

then went on and also died the death. He told a story far too rude to

repeat even today, according to Pertwee, and someone told him what to do

with himself. Max went into the wings and asked the stage manager:

''What do I do now?'' To which the reply was: ''If you value your life,

get into your funny walk routine. At least that way, you'll be a moving


Monte Rey, a kind-hearted person, had tried to reassure them, saying

the important thing was to go out and bash the audience. So he went out

and sang his first number and got an enormous cheer. Then he made a

terrible error by saying: ''Ladies and gentlemen, it's great to be back

in Glasgow because, as you all know, I'm a Glaswegian, born and bred.''

Somebody stood up and shouted: ''Liar.'' And then ''they threw the

theatre at him.'' He actually came from Chryston, Lanarkshire, which was

a near miss.

Pertwee just collapsed after that, saying that if anyone thought he

could stand another 10 performances they were crazy. But somehow he

managed to get through to the end of the week. There is also the legend

which has since grown arms and legs of how Des O'Connor fainted through

fear on the Glasgow Empire stage. ''The most sensible thing he could

have done,'' says Pertwee. ''But the strange thing was that you could

then go through to Edinburgh and find that the audiences actually liked

you. I never did understand that.''

A Londoner by birth, but of French extraction, his real name is

Perthueis de Laillavault and his ancestors came over with the Huguenots.

There is still a big French side of the family, and the British and

French factions get together periodically. All the

theatrical talents emerged on this side of the Channel. His father was

a playwright, as is his brother, Michael. His cousin, Bill Pertwee is at

the Royal Shakespeare Company, his daughter with Bristol Old Vic.

Laurence Olivier was married to his first cousin, Jill Esmond. All his

aunts and great aunts were famous in their day.

Dr Who has been running for 27 years. He was the third of seven Time

Lords and many say he was the most popular. He was in the role for five

years, beaten only by Tom Baker who played it for seven. Did he find

playing the Doctor influenced his life? ''Good God, no. I'm an actor

playing Dr Who. I'm often asked questions about what the Doctor thinks

and I say: 'How the hell do I know?' I'm speaking somebody else's


Pertwee appears regularly at Dr Who conventions in America and most of

the English-speaking world, says: ''I think sci-fi always draws cult

followers. You get these other people, the Trekkies, all over the world,

who follow Star Trek. There were only two series of this made and what

you see now is endless repeats, but you still get these sci-fi nuts

prepared to go anywhere for a convention.''

He is, of course, also the star of TV's Worzel Gummidge which has been

playing for more than 10 years. What was his favourite role, Gummidge or

Who? ''Oh, Worzel Gummidge, without question. It is an actor's dream

because the man changes his mind and his head with monotonous

regularity.'' So you go through all sorts of phases and characters,

which appeals to me enormously.''

As a youth, he was expelled from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in

London, like he had been expelled from most of the schools he had

attended, because he was a rebel. At RADA, he says, he didn't want to

waste his time being a Greek wind. They were doing Greek drama and he

found it was rather a waste of time howling and moaning like a wind. He

wanted to get on with the acting. Kenneth Barnes, the then principal,

said he had no future in the theatre. Later Charles Laughton said to

him: ''I understand you were thrown out of RADA. Splendid fellow, you're

bound to do well. So was I.''

* Dr Who, sponsored by the Glasgow Herald, opens tonight for a week at

the King's Theatre, Glasgow.