Actor known for cult role in Doctor Who

Born: November 18, 1932;

Died: July 16, 2017

TREVOR Baxter, who has died aged 84, was a genial actor with a lightness of touch who could be spotted in everything from TV’s Z-Cars (1968) to the big screen’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004). But it was a chance encounter with Tom Baker’s Doctor Who that gave him cult immortality.

In 1977 he was cast as one-off character Professor George Litefoot in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, one of the show’s most enduringly popular stories which is set in a Victorian London beset with deadly Chinese tongs, a giant rat and a disfigured war criminal hiding in the sewers.

Litefoot is the pathologist brought in to solve some mysterious deaths and ends up assisting the Doctor alongside theatrical impresario Henry Gordon Jago (Christopher Benjamin). Jago and Litefoot made for a fine double act – Benjamin’s wonderful comedy bluster complementing Baxter’s exquisite precision – and there was talk of a spin-off.

It never happened on television, but over 40 years later Big Finish, who have produced hundreds of original Doctor Who audio adventures featuring leading actors from the show’s past, approached Baxter and Benjamin to reprise their roles. Thirteen series of Jago and Litefoot – charming comedy dramas with colourful villains, perplexing mysteries and lashings of derring-do – have been released on CD to great success, with both actors recreating their roles seamlessly.

The son of a post office worker, Trevor Baxter was brought up in Hither Green, Lewisham, and fell in love with acting at a very young age, enrolling at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art aged just 16 (after a spell at Dulwich college).

His first job was at the County Theatre in Aylesbury – the beginning of a theatrical career that took him to the Royal Shakespeare Company (1981-82, playing Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Duke Senior in As You Like it, Carlisle in Richard II, Agamemnon in Troilus and Cressida and Stanley to Alan Howard’s Richard III), the Manchester Royal Exchange (including What the Butler Saw with Kate Winslet, 1994), the Bristol Old Vic (Gayev in The Cherry Orchard 1987-88), the Donmar (The Tempest 1988-89), as Polonius to Alan Cumming’s Hamlet for the English Touring Theatre and Gloucester to Warren Mitchell’s King Lear (Hackney Empire and West Yorkshire Playhouse).

On television he played guest roles in popular shows like Public Eye (1966), The New Avengers (1976) and My Family (2006) and appeared in major series including The Barchester Chronicles (1982), Jack the Ripper (1988), Selling Hitler (1991) and The Politician’s Wife (1995).

He wrote too – several of his plays were staged, including Lies (Albery Theatre, 1975), The Undertaking (Fortune Theatre, 1979), and adaptations of Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey (2003) and Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime (2005). The Last Evensong (1985, directed by Jon Amiel) was broadcast on BBC1.

A born raconteur and well-read intellectual, he fitted his Jago and Litefoot recordings in between hospital visits and retained his twinkling sense of humour, zest for life and love of reading (filling his Kindle in preparation for dialysis sessions) until the end.