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Ben Jackson is a character from Doctor Who, played by Michael Craze.

Ben represents the standard male character of the 1960's - someone to provide sex appeal to the girls and do all the fighting, shooting and running while William Hartnell's Doctor hobbled around getting good and angry at everything that moved (and a few things that didn't). Ben was a lot more fun than the previous two characters provided for this (Ian Chesterton and Steven Taylor) not because the acting had been bad but because he was given good lines more often.

Speaking of lines, Ben starts out with a Cockney accent and is actually allowed to keep it this time as the BBC policy on accents had been turned around.

Here's the character outline for Ben:

24, Able Seaman (Radar), Cockney. Father, now dead, was wartime
sailor and peace-time dock-crane driver. Mother married again to unsympathetic
step-father. Ben trained at sea school from age 15, having previously stowed
away on cargo ship for adventure to get away from his unhappy home. Enjoys
all sports, especially boxing and athletics - interested in all things mechanical and
electrical and in true Navy fashion can turn his hand to most things, including
basic cooking and sewing.

A realist, down to earth, solid, capable and cautious. Inclined on occasions to be shy.

Okay, how much of this comes through in the series? Not a lot. We can see there was the intention of having scenes where Ben does the cooking and sew buttons for the girl (Polly was envisaged as being unable to sew or cook) but this didn't happen. The down to earth nature manifests in skepticism about the TARDIS and the regenerated Doctor. The swimming comes up but more likely out of dramatic necessity than a desire to use the outline for the character. The "shy" bit is the funniest, as Ben spends the entirety of his time in the TARDIS flirting with Polly and winding her up.

The main problem with the character of Ben was to come in a later story when it was decided that an incidental character from a historical story was so popular he warranted being added to the main cast. In subsequent stories Ben's dialogue was divided up betwen the two characters, and they would need to be written out of the action in various ways. Sometimes there was good interplay between them, but in one case this meant leaving the Doctor out of the story for an episode so the three actors playing companions would have something to do. They tended to take turns getting knocked out or locked up, but the best use of four main characters was having Ben brainwashed and continually betraying his friends. In the end it was decided that three companions were two many, so they wrote Ben out rather abruptly.

So what did Ben get to do? He got to tease Polly a lot, take on pirates, defuse an atomic bomb capable of destroying the Earth, get keelhauled (according to the writer's ideas of what keelhauling is), kill loads of Cybermen, get brainwashed by some giant crabs (yeah, yeah.... laugh all you want), get his photo taken with the Doctor in a photobooth and most importantly of all I'm damn sure he gets to shag Polly. The lucky, lucky bastard.

" I can't very well report back to a Seventeenth Century navy." - Ben, The Smugglers


Michael Craze had very few acting parts both before and after Doctor Who, and by most accounts enjoyed working on the show1. This is probably due to the fact that he met his wife while working on The Tenth Planet. She threw fake snow into his face, and I'm not sure what they made it out of but it hurt his nose which he'd managed to break a few months earlier - while out celebrating being cast as Ben for The War Machines His IMDb listing is here:

http://us.imdb.com/Name?Craze,+Michael

His primary occupation in the 1980's was owning a pub, mixed with (very) occasional acting. Unfortunately he died on the 8th of December 1998 - he fell down some steps and could not be operated on due to a heart condition.






1It's more interesting to see how the actors felt at the time, as any surviving Doctor Who regulars love the show today - it must be gratifying to be remembered so fondly for something you did forty years ago by fans and have the BBC call you up for DVD commentary every so often.

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