John Leeson

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John Leeson
John Leeson (cropped).jpg
John Leeson at The Television & Movie Store, Norwich, England, on 20 September 2008.
Born John Francis Christopher Ducker
1943 (age 70–71)
Leicester, England
Occupation Actor/ also freelance wine educator[1]
Known for K-9 in Doctor Who

John Leeson (born March 1943) is a British actor who is best known for voicing K-9 on the television series Doctor Who from 1977 to 1979, and again in the 1980–1981 season. He was called back to do the voice of K-9 again for the 2006 episode "School Reunion" and again for the 2008 Doctor Who episode "Journey's End". He also played the voice of K9 in "The Sarah Jane Adventures" and the series "K9" and the TV pilot "K-9 and Company".

Early career[edit]

RADA trained, Leeson's varied stage and television career spans nearly half a century. It includes work in both repertory and West End productions including Neil Simon's Plaza Suite (1969), Flint (1970) and Don't Start Without Me (1971) and character work across a wide range of television sitcoms and costume dramas from the 1970s onwards, including Dad's Army, Sorry, Rings on Their Fingers, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Vanity Fair, Shadow of the Noose, Crown Court Longitude, etc. He also embarked on a parallel career in voiceover work.

Doctor Who and spin-offs[edit]

Leeson was brought on as the voice of K-9 for 1977's The Invisible Enemy and producer Graham Williams liked the concept so much that the decision was made to retain him as a regular character, to appeal to the younger members of the audience. Tom Baker detested the character of K-9, but luckily got on very well with Leeson (when Leeson appeared on Tom Baker's edition of This Is Your Life in 2000, Leeson entered on all fours). Leeson however became frustrated himself with the limitations of the character, and left the programme after the conclusion of the 16th season in 1978. He was though seen on-screen as the character Dugeen during the serial The Power of Kroll (1978–79). David Brierly took over for four stories (one of which was never completed due to a BBC strike) the following year. When John Nathan-Turner took over as producer of the series for season 18 in 1980, he tempted Leeson back, with the promise that the character would be 'killed off' that year. Although the character was, eventually, not killed off, merely written out, Leeson agreed to return.

Leeson also agreed to return to voice K-9 in K-9 and Company (1981), a spin-off from Doctor Who which was not picked up after the airing of its pilot episode. He also voiced K-9 for the 20th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, The Five Doctors, though it was little more than a cameo appearance. He has also reprised K-9's voice in two BBV and several Big Finish audio dramas including Zagreus and the Gallifrey series. He also voiced K-9 for its return in the 2006 Doctor Who episode "School Reunion", then its cameo in the pilot episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Leeson's voice was also heard in the Doctor Who episode "Journey's End" once more as K-9. The most recent occasion of Leeson voicing K-9 is in the spin-off television series, K-9. Leeson also voiced K-9 in a Doctor Who-themed episode of The Weakest Link.

Leeson's vocal contributions to Doctor Who can also be heard as other characters in the serials The Invisible Enemy and Remembrance of the Daleks. Leeson played the role of 'Prosecutor 2' in the 2005 stage production of The Trial of Davros and has compiled an entertaining one-man show, "A Dog's Life", directed by Richard Fawkes.

In November 2013, Leeson appeared in the one-off 50th anniversary comedy homage The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.[2]

Other credits[edit]

Other credits include appearances in Blake's 7 (in the season A episode Mission to Destiny and the season B episode Gambit). Also, notably in children's programmes, ITV's Rainbow from 1972 as the original Bungle,[3] and the BBC's Jigsaw in which he voiced Jigg, the show's "mascot" and played the giant Biggum, who was so tall only his feet were seen and his voice heard. Leeson has also read extensively for the audio book charity Calibre Audio Library, and is also the narrator/character voices behind The Space Gypsy Adventures on Children's UK hospital radio. In 2010 John appeared in a character role in the independent film Rebels Without A Clue with actor Rik Barnett.[4]

Away from stage and screen he was regularly heard as continuity announcer on Channel 4 when his warm tones proved a distinct contrast to the K9 voice. A lively interest in both classical music and particularly wine, led him to develop a longstanding parallel career as a wine educator. In his birth name he is an accredited tutor for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and he lectures widely in wine both on land and in cruises at sea.

He is also completing 25 years service as a local Justice of the Peace, having served as Deputy Chairman of his local Bench (Ealing) for six years across the period.[5]


John has written an autobiography entitled Flight of the Budgerigar, published by Hirst Publishing. No longer available on their website, it has been superseded by an updated and expanded version entitled 'Tweaking the Tail' which was published in 2013 by the publishing arm of A book of favourite recipes collected across the years, 'Dog's Dinners' (the title referencing his work as the voice of K9), also published by Fantom, is to follow in May 2014. An enthusiastic cook, he has contributed also (in his birth name of John Ducker) to 'Educated Tastes' - Food, Drink and Connoisseur Culture, Edited by Jeremy Strong, published by the University of Nebraska Press. <ISBN 978-0-8032-1935-9>


  1. ^ Wine Education Service Ltd.
  2. ^ "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot", BBC programmes, retrieved 26 November 2013
  3. ^ "Rainbow 1972 - The Original Bungle". YouTube. 2007-07-20. Retrieved 2014-03-25. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ West London LJA

External links[edit]