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
(1943-03-01) 1 March 1943 (age 71)
Leicester, Leicestershire, England
Occupation Actor/ Freelance wine educator
Known for K-9 in Doctor Who

John Leeson (born 1 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 K-9 in The Sarah Jane Adventures and the series K-9 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 a 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.[1]

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,[2] 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. His film credits are few but included the Hunt Secretary in the film of Tarka the Otter (1979), and a TV interviewer in the film version of Whoops Apocalypse (1986). 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.[3]

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 K-9 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.[4]

Literature[edit]

Leeson's autobiography entitled Flight of the Budgerigar, was published by Hirst in October 2011.[5] It was superseded by an updated and expanded version entitled Tweaking the Tail which was published in July 2013 by Fantom Films.[6] 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, was published in May 2014.[7] An enthusiastic cook, he also contributed a chapter on teaching wine-tasting (in his birth name of John Ducker) to Educated Tastes : Food, Drink and Connoisseur Culture, edited by Jeremy Strong, and published by the University of Nebraska Press.[8]

Local government[edit]

He has also served as a local Justice of the Peace for over 25 years, having served as Deputy Chairman of his local Bench (Ealing) for six years across the period.[9]

In 2002[10] and 2010 he stood as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats in the district of Perivale in the local council elections for Ealing London Borough Council, but failed to be elected.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot". BBC. 23 November 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "Rainbow 1972 - The Original Bungle". YouTube. 20 July 2007. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Rebels Without a Clue (2010) - Full Cast & Crew". IMDb. 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "John Ducker". Association of Wine Educators. 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Leeson, John (1 October 2011). The Flight of the Budgerigar: The Autobiography of John Leeson. Hirst Publishing. ISBN 978-1907959318. 
  6. ^ Leeson, John (15 July 2013). Tweaking The Tail: The Autobiography of John Leeson. Fantom Films Limited. ISBN 978-1781960851. 
  7. ^ Leeson, John (17 May 2014). Dog's Dinners. Fantom Films Limited. ISBN 978-1781961063. 
  8. ^ Strong, Jeremy, ed. (2011). "Teaching Wine-tasting". Educated Tastes : food, drink, and connoisseur culture. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-1935-9. 
  9. ^ West London LJA
  10. ^ Teale, Andrew (2014). "Local Election Results 2002: Ealing". Local Elections Archive Project. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "Perivale - Council elections 6 May 2010". Ealing Council. 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 

External links[edit]