Roger Delgado

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Not to be confused with Rolando Delgado.
Roger Delgado
Born Roger Caesar Marius Bernard de Delgado Torres Castillo Roberto
(1918-03-01)1 March 1918
Whitechapel, London, UK
Died 18 June 1973(1973-06-18) (aged 55)
Nevsehir, Turkey
Cause of death
Car crash
Occupation Actor
Years active 1952-1973
Known for First actor to play The Master
in Doctor Who (1971–1973)
Spouse(s) Kismet Shahani (1957–1973; his death)

Roger Caesar Marius Bernard de Delgado Torres Castillo Roberto (1 March 1918 – 18 June 1973) was a British actor, best known as the first actor to play the Master in Doctor Who.

Early life[edit]

Delgado was born in Whitechapel, in the East End of London; he often remarked to Doctor Who co-star and close friend Jon Pertwee that this made him a true Cockney,[1] as he was born within the sound of the Bow bells, even though his mother was Belgian and his father was Spanish. He attended Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, a Roman Catholic secondary school in Holland Park, and the London School of Economics. He served in the Second World War with both the Leicestershire Regiment and the Royal Signals, attaining the rank of major.[2][3]

Personal life[edit]

Delgado married Kismet Shahani in 1957 and they were together until his death in 1973.


Delgado worked extensively on the British stage, and on TV, film, and radio. He appeared in the 1955 BBC TV serial Quatermass II, the 1956 Powell and Pressburger wartime drama Battle of the River Plate, and came to wide popular attention in Britain when he played the duplicitous Spanish envoy Mendoza in the ITC Entertainment series Sir Francis Drake from 1961 to 1962, after which he was in much demand. An in-joke in the 1971 Doctor Who story Colony in Space refers to that role, when the Brigadier tells the Doctor not to worry as the suspected sighting of the Master "was only the Spanish Ambassador". Delgado was frequently cast as a villain, appearing in many noted British action-adventure TV series by ITC, including Danger Man (1961), The Saint (1962 and 1966), The Champions (1969), and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969).

Delgado made a total of 16 guest appearances in ITC shows, the most of any actor, with his last completed role being ITC's The Zoo Gang (1974). He also appeared in The Avengers (1961 and 1969), The Power Game (1966), and Crossfire (1967). His films included The Terror of the Tongs, The Road to Hong Kong, The Mummy's Shroud and Antony and Cleopatra. He began work as the Master on Doctor Who in late 1970, his first broadcast appearance being in the January 1971 adventure Terror of the Autons. He subsequently reprised the role of the Master in many of the Third Doctor serials, including The Mind of Evil, The Claws of Axos, Colony in Space, The Dæmons, The Sea Devils, The Time Monster, and Frontier in Space. The Master's story arc was to have ended in The Final Game, which was planned as the final story to feature Pertwee's Third Doctor, but the story was scrapped following Delgado's sudden death and replaced with Planet of the Spiders.


Delgado died on location in Turkey, whilst shooting the never-completed feature film Bell of Tibet.[4] He was killed, along with two Turkish film technicians, when the car in which he was travelling went off the road into a ravine. He was 55 years old. Jon Pertwee often remarked that Delgado's death was one of the reasons he left Doctor Who.[5]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ The Making of Doctor Who, 1972, p. 31
  2. ^ "Roger Delgado". Metacritic. Retrieved 30 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "The UNIT Family: Part Two". The Day of the Daleks (DVD special feature). BBC. 2011. ASIN B004VRO89C. 
  4. ^ "Funeral Directors and services - Roger Delgado". Family Announcements. 
  5. ^ "Exclusive First Look: The Final Curtain Part 1 - Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders". YouTube. BBCClassicDoctorWho. 4 March 2011. 

External links[edit]