Percy James Patrick Kent-Smith
20 August 1943
|Other names||Sylveste McCoy|
|Occupation||Actor, physical comedian|
|Years active||1965, 1973–present|
|Television||Doctor Who (1987–1989, 1996, 2022)|
Percy James Patrick Kent-Smith (born 20 August 1943), known professionally as Sylvester McCoy, is a Scottish actor. Gaining prominence as a physical comedian, he became best known for playing the seventh incarnation of the Doctor in the long-running science fiction television series Doctor Who from 1987 to 1989—the final Doctor of the original run—and briefly returning in a television film in 1996. He is also known for his work as Radagast in The Hobbit film series (2012–2014).
McCoy was born Percy James Patrick Kent-Smith in Dunoon, on the Cowal peninsula, to an Irish mother and an English father who had been killed in action in World War II a couple of months before his son was born. He was brought up by his maternal grandmother and aunts and met his father's family at the age of 17. He was raised religious, but is now an atheist.
He was brought up primarily in Dunoon, where he attended St. Mun's School; he then studied for the priesthood at Blairs College, a seminary in Aberdeen between the ages of 12 and 16, but gave this up and continued his education at Dunoon Grammar School. After school he moved to London where he worked in the insurance industry for five years. He worked in the box office of The Roundhouse for a time, where he was discovered by Ken Campbell.
McCoy came to prominence as a member of the experimental theatre troupe "The Ken Campbell Roadshow". His best known act was as a stuntman character called "Sylveste McCoy" in a play entitled An Evening with Sylveste McCoy (the name was coined by actor Brian Murphy, part of the Roadshow at the time), where his stunts included putting a fork and nails up his nose and stuffing ferrets down his trousers, and setting his head on fire. As a joke, the programme notes listed Sylveste McCoy as played by "Sylveste McCoy" and, after a reviewer missed the joke and assumed that Sylveste McCoy was a real person, Kent-Smith adopted this as his stage name. Some years later, McCoy added an "r" to the end of "Sylveste", in part because of the actors' superstition that a stage name with thirteen letters was unlucky.
Notable television appearances before he gained the role of the Doctor included roles in Vision On (where he played Pepe/Epep, a character who lived in the mirror), an O-Man in Jigsaw and Tiswas. Every episode of the innovative ATV schools maths programme Leapfrog featured Sylveste (sic) as "Bert" in wordless sequences filmed out of doors, as he attempted to form regular geometric patterns from different numbers of logs or carpet squares. He also appeared in Eureka, often suffering from the inventions of Wilf Lunn and as Wart, assistant to StarStrider in the CITV series of the same name. McCoy also portrayed, in one-man shows on the stage, two famous movie comedians: Stan Laurel and Buster Keaton. He also appeared as Henry "Birdie" Bowers in the 1985 television serial about Scott's last Antarctic expedition, The Last Place on Earth.
McCoy became the Seventh Doctor after taking over the lead role in Doctor Who in 1987 from Colin Baker. He remained on the series until it ended in 1989, ending with Survival (his twelfth and final serial as the Doctor). As Baker declined the invitation to film the regeneration scene, McCoy briefly wore a wig and appeared, face-down until the last moment before the regeneration commenced as the Sixth Doctor, with his face concealed by regeneration special effects. He played the Doctor in the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time, and again in 1996, appearing in the beginning of the Doctor Who television movie starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor.
In his first series, McCoy, a comedy actor, portrayed the character with a degree of clown-like humour, but script editor Andrew Cartmel soon changed that when fans argued that the character (and plots) were becoming increasingly lightweight. The Seventh Doctor developed into a much darker figure than any of his earlier incarnations, manipulating people like chess pieces and always seeming to be playing a deeper game. A distinguishing feature of McCoy's performances was his manner of speech. He used his natural Scottish accent and rolled his rs. At the start of his tenure he used proverbs and sayings adapted to his own ends (e.g. "There's many a slap twixt cup and lap" – Delta and the Bannermen), although this characteristic was phased out during the later, darker series of his tenure. In 1990, readers of Doctor Who Magazine voted McCoy's Doctor "Best Doctor", over perennial favourite Tom Baker. Since 1999 he has continued acting in the role of the Seventh Doctor in a series of audio plays for Big Finish Productions.
In January 2021, McCoy returned to his role of 'The Doctor' alongside Bonnie Langford as Mel Bush, in "A Business Proposal for Mel!" This short, acted as an announcement trailer for 'The Collection: Season 24' Blu-Ray set, which was released later that year.
In 2022, he reprised the role of the Doctor in the episode "The Power of the Doctor".
McCoy's television roles since Doctor Who have included Michael Sams in the 1997 drama Beyond Fear, shown on the first night of broadcast of Channel 5. He has also returned to play the Seventh Doctor in a series of audio plays by Big Finish Productions. In 1988, while still appearing in Doctor Who, McCoy presented a BBC children's programme called What's Your Story?, in which viewers were invited to phone in suggestions for the continuation of an ongoing drama.
He has also acted extensively in theatre in productions as diverse as pantomime and Molière. He played Grandpa Jock in John McGrath's A Satire of the Four Estaites (1996) at the Edinburgh Festival. He played the role of Snuff in the macabre BBC Radio 4 comedy series The Cabaret of Dr Caligari.
McCoy missed out on a role in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and was the second choice to play the role of Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. In 1991, he presented the Doctor Who video documentary release The Hartnell Years showcasing selected episodes of missing stories from the First Doctor's era.
McCoy appeared as the lawyer Dowling in a BBC Production of Henry Fielding's novel, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling. In 2001 he appeared in Paul Sellar's asylum comedy "The Dead Move Fast" at the Gilded Balloon as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, playing the role of Doctor Mallinson. In 2012 he played the part of the suicidal Mr. Peters in JC Marshall's play, Plume, at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow.
McCoy has appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and in King Lear in 2007, playing the Fool to Ian McKellen's Lear, a performance which made use of McCoy's ability to play the spoons. The RSC production with McKellen and McCoy was staged in Melbourne, during late July/early August 2007 and Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand, during mid to late August 2007. It came into residence at the New London Theatre in late 2007, ending its run in January 2008. He reprised the role for the 2008 television movie of the production.
In May 2008 he performed with the Carl Rosa Opera Company in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, playing the title role. He only performed with the company briefly, for the week of the show's run performing at the Sheffield Lyceum. Despite being set in Japan, he was able to demonstrate his ability to play the spoons by using his fan. In 2009 McCoy played the character of Mr. Mushnik in the Chocolate Factory's production of Little Shop of Horrors.
He has also made guest appearances in the television series The Bill, the Rab C. Nesbitt episode "Father" as Rab's mentally ill brother Gash Sr. and the Still Game episode "Oot" (AKA "Out"), where he played a hermit-type character adjusting to life in modern Glasgow, having remained in his house for over 30 years. In October 2008, he had a minor guest role as an injured ventriloquist on Casualty. In the same month McCoy guest starred in an episode of the BBC soap opera Doctors, playing an actor who once played the time-travelling hero of a children's television series called "The Amazing Lollipop Man". The role was written as a tribute to McCoy.
In January and February 2016, McCoy appeared in the three-part BBC series The Real Marigold Hotel, which followed a group of celebrity senior citizens including Miriam Margolyes and Wayne Sleep on a journey to India.
McCoy returned to the role of the Seventh Doctor in 1997, recording new audio for the video game Doctor Who: Destiny of the Doctors.
The Hobbit trilogy
Although the character of Radagast is only alluded to in The Hobbit, and only a minor character in The Lord of the Rings, the part was expanded for the films.
|1979||Dracula||Walter||As Sylveste McCoy|
|All the Fun of the Fair||Scotch Jack|
|The Secret Policeman's Ball||Sylvester McCoy|
|1987||Three Kinds of Heat||Harry Pimm|
|1993||The Airzone Solution||Anthony Stanwick|
|1994||The Zero Imperative||Dr. Colin Dove|
|1996||Doctor Who||Seventh Doctor|
|Spellbreaker: Secret of the Leprechauns||Flynn|
|1997||Beyond Fear||Michael Sams|
|2000||The Mumbo Jumbo||Mr. Tallman|
|2006||The Battersea Ripper||Duncan|
|2008||King Lear||The Fool|
|The Academy Part 2: First Impressions||Felix|
|2010||Punk Strut: The Movie||DJ|
|The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey||Radagast|
|2013||The Christmas Candle||Edward Haddington|
|The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug||Radagast|
|Quest: A Tall Tale||Ardan||Voice|
|2014||The Seventeenth Kind||Rusty|
|The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies||Radagast|
|The Owners||Dr. Richard Huggins|
|Lost at Christmas||Ernie|
|1973||Roberts Robots||Robot Entertainer||Episode: "Dial C for Chaos"|
|1975||Lucky Feller||Sylveste||Pilot episode|
|1977||For the Love of Albert||Cast Member||Unknown episodes|
|1978||Leapfrog||Bert||All 28 episodes|
|Turning Year Tales||Turps||Episode: "Big Jim and the Figaro Club"|
|Jackanory||Reader||Episode: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"|
|The Secret Policeman's Ball||Sylveste McCoy|
|1980||BBC2 Playhouse||Kerwin||Episode: "Electric in the City"|
|1981||Big Jim and the Figaro Club||Turps||5 episodes|
|Tiny Revolutions||Cabaret comedian||TV movie|
|1982–1986||Eureka||Various||All 32 episodes|
|1985||The Last Place on Earth||Lt. 'Birdie' Bowers||6 episodes|
|No 73||Moving man||Episode: "Moving Space"|
|1987–1989, 1993, 2022||Doctor Who||Seventh Doctor||43 episodes|
|1988||What's Your Story?||Narrator / Presenter|
|1988||Tomorrow’s World||Sylvester McCoy||Christmas special|
|1989||The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow||Seventh Doctor|
|1990||Search Out Science||Seventh Doctor||Episode "Search Out Space"|
|1991||Thrill Kill Video Club||Spoons||Video|
|1994||Frank Stubbs||Angus||Episode: "Mr. Chairman"|
|1996||Rab C. Nesbitt||Gash Senior||Episode: "Father"|
|1997||The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling||Mr. Dowling||4 episodes|
|1999||See It Saw It||Jester||1 episode|
|2001||See It Saw It||The Lord High Chamberlain /
|Episode: "Courage and Adventure"|
|Do You Have a License to Save This Planet||The Foot Doctor||Video short|
|Casualty||Kev the Rev||Episode: "Life and Soul"|
|2002||Hollyoaks||Leonard Cave||1 episode|
|The Bill||Ian Drew||Episode: "010"|
|2004||Still Game||Archie||Episode: "Oot"|
|2006||The Bill||Morris Shaw||Episode: "457"|
|Mayo||Reverend Beaver||Episode: "Late of This Parish"|
|2008||Great Performances||The Fool||Episode: "King Lear"|
|Casualty||Ashley Millington||Episode: "The Evil That Men Do"|
|Doctors||Graham Capelli||Episode: "The Lollipop Man"|
|2009||Al Murray's Multiple Personality Disorder||Nazi Doctor||1 episode|
|2013||The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot||Sylvester McCoy||TV film|
|2015||Crims||Mr. Dunlop||Episode: "Day Thirty-Six"|
|2017–2018||Sense8||The Old Man of Hoy||4 episodes|
|Zapped||Lord Protector||3 episodes|
|2017||Sarah & Duck||Comet||Episode: "Comet's Coming"|
|2018||Holby City||Clive Brooker||Episode: "All Lies Lead to the Truth"|
|2019||Thunderbirds Are Go||Aezethril the Wizard||Episode: "Endgame"|
|2002||The Shieling of the One Night||Fergus|
|2008||Pass Them On||The Administrator|
|2015||The Last Conjuror||Arthur Roberts|
|2016||Tale of a Timelord||The Doctor|
|2021||24 Carat||Seventh Doctor|
|1998–2000||The Time Travellers||The Professor||BBV Productions|
|1999–2021||Doctor Who: The Monthly Range||Seventh Doctor||
|2001||Doctor Who: Last of the Titans|
|Doctor Who: Death Comes To Time||5 part webcast on BBCi|
|2002||Doctor Who: Excelis||Story: Excelis Decays|
|2006||Doctor Who: Return of the Daleks|
|2007||Bernice Summerfield||Story: "The Final Amendment"|
|2010||Doctor Who: The Four Doctors|
|2011||Doctor Who: The Lost Stories||4 stories|
|2011-2013||The Minister of Chance||The Witch Prime||5 stories|
|2012–2016||Doctor Who: Novel Adaptations||Seventh Doctor||8 stories|
|2012||Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles||Story: "Project: Nirvana"|
|Bernice Summerfield||Story: "Many Happy Returns"|
|2013||Doctor Who: The Light at the End|
|2014–2015||The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield||7 stories|
|2015||The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty: The Dragon And The Raven||Cedric the Shipwright|
|The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure||Seventh Doctor||Story: "The Brink of Death"|
|Doctor Who: Doom Coalition||Story: "The Eleven"|
|2016||Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters||Story: "Harvest of the Sycorax"|
|The Diary of River Song||2 stories|
|2018||The Seventh Doctor: The New Adventures||4 stories|
|2019||The Eighth of March||Story: "The Big Blue Book"|
|Doctor Who: The Legacy of Time||2 stories|
Direct to video
|1991||The Hartnell Years||Presenter|
|1997||Destiny of the Doctors||Seventh Doctor|
|2015||Lego Dimensions||Archive voice|
- Cavan Scott; Mark Wright (2013). Doctor Who: Who-ology. BBC Books. p. 42. ISBN 978-1849906197.
McCoy's mastery of physical comedy led to his working relationship with producer Clive Doig, who employed him on shows ranging from Vision On to Jigsaw
- Muir, John Kenneth (2008). A Critical History of Doctor Who on Television. McFarland & Co. ISBN 978-0786437160. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
- Pelley, Rich (20 November 2020). "Sylvester McCoy's teenage obsessions: 'I was the twist king of Dunoon'". TheGuardian.com.
- Smith, Kenny (13 March 2018). "Doctor Who star steps back in time to Dunoon childhood". Scottish Field. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
- So you believed in God back then? "I did, yeah" And do you now? "No, I think it's awful", Doctor Who Magazine, 19 August 2010.
- Sylvester McCoy TV Biography Archived 3 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 19 November 2013
- "People buy Doctor Who drinks". icBerkshire. Trinity Mirror. 3 April 2003. Archived from the original on 15 January 2007. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
- McCoy 32.3%, Tom Baker 28.7%, Doctor Who Magazine, May 1990.
- "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot", BBC programmes, retrieved 26 November 2013
- Courtney, Kevin (15 September 2012). "Then & now Sylvester Mccoy, actor". The Irish Times. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
- Fisher, Mark (5 March 2012). "Plume – review". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "King Lear – cast list". RSC web site. Archived from the original on 9 March 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2007.
- Higgins, Charlotte (26 November 2008). "Ian McKellen's King Lear to ring in the Christmas cheer for Channel 4". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
- "Little Shop of Horrors (Mon 4 – Sat 9 May 2009)". Liverpool Empire. Archived from the original on 19 July 2015. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
- "Father, Series 5, Rab C Nesbitt – BBC Two". BBC. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
- "BBC One Programmes – Doctors, Series 10, "The Lollipop Man"". BBC. Retrieved 28 October 2008.
- David, Semple. "How I brought back Sylvester McCoy as Doctor Who". Den of Geek. Retrieved 28 October 2008.
- "BBC One - The Real Marigold Hotel, Series 1 - The female residents". BBC.
- "Theatre review: A Joke - The Scotsman". Archived from the original on 17 June 2019.
- "Sylvester McCoy Is Radagast the Brown". Filmonic. Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2008.
- KnowledgeBase. "Doctor Who: Return to Earth". VGFacts. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
- MacKenzie, Steven (21 March 2021). "Sylvester McCoy: 'Wisdom? Me? What wisdom have I got?'". The Big Issue.