He was best known for battling the Daleks as one of the best-loved Doctor Whos.
But now it has been revealed that Jon Pertwee was a real-life secret agent years before he donned the Time Lord’s cape.
The actor, who died in 1996 aged 76, was a senior intelligence agent during the Second World War and reported directly to Winston Churchill.
He was also recommended for another role by James Bond creator Ian Fleming – and proved to be an expert in using a range of 007-like gadgets, including a smoking pipe that fired bullets and handkerchiefs containing secret maps.
The revelations – in a long-lost tape-recorded interview – confirm that Pertwee’s wartime activities were as remarkable as his acting career, which saw him play the third incarnation of the Doctor between 1970 and 1974.
Pertwee said he kept silent about the nature of his covert role with the Naval Intelligence Division for decades for fear of breaching the Official Secrets Act.On the tape he says: ‘The team I worked with, the brothers in intelligence, were an amazing collection of characters.
‘There was a huge range of talents all being used to better protect the security of the nation, often in very surprising ways.
‘I did all sorts. Teaching commandos how to use escapology equipment, compasses in brass buttons, secret maps in white cotton handkerchiefs, pipes you could smoke that also fired a .22 bullet. All sorts of incredible things. It suited me perfectly as I have always loved gadgets.
‘I used to attend meetings where Churchill would be at the end of the table and he would be smoking his cigars. At the end of the meeting, I used to collect the butts and sell them on to the Americans for a few dollars.
‘I don’t remember much of my first meeting with Churchill except he gave me some priceless advice. He told me to always watch people, that there was a lot you could learn about someone’s character from the little actions they make – which was great advice for an actor.’
Pertwee also worked alongside Ian Fleming during his spell with Naval Intelligence. He recalled: ‘One day Fleming sent me for an interview for a job. They wanted a good French speaker.
‘I thought the job was going to be liaison with the Free French. I did not fancy that at all, so I deliberately messed up the interview, pretending I could not understand what they were saying at times and throwing in the most inappropriate answers.
‘Afterwards, when Fleming got the report back, he said they did not want me and how badly I had done. I confessed I had done it on purpose because I did not want to work with de Gaulle’s mob.
‘He told me I was a blithering idiot because the interview was a chance to be our man in Tahiti.’
Before taking up his clandestine role, Pertwee narrowly avoided death on the battlecruiser Hood, sunk by the Bismarck in 1941.