Ian Marter

Last updated 30 October 2022

Ian Marter (1944-1986)
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Ian Marter

Born: Saturday 28th October 1944
Died: Tuesday 28th October 1986 (age: 42)


Ian Marter played Harry Sullivan appearing alongside fourth Doctor Tom Baker, from December 1974 to September 1975.

After graduating from Oxford University in 1969, Marter initially worked at the Bristol Old Vic theatre, where he was a stage manager as well as acting in various minor roles. In 1971 he auditioned for the regular role of Captain Mike Yates in the eighth season of Doctor Who, and although he did not win the part, he sufficiently impressed the production team to be kept in mind and cast in a supporting role in the 1973 story Carnival of Monsters.

The following year, he was cast in the role of Harry Sullivan, a character developed by the production team when they planned that the incoming Fourth Doctor would be portrayed by an older actor, and thus would not be able to handle the more physical action scenes. 

Marter remained involved with Doctor Who after his departure from the cast. With Tom Baker he co-wrote the script for a potential feature film version, provisionally titled Doctor Who Meets Scratchman, also known as Doctor Who and the Big Game, although this never came to fruition. 

He later became involved with the writing of novelisations of Doctor Who television stories for Target Books, penning nine adaptations in the late 1970s and early 1980s. 

He also wrote an original spin-off novel for Target, Harry Sullivan's War, starring the character he had played on screen, which was published in 1985

Outside of Doctor Who, Marter's acting career consisted mainly of guest roles in episodes of series such as the BBC's Bergerac (in 1981) and Granada Television's The Return of Sherlock Holmes (in 1986). He also had minor roles in several films, such as The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and The Medusa Touch (1978). He lived and worked in New Zealand in the early 1980s, appearing in the New Zealand soap opera Close to Home from 1982.

Ian Marter  died suddenly at his home in London on his forty-second birthday in 1986, after suffering a heart attack brought on by complications of diabetes.