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John Devon Roland Pertwee (7 July 1919 – 20 May 1996), known professionally as Jon Pertwee, was an English actor, comedian, entertainer and cabaret performer.
John Devon Roland Pertwee|
7 July 1919
Chelsea, London, England
20 May 1996 (aged 76)|
Sherman, Connecticut, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
Doctor Who (1970–74) |
Worzel Gummidge (1979–81, 1987–89)
The Navy Lark (1959–1977)
(m. 1955; div. 1960)
(m. 1960; his death 1996)
|Children||2, including Sean Pertwee|
Pertwee was born into a theatrical family. After service in the Royal Navy and the Naval Intelligence Division during the Second World War, in his early career he worked as a vaudeville comedian, which included performing at the Glasgow Empire Theatre and sharing a bill with Max Wall and Jimmy James. As an actor, Pertwee appeared in many comedy roles, including four films in the Carry On series. According to The Daily Telegraph, he was known for having "rubbery features and ability to affect silly voices".
Pertwee became known for spending 18 years (1959–1977) playing Chief petty officer Pertwee in the popular series The Navy Lark on BBC Radio, as well as starring on television as the Third Doctor in the science-fiction series Doctor Who between 1970 and 1974. He had further success playing the title character in the television series Worzel Gummidge from 1979 to 1981 (reprising the role from 1987 to 1989). Towards the end of his life, he maintained a close association with Doctor Who by appearing at many fan conventions related to the series, giving interviews and performing to audiences in a one-person show called Who Is Jon Pertwee?.
Born in Chelsea, London, and having French Huguenot ancestry (his surname was an Anglicisation of "Perthuis"; the origins of his surname being "de Perthuis de Laillevault"), Jon was the son of screenwriter and actor Roland Pertwee and distant cousin of actor Bill Pertwee. Pertwee’s mother, Avice Scholtz, separated from his father Roland when Pertwee was young. His father remarried, and his mother found a new partner, with whom Pertwee did not build a relationship. Avice’s sister Daphne married Captain Philip Cecil Clowes and became the mother of Pertwee's cousin, the writer St. John Legh Clowes (1907–1951). Actor Henry Ainley, a close friend of his father, was his godfather. Coincidentally, Ainley's son Anthony appeared as "The Master" – a renegade Time Lord who was "The Doctor's" greatest enemy – alongside Pertwee in the 1983 Doctor Who anniversary story The Five Doctors.
He was married twice. His first marriage was in 1955, to Jean Marsh, whom he divorced in 1960; later that same year he married Ingeborg Rhoesa, born 1935. Together they had two children, both of whom became actors: a daughter, Dariel, in 1961, and a son, Sean, in 1964.
Pertwee was educated at Frensham Heights School, an independent school in Rowledge, near Farnham in Surrey, at Sherborne School in Sherborne in Dorset, and at some other schools from which he was expelled. After school, he went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), from which he was also expelled after he refused to play a Greek "wind" during one of the lessons, feeling it was a waste of both his time and his father's money. He was also accused of writing graffiti about the tutors on the lavatory walls.
During the Second World War, Pertwee spent six years in the Royal Navy. He was a crew member of HMS Hood and was transferred off the ship for officer training shortly before she was sunk by the German battleship Bismarck, losing all but three men in May 1941. Later, he was attached to the highly-secretive Naval Intelligence Division, working alongside future James Bond author Ian Fleming, and reporting directly to Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and Deputy Prime Minister, Clement Attlee. In an interview conducted in 1994 and published in 2013, he said, "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." During his time in the Navy, Pertwee woke up one morning after a drunken night out while in port to find a tattoo of a cobra on his right arm.
After the war, he made a name for himself as a comedy actor on radio in Waterlogged Spa, alongside Eric Barker, and Puffney Post Office in which he played a hapless old postman with the catch-phrase "It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you tears them up." On 15 November 1948, at the Wood Green Empire, he was billed as 'The Most Versatile Voice in Radio – Jon ("Tear 'em Up") Pertwee from the Radio Shows "Merry-go-Round" and "Up the Pole"'. From 1959 to 1977, he had a long-running role as the conniving Chief Petty Officer Pertwee in The Navy Lark on BBC Radio. He was known as a Danny Kaye look-alike, and his impersonation of Kaye can be seen in the film Murder at the Windmill (1949). In 1953, he played Charlie Sterling in Will Any Gentleman...?. Future Doctor Who actor William Hartnell was also in the film; he played Inspector Martin.
On stage, he played the part of Lycus in the 1963 London production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with Frankie Howerd and appeared in the smaller role of Crassus in the 1966 film version. He appeared as Sidney Tait in the comedy film Ladies Who Do (1963). In 1966, Pertwee starred alongside Donald Sinden in the original West End production of the long-running comedy There's a Girl in My Soup and also appeared in four Carry On films: Carry On Cleo (1964, as the soothsayer), Carry On Cowboy (1965, as Sheriff Earp), Carry On Screaming! (1966, as Dr. Fettle), and Carry On Columbus (1992, as the Duke of Costa Brava). In 1967 Pertwee had been producer David Croft's choice for the role of Captain George Mainwaring in Dad's Army but turned it down – possibly because he preferred to extend his role on Broadway in There's a Girl in My Soup.[page needed]
His television career had started off with small parts in children's shows featuring Richard Hearne's Mr Pastry character. Later he made an appearance in The Avengers episode 'From Venus With Love' (1967) as Brigadier Whitehead, and in the 1970s, he guest-starred as a vicar in The Goodies' episode "Wacky Wales".
Doctor Who (1970–1974)Edit
In 1969, Pertwee was selected by outgoing producer Peter Bryant and the series' next producer Derrick Sherwin to take over as the Doctor from Patrick Troughton in the television series Doctor Who. Pertwee had asked his agent to apply for the role for him and was surprised to find he was already on the shortlist. He was the second choice for the role; Ron Moody was the first but was unavailable. In a departure from the Doctor's first two incarnations, Pertwee played the character as an active crusader with a penchant for action and fancy clothes, even while the character was exiled on Earth and serving with UNIT. He played the Doctor for five seasons from early 1970 to mid-1974, a longer stint than either of his predecessors in the role, William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, although the Pertwee era of Doctor Who had 128 episodes compared to the Hartnell era's 134, as the BBC relaxed its shooting schedule from 39–45 episodes per season to 25–26 episodes per season at the start of Pertwee's tenure as Doctor Who.
Pertwee credited his performance as the Third Doctor for helping him work out exactly who he really was when he was not resorting to comedic disguises or voices: a dapper, technologically oriented man of action. This was because BBC Head of Drama Shaun Sutton had advised him to act out the Third Doctor as himself: in effect, to "play Jon Pertwee." Pertwee remembered asking himself, when so advised, "Now who in the hell is that?" His performances, he said in his later years, helped him to determine the answer to that question.
In 1971 he appeared in the Amicus horror compendium The House That Dripped Blood. Filming in the summer of 1970, between his first and second Doctor Who seasons, Pertwee played the lead in the last segment of the film as Paul Henderson, an arrogant horror film star who meets his doom thanks to a genuine vampire cloak.
In 1973, during the peak of his Doctor Who powers, Pertwee endorsed the Co-op's Baking Your Cake and Eating it, a recipe book written by Sarah Charles. It has been given the unofficial title of The Jon Pertwee Recipe Book.
In early 1974, Pertwee announced he would step down as the Doctor to resume his stage career in The Bedwinner, also citing typecasting in the role as the reason for leaving, though he later said that the catalyst for his departure was the death of his good friend and co-star Roger Delgado (The Master) and the departures of co-star Katy Manning and producer Barry Letts. His last full-time appearance in the series was in the story Planet of the Spiders in June 1974, which finished with Tom Baker replacing him in the role. Although ratings for the series rose higher under his successor, who overtook him in popularity and became widely viewed as the definitive Doctor, Pertwee's tenure in Doctor Who has been praised by The Daily Telegraph critic Dr. Tim Stanley as "the high point of the programme as a serious piece of science-fiction".
Pertwee later reprised the role in the 20th anniversary story The Five Doctors and the Children in Need story Dimensions in Time, in two radio adventures and on stage in Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure. On 14 April 1971, Pertwee was the subject of Thames Television's This Is Your Life.
After a stint between 1974 and 1978 as the host of the Thames Television murder-mystery game show Whodunnit?, Pertwee took the starring role in Worzel Gummidge, based on the books written by Barbara Euphan Todd. First aired in 1979 on ITV, the series saw Pertwee as a scarecrow, as well as using several comedic voices. The show was an immediate hit and ran on the channel until 1981. Keen to continue beyond this, Pertwee campaigned for the series and it was picked up by a New Zealand TV network in 1987. Worzel Gummidge Down Under aired for the next two years and was screened in the UK on Channel 4. In 1995, Pertwee played the role one last time in a one-off special for ITV, which celebrated 40 years of the channel. Pertwee played the title character in Worzel Gummidge, the musical, book and lyrics by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, music by Denis King, which opened at London's Cambridge Theatre in December 1981, co-starring Una Stubbs and Geoffrey Bayldon. Pertwee also recorded an album, Worzel Gummidge Sings, as well as a Christmas single.
He played the memorable role of The Colonel in the children's film One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing in 1975. The following year, he voiced and appeared in the television advertisement that promoted the Green Cross Code by use of the mnemonic "SPLINK". Also in 1976, Pertwee starred with Australian actress Julie Anthony in a West End production of the musical IRENE (originally 1919, revived Broadway 1973), playing the camp fashion-designer "Madame Lucy" (originally Liam O'Dougherty). The production opened at the Adelphi Theatre, London, and enjoyed a long run of over 900 performances: Pertwee features on the cast recording album, produced by Norman Newell for EMI Records (EMC3139). He also voiced the character of "Spotty" in the 1980s cartoon series SuperTed and, in 1985, starred in Do You Know The Milkyway?, a television adaptation of Karl Wittlinger's stage play in which Pertwee played Dr. Neuross and another nine characters. In 1995, he also had the key voice of Death and other voice characterisations in the PC and PlayStation renditions of "Discworld". Also in 1995, he played General Von Kramer in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode "Attack of the Hawkmen".
He returned to the role of the Doctor in the 1983 20th anniversary television special The Five Doctors and in the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure which toured theatres in the United Kingdom from March to June 1989. During the 1990s, he made a guest appearance in the "Lords and Ladies" episode of the BBC Radio 4 comedy series Harry Hill's Fruit Corner, playing a Time Lord and also spoofed the role in the Radio 4 comedy The Skivers. He also presented the Doctor Who video releases The Troughton Years (1991), showcasing selected surviving episodes of otherwise wiped stories and The Pertwee Years (1992), the latter a look back at his time on the show, with his three selected episodes.
In 1993, Pertwee was featured in the unofficial 30th anniversary VHS release of Doctor Who entitled 30 Years of Time Travel and Beyond. When asked in an interview for this documentary if the show should be brought back he simply replied with 'No... no', but believed if it did come back a lot more money would need to be spent on the series along with a new production team. Pertwee would continue to act in films and television as well as make appearances worldwide in support of Doctor Who. Ultimately, Pertwee was successful in seeing the Third Doctor return to the airwaves with two audio productions for BBC Radio, The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space.
In April 1995, he appeared in Devious, an amateur video drama set between the second Doctor's trial at the end of The War Games and before the start of Spearhead From Space, which shows an interim (between second and third) Doctor played by Tony Garner being told he was "never meant to be the Doctor" and that the third will complete him. Pertwee's scenes in that role are the only pieces of the video that have been released (on the DVD of The War Games). Also in 1995, Pertwee starred in a one-man show called Who Is Jon Pertwee?.
Pertwee's final film role was in a short film entitled Cloud Cuckoo for Scottish Screen, released on 18 June 1994. His last formal television appearance was on Cilla's Surprise, Surprise, broadcast on 21 April 1996. At the date of his death, Pertwee was regularly being seen in the closing moments of an enigmatic UK TV commercial for mobile phone operator Vodafone: dressed somewhat in his flamboyant 'Doctor' manner. His character walked wordlessly across an alleyway in sight of a Liverpool landmark, and entered a garage evidently containing some kind of 'time machine'.
Death and legacyEdit
Pertwee continued on the Doctor Who convention circuit, and with his voice and television acting, until his death; he died in his sleep from a heart attack in Connecticut on 20 May 1996, at the age of 76. He was survived by his wife Ingeborg Rhoesa, and two children who had followed him into the acting profession, Sean Pertwee and Dariel Pertwee. His immediate successor in the starring role of Doctor Who, Tom Baker, paid tribute, saying: "I am very sorry to hear the news. I was a great admirer of such a stylish actor." Another of his successors in the role, Colin Baker, said: "He was a man of such presence and stature. I can't believe he has gone – it is a great shock. Of all of the interpretations of the Doctors his was the most straight in terms of avoiding comedy." His body was cremated at Putney Vale Crematorium with a toy Worzel Gummidge affixed to the coffin, following the instructions in his will.
His death came six days after the American broadcast of the Doctor Who television film, which used in its opening credits a logo based on that from his era of the television series. The BBC broadcast of the film, on 27 May 1996, featured a dedication to Pertwee at its end.
His last association with the series was posthumous. With the approval of his widow, Ingeborg, his voice was used as part of the plot of the Big Finish Productions' 40th Anniversary Doctor Who audio drama, Zagreus, appearing as messages from the Doctor's TARDIS as it attempted to help the currently corrupted Eighth Doctor (voiced by Paul McGann). Pertwee's voice was culled from the fan-produced Doctor Who film Devious, portions of which were recorded just prior to his death.
Pertwee wrote two autobiographies: Moon Boots and Dinner Suits (published in 1984), which primarily covers his life and career prior to Doctor Who, and the posthumously published Doctor Who: I Am the Doctor – Jon Pertwee’s Final Memoir, which was worked on from April 1995 until 8 May 1996 (ISBN 9781852276218, published in November 1996 by Virgin Publishing Ltd. under the Doctor Who Books imprint and co-written with David J. Howe), which covered his life during and after the series. In 2000, Jon Pertwee: The Biography by Bernard Bale (ISBN 0-233-99831-4) was published by André Deutsch, and included a few chapters by Pertwee's widow Ingeborg.
Archival footage of Pertwee has been used several times in the revived Doctor Who. Footage appears in "The Next Doctor" when the Tenth Doctor shows Jackson Lake an infostamp about himself, and in "The Eleventh Hour" when the Eleventh Doctor rhetorically asks the Atraxi how previous alien invasion attempts were stopped. Footage of Pertwee was used in "The Name of the Doctor" to depict his Doctor interacting with a version of Clara Oswald, and in "The Day of the Doctor" to depict the Third Doctor assisting his other incarnations in sending Gallifrey to a pocket universe to protect it from the Daleks.
Several figurines of Pertwee's Doctor have been released as part of the Doctor Who action figure range.
- In 1966, Pertwee contributed to the children's album Children's Favourites by EMI and Paul Hamlyn. Songs sung by him include "The Runaway Train", "Froggy Went A-Courtin'", "My Grandfather's Clock", "Three Little Fishes" and "I Know An Old Lady". Published by Music for Pleasure in mono (catalogue MDP 1175), the recordings were produced by Norman Newell, with a synopsis written on the back by Roger St. Pierre. On the front cover is the picture of a glove puppet by Carol Patmore & Rima Reed. At least one of the songs, "The Runaway Train" (b/w "The Ugly Duckling"), was released as a single on Music for Pleasure (catalogue FP 10).
- In 1972 he released, with June Whitfield, "Wonderful Children's Songs" on the Contour label (catalogue 2870191)
- In 1972, while still in the role of the Doctor, he released a vocal narration over the Doctor Who theme music entitled "Who is the Doctor", on Purple Records.
- In 1976 he starred in the EMI original cast recording (EMC 3139) of the West End musical Irene, in which he had enjoyed a long run, playing 'Madame Lucy' at the Adelphi Theatre, London.
- In 1976 he recorded a promotional flexi-disc for Heinz called "The Noodle Doodle Man", a song that accompanied a television commercial to which Pertwee contributed the vocal performance.
- In 1980 he released "Worzel's Song", from the album Worzel Gummidge Sings. The single reached No.33 on the UK charts in March. A second single was released in 1987 when the series was revived, but this met with less success. Also released in 1984 was a single entitled 'Jon Pertwee and Friends Sing the Beatles' which comprised "Yesterday", featuring a semi-spoken-word performance, and "When I'm 64", in the guise of Worzel Gummidge. This record was intended to aid the Liverpool Children's Hospital.
- In 1993 an audio release of the radio play The Paradise of Death reached No.48 in the album charts.
- In 1984 he featured in the computer game audio tape of Deus Ex Machina by Automata UK, released for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1984.
|1938||A Yank at Oxford||Minor Role||Uncredited|
|1939||The Four Just Men||Rally campaigner||Uncredited|
|1948||Trouble in the Air||Truelove|
|William Comes to Town||Circus Superintendent|
|A Piece of Cake||Mr. Short|
|1949||Murder at the Windmill||Detective Sergeant||(as Jon Pertwer)|
|Helter Skelter||Headwaiter / Charles II|
|Dear Mr. Prohack||Plover|
|Miss Pilgrim's Progress||Postman Perkins|
|1950||The Body Said No!||Watchman|
|1951||Mister Drake's Duck||Reuben|
|1953||Will Any Gentleman...?||Charley Sterling|
|1954||The Gay Dog||A Betting Man|
|1955||A Yank in Ermine||Slowburn Jenks|
|1956||It's a Wonderful World||Conductor||Uncredited|
|1959||The Ugly Duckling||Victor Jekyll|
|Not a Hope in Hell||Dan|
|1961||Nearly a Nasty Accident||Gen. Birkinshaw|
|1963||Ladies Who Do||Sidney Tait|
|1964||Carry On Cleo||Soothsayer|
|1965||How to Undress in Public Without Undue Embarrassment||Uncredited|
|I've Gotta Horse||Costumier's assistant|
|You Must Be Joking!||Storekeeper (Hare Factory)|
|1965||Carry On Cowboy||Sheriff Albert Earp|
|1966||Carry On Screaming!||Doctor Fettle|
|A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum||Crassus|
|Runaway Railway||Station Master|
|1969||Up in the Air||Figworthy|
|Under the Table You Must Go||Himself||Documentary|
|1971||The House That Dripped Blood||Paul Henderson (segment 4 "The Cloak")|
|1975||One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing||Colonel|
|1977||Adventures of a Private Eye||Judd Blake|
|No. 1 of the Secret Service||The Rev. Walter Braithwaite|
|1978||The Water Babies||Salmon / Kraken||(voice)|
|1982||The Boys in Blue||Coastguard|
|1992||Carry On Columbus||Duke of Costa Brava|
|1947||The Wandering Jew||Boemond, Prince of Tarentum||TV movie|
|Toad of Toad Hall||The Judge||TV movie|
|1958||Ivanhoe||Peter the Peddler||Episode: "The Swindler"|
|1959||Glencannon||Champagne Charlie||Episode: "Champagne Charlie"|
|1963||The Dickie Henderson Show||Uncredited||Episode: "The Hypnotist"|
|1965||A Sight Case of...||Uncredited||Episode: "The Enemy Within"|
|Mother Goose||The Squire||TV movie|
|1966||David Nixon's Comedy Bandbox||Guest||1 episode|
|1967||The Avengers||Brigadier Whitehead||Episode: "From Venus with Love"|
|Beggar My Neighbour||Major Henley||1 episode|
|1970–1974||Doctor Who||Third Doctor||128 episodes|
|1975||The Goodies||Reverend Llewellyn
|Episode: "Wacky Wales"|
|1977||Four Against the Desert||Staff||TV movie|
|1979–1981||Worzel Gummidge||Worzel Gummidge||31 episodes|
|1982||The Curious Case of Santa Claus||Dr. Merryweather|
|1982–1984||Superted||Spottyman (voice)||36 episodes|
|1983||Doctor Who||Third Doctor||Episode: "The Five Doctors"|
|1984||Deus Ex Machina||The Storyteller (voice)||Video game|
|1985||Do You Know the Milkyway?||Dr. Neuross||TV movie|
|1987–1989||Worzel Gummidge Down Under||Worzel Gummidge||22 episodes|
|1989||The Further Adventures of SuperTed||Spottyman
(voice – UK version)
|1992||Virtual Murder||Luis Silverado||Episode: "A Torch for Silverado"|
|1993||Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time||The Third Doctor||TV short|
|The Airzone Solution||Oliver Threthewey||Video|
|1994||The Zero Imperative||Dr. Jeremiah O'Kane||Video|
|Myth Makers Vol. 7: Wendy Padbury||Spottyman||Video|
|1995||Discworld||Fool / Chucky / Windle Poons (voice)||Video game|
|The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles||General Von Kramer||Episode: "Attack of the Hawkmen"|
|2015||Lego Dimensions||Third Doctor||Video game; archive sound|
- Pertwee, Jon (1984). Moon Boots and Dinner Suits. Elm Tree Books. ISBN 0-241-11337-7.
- Pertwee, Jon; Howe, David J. (1996). I Am The Doctor - Jon Pertwee's Final Memoir. Virgin Books. ISBN 1-85227-621-5.
- GRO Register of Births: SEP 1919 1a 132 KENSINGTON – John D. R. Pertwee, mmn = Scholts
- Cult leader's mission to return to future . The Herald. 15 May 1989. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
- Doctor Who 50th anniversary: Jon Pertwee – the funkadelic master of Venusian karate. The Daily Telegraph. 7 November 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
- Cabell, Craig (2013). The Doctors Who's Who: The Story Behind Every Face of the Iconic Time Lord. John Blake Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1782194712.
- An Hour with Jon Pertwee, broadcast by BBC7 on 30 March 2009
- "Pertwee, Jon (1919–1996)". BFI Screenonline Biography.
- Interview "Mind of Evil" DVD, released 2013.
- "Essex 11".
- GRO Register of Marriages: JUN 1955 5f 63 MIDDLESEX S. – Jon D. R. Pertwee = Jeann L. T. Marsh
- GRO Register of Marriages: SEP 1960 6a 1385 WYCOMBE – Jon D. R. Pertwee = Ingeborg R. Rhosa
- Tim Cooper, "Heart attack kills dandy Doctor Who", The Evening Standard, 20 May 1996
- Smurthwaite, Nick (20 May 1996). "Obituary: Jon Pertwee". The Independent. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
- Operation Big Ben, Craig Cabell
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 October 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
- Windmill Theatre#Film depictions Windmill Theatre
- McCann, Graham (2001). Dad's Army: The Story of a Classic Television Show. 4th Estate. ISBN 9 781841 153094.
- BBC Radio 4 An Hour with Jon Pertwee
- "Celebrating the Jon Pertwee Recipe Book". Braised Hearts.
- Lyons, Kevin (31 January 2014). "Tom Baker: the definitive Doctor Who?". BFI. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- "Jon Pertwee Featuring Una Stubbs & Geofrey Bayldon – Worzel Gummidge Sings". www.discogs.com.
- "Former Dr Who, actor Jon Pertwee dies". The Irish Times. 21 May 1996.
- Hewitt, Nik. "Jon Pertwee: Obituary – ThisIsAnnouncements". Lastingtribute.co.uk. Retrieved 22 April 2012.[dead link]
- Jon Pertwee on IMDb
- "The Third Doctor". Doctor Who Action Figures.
- Mulkern, Patrick (24 October 2016). "Doctor Who's Jon Pertwee is honoured with a blue plaque". RadioTimes. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
-  Archived 25 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Worzel Gummidge".[permanent dead link]
- Chart Stats – Jon Pertwee – Worzel's Song
- "Chart Stats – BBC cast – Doctor Who the paradise of death".
- "Deus Ex Machina". World of Spectrum.