Today marks the 74th birthday of John Leeson, an actor who has spanned both the classic and modern eras of Doctor Who.

Yet, despite being a recurring figure, you may not recognise his face. Should you recognise his voice though? Affirmative!

Leeson is the man behind the rebel Time Lord’s faithful robot sidekick, K-9. First introduced in 1977’s The Invisible Enemy, K-9 made such an impact with younger viewers that he became a regular companion. However, there were some frustrations surrounding the limitations of the character. Tom Baker has famously stated his dislike for the tin dog. Nevertheless, he remained an enduring figure in Doctor Who history, bowing out in 1981 serial Warrior’s Gate. It wouldn’t be long until K-9 returned though. This time, he appeared in 1981 spin-off pilot K-9 and Company alongside Sarah Jane Smith.

“Affirmative, Master!”
K9 and Sarah Jane Smith (ELIZABETH SLADEN) (c) Doctor Who BBC
K9 and Sarah Jane Smith (ELIZABETH SLADEN) (c) Doctor Who BBC

Two years later, K-9 made a comeback in 1983’s The Five Doctors, although only in a short cameo appearance. It would not be until 2006 that K-9 made a full triumphant return, reuniting with The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith in School Reunion. Since then, K-9 reappeared in Journey’s End and several episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures. His last on-screen appearance was in Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith. Outside of the official Whoniverse, K-9 starred in his own 2009-2010 spin-off series. Most importantly, excluding a brief stint in Season 17 of classic Doctor Who, Leeson has always provided K-9’s iconic voice.

Lesson recently lent his vocal talents to Lego Dimensions’ Doctor Who content when using the K-9 mini-figure gadget. Plus, there is the possibility of reprising his role in a new K-9 spin-off movie this year. K-9: TimeQuake will pit the robot dog against the ruthless Omega in deep space. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

Whatever the future holds for K-9 and for John Leeson, today we applaud their fantastic contribution to Doctor Who. Many happy returns!

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