Sean Pertwee, quite obviously the son of Jon Pertwee above, plays the legendary Alfred Pennyworth, butler to the recently-orphaned Bruce Wayne. Pertwee’s Alfred remains as loyal, punctilious, and imperturbable as any previous portrayal, but he also has a layer of working-class grit and a penchant for fisticuffs all his own. This weekend we watched them back to back – ‘The Daemons’ followed by the penultimate episode of Gotham – which really accented the similarities and differences.
Jon was in his early 50s in 1972; Sean is 50 now. Their eyes are the same, and their faces fall in similar lines and folds. It’s easy to see the Doctor looking out of Alfred’s countenance. But beyond that, the two could not be more different. The elder is a gentleman, a pacifist for all his Venusian aikido, a man of science. He’s ebullient and whimsical, quick to shout and quick to smile. The younger is staff. He’s polite, deferential, stoic – but with an undercurrent of barely contained violence. He has friends in low places. He would kill for the boy in his care, and he would die for him.
It’s harder to know an actor than a character, but both seem to carry at least a little of themselves into their roles. Jon was known for his flamboyance and style. Sean gives the impression of being just another bloke. His Lestrade (Elementary) was rough-edged, uncouth, sullen. Jon’s Worzel Gummidge, a talking scarecrow, played excess makeup and a ridiculous accent for laughs. It is difficult to envision either in the other’s roles.
But the one thing we’re all waiting for:
He appeared in ‘The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot;’ now let’s have him on the real thing.