Roger Delgado

Roger Delgado
Born Roger Caesar Marius Bernard de Delgado Torres Castillo Roberto
(1918-03-01)1 March 1918
Whitechapel, London, England, UK
Died 18 June 1973(1973-06-18) (aged 55)
Nevsehir, Turkey
Cause of death Car crash
Occupation Actor
Years active 1952-1973
Known for First actor to play The Master
in Doctor Who (1971–1973)
Spouse(s) Kismet Shahani (1957–1973; his death)

Roger Caesar Marius Bernard de Delgado Torres Castillo Roberto (1 March 1918 – 18 June 1973) was a British actor, best known as the first actor to play the Master in Doctor Who.

Early life

Delgado was born in Whitechapel, in the East End of London; he often remarked to Doctor Who co-star and close friend Jon Pertwee that this made him a true Cockney,[1] as he was born within the sound of the Bow bells, even though his mother was Belgian and his father was Spanish. He attended Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, a Roman Catholic secondary school in Holland Park, and the London School of Economics. He served in the Second World War with both the Leicestershire Regiment and the Royal Signals, attaining the rank of major.[2][3]

Personal life

Delgado married Kismet Shahani in 1957 and they were together until his death in 1973.


Delgado worked extensively on the British stage, and on TV, film and radio. He appeared in the 1955 BBC TV serial Quatermass II, the 1956 Powell and Pressburger wartime drama Battle of the River Plate, and came to wide popular attention in Britain when he played the duplicitous Spanish envoy Mendoza in the ITC Entertainment series Sir Francis Drake from 1961 to 1962, after which he was in much demand. An in-joke in the 1971 Doctor Who story Colony in Space refers to that role, when the Brigadier tells the Doctor not to worry as the suspected sighting of the Master "was only the Spanish Ambassador". Delgado was frequently cast as a villain, appearing in many noted British action-adventure TV series by ITC, including Danger Man (1961), The Saint (1962 and 1966), The Champions (1969), and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969).

Delgado made a total of 16 guest appearances in ITC shows, the most of any actor, with his last completed role being ITC's The Zoo Gang (1974). He also appeared in The Avengers (1961 and 1969), The Power Game (1966), and Crossfire (1967). His films included The Terror of the Tongs, The Road to Hong Kong, The Mummy's Shroud and Antony and Cleopatra. He began work as the Master on Doctor Who in late 1970, his first broadcast appearance being in the January 1971 adventure Terror of the Autons. He subsequently reprised the role of the Master in many of the Third Doctor serials, including The Mind of Evil, The Claws of Axos, Colony in Space, The Dæmons, The Sea Devils, The Time Monster and Frontier in Space. The Master's story arc was to have ended in The Final Game, which was planned as the final story to feature Pertwee's Third Doctor, but the story was scrapped following Delgado's sudden death and replaced with Planet of the Spiders.


Delgado died on location in Turkey, whilst shooting La Cloche Tibetaine, (Tibetan Bell), a Franco/German TV mini-series.[4][5] This was portraying Citroen car expeditions in 1931-32 which traversed Asia, from Peking and one starting from Beirut. Delgado appeared in one episode of this production. He was killed, along with two Turkish film technicians, when the car in which he was travelling went off the road into a ravine. He was 55 years old.

Up until recently, there was mystery surrounding the fate of Roger's remains. It has now transpired that Roger's ashes were scattered on the 27 June 1973, in area RB3(Plot 43,) in the Garden of Remembrance at Mortlake cemetery, North London. Although he was not cremated there. Possible suggestions that he was cremated in Turkey, and his ashes shipped back to the UK.

The serial he was filming in Turkey continued production and was completed after his tragic death and that of the film technicians and the series was broadcast on French and German television in 1974-75, and Delgado can be seen in episode 4 as the minor character Paco.[6]

Jon Pertwee often remarked that Delgado's death was one of the reasons he left Doctor Who.[7]



Year Title Role Notes
1952 Murder at Scotland Yard George Grayson
1953 The Broken Horseshoe Felix Galegos
The Captain's Paradise Kalikan policeman
Blood Orange Marlowe Released as Three Stops to Murder in USA
1954 The Belles of St Trinian's Sultan's Aide Uncredited
Third Party Risk Detective Gonzales Released as The Big Deadly Game in USA
1955 Storm Over the Nile Native spy
1956 The Battle of the River Plate Captain Varela, Uruguayan Navy
1957 Manuela Stranger
Man in the Shadow Alberto Uncredited
1958 Sea Fury Salgado
Mark of the Phoenix Devron
1959 First Man into Space Mexican Consul - Ramon de Guerrera
The Stranglers of Bombay Bundar Uncredited
1960 Sands of the Desert Abu Nial
1961 The Singer Not the Song Pedro de Cortinez
The Terror of the Tongs Tang Hao
1962 Village of Daughters Francisco Predati
The Road to Hong Kong Jhinnah
Guns of Darkness Hernandez Voice
In Search of the Castaways Patagonian Prisoner
1963 The Mind Benders Dr Jean Bonvoulois Uncredited
The Running Man Spanish doctor
1964 Hot Enough for June Josef
1965 Masquerade Ahmed Ben Faïd Uncredited
1966 Khartoum Uncredited
The Sandwich Man Abdul - Carpet Seller
1967 The Mummy's Shroud Hasmid
1968 Star! French Ambassador Uncredited
1969 The Assassination Bureau Bureau Member Uncredited
You Can't Win 'Em All Capt.Enver and two others Voice, Uncredited
1970 Underground Xavier
1972 Antony and Cleopatra Soothsayer


Year Title Role Notes
1958 The Adventures of Robin Hood Ambassador Episode: The Minstrel
1959 - 65 The Third Man Luis Mendoza / Henri Banear 4 episodes
1961 Danger Man Von Golling Episode: Under the Lake
1962 Z Cars Gregori Katsybalis Episode: Business Trip
1971 The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes Silva Episode: Madame Sara
1971 - 73 Doctor Who The Master 37 episodes, recurring role
1974 La Cloche Tibetaine, (Tibetan Bell) Paco Episode 4

Filmed in Turkey. He was killed in a car crash during the production of this French/German TV mini-series
(Last appearance)


  1. The Making of Doctor Who, 1972, p. 31
  2. "Roger Delgado". Metacritic. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  3. "The UNIT Family: Part Two". The Day of the Daleks (DVD special feature). BBC. 2011. ASIN B004VRO89C.
  4. "Funeral Directors and services - Roger Delgado". Family Announcements.
  5. "Kasterborous Doctor Who News and Reviews / Roger Delgado's Last Appearance: Found! - Kasterborous Doctor Who News and Reviews". Kasterborous Doctor Who News and Reviews.
  6. "La Cloche Tibetaine". La Cloche Tibetaine.
  7. "Exclusive First Look: The Final Curtain Part 1 - Doctor Who - Planet of the Spiders". YouTube. BBCClassicDoctorWho. 4 March 2011.
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