The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the phenomenon of multiple representation, whereby a number of actors, usually sequentially, play the same character. There is a substantial gap in the literature on this particular practice. Although there is a long tradition of this in theatre, this research was limited to cinematic and televisual texts. It begins by examining a number of fictional characters who have been played by various actors in distinct texts across a considerable period of time, concentrating on James Bond, but also considering Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple among others. Attention is paid to the consequences of film’s limited series in contrast to television’s more extensive groupings. An investigation of television texts where multiple representation has occurred during individual runs of various shows, reveals that the practice is not limited, as is sometimes suggested, to soaps, but is generically inflected. The principal focus though is on the long-running television text Doctor Who, a British science fiction programme. This text was chosen as it is arguably the best-known example of multiple representation. Doctor Who ran as a multi-episode series from 1963 to 1989, and resumed in 2005 after what is known as ‘the long hiatus’. During the first period, ‘Classic Who’, eight actors played the lead role – the Doctor, while in the regenerated text there have been three to date.
Using Doctor Who as a case study, textual analysis was carried out to discover the factors that enhance the continuity that is required when the role of the lead character is recast while the narrative is on-going. While the focus is on the more recent instances, each available regeneration sequence, where the character moves between the actors, was inspected. Genre again plays a significant role in continuity through multiple representation. There is an examination of the critical changes made to the show in the new series, including an analysis of the timeslot, the engagement with sexuality, and the representation of people of colour. In addition the study examines the general importance that multiple representation plays in regenerating cinematic and televisual texts.
The analysis reveals that the sequences of recostuming the new actor played a significant part in both ensuring continuity and in establishing the new player. While other genres, most notably soap opera, are well known for employing multiple representation, it was found that the science fiction genre has a considerable advantage in recasting with narrative continuity. When compared with other texts that have been recently revived, it was found that continuity of character traits played an important part in ensuring the success of the new series of Doctor Who. Other texts that had made substantial changes to the make-up of the cast in the revived versions have proven to be more problematic than those where the narrative continuity was sustained. These findings have much to say about the process of reviving older texts.