It’s the evening of November 23, 1963 and you are sitting in front of the “telly” eagerly awaiting this new series on the BBC channel.

The unearthly whorls of Doctor Who’s opening title sequence fade out but the now-familiar theme music continues, accompanying a policeman on his beat in a dark, foggy London street. He shines his torch over a pair of junkyard gates, which mysteriously creak open to give viewers their first glimpse of what looks like a police box, incongruous among the scrap, alive with a low hum.

The supporting artist who played the policeman went by the name of Reg Cranfield. It turns out, however, that Reg’s real name, and the one residents of Seymour Plain near Marlow would probably have known him by, was Reginald Smith.

He lived on the outskirts of the town in a four-bedroom house called ‘Argosy’ with Kathleen Smith (presumably his wife), between around 1968 and 1982.

Apart from these scraps of information, very little is known about Reg.

He seems to have first appeared in the background of films and television around 1960, when he looked to be in his 50s and made many appearances until the early 80s.

He was last seen as a vicar in Who Dares Wins, released in 1982.

In 1974, Reg briefly shared the screen with Richard Burton and Sophia Loren, as a tweed-wearing, pipe-smoking customer in a railway café, in the film Brief Encounter. On this rare occasion, he’s actually given a line: delighted with the pint he’s been served, he can be heard saying, “Thank you very much.”

He sounds a friendly sort of chap, quite well-spoken.

One wonders what Reg’s occupation was before he became an extra, work he would seem to have taken on later in his life to bring in some extra pennies.

In Doctor Who, he went on to pop up in the background of the occasional story for the next 13 years.

He was a 16th century Parisian, a Tombstone cowboy, a priest in Atlantis, a modern day soldier, and, in his final appearance, one of the Doctor’s own people.

For the past 14 years, I’ve edited a Doctor Who print magazine called Vworp Vworp!, named after the noise the TARDIS makes when it dematerialises (at least in comic strip form!).

As Doctor Who celebrates its 60th birthday this year, I’ve made it my mission to finally learn what I can about Reg Smith/Cranfield, who had the distinction of being the very first person to appear on screen in the series.

Every piece of biographical information on the internet is incorrect, lifted wholesale from a spoof article written in 2013, so all I know is his real name and where he spent the latter part of his life: Seymour Plain.

To be able to gather enough detail on Reg’s life to write an article about him for my magazine would be a great thrill.

So I’m appealing to any readers who knew Reg or Kathleen Smith, or have any further leads, please contact me via Buck Free Press’s Nostalgia columnist Mike Dewey at I’d be so grateful.

This article and appeal has been sent in to the Bucks Free Press offices by Colin Brockhurst.