One poorly realized monster, and one director's and one producer's dissatisfaction in that monster, resulted in we, the viewers, of being robbed of anything resembling a proper farewell for one of the finest characters, as played by one of the finest actors, to ever appear in the series. That image you see at the top of this post is from the last shot of Roger Delgado's time on Doctor Who. One of the last camera shots of Roger Delgado on this Earth.
Almost halfway through this Chronic Hysteresis (in terms of time spent. I've still got a few episodes to go before I'm halfway through those), I've found new appreciation for some stories and characters, and new reasons to be disappointed in others. Thus far, the standing of Roger Delgado's Master has improved the most for me. Not that I disliked the character in the past, but only while watching each episode of the Jon Pertwee did I notice myself physically sit up at attention whenever Delgado made his first appearance. I knew he was coming. There was no surprise. But Delgado was often the best part of whatever episode he was in.
Delgado is, without a doubt, the definitive Master. His successors all had their own charms, and I appreciate all the efforts of Messrs Pratt, Beevers, Ainley, Tipple, Roberts, Jacobi, and Simm. The fact that, even with all the different interpretations of The Master that came after Delgado, we still compare them to Delgado is quite notable. When a new Doctor is cast, we don't instantly compare him to William Hartnell or Jon Pertwee. Roger Delgado was the master at being The Master.
Delgado's intended final story would have seen him sacrifice his life in order to save The Doctor, perhaps even revealing that the two Time Lords were, in fact, brothers. Part of me wishes that this story could have been made, but another part of me seems content with the fact that Delgado's time in Doctor Who will always seem like it was cut short. Unfinished business is always the biggest regret when we lose someone, but it is also immensely tantalizing. What would have happened in that story? How would Delgado, who injected so much grace and class into what could have been a cartoon villain, have played his final scenes? Sadly, we will never know.
It is an enormous credit to producer Barry Letts to not recast the role of The Master out of respect for Delgado, despite the fact that his character outline practically encourages the change of lead actor. The fact, now, that Delgado's Master is no longer out there to thwart The Doctor is a bit painful to think about. The Doctor-Master rivalry was the main driving force behind most of the Third Doctor era, and now that The Doctor has won by acclamation, a little bit of excitement for this era has died with Delgado. Sadly, the same could also be said for Delgado's good friend Jon Pertwee, who never seemed the same as The Doctor afterwards.