Yates first appeared in the Third Doctor story Terror of the Autons, the latest in a line of Captains assisting Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewert. He proved more durable than his predecessors, appearing semi-regularly in the programme from 1971 to 1974 alongside the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton. Together with the Doctor and his companions, Yates fought off alien invasions, the machinations of the renegade Time Lord known as the Master, rogue computers and mutated maggots.
Yates was a fairly non-descript character, typical of the British Army officer class, and little is known of him outside of his time with UNIT. He was cool under fire, efficient, and both gave and carried out his orders with a minimum of fuss. He appeared to have a relatively good rapport with his men, although he did remind Benton on occasion that "rank hath its privileges". He was attracted to the Third Doctor's assistant Jo Grant and they may have dated for a time - Jo was dressed up to go on a date with Mike at the start of The Curse of Peladon only to be taken on a trip in the TARDIS by the Doctor.Yates's fall from grace started when he was brainwashed by the artificial intelligence BOSS in the 1973 serial The Green Death. The brush with ecological disaster apparently made Yates very concerned about the future of the planet, and he was easily recruited by Sir Charles Grover into a conspiracy to reverse time and return Earth to a "golden age" (Invasion of the Dinosaurs). The conspiracy was thwarted by the Doctor, and in return for his past service to UNIT, the Brigadier allowed Yates to take medical leave and then quietly resign (actor Richard Franklin believes the initial plan for this story was to kill off Yates.
His acting credentials include: Crossroads (1969), Blake's 7, Dixon of Dock Green, Catherine Cookson's The Gambling Man. He has also guest-starred in a number of Big Finish Productions audio plays: Professor Bernice Summerfield; Dragon's Wraith, Sapphire & Steel; The Surest Posion, and I, Davros; Innocence.
His theatre acting work includes Peter Dews' production of As You Like It, Same Time Next Year (Prince of Wales Theatre), Macbeth (RSC), Rocky Horror Show (as the Narrator), The Spider's Web (UK Tour for Ian Dickens), Romeo and Juliet (UK Tour with Sean Maguire), The Importance of Being Earnest (English Speaking Theatre, Frankfurt) and many pantomimes. On radio he played Harrison Howell in the BBC Radio 2 production of Kiss Me Kate (1996).
Richard also runs his own theatre company Richard Franklin Productions and has in recent years produced an annual production as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He has also been an artistic and associate director of a number of theatres. He currently lives in Brighton and is a drama lecturer at the Academy of Creative Training (ACT) and has directed many shows at Brighton's Marlborough Theatre.
He has maintained his contact with Doctor Who and appears regularly at conventions and contributing to video projects for Reeltime Pictures in their spin-off interview and documentary productions. He recreated Captain Mike Yates for the Twentieth Anniversary special The Five Doctors (1983) with Peter Davison and also the Thirtieth Anniversary 3-D Special for Children In Need Dimensions In Time (1993).
Franklin also wrote a novel featuring his Who character, Mike Yates, The Killing Stone, but it has been released only as an audio book, read by the author.