Forty Years of K-9Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 8 October 2017 - Reported by Marcus
Moments in TimeIt was Forty years ago today, on Saturday 8th October 1977, that we first met the Doctor's 'Tin' Dog, when K-9 made his debut appearance in Doctor Who.

K-9 was the invention of writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin, who created the character for their fourth Doctor story The Invisible Enemy. Although originally intended to appear in that one story, the character was retained after producer Graham Williams saw its potential appeal to younger fans of the series.

K-9 was voiced by John Leeson, who had been contracted to provide the voice of the Nucleus for the story and was also asked to voice the robot Dog. Apart from Season 17, when the character was voiced by David Brierley, Leason has voiced the character ever since.

Making the character a permanent member of the crew was not without its problems for the production team. The radio controlled model was prone to operational problems in the studio and Directors found it difficult to compose a shot comprising the lanky frame of Tom Baker and the squat shape of K-9. However, the character did prove popular with the audience and rapidly became an icon of the series,

K9 - Timequake A new improved model was introduced at the start of season 16, with improved electronics, but the character still had its limits, being written out of some stories altogether.

When John Nathan Turner took over as the producer in 1980, he decided to have the character written out, and at the end of the story Warrior's Gate, K-9 finally left the Doctor. Just a year later the character was back, alongside former companion Elisabeth Sladen, in a one-off adventure K-9 and Company. The first television spin-off from the main series of Doctor Who.

K-9 made a final classic series appearance in the twentieth-anniversary story The Five Doctors.

It was in 2006 that the character returned to the screen in the revamped version of Doctor Who in a story by Toby Whithouse. School Reunion also brought Sarah Jane Smith, in the person of Elisabeth Sladen back into Doctor Who, an appearance that would lead to the commissioning of The Sarah Jane Adventures, also featuring the Robot Dog.

In 2010 an Australian produced series, featuring a redesigned K-9, was broadcast, consisting of 26, 30-minute episodes. The series was produced independently of the BBC, so no BBC owned characters could appear. The series was shown on Channel 10 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK.

Forty years after his first appearance, K-9's character is still in production, with original co-creator Bob Baker, along with Paul Tams working on a feature film, K9: TimeQuake which will feature the robot dog up against classic Doctor Who villain Omega.




Moments in Time - Return of the CybermenBookmark and Share

Thursday, 31 August 2017 - Reported by Marcus
Cover Issues 31 August 1967 (Credit: Radio Times)Moments in TimeFifty years ago today, on Thursday 31st August 1967, sixpence would buy you the new issue of Radio Times, and for the fifth time Doctor Who featured on the front cover.

Previous covers had marked the start of Marco Polo, The Web Planet, The Chase and Power of the Daleks, but this was the first cover to herald the start of a new season for the programme, returning in the coming weekend for its fifth year.

The focus of the cover was firmly on the adversaries the Doctor would face in the new series. The Cybermen were returning for the third time in less than a year. Inside an article promised new adventures along with a new threat, the Cybermats.

Doctor Who had undergone a complete transformation over the past year. When Season four began in September 1966 William Hartnell was still clinging onto the controls of the TARDIS, along with companions Ben and Polly, played by Anneke Wills and Michael Craze. Now twelve months later there was a completely new team in the ship led by Patrick Troughton, aided by the young Scottish piper Jamie McCrimmon played by Frazer Hines, and the recently orphaned girl from the 19th Century, Victoria played by Deborah Watling.

The risk of recasting the series had paid off and the series had built a loyal following who would await each adventure to unfold on Saturday Evenings. Ratings had stabilized with around 7 million tuning in each week, up from the 5 million the series was getting at the end of the Hartnell era. Audience appreciation was also up by around 10 points to average in the high fifties.

Behind the scenes, change was also afoot. Producer Innes Lloyd was keen to move on having been in charge of the series since April 1966. He was lining up actor and writer Peter Bryant as his replacement.

One loss the production team was having to deal with was the decision of Terry Nation to withdraw the use of the Daleks from Doctor Who and new monsters were needed. Over the next year, viewers would be introduced to The Ice Warriors and the Yeti. As season five launched, the first story of the series was safely on tape, having been recorded at the end of the Season Four production block. After a short holiday, the Team would soon be spending a week in Snowdonia, filming scenes for the upcoming story The Abominable Snowman. Before long they would be back in the comfort of Lime Grove Studio D ready to slip back into the old familiar pattern of 4 days rehearsal before recording each episode on a Saturday evening.

In 1967 Saturday night television looked very different to today. After live sport in Grandstand, Juke Box Jury assessed the hits of the day. Doctor Who then led the BBC 1 Saturday evening schedule, which was still very much dominated by American imports. Match of the Day carried the football highlights and after a talk on the history of the Trade Union Movement, the station closed down and the nation went to bed at 11.15pm.

Credit: Radio Times Credit: Radio Times




Moments in Time - Welcome to The Highland PiperBookmark and Share

Saturday, 17 December 2016 - Reported by Marcus
Moments in TimeIt was fifty years ago today, on Saturday 17th December 1966, that the Second Doctor met a young highland piper, James Robert McCrimmon, someone who would stay with him through the rest of his incarnation, becoming the longest serving companion in the history of the series.

Frazer Hines has, so far, appeared in 116 episodes of Doctor Who. Only four actors, the first four Doctors, have appeared in more episodes. However, when Frazer Hines joined the company in November 1966, he had been contracted for one story only and was only expecting to feature in four episodes.

He would play the young piper Jamie in The Highlanders, set in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden. During the production, the producers spotted something in the young actor and the chemistry he had with rest of the TARDIS crew, so after three weeks he was offered the chance to join the series as a regular character.

Scripts were hastily rewritten and a guide to the character of Jamie produced for potential writers.
He is a piper, and the character must be that of a simple but engaging Scot. Although his smile disarms opposition, he is on occasion a man of action who will defend his friends or principles fearlessly. He is cheerful, open, manly, flexible - more flexible in fact than Ben and Polly.

When either Ben or Polly are pulling his leg he reacts with a grin.... He always wears the kilt, his hair is longer and his shirt has a swashbuckling appearance.... He must assume the part of the young hero in each story. He must constantly be amazed and perplexed that he is wandering through space and time and is coming up against things, even commonplace things, which he could never have dreamt of in his day. The large things, planes computers etc, rock him back on his heels, he finds it hard to comprehend the all

He brings many of the attributes of the Highlander of this period with him, being courageous, impetuous, superstitious and romantic. His impetuosity often provokes difficult situations for the time travelers, but his direct approach will sometimes help solve problems as well as create them.

Frazer Hines was just 22 when he joined Doctor Who. However, even at that age, he was a veteran of film and television acting.

He had studied at the Corona Theatre School and before he became a teenager he had already appeared in a number of films. At 13 he appeared in Charlie Chaplin's A King in New York. He made his TV debut in 1957 playing Mickey Day in an episode of London Playhouse. He joined the series Huntingtower playing Napoleon alongside Roger Delgado a future Doctor Who director Graeme Harper.. Appearances followed in the war drama The Silver Sword, Queen's Champion and Run to Earth as well as a number of small roles in classics such as Z-Cars, Dr Finleys Casebook, Compact, Emergency-Ward 10, Coronation Street and King of the River.

He first worked with Patrick Troughton when he was cast in Smuggler’s Bay based on the J. Meade Falkner novel, Moonfleet. The two instantly hit it off and when Hines joined Doctor Who three years later it was apparent how well they worked together. Talking in 2009 Hines explained how he was told he would be continuing in the series after being offered a lift home by Producer Innes Lloyd.
He was a gentleman, a real gentleman of television. He was an ex-Navy man. I always remember him picking me up at location one day, saying ‘Come back with me, don’t go in the mini-bus’. He had a little VW beetle, we were driving back, he said ‘Well, Frazer, you’re settling in okay, how do you fancy joining the old TARDIS crew for a while, maybe another year?
Frazer Hines would stay with Doctor Who for three series, leaving, along with Troughton in the summer of 1969.
I’d never have left, I was having so much fun, but I had an agent at the time who was saying ‘You must leave, you’ve done three years of television, you need to do films’, and Patrick’s wife at the time was saying (to him) ‘You’re a much better actor than children’s teatime television, you should be doing bigger things’, and I still say to this day, if he hadn’t had that woman nattering in his ear, they’d have had to shoot us and drag us kicking and screaming out of the TARDIS, we’d still be there now.
Sources: The Handbook: The Second Doctor: David J Howe, Mark Stammers, Stephen James Walker (Doctor Who Books, 1994)




Regeneration - 50 Years OnBookmark and Share

Saturday, 29 October 2016 - Reported by Marcus
Moments in Time
It was fifty years ago today, on Saturday 29th October 1966, that we bid farewell to the First Doctor.

At exactly 50 minutes and 47 seconds past five, 7.5 million viewers tuned into BBC 1 to hear the theme music ring out and the last William Hartnell episode begin. 24 minutes later it was all over. We had a new Doctor.

William Hartnell had appeared in 127 episodes of Doctor Who, appearing in 29 stories. He would return to the series in 1972, in four episodes of The Three Doctors. To date only one actor, Tom Baker, has appeared in more Doctor Who episodes than Hartnell, whose episodes, if played sequentially, would last for 2 days. 8 hours and 1 minute.

Fifty years on, William Hartnell's influence is still felt in the series, and in the character he created. His final episode has been lost, but one sequence survives. It is perhaps the most important sequence in the series history. The regeneration. With that one scene, the programme's future was guaranteed. The series could outlive its creators. Its immortality was assured.





Arrival of the Cybermen - Departure of a DoctorBookmark and Share

Saturday, 8 October 2016 - Reported by Marcus
Credit: BBCMoments in TimeIt was fifty years ago today, on Saturday 8th October 1966, that we were introduced to one of the all-time classic monsters of Doctor Who. The Cybermen had arrived.

The Cybermen were the invention of Kit Pedler and the current story editor Gerry Davis. Pedler had been brought into the series to add a bit of scientific rigor to the scripts. A scientist from the University of London, he had already come up with the idea of the War Machines, the story which ended Doctor Who's third series.

Pedler's concept of the Cybermen came after a conversation with his Doctor wife, discussing what would happen if a person had so many prostheses that they could no longer distinguish themselves between man and machine. The story was developed with Davis, with the original Cybermen hailing from Earth's long lost sister planet, Mondas. The first Cyberman costumes were designed by Sandra Reid, who used cloth, rubber diving suits, tubing, golf balls, cricketers' gloves, and silver-painted Doc Martens boots to create the look.

Credit: BBC The Cybermen were an instant success and a sequel was commissioned for broadcast later in the season. They would return for three more stories during the second Doctor's era before taking a rest from the series. A one-off appearance with the Fourth Doctor was followed in 1982 by their return in the acclaimed story Earthshock. From that point on they would be a regular feature of the series with their most recent appearance being in the 2014 story Dark Water/Death in Heaven.

The costumes may have changed over the years, the voice refined and the back story enhanced, but the concept of the Cybermen remain unchanged. The ultimate evolution of the human form, where metal and steel replace flesh and blood and inconvenient emotions are consigned to history.

On that early October evening in 1966, as viewers around the UK were enjoying the arrival of the silver menace, in a small Television studio in west London another drama was playing out. The end of an era was occurring. A much-loved actor was recording his last scenes in a popular long-running television series. William Hartnell was leaving Doctor Who.

It had been debatable whether the actor would actually make it to his last contracted episode. In the summer, Hartnell had agreed he would leave the series in the autumn, his deteriorating health making the weekly pace of the series impossible to manage. He has spent much of August holidaying in Cornwall, fishing and relaxing. In September he would return to record just one more story.

Hartnell had maintained regular correspondence with the production team throughout his break. His last story would be directed by Derek Martinus, known to Hartnell from his previous work on the series, and he was keen to involve the actor as much as possible. He wrote to him in Cornwall with the latest news about The Tenth Planet, including changes in the production week, which would now run Tuesday to Saturday each week.
We've got a very good supporting cast for you, including Bob Beatty as General Cutler. It would be very useful indeed if we could have a read through of all four episodes on the first Tuesday morning.... If we do this, it shouldn't be necessary for you to come in until after lunch on succeeding Tuesdays.
Hartnell was delighted with the casting of Robert Beaty, an actor he knew from working on the TV series Dial 999. He was pleased with the late Tuesday start, as he needed to travel up from his home at Mayfield in Sussex. However, he was keen to show he was still very much in charge and, in a letter to the Director, he pointed out worries about the rehearsal rooms being used.
One important factor to me, at this boy's club, there are two Ping-Pong tables in the outer room where I like to sit and compose my thoughts, therefore, I would ask you to forbid the rest of the cast playing at these tables within our working hours
By the end of September, recording on the first two episodes of the story had been completed and the cast was assembling for the week-long rehearsal of episode three when it was clear someone was missing. William Hartnell was ill, too sick to attend. He had to be quickly written out of the episode, with story editor Gerry Davis rewriting the script to render the Doctor unconscious for the entire episode.

Derek Martinus wrote to reassure the actor
Please don't worry about the show. Gerry has been very clever and managed to write around you. Everybody sends their warmest regards and we all hope you will be fit to do battle one last time


Hartnell did return the following week and after the four-day rehearsal, the team assembled at Studio 1, Riverside studios on Saturday 8th October where he would record his final episode. By far the most complex challenge of the day was to record the transformation of the First Doctor into the Second, so this was taped first, and Doctor Who history was written between 6.30pm to 7.00pm when the first regeneration in the series history was recorded. Anneke Wills remembers the event
The meeting between Bill and Pat was quite extraordinary. It was like two gentlemen very politely meeting each other. Pat was suitably humble and it was very pointed moment. I think Bill's ego was quite tickled by the fact that he was being replaced by someone of the caliber of Pat Troughton
The woman charged with achieving the transformation was Vision Mixer Shirley Coward
The first I knew of the regeneration was when I arrived in the studio that day and they said we are going to change William Hartnell into Patrick Troughton. Nobody was exactly sure how they were going to do it, so it was a matter of the studio engineers and the cameramen just trying out things
After a supper break, the rest of the episode was recorded from 8.00pm to 10.15pm, incurring a slight overrun.

And with that, the Hartnell era was over. The last scenes had been recorded, a new Doctor was now installed. A small farewell party was held at producer Innes Lloyd's flat and then Lloyd drove him home to Sussex.

William Hartnell would live until 1975, but his progressive disease meant he would not work regularly again. He had a small run in a pantomime the following Christmas playing Buskin the Fairy Cobbler in Puss In Boots. He would briefly return to Doctor Who in the 1972 story The Three Doctors, but by then his health was so poor all his scenes were pre-filmed in one day.

Today the character he created is known and loved around the world. His legacy lives on.




The End of the BeginningBookmark and Share

Saturday, 16 July 2016 - Reported by Marcus
Moments in TimeIt was on Saturday 16th July 1966, fifty years ago today, that the third season of Doctor Who came to an end.

At the end of episode number 126 the series would take its now traditional summer break, ready to return refreshed in the autumn.

Production on that new series was continuing and during the week William Hartnell had been in London working on the first story of the next series, episode two of The Smugglers. After four days of rehearsal, the episode had been recorded at Riverside studios, finishing late on Friday evening. It was the usual pattern for the series, a pattern Hartnell had been following it for three years. However, this week was different. When Hartnell returned home, to Old Mill Cottage near the quaint village of Mayfield, in the heart of the Sussex weald, he had some momentous news for his wife Heather. He had agreed to give up the role of the Doctor.

Hartnell told his wife he would only record six more episodes. His final story would be broadcast in October and then he would leave the series. His time as The Doctor was nearly over.

Replacing the lead actor is a difficult decision for any producer to take, especially one where the entire story revolves around a central character. But it had become clear that Hartnell couldn't continue in the role. The actor was suffering from Arteriosclerosis, a thickening, hardening and loss of elasticity of the walls of arteries, which affected his memory as well as his physical health.

The disease meant Hartnell was becoming increasingly difficult to work with. Recently he had lost his main support when Peter Purves had left the series and had not formed a close relationship with the new companions played by Anneke Wills and Michael Craze. His poor health, along with declining ratings, down to around 5 million from an average of 8 million the previous summer, convinced producer Innes Lloyd a change was needed. He gained approval from his bosses, including Sydney Newman, to seek out a new Doctor and to replace William Hartnell.

In spite of his health, Hartnell was devastated to be leaving the series. In 1983 Heather Hartnell gave an interview to Doctor Who Magazine.
When the time came for Bill to leave the show, purely because of his ill health, it broke his heart. Having told the press that it was going to run for five years, he was determined to play it for five years. But he couldn't remember his lines, plus his legs were beginning to give way at times. Between the end of 1966 and when he made ‘The Three Doctors’ in 1972, he got progressively weaker mentally and physically. That’s the awful thing about arteriosclerosis, as the arteries close up the flow of blood is not only weakened to the limbs but to the brain as well.
Hartnell's professional life before Doctor Who had consisted mainly of playing villains, in numerous British films. He had been a solid character actor, firmly on the B list. All that changed in 1963. Playing the Doctor had brought him into the homes of millions of families each Saturday night. It had made him a celebrity, a role model, adored by children across the nation.

Heather Hartnell told DWM.
I’ll always remember he opened a big annual fete at Pembury Hospital in about ’64, ’65, and a great friend of his had a lovely pre-1914 war car, a real veteran. Anyway, this friend drove the car into Tunbridge Wells where he met Bill, who had changed into his Doctor’s costume complete with wig, stick and cape that the BBC had lent him. Bob pulled up in this open tourer and Bill got in front and I in the back, and off we set for the hospital. By the time we had gone three odd miles to the fete, there was a stream of kids and cars and bicycles behind us. It was fantastic.
Hartnell's career was virtually over after he left the series. He had a short run in pantomime the following Christmas, touring the country in Puss in Boots. He would return to Doctor Who in 1973, appearing in The Three Doctors. By then his health had declined so much his appearance was restricted to a few filmed inserts.

William Henry Hartnell died in April 1975, but his greatest legacy lives on.




Moments in Time - Farewell StevenBookmark and Share

Saturday, 18 June 2016 - Reported by Marcus
Steven says goodbye to the Doctor and Dodo (The Savages Episode 4) (Credit: BBC)Moments in TimeIt was on Saturday 18th June 1966, fifty years ago today, that we said goodbye to the Doctor's long-term companion, Steven Taylor.

Steven had been traveling with the Doctor since the departure of Ian and Barbara. He had traveled 3000 years into the past, and 100 million years into the future. He had battled The Monk and The Toymaker, met Doc Holiday and fought in the Trojan wars. He had become a steadfast companion to The Doctor, and together they had seen off The Dalek Masterplan. He had known tragedy, with the loss of two fellow companions. Now his skills were needed to rebuild a civilisation, and with much trepidation, he left the Doctor.


The actor Peter Purves had won the role of Steven following a small cameo role in The Chase, where he played the American tourist Morton Dill, encountering the Daleks at the top of the Empire State building.

The 26 year old actor's performance impressed the producers, and Verity Lambert invited him to join the regular cast just three weeks later. Purves had an instant bond with William Hartnell, who, with the departure of William Russell and Jacqueline Hill, found himself as the only remaining original member of the cast.
I got on with Hartnell extremely well. He was very generous to me, always gave me little acting tips. He’d been around a long time, had Bill, and he’d had some successes and some failures, He was just very friendly and nice with me, he confided in me, he told me the things he was happy with, the things he wasn’t happy with. I watched him being truly irascible with so many people, and think “Oh Bill, please no”. He didn’t suffer fools gladly, if he felt that people were not up to the level required, or not doing the job seriously or properly then he would get at them.
Hartnell was suffering from arteriosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries, which caused memory loss, and was finding the pace of the show difficult to manage. The weight of leading the series increasingly fell onto Purves's shoulders, with the production team relying on the actor to keep the episodes on track.

Former script editor Donald Tosh explains.
I had a huge respect for Peter as an actor, he was absolutely solid as a rock.  Bill would suddenly cut, something, and you'd think nobody is going to understand the episode at all unless this line goes in. So one would slide down onto the floor and very quietly slip a note to Peter, on which was written 'for goodness sake mention so and so.' And he would.


"Well, who knows, my dear. In this strange complex of time and space, anything can happen.
Come along, little one. We must go. We mustn't look back."

The Doctor, The Savages Episode 4


By the spring of 1966 changes were afoot as a new producer had new ideas for the direction of the series. Innes Lloyd had taken control in March and felt the series was becoming old fashioned, needing new, modern companions routed in the sixties. Both Purves and his colleague Jackie Lane were told their contracts would not be renewed, with auditions held for two new companions...

Following his departure from the series Purves found work difficult to come by. Being a leading figure in a highly visible drama had led to typecasting and acting jobs dried up. His high profile, however, led to him being considered for a presenting role with the children's magazine programme Blue Peter. He accepted a six-month contract on the show, to tide him over until the acting career picked up, and stayed for ten years. Purves, along with John Noakes and Valerie Singleton became the dream team, so much a part of so many childhoods.

Part of his duties on the series was to look after Petra, the Blue Peter dog, leading to a lifelong passion for the animals, presenting the Crufts Dog show for over 36 years. Other presenter roles included hosting Stopwatch and We're Going Places as well as Darts events and the long-running motorcycle series Kick Start.

He continues to act with many theatre appearances as well as roles in EastEnders and The Office. He has reprised the role of Steven for Big Finish Productions.

Steven's departure heralded a sea change for Doctor Who. Over the following 12 episodes, the entire TARDIS crew would change, the final links with the genesis of the programme would be broken. The changes could have marked the beginning of the end for the series. In hindsight, they only marked the end of the beginning.
Sources: Peter Purves Official Website; The End of the Line - documentary produced by Ed Stradling for the DVD release of The Gunfighters; The Handbook: The First Doctor – The William Hartnell Years: 1963-1966, David J Howe, Mark Stammers, Stephen James Walker (Doctor Who Books, 1994)




Moments in Time: What's in a Name?Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 21 May 2016 - Reported by Chuck Foster
The O.K. Corral (Title Caption) (Credit: BBC)Originally envisaged as an ongoing serial, the first three years of Doctor Who rolled on from episode to episode, each individually titled with no 'umbrella' name to associate discrete stories, just an overall theme that changed every few episodes or so, and often linked through cliff-hangers (quite literally in the case of Desperate Measures) or where a plot might suddenly catch the audience by surprise (such as at the end of The Plague).

However, after some 118 episodes new producer Innes Lloyd decided to revitalise the series, seeing the following episode to be broadcast adopt an overall name, and supporting cast disbanded over the next several weeks (not to mention a Doctor himself not that long thereafter!). And so, fifty years ago today saw the transmission of The O.K. Corral, the end of individual episode titles and the beginning of a controversy that fans still argue about today:

What should we call these discrete adventures of Doctor Who?

It wasn't until the 1970s that an emerging organised fandom would start to discuss their memories of long-since unseen adventures, and what they should be called - a common name would of course make sense so we would know we're talking about the same thing (would "the one with the Daleks invading Earth" or "the one with Napoleon in" ever catch on?). The Tenth Anniversary special edition of the Radio Times gave a first stab at this, though that tended to use the first episode of the serial as the name. Then, the revised The Making of Doctor Who book by Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke published by Target provided another list of the stories, with many more familiar titles but some still a little different to what sits on DVD shelves of fans today (anyone watching The French Revolution tonight?). However, it was the publication by Target of the first edition of The Doctor Who Programme Guide by Jean and Randy L'Officier in 1981 that solidified a naming scheme that became 'universal' in fan usage and is still recognisable across the BBC brand to this day.

By the 1990s, however, the established names were beginning to be challenged by researchers who now had access to BBC records, uncovering a wealth of documentation that were to reveal titles used by the contemporary production teams and BBC Enterprises for promotion overseas. Some were quite trivial amendments - The Dalek Masterplan is now considered The Daleks' Master Plan (even within the BBC's online Doctor Who section), and The Massacre has become a rather more wordy The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve. Others aren't generally used - "Doctor Who and ..."  has never taken on (except in the cast of a certain early Pertwee serial!), and only the 'hardened fan' ever refers to Mission to the Unknown as Dalek Cutaway! It's the naming of the first three serials, however, that remains the most hotly contested ...

The Radio Times Tenth Anniversary special and The Making of Doctor Who originally used An Unearthly Child, The Dead Planet and The Edge of Destruction; then the Doctor Who Programme Guide and the Radio Times Twentieth Anniversary special utilised The Daleks for the second serial; when The Sixties was published in 1992, the first three serials were now referred to as 100,000BC, The Daleks, and Inside the Spaceship, but by the time the same authors published The First Doctor Handbook in 1994 the second serial had become The Mutants. These last three names are the ones adopted by the official Doctor Who Magazine (and also used on the covers of The Complete History series of books) - though the names often include an "aka" to the "common name" that everybody is more familiar with!

(Interestingly, narration scripts for the fourth serial referred to it as Journey to Cathay - this might have ended up as another debate, but fortunately director Waris Hussein re-iterated in Doctor Who Magazine last year that the production team considered it as obscure a title to viewers as the one they ultimately decided to use, Marco Polo!)

The O.K. Corral (Next Episode Caption) (Credit: BBC)Does the name used really matter, though?** In the case of the second serial this is certainly an issue as, without context, the person mentioning it might mean the Jon Pertwee story that happens to officially hold that name on-screen. So perhaps The Daleks makes more sense - until one thinks of the episode that officially holds that name within The Dalek Invasion of Earth! In the latter case, however, most will accept the story name as the main identifier (another example of a name clash occurs between Inferno the episode and Inferno the story!)

At least Innes Lloyd's team alleviated fans' heated naming debates by introducing serial names ... unless you count the title of the aforementioned Pertwee ending in Silurians (though that isn't too disimilar to the original Next Episode caption for The Savages), or the on-screen title of the first episode of Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

Of course this isn't the end of the debate, as the 'father' of modern Doctor Who, Russell T Davies fully knew when he re-ignited such discourse through his first two-parter of the returning series, the individually named Aliens of London and World War Three.

The composition of what constitutes a story itself is also something that isn't without debate. Colin Baker's last season is one such example: is it one long story or four individual, connected adventures? Again, the modern series offers up such conundrums, with one often-cited example series three's Utopia, The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords: a three-parter or a single/two-parter? It isn't too surprising that the two latter examples have been interpreted differently depending on which story milestone is being marked! Can this be taken too far, however: the very first serial is sometimes described as being two stories, the An Unearthly Child introduction and then a three-part 100,000BC (or The Tribe of Gum as the Doctor Who Programme Guide indicated), with the rolling series cited as a valid reason for such an interpretation.

Ultimately, of course, it is entirely up our readers as to whether they prefer one title to another - indeed, searching the Internet can often find alternatively titled covers to those used by the BBC in order to grace those DVD shelves!


Little did Verity Lambert and team know what they would be unleashing upon fandom when those originals serials went out 'nameless', but at least after the closing credits of The O.K. Corral we would have a - fairly - consistent naming scheme for the rest of the Doctor's 20th Century adventures!


The Gunfighter: The O.K. Corral (Credit: BBC)
So the Earps and the Clantons are aimin' to meet,
At the O.K. Corral near Calamity Street.
It's the O.K. Corral, boys, of gun fighting fame,
Where the Earps and the Clantons, they played out the game.

They played out the game and we nevermore shall
Hear a story the like of the OK Corral.



** The answer is "of course it matters", otherwise we wouldn't be the fans we are!




Jon Pertwee - Twenty Years OnBookmark and Share

Friday, 20 May 2016 - Reported by Marcus
Moments in TimeIt was twenty years ago today, on Monday 20th May 1996, that we lost the irrepressible, the inspirational, the uniquely talented man that was Jon Pertwee.

John Devon Roland Pertwee was born in July 1919 in London, a few months after the end of World War One. He joined a long established theatrical family, the son of the actor and playwright Roland.

Pertwee had a varied education after being expelled from a number of minor public schools. From the start his firm convictions and refusal to bow to authority, created friction with those in power and forced his premature departure. The same happened when he trained as an actor where, at RADA, despite rave reviews from a visiting Noel Coward, he was eventually dismissed for refusing to play a Greek wind.

In 1939 war broke out and Pertwee joined the Royal Navy. He was a member of the crew of HMS Hood, escorting Russian Convoys, transferring off the ship just three days before it was sunk with the loss of all but 3 hands. Joining Navel Intelligence he was thrust into the world of espionage, working alongside James Bond creator Ian Fleming and reporting directly to the Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The full extent of his top secret work was not revealed until an interview was published long after his death.
I did all sorts. Teaching commandos how to use escapology equipment, compasses in brass buttons, secret maps in white cotton handkerchiefs, pipes you could smoke that also fired a .22 bullet. All sorts of incredible things.
Post war he began making a career as a jobbing stage actor and Radio Comedian. His talent for accents gained him a role in Waterlogged Spa playing an ancient postman. His success was rapid and by 1948 he was being billed as The Most Versatile Voice in Radio. His longest running role was as Chief Petty Officer Pertwee in The Navy Lark, which he played from 1959-1977.

Small roles in feature films followed, including parts in four Carry On films, as well as a burgeoning stage career. He appeared in the 1963 London production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and on Broadway in There's a Girl in My Soup

In 1967 he was offered the role of Captain Mainwaring in the BBC Comedy Dad's Army, a role he turned down.

The role that would define him came in 1970 when he was offered the role of the Third Doctor. He was second choice for the role, behind Oliver! actor Ron Moody, but it was a role he embraced and made his own. Initially unsure how to play the role he was advised to play it as himself. "Who the hell is that?" he exclaimed.

Pertwee's era redefined the show, with the inclusion of UNIT as a regular part of the narrative. The bond formed between the main players was obvious on screen and for many it would be regarded as the golden age of the drama. The team chemistry between Pertwee, Manning, Courtney, Franklin, Levene and Delgado, led by the production team of Letts and Dicks, created a warm family feeling to the programme and ratings grew after declining towards the end of the second Doctor's era.

The team began to break up towards the end of 1973. Katy Manning decided to move on and was replaced by actress April Walker. Pertwee objected, feeling the chemistry was wrong and Walker was replaced by the more acceptable Elisabeth Sladen who developed a strong bond with Pertwee. By far the biggest loss was the death of Roger Delgado, who was killed in a car crash while filming in Turkey. The loss of his friend affected Pertwee deeply and when producer Barry Letts and Scripts Editor Terrance Dicks announced they were also leaving, he decided to call it a day. He had appeared in 128 episodes of the series, over 52 hours of television.

Post Who Pertwee charmed a new audience, playing the scarecrow Worzel Gummidge in the Southern TV series as well as educating a nations youth in the correct way to cross the road as the voice of the Green Cross Code.

In 1983 he returned to the role of the Doctor in the 20th Anniversary special The Five Doctors. In 1989 he toured the UK in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure and three years later performed in two BBC Radio Drama's, The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space.

Jon Pertwee was active on the early convention scene, appearing at events on both sides of the Atlantic. He persuaded his old friend Patrick Troughton to attend and their mock feud entertained fans around the world, although it left Terry Wogan perplexed when he tried in on Children In Need. He was the first Honorary President of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society.

Pertwee died in the USA in 1996 at the age of 76. His death was shocking as he was so full of life, so irrepressible, so irreplaceable. He was survived by his wife Ingeborg Rhoesa, his son Sean Pertwee, and his daughter Dariel Pertwee.

The mark Jon Pertwee made on the series can never be over estimated and his legacy will live on as long as Doctor Who is remembered. Twenty years on we marvel at the wonderful, inspirational, immense talent that was Jon Pertwee and thank him for being part of our lives.




Moments in Time: Time Waits For No Man - Except OneBookmark and Share

Saturday, 14 May 2016 - Reported by Chuck Foster
The TV Movie (Credit: BBC)It was twenty years ago today that, after some six plus years off screen, a new, feature length episode of Doctor Who was to make its US premiere. It introduced us to a new Doctor in Paul McGann, a new Master in Eric Roberts, a new TARDIS interior, and a whole new look and feel that the regular series had never been able to achieve.

It was also a new experience for Doctor Who to receive a simultaneous nationwide broadcast through the FOX network, something it hadn't previously been able to achieve in the country over the course of its 20+ years availablity through some commercial and many PBS-affiliated channels. With such exposure and publicity what could possibly go wrong?

In hindsight, looking at the US television "battlefield" of the time, it is perhaps easy to see why the fresh-faced "backdoor" pilot never made it into a full series: its 'mere' 8.3 million viewers only ranked it a 9% share/70th position against strong opposition on rival channels, and was considered a failure by the powers that be.

However, back then it was a also time of optimism and celebration for Doctor Who fans, and in this special Moments In Time members of the Doctor Who News team past and present reflect their feelings on the build-up to the "FOX Original Movie" on Tuesday May 14th at 8:00pm ...

Shaun Lyon, the founder of the Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles (now in its 28th year) - and editor of what is now Doctor Who News back when it was part of Outpost Gallifrey (the website he ran between 1996 and 2009) - reminisces on a time two decades past:
How quickly time flies... doesn't seem possible that it's been 20 years since the TV Movie / The Enemy Within / the return to TV / call it what you will. For a 15 year period bookended only by the fantastic efforts of Virgin Publishing, BBC Books and Big Finish Productions, it was really the apex of a very long uphill battle, and although it didn't end up moving beyond one film, it certainly changed the course of Doctor Who forever.

The TV Movie was the first real effort - before Davies, before Moffat, before Eccleston and Tennant and Smith and Capaldi - to modernize and broaden Doctor Who's appeal to the wider audience on both sides of the Atlantic. To this day, it's claimed to have been a failure... abject nonsense, its ratings in both the UK and US were respectable. Definitely a product of its time, its journey shortened out of the gate by the vagaries of American TV politics and changing viewer attitudes. But it was the event that gave us Paul McGann and Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso and Philip Segal - people whose involvement with the Doctor Who franchise have continued to this day, part of the family as much as Tom Baker or Sylvester McCoy.

As thrilling as it was to be a fan at the time, and for our fan group here in LA to assist with the premiere at the Directors Guild of America (our convention's TARDIS was on display there, and it's the same TARDIS that was featured in the TV Guide Magazine article the week of the debut), I was honored to contribute in a very small way to the production; as noted in Segal and Gary Russell's excellent book Regeneration, I caught a minor goof ("a Time Lord has 12 lives" was changed to "13" at my suggestion, based on the fact that Peter Davison called himself the fourth regeneration in "The Five Doctors") during a pre-screening in Segal's office. Imagine how that felt to me to see it happen on the big screen during the DGA premiere. I'll cherish that moment forever.

And who would have thought it would continue to have an impact all these years later? You only need look at the ongoing popular Big Finish series with Paul McGann at the helm that run to this day... and of course, that amazing, out-of-the-blue Night of the Doctor special with McGann's long awaited regeneration scene into John Hurt (nobody could ever have seen that coming!) Still a bit of a controversy to this day over the whole 'half-human' thing, but definitely remaining popular just as long because of the charm McGann displayed in one 90 minute film..

If the transition from "classic" to "new" Doctor Who could be described as a migration from one continent to another, The TV Movie is the stepping stone on the journey... the Bering land-bridge of Doctor Who, leading a wandering series into its new horizons forever. We're so lucky it happened the way it did, and it'll still bear fruit for many years in the future.

Steven Warren Hill, who took over the legacy of Outpost Gallifrey's forum with Gallifrey Base in 2009, reflects:
My friend Dennis hosted a viewing at his place for all of us longtime Doctor Who fans. I remember setting at least two VCRs at home to record the movie, and bringing a third VCR with me so I could be in control of at least one of the recordings. There were probably about ten of us there, and we all went quiet as the movie started. I don't know about the others, but I had tears in my eyes after the intensity of the operating room scene. Sure, we'd seen the Doctor "die" before but this time it was scarily real and quite affecting. When I got home that night, I had to watch again from the start to the end of that scene before I could go to bed.

Recently I devoted a lot of time writing the portion of the forthcoming book Red White and Who: The Story of Doctor Who in America that talks about the movie. I believe we've gone into greater detail than ever before in analyzing why it failed to get decent ratings in the United States. It was interesting researching the topic, and dredging up memories of things like long-forgotten promotional spots (on both television and radio). In hindsight, its place in the grand scheme of everything Doctor Who couldn't be more perfect - many of us desperately wanted a new series to come out of it, but if that had happened, how long could it possibly last? It turns out that the one-off was exactly what we needed, even if we didn't think so at the time. If it had gone to series then, we might not have a series now.

Longtime fan and sometime Doctor Who News contributor Josiah Rowe remembers:
You have to remember that in those days Doctor Who was largely unknown in the US. If people had even heard of it, they knew it as "that weird British thing on PBS". But in spring of 1996, things were suddenly different. There was a story in the Washington Post! There was an article in TV Guide! (No cover, of course; that wouldn’t happen until 2012.) It’s nothing compared with the ubiquity of Doctor Who today, but at the time it seemed revolutionary.

I set my VCR to record from 8:00 to 10:00 PM on the local FOX station, and watched eagerly. I grinned at every continuity reference, from the Daleks (who did not sound as high-pitched on American broadcast as they did in the UK and on the eventual DVD release) to the Doctor’s toolbox (lovingly recreated from the 1983 Doctor Who Technical Manual). I looked askance at the half-human business, but had no problem with the kissing — unlike many fans at the time!

The TV movie is now seen as a false start for bringing Doctor Who back to TV, but for all its flaws it’s gorgeously shot and brought us the marvelously exuberant Eighth Doctor. And it showed that Doctor Who could be more than a quaint little shot-on-video series, beloved by a few but ignored by most.

Jarrod Cooper, organiser of the Hurricane Who conventions that take place in Orlando, Florida, recalls:
The Wilderness Years were a sad and lonely time for a Doctor Who fan in a small town in South Alabama. The local comic shop only received one copy of Doctor Who Magazine and the local used book shop had to special order the Virgin New Adventures and Target books, for why would they actually stock those? But that was it. The local PBS affiliate had ceased airing the show shortly after the end of the Classic Series' run. It was a dark time indeed. But then, there were rumblings in DWM that there was a movie coming. Possibly a series.

I still remember the moment that the TV Movie excitement hit me full force. It was the moment that I saw the first insert in TV Guide for the movie. It was simple, no more than a quarter of a page basically teasing that there would be more information in the following issue. But it was there, in the main TV listings magazine. I don't know why, but for some reason seeing that in print in TV Guide made it real. Doctor Who was returning.

On that May night, I sat with my VCR ready and an open mind. The pre-credits rolled and there was everything that I had been missing. The TARDIS. A new Doctor. The Master. The Sonic Screwdriver. Who cared if I was missing Roseanne?? So what if the Master can now be held at bay by a fire extinguisher and the Eye of Harmony is now a weird room in the TARDIS? For two hours I sat transfixed.

Little did we know what seeds were being planted that night. I was blissfully unaware of the years of novel and audio adventures that were in store for me alongside this Doctor. All I knew was for that one night, we had a light in the dark. Our show was back, and it was about time.

Benjamin Francis Elliott, the previous 'incarnation' of This Week in Doctor Who, explains his own regenerative experience:
I knew the movie was coming because I'd seen a copy of DWM (and I never came across DWM back then). Plus, it was in the TV Guide. I was looking forward to it. My family was (they all liked Tom Baker and Peter Davison). Then - May 14 - catastrophe ...

My parents found a college scholarship that I'd be a shoo-in for - due May 15th, and insisted I fill it out before I could see the movie. Did I mention the form required you to type it up on a typewriter? So, the movie begins, and the whole family (except me) is watching live. I finished the form and got to join in - right after the regeneration. Odd way to start the film. we got it on VHS, so I saw the McCoy section the next day. It was the last Doctor Who (and maybe the last piece of TV) I saw before going onto the internet for the first time. The last time before I encountered fandom. The Internet has strengths and weaknesses. I certainly didn't get spoiled on plot points without it.


TV Guide: 11th May 1996 (Credit: TV Guide, with thanks to the Gallifreyan Embassy/Doctor Who: Podshock)
TV Guide: 11th May 1996 (Credit: TV Guide, with thanks to the Gallifreyan Embassy/Doctor Who: Podshock)
TV Guide article on the TV Movie. 11th May 1996.
Reproduced with thanks to the Gallifreyan Embassy/Doctor Who: Podshock
Extract from the Washington Post, 14th May 1996:

He has two hearts and 13 lives, he flits around the galaxy in a flying phone booth and he's half-human on his mother's side. Who is he? Exactly. He is Who -- Doctor Who, hero of a BBC fantasy series that first materialized in 1963, ran for 20 years and was imported by many public TV stations here.

Doctor Who is a man whose time has come and keeps coming; now the Fox network is trying to revive him for a new series, starting with a two-hour movie pilot, "Doctor Who," tonight at 8 on Channel 5. As opposed to the old BBC show, a basically tacky-looking thing shot in a TV studio, the new movie, filmed mostly in British Columbia, is splashy and spectacular, with a certain Jules Verney quality to it.

It's certainly got more wit and zip than most of the things that go thunk in the night on Fox.

...

The plot may sound ridiculously complicated, but it all pretty much boils down to the perpetual war between good and evil. Matthew Jacobs's script has lots of bright, fetching touches, and director Geoffrey Sax keeps things whirling so speedily that disbelief is easily suspended. Some of the special effects and editing tricks are true dazzlers.

Daffy though it be, "Doctor Who" dabbles in matters of time, space and mortality in ways that aren't completely superficial. The Doctor's goal, he says, is "to hold back death," and if Who doesn't do it, who will?


What is often forgotten in the mists of time, however, is that the television movie was produced in Vancouver, Canada, and even had its world premiere broadcast by CITV on Sunday 12th May. Mike Doran, a Canadian fan with a keen interest in the history of Doctor Who in the country, relates:
The return of Doctor Who in 1996 was so different than in 2003-05. Paul McGann was already on location in Vancouver before his casting and the production was officially announced. A co-produced American series/movie had been in development for years but it was finally happening and it was being made in Canada. What's more we'd only have to wait for four months until it aired. Even then here were location reports and pictures being posted on-line as production took place. I later found out that the house of a friend in Kits Beach was scouted to be the home of Dr. Grace Holloway. Right around the corner from Hadden Park where the Doctor and Grace would kiss.

TVM tapes - 20 years on! (Credit: Mike Doran)
TVM tapes - 20 years on!
By April there were promos running on Fox affiliate from Buffalo, New York. Lots of promos! I found myself watching and taping more Fox shows that I could have ever imagined just to get glimpses of what was to come. Toronto was not going to be lucky enough to get an early airing like Edmonton did on May 12th but word came down that a TV station in Hamilton, Ontario was going to simulcast the movie on May 14th. The day before broadcast I scoured a newsstand that specialized in out of town newspapers looking for any coverage and TV listings magazines with Doctor Who on the cover.

When the day came a group of us gathered at the house of a friend to watch the movie together. The funny part was that the host wasn't even a Doctor Who fan and he didn't live somewhere convenient to get to, he just had the biggest and nicest TV of anybody we knew. I brought a VCR with me so I could meticulously edit out the ads as we watched. At home a second VCR rolled for a back-up copy with ads intact. When it was over the consensus in the room was that McGann was great, the movie itself average. We wanted to see more but as the months passed it was clear that we wouldn't. By the time 2003 rolled around I'd come around to being happy about that.


Just under a fortnight later, Doctor Who was to make a return to its ancestral home - but how would fans there find the fresh interpretation of a very British legacy ...

Coming Soon: He's Back, And It's About Time




Moments in Time - A Life SacrificedBookmark and Share

Friday, 4 December 2015 - Reported by Marcus
Moments in TimeIt was on Saturday 4th December 1965, exactly fifty years ago today, that Katarina sacrificed her life to save the Doctor, and became the first companion to die as a result of their travels with the Doctor.

It had been a very short stay in the TARDIS for the character, who only joined the team four weeks previously. Katarina had been a handmaiden of the prophetess Cassandra in the ancient city of Troy, when she met the Doctor. The character was intended as a replacement for Vicki, however it was soon realised that Katarina was so uneducated, so naive, that it was almost impossible to write for the character.

The decision was taken therefore, to write her out in the most spectacular way possible, and Katarina was destined to die in an airlock, sacrificing her life to stop the Doctor being blackmailed, and forced to return to the Daleks.

The character of Katarina was played by Devon born actress Adrienne Hill, in her first role for Television.

In 1986 she gave an interview to Doctor Who Magazine and talked about what it was like to join the series
I had lunch with Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves and they told me to expect the tight schedule and how to cope with Bill Hartnell. He was nice to me as I told him that this was my first television work and he took me under his wing to guide me. You really had to be on your toes with him, though, because he would often forget his lines and we couldn’t re-shoot things.
Hill also described filming her departure
My death was done on a trampoline, with the camera below us. I was jumping up and down to give the impression I was floating away through space. I was terribly proud of that.
Following her appearance in Doctor Who, Hill acted in several small roles, before moving to the Netherlands, and then America. She later returned to England where she retrained to be a drama teacher.

In 1985 she appeared alongside many other Doctor Who actors in the BBC Children in Need programme.

Adrienne Hill died of Cancer in 1997 at the age of 60.




Moments in Time - Farewell VickiBookmark and Share

Friday, 6 November 2015 - Reported by Marcus
Moments in TimeOn Saturday 6th November 1965, exactly fifty years ago today, we said goodbye to space orphan Vicki, when actress Maureen O'Brien appeared in Doctor Who for the very last time.

Vicki had joined the Doctor, Ian and Barbara in the story The Rescue, shown at the start of the year, filling the void left by the departure of the Doctor's granddaughter Susan. Together the crew had voyaged through space and time, from ancient Rome to medieval England, from mysterious Vortis to the deserts of Aridius and from the barren planet Xeros to the jungles of Mechanus. The four had fled from Daleks and Drahvins, battled Zarbi and Mechanoids and befriended Kings and peasants.

In the end it was love that saw Vicki leave the Doctor in the story The Myth Makers. When the TARDIS landed near Troy, she fell in love with Troilus, the son of the trojan King Priam, who changed her name to Cressida, She left the Doctor to forge a life with the trojan prince, thus earning a place in history and in time, becoming a character in a Shakespearian tragedy, based on events taking place some 3000 years before her birth.

While Vicki's departure was a concious decision for the character, it was a shock to the actor portraying her. Maureen O'Brien had returned from the summer break to attend rehearsals for the new series at the North Kensington Community centre, only to discover the character was being dropped at the end of the first story. Believing that O'Brien wished to leave the series, new producer John Wiles had decided to replace the character of Vicki, with a new character, Katarina, who would be introduced towards the end of the story. However nobody had thought to tell O'Brien.
We went off on our six week break, and when I came back I expected to find the next four scripts waiting for me, And there weren't any scripts. If they had offered me another contract I might have been torn, because even £50 a week was a lot of money. I suppose I was angry because I had gone on holiday and I would rather have been looking for work.
Script editor Donald Tosh took up the story
The writing out of Vicki is one of the things I really regret about my time in Doctor Who, because it was unfortunately so badly handled. I understood that Maureen wanted to go. We got to the first read through and Maureen arrives absolutely furious, because nobody had told her. It was deeply deeply embarrassing
Maureen O'Brien (Credit: Jean-Christophe Rey) Like many departing Doctor Who companions O'Brien found that staring in a weekly TV series, watched by up to 13 million viewers each week, was no guarantee of further work. Typecasting was a real problem and roles sparse. Before taking on the role she was became a founding member of the Everyman Theatre in her native Liverpool. Upon leaving the series worked as a supply teacher at a girl's school in Kennington, before returning to the theatre. Small TV roles followed in series such as Emergency-Ward 10 and Z Cars.

In 1979 O'Brien played Morgan le Fay in the BBC adaptation of The Legend of King Arthur and she later won the role of Elizabeth Straker in the medical drama Casualty. Other roles included appearances in Cracker, Bergerac, Jonathan Creek, The Bill, Heartbeat and A Touch of Frost.

In addition to televison work O'Brien has had an extensive career in the theatre both as a performer and a director. In 1986 she was awarded the Time Out's Critic's Choice for her production of Mike English's Getting In . She has twice won the Sony Best Actress award for her work on radio and also has awards for audiobooks of which she continues to record a huge range.

In 1989 she had her first novel published, Close-Up on Death featuring the character of Detective Inspector John Bright. Six more novels featuring the character followed. She is also a playwright with her play The Cutting nominated Best Play in the London Fringe Awards and Best Newcomer in the Evening Standard Drama Awards.

Maureen O'Brien has returned to the role of Vicki in the Companion Chronicles produced by Big Finish. In 2013 she appeared at the 50th Anniversary Festival in London talking about her time with the series and her affection for the first Doctor.
My role was to laugh Bill out of his five or six tempers each day. I did it very happily. He was a charming creature in spite of his irascibility. He was very fond of me, and I of him.
Sources: Official Website; The End of the Line - documentary produced by Ed Stradling for the DVD release of The Gunfighters; The Handbook: The First Doctor – The William Hartnell Years: 1963-1966, David J Howe, Mark Stammers, Stephen James Walker (Doctor Who Books, 1994)




Moments in Time - Goodbye VerityBookmark and Share

Friday, 9 October 2015 - Reported by Marcus
Moments in TimeIt was on Saturday 9th October 1965, fifty years ago today, that the last ever Doctor Who to be produced by the series first producer, Verity Lambert, was broadcast.

Verity Lambert had decided to move on from the series at the end of the second year of recording. She had been with the series since June 1963, when BBC Head of Drama Sydney Newman recruited her to produce his new science fiction series.

As the BBC's youngest, and sole female drama producer, she had faced many battles within the Corporation and had steered the programme from its very uncertain beginnings to a point where it was attracting audiences of up to 13 million viewers to BBC One in the early evening.

Against the odds she had created a series which would run and run and, 50 years later, is one of the biggest global brands the BBC possesses.

Sydney Newman had no doubt where the success of the series lay, as he told Doctor Who Magazine in 1993
I think the best thing I ever did on that was to find Verity Lambert. I remembered Verity as being bright and, to use the phrase, full of piss and vinegar! She was gutsy and she used to fight and argue with me
Lambert's final story, Mission to the Unknown is unique in the history of Doctor Who in that it features neither The Doctor, or any of his current companions, who at the time were Steven and Vicki.

The idea for the story was conceived early in 1965 when Terry Nation had been discussing ideas with the production team for the third production block of the series. Such was the success of the Daleks than another story involving them would be needed. A six part story, later to be expanded to twelve episodes, was commissioned from their creator along with a special 'trailer' episode for the story that would feature none of the regular cast and would be known as Dalek Cutaway.

The extra episode was to be scheduled at the end of the second year of recording. The absence of the regular cast would allow them all to have an extra week's holiday in the gap between the recording blocks for season two and three. Despite missing from the episode, William Hartnell would still be credited as his contract specified he would be credited for all episodes, a stipulation that did not apply to his companions Peter Purves and Maureen O'Brien.

Verity Lambert had effectively left the series by the time Mission to the Unknown was recorded, but her official contract with the series ended with the recording of the episode, in Television Centre Studio 3, on Friday 18th August. Her successor would be John Wiles, a BBC staff writer who had recently been promoted to producer. Script Editor Dennis Spooner was also moving on from the series, where he was replaced by Donald Tosh.

To help ease the transition, Lambert and Spooner wrote a document headed The History of Doctor Who, giving an introduction to the series. They were very keen to keep the internal history of the show intact and avoid conflicts in the story arc.
You will find listed below a thumbnail sketch of the serials transmitted and/or commissioned for Doctor Who. I think it is a point to bear in mind that any stories that are commissioned and are set in the future will have to be checked from their date point of view.... The Dalek serials have also to be watched with this in mind, as in the first Dalek serial (Serial B) Doctor Who did in fact wipe out the Dalek race. With a time machine at his disposal this is not as disastrous as it sounds, as he can go back to any point in their history; but one has to be careful in Serial B, K, R and in the Dalek story to come that they are true to the Dalek history calendar.

Another further note is that most writers call Doctor Who 'Doctor Who'. In fact he does not admit to this name, just the 'Doctor' part, and is never referred to as 'Doctor Who'. This is just the title of the show. Doctor Who comes from a planet that we have never named. Various references to it have been made in the scripts as the show has gone along, but I personally have not gone back looking for them all.
When Lambert left Doctor Who she was offered the producer role on a new BBC series Adam Adamant Lives! , as well as launching a new soap opera The Newcomers. Other productions for the BBC included a season of the crime drama Detective and a 26-part series of adaptations of the stories of William Somerset Maugham.

She left the BBC in 1969 to join London Weekend Television, where she produced Budgie and Between the Wars, before returning to the BBC to produce Shoulder to Shoulder, a series of six 75-minute plays about the suffragette movement of the early 20th century. In the 1970's she became Head of Drama at Thames Television, and was responsible for overseeing the work of Euston Films, Thames' subsidiary film production company, where she enjoyed the most sustained period of critical and popular success of her career. Her work included The Naked Civil Servant, with John Hurt, Rock Follies, Rumpole of the Bailey, The Sweeney, and Edward and Mrs Simpson. In 1979 she transferred to Euston films full time overseeing productions such as Quatermass, Minder and Widows.

In 1985 she established her own independent production company, Cinema Verity, producing the feature film A Cry in the Dark and the Channel 4 commissioned drama G.B.H. A less successful Cinema Verity production, was the soap opera Eldorado which was cancelled after a year. In the early 1990s, Lambert attempted to win the rights to produce Doctor Who independently for the BBC; however, this effort was unsuccessful because the Corporation was already in negotiations with producer Philip Segal in the United States.

Her work continued into the 21st Centurary, producing Jonathan Creek and The Cazalets for the BBC. Her last production was the comedy-drama, Love Soup.

Verity Lambert died on the 22 November 2007, the day before Doctor Who's 44th Birthday. A blue heritage plaque in her honour was unveiled by the Doctor Who Appreciation Society and the Riverside Trust, at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, London in 2014.
SOURCES: The Handbook: The First Doctor – The William Hartnell Years: 1963-1966, David J Howe, Mark Stammers, Stephen James Walker (Doctor Who Books, 1994);Doctor Who Magazine (1993)




Moments In Time: Zygons in ScotlandBookmark and Share

Sunday, 30 August 2015 - Reported by Harry Ward
Today marks the fortieth anniversary of Terror of the Zygons by Robert Banks Stewart. The Zygons returned to Doctor Who in The Day of the Doctor and are set to make another appearance in this year's Invasion Of The Zygons / Inversion Of The Zygons by Peter Harness.

The Radio Times issue for 28 August 1975 covered the story with a feature on Loch Ness by Anthony Haden-Guest with artwork from Frank Bellamy. You can read more on the Radio Times story guide by Mark Braxton.
What is Nessie? Who can tell? In a new series starting this week, Dr Who takes on the unidentified incumbent of Loch Ness. Here Anthony Haden-Guest plumbs the murky depths of the Scottish mystery.
Still waters, page 1 (Credit: Radio Times / Frank Bellamy) Still waters, page 2 (Credit: Radio Times) Saturday TV (Radio Times) (Credit: Radio Times / Frank Bellamy)

In article about Doctor Who in The Listener for 2nd October 1975, Jack Waterman wrote:
On another level, admirers of polystyrene suitings—to say nothing of shareholders in plastics firms—must like the work to be seen on Dr Who. To name but one monster, and the most recent, the Zygon was a creation of genius—an amber-coloured, heavy-duty plastic individual—and yet another tribute to designers who have, through this programme alone, over the years put the BBC well ahead, in a field whose first drawing-board effort was no less than Frankenstein's creation. [p. 437]