Fifty Years since its initial broadcast, The Power of the Daleks will finally be seen again, in newly animated form, when the BBC release all six episodes this coming November.
But what happened to the original film recordings?
The master tapes of the complete serial were erased at Villiers House in 1974 (even though they weren’t “officially” junked), while the additional 35mm film negative of Episode 6 was junked by the BBC Brentford film library some time prior to 1970. Due to an error on the library film card, there has been long speculation that the Brentford record indicates that Power of the Daleks 6 was not “officially” junked and the film can remains missing, indicating the episode made its way onto the black market. This is not the case however and the error is a mere double entry, the film being junked that year.
Due to restrictions on sales of Dalek episodes placed by the Terry Nation estate between late 1966 and December of 1967 (Nation refusing permission to sell the Dalek stories while he was trying to sell his spin-off Dalek series in the United States), the likes of The Power of the Daleks saw relatively few international sales compared to stories around them. BBC Enterprise had two 16mm copies of the serial for foreign sales, the first of which was sent to Australia for July 1967 broadcast. The films were all returned to the BBC and junked on June 4, 1975. The second foreign-held copy has long been the source of much speculation, having been sent first to New Zealand for broadcast in August of 1969 and then sent on to Singapore in January of 1972 for broadcast in May of that year. The fate of the prints is unknown and Singapore says that it currently holds no material. The serials sent as part of the batch to RTS were The Savages, The Smugglers, The Tenth Planet and The Power of the Daleks.
Various clips from the landmark story still exist, taken from other programming, alongside 8mm footage filmed off-air by an Australian fan, which includes the first moments of the Second Doctor in the TARDIS.
Due to its key status as the first story to feature Patrick Troughton, its status as a classic of the era and of course it being a Dalek story, Power has long been one of the “holy grails” of missing episode hunting. The story has been subject to rumours and hoaxes ever since the 1980s, even though the Singapore prints are realistically the only hope of recovering the serial in its entirety, beyond the possibility of episodes marked for junking being purloined in London.
One of the earliest and most persistent rumours was that the serial was shown in its complete form in 1986 in Ghana, as reported in Doctor Who Bulletin #105 in September of 1992, when contacted over the matter the station claimed that the archive had burned down in 1989 (which was relayed in DWB #107). However, Ghana never bought the serial and there is no record of the Ghanian archives ever suffering such a fate.
In December of 1990 it was reported that a private collector was in possession of a poor quality copy of Episode 2 and episode hunter Bruce Campbell was in negotiation for the return of the episode. The return of the episode hinged, perhaps unbelievably today, on the collector receiving a copy of an extended Laserdisc edition of Aliens, a product only available at the time in the United States. Despite obtaining the Laserdisc, the Power episode never surfaced and the incident can only be put down as a hoax on the part of the collector.
Rumours later spread that a consortium of dealers bought a 35mm film print of Episode 1 for the princely sum of £15,500. No record exists of the episode in question having ever been on 35mm film, the BBC having recorded little of the show on the format and by 1994 further rumours spread of an oil-rig worker being in possession of Episode 2 of the serial, for which he’d paid £5000. A hoax in 2001 meanwhile said that Episode 3 had been located and sent to the BFI and the notorious Darren Gregory claimed at various points to be in possession of all or part of the serial.
The serial was the subject to a notorious earlier hoax in the 1990s when a collector in Australia attempted to defraud others out of material by using stills from surviving clips of the episode, the clips in question having featured in a 1974 edition of the education series Perspectives entitled C For Computer. The “Dalek production one” clip was later returned to the BBC.
The 2013 return of The Web of Fear and Enemy of the World brought a new level of speculation as all manner of rumours and hoaxes combined into the so-called “omnirumour” of which Power of the Daleks was often stated to have been recovered. That a recovered Power had a special screening for select individuals at the BBC was regularly speculated alongside insistence that the story would be the final release of the Doctor Who DVD range in 2016, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Patrick Troughton taking the role. Which we guess might somehow have actually come true! Of course these rumours were equally encased within tales of 97 episodes being recovered and regular DVD releases of material.
Yet others told tales of The Power of the Daleks being found “independently” of the main search alongside The Daleks Masterplan and yet in January of 2014 there seemed to be something more concrete as information surfaced that both Power and Evil had possibly been broadcast in Taiwan.
While rumours continue to persist to this day, the new animation from the BBC perhaps shows that the Beeb find little confidence in ever recovering the episodes and hold no information to the contrary. The excellent new production is the best that we could possibly hope for and the first chance most fans will get to see them in a broadcast medium. Here’s hoping for many more to come!
Power of the Daleks will be released digitally at 5:50pm on November 5 via the BBC store, with a DVD release following on November 21, preorders are available now via the Amazon link below.
Many of Doctor Who’s most iconic moments are those end of episode cliff-hangers, the dramatic hooks that ensure the viewers will tune in again for the next instalment. To be successful they need to provoke two reactions – the wow (“did that really just happen?” “that was unexpected” “that was edge of the seat stuff” etc.) and the how (“how will they get out of that one?” “How can the writer resolve this one?” “How will such and such a character react to that?” etc.). It was the brilliant combination of both that made the ending to The Stolen Earth one of the greatest Doctor Who cliff-hangers of all time. It is the nearest the show has got to a “who shot JR moment?” as the nation wondered whether or not the Tenth Doctor would regenerate.
The Role Of The Cliff-hanger.
There are a number of cliff-hanger types and subtypes at the writer’s disposal. They are not unique to Doctor Who or indeed the medium of television. The cliff-hanger is an age old device, favoured by Shakespeare and later Dickens and Thomas Hardy for its commercial potential. It was the bread and butter of the serialised novels of the nineteenth century and helped the authors establish their fanbase.
“Primal and unashamedly manipulative, cliff-hangers are the signature gambit of serial storytelling. They expose the intimacy between the writers room and fanbase, auteur and recapper – a relationship that can take seasons to develop, years marked by incidents of betrayal, contentment, and occasionally, by a kind of ecstasy.” (Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker, Jul 30th 2012).
The types of cliff-hangers used in Doctor Who are no different from those in any other show or medium and at their heart is the desire to leave the audience wanting more.
The Reversal Ending.
One of the most effective types is the reversal ending in which an element of the story is turned on its head. They can be reversals of fortune, of setting, of character or of plot. The Stolen Earth ends with a reversal of fortune, after the apparent reunion of the Tenth Doctor and Rose is shattered by the Doctor being exterminated, triggering his regeneration. But perhaps the most memorable example is Horror Of Fang Rock when the Doctor at the end of part 3 realises he has “made a terrible mistake” by inadvertently trapping the Rutan inside the lighthouse with him.
In the very first Doctor Who cliff-hanger, the TARDIS arrives in the Stone Age as the shadow of a tribesman falls over the landscape. Somewhat surprisingly for a show where the protagonist travels in time and space the location shift is rarely used as an episode ending. The reversal of setting was most in evidence during the Jon Pertwee era. With the Third Doctor exiled to Earth by the Time Lords, it marked a welcome twist in the tale against a backdrop of Earth based contemporary stories. Examples include Inferno 2, The Time Monster 4, The Three Doctors 2 and Invasion Of The Dinosaurs 3.
Unlike the location shift a reversal of character is frequently employed as a cliff-hanger device in the classic era. It can take many forms but one popular approach was for the writer to toy with the audience’s expectation that good characters will do good things. These are effective for their shock value, none more so than when at the end of The Deadly Assassin Part 1 it appears as if the Doctor has assassinated the president. Other examples include Turlough attacking the Doctor in Mawdryn Undead 1, Sarah being revealed to be an android in The Android Invasion 2, Kamelion shape shifting into the master in Planet Of Fire 1, Ace falling under the influence of the Cheetah Planet in Survival 3, and the Doctor appearing to push Romana over the edge of a cliff in The Stones Of Blood 1.
Reversals in plot, the twists in the tale that change the whole direction of a story, are the hardest to pull off and consequently are few and far between. None have bettered the very first example of this from the underrated Hartnell story, The Ark. At the end of episode 2, just as the viewer thinks the story has been resolved, everything changes when the time travellers return to the Ark in the future to discover that the human statue that was under construction when they last visited has now been completed. The camera slowly pans up the sculpture until we see that it has a monoid head. Compare this tour de force with the disaster of The Invasion Of Time in which we suddenly discover in the part 4 cliff-hanger that it is the Sontarans and not the Vardans who are the main villain of the piece.
The Revelation Ending.
Some of the most iconic Doctor Who moments are the monster reveals. Usually reserved for the cliff-hanger, they are examples of the more general meme – the revelation ending (which can also be a plan, a motivation or a character reveal). From very early on it became part of the anatomy of a classic Dalek story to save the first sight of a Dalek for the end of part one. Often the focus is on the gradual manner of the reveal with no thought to the story. Inexplicably for instance, in The Dalek Invasion Of Earth a Dalek emerges from the water. In a similar vein in The Chase a Dalek slowly rises out of the sand of Aridius. It works more effectively when the reveal is part of the storyline such as in Planet Of The Daleks, where the third Doctor literally exposes the Dalek by applying the liquid paint spray.
Another classic monster reveal moment comes at the end of Robot 1. The story requires the audience to follow the robot in action from very early on in part 1, but we do so only from the robot’s point of view. The nearest we get to seeing Kettlewell’s robot is a teasing shot of the shadow of its arm. The full reveal is saved for the cliff-hanger to great effect. Many a classic Doctor Who monster was first revealed in a cliff-hanger. But possibly the most iconic monster reveal is that of the Sontaran Linx when he removes his helmet to expose his potato head and creepy tongue – the stuff of nightmares. So effective, it was repeated in the very next season’s The Sontaran Experiment.
The Peril Ending.
The ending that most casual viewers associate best with Doctor Who is the peril cliff-hanger. It could be the companion, the Doctor, the Earth or the whole universe that is in danger. This type of ending doesn’t really work when an incidental character is under threat because the viewer needs to be emotionally engaged with them. For example the ending of part five of The Daleks with the Thal Elyon’s scream. Subtypes of this choice of hook include the fall, the capture, the trap and the execution. When artificially dividing up the anniversary special The Five Doctors for an episodic repeat, the stumble of Sarah over the embankment is given the Doctor Who sting (Doctor Who’s equivalent of Eastenders’ dun, dun, duns). Worst fall ending ever. The peril has to be a situation of real jeopardy and immediate threat, hence the equally derided Death To The Daleks part 3. It also has to be logically connected to the story as if there was no alternative. The cliff-hanger in Dragonfire 1 is sometimes explained away as a meta reference, but the editing of the story is at fault for making the Seventh Doctor’s “fall” over the cliff seem self-inflicted.
The Portent Ending.
There is a more subtle ending that, like the twist in the tale, usually does not require an immediate resolution – that of the portent; usually a visual signal of impending doom, whether it be a skull (An Unearthly Child 2) or a dead body (Marco Polo 4). In one of the show’s most creative uses of the cliff-hanger, The Celestial Toymaker 1, 2 and 3 all end on a riddle, anticipating the next challenge that will befall our heroes. In most cases only one of these cliff-hanger types is sufficient and it can be quite counter-productive to add too many layers. Portent ending work best in isolation. Take Revelation Of The Daleks for instance. The image of the sixth Doctor’s statue would have been far more effective without it randomly toppling onto the Doctor. It’s as if a decision was made that an element of peril had to be shoehorned in. By contrast The Face Of Evil 1 ends with the Doctor having seen his face carved into the cliff simply observing, “I must have made quite an impression.”
The “what happened next” can make or break the cliff-hanger. Written badly and the viewer feels cheated. This disappointment is then projected backwards making the once dramatic ending now feel like a damp squib. In the case of The Stolen Earth, was the payoff in Journey’s End a success?
Among the most irritating resolutions are the ones when quite out of the blue a person, a situation or an object comes to the rescue. The utility belt escape might be brilliant for the tongue in cheek approach of sixties show Batman and Robin, but viewers of Gotham would be unimpressed. Doctor Who might not always take itself as seriously as a modern US superhero drama but cheap get outs are not meant to be on the agenda. Even the best of stories can fall victim to the occasional poor resolution. Genesis Of The Daleks is a case in point. Poor Sarah Jane and her falls – here, at the end of episode 2 she falls off the rocket silo, plummeting to a certain death. And the resolution? There was a platform not far below that hadn’t been revealed to the viewer the week before.
Returning to the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration escape in Journey’s End, the hand in the jar has been seen by some as a similar cop out, but it’s not like it was placed there without the viewer knowing. If this was the first we knew of the hand since The Christmas Invasion then it would have been far too convenient for the Doctor to have preserved it and kept in in the console room. However, as fans of Torchwood especially will know, the hand was never forgotten. From the moment the Tenth Doctor took it from Captain Jack it was always likely to have some later significance. In fact, Russell T Davies gives us another reminder partway between Utopia and Journey’s End, when in The Poison Sky/The Doctor’s Daughter it reacts to Jenny’s birth. The Doctor’s hand plays a crucial role in Journey’s End, and proves to be more than a tool for resolving the cliff-hanger.
The power of the cliff-hanger can also be diminished by the revelation that all was not how it first appeared. There’s nothing wrong with misdirection, so long as sufficient clues have been left in the story. The possibility of the audience working it out has to always be present. The writer might just about be able to get away with it in a series long arc (the death of the Doctor in The Impossible Astronaut) but it can be deeply disappointing when an end of episode cliff-hanger is followed in the next by a resolution that the audience could not have reasonably guessed (good examples would be The Pirate Planet 3 and The Caves Of Androzani 1). It feels like the writer is not playing by the rules. For a completely unforeshadowed “it wasn’t what you thought” resolution to work, the characters need to have been as much in the dark as the viewer (as for instance in Blake’s 7 Redempton).
But the worst of the worst “get out of jail free” cards are those in which the whole scene is reshot with significant changes to boot. Spearhead From Space part 1 and Planet Of The Spiders part 5 are among the culprits here.
The Cliff-hanger In The Revived Series.
Modern Doctor Who whilst inspired by the endings of old has tended to focus on the peril type and is surprisingly limited when compared to the breadth we see in the original run. However it has also introduced novel approaches to the cliff-hanger. For starters, the device has found its new natural home in the pre-credits sequence. Secondly, the rise of so called “event” TV during Russell T Davies’ tenure led to a ratcheting up the stakes for the penultimate episode cliff-hanger. Not only had the scope and scale of the danger been increased but the cliff-hanger itself had exploded into multiple wow moments. Steven Moffat’s first finale followed this trend, but by series six he was reining in the threat, turning it personal. The cliff-hanger has been no less jaw-dropping for that. The 2010 series was divided into two halves with A Good Man Goes To War ending on what Moffat described as “…an earth-shattering climax, a cliff-hanger we never normally do because it would be too long before it came back.”
Steven Moffat’s era will one day be remembered for its game changing endings (A Good Man Goes To War, The Name Of The Doctor, Dark Water), but they will never surpass The Tenth Planet Part Four. Even if the Doctor was to one day regenerate into a woman, the fact that it has been teased and foreshadowed means it is unlikely to eclipse the shock that viewers felt upon seeing William Hartnell morph into Patrick Troughton. Once that precedent was set, future regenerations would inevitably loose the wow factor. Interest shifted towards how and when the Doctor would regenerate. In The Caves Of Androzani 3, in one of the most effective cliff-hangers of all time the Doctor is about to crash land the gun runners ship into the planet, leaving the viewer unsure as to whether this will trigger his regeneration early in part four.
In the early days of Doctor Who even the end of a story would occasionally include a cliff-hanger – a lead in to the next adventure (e.g. An Unearthly Child, The Daleks, Edge Of Destruction). Forgotten fairly soon after individual episode titles were dropped, the modern era has re-established this (e.g. The Poison Sky, Doomsday, Last Of The Time Lords, The Beast Below and The Name Of The Doctor). But unique to the new series has been the story ending that provides a link to the season long arc.
The cliff-hanger has become an overused device in recent television history. It is a staple ingredient of a continuing drama like Eastenders. For commercial broadcasters there is often now a cliff-hanger before each intermission. The placement of ad breaks interferes with the structure of a story by having several equally spaced cliff-hangers ruining its flow and natural sequence. The real time format of the hit show 24 highlights this problem, when the end of each hour conveniently includes the most dramatic scenes for the sake of the cliff-hanger. Even in the earliest examples of the cliff-hanger, there was a commercial factor at play, but arguably in today’s climate the device has been cynically manipulated at the expense of story – see for instance the new trend of releasing video games episodically.
Going against the flow, in 2013 Steven Moffat bravely took the executive decision to move away from the two parters to focus on self-contained 45 minute stories. This approach continued in series eight with the exception of the series finale. It was a welcome relief and typical of Moffat who is keen to shake up the format of the show to keep it fresh, subverting tried and tested formulas. The revelation that series nine will predominantly consist of two parters might be seen as a retrograde step were it not for the fact that these are two parters with a twist. Moffat has promised that there will be a discernible shift between the two halves of the story, explaining why some of them have different writers. Exactly what this will mean for the cliff-hanger is unclear, but the reversal of setting or the twist in the tale ending would be the most likely scenario.
Doctor Who has never been a show that has shied away from politics. From the politically aware 1970s that tackled issues such as environmentalism, colonialism and feminism to Aliens of London and World War Three, the show has tackled the issues head-on. But until the end of the Classic Series, it rarely featured the MP’s or Prime Minister of the day, preferring to deal through pompous civil servants such as Horatio Chin, the phone call from the minister or a mere mention of “received orders” or instructions.
The New Adventures, Big Finish and ongoing series changed all that, now the Prime Minister himself has been featured… and chaos soon followed. With so many competing mediums, from books to audios and new episodes every year, the timeline of who did what and when has understandably become convoluted. For example, did Jeremy Thorpe really lead the country in the 1970s? was Tony Blair assassinated by the Slitheen? Just who did Harold Saxon defeat to become Prime Minister?
So join us here as we take a look at a political history of Britain since 1900 according to the show, trying to piece together the various differing accounts and threads into one cohesive piece of political fanwank tale of political intrigue, assassination, coups, genocide and more.
Please note, this history is full of suggestion, presumption and supposition, it is not in any way an official history and merely our own personal interpretation of the facts given and a fruitless (but fun) attempt to reconcile many problems of canonicity.
The Doctor Who Universe and our own seem fairly consistent throughout the first half of the twentieth century, with the likes of Lord Sailsbury (Robert Gascoyne-Cecil), David Lloyd George and Ramsay MacDonald all highlighted as having been in office. Both Lord Sailsbury and Henry Herbert Asquith are name checked by Big Finish and Eighth Doctor companion Charley Pollard named the TARDIS’ pet Vortisaur after MacDonald in 1930, believing that MacDonald bore a resemblance to the pterodactyl-like creature from the Vortex! It is somewhat safe to assume that the timelines between the two universes are consistent up to and including Winston Churchill.
1895 – 1902
Mentioned as Prime Minister in Big Finish’s Upstairs
1902 – 1905
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
1905 – 1908
Herbert Henry Asquith
1908 – 1915
Mentioned as Prime Minister in Big Finish’s The Suffering
David Lloyd George
1916 – 1922
Mentioned in Aliens of London
Andrew Bonar Law
1922 – 1923
1923 – 1924
1924 – 1929
1929 – 1935
Charley Pollard names her Vortisaur after Ramsay MacDonald in October 1930 during Storm Warning
1935 – 1937
1937 – 1940
Despite enjoying a drinking session with Lloyd George where the Welshman drank him under the table (as recanted in Aliens of London), it wasn’t until the rise to prominence of Winston Churchill that the Doctor had a true friend in office.
Meeting Churchill first as a boy when in his fourth incarnation, the Doctor was posing as a punch and judy man while hunting Cybermats! They met at St George’s Prep where the second Doctor taught him Latin, he met the Tenth Doctor when hunting Sontaran grenades and yet again at the battle of Omdurman 1898 where the Third incarnation of the Doctor was battling mummies. In 1911 he would be saved from an assassin’s bullet by the Sixth Doctor and Peri, spending time in a Boer prison with Six, before meeting the First Doctor the same year.
During the First World War, Churchill was saved again by the Doctor, his Second Incarnation saving him from an ambush attempt by the Players, the meddlers attempting to send him to Berlin during the events of World Game. He would play cricket with the Fifth Doctor at Chartwell in 1931 and prior to his appointment as Prime Minister, the Sixth incarnation of the Doctor stopped the Players from altering his timeline and bringing about Edward VIII’s plan to bring a fascist government into power, all told in Teranace Dick’s Past Doctor Adventure Players, the two exchanging phone numbers. He would meet the Seventh Doctor briefly during the same crisis. The Doctor would go on to encounter Churchill again during the events of The Eagle of the Reich at the Crystal Palace fire in 1936, the fire in fact being caused by a hatched Phoenix.
During the war itself, the Doctor appears to have directly involved himself in the outcome, encouraging a dispirited Churchill to fight on after the disaster of Dunkirk, coming up with the “blood, sweat and tears” speech and coining the phrase “finest hour” as all recanted in The Ultimate Adventure.
“Churchill brightened up, lit one of his big cigars, gave me a victory sign, and went out and won the war.” – The Doctor, The Ultimate Adventure
In 1941 during the events of Victory of the Daleks, Edwin Bracewell presented Churchill with two Daleks in the guise of super weapons to end the war. Not listening to the Doctor’s warnings on the true nature of the “Ironsides,” Churchill believed they would win the war for Britain. After the Daleks made London vulnerable to German bombers, Churchill authorised the use of Spitfires to launch an attack to defeat the menace. Despite protests, the Eleventh Doctor would remove all the alien technology from the scene.
The Doctor would use his friendship with Churchill to his advantage in 1944 as he tried to infiltrate the Nazi army during a raid on Turelhampton, as featured in The Shadow in the Glass. Churchill was said to have had such confidence in his past exploits that he managed to convince the war cabinet to agree to the Doctor’s plan with little to no information as to his intentions. Toward the end of the war, the Ninth Doctor would take Winston on a trip in the TARDIS, headed back to Ancient Rome.
The Eighth Doctor had his autograph!
Shaun Lyon’s classic novel The Witch Hunters confirms that Churchill was still Prime Minister in 1954 and it would appear that, again, the timelines during this middle-period of the twentieth century are the same as our own.
1940 – 1945
Various encounters with the Doctor, notably the Eleventh (see above)
1945 – 1951
Sir Winston Churchill
1951 – 1955
Various encounters with the Doctor, notably the Eleventh (see above)
[section label=”The 1960s”]
The turmoil of the 1960s
The Counter-Measures series from Big Finish gives us some valuable insight into the political manoeuvring in the corridors of power during the 1960s, which again follow our own timeline.. minus the aliens (we think.. you never know!). After succeeding Harold Macmillan in 1963, the new Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Homebriefly met the Seventh Doctor and Ace before surviving an attempted kidnapping the next year in 1964. The kidnap attempt was subsequently covered up by the government as noted in The Pelage Project.
Harold Wilson’s victory for the Labour Party in 1964 left senior officials in the military, civil service and security services concerned as to the left leaning policies of the new government. This being the height of the Cold War, the “red scare” was prevalent in society and there was genuine concern of Communist infiltration within British life. After surviving at attempted coup, Wilson would go on to sacrifice 12 children to the alien 456 the following year in 1965, as recanted in the Torchwood mini-series Children of Earth.
The scientific disasters that surrounded government sponsored projects such as the Wenley Moor incident of Doctor Who and the Silurians, Inferno‘s Project: Inferno, plus the Mars Probe 7 debacle of Ambassadors of Death and the Spearhead from Space Nestene Invasion (covered up as a “terrorist attack” under the term Black Thursday, which most presumed to be the work of the IRA), led to a significant backlash against the Wilson government and Labour lost the 1970 election to either the Conservatives led by Edward Heath or a coalition led by Jeremy Thorpe. It is now here that we enter dangerous waters as we dabble in UNIT dating and the timelines start to go awry.
Sir Anthony Eden
1955 – 1957
1957 – 1963
Sir Alec Douglas-Home
1963 – 1964
Met the 7th Doctor and Ace in Big Finish’s The Assassination Games. Survived kidnapping in 1964.
1964 – 1970
Survived coup attempt in the Counter-Measures audio State of Emergency, encountered the 456.
[section label=”The 1970s”]
Thorpe, Williams, Callaghan and a Lot of Confusion!
Who Killed Kennedy states that Edward Heath won the 1970 election of the back of the disasters of Doctor Who‘s Season 7, his government soon under fire for the disasters at the series of World Peace Conferences held in the UK during that period and the government’s involvement in the Axonite scandal, as seen in The Claws of Axos. It is not hard to imagine the electorate tiring of both the Labour and Conservative parties during the period as the scandals that plagued the Wilson government during Season 7 continue to persist under Heath.
By The Green Death Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart refers to the Prime Minister as “Jeremy,” a sly reference to then Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe who was winning plaudits for his leadership of the Liberals, the scene suggesting that Thorpe had won the coming real world election to be held that year in 1974, UNIT stories being set in the “near future” (Seriously, we’re not even getting into the UNIT dates!). The Devil Goblins from Neptune confirms that Thorpe came to power on a platform of social reform, the abolition of the death penalty, and a strong interstellar defence programme, suggesting that the death penalty had been retained in the Doctor Who universe as opposed to it’s abolition in real life in 1965. This would seem to be later confirmed by The Seas Devils when the Doctor tells the Master that many were in favour of his receiving the death penalty for his crimes.
The problem? The Devil Goblins from Neptune is set during Season 7, which places it earlier in the continuity and would erase Edward Heath from the timeline (no bad thing some might say). The official BBC website states that:
“In the aftermath of several invasions of London in the late 60s, the 1970 election produces a hung parliament (conflicting Tory and Socialist policies towards the alien menace drive many voters towards the Liberals and fringe parties). In this atmosphere, a coalition government, led by Jeremy Thorpe, governs Britain in the early 70s.”
Therefore we must unfortunately consign Who Killed Kennedy to our political history, despite it being an excellent read.
With the power crisis caused by the collapse of Global Chemicals as seen in The Green Death, a company which Prime Minister Jeremy Thorpe was particularly close to (no doubt causing a scandal), the government’s involvement in the Axonite affair and the Operation Golden Age conspiracy of Invasion of the Dinosaurs, the Thorpe led coalition falls in 1973 and the Labour party led by Shirley Williams is brought to power. The Brigadier addresses the Prime Minister as ‘Madam’ In Terror of the Zygons and both Lawrence Miles’ Interference and Paul Cornell’s No Future confirm Williams as Prime Minister during the period, No Future proclaiming her still in office in 1976 and that her cabinet includes Tony Benn and Roy Jenkins.
Big Finish Fourth Doctor Adventure The Oseidon Adventure informs us that James Callaghan becomes PM in 1976 and serves until 1979, yet this poses another problem.
Lawrence Miles’ Interference states that Jeremy Thorpe and Shirley Williams served between Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher, with no mention made of James Callaghan, also bringing Edward Heath back into play, despite the BBC website and The Devil Goblins from Neptune giving the date of Thorpe’s rise to power as around 1970. The Counter-Measures audio Changing of the Guard confirms that Heath is the then (1965) leader of the Conservative party, even though William Heaton MP states that he won’t win the next election.
It could be speculated that both Edward Heath and Jeremy Thorpe were Prime Minister in 1970, had Heath won a minority government and called a second election possibly in November of that year. This would reconcile Who Killed Kennedy and Interference with the other evidence to some degree, placing the events of The Mind of Evil and The Claws of Axos within the span of the short Heath government, the continuing revelations of the Axon affair still being felt during Thorpe’s early reign as leader. This would only leave the absence of James Callaghan being mentioned in Interference to reconcile, which we can put down to a lack of memory on the part of the Eighth Doctor who makes the claim. The BBC website also states that Thorpe leads a coalition government and that following his reign as PM, Shirley Williams leads the Labour party “back to power” – indicating that Labour had been out of power during the Thorpe administration and suggestive on a Conservative-Liberal coalition led by Thorpe, with dissatisfied socialists also in the mix.
In the real world, Wilson won in 1974 and was succeeded by Callaghan, who lost to Thatcher in 1979, yet the timeline doesn’t work in the Doctor Who universe if Williams rose to power in 1973 as that would be six years of Labour power without an election, with a limit of 5 years. Therefore we suggest the date is slightly wrong and Williams in fact came to power in 1974.
Margaret Thatcher succeeds Callaghan in 1979 as confirmed by the audio Rat Trap and the Tenth Doctor episode Tooth and Claw and, for a time at least, it would appear the Doctor Who and our own timeline once again converge. It can be no coincidence that the two major periods of divergence, the early to mid-1970s and the 1990s/2000s coincide with two spates of alien invasions and interference in the Earth’s affairs from ETs.
Thatcher was still Prime Minister in both 1987 (Father’s Day, Damaged Goods) and the Doctor seems to have developed something of a distaste for her both in his Sixth and Tenth incarnations, despite serving as an advisor in the late 1980s, referring to her as “that woman” during the events of The Ultimate Adventure.
Formed a minority government and lost subsequent November election
1970 – 1974
Formed coalition with Tories and dissatisfied socialists. Global chemicals scandal.
1974 – 1976
Resigned in 1976 mirroring Wilson’s in our own timeline.
1976 – 1979
1979 – 1990
New Labour, Assassinations and the Beginning of the Chaos
Interference names John Major as Thatcher’s successor, in-line with our own timeline, though there is no date given for the beginning of his term in office. It would, in any case, seem to have been a short-lived ministry as by 1992 Margery Phipps has become Prime Minister as told in Council of War. When we meet her, Phipps is a member of the Harmony Party, yet given that the party is mentioned neither before or since, we might presume it’s dissolution between the 1970s and 1992. We can presume therefore that Margery leads the Labour Party at the 1992 election and The Sun most definitely didn’t win it!
Phipps would have been one of the most liberal Prime Ministers in British history. A pacifist, vegetarian, feminist and environmentalist, she is said to have negotiated lasting peace between nations during what was surely an age of optimism and new politics for the nation. Her book Love is All You Need was a bestseller for 500 years.
In May 1997, a newly male elected British Prime Minister, meaning it cannot be Margery, was assassinated by his bodyguard in Washington DC. The Dying Days then portrays Lord Greyhaven serving in the role of Prime Minister under Xnaal’s dictatorship for a month. The immediate candidate is of course Tony Blair, elected in our universe in May of 1997, yet future references to Blair rule our his assassination at this juncture leading us to speculate that it was in fact John Major who won the 1997 election within the Doctor Who universe and Major who met his untimely end across the pond with The Dying Days giving no other indication to the PM’s identity. Blair not ascending to power would also give us an “out” on how Blair replaced the popular serving Prime Minister Margery Phipps.
Terry Brooks was named as Prime Minister in 1999 in the Justin Richards novel Millennium Shock, it’s therefore likely that he replaced the assassinated John Major after the brief unofficial tenure of Lord Greyhaven. Given the catastrophic events, including the assassination of the Prime Minister, it’s possible that either an emergency government was formed that brought a Labour Prime Minister into Number 10 or an election was called that was won by Brooks. Although there is no reference to which party Brooks is a member of, the character is a thinly veiled caricature of Tony Blair and the policies espoused similar in nature to those of New Labour, we can even speculate that in the Doctor Who universe New Labour was a joint project between Brooks and Blair.
Brooks, in order to fund his extravagant national spending plans, comes to an arrangement with the Voracians. Deceived into attempting to recreate an Artificially Intelligent computer program, the distraught Brooks confesses all and the Doctor ensures that his admission is transmitted to the whole of parliament. His career in ruins, the PM would soon be replaced by Tony Blair, given that Rose Tyler states in World War Three that she missed the 2005 election, this means there was an election that year and also possibly in 2000, yet The Fearmonger from Big Finish lets us know the election was in fact in 2002, suggesting that following a victory in 2002, Blair called an early election in 2005.
Here’s where it gets confusing!
Tony Blair was certainly Prime Minister prior to 2006 and equally engaged himself in the war in Iraq, Rose Tyler confirming the “dodgy dossier” on weapons of mass destruction existed in her timeline during the episode World War Three. However, Interference states that Blair served between Major and Ken Clarke, which wouldn’t fit with Terry Brooks becoming Prime Minister in 1997. However, if we use our “emergency government” theory and speculate that a government of national unity was formed in 1997 following the events of The Dying days and Lord Greyhaven, we can suggest that the popular Blair was given the role of interim Prime Minister until a full investigation surrounding John Major’s assassination and Lord Greyhaven could be carried out and the Conservative party were in a position to continue the former Major led government.
The Conservatives winning in 1997 would give them till 2001 till hold an election under then rules and as we see later, this government falls in 1999. We suggest Kenneth Clarke won the leadership contest and assumed the role of PM without the need for election. Yet the government was unstable, the nation distrustful of the party after events and Labour under Terry Brooks returned to power in 1999 after Clarke calls an election. Convoluted we know!
1990 – 1992
Replaced Thatcher as per our own timeline
1992 – 1997
Became PM in 1992 according to Council of War
Assassinated during the events of The Dying Days
Acting. The Dying Days.
Intrim unity government
Acting. As mentioned in Interference
1997 – 1999
Continuation of the Major ministry, as mentioned in Interference
1999 – 2000
Allied himself with the alien Voracians
2000 – 2006
Won elections in 2002 and 2005, killed by the Slitheen.
[section label=”Harriet Jones and Harold Saxon”]
The Golden Age?
The British Prime Minister was killed during the events of World War Three and the original intention of the production team was that this individual would be a lookalike of Tony Blair. When they were unsatisfied at his likeness, his face was hidden from view but it would fit what we know that this was indeed Blair. Killed by a farting alien.. insert Eric Pickles joke here. The role of Prime Minister would be assumed temporarily by Jocrassa Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen in the guide of Joseph Green but our next PM would be the notable Harriet Jones.
Jones, the member for Flydale North and current backbencher, was an unambitious, intelligent and community driven individual who was adapt at leadership in a crisis. Her actions during the Slitheen affair won her plaudits and friends, not least the Doctor and Rose Tyler, the Ninth telling Harriet that she was destined to serve three terms in office during what would be seen as a new golden age for Great Britain. While it’s unknown officially which party she belonged to, her having the authority to mount a strike on Downing Street means she would have to be of the same party as the assassinated PM (though, still how she had such authority is unknown) and her line that she was “not one of the babes” is a reference to the influx of women into government under Blair that were termed by the tabloid press as “the Blair babes,” all indicating Labour.
The Labour Party won a landslide election under her leadership, Harriet presumably going to the country to seek legitimacy following her appointment as leader. Her vision included both social justice and making Britain a leader in science, Jackie Tyler stating people were as much as £18 better off under the new government and the Guinevere One Space Mission harked back to the golden age of the British Space Programme in the 1970s. However, events would go awry as Harriet ordered the shooting down of a retreating Sycorax ship by the Torchwood Institute on Christmas Day 2006, an act condemned by the Tenth Doctor who told her he could bring her down with six words:
“Don’t you think she looks tired?” – The Tenth Doctor
Harriet Jones was soon beset by rumours off ill health and no doubt critics pounced, a vote of no-confidence being passed which brought down Jones. This is in many ways problematic as it could be construed as direct interference in the political process and Earth history, a history that the Ninth Doctor had already established as being a three term golden age. The show has established that there are fixed points in time and those which are fluid… but surely this golden age would be fixed by it’s nature? With Jones’ policies on social justice that had left the poor of society with an extra £70 a month and a return to science at the forefront of British endeavour, Ten’s actions here can be argued as vindictive and not seeing a bigger picture… particularly given what happens next with the rise of Harold Saxon. Jones would eventually be killed by the Daleks when she sacrifices herself in the effort to save the whole of reality.
The Saxon Ministry (Till They Were Gassed)
Jones’ loss of a vote of confidence is suggestive her government, like so many in the Doctor Who universe, was insecure, possibly either facing a major rebellion of her own MPs or already a minority government. Her defeat would have preceded the resignation of the government or the dissolution of Parliament. This is important as a losing a vote of confidence is not equal to her resigning, whereby she could be replaced. This loss means an election was necessary and it cannot be the election that Harold Saxon won in 2008.
Saxon’s official campaign website stated:
“I believe that the business of government does not have to be complicated. Too often politicians have mystified the process in order to avoid transparency. I have nothing to hide. One of my predecessors, Harriet Jones, was the latest to make the mistake of concealing Britain’s encounters with alien life. I believe that we need to adapt to the way that our world is changing, and that Britain can and should provide a lead on such matters. I will be open-minded and offer a balanced view, and I dare to dream that Britain might one day be more than just a global player. Most importantly, I believe in you and consider myself your loyal servant.” – Harold Saxon, Official Campaign Website
By referring to Harriet as “one of my predecessors” as opposed to “my predecessor” Saxon suggests at least one Prime Minister between his own government and Jones and that it was not Jones as incumbent he defeated at his election victory in 2008. Further, Harold Saxon is already Minister for Defence at Christmas 2007 when he orders the destruction of the Empress of the Racnoss’ webstar during the events of The Runaway Bride. So Harriet had already been deposed prior to Christmas 2007 and we can further speculate that it was at this snap 2007 election that Saxon first entered parliament. Saxon is said to have appeared on Earth some 18 months prior to the downfall of Harriet Jones when he made himself public, which would place him on Earth and beginning his plans for domination from around the middle of 2006, revealing his Archangel network at the beginning of 2007. The fame he gained through the network likely helped win his seat that year.
The Doctor: His Lives and Times suggests that Harriet’s party collapses after her resignation, which we have already established as the Labour Party, therefore we can suggest that the Conservative Party won the 2007 election following the vote of no confidence, the election in which Saxon entered parliament and became Minster for Defence… yes, the Master is a Tory! Even Ann Widdicombe gave here support!
But the question now becomes, why would Saxon need an election? if he was already part of the government as Minister for Defence? he could have simply replaced the incumbent PM in a leadership contest of his own design. Saxon has to have become leader prior to the election to contest it, which would make him Prime Minister before the election as well as after. There is no indication as to who the Prime Minister is at this point nor what happened to him that allowed Saxon to assume control of the party. The leader of the Conservative Party at this time was current British Prime Minister David Cameron, but as we’ll see later he is alive, if not all that well, in 2014. Yet Saxon serving in a Cameron government seems fitting, so we’re including Cameron in the list at this point, assuming the Master spares him (common goals?) and he returns to power in the future.
Saxon’s official campaign website described him thus:
“Now, in his latest incarnation as the most original politician of his generation, he has been swept to power on a vast groundswell of public opinion, the like of which Britain has never seen. He has transformed the nature of British politics by daring to stand apart from the party system. His platform is fresh and dynamic, yet traditional. He is young, but all those who have met him have been struck by a wisdom beyond his years.” – Official Harold Saxon Campaign Website
By the time he assumed power, the same website seems to indicate that a grand coalition was formed by the Labour Party, Conservatives, Lib Dems and some members of the SNP, Saxon leading this grand coalition in defeating minor opposition throughout the country which would have ensured his victory. The website said:
“Harold Saxon is the man who will finally restore Britain to the position of greatness and global significance it once took for granted. Even before he took the reins of power his agenda had a major impact. Military recruitment is now at its highest for decades, and unemployment is sinking as a result. Harold Saxon has put the pride back into Britain and made us an international force again. His diplomacy has earned us allies around the world, and the Union Flag is welcomed as never before. The British public have taken him to their hearts like no other: early opinion polls suggest that he is the most popular premier in British history. All politicians have their critics, but there can be no doubt that Harold Saxon has silenced his completely. Leaders of all three major parties – and even some Scottish Nationalists – defected to his banner of unity, bringing most of their parties with them. All that remains of those once august institutions are a few old soldiers, unable to change with the times and clinging to past glories. The rest of us look forward to a more effective and efficient government.” – Official Harold Saxon Campaign Website
After the political turmoil of the 1990s and recent alien attacks on Britain and the resignation of Jones, the British people likely welcomed this unifying and charismatic force. Yet, had the Conservatives assumed power following the fall of Harriet Jones’ Labour government, why would Saxon need that 2008 election? one theory we could suggest is that Jones was still popular with the public at large, her social reform and pushing forward the British golden age had won her a lot of support and the Tories were unable to secure a majority, forming a coalition with the Liberal-Democrats who pulled out of the deal when the controversial Saxon assumed power. The loss of their coalition partners caused the government to fall and made the 2008 election necessary. Saxon then went all out, through threats and hypnosis, to ensure all parties would be on his side.
After gassing the entire cabinet, Saxon was soon revealed to be the Master and brought death and destruction upon the human race before being shot and killed by his wife Lucy. The public at large remembered him as having gone insane, the memories of his year reign of terror over Earth erased, yet the damage events will have caused to Britain and her standing worldwide is surely incalculable. When time reverses to the moment of the Paradox machine’s activation, the moment is prior to the arrival of the Toclafane… but immediately after Saxon’s assassination of the President of the United States.
Acting, as seen in World War Three.
2006 – 2007
Forced out by a vote of no confidence thanks to the Tenth Doctor. Won landslide in 2006.
2007 – 2008
Deposed by his Minister of Defence Harold Saxon, survived.
Really the Master, he was “killed” by Lucy Saxon aboard the Valiant
Britain’s sixth Prime Minister in just two years, Aubrey Fairchild will have had the unenvious task of recovering both Britain and it’s international standing (not least with the United States) after the disaster of the Saxon administration. It’s hard to see either the Conservatives or Lib-Dems doing well here given Saxon was a Tory, so a Labour government, finally having recovered following the downfall of Harriet jones, seems a possibility. David Cameron meanwhile, who was deposed by Saxon, might well see himself exonerated and given the task of rebuilding the Conservatives.
Fairchild was an unknown element to the Tenth Doctor in the novel Beautiful Chaos, the Doctor declaring that he “clearly makes no impression on history” and it’s hard to disagree. Despite declaring an emergency when the Mandragora Helix attempts to take over the world, he does little of note until The Stolen Earth where he plane loses contact with Torchwood 3, presumably resulting in his death.
The chaotic period was at least brought some stability with the ascension of Brian Green, replacing Fairchild and presumably from the same party. Green was Prime Minister during the 456 incident as depicted in Torchwood: Children of Earth, attempting to cover-up the British government’s role in the affair and intending to hand over 1/10th of the country’s population of children. Despite the crisis he remained in power according to the comic Don’t Step on the Grass, and if his party served a full term (including that served by Fairchild) he would have left office in 2012. It seems likely that Green was compromised during his time in office, Home Office official Bridget Spears using official files to blackmail the PM following the death of the Permanent Secretary to the Home Office John Frobisher.
By 2014, Green is no longer the Prime Minister depicted in the comic After Life, the depiction seemingly an older and fatter David Cameron! We’ll put it down to the stress of rebuilding the Conservative Party following Saxon! Speaking in the House of Commons when a Kharitite rampaged through the building, the PM was traumatized by the incident and he was only able to speak in simple and childlike sentences thereafter… We have no comment to make. Following the incident it seems like he will have had to step down from the position as national leader, leaving the current Prime Minister in the Doctor Who universe unknown.
2008 – 2009
Presumed killed when his aircraft lost contact during the events of The Stolen Earth
2009 – 2012
Served during the 456 incident and remained in office.
2012 – 2014
Left presumably incapacitated after the events of After Life.
Two million years ago, the inhabitants of Krikkit built a deadly race of androids designed to wipe out all life in the universe – the Krikkitmen. The Krikkitmen are known and feared throughout the rest of the galaxy for waging the bloodiest war in history. Their alarmingly efficient Krikkit robots are depicted as even more fearsome than they are. Stopped only by the interference of the Time Lords, Krikkit was trapped within a temporal prison. Looking to assemble a key to free their planet, a group of Krikkitmen who escaped at the end of the war discover the human game of cricket is a representation of their war with the Time Lords.. and that the key’s components resemble elements of the game! After the Krikkitmen steal the Ashes during a test match at Lords, the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith travel to the planet Bethselamin as they try to foil the next step in the Krikkitmen’s quest to free Krikkit…
Possibly one of the most unique stories ever pitched to the Doctor Who production office, Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen opens at Lords Cricket Ground, the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith baring witness to a group of androids in cricket whites (who materialise in a pavilion) violently stealing the Ashes.
“It is the single most frightening thing I have seen in my entire existence. Oh, I’ve heard of the Krikkitmen, I used to be frightened with stories of them when I was a child. But till now I’ve never seen them. They were supposed to have been destroyed over two million years ago.” – The Doctor, Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen
The Doctor explains that cricket is merely a race memory and a representation of the galaxy’s war with Krikkit two million years ago, a war fought when the planet’s inhabitants launched a xenophobic crusade against all other life-forms of the universe, their weapon being the deadly Krikkitmen androids. Finally, after two millennia of bloody conflict, Gallifrey was victorious and the Krikkit homeward was imprisoned within an envelope of Slow Time, a prison that could only be opened with one thing, the Wicket Gate key… a giant set of cricket stumps. It is this key which the Krikkitmen are now collecting. Travelling first to Gallifrey to seek answers before discovering that the Krikkitmen have already collected the majority of the key, our travellers head on to Bethselamin, the Doctor and Sarah seeking to stop the Krikkitmen from gaining the next part of the key, the Silver Ball, and bringing destruction to the cosmos. Adams describes the villainous protaganists in a way that would certainly have made them amongst the most memorable villains in the annals of Doctor Who:
“The Krikkitmen were anthropomorphic automata. They wore white uniforms, peaked skull helmets which housed scything laser beams, carried bat-shaped weapons which combined the functions of devastating ray guns and hand-to-hand clubs. The lower half of their legs were in ribbed rocket engines which enabled them to fly. By an ingenious piece of systems economy they were enabled to launch grenades with phenomenal accuracy and power simply by striking them with their bats. These grenades, which were small, red and spherical, and varied between minor incendiaries and nuclear devices were detonated by impact – once their fuses had been primed by being struck by a bat.” – Douglas Adams, Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen
Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen was originally submitted unsolicited to the production office as a six-part story circa 1976, but was rejected by then script-editor Robert Holmes. Despite the rejection, Holmes encouraged Adams to continue to submit material, recognising the talent behind the insanity… even though Adams would later sum up his rejection as “we’d like to see more talent than this.” Incoming producer Graham Williams also felt the script was “too silly” for the show and by now Adams had briefly moved on from the concept, instead focusing his energies on The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
Douglas Adams would eventually join the team the next year, penning The Pirate Planet for Season 16 after Williams was sufficiently impressed by Adams’ scripts for Hitchhikers. With his foot in the door, Adams looked again at TheKrikkitmen, adapting his work into a cinema treatment with the intention of finding support for a Doctor Who motion picture which unfortunately failed to materialise.
“For millions of years [Krikkit] developed a sophisticated scientific culture in all fields except that of astronomy of which it, understandably, had virtually no knowledge. In all their history it never once occurred to the people of Krikkit that they were not totally alone. Therefore the day that the wreckage of a spacecraft floated through the Dust Cloud and into their vicinity was one of such extreme shock as to totally traumatise the whole race. It was as if a biological trigger had been tripped. From out of nowhere, the most primitive form of racial consciousness had hit them like a hammer blow. Overnight they were transformed from intelligent, sophisticated, charming, normal people into intelligent, sophisticated, charming manic xenophobes. Quietly, implacably, the people of Krikkit aligned themselves to their new purpose – the simple and absolute annihilation of all alien life forms.” – Douglas Adams, Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen
After considering the material for the unproduced second series of the BBC TV’s Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy adaptation,Douglas Adams would return to Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen once more in 1980, revising his scripts with the intention of approaching Paramount Pictures’ for the potential Doctor Who film.
Despite gaining interest from the BBC and a meeting with a Paramount representative in London, the project would again come to nothing, yet Adams was determined to use the material and it formed the major part to his third Hitchhiker’s book –Life, The Universe And Everything. Despite trying domestic circumstances that left Adams with little will to put pen to paper, he took the plot outline for the Krikkitmen and tweaked it to form the new work. Adams would later recall that the opening chapter, which sees Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect’s thrilling and comic escape from primeval Earth to Lords, went through twenty different drafts alone.
The Krikkitmen plot largely remains intact in the book, the roles of the Doctor largely taken over by Slartibartfast, Trillian and (for the final sequence) Arthur Dent. Adams found the material hard to adapt into the Hitchhikers universe, as the characters of Ford and Zaphod would always be more inclined to go to a party and stay cool rather than take direct to save the universe action as the Doctor would! The first half of the original film treatment makes up the majority of the book with the second half, which had been largely padding of the “capture, escape” variety in the Doctor Who original, condensed into the final thirty pages of the finished novel.
“Of all the races in the Galaxy only the English could possibly revive the memory of the most horrific star wars that ever sundered the Universe and transform it into what is generally regarded as an incomprehensibly dull and pointless game. It is for that reason that the Earth has always been regarded slightly askance by the rest of the Galaxy it has inadvertently been guilty of the most grotesquely bad taste.” – Douglas Adams, Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen
Released in 1982, Life, The Universe And Everything was another immense success for Douglas Adams and a radio adaptation of the novel was recorded in 2003 starring the surviving members of the cast of the original Hitchhiker’s radio series. Whimsical, witty and brilliantly written, like all Adams’ work, what was potentially a huge loss to Doctor Who has both lived on and endured, standing as a testament that a good idea will always finally out.
Douglas Adams, the lauded author of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, spent a year as Script-Editor of Doctor Who during Tom Baker’s peerless reign as the Time Lord. Together they changed the programme, Adams penning The Pirate Planet, the iconic City of Death and the “lost” six part serial Shada, adding elements of humour,, surrealism and absurdity into the narrative that exist to this day.
Here, Douglas Adams gives some of his own thoughts and anecdotes on his time with the show.
On getting the job:
“I sent in my (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) pilot episode to the then script editor of Doctor Who, Robert Holmes, who said ‘Yes, yes, we like this. Come round and see us’. So we discussed ideas for a bit, and I eventually got commissioned to write four Doctor Who episodes.”
On The Pirate Planet:
“So once it looked like I had a finished script I thought, where else can I generate some work? I sent the Hitchhiker’s script to the then Doctor Who script editor, Bob Holmes, who thought it was interesting and said, `Come in and see me’. This was just as Bob, who’d been script editor there for a long time, was on the verge of leaving and handing over to Tony Reed. So I met the two of them and Graham Williams, the producer, and talked about ideas. The one I came up with that they thought was promising was The Pirate Planet, so I went away and did a bit of work on it, and they thought it was promising but there was something wrong. So I did more reworking and took it back, and they still thought it was promising but needed more work, and this was going on for weeks”
“The original concept of The Pirate Planet was just the basic concept of a hollow planet. Graham was interested in space pirates, so we just married the two ideas together. The original storyline was of a planet being mind by the Time Lords. The inhabitants of the planet were a rowdy lot and the Time Lords had erected a giant statue, the inside of which was in fact a giant machine for absorbing all the aggression from the people. When they had all the ore that they needed, they sent a Time Lord to disconnect the machine, but he got trapped in the works and absorbed all the aggression. None of the other Time Lords had bothered to find out where he had got to, so he decided to take revenge on them by letting the mining equipment completely hollow out the planet, then making it jump to surround Gallifrey.”
On becoming Script-Editor during Season 17:
“When I became script editor for season seventeen, I was told ‘We want you, Douglas, because of the specific things you’ll be able to bring to the programme’, which I was systematically not allowed to do. This season of Doctor Who will look just like any other season, and I feel very disappointed about that. It’s too big a thing for any one person to change – it’s like a big raft in the middle of a lake, and you’re trying to move it by swimming.”
“I discovered that other writers assumed that getting the storyline together was the script editor’s job. So all that year I was continually working out storylines with writers, helping others with scripts, doing substantial rewrites on other scripts and putting yet other scripts into production. All simultaneously. It was a nightmare year – for the four months that I was in control it was terrific: having all these storylines in your head simultaneously. But as soon as you stop actually coping, then it becomes a nightmare. At that time, I was writing the book, script-editing the next series of Doctor Who, there were the stage productions of Hitchhiker’s going on and the records were being made. I was writing the second series of Hitchhiker’s and I was very close to blowing a fuse at the time. I was also doing some radio production with John Lloyd. The work overload was absolutely phenomenal.”
On City of Death:
“An interesting thing actually happened during the making of City of Death, because although I’d written it to be in Paris I was the only member of the team who didn’t get to go to Paris! So I was rather upset about this, I was sitting in my office at the BBC feeling a little miffed, because everyone else was gallivanting off in Paris and I was by myself, and this wild Scottish ex-hippie came into the office and said ‘Where is everybody?’, and I said ‘They’re in Paris’, he said ‘Well I need to talk to the producer’, I said ‘Why’s that?’, he said ‘I’m directing the next show, the Dalek story, and there are some problems I want to talk about’. This was Ken Grieve, who is one of the world’s most stupendous and marvellous piss artists, and I said ‘Well you can’t talk to them, they’re in Paris’, he said ‘And you’re here all by yourself?’, I said rather bitterly ‘Yes’, he said ‘Why don’t we go to Paris?’, I said ‘Don’t be stupid’….”
“So we got our passports, went down to the airport, jumped on a plane, got into Paris, arrived at the hotel we knew they were staying in. They were all looking tired after a long day’s shooting, other than Tom, and we said ‘Hey, bet you’re pleased to see us’, of course they weren’t. We said ‘Let’s go out and have fun’, but they’d had a long day, they said ‘You go out and have fun’. At that point, Ken and I sort of looked at each other, and gradually the realisation dawned on us that if we’d really planned this trip at all, well (a) we wouldn’t have made it, and (b) we’d have brought someone prettier than the other one…”
“But we thought we’d better make the best of a bad job, and went off into the night, found a nice restaurant, had a nice meal, drank quite a lot of wine, went to a bar and stayed there drinking until the bar closed. We found another bar, stayed until that one closed, then we went to another bar, sat there and drank for a while until it closed and they threw us out. So now it was pretty late at night, we were in the Montmartre district and we couldn’t find another bar that was open at this point, so Ken said ‘Look, I do know for sure one bar that’s definitely open, do you want to go?’, I said ‘Yes, where is it?’, he said ‘West Berlin’. We phone the airport, unfortunately there were no imminent flight to West Berlin. Eventually we discovered another bar that was open, and we get going until about 5am, when it became apparent to me that Ken was quite drunk at this point, because whenever I managed to find him, which was quite tricky because he was about three feet away, he was doing things and saying things that I couldn’t understand…”
“We called a cab, arrived at the airport, I got out of the cab, Ken fell out, cut his face open rather badly, by the eye, and we had to take him to the doctor at the airport, who stitched him up. We got him on the airplane, and British Caledonian were wonderfully sympathetic. We arrived back at Television Centre at 9am, feeling a little worse the wear, and Ken was further gone than anyone I’ve ever seen before, and he discovered he had to go to the basement and watch six episodes of Genesis of the Daleks, which he wasn’t quite certain if he could face but he went off to do it bravely. I spent the morning in the office, I didn’t go home, and I went to the bar at lunchtime and I knew somebody would be there and somebody said ‘How are you, do anything interesting last night?’, and I said ‘Oh, it was one of those nights, 4am you start wondering how you’re going to get back to England’”
“Once you get beyond a certain point it becomes more expensive to remount the thing than it is to do the whole production again from the word go. That’s because when you are casting, you’re doing it from who’s available – when you remount, you have to cast the people you’ve already got, and this becomes terribly difficult.”
“As for Shada – no, I don’t particularly want to see that [novelised]. I think that it’s not such a great story, and has only gained the notoriety it has got because no one’s seen it. If it had been finished and broadcast, it would have never have aroused so much interest.”
On His legacy and Critics of the Era:
“In the things I wrote for Doctor Who, there were absurd things that happened in it, and funny things. But I feel that Doctor Who is essentially a drama show, and only secondarily amusing. My aim was to create apparently bizarre situations and then pursue the logic so much that it became real. So on the one hand, someone behaves in an interesting, and apparently outrageous way, and you think at first that it’s funny. Then you realise that they mean it, and that, at least to my mind, begins to make it more gripping and terrifying.
“The trouble is that as soon as you produce scripts with some humour in them, there is a temptation on the part of the people making the show to say, `This is a funny bit. Let’s pull out the stops, have fun, and be silly.’ One always knows as soon as someone says that that they are going to spoil it. So those episodes of Doctor Who weren’t best served by that way of doing the shows. I can understand people saying, `They weren’t taking it seriously’, but in writing it I was taking it terribly seriously. It’s just that the way you make something work is to do it for real. . . I hate the expression `tongue-in cheek’; that means `It’s not really funny, but we aren’t going to do it properly’.”
The much loved Terrance Dicks is 80 years young today, another milestone for an icon of the classic series. Terrance served as Script Editor of the show during a truly golden age, 1968 to 1974, encompassing the entirety of the Pertwee years, but he is possibly even more beloved for his long standing association with the Target range of novels with enthralled a generation of Doctor Who fans. Today we pay tribute to the career of Uncle Terry!
Born in East Ham in 1935, Terrance Dicks was educated at the local grammar school and went on to study English at Downing College, Cambridge before moving into copywriting following his national service, promoting “dog-food, shampoo – nothing terribly exciting”. Speaking to the East Anglican Daily Times in 2008, he revealed the necessity of his situation:
“My school career, such as it was, was ‘top of the class in English, middle to bottom in everything else’, so there was never any doubt about it. But how do you start to be a writer? A friend in the ad business suggested copywriting. I was also broke and needed to earn some money. I thought that would do for a while I looked around. Unfortunately, I turned out to be quite good at it and spent several years in it.”
During these five years he began to write plays for the BBC and freelancing as a radio and script editor in his spare time. His break came when the man he was lodging with, a certain Malcolm Hulke, requested his assistance in writing an episode for The Avengers, Dicks receiving co-writing credit for the episode.
“One day he said to me ‘I’m a bit stuck, Terrance. They’ve asked me to write an Avengers and I haven’t got any ideas. Have you? …He was a very kind and generous man was Mac. He insisted on treating it as a 50/50 partnership and we split the money. I’d have done them for nothing, to get my name on the screen and for the experience! Those are my first television credits”
Hulk soon introduced Dicks to the Crossroads production team, which at the time included fellow Derrick Sherwin. Speaking to Doctor Who Magazine in 1990, Terrance tells how he got hired in 1968 for Doctor Who thanks to Derrick Sherwin:
“I was a freelance radio and script editor in the mid-1960’s. I’d just left a well-paying job in advertising to take the plunge and one of the first jobs I got was a soap, ‘Crossroads’. One of the other writers on the series was a guy called Derrick Sherwin. He and I used to go to the weekly story conferences together, and we got to know each other quite well; not best buddies or anything, but we would travel up on the train together and chat. He left ‘Crossroads’ to be the script editor on ‘Doctor Who’, and some time after that he phoned me up out of the blue and said ‘How would you like to be the script editor on Doctor Who?’. It was just as casual as that.”
Originally hired as Assistant Script-Editor, Terrance would join a show in crisis, the BBC seemingly intent on cancelling the series at the end of Series 6 with the departure of Patrick Troughton.
“The first thing I heard when I joined was ‘They’re going to end it this season’. The show was going downwards at that time. I thought it was like being given a job on the Titanic! They were actually looking for a replacement at the time, but they never really found anything, so they decided to do another year of ‘Doctor Who’. Around that time, it all sort of came together. Barry Letts became producer, I took over as script editor, Jon Pertwee became the Doctor, the show went into colour, and the whole thing clicked. We suddenly took off again and started getting really good viewing figures. It was like a renaissance for the show.”
Prior to this however, Terrance would achieve his first writing credit for the series with the well regarded ten part epic The War Games, the conclusion to the Troughton era. Speaking to The Register in 2013, Dicks revealed the madness that made the story a necessity the story:
“When I arrived, the script situation was fairly diabolical and chaotic – they were very often late, and shows were falling through. The most extreme example of I can think of is when a four-parter and six-parter had fallen through, and [script editor] Derrick Sherwin came into my office and said: ‘Terrance, we need a 10-part Doctor Who and you’re going to write it and we need it next week’. I exaggerate slightly but not much. I called Mac Hulke, who’d been my friend and mentor in the business, as it were, and we wrote The War Games together, a script every two days. Obviously, it’s madness to do a 10-part Doctor Who!”
It was a story that Dicks wasn’t entirely happy with:
“The scripts were written at about the rate of one a day! Malcolm Hulke, who was a very fast touch typist, would sit at the typewriter, and one or the other of us would say a line, and it would appear on the page. In retrospect, I think that the story would benefit from losing about four episodes. The concept of the different time zones, the different wars etc., is good. And some of the cliffhangers were good too. But the plot didn’t actually advance much for several episodes.”
The following season would be all change for Doctor Who. Now broadcast in colour, with a new Doctor, new assistant and new style, the show was headed in a very new direction, inspired in part by the likes of Quatermass. Key to the success of the Pertwee era can be laid at the productive working relationship between Dicks and producer Barry Letts, Dicks working as Script-Editor for all five of Letts seasons on the show between 1970 and 1974. Tightening up the show and bringing and end to the “chaos”of the days when he first joined was a priority for Dicks as he told the BBC in 2004:
“I had a set policy – I would never ask a writer for more than a second draft. The people before me had got into trouble putting people through endless re-writes and there comes a time when the script isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse because the writer’s losing confidence and losing hope. So we’d have extensive discussions first of all, then I’d get a first draft, then I’d discuss that with Barry and with the director, incorporate their notes with mine, send it back to the writer, get the second draft and then I’d say ‘okay, fine’, and pay him off. Anything that wasn’t working, or had to be changed for production or expense reasons or we found it didn’t work when we tried to do it, I would do myself. I used to rewrite ruthlessly, and I think the pleasure was in fixing things and in making the system work.”
It was demanding work for the script editor:
“It was immensely demanding, and it got more demanding as you went along, because you’d start getting your first scripts in and then more and more would come in, and so you’d be working on three or four scripts at different phases. There would be one in post-production and editing, there would be one actually in the studio filming, there would be one in the last stages of scripting, there would be one in first draft and there would be one that was still an idea you were discussing with the writers. All these things would come at you at once. I used to say it was like juggling, and they threw you another ball every now and again, just to keep things going. But it was fun. We never did any write-offs because I reckoned if I commissioned it, I’d make the bugger work somehow or other. The BBC phoned up and said ‘How many write-offs this season?’ and I said ‘We don’t do write-offs on Doctor Who’ and we didn’t.”
After stepping down as script editor, Terrance would continue his association with the show right up until today, producing four further scripts for the series namely Tom Baker’s debut Robot, the classics Brain of Morbius, The Horror of Fang Rock and State of Decay, plus the anniversary special The Five Doctors.
In casting Tom Baker, Terrance says the production team were looking for star quality and tells of how he deliberately highlighted the new Doctor as unbalanced in his debut story Robot:
“What we were looking for always was this star quality, which is not necessarily linked with good, great or even good acting, although it can be. Tom summed it up about Jon, he said he was like a very tall lightbulb, which is lovely, and the thing is that when Pertwee was on the screen you watched him, and Jon, bless him, he was a good actor but he wasn’t the greatest actor, but he had charisma. And if you get someone who’s a good actor, and I think Tom is, that’s a bonus, but that’s not what you go for first. You don’t really want Alec Guinness or someone like that. And Tom has got that enormous vitality about him, which I think is there in real life. That’s really what was the deciding factor, more than anything else. He’s got an innocent-at-large air. If you say something to Tom like ‘Good morning’, he’ll say ‘Good morning? Is it? It’s a wonderful morning? Is it a wonderful morning?’ and all this will come across at you, and I was able from the beginning to write it into the script for the new Doctor. ‘Robot’ obviously is a regeneration story, and what I used was this quality that when the Doctor first comes out of his regeneration he’s quite unbalanced, and I made him quite wild and eccentric for a while. The scenes where he’s tip-toeing about in his night gown trying to find the TARDIS, or the scenes where Harry Sullivan tries to get him to go back to bed, I think Tom comes across very well. And I thought if they thought it was too much, they could calm him down afterwards, and I think they did.”
Brain of Morbius was famously penned under the pseudonym “Robin Bland” after a dispute between Dicks and then script editor Robert Holmes. Terrance tells of how it came about:
“Robert Holmes was a super chap and a great friend of mine. I was always rather proud of him, because he was my protegé, even though he was older than I was. He started writing for Doctor Who while I was script editor, and in fact wrote one of the first stories that I script edited, one of the Auton stories. His was a submission that came out of the blue which I liked, and so I kind of picked it up first, and he became one of the stalwarts of the programme. He was certainly one of the best Doctor Who writers, I think. However, I was furious when I read the rewritten scripts for The Brain of Morbius. I rang up Bob Holmes and shouted at him down the telephone. Eventually, I said ‘Alright. You can do it, but I’m going to take my name off it’ – the ultimate sanctino! Not because it was a bad show, but because it was now more him than me. He asked ‘Well what name do you want to put on it?’. I said ‘I don’t care. You can put it out under some bland pseudonym’ and slam the phone down. Weeks later, when I saw the Radio Times, I noticed it was The Brain of Morbius by Robin Bland. By then, I’d cooled down and the joke disarmed me completely.”
Now well into the Hinchcliffe/Holmes era, Doctor Who had taken on a darker and more gothic ethos than Dicks time on the show, yet with stories such as Brain of Morbius and Horror of Fang Rock, Dicks was shown to be easily adaptable, both being well remembered by fans.
“Bob said he’d always wanted to do a story on a lighthouse. So, we really cobbled up Horror of Fang Rock’very quickly. Somewhere towards the end of it, when we were really well on the way, I had the idea of having the villain be a Rutan, to link up with Bob Holmes’ Sontarans, but that was just a little in-joke between us. Now, I think Horror of Fang Rock shows the signs of some of this haste, but it was fun in some ways. I’m quite fond of the first and the last episodes.”
One story that didn’t make it to production at the time however was The Vampire Mutations, a tale that would have sat easily at home alongside other Hammer inspired tales such as Pyramids of Mars and the aforementioned Brain of Morbius.
“I’d always wanted to do a vampire story on Doctor Who. One day, at Bob Holmes’s request, I put up one which was called The Witch Lords for a while, and then The Vampire Mutations. They commissioned it, and I started writing it for Tom Baker and Leela. Halfway through it, there was an absolute command from on high at the BBC that we were not to do vampires on Doctor Who. At the time, they were doing a serious dramatization of Dracula with Louis Jordan, and they felt if we had vampires on Doctor Who, we would be making fun of their series! In any event, a couple of years later, John Nathan-Turner was looking for new stories for the last Tom Baker season. He had a pile of old, unshot scripts that included The Vampire Mutations, and that was the only one he liked. So he got in touch with me and asked if I would like to do it again. Of course, I was pleased to have another go at it. I then rewrote the story with Romana instead of Leela, but it was basically the same plot. I just had to write in a lot of stuff about how the vampires came to be in E-space since, at the time, the Doctor was trapped there.”
Terrance wouldn’t contribute to the series again until The Five Doctors, yet his work on the Target range of novels continued apace, producing over 60 titles for the range, serving as unofficial editor for the novels. Dicks would endeavour to enlist the script’s writer to pen the novelisation and undertake the work himself should they refuse. Speaking in 1985, Terrance says he had a virtual monopoly on the books:
“In the early days of the show, there were three novelisations – Doctor Who and the Daleks, Doctor Who and the Crusaders by David Whitaker, and Doctor Who and the Zarbi by Bill Strutton Those were published in hardback and really didn’t make any great impression on the world. Then, in the seventies, Tandem books wanted to start a children’s publishing house, which they called Target. Their first editor was doing the rounds, and he came across these three old books. He bought them and published them in paperbacks and they sold like hotcakes. He very shrewdly went to the BBC, saying he desperately needed more ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations. He got himself a contract and eventually got shunted onto our office. I knew then that I was going to be leaving the programme soon, and I’d also always desperately wanted to write a book. I seized on this opportunity and said I would do one for them. That was ‘The Auton Invasion’. I then became a sort of unofficial editor, and farmed them out amongst a group of the writers, like Malc Hulke, Barry Letts, Gerry Davis, Brian Hayles etc. Gradually, over the years, most of the other writers dropped out, and there was a time when I had a virtual monopoly on the books.”
In a BBC interview, Terrance was delighted so many had grown up with his Doctor Who novelisations:
“It’s nice. One of the advantages of being around so long and reaching my great age is that there are a lot of people in the business who grew up reading Doctor Who books – and some of them in fact are in a position to give me jobs. Like [then range editor] Justin Richards. He was a fan, you know. With quite a lot of them, it’s not only learning to read, but that the Who books and Doctor Who itself gave them the interest in working in the media. There’s a surprising number out there. I did a novelisation of one of the Spitting Image people, Fluck and Flaw’s projects called The Whingeing Pom. It was a failed puppet series about Australian animals in England in a magic van, weird stuff, and the show never got anywhere. They asked me to do the novelisation for vast sums of money. So I did it. I went down there for a conference with them, and all the staff made a huge fuss of me because everybody who works at that outfit is a Doctor Who fan. Almost to a man. It’s very common. Anywhere in the media, you’ll probably find someone or other.”
And revealed Planet of Giants was the hardest novel he had written:
“I think probably the one that was hardest to do was Planet of the Giants, because there was practically no script left. I think it was either a four parter and they cut it to two, or a two parter and they cut it to three, so there was not enough material to work with. I had to add and pad a great deal, so that was quite difficult, purely technically. When I did a lot, I always used to enjoy doing them. In the early days I’d have the programme as broadcast script and when video came in I got a video in my office, so I would watch the scene and then write it. It was a technical process but it was always great fun tackling the challenges of going from one medium to another so to speak.”
By 1983, the show had reached it’s own milestone, it’s 20th anniversary, and the decision was made for a Three Doctors style special featuring all five incarnations of the Doctor. There was only one man up to the task!
“When the BBC contacted me about The Five Doctors, I was in America at a science fiction convention in New Orleans. At about 8 o’clock in the morning, the phone rang and a voice at the other end said ‘This is Eric’. And I thought, ‘Eric who?’. It was Eric Saward, the current script editor of ‘Doctor Who’, and he said ‘We’d like you to write the twentieth anniversary special for us’. Of course, I was very pleased. It was like one of those games where you write a story out of objects found in a box. This particular box had an awful large number of objects in it. So, you just started shuffling them around, trying to find a reason for them to fit together. Obviously, they wanted to have all the five Doctors in it. The’d come up with the idea of having Richard Hurndall as a William Hartnell look-a-like, because, I think, he’d been seen playing a rather Hartnellish old man in Blake’s 7. Various companions were also to be in it. One of the things that made it confusing was they they never knew quite who was going to be in it. So they were constantly telling me to write in so-and-so, and then, just when I’d written then in, they’d ring up and say ‘No, write him out, he can’t do it’. We also had to have a Dalek in it, and K9 too.”
Terrance reveals that originally he had envisioned The Master as the main villain of the piece:
“The main job was to come up with a concept that would take in all the Doctors. I had the feeling that it had to be in some way a Time Lord story, because that would be appropriate. It really all sort of worked for me when I came up with the concept of the Game. Somebody would be playing a game in which all the Doctors, and all their companions, would be like pieces on a board. Then, you could have them kidnapped out of time and space. As soon as I got that central image of the hand putting the little model on the board, it gave the project a kind of unity that held it all together. The Master was going to be the final villain instead of Borusa, but Eric Saward said, quite rightly I think, ‘You really can’t have the Master as the final villain, because nobody is ever going to believe the Master is not the villain. You’ll never have any element of deceit’. So instead we chose to have Borusa as the villain, ostensibly trying to help the Doctor, but in fact being the player behind the scenes. It was possible to make it convincing, because Borusa had always been arrogant and rather paranoid. You could believe that even the good Borusa could become convinced that he should rule forever because it would be to everybody’s good… You had to exaggerate what his good points were in order to make him a believable villain.”
A spanner was thrown into Dicks’ plans however as Tom Baker decided against appearing in the special, causing drastic rewrites to the script:
“I’d just completed my first draft when I got a phone call from Eric Saward, saying ‘How’s it coming? Have you finished?’. I very proudly told him I’d just finished, and he said ‘Oh my God!’, which is not the reaction you’d expect. I asked what had happened, and he said ‘Well, I’m terribly sorry, but there was a confusion between Tom, his agent, and us. In spite of the fact that we thought he was going to do it, he now isn’t. So you’ve got to rewrite it without Tom Baker’. What they did have were these clips from Shada, the unfinished story, with Tom and Romana on the river in Cambridge. There wasn’t even time to show me that, but they told me what was in it. So I rejigged the action again. Originally, the Tom Baker Doctor eventually stole the Master’s transportation device to head back to Gallifrey and unearth the plot. The Peter Davison Doctor was going to stay in the Death Zone and conquer the Dark Tower by the main gate. I re-did that, and Tom Baker got caught in a time warp, which gave an added menace because, since he was temporarily unstable, he affected the stability of the Peter Davison Doctor, who started fading into invisibility every now and again. It all worked beautifully. I think that stuff from Shada fits beautifully and you would never guess that it hadn’t been meant to be like that. I think it actually improved the story, because it was easier to cope with four Doctors rather than five. It was like what happened with The Three Doctors. It’s funny the way history repeated itself.”
Despite agreeing to pen the special, Terrance wasn’t a fan of the letter years of the show, producer John Nathan-Turner coming in for some criticism from the former script editor:
“There was a decline without a doubt. I think the people working on it, particularly John Nathan-Turner, were not fit for purpose, as it were. Colin Baker, for example, never got a chance with that silly costume, which I thought was a great shame. I was sorry but I wasn’t surprised when they took it off.”
While The Five Doctors would mark his last official work on the television show, Terrance would continue to work on the Target range and in 1989 he penned the script to The Ultimate Adventure stage play, starring Jon Pertwee and Colin Baker in the lead role. While the play has divided opinion of fans, Terrance says he’s proud of the end product which was adapted for audio by Big Finish in 2008:
“I was pleased with how The Ultimate Adventure turned out. There were one or two things that were sort of given from the beginning, such as the songs, which we all felt to be a bit of a burden at times. There were two or three songs, and one of them was a rousing pirates’ chorus called ‘Business is Business’, which was very good and which we all liked, but we were stuck with a romantic ballad which the producer insisted on, and which was a bit of an embarrassment. If it had been my own choice, that ballad wouldn’t have been there, but it was there for other reasons. Obviously, if we’d had the money of Starlight Express then we could have done it even more spectacularly, but within the practical budget that we had, I think they did quite a good job.”
Following the end of the Target range Terrance would turn his hand to original Doctor Who fiction, penning several novels under the Virgin and BBC Books banners, notably the likes of Timewyrm: Exodus, Blood Harvest, The Eight Doctors, Players and Deadly Reunion with old friend Barry Letts. Terrance would also try his hand at audio, writing for the Sarah Jane Smith series for Big Finish before returning to television, again with Sarah Jane, penning the Invasion of the Bane for the Sarah Jane Adventures.
Speaking in 2013, Dicks revealed the secret behind the longevity of the series:
“I’ve always said that the reason for its success is its variety. The show constantly undergoes change, whether major or minor – getting a new Doctor, the changing companions – and if it’s working it just carries you along. It evolves like a living thing, in fact, but the continuity and the central thread of the show is the Doctor, who is always the Doctor, with the same characteristics and attitudes, ideals and morals.”
Terrance’s latest project will be the Lethbridge-Stewart novel Beast of Fang Rock, written alongside Andy Frankham-Allen. Perhaps next Terrance should reveal the secrets behind his own longevity! Terrance believes that his great secret lay in his imagination:
“All my children are now grown up and I don’t see any children; I haven’t yet got grandchildren, so I guess I must be capable of getting to the level of an eight-year-old occasionally! My main ambition has always been to keep the reader turning the page, ending a chapter on a cliffhanger. [Writing is] a job. I’ve always been a professional writer, earning by and large a very good living, but there came a period when things slackened off a bit and got quiet – this has now ended, strangely enough, and I’m very busy again – but in that period I was quite happy doing nothing… I used to sit with my feet up and watch television. I didn’t have any compulsive urge to write. Someone once said ‘What gives you the urge to write?’ and I said ‘An advance and a contract!’ It’s always been a job to me, and I like doing it and take pride in doing it as well as I can, but I don’t do it for fun or to express my great thoughts!”
From everyone at Doctor Who Worldwide, a big happy birthday to Terrance! long live the King!
Terrance’s latest book Beast of Fang Rock will be available in September from Candy Jar Books.
Rarely has an item of Doctor Who merchandise had such a troubled history of production as The Underwater Menace DVD. From originally being commissioned two years ago, the release has appeared in the release schedule and then frequently vanished with some regularity. Now, with the BBC indicating an intention to finally release the troubled serial sometime this year, lets take a look at the rocky road of the final chapter in the Doctor Who DVD range.
The saga begins as long ago as 2011 when on December 11 that year it was announced publicly that The Underwater Menace Episode 2 had been found alongside Episode 3 of William Hartnell’s Galaxy 4, the announcement coming at that year’s Missing Believed Wiped event. It was announced that details of future DVD releases for the episodes would be announced sometime in 2012.
Both episodes had already been recovered earlier that year when by lucky coincidence Ralph Montagu, the Radio Times’s head of heritage, struck up conversation with former TVS engineer Terry Burnett on Doctor Who, Burnett revealing he believed he had some old episodes of the series. The rest is history, Galaxy 4 3 being recovered first followed by The Underwater Menace 2 a few weeks later, both believed to have gone walkabout from a returned cache from ABC in the 1970s.
In March of 2013, Galaxy 4 Episode 3 was packaged with The Aztecs Special Edition for DVD release, a decision that drew a mixed response from fans and despite there being no announcement on a future Underwater Menace release, it was taken as a given the story would be released sometime in the near future.
The first signs of trouble surfaced that summer as in July the unreleased second episode was leaked to popular video sharing site Dailymotion. The quality of the leak has led many to conclude it came from within the BBC or associated figures, yet there has never been any indication as to who leaked the episode or for what purpose. It appears that the leak came while work was being carried out for an eventual DVD release however, Steve Roberts stating in August that he had no further commissions after he completed delivery on The Moonbase and The Underwater Menace, both of which he was commissioned for “months ago”, suggesting the DVD of The Underwater Menace may have been green-lighted sometime in the spring of 2013.
The Doctor Who Restoration Team duly posted images from their work on Twitter in September and all appears to be running smoothly for the release, with Menace seemingly scheduled as the last release in the range following The Moonbase:
In October 2013 however it was announced that The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World had been returned to the BBC from Jos in Nigeria, rumours of a find having set forums ablaze all year as part of the “omnirumour.” While the enormity of the rumours is too grand to delve into here, general feeling was that more (if not much much more) was still to come, many sources and professionals being led to believe the same thing. The truth of the matter is a subject still being debated, indeed recovery of the rest of The Underwater Menace was often mentioned by leading “sources” on the subject, some even giving details on how the other episodes were damaged or unrecoverable.
No matter the rumours however, the sudden inclusion of The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World threw the DVD schedule out of the window, The Moonbase being bumped for the inclusion of Enemy (and apparently to allow animation to be completed, though whether that was a cover story all along is unknown) and the BBC saying in November: “We have yet to confirm the exact content of this release or its release date. We hope to have more information in the Spring… The 2014 Classic Doctor Who schedule is still being worked on.” and Steve Roberts indicating that the issue was at Planet 55s end, claiming the Restoration Team were sat “twiddling their thumbs” as they waited for animation to come in from the studio.
Further concern would be raised in December as Dan Hall stated that work on the release was in “the early stages,” presumably referring to the Planet 55 animation as opposed to the VAM which had already seemingly been completed. Despite a trailer being released for The Underwater Menace as part of January’s Moonbase release, by March Steve Roberts seemed unsure of the release even happening, stating that as far as he was aware the DVD was still going ahead, but Planet 55 were “working flat out” on their animation series in Australia. While it had been said Planet 55 were under exclusive contract to animate the serial and unfortunately couldn’t spare the time to complete the project, could that fully explain the lengthy delay?
The projected Spring/Summer 2014 release date is thrown completely out of the window by May when Doctor Who Magazine announce the serial is still scheduled for release, but with no projected date beyond a vague “later this year,” also stating Episodes 1 and 4 are to be “reconstructed using audio soundtracks.” Despite Amazon.com opening preorders however, the confusion over the release continues as Steve Roberts states in June that “We’re the team that remasters the episodes for DVD release and even we don’t have a clue what’s going on with TUM now. From where we’re standing, it’s looking like the range is dead.”
In August it appeared the final nail had been put in the coffin, at least for a partially animated release, when Planet 55 issued the following statement, suggesting they had never worked on The Underwater Menace at all and had no plans to do so:
“There have been many queries about Planet 55 Studios’s work on Doctor Who and whether we are doing any more. To date, Planet 55 Studios has completed work on three Doctor Who animated reconstructions for BBC Worldwide’s DVD range: The Reign of Terror, The Tenth Planet and most recently The Moonbase. We really enjoyed creating those but they are the only Doctor Who stories Planet 55 Studios have worked on and there are no plans to work on any more. At the moment the company is focused on animation projects completely unconnected to Doctor Who.”
After no news for months, news on the release sprang forth, the BBC stating in December that the release was now scheduled for 2015 and that the decision to delay the DVD had been a marketing decision. They said:
“We hope to release ‘The Underwater Menace’ in 2015. We delayed the release to ensure that our publishing schedule is phased appropriately across the year and the episodes will be animated.”
Whether the release will ever see the light of day is something few fans would be willing to bet on given its turbulent history and frequent false hopes, yet with the BBC sounding somewhat positive (despite only hoping the serial will be released) it is certainly a step-up from the days it appeared the release had been cancelled entirely. Maybe one day the full story of this most troubled release will be told.. was it rumours of The Underwater Menace being found that caused the issues? Planet 55 simply being unable to complete their animation in the required length of time? contractual issues? who knows, but hopefully fans will get a chance to see this earliest example of the great Patrick Troughton sometime this year.
2015 marks the 10th anniversary of Doctor Who‘s return to our screens way back in 2005. To mark the milestone we’ll be publishing many articles looking back at the history and production of that first series throughout the year, including a week by week round-up of events… and what better way to kick off our celebrations than taking a look back at how Doctor Who kicked off 2005 and all the news from that first week.
Broadcast on January 1, 2005, the first series teaser trailer had already aired online in December 2004 (good old Realplayer!) but this was the moment that the new Doctor Who was introduced to a waiting nation…
January 1, 2005
The Daily Mirror on the same day gave a few short facts on the coming series, notably voicing the concern in some circles over the acting potential of former pop-star Billie Piper and setting fans talking by revealing the “coral” nature of the new TARDIS interior:
“Never has a TV series been so shrouded in secrecy, but soon we”ll be able to see how Christopher Eccleston fares as the travelling timelord, and whether Billie Piper measures up as his assistant. A few facts have emerged. The TARDIS, which transports the Doctor through time and the universe, is made of coral on the inside and is a living organism which can grow and change shape. But don”t worry, the outside still looks like an old blue police box. On his journeys he will come across Simon Callow as Charles Dickens and Zoe Wanamaker as a very old woman. There is also more than a hint of romance this time around.”
Also the same day The Guardian featured new show-runner Russell T. Davies running down his favourite TV shows, RTD commenting on his love for the Tom Baker classic The Ark in Space:
“Nothing creates terror and claustrophobia like the good old-fashioned walls of a BBC studio. You can almost hear the cameras hum. The regular cast make bubble-wrap truly terrifying, but in the unfamous, unsung guest cast, there are heroes. An actor called Wendy Williams creates a character who is frigid, humourless, ruthless, and eventually, through contact with the Doctor, completely human. I must have watched this a hundred times. It’s not enough.”
January 2, 2005
The Independent on the 2nd, like The Mirror, also commented on Piper, stating she was “out to prove her mettle as Doctor Who’s new sidekick” in 2005, while The Times on the same day quoted Russell T. Davies on Christopher Eccleston’s performance, RTD saying: “Everyone was expecting him to be dour, and he’s so funny. I think we can do extraordinary things with it. It’s classy, eccentric, there’s a lot of satire, and I think it’s going to work.”
January 4, 2005
SFX gurus The Mill were the subject of an online feature by Stephen Hunt over at sfcrowsnest.com on the 4th, Chief Executive Robin Shenfield commenting on their early work on the show for the forthcoming series:
“Visual effects can be the tail that wags the dog, but with Doctor Who the storytelling was so good we knew it was something we really wanted to do. It’s soul-destroying to do great effects work on a project lacking in other areas because when it gets panned, it feels like your work is being panned, too. Whether we take something on really depends on the quality of the scripts and the team that’s working on it… The range of effects we’re using [in Series 1] is quite extraordinary, everything we do that’s cutting edge is in this production.”
Visual effects producer Will Cohen spoke of the challenge facing the Mill team:
“The show is a national institution and people working out how best to do a shot would often say something like ‘But it’s Doctor Who, it has to be good’. [One monster] started off just as ectoplasm but then became faces that had to speak. In another story, one computer-generated character needed four minutes of lip-synching, which is a huge undertaking in a TV project. The series was very stimulating for our team because we were able to input our own creative ideas, much more so than in film. We were contributing, not just executing.”
January 6, 2005
Doctor Who Magazine 352 was launched featuring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper making their costumed debuts on the cover, the issue featuring the new logo, a new glossy look and a wealth of new series information was expanded to 68 pages and featured producer Phil Collinson revealing what we could expect from the new-look TARDIS…”
“The basic idea – a big room with the main controls in the middle – is so fantastic, I mean, why would you change that? It’s a brilliant piece of design. The basic idea is the same, but Ed Thomas’ design has a feeling all of its own. I mean, with the best will in the world, the TARDIS interior always used to look like a studio set. But this one is enormous and it looks beautiful on camera. Plus, we’re doing a couple of things to help ease the way, so that the viewers can imagine that, when you step through those doors, something magic happens and the interior really does tie in with the outside…”
Other Series 1 highlights included an interview with new series author Paul Cornell, more teasing from “loose-lipped” executive producer Russell T. Davies in his unmissable Production Notes, reports on the guest casting of Richard Wilson, Tamsin Greig, Zoe Wanamaker and Simon Pegg, plus the announcement that Murray Gold would be the composer for the new series.
In a final bid to regain control of the Tardis’s faulty control system the Doctor is driven to experiment with a dangerous untried combination. With a violent explosion the TARDIS blacks out and the crew find themselves trapped inside. A simple technical fault? Sabotage? Or something even more sinister? Tension mounts as the Doctor and his companions begin to suspect one another. What has happened to the TARDIS? Slowly a terrifying suspicion dawns. Has the TARDIS become the prisoner of some powerful fifth intelligence which is even now haunting the time-machine’s dark and gloomy corridors?
Nigel Robinson’s novelisation of The Edge of Destruction is of special personal significance, so much so that I make no apologies for a little self-indulgence before I put on my reviewer’s hat. My worn and battered copy of the first edition of Jean Marc L’Officier’s Programme Guide became a check list for my Target collecting obsession. I would place a tick against each story as soon as I had acquired the tie-in novel, having already written the title and author below each story synopsis after they were published. I’d even scrawled the stories up to season 26 at the back of the book.
A quick flick through before writing this piece, and as I suspected I discover that it has not been updated since I purchased The Evil Of The Daleks back in 1993. Joy of joys, I can now some 21 years later finally tick off the one outstanding published novelisation in my collection – that’s right, you’ve guessed it: The Edge of Destruction. The diminishing probability of finding that book was so upsetting at the time that I am surprised that the corresponding page of The Programme Guide is not tear stained.
Once upon a time, there was a world without the world wide web. For those out of print books, before E-bay and Amazon, we had to trawl through libraries (for withdrawn for sale books), second hand bookshops and charity shops, attend comic-cons, and send off for those specialist mail order catalogues that were being advertised in Doctor Who Monthly, such as Burton Books. I was a latecomer to E-bay only coming across its possibilities because my parents, as avid music collectors, had ventured into the online auction site in the early 2000s. My Mum boasted on a visit one day that you can find anything on E-bay. So I put her to the test – can she source the one Target novelisation that had so cruelly eluded my grasp? To my amazement within an hour she was bidding on a near mint copy. And so finally after having given up the chase some ten years previous following miles of wasted trips to the most obscure of shops, my Target book collection was complete. It is like the pearl of greatest worth, the prize of my collection. Value wise my Muller Crusaders or Wheel In Space are probably worth more, but The Edge of Destruction encapsulates my target book journey like no other.
The first thing that strikes me as I reread Robinson’s book directly after finishing Whitaker’s The Daleks, is how much the legacy of the earlier novel shines through. Writing for Doctor Who Monthly, Gary Russell noted the debt that Robinson owes to Strutton’s The Zarbi, particularly in the description of the TARDIS living quarters (source – On Target website), but Whitaker’s work is also rarely far from view. Indeed the opening line of The Edge of Destruction hints at the non canonical alternative written account of Ian and Barbara entering the TARDIS for the first time in Barnes Common: “It all started, they would say later, in a forgotten London junkyard on a foggy November night in 1963.” (p7) Other nods to Whitaker include the description of the Doctor as an Edwardian solicitor (p10), and the mention of the Doctor’s “tongue clicking” mannerism (p103).
Whether it is true or not, as a youngster bamboozled by Robinson’s early eighties quiz and crossword books, I imagined he had a vast knowledge of the subject matter. But certainly, the expertise that enabled him to quickly move up the ranks to take up the helm as editor of the range can be clearly seen in his subsequent contributions to both the TV novelisations and the New Adventures.
The television script is arguably a triumph of mood over substance, in that the set up and intrigue of the story is ultimately let down by the rather tame solution of un-sticking the fast return switch. Consequently, the first episode is far superior. Robinson tellingly expands episode one to take up 90 odd pages of the 120 page book. Although wandering off in new directions with some fascinating scenes in other rooms within the TARDIS, Robinson steers his imagination back to the original script and at times it feels that this conscious approach has constrained the novel. Most of the original script is present and correct, but in places Robinson makes significant expansions.
The original script for reasons of pacing and timing is filled with brief retorts and conversations with precise and short sentence. There is no space in the 2 x 25 minute format to illustrate how the characters are reasoning or reflecting upon their situation in any great detail. Robinson is working with the added luxury of being able to expand significantly on characters’ speech, and he peppers the novel with some wonderful soliloquies. However, at times the language is so far removed from conversational speech that the characters come across as reading a script instead of naturally expressing themselves. The Doctor suffers the most from this and at times becomes Sherlock like in his deductive speeches, out of step with what was in fact an emotive response to the threat of not being in control of his TARDIS. At one point he even uses the phrase “elementary, my child”. For Robinson the Doctor enjoys making such pronouncements: “When he spoke it was as though he was addressing a group of slightly dim-witted students, and did not encourage any interruptions. Like so many of the Doctor’s discussions this one was no more than an opportunity for him to hold forth before a captive audience.” (p34) At times he sounds like a nineteenth century preacher, particularly in his final speech.
Perhaps the best speech of the book is that of Barbara’s as she attempts to reason with Susan “You and your grandfather are as alien to us as we are to you. Maybe there are times when we don’t know where we stand with you; yes, maybe there are times when we are frightened of you, uneasy and uncertain. I know we’re all unwilling travellers and the only thing Ian and I really want to do is go home. But, Susan, were all in this together whether we like it or not and we have to learn to trust each other.” p63.
The sense of unease and psychological intensity of the story is brilliantly highlighted by the addition of the recurrent motif of the breathing sound of the TARDIS. The device allows Robinson to create the illusion that the crew are being stalked by the TARDIS. It acts as a constant refrain throughout the book, personifying the TARDIS. Each time it resurfaces Robinson does something fresh, adding to its sinister quality. For example, Barbara imagines it is sounding out her name: “Still she could hear the in-out breathing of the TARDIS life-support system. Crazily she thought she could hear it changing its rhythm and tone, almost as if it was calling out her name: Bar-bar-a…Bar-bar-a.” (p83-84)
Before The Doctors Wifeand Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS, there was Robinson’s novel to help excise the horrors of The Invasion Of Time’s TARDIS interiors. But though enjoyable and evocative, the additional journeys within the TARDIS fall short of adding to the mythos and remain conservative. An organic element could have been introduced to add to the richness of the piece, but instead Robinson plumps for a very sixties concept of the TARDIS as the Doctor’s ship complete with Heath Robinson inventions. That said, it is not all steam-punk. The anachronistic reference to an LED display on the food machine sees to that. Indeed the Doctor here is more of a cross between Hartnell’s irascible pilot and Cushing’s absentminded professor.
Those new series adventures within the TARDIS are nonetheless both inspired either directly by Robinson’s work or from shared sources, notably the horrors of the doors being locked trapping the companion within (c.f. Ian – Rory) and the TARDIS corridors being reconfigured. Anyone who shared the frustrations of playing the 90s computer game Destiny of The Doctors will identify with the annoyance of the ever changing corridors and the maze like quality of the dimensionally transcendental craft. Robinson is not adverse to a little retconning, hinting at the cloister bell to signal that the TARDIS is dying (p94). In the wake of The Doctor’s Wife it would be fascinating to know what other elements Robinson might have retconned had he been writing the novelisation today. There is a lovely passage when after the Doctor says “my machine cannot think” the narrator adds: “The truth was that the Doctor was so convinced of his own superiority he had never before even considered the possibility” (p104)
With the source scripts lacking any great deal of plot, Robinson can flesh out the 120 pages with explorations into the four characters. Rarely divided in the televised piece, Robinson contrives to separate Ian and Barbara from the Doctor and Susan, emphasising that the two pairs seem at times so very alien to each other. The narrator agrees with Ian’s assessment that “The old man had a completely alien set of codes and morals to those of him and Barbara” (p56). The otherness of Susan in relation to the two teachers is differently spelt out, describing her early on as Asiatic in appearance and later noting she sounded Dalek-like to Barbara.
After fighting her possession, Susan becomes the peace-maker and the one to make the move to unite the disparate crew members. In a bold addition to the script Robinson has Susan attempt to inject some sympathy for her Grandfather by telling Barbara to go easy on him for “you don’t know the terrible sort of live he’s had. He’s never had any reason to trust strangers before when even old friends turned against him in the past.” In all likelihood this is a hint at the Doctor’s relationship with the master or maybe even the meddling monk, but it is an intriguing line nonetheless, thrown out there to keep the reader interested (p78).
Considering the Doctor has been travelling the galaxies with abandon, flitting about across all of time and space, he is remarkably closed minded to the possibility of forces beyond his imagining. It is Barbara, whose world has been blown about from her brief travels with the Doctor, who challenges him to think outside the box “what if it isn’t logical? Why don’t you admit that things are not always logical? After all we’ve been through” Back then only three episodes in, the series was largely educational, focusing on history and science over fantasy. Consequently, the plight of the crew was very much down to a logical series of causes and effects. A more satisfying tale would be one that opened the possibility of unseen, illogical forces at work. Robinson chooses instead to stick to the original resolution, even though his exploration of characters would have been a nice set up for a different ending altogether.
Compared to the television story, the novelisation is a huge improvement and the whole thing makes much better sense. Robinson explains the slightly confusing aspects of the story, for example expanding upon the significance of the melting clocks. The reality altering effect of the TARDIS’s actions are explored more fully, with some interesting new dimensions added, such as Barbara believing the TARDIS is the school staff room, and the stand out scene of Barbara being prevented from opening the door to the Doctor’s most hazardous experiments by the TARDIS effecting some telekinesis. Robinson adds new depth to both the characters and the TARDIS environment. Yet despite all this, the story retains its peculiarly and paradoxically claustrophobic feel. But, it is the moral of the story that shines through – the need to be open to infinite possibilities, it is that openness of spirit to explore and learn together that breaks through the claustrophobia:
“There is a boundless universe out there beyond your wildest dreams, Miss Wright, a thousand lives to lead, and a myriad worlds of unimaginable wonders to explore. Let you explore them together and not in anger or resentment, but in friendship.” p118.
This article is the second in our “Story by Story” series running all this week celebrating The Edge of Destruction (or Inside the Spaceship!). We welcome all submissions and pitches on the theme throughout the week at email@example.com.
In future weeks we shall be celebrating Marco Polo (Nov 10 – 16), The Keys of Marinus (Nov 17 – 23), The Aztecs (Nov 24 – 30), The Sensorites (Dec 1 – 7) and The Reign of Terror (Dec 8 – 14).
Fans of a certain age will be instantly familiar with the old debate over what to call each individual story during the majority of the William Hartnell era, given each serial has individual episode titles in the same manner as the ongoing series with no “official” over aching title often existing. Some fans reacted with fury (as only we fans can) at the BBC’s decision to use The Edge of Destruction name instead of Inside the Spaceship for the serial’s VHS and subsequent DVD release for example, while Mission to the Unknown will always be Dalek Cutaway to others and some insist on The Tribe of Gum instead of An Unearthly Child. DWW as a website takes it’s que from the official BBC releases, though personally Inside the Spaceship has always been a rather charming preference… and we have a great many titles for Timelash, none of them printable!
The issue hasn’t reared it’s head in the same way for the new series, possibly through a lack of novelisations and the release of complete series box-sets as opposed to individual VHS/DVD releases for the classic series, yet technically the issue still exists… is this series’ finale together Dark Water or Death in Heaven? or something else entirely? (we like Death in Dark Water personally, but that’s just us!).
Let us take a look at some of those titles in contention and see just what exactly is in a name…
An Unearthly Child
Other titles:The Tribe of Gum, 100,000 BC, The Palaeolithic Age, The Stone Age
The case for the “true” title of the opening story being 100,000 BC is a strong one, with the title being used by the production team at the time and also having been used by the BBC in publicity, yet The Tribe of Gum and An Unearthly Child also hold some strong claims.
100,000 BC replaced The Tribe of Gum as the “official” title (first named as Dr Who and a 100,000 BC … no really) after filming had begun, the camera scripts having no title listed.
The Tribe of Gum was the original working title for the story (Dr. Who and the Tribe of Gum to be exact) and used right up until the start of filming, being used on both internal and external paperwork such as for sales and even official merchandise, being famously used by the Titan script book of the story in 1988. Yet the story was also referred to simply as “Dr. Who – First Serial” and “The First Story” in production material at the time, it’s title not being of much importance at this stage of the production.
Let’s not even get started on whether the “proper” title should include “Dr. Who and the…” or not!
An Unearthly Child developed out of the famous Radio Times 10th Anniversary Special and is of course the title of the serial’s opening episode, yet beyond that fact, has little production legitimacy as the over-aching title, the Radio Times merely using the first episode of each story as the basis of it’s suggested titles. Terrance Dick’s used the same title in his 1976 edition of The Making of Doctor Who and it stuck, being used for his own 1981 Target novelisation and subsequent VHS and DVD releases.
Our legitimacy Judgment:100,000 BC, the production teams intended choice and used at the time of filming.
Other titles:The Survivors, The Mutants, Beyond the Sun, The Dead Planet, Doctor Who in An Exciting Adventure With the Daleks
The production of The Daleks brought about several working titles for the serial, beginning life as The Survivors, a title that Terry Nation would later reuse for his other classic post-apocalyptic piece of sci-fi (it was a regular theme!), before eventually becoming Beyond the Sun for a very short time and finally The Mutants.
The Mutants survived as the official title for the serial on all paperwork until Season 9 when the then production team produced the The Mutants, the fourth serial of Jon Pertwee’s third season.
In 1973 it was Target Publishing who first coined The Daleks as the obvious title, renaming the 1964 publication of Doctor Who in An Exciting Adventure With the Daleks as Doctor Who and The Daleks, presumably feeling it wasn’t an exciting adventure at all… or just that it sounded a bit silly. The Radio Times 10th Anniversary Special muddied the waters even more by referring to the story as The Dead Planet via the aforementioned trend of simply using first episode titles, a name which stuck for most of the 1970s.
By the 1980s however The Daleks had overtaken The Dead Planet in popularity and the name stuck with subsequent VHS and DVD releases to now be regarded as the official title of the story.
Our legitimacy Judgment:The Mutants, but everybody will just get confused!
The Edge of Destruction
Other titles:Inside the Spaceship, The Brink of Disaster, Beyond the Sun.
Inside the Spaceship was the only title for this story to have been actually used on production documents of the era, named as the working title for the story and the chosen title of author David Whitaker throughout his life. Despite this, Terrance Dick’s iconic The Making of Doctor Who named the serial by it’s first episode, The Edge of Destruction in the 1976 edition and the title has become “policy” of the BBC and Doctor Who merchandising ever since, the Target novelisation of 1988 being the first to do so followed by the VHS in 2000 and the DVD in 2006.
BBC Enterprises used the erroneous title Beyond the Sun in a 1974 sales catalogue but with no basis in records, the title actually being a former working title for Terry Nation’s The Daleks as mentioned above, the name occasionally popped up in other sources such as the Doctor Who Magazine 1981 Winter Special.
Our legitimacy Judgment:Inside the Spaceship, even though it sounds like one of those BBC America Doctor Who documentaries!
Other Titles:Journey to Cathay
John Lucarotti was commissioned by David Whitaker for the story under the working title A Journey to Cathay in July of 1963 and the title stuck until mid-September/early October when the production team began to refer to the story as Marco Polo, a memo in January of 1964 however between Donald Wilson and Donald Baverstock returning to the Cathay name, indicating no uniformity between individuals as to naming practices, over-arching titles not being seen as something important given their non-use within the broadcast series. By March however Marco Polo is universally used and our fourth serial is by far a more clear cut case than our first three.
Our legitimacy Judgment:Marco Polo, though Journey to Cathay has a romance and poetry to it.
From this point onward, the production team stopped referring to stories as “Serial A” or “Story A” for example and ensured that over-arching title were used in documentation, making far less debate over the rest of the Hartnell era, despite some claims for The Reign of Terror to be known as The French Revolution (largely thanks to the Radio Times of the day) or that The Dalek Invasion of Earth is really Doctor Who and The Daleks, Galaxy 4 is The Chumblies and the continuing debate of how long and descriptive The Massacre needs to be!
The debate and historic evidence presented for the titles we’ve come to use is a fascinating one for anyone interested in Doctor Who history, yet like so much associated with the show, come’s down to little more than personal taste. Whether you’re an Inside the Spaceship person or go for Edge of Destruction, it doesn’t really matter. With no over-arching titles ever officially given at the time, all subsequent titles are merely “likely” and “intended” rather than anything set in stone. Now… about The Trial of a Time Lord…
This article is the first in our “Story by Story” series running all this week celebrating The Edge of Destruction (or Inside the Spaceship!). We welcome all submissions and pitches on the theme throughout the week at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In future weeks we shall be celebrating Marco Polo (Nov 10 – 16), The Keys of Marinus (Nov 17 – 23), The Aztecs (Nov 24 – 30), The Sensorites (Dec 1 – 7) and The Reign of Terror (Dec 8 – 14).