With the hysteria of Doctor Who’s50th Anniversary behind us, and Peter Capaldi’s debut series as the Doctor at least six months away, it’s time to recommence the Doctor Who Mind Robber’sultimate marathon. Before the unrelenting barrage of Golden Anniversary publicity and hype derailed the writer’s quest to view and review all 800 episodes of Doctor Who,this humble blog had chronicled the Doctor’s adventures from William Hartnell’s debut serial, An Unearthly Child, to Patrick Troughton’s penultimate outing, The Space Pirates.Although the final serial of the monochrome era, The War Games, had been viewed several times, the review has yet to grace the pages of this blog. It’s almost as if I couldn’t bare to make the final break with my favourite doctor, Troughton. Alas, it’s time to move on. Peter Capalid’s channelling of Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor in his costume publicity photos has reignited my passion to explore the tenure of our first full colour Doctor. Please join me for the journey!
Doctor Who’s first Director, Waris Hussein, has given an extensive interview on the genesis of Doctor Who to the Radio Times. Hussein, who directed the debut serial An Unearthly Child,together with the missing seven part epic Marco Polo,speaks candidly about Verity Truman, Who’sfirst producer, Sidney Newman, the Canadian born head of BBC drama and the First Doctor, William Hartnell. You can read the first part of this enlightening interview here.
The second part of Waris Hussein’s interview, in which he discusses Mark Gatiss’ drama, An Adventure in Time andSpace, can be found here.
[In reference to the Conscience of Marinus]: I don’t believe that man was made to be controlled by machines. Machines can make laws, but they cannot preserve justice. Only human beings can do that.
The Conscience of Marinus – a machine with the power to not only judge good and evil, but also to permeate the minds of citizens, eradicating all evil thoughts and intentions, and replacing them instead with only good and honourable deeds.
[After escaping an Assassin]: Alright? Of course I’m alright, my child. You know, I am so constantly outwitting the opposition. I tend to forget the delights and satisfaction of the gentle art of fisticuffs.
The Doctor displays his finely tuned fighting skills whilst in battle with a would-be assassin in The Romans
[To Ian and Barbara]: Have you ever thought what it’s like to be wanderers in the Fourth Dimension? Have you? To be exiles? Susan and I are cut off from our own planet – without friends or protection. But one day we shall get back. Yes, one day….
The Doctor and Susan with the unwilling companions, Barbara and Ian in An Unearthly Child
[Ian and Barbara’s farewell as they prepare to leave in the Daleks’ time machine]
Barbara: We’re not idiots! We want to go home!
Ian: Yes! Home! I want to sit in a pub and drink a pint of beer again! I want to walk in a park, and watch a cricket match. And above all, I want to belong somewhere, and do something! Instead of this aimless drifting around in space!
The Doctor: AIMLESS?! I tried for two years to get you both home!
Ian: Well you haven’t been successful, have you?
The Doctor: How dare you, young man! HOW DARE YOU, SIR! I didn’t invite you into the ship in the first place! You both thrust yourselves upon me!
Barbara: OH, DOCTOR! STOP IT!
The Doctor: Oh, for heaven’s sake! I’ve never heard such nonsense!
Barbara: Look. I know we’ve thrust ourselves upon you! But we’ve been through a great deal since then! And all we’ve been through will remain with us always! It could be the most exciting part of my life. Look, Doctor, we’re different people. And now we have a chance to go home. We want to take that chance. Will you help us work that machine?
The Doctor: …No. No! I will not aid and abet suicide!
Ian: Oh, he’s as stubborn as ever!
The Doctor: . Hmm?
Vicki: Doctor, you’ve got let them go if they want too. They want to be back in their own time.
The Doctor: Don’t you want to go with them, child? Hmm?
Vicki: What for? Why would I want to be back in their time for? I want to be with you! Doctor… You’ve got to help them.
The Doctor: Don’t you realise, child, of the enormous risks?
Vicki: But it’s up to them!
The Doctor and his companions outside of the Dalek time machine in The Chase
[As he prepares to leave Susan on Earth]: During all the years I’ve been taking care of you, you in return have been taking care of me. You are still my grandchild and always will be. But now, you’re a woman too. I want you to belong somewhere, to have roots of your own. With David you will be able to find those roots and live normally like any woman should do. Believe me, my dear, your future lies with David and not with a silly old buffer like me. One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye, Susan. Goodbye, my dear.
The Doctor speaks to Susan from inside the TARDIS just prior to it dematerializing in The Dalek Invasion of Earth
My dear Steven, history sometimes gives us a terrible shock, and that is because we don’t quite fully understand. Why should we? After all, we’re too small to realise its final pattern. Therefore don’t try and judge it from where you stand. I was right to do as I did. Yes, that I firmly believe. [Steven leaves the TARDIS] Steven… Even after all this time, he cannot understand. I dare not change the course of history. Well, at least I taught him to take some precautions; he did remember to look at the scanner before he opened the doors. And now, they’re all gone. All gone. None of them could understand. Not even my little Susan. Or Vicki. And as for Barbara and Chatterton — Chesterton — they were all too impatient to get back to their own time. And now, Steven. Perhaps I should go home. Back to my own planet. But I can’t… I can’t…
The Doctor and Steven enjoy a quiet ale in the lost serial The Massacre
The Doctor Who Mind Robberregrets to advise that the recent news of the recovery of 9 missing episodes has thwarted our attempts to provide a daily article celebrating the countdown to Doctor Who’s50th Anniversary. Far too much time has been spent speculating about, celebrating and watching The Enemy of the Worldand The Web of Fearto write the daily post. Now that the hysteria is being to subside we will recommence our countdown at Day 44 tomorrow. Hopefully several posts per day will quickly allow us to catch up. Today is 41 days until the 50th.
Please stay tuned as we continue our countdown to this incredible milestone. In the meantime feel free to read our previous 50th countdown posts.
It’s almost time to break open the champagne. The BBC News and Entertainment website has published an article by Lizo Mzimba, Entertainment correspondent, BBC News confirming the recovery of an unspecified number of missing Doctor Who episodes. BBC Worldwide is expected to confirm the find at a press screening in London later this week.
The Doctor, Ben and Polly in the Second Doctor’s first adventure, The Power of the Daleks
As previously reported in theDoctor Who MInd Robber.the UK tabloid the Mirroryesterday alleged that the BBC would announce the recovery of missing Doctor Whoepisodes on Tuesday. The Mirror’sclaim appeared to be substantiated by an article in The Radio Timeswhich indicated that two lost serials, likely to be from the Troughton era, would be released digitally on Wednesday.
A November 1963 Radio Timescover announcing the launch of the new series Doctor Who
Fans hopes for an early resolution of the long standing missing episode rumours where dashed last night when the Mirrorreported that the press conference had been postponed until the end of the week. A BBC Insider is quoted as saying
“With all the excitement in the last few days about the lost episodes we are really keen to get the information out, but there are a few delays.
“We want everything to be ready and for this announcement to excite fans so they will have to wait a few days longer.
“They have been waiting nearly 50 years for this, so a couple of days shouldn’t make any difference.”
Almost simultaneously with the Mirror’sannouncement of the delay, The Radio Timesamended its online article concerning the digital release of missing episodes. It now ways that the missing episodes will be available for sale to the public this week.
Respected UK newspaper The Guardianhas also weighed into the rumours and published an article today which claims that a BBC press conference will be held on Thursday.
Yeti in the tunnels of the London Underground in the lost Troughton era serial The Web of Fear
The mounting tension among fans about the impending announcement is so great that at least one online Doctor Whoforum has closed its Missing Episodes thread and curtailed all discussion of the issue until an official announcement by the BBC.
The latest rumours suggest that the two missing serials recovered, and due for release, are two Season Five stories, Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear. The serials are consecutive stories and among the most sought after by fans. In our The 10 Most Wanted Missing Episodesarticle published on October 4 we listed the Enemy of the World as number 6 and The Web of Fearas number 5.
Patrick Troughton as Salamander in the lost Season Five serial The Enemy of the World
In the meantime, general fan consensus seems to be that the Mirror’sclaim of the recovery of over 100 missing episodes from Ethiopia is at best an exaggeration, and at worst an outright lie. The Mirror’sclaims were reported on the UK’s SkyNewschannel and also in the press worldwide, including Australia’s news.com.au. There are now, however, very few sceptics remaining with the vast majority of vocal fans believing that at least some episodes have been recovered.
Further information will be published as it comes to hand.
The first actor to play the Doctor, William Hartnell, was renowned for his many and varied “Billy Fluffs”. A “Billy Fluff” was an error in delivering dialogue or the complete failure to say a line. Prior to the 1970s the studio recording of Doctor Who was almost live. Whilst there were certainly some pre-filmed segments, ordinarily those involving special effects or location work, the vast majority of recording was undertaken in the studio on a Friday or Saturday evening. Preceding the recording where four days of preliminary rehearsals, although the actual recording of each 25 minute episode was allocated only one and a half hours. Video tape was prohibitively expensive so the re-shooting of scenes was kept to a minimum of three per episode. It’s for this reason that unless the mistakes in dialogue were extraordinary the actors just carried on.
Hartnell was suffering from undiagnosed arteriosclerosis during his tenure as the First Doctor. Short term memory loss and lapses in concentration can be symptoms of arteriosclerosis. His declining health undoubtedly contributed to his occasional bout of Hartnellisms. In providing this list of 10 Greatest Billy Fluffs we are not mocking William Hartnell but rather celebrating the eccentricities that made the First Doctor so endearing. Given the multiple takes of modern film production, it is highly doubtful that contemporary actors would come close to displaying the professionalism of the Sixties era Doctor Who stars.
Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks discuss William Hartnell’s perseverance during the filming of The Three Doctors (1973).
10. Episode six of The Web Planet sees a communication device descend upon the Doctor’s head. When asked by Animus, off camera, if he’d attempted to escape the Doctor responds, “We have been on a slight exploitation.”
A communications device is lowered onto the Doctor’s head in The Web Planet
9. Whilst introducing the new companion Steven to the TARDIS in episode one of The Time Meddler, the Doctor gives an exceptional run-down of the Ship’s superior features. At the end of the clip he is scripted as saying “Now please stop bothering me”. After listening to it multiple times I’m absolutely convinced that Hartnell says “Now please stop buggering me”.
The Time Meddler, Episode 1
8. In episode one of The Web Planet Hartnell appears to forget his lines during a discussion with William Russell (Ian). Exhibiting extraordinary patience and a determination not to spoil the scene, Russell prompts Hartnell. Russell’s facial expressions are absolutely classic and brilliantly disguise an otherwise awkward situation.
IAN: Well, come on then, Doctor. Ah. How do we open the doors? We have no power.
DOCTOR: Ah, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear. Hmm. It’s one thing after another.
DOCTOR: Yes, well, I, er, I, er, I didn’t want to, er.
(The Doctor takes his signet ring off).
DOCTOR: This is not merely a decorative object. Come along, come along.
The Doctor and Ian in The Web Planet
7. In episode one of The Smugglersthe Doctor discusses with his new companions, Ben and Polly, the difficulties he experiences landing the TARDIS. After advising his friends that he can neither determine where or in which period he lands, the Doctor then points to the scanner and says, “Oh, now, you see that scanner? That is what I call a scanner up there”.
Ben and Polly take their first trip in the Tardis in The Smugglers
6. In The Sensorites, rather than a problem being solved the Doctor accidently states that a solution had been settled – “Yes, well, I rather fancy that’s settled that little bit of a solution”.
Special Feature – Forgetting the Lines – The Sensorites
5. The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan land on a strange beach in The Keys of Marinus. Having removed her shoes, Susan goes back to the TARDIS to collect another pair. The Doctor admonishes Ian by saying, “And if you had your shoes on, my boy, you could have lent her hers”
The TARDIS crew land on a mysterious island in The Keys of Marinus
4. Having landed on a beach in The Time Meddler the Doctor and his companions are confronted by a steep cliff face. Although the Doctor suggests to Steven and Vicki that they walk along the beach until they find a cliff face running down to sea level, Steven is convinced that it would be quicker just to climb the cliff. In response the Doctors says, “But I’m not a mountain goat and I prefer walking to it any day, and I hate climbing”.
The TARDIS Crew land on a beach with a steep cliff face in The Time Meddler
3. The Doctor, Steven and Vicki land on a seemingly deserted planet in Galaxy 4. Keen to explore, the Doctor agrees and says that “I think that we shall get some well deserved, undeserved peace for once”.
The Doctor and his companions don’t receive the rest they anticipate in Galaxy 4
2. Landing in 20th Century London, the Doctor and Dodo see the newly completed Post Office Tower. In perhaps one of the best lines in The War Machines the Doctor states, “You know there’s something alien about that tower. I can scent it.”
The Doctor can sense an alien force in the newly opened Post Office Tower in The War Machines
1. In discussing whether Ian and Barbara can return to Earth in the Daleks’ time machine the Doctor tells the teachers in The Chasethat “You’ll end up as a couple of burnt cinders flying around in Spain … space.”
First Doctor Billy Fluffs
TOMORROW – DAY 46 – The 10 Best William Hartnell Moments
YesterdayTheDoctor Who Mind Robberreported an article in Sunday’s Mirrornewspaper alleging the recovery of over 100 missing Doctor Whoepisodes from Ethiopia. As hoped, the reporting of these rumours in the mainstream media appears to have precipitated some movement on the BBC’s part. The Radio Timesis today reporting that two stories, both believed to be from the Troughton era, have been digitally remastered and will be available for purchase on-line from sources such as iTunes on Wednesday. The BBC has yet to confirm or deny the claims in The Radio Times.
A 1964 Radio Times cover featuring the Doctor Who serial Marco Polo
The Doctor Who Mind Robber understands that there is a small Missing Believed Wipedfunction on Tuesday and that the recovery of some missing episodes could be announced then. Missing Believed Wipedis an annual event run by the British Film Institutewhich showcases recently discovered missing films.
The Mirrorhas published a further story in which they claim that BBC Worldwide has called a press conference and screening for Tuesday evening. The Mirrorreports a BBC source as saying,
“There will be big news this Tuesday regarding lost Doctor Who episodes.
It is great that in the show’s 50th year, fans will now be able to look back with classic episodes as well as looking to the future with the new film-length episode in November.
For some fans watching their lost episodes will be like going back in time.”
The BBC Worldwide logo
Further details will be published as they come to hand.
One of the most frustrating aspects of 21st Century Doctor Who is the almost complete absence of cliff hangers. Very few stories have extended beyond one episode. In a clear nod to William Hartnell era stories, the Series 7 story The Crimson Horror ended with a direct lead-in to the next story, Nightmare in Silver. Arriving back in present-day London, the companion Clara meets with the children she babysits, Angie and Artie, who blackmail her into taking them on her next adventure in the TARDIS.
Clara is blackmailed by Angie and Artie at the conclusion of The Crimson Horror (2013)
In celebration of the great cliff hangers of Classic Series Doctor Who this article will briefly examine the Top 10 Cliff Hangers of the Sixties. So as not to reinvent the wheel, The Doctor Who Mind Robber has directly quoted the episode ending summaries from David J Howe and Stephen James Walker’s seminal book The Television Companion. No copyright infringement is intended.
David J Howe & Stephen James Walker’s The Television Companion was published in 2003 by Telos Publishing
“Maggie Harris and Robson, both infected by the weed creature, meet on the beach. The former tells the latter that he will obey his instructions. Then she turns and walks straight out into the sea, eventually becoming completely submerged beneath the waves”.
The horror of this cliff hanger is the apparent suicide of Maggie Harris, the wife of one of the base employees. It is not until several episodes later that it becomes evident that Mrs Harris is still alive. Incidentally, Fury From the Deep is one of the few Doctor Who serials in which no one dies.
Unfortunately all episodes of Fury From the Deep have been lost, however the soundtrack, telesnaps and Loose Cannon’s excellent reconstruction brilliantly convey the horror.
In the cliff hanger to episode three Maggie Harris walks into the water, as if to commit suicide
“The TARDIS arrives on a Palaeolithic landscape, over which falls the shadow of a man”.
This is the cliff hanger to the very first episode of Doctor Who and it’s the first time that the television viewers see the TARDIS materialize. The ominous shadow of a man in the barren landscape is both frightening and unexpected.
The ominous shadow of a man approaches the TARDIS in the cliff hanger to An Unearthly Child
“The TARDIS is in flight, the travellers having apparently escaped from the void. A low, throbbing hum is heard which grows in intensity until it is unbearable. Suddenly the TARDIS explodes. The Doctor spins away through space while Jamie and Zoe are left clinging to the console as it is engulfed in swirling mist.”
The end of the first episode of The Mind Robber is absolutely brilliant. This is the first time in Doctor Who that the TARDIS explodes and the crew is left floating perilously in space. The image of Zoe clinging onto the TARDIS console has become iconic for all the wrong reasons. Her tight sparkly cat suit clings to her body as the camera focuses on her bottom.
Wendy Padbury in the scene for which, unfortunately, she is perhaps best known
“The Abbot of Amboise lies dead in the gutter, a crowd of angry Catholics gathering around his body. When Steven protests that the Huguenots were not responsible, Roger Colbert incites the crowd against him. Steven flees for his life through the Paris streets …”
The Massacre sees William Hartnell play two roles – the Doctor and the evil Abbot of Amboise. Both characters are absolutely identical in appearance however the audience and companion Steven are unaware if the Doctor is masquerading as the Abbot, or if the Doctor and the Abbot are two different people. It’s for that reason that this cliff hanger is so powerful as it is not clear if it is the Doctor or the real Abbot who is dead.
The Massacre is another of the serials which unfortunately has all episodes missing. As discussed in Fury From the Deep, this does not distract from the potency of the ending.
“The Doctor returns to the TARDIS, closely followed by Ben and Polly. The ship’s controls move of their own accord and the Doctor collapses to the floor. His companions enter and, before their astonished eyes, the Doctor’s face transforms into that of a younger man”.
This episode ending is of course Doctor Who’s first regeneration. The First Doctor, William Hartnell, collapses and with exceptional special effects for the era, his face is transformed into that of the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton. The audience must wait until the next episode to see all of the new Doctor’s body and to experience his personality. There was no precedent for a change of the lead character in such a manner, and the audience was left stunned as they anticipated the new Doctor’s personality and physical appearance.
Episode 4 of The Tenth Planet has been lost however an amateur film was taken of a television screen during the broadcast of the episode. The episode has also been recently animated and will be released on DVD next month.
“The Doctor and Ian, menaced by a group of Robomen, prepare to escape by diving into the Thames. As they turn, they see rising slowly from the water the familiar shape of a Dalek.” (Episode 1)
“The TARDIS dematerialises and, comforted by David, Susan moves away. Her TARDIS key lies discarded on the ground, with an image of a starscape superimposed …” (Episode 6)
The cliff hanger of episode 1 derives its force from both the iconic background of the Thames River and the emergence of Doctor Who’s first return monsters, the Daleks. Having been so well received in their first story, the return of the Daleks was eagerly anticipated by fans. As was the common practise in early Doctor Who stories, the monsters rarely appeared on-screen until the end of the serial’s first episode.
The episode six ending marked the first departure of a companion in Doctor Who. Just prior to the episode’s end the Doctor gave an impassioned oration to his grand-daughter Susan whom he was effectively deserting on the 21st Century Earth.
A submerged Dalek emerging from the Thames River
Susan talks to the Doctor through the TARDIS’s PA system
“After cleaning Farrow’s blood from the patio stones outside, Smithers goes into the laboratory to wash his hands, unaware that the Doctor and Susan are hiding in the water outlet from the sink. As a helpless Ian and Barbara watch, he fills the sink with water, washes, and then pulls out the plug”.
The brilliance of the episode 2 cliff hanger of Planet of the Giants is that it successfully made the mundane frightening. Watching a plug pulled from a sink and water cascading down a drain would ordinarily be exciting as watching the kettle boil. Our heroes, however, have been shrunk to less than an inch in height and are as vulnerable as an ant is to the heavy boot of a human. The companions Ian and Barbara, together with the audience, are left paralysed with fear at the imminent drowning of the Doctor and Susan.
The Doctor and Susan before descending into the sink drain
“Exploring their apparently deserted city, Barbara encounters one of the Daleks and is menaced by its telescopic sucker arm.”
As outlined in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, it was standard practice in early Doctor Who for the monsters not to emerge until the cliff hanger of the first episode. This absolutely iconic ending sees Barbara pinned to a wall in fear as a Dalek’s sucker arm menaces her. The audience has not yet seen the rest of the Dalek’s body however the expression on Barbara’s face paints a picture of a horrifying spectacle.
Barbara is pinned against the wall in fear during the Daleks’ first appearance in Doctor Whoon 21st December 1963
2. The War Games – Episode 1 and Episode 10
“In the First World War zone the Doctor has been found guilty of spying against the English forces and is tied up before a firing squad. Captain Ransom brings his men to order, tells them to present arms and opens his mouth to give the order to fire. A shot rings out and the Doctor grimaces” (Episode 1)
“A still protesting Doctor spins away through a dark void to begin his sentence of exile on Earth with a new appearance. His face is shrouded in shadow …” (Episode 10)
By the time the first episode of The War Games was broadcast Patrick Troughton’s decision to leave the role of the Doctor had been made public. Whilst history had shown that the Doctor always escaped serious harm, the audience could not be certain that his luck hadn’t finally ended. Perhaps he would be killed by the firing squad and regeneration was imminent?
Episode 10 is perhaps my all-time favourite as so many mysteries about the Doctor’s past are answered. His forced regeneration at the episode’s end is chilling but perhaps not as sad as Jamie and Zoe’s departure earlier in the episode. The monochrome era of Doctor Who was at an end and things would never be the same again.
“The Cybermen emerge from the sewers and march through the streets of London as the invasion begins.”
The Cybermen’s emergence from the sewers of London and their march down the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral is justifiably iconic. By placing the monsters in an easily recognizable London landscape genuine fear would have been instilled in the audience. Although the Daleks had visited tourist spots such as Westminster Bridge in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Cybermen were in current day London. This wasn’t one of the Daleks’ futuristic tales but rather a genuine invasion in our own time. As Jon Pertwee said, there’s a “Yeti on the Loo in Tooting Bec”.
Arguably the most iconic cliff hanger in classic series Doctor Who. The Cybermen on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral