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This old body of mine is wearing a bit thin

Anniversary

Of the Doctor’s very first

Regeneration

As you may know, Doctor Who celebrates its 50th anniversary next year but today is an anniversary of almost equal importance. That is because today, October 29th, is the anniversary of something that happened that would allow the show to continue although the lead actor was leaving the series.

“Change my dear. And it seems not a moment too soon.*”

October 29th 1966 saw the screening of episode 4 of “The Tenth Planet”. Sadly this episode is one of those missing from the archives but fortunately the transformation scene itself does still exist (yay for BBC children’s programme “Blue Peter”).

Plans were afoot to replace William Hartnell and may have been carried out a few stories earlier at the conclusion of The Celestial Toymaker (which would have worked within the confines of this story but it would be a trick that would be difficult to repeat) but it wasn’t until a few stories later (and the following season) that the first change of the Doctor was to take place.

The new production team of Producer, Innes Lloyd, and Script Editor, Gerry Davis, were looking to bring the adventure aspect of the show back to the forefront, rather than the previous year’s science fiction leanings, with The Tenth Planet being the first of what would be a staple of the stories during Patrick Troughton’s years as the Doctor, The Base Under Siege.

It was also an unusual decision to recast the lead by a completely different actor rather than a lookalike. This was to prove to be an inspired idea as you can then let the Doctor behave in a completely different way and would start the never ending discussion of “who is the best Doctor?”

At the time of the Doctor’s renewal (regeneration was not referred to until third Doctor, Jon Pertwee’s farewell story) and little was known about where the Doctor came from (again, it was during the Jon Pertwee era, and his final season at that, before his home is named as Gallifrey) and it was Patrick Troughton’s finale that introduced us to the Time Lords. How much of this mythology would have remained unknown had the Doctor never changed? Probably none.

So let’s celebrate the changing face of Doctor Who…

“Splendid chap, all of them” as the Brigadier has said.

Here is a list of the regeneration stories to date although you may notice that there hasn’t been an onscreen regeneration from 8th Doctor into 9th. (as of 2012)

  • The Tenth Planet (1st Doctor into 2nd)
  • The War Games (2nd Doctor into 3rd [although 3rd Doctor isn’t actually seen])
  • Planet of the Spiders (3rd Doctor into 4th)
  • Logopolis (4th Doctor into 5th)
  • The Caves of Androzani (5th Doctor into 6th)
  • Time and the Rani (6th Doctor [sort of] into 7th)
  • 1996 TV Movie (7th Doctor into 8th)
  • Parting of the Ways (9th Doctor into 10th)
  • The End of Time –Part Two (10th into 11th)

*spoken by 6th Doctor just after he has regenerated.

Galaxy Four

The Drahvins and Rills

Stuck on a dying planet

But who will escape.

Here we are at the start of the third season and at the start of a run of lost stories. Until recently, only six minutes of footage from episode 1 existed but episode 3 has been discovered [click here for details]. The soundtrack of this story does exist and has Peter Purves (Steven Taylor in this story) providing linking narration.

This story concerns two races of beings who have crash landed on a planet that is on the brink of destruction. On arrival, the Doctor, Vicki and Steven are accosted by a robot that Vicki christens a “Chumbley”. They are “rescued” from the robot by one of the races, the Drahvins, blonde haired women who are determined to take the other race’s, the Rills, spaceship by force. The Rills have managed to repair their ship but lack the fuel needed to take off.

During the course of the story, it comes to light that the destruction of the planet will occur a lot sooner than the Drahvins have calculated and also that the robot Chumblies are robot servants for the Rills, a peaceful ammonia breathing race who are more than prepared to offer space on their ship for the Drahvins.

The Doctor attempts to help the Rills and rescue Steven, who is a hostage on the Drahvin spaceship. Can he do this before the planet explodes…?

This story could be seen as the first (but not the last in this season) “high concept” science fiction story with many of the previous stories being adventure stories set on another planet whereas his has the central message of “don’t judge by appearances” at its core. Doctor Who was growing up…

  1. Four Hundred Dawns
  2. Trap Of Steel
  3. Airlock
  4. The Exploding Planet

 

The Chase

The Daleks return

To chase the TARDIS through time

Another farewell

The Doctor has taken a space visualiser from the space museum (the previous story, click here for more) and watches a few moments from history, including an appearance of The Beatles. The crew then land on a planet that resembles Tatooine from the Star Wars universe (although not as vast). Vicki and Ian go wandering off while the Doctor and Barbara soak up some rays from the multiple suns.  A sound emanating from the TARDIS  leads the Doctor to realise that the space visualiser hasn’t been switched off but when Barbara goes to turn it off she sees that on the screen, the Daleks are in hot pursuit of the time travellers. The Doctor is unsure how far behind they are but decides that they must leave quickly. Unfortunately, Ian and Vicki have gotten themselves in trouble. Episode one ends with a Dalek rising up through the sand and you can hear it straining as it rises to the surface which is reminiscent to the end of episode one of the Dalek Invasion of Earth.

But if you think that The Chase is confined to just this planet, you would be wrong. The Daleks rather helpfully dig out the TARDIS (that was covered after a sandstorm) and have a short moment where one Dalek commands what seems to be a teenage Dalek judging by his response to some orders, the crew manage t race back into the TARDIS and head to earth for the next few episodes stopping of in a sailing ship, the Empire State building (hmmm I wonder if the TARDIS sensed any Dalek activity connected to this building…see Daleks In Manhattan [a long way away in my quest]) and a building occupied by Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster.

But the finale of the story takes place on the planet Mechanus and features the first doppelgänger of the Doctor as the Daleks create a duplicate of the Doctor that is designed to infiltrate and kill. The planet of Mechanus is very odd in that the surface is very smooth but has a fungal plant life but it is on this planet that a foe was to appear to rival the Daleks…the Mechanoids. These are kind of spherical dodecahedral who have similar mobility issues as the Daleks but the final battle between the Daleks and Mechanoids takes place on a smooth floor. The Mechanoids did appear in comics but never returned to the classic series. They have, however, made a reappearance in the Big Finish audio story The Juggernaughts that features both Davros and the Daleks.

As far as Dalek stories go, this isn’t one of the best but does have some interesting features.The Dalek design here becomes the classic series design with the slats on their middle appearing for the first time. The Daleks learn time travel. And for the second time in three appearances, the story concludes with a departure. This time, Ian and Barbara use the Dalek time machine to return them home (which Vicki and the Doctor watch on the space visualizer).

In the previous story, a Dalek was featured in the space museum and the story was the first (but by no means the last) to feature the Doctor visiting a museum [something that River Song in the new series has relied upon]. Perhaps the Daleks too thought that this behaviour would help them in tracking down the Doctor at the start of this story and donated several Dalek shells to numerous museums across the galaxy. It would certainly be a more reasonable explanation for the Dalek exhibit in the space museum.

  1. The Executioners
  2. The Death Of Time
  3. Flight Through Eternity
  4. Journey Into Terror
  5. The Death Of Doctor Who
  6. The Planet Of Decision

 

The Crusade

Barbara is kidnapped

During time of Crusades

Ian is knighted

This story is one of the incomplete/missing stories. The audio narration is once again done by William Russell (who played Ian Chesterton in the story). It is another historical and features some fine performances and sees the debuts of two actors who will return to the Doctor Who universe again (and for one of the actors, in the not too distant future). The actors are Julian Glover and Jean Marsh.

This story is also one of the very first to be novelised (even predating the amazing Target range of novels, although it was reprinted and released alongside the other Target novelisations). Both the script and novel was written by Doctor Who’s first script editor, David Whittaker.

It is a good story and it is a real shame that 2 of the episodes are missing but it shows the potential limitations of the historical stories. The framework of the story has the TARDIS crew having an adventure set around the time of the crusade of Richard II (Richard the Lionheart). The story centres upon the capture of Barbara and her subsequent attempt to reunite with the rest of the TARDIS crew. This happens while Richard is trying to negotiate a peace with Saladin, even offering his sister in marriage to Saladin’s brother Saphadin (a marriage to which she is vehemently opposed to).

This story also shows the Doctor being adept at material theft and Vicki is mistaken as a boy and Ian is knighted by Richard.

This story is a four parter but lacks the epic scale of the 7 part Marco Polo or the 4 part Romans. The story itself is enjoyable but the Doctor doesn’t seem to be a vital element to the story which is a shame as there are moments between the Doctor and Richard II that allow both actors to sparkle and there is a touch of sadness at the end after the Doctor predicts that Richard will see Jerusalem but a few moments later admits to the crew that Richard will only see the city from a distance.

The crew in this story are not so much time travellers as time tourists, stopping only to get in a spot of trouble and annoying the locals before making their getaway, onto the next adventure. By no means is this a bad story but after the excellent previous historicals, this one feels as if it should have been earlier in the series.

  1. The Lion
  2. The Knight Of Jaffa
  3. The Wheel Of Fortune
  4. The Warlords

When 108 became 106

The number 108 has a particular resonance with Doctor Who fans. For many years this number represented the number of missing episodes from the Doctor Who archive. The missing stories, dating from the 1960s, are from the black and white era of Doctor Who when episodes were routinely wiped so that the videotape could be reused in an effort to save on the costs. For more about the missing episodes, I heartily recommend the book Wiped by Richard Molesworth.

That number is now 106 with the discovery of two missing episodes. One of the episodes is from the William Hartnell story, Galaxy Four and the other features Patrick Troughton in The Underwater Menace.

Galaxy Four sees William Hartnell’s Doctor accompanied by Maureen O’Brien as Vicki and Peter Purves as Steven Taylor and also features the infamous Chumblies. Some extracts from episode one are on the Lost In Time DVD but the episode that was found is episode three.

The Underwater Menace sees Patrick Troughton’s Doctor accompanied by  Anneke Wills as Polly and Michael Craze as Ben and by new crew member, Jamie McCrimmon. The episode found pre-dates  Episode 3 (also on the Lost In Time DVD), as it is episode 2 of this 4 part serial and in being so is now the earliest episode to feature Patrick Troughton with all episodes from his first two stories, The Power Of The Daleks and The Highlanders missing.

This is the first discovery since episode 2 of the Daleks Master Plan was returned in 2004.

For more information about the discovery, please listen to this special edition of the Doctor Who podcast here.

It will be interesting to see what they will look like after the amazing restoration team get to work on them but if you want to have a sneak peak, click here.

This discovery gives Doctor Who fans hope that somewhere, there may be more treasures to be found and that magic number will keep on decreasing.

If you think you may have information about missing episodes, please contact missingepisodes@drwho-online.co.uk or click here