Fifty Years of The MasterBookmark and Share

Saturday, 2 January 2021 - Reported by Marcus

The Master - Roger DelgadoRadio Times - January 1971 (Credit: Radio Times)Fifty years ago today a new character entered the world of Doctor Who when, in Terror of the Autons, we met the Doctor's nemesis, The Master.

Created by producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks, the character was devised as a foil to the Third Doctor as played by Jon Pertwee. Given an academic name. The Master, to counterpoint the name of The Doctor, the character was to be the Moriarty to Pertwee’s Holmes, a character very much the equal to the Doctor in terms of intelligence and background. 

The character outline was sketched out in an internal BBC document sent to the writers of Season 8 of the series, a document which also introduced the characters of Jo Grant and Captain Mike Yates, played by Richard Franklin and Katy Manning. 

Only one actor was considered for the role of the Master, Roger Delgado, an actor known for playing sinister villains and a personal friend of Jon Pertwee.

The Master would appear in every story of season 8, becoming just as much a fixture of the series as The Doctor and Jo, somewhat to the chagrin of Jon Pertwee. 

He was used less in season nine but still appeared in two of the five stories. In season ten he was used just once and it was decided to write the character out at the end of season 11 in a big final story.

That final story never happened as on the 18th June 1973 Roger Delgado was killed in a car accident in Turkey. The death stunned the production team and helped Pertwee to his decision to leave the series at the end of the eleventh series. 

The actor may have died but the character he created was so strong it would return to the series in many incarnations. A mutilated Master at the end of his regelation cycle was seen in the 1976 story The Deadly Assassin. 

In 1981 new producer John Nathan Turner decided to bring back the character as a regular with a look based on the original Delgado character. Played by Anthony Ainley, The Master would appear regularly until the cancellation of the series in 1989, appearing with the fifth, sixth and seventh Doctors. It was perhaps fitting that the last story of the classic series featured the Doctor and Ace in a battle with The Master. In the story Survival.

The TV movie in 1996 saw the arrival of the eighth Doctor and The Master was there to welcome him, this time in the body of American actor Eric Roberts. 

When Doctor Who returned in 2005 there was much talk about reprising characters from the original series and The Master was high upon most fans wish lists. They had to wait until the series 3 before show-runner Russell T Davies obliged, and the story Utopia saw the character reappear in no less a body as that of veteran actor Derek Jacobi. At the end of the episode John Simm took over the role and a mad hyperactive Master took on the mad hyperactive Tenth Doctor. In 2010 the character helped bring about to the demise of the Tenth Doctor. 

The next showrunner Steven Moffat put his own spin on the character when he created Missy, played by Michelle Gomez, in 2014 to taunt the Twelfth Doctor as played by Peter Capaldi. Much speculation about the real identity of the character was ended at the end of Series 8 when she was revealed to be a female incarnation of The Master.

Although Gomez was the incumbent Master, John Simm hadn’t quite finished with the role as he returned at the end of series ten to take part in a memorable Master v Master battle with Missy and The Doctor

The strength of the character is such that just last year another incarnation arrived when Sacha Dhawan took on the role of The Master in the 2020 Chris Chibnall story Spyfall.

The character of The Master is the most enduring in Doctor Who apart from that of the Doctor himself. Today, 50 years on, we pay tribute to all the hugely talented actors who have made the character such an essential part of Doctor Who lore. And we pay tribute to the numerous writer and Directors who have helped create such a fascinating and enduring character. 
 

Peter Pratt - The Master (Credit: BBC )Anthony Ainley - The Master (Credit: BBC )The Master - Eric Roberts (Credit: BBC )Derek Jacobi - The Master

John Simm - The Master  (Credit: BBC )Michelle Gomez as Missy (Credit: BBC / David Venni)Spyfall: O (Sacha Dhawan) (Credit: BBC Studios (Ben Blackall))

 





Roger Delgado - Born 100 Years Ago TodayBookmark and Share

Thursday, 1 March 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Roger Delgado (Credit: BBC)Moments in Time
Today marks the 100th aniversary of the birth of one of the greatest of all Doctor Who villains, the original Master, Roger Delgado.

Roger Delgado was a mainstay of the series during the early 1970's, first appearing in the 1971 Robert Holmes story Terror of the Autons.

The character was created by producer Barry Letts and Script Editor Terrance Dicks to act as a foil to the Third Doctor as played by Jon Pertwee, a Moriarty to the Doctor's Sherlock Holmes

He appeared in every story of Season 8, even at times eclipsing the Doctor, much to Pertwee's annoyance. With Jo Grant played by Katy Manning aiding the Doctor, and the team of UNIT fully established, the series settled into the pattern of The Master plotting to bring about the downfall of the human race only to be thwarted by the Doctor at the last minute.

His appearances in Season Nine were less frequent, but he still managed to appear in twelve out of the 26 episodes. His final appearance was the following year, in the 1973 story Frontier In Space. His premature death in a car accident in Turkey robbed the series of one of its classic villains and the cast of one of their closest friends. We never got to see the final showdown between the Third Doctor and The Master and the character disappeared from the series for many years. His death contributed to Pertwee's decision to depart the series after Season 11

Roger Delgado was born Roger Caesar Marius Bernard de Delgado Torres Castillo Roberto on 1st March 1918. Although his mother was Belgian and his father was Spanish, he was born in Whitechapel, in the East End of London, and within the sound of the Bow Bells, making him a true cockney. He served in the Second World War with both the Leicestershire Regiment and the Royal Signals, attaining the rank of major

He made his theatre debut in 1939 and his first television appearance in 1948. For the next 25 years, he specialised in evil European types with roles such as the duplicitous Spanish envoy Mendoza in Sir Francis Drake and Don Jose in Queen's Champion. He appeared in The Three Musketeers, Nom-de-Plume, The Buccaneers, Huntingtower, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Hancock's Half Hour, Biggles, The Odd Man, Triton, Richard the Lionheart, Ghost Squad, Seeing and Believing, The Man in the Iron Mask and Z-Cars. He made 16 appearances in ITC produced action series, including Danger Man, The Saint, The Champions, and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).

He was killed while on location in Turkey, whilst shooting La Cloche tibétaine a Franco/German TV mini-series when the car in which he was traveling went off the road into a ravine.

He was 55 years old.

Psychedelic Electrical Storm | The Claws of Axos




Fifty Years of the BrigadierBookmark and Share

Saturday, 17 February 2018 - Written by Peter Nolan
Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Credit: BBC)Moments in Time
17th of February 1968. Fifty years ago today The Web of Fear Part Three is transmitted for the one and only time; never to be seen again save for a brief sighting of a film tin in a far-flung relay station. A tin which, itself, would vanish into thin air. It would be handy to describe this as a particularly tragic loss – the moment the Doctor meets (then) Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart. But strangely even if we had the episode to include in our collections alongside the five recovered episodes, we still wouldn’t have that magical moment to see – it occurs inconveniently offscreen, with the Doctor simply showing up with the Colonel in tow, describing how they’d bumped into each other in the tunnel.

The throwaway nature with which the character debuts is an earmark of how unplanned and organic his growth into a Doctor Who legend is. It’s par for the course with this show, of course, with possibly the Master the only time a production team has set out to create the Next Big Thing and succeeded – the likes of the Krotons and the Mechanoids and the Zarbi litter the battlefield of intended recurring elements that didn’t take off, while ever since the Daleks the most in-demand characters always seem to take the creators by surprise. Yet even considering that, the Brigadier’s has been an astonishing evolution from shifty looking suspect in the mole hunt for a traitor to a character that’s such a universal totem of Doctor Who that when Steven Moffat wanted to bring the First Doctor face to face with the future life he was destined to live, it was Lethbridge-Stewart’s WWI era grandfather that he brought in to symbolize it.

In part, this evolution from guest star to icon is down to good fortune. Had it not been for the bright idea to cut costs by leaving the Doctor Earthbound then there would have been no need for UNIT to become such fixtures of the early to mid-1970s. But the lion’s share of glory must go to that magnificent gentleman Nicholas Courtney.  Circumstance promoted the Brigadier from one-off guest to regular fixture, but it was Courtney that elevated him to a legend almost as beloved by fans as the Doctor himself. His combination of warm charm, unflappable dignity, and self-knowing irony made him the perfect straight man to Jon Pertwee’s caustic egoist and Tom Baker’s mercurial oddball.

Perhaps the Brig’s best quality as a character was his attitude to “the odd, the unexplained, anything on Earth, or even beyond.” However bizarre or strange the threat, he faced it all with the same matter of fact acceptance that the world was plainly a jolly rum old place and that pondering the deep metaphysical questions that raised was less important than figuring out which bits of it he needed to shoot in the face. Sometimes, yes, as time went by that will slip over the line into giving him a kind of literal-minded stupidity instead for the sake of a quick gag but the equilibrium would always be restored. When people think of their favourite Brigadier moments, it’s his response to being confronted with a living statue animated by dark magic from beyond the dawn of the human race (“Chap with wings there. Five rounds rapid,”) his giving the best ever response to discovering the TARDIS is bigger on the inside (complaining as he finally realizes how much of his UNIT budget has obviously gone into the Doctor’s work on it), or his deep sighs at discovering he’s been transported halfway across the galaxy to a ‘Death Zone’ populated by Yeti, Cybermen, and other beasties as if he’d expected nothing less.

If anything underlines this perfect combination of actor and character it’s how forgettable every substitute for the Brigadier has proven to be. In The Android Invasion, we even get Patrick Newell’s Colonel Faraday as such a direct, and late, substitution for the unavailable Nicholas Courtney that his dialogue was practically unchanged yet Faraday is never more than a bit of plot machinery to represent the authorities in the final couple of episodes. While it’s not until the introduction of Alistair’s own daughter, Kate Stewart, forty-four years after his own, that we again get a UNIT leader worth re-visiting and not just the one-off guest that Lethbridge-Stewart himself could have been.

Such was his cache as a Doctor Who institution that for decades after he was no longer a regularly recurring character, meeting the Brig was still a box every Doctor need to tick. Not only did he reunite with the Fifth and Seventh Doctors on television, but clearly one of Big Finish’s earliest priorities on getting their license was to finally give the Sixth and Eighth proper outings alongside him. Even David Tennant’s incarnation was all set to have one last hurrah with the Brig until Courtney’s worsening health tragically robbed us of the brilliance such a team up offered.

It’s this, more than anything that has solidified the Brigadier as the Doctor’s unlikely best friend of all. While fans can’t even agree whether he qualifies as a companion or not, the fact remains that so many of those the Doctor has traveled with have been left in his past with nary a backward glance, yet it’s the Brig that he’s returned to time and again.

Since Nicholas Courtney’s death in 2011, Doctor Who has tried more than once to provide him a final salute. But none of them, whether a final phone call, Kate’s name-checking of him, one last act of heroism by the controversial ‘Cyberbrig’, or Mark Gatiss’ aforementioned Captain, has really stuck. None of them have felt like a final word that sums up the Brig’s contribution to the series.

In truth, probably nothing ever can. But what we can do tonight is raise a glass of good scotch, or ginger ale, or whatever you're having yourself, and give a nod to Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, fifty years on from that business with the Yeti. Cheers, Brig!

Nicholas Courtney: (Credit:BBC)Nicholas Courtney, Jon Pertwee: (Credit:BBC)Nicholas Courtney, Tom Baker: (Credit:BBC)Nicholas Courtney, Patrick Troughton: (Credit:BBC)Nicholas Courtney, Peter Davison: (Credit:BBC)Nicholas Courtney, Sylvester McCoy: (Credit:BBC)Nicholas Courtney: (Credit:BBC)




Forty Years of K-9Bookmark and Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Moments in Time - Return of the CybermenBookmark and Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: Radio Times Credit: Radio Times




Moments in Time - Welcome to The Highland PiperBookmark and Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Regeneration - 50 Years OnBookmark and Share

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

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

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

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





Arrival of the Cybermen - Departure of a DoctorBookmark and Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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




The End of the BeginningBookmark and Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Moments in Time - Farewell StevenBookmark and Share

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

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


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

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

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


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

The Doctor, The Savages Episode 4


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

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

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

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

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