An Unearthly Series - The Origins of a TV LegendBookmark and Share

Monday, 30 September 2013 - Reported by Anthony Weight
Drop the Pilot
The twenty-second in our series telling the story of the creation of Doctor Who, from conception to broadcast.

By the end of September 1963, Doctor Who finally existed as a television programme. After months of meetings, format documents, script development and occasional arguments, a production team was in place, the four leads had been cast, and the début serial had been decided upon as Anthony Coburn's four-parter mainly set in the Stone Age. On Friday 27th September, director Waris Hussein had shot the opening instalment of Coburn's serial at Lime Grove Studios – the very first episode of Doctor Who to be made.

However, it was an episode that would not be transmitted on British television for another 28 years. 

It had always been part of the plans for the production of the series that the opening episode could, if necessary, be remounted if it was deemed not sufficiently strong for the launch of the new programme. The costs would be met from the BBC Pilot Fund, and the production team would be given the opportunity to have another attempt.

By Monday 30th September 1963 – exactly 50 years ago today – it was clear that this would indeed have to be the case. The BBC’s Head of Drama Sydney Newman, the man who had driven forward the creation of Doctor Who, had viewed the studio recording from Friday evening, and he was not impressed.

Newman’s thoughts on the pilot episode survive in the BBC Written Archives, scribbled down on the back of two pages of script for An Unearthly Child while he viewed the recording. Newman had concerns or observations about many aspects of the production, such as the music, the camera work and the end credits, but his biggest concern – and the aspect that would perhaps show the strongest change between the pilot and the transmitted version of An Unearthly Child – was with William Hartnell’s characterisation of the Doctor.

“Old man – not funny enough,” reads one of Newman’s notes, jotted while the action unfolded in front of him. And again, later – “Old man ain’t cute enough.” Newman decided that the character of the Doctor needed to be softened and made more sympathetic, along with other changes to the episode, and made the decision that producer Verity Lambert, director Hussein, the cast and crew would simply have to try again. As Newman later told Doctor Who Magazine:

That was a dummy run, and it didn’t work out right because Bill Hartnell’s characterisation was a bit too nasty and I thought he would put off the viewers.

More than 40 years after the pilot recording, in the Doctor Who: Origins documentary released on DVD in 2006, Hussein recalled how the news was broken to him and Lambert.

Sydney simply called us in. He called Verity and me in and said “I’ve seen the first episode, I’m going to take you out to lunch,” which he did. Chinese restaurant, I believe, it was in Kensington High Street. Sat us down, and over chop suey told us that he seriously thought of firing both of us! But he said “Look, I believe in both of you, and I’m going to allow you to do it again.” For Sydney to put himself on the line makes him into somebody, as far as I’m concerned, who’s a hero.

Ian Chesterton actor William Russell remembered the events of the pilot’s rejection somewhat differently, telling Doctor Who Magazine that the cast and crew had all been gathered together to watch a showing of the recording, along with Newman:

It wasn’t actually a pilot, it was a first attempt that was not accepted by Sydney. We all trooped into this theatre to see it. He got up at the end and there was this long silence, then he turned to Waris and said “Do it again, Waris!”

Whatever the exact circumstances, what was clear was that work on Doctor Who's first episode would have to start afresh. Incredibly for a series of which 106 transmitted episodes from the 1960s are currently missing, from an era when even broadcast television programmes of high esteem were regarded as ephemeral and disposable, in the late 1970s a 16mm film recording of the complete studio session for the pilot episode was found to exist in the BBC Film Archive. In the early 1990s this session was edited together into a finished episode for the first time, and finally given a television broadcast on BBC2 on Bank Holiday Monday 26th August 1991, as part of a special day of programming called The Lime Grove Story, marking the closure of the studios.

While the first episode would have to be remade and improved, that didn’t mean that work on subsequent episodes had ceased. On the afternoon of Monday 30th September 1963, Lambert held a meeting in her office to discuss the special effects that would be required for the story that had now been promoted to second in the running order for Doctor Who – the post-apocalyptic science-fiction tale written by Terry Nation.

Nation’s serial would ultimately help to cement Doctor Who’s legacy, and ensure the series would still be around and popular 50 years later. However, at this stage there was still no certainty that it would even make the screen. Despite the ambitious plans for a 52-week run, by the end of September the Controller of Programmes for BBC1, Donald Baverstock (as he now was, with BBC2 having its own separate controller in Michael Peacock, despite being some months away from launching), still hadn't guaranteed Doctor Who a run of any more than four episodes.

Doctor Who was at last under way, but its existence was already hanging by a thread.

Next EpisodeThe Foresight Saga
SOURCES: Doctor Who: Origins, The Beginning, DVD Box Set (BBC Worldwide, 2006); Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition - In Their Own Words, Volume One (Panini Comics, 2006); The Handbook: The First Doctor – The William Hartnell Years: 1963-1966, David J Howe, Mark Stammers, Stephen James Walker (Doctor Who Books, 1994)
Compiled by:
Paul Hayes

Doctor Who Anniversary Celebrated At BAFTA CymruBookmark and Share

Sunday, 29 September 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
Doctor Who failed to win either of the categories for which it was nominated at the BAFTA Cymru Awards tonight - but the programme's 50th anniversary was marked with a clips montage and a number of people with connections to the show and its spin-offs still walked away with gongs.

It had been put forward for Sound and Editing honours but lost out to, respectively, The Gospel Of Us and Stella.

However, the event - held at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff - saw Julie Gardner presented by Russell T Davies with the TLWS Sian Phillips Award, which recognises a significant contribution made by a Welshman or woman in a network television programme or major feature film. Gardner worked as an executive producer on Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and Torchwood.

Michael Sheen was named best actor for The Gospel Of Us, Sara Lloyd-Gregory carried away the award for best actress for Alys, and Ruth Jones made up for losing out in the actress stakes for Stella by being named best writer for the same series.

Arwel Wyn Jones won for production design on Sherlock - having also been nominated for Wizards vs Aliens - but Ray Holman, who had been nominated for costume design on Wizards vs Aliens, lost out to Chrissie Pegg for The Machine. Brian Minchin, who had been cited in the Children's Programme (Including Animation) category for Wizards vs Aliens, saw the prize go to Nia Ceidiog for Dwylo'r Enfys. However, Huw Edwards took best presenter for The Story Of Wales.

Fan RoundupBookmark and Share

Sunday, 29 September 2013 - Reported by Marcus
Myth Makers Presents: Golden Years celebrates the timeless elements of Doctor Who that have appealed to the show's followers for half a century.

Monsters, time travel and exotic alien worlds. Horror, drama and humour. Golden Years celebrates the many eras of the series, featuring the Doctor in his many aspects: whether magician, scientist, wanderer, battle-scarred survivor or Machiavellian chess-player.

Featuring 11 Doctors across 12 stories, penned by BBC Books, Short Trips, Obverse Books and Myth Makers alumni: Violet Addison & David N. Smith, Pete Kempshall, Samuel Marks, Daniel Tessier, Kelly Hale, Blair Bidmead, Matthew James, Chris Kocher, Andrew K. Purvis, Stephen Hatcher and Cody Quijano-Schell.

The anthology is 92 pages, with artwork by Carolyn Edwards, Andy Walker and Iain Robertson.

It includes 50-Word Memories from Robert J. Sawyer, Piers Anthony, Stephen James Walker, Stuart Douglas, Graeme Burk, Arnold T. Blumberg and is edited by Matt Grady and Andrew Kearley. Layout by Arnold T. Blumberg.

Ordering information available at

Golden Years is a non-commercial publication. All proceeds will be donated to St John Ambulance Canada.

The New York Sci-Fi/Fantasy Meetup group is currently in talks with the authorities at the Empire State Building to light up the building TARDIS blue on 23 November.

The building lights up a different colour every night to celebrate different events. Paperwork has been filed and the group have an online petition to help demonstrate interest.

Details announced of Splendid Chaps: "Ten/Sex"Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 29 September 2013 - Reported by Adam Kirk
.As previously reportedSplendid Chaps is a year-long performance/podcast project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who hosted by comedian Ben McKenzie (Dungeon CrawlMelbourne Museum Comedy Tour) and writer John Richards (ABC1 sitcom OutlandBoxcutters podcast).

Described by its creators as part intellectual panel discussion, part nerdy Tonight Show, Splendid Chaps is a combination of analysis, enthusiasm and irreverence. The first episode went to number 1 on the iTunes TV & Film Podcast chart in Australia, and to number 4 in the UK. The podcasts to previous episodes are now available at or at iTunes.

Tickets are now on sale for their Tenth Doctor show! Their tenth major episode brings the Splendid Chaps to many people’s first (and favourite) Doctor, David Tennant. Phenomenally popular, and quickly establishing his own fanbase independent of the show, Tennant stayed in the role over five years, all the way to the end of Russell T Davies time as showrunner, cementing the programme's success and becoming "the" Doctor for a whole generation of viewers.

Seemingly a big part of Tennant’s success was his sex appeal – something foreign to many fans of the classic series. The Doctor of the Old Time (and most of his friends) seemed uninterested in sex, save for the occasional bit of flirting, but in the new series he clearly romances Rose, spurns Martha, fends off Amy and perves on Clara; he’s snogged every female companion, and “danced” with or married a slew of historical figures. Then there’s future pansexual Captain Jack; Amy and Rory, who spend their honeymoon in costume and their wedding night in the TARDIS; and the love affair that lasts lifetimes between the Doctor and Professor River Song. Is this weird? Is it awesome? What does modern Doctor Who say about sex, relationships and sexuality, and did the classic series have anything to say about them?

Hosts Ben McKenzie, John Richards and Petra Elliott are joined by writer, broadcaster and critic Richard Watts (artsHub, RRR’s SmartArts) and erotica writer and burlesque performer Aimee Nichols. Plus music from Melbourne geek rock band Blue Turtle Shell, giveaways from their lovely sponsors, and all the usual tomfoolery! (But no hanky panky.)

Space: The Gasometer Hotel, 484 Smith Street, Collingwood (corner of Alexandra Parade)
Time: Sunday 13 October; recording starts 5 PM
Accessibility: Splendid Chaps regret that this venue is not wheelchair accessible.
Tickets: $15 (plus booking fee where applicable)
Bookings: via or at the door (subject to availability)
Podcast: not yet available; released 23 October 2013.

With thanks to John Richards

Anniversary Episode "Stings" To Be Shown TonightBookmark and Share

Saturday, 28 September 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The BBC will be showing "stings" for the forthcoming anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor tonight, the official site announced earlier today.

Revealing the ident and hashtag that will be used for the story, they will be shown on BBC One immediately before and after Atlantis - the BBC's new fantasy drama - which starts at 8.25pm.

Viewers can also look forward at some point to an all-new trailer that has been specially written and shot for the episode and is currently in post-production. In the meantime, an image has been released from behind the scenes of making the trailer.

The Day of the Doctor will air on Saturday 23rd November.

UPDATE: And here are those "stings":

An Unearthly Series - The Origins of a TV LegendBookmark and Share

Friday, 27 September 2013 - Reported by Marcus
And, cue Policeman
The twenty-first in our series of features telling the story of the creation of Doctor Who, and the people who made it happen.

After five days of rehearsing, the cast were ready to go before the electronic cameras for the recording of the first episode of Doctor Who, which took place on Friday 27th September 1963 - exactly 50 years ago today.

Later known as the pilot episode, this recording was intended to be shown as the first episode of the new series.

Doctor Who was to be recorded in Studio D at Lime Grove in west London. Opened in 1914 by the Gaumont Film Company, Lime Grove was a film studio converted for television. Bought by the BBC in 1950, it would be home to some of the nation's most-loved programmes for over 40 years.

Studio D was 5,300 sq ft, about 83ft x 64ft. Long-running series broadcast from here included What's My Line?, Sooty, Dixon of Dock Green, Blue Peter, Steptoe and Son, whose theme was composed by Ron Grainer, and Britain's first soap, The Grove Family, which took its title family from the studios, was created and written by Jon Pertwee's father and elder brother, Roland and Michael, and whose cast included Peter Bryant.

Television production in the 1960s followed a strict pattern. Overnight, the sets for Doctor Who were rigged following the plans drawn up by the designer, Peter Brachacki. Over half the studio was taken up with the interior of the Doctor's time and space ship, the TARDIS. Built by freelance contractors Shawcraft Models (Uxbridge) Ltd, the set featured a large hexagonal unit strung from the ceiling. The main console took up a large space, consisting of six instrument panels and a pulsating central column. Other sets included the school classroom and the junkyard, which featured the TARDIS prop.

Once the sets were rigged they needed to be lit. Television lighting is a skilled art which takes years of training and experience. Sam Barclay was assigned to light the episode, having just finished working on the drama Jane Eyre. As well as creating the atmosphere of the show, the lighting director also needs to make sure the characters are correctly lit by careful positioning of key lights and back lights.

Camera rehearsals took place in the afternoon. The show would be recorded as live, with just one camera break at the point the crew entered the TARDIS. This was the first time the studio crew would have a chance to run through the complete show. The senior representatives of the crew would have attended the final rehearsal the previous day and made notes to pass on to their teams. The director, Waris Hussein, supplied a camera script, with all the shots he would require listed by shot number. However, it was not until the crews started rehearsing with the cast that the pieces started to come together. In a small studio such as Lime Grove, everyone needed to be totally aware of what they should be doing, from camera operators and cable bashers, to sound boom operators, to floor managers and assistants who were responsible for making sure everyone on the studio floor was where they should be.

In the studio gallery the vision mixer, Clive Doig, would need to make sure he knew exactly which camera to cut to the recording line at each point, guided by the production assistant who would call out the camera shots. The sound supervisor, Jack Clayton, would make sure the right microphones were faded up and would mix in the special music and effects played in by the grams operator at the back of the sound booth. The technical manager would need to make sure all equipment was running correctly and in the lighting gallery all cameras were constantly adjusted to ensure they produced pictures of the same quality. Co-ordinating everything was the director. Because the show had to be recorded as live, it was essential that everything was rehearsed as much as possible to reduce the possibility of mistakes.

The cast were made up by the make-up department headed by Elizabeth Blattner, and William Hartnell was fitted with his wig. Costumes were supervised by Maureen Heneghan.

After a supper break the recording of that first episode began, with the first person to step in front of a camera being Fred Rawlings playing a policeman who, while on night beat amid mist and as a clock bell is heard to strike three times, shines his torch over the gates of a scrap merchant called I. M. Foreman, at 76 Totter's Lane . . .

It is difficult to imagine the pressures in the studio as the team brought that first episode to life. For such an innovative drama, though, problems were inevitable. The recording for that pilot episode is available to watch in full on The Beginning DVD box set. One of the biggest problems was with the doors on the interior of the TARDIS set. They refused to close and can be seen flapping open behind the main characters. Because of the problem, Hussein made the decision to retake the final half of the show. The section from the break where the crew entered the TARDIS to the end of the episode was performed again, this time to the satisfaction of the director and producer.
Verity Lambert
It was terribly ambitious, it was hard. It was our first day in the studio, we had these awful cameras, we had Sydney [Newman - Head of Drama] coming in saying he hated the titles and the title music. Everyone was under tremendous pressure.
Waris Hussein
All my wonderful visual shots that I'd designed on paper were now going to have to be manifested by these monstrous cameras that were so heavy that the cameraman couldn't move.
It had been a long process but, to the relief of Hussein and Lambert, the first episode was now in the can. It would be shown to the bosses the following week. The cost of the recording session was later estimated to have been £2,143, 3 shillings, and 4 pence (£2,143.17).

Next EpisodeTitle Deeds
SOURCES: Doctor Who: Origins, The Beginning, DVD Box Set, BBC Worldwide; An incomplete history of London's television studios; The Handbook: The First Doctor – The William Hartnell Years: 1963-1966, David J Howe, Mark Stammers, Stephen James Walker (Doctor Who Books, 1994)

Big Finish: September releasesBookmark and Share

Friday, 27 September 2013 - Reported by Chuck Foster
This month's Doctor releases from Big Finish feature the start of the 1963 trilogy, an adventure for the First Doctor, Steven and Vicki, a further "lost" adventure for the First Doctor, and a new set of adventures for the Victorian investigators Jago and Litefoot.

Fanfare of the Common Men (Credit: Big Finish)Fanfare for the Common Men (available to order)
Starring Peter Davison as The Doctor, with Sarah Sutton as Nyssa

If you remember the Sixties, they say, then you can’t have been there.

The Doctor remembers the Sixties. That’s why he’s taking Nyssa on a trip back to November 1963. Back to where it all began. Back to the birth of the biggest band in the history of British music. Back to see those cheeky lads from Liverpool...

Mark, James and Korky. The Common Men. The boys who made the Sixties swing with songs like Oh, Won’t You Please Love Me?, Just Count To Three and Who Is That Man.

The Doctor remembers the Sixties. And there’s something very wrong with the Sixties, if the Beatles no longer exist...
The Companion Chronicles: Upstairs (Credit: Big Finish)Upstairs (available to order)
Starring Peter Purves as Steven and Maureen O'Brien as Vicki

When the TARDIS lands in a dilapidated attic, the Doctor, Vicki and Steven discover they are on Earth, in London… in Number 10 Downing Street.

However alien forces are at play here, affecting the very fabric of the building… and adjusting the very essence of history itself.
The Lost Stories: The Dark Planet (Credit: Big Finish)The Dark Planet (available to order)
Starring William Russell as Ian Chesterton and Maureen O'Brien as Vicki

Somewhere far back in the early days of the universe the TARDIS lands on a world lit by a dying sun. Missing from the Doctor's star maps and dotted with strange crystalline statues, it is a world ripe for exploration. But it is also a world of destruction.

Venturing out onto its surface, the time travellers find themselves drawn into an age-old conflict between the two species residing on the planet - people of Light and Shadow. Proving a catalyst for the escalation of the conflict, the Doctor and his friends need either to create a peace or to pick a side.

Because in times of war, nothing is ever black and white.
Jago and Litefoot - Series Six (Credit: Big Finish)Jago and Litefoot - Series Six (available to order)
Starring Trevor Baxter as Professor George Litefoot and Christopher Benjamin as Henry Gordon Jago

After returning to Victorian London, Jago and Litefoot are approached by the enigmatic Colonel and offered a role they cannot refuse – investigators by Royal Appointment to Queen Victoria!

Their missions include a mystery on the Suffolk coast where strange things lurk in the sea mist, an encounter with Freud and a threat to the realm itself… But who can save Professor Litefoot when he is accused of murder, and no one can be convinced of his innocence?

6.1 The Skeleton Quay by Jonathan Morris
6.2 Return of the Repressed by Matthew Sweet
6.3 Military Intelligence by George Mann
6.4 The Trial of George Litefoot by Justin Richards
PLUS! An extra bonus CD of behind-the-scenes material.

Win a copy of Upstairs

This month's competition thanks to Big Finish is to win one of five copies of Upstairs. To be in with a chance to win, please answer the following question:
The Doctor has encountered Prime Ministers past, present and future over the course of his adventures, but which one was forecast by him to be the architect of Britain's "Golden Age"?
Send your answer to with the subject line "Yes, I know!", along with your name, address, and where you saw the competition (the news website, twitter, facebook, etc.). Only one entry per postal address will be accepted. The competition is open worldwide, and the closing date is 6th October 2013.

Doctor Who Celebration Ticket Application Ballot OpensBookmark and Share

Thursday, 26 September 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
Extra tickets to the BBC's 50th Celebration at the ExCeL Centre in London have been made available, with a ballot opening today for applications to buy them.

The convention - which takes place from 22nd to 24th November inclusive - will have a range of activities, including panels with key cast members from 50 years of the programme, special-effects shows, stunt workshops, quizzes, and games.

In a statement, BBC Worldwide said:
After tickets to the official Doctor Who 50th Celebration in November were snapped up in less than 24 hours earlier this year, a limited number of additional tickets are now available to apply for via a ballot process.
Applications can be made online or by phone on 0844 693 0780 (charges will vary depending on the provider). Applicants with disability access requirements can discuss these with a team member by calling the dedicated CrowdSurge helpline on 0843 459 4939 (again, charges will vary depending on the provider).

The ballot will be open until 10am BST on Monday 30th September.

One entry is being allowed per person and names will be drawn at random from all of the applications that have been submitted by the closing date and time. Successful and unsuccessful applicants in the first ballot will be notified via e-mail on Tuesday 1st October. If successful applicants do not have a valid e-mail address they will be contacted by telephone. Unsuccessful applicants without an e-mail address will not be contacted.

Those who are successful will receive a unique code to be used by 10am BST on Thursday 3rd October to buy tickets to the convention. The code can only be used once, and up to four tickets can be bought but they must be in the same transaction. The code is only valid for the date and entry group originally chosen in the application.

Should any tickets remain from the first ballot, a second ballot will be opened and all applicants who were unsuccessful in the first ballot will be automatically entered into the second ballot. Ballot rounds will continue to be held until all the tickets have been sold.

The tickets being balloted and sold are the standard ones, with the price remaining at £45 for adults, £20 for children, and £104 for a family ticket (two adults and two children). Please note that these prices exclude any booking fees.

No additional merchandise, photos, autographs, or T-shirts will be available to buy at this stage. The limited-edition TARDIS tickets are sold out and will not be included in the ballot. Full terms and conditions can be found here.

BFI Premiere: An Adventure In Space And TimeBookmark and Share

Thursday, 26 September 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The BFI will be premiering An Adventure In Space And Time - the drama about the genesis of Doctor Who - on Tuesday 12th November.

The 90-minute production for BBC Two has been written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Terry McDonough, and stars David Bradley as William Hartnell. Before it airs on TV screens, though, it is being shown first on the big screen as part of the BFI's Doctor Who At 50 season.

The event will start at 8.20pm and a question-and-answer session with a special guest panel will also be held, with the names of those taking part still to be confirmed.

Tickets will be allocated by two separate ballots via the members' section, with one ballot for BFI Champions, opening on Monday 30th September, and another ballot for members, which will open on Tuesday 1st October. Champions can enter both ballots. The ballots will close at midday on Friday 4th October and will be run over the weekend of 5th and 6th October, with all entrants being notified on Monday 7th October as to whether or not they have been successful. All tickets reserved for Champions and members via the ballots will be held for claiming by them until 8.30pm on Friday 11th October, and any that are unclaimed by then will be released for public sale on Saturday 12th October.

Although it will undoubtedly sell out to Champions and members, as has been the case with all previous events in the season, returns and stand-bys will be a strong possibility, so keep checking with the BFI.

A broadcast date for the drama is yet to be announced.

The Tenth Doctor on UKTVBookmark and Share

Thursday, 26 September 2013 - Reported by Paul Scoones
UKTVOctober sees the broadcast of nine episodes featuring David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor on Australian and New Zealand television. These screenings are part of the 50th Anniversary season of Doctor Who on the UKTV Australia and UKTV New Zealand channels.

The selection includes four episodes each from the 2006 and 2008 series, with the 2007 series represented by just one episode. All four of Steven Moffat's Tenth Doctor episodes are included.

The schedule for the month in both countries is as follows:

6 October
School Reunion - AU: 4:35pm; NZ: 4:45pm (NZ repeat 7 Oct, 4:20am)
The Girl in the Fireplace - AU: 5:30pm; NZ: 5:35pm (NZ repeat 7 Oct, 5:05am)

13 October
The Impossible Planet - AU: 3:35pm; NZ: 3:50pm (NZ repeat 14 Oct, 3:25am)
The Satan Pit - 4:30pm; NZ 4:45pm (NZ repeat 14 Oct, 4:15am)
Blink - AU: 5:30pm: NZ: 5:35pm (NZ repeat 14 Oct, 5:05am)

20 October
Silence In The Library - AU: 2:25pm; NZ: 4:45pm (NZ repeat 21 Oct, 4:10am)
Forest Of The Dead - AU: 3:25pm; NZ: 5:40pm (NZ repeat 21 Oct, 4:55am)

27 October
The Stolen Earth - AU: 2:25pm; NZ: 4:30pm (NZ repeat 28 Oct, 3:50am)
Journey's End - AU: 3:25pm; NZ: 5:20pm (NZ repeat 28 Oct, 4:40am)

Episodes featuring other Doctors also scheduled to screen on UKTV during October include in Australia, a screening of Series One (2005), weekdays at 9:20am beginning Thursday 17 October, and Series Seven (2012-13) Sunday evenings at 5:30pm from 20 October. New Zealand has The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe at 6:30pm on Sunday 6 October, followed by Series Seven, also on Sunday evenings at 6:30pm from 13 October.

Upcoming broadcasts can be found on UKTV's Doctor Who guide for Australia and New Zealand.

Radio Times reaches 90th AnniversaryBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 24 September 2013 - Reported by Chuck Foster
This week's Radio Times celebrates 90 years, featuring an article summarising a number of the striking portraits that have graced the cover of the nonagenarian magazine. Doctor Who gets to feature three times in the list, represented in the 1960s with the Daleks' first appearance on the cover for The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the first full week of the 1970s with Jon Pertwee becoming the Doctor in Spearhead from Space, and in the 2000s with the TARDIS proclaiming the return of a much-missed favourite ...

Radio Times Cover (21-27 Nov 1964) (Credit: Radio Times) Radio Times Cover (3-9 Jan 1970) (Credit: Radio Times) Radio Times (26 Mar - 1 Apr 2005) (Credit: Radio Times)

Meanwhile, the results of a recent poll undertaken by the online site to find out the "ultimate evening of British Television" have now been revealed, with Doctor Who taking the crown for drama series. The evening was, perhaps unsurprisingly, dominated by BBC programmes: 5:30pm - Blue Peter; 6:00pm - Only Fools and Horses; 7:15pm - Doctor Who; 8:00pm - Morecambe and Wise; 9:00pm - Around The World In 80 Days; 10:00pm - The News At Ten with Trevor McDonald.

Summer Falls and Other StoriesBookmark and Share

Saturday, 21 September 2013 - Reported by Chuck Foster
BBC Books have announced the release of their three tie-in e-novellas in a new paperback edition, including a new introduction and interview with 'author' Amelia Williams. The book is due out on 24th October 2013.

Summer Falls and Other Stories (Credit: BBC Books)Summer Falls and Other Stories
Published by BBC Books in paperback on 24 October 2013 (pre-order)

Three bestselling Doctor Who e-novellas – now available in one paperback volume.

Summer Falls by Amelia Williams
(Inspired by the Doctor Who episode The Bells of Saint John)

In the seaside village of Watchcombe, young Kate is determined to make the most of her last week of summer holiday. But when she discovers a mysterious painting entitled ‘The Lord of Winter’ in a charity shop, it leads her on an adventure she never could have planned. The painting is a puzzle - and with the help of some bizarre new acquaintances, she plans on solving it...

Amelia Williams is the editor of the famous Melody Malone series of crime novels, and a bestselling author of several books for children. She lives in New York with her husband Rory and their young son, Anthony. They have a grown-up daughter, Melody, who works as an archaeologist.

With a new introduction by Amelia Williams – and a rare interview with the reclusive author

The Angel’s Kiss by Melody Malone
(Inspired by the episode, The Angels Take Manhattan)

Detective Melody Malone has an unexpected caller: movie star Rock Railton thinks someone is out to kill him – and when he mentions the ‘kiss of the Angel’, she takes the case. At the press party for Railton’s latest movie, studio owner Max Kliener invites Melody to become their next star. But the cost of fame, she’ll soon discover, is greater
than anyone could possibly imagine.

Melody Malone is the owner and sole employee of the Angel Detective Agency in Manhattan. She is possibly married but lives alone usually, and is older than both her parents. Sometimes.

Devil in the Smoke by Mr Justin Richards
(Inspired by the episode, The Snowmen)

On a cold day in December, two young boys, tired of sweeping snow from the workhouse yard, decide to build a snowman – and are confronted with a strange and grisly mystery. In horrified fascination, they watch as their snowman begins to bleed... The search for answers to this impossible event will plunge Harry into the most hazardous – and exhilarating – adventure of his life.

Mr Justin Richards is a noted author of fictional fantasies concerning the continuing exploits of a mysterious traveller in space and time known only as ‘the Doctor’. He has also chronicled the fantastical events of the Victorian era in his novels The Death Collector, The Parliament of Blood and The Chamber of Shadows.

New Doctor Who game in the works?Bookmark and Share

Friday, 20 September 2013 - Reported by Chuck Foster
A new game based around Doctor Who would appear to be in the works, as least as suggested in the latest official Doctor Who Consumer Panel survey to be undertaken by fans.

Having been asked about interests in Doctors, companions and monsters, and thoughts on gaming platforms, a section of the survey is then dedicated to questions about how participants felt about a new game that could be played on smartphones and other media:

We are thinking of making a Doctor Who game which would be available to play on smartphones/tablets. Please read the description of the game shown below:

"For the first time ever fans of Doctor Who will be able to interact with fifty years of beloved adventures, allies and enemies. Travel backwards through the Doctor’s timeline to face his deadliest foes and meet his most memorable companions. Through this epic adventure you will build a formidable army of companions, allies and past regenerations to take down a foe whose actions threaten to rip the universe apart."

Based on the above description, how interested would you be in playing this game when it is released?

Some provisional "mock up" images were also presented for opinion:

Doctor Who Game images

Participants are then invited to suggest a name for the game from the following possibilities, and also to provide their own!
  • Legends of the Doctor
  • Legacy of Monsters
  • Adventures with Monsters
  • Puzzle War
  • Friends and Monsters
  • Puzzle Battle
  • Doctor Who: Legacy.

The inclusion of the word "when" in the statement certainly suggests that a game is planned and may have already entered development, but there is no indication as to when it is likely to be released, however. More news as and when it becomes available.

An Unearthly Series - The Origins of a TV LegendBookmark and Share

Thursday, 19 September 2013 - Reported by Marcus
Title Deeds
The twentieth in our series of features telling the story of the creation of Doctor Who, and the people who made it happen.

With the first scripts now complete and work well under way on the titles and music for the new series, the cast and crew began the start of the long process of turning the thoughts and ideas of the production team into a television play.

It was on Thursday 19th September, exactly 50 years ago today, that the first dramatic filming for an episode of Doctor Who took place.

In the days before video editing, complicated sequences, or items that required a lot of setting up, would always be recorded on to film. Film was a much more flexible medium than video tape, primarily because it could be easily edited.

Film was also used for sequences that needed a large set, one that would not be practical in the confines of a television studio. It was used for sequences that would not be allowed in an electronic studio, such as those involving fire or water.

The downside of film production was the cost. It was more expensive than video recording and took much longer to produce. Camera set-ups and lighting took time and sequences had to be repeated many times to get the required shots. Film then had to be developed and edited before it was transmittable.

Any film sequences needed to be complete before the studio session took place in the electronic studio, as film insets needed to be played through the studio, in real time, to become part of the complete recording. For the first episode of Doctor Who just one film sequence was needed: the shot at the very end of the episode when the TARDIS is seen having landed in prehistoric times, being overlooked by the shadow of a human.

One actor was required for this, and Leslie Bates provided the shadow of the caveman overlooking the TARDIS after it had landed, thus becoming the first actor to have his image recorded for Doctor Who, albeit only as a shadow and uncredited.

The following day, the four principal cast members met at BBC Television Centre at 3pm to take part in a photocall for Radio Times. A small mock-up of the junkyard set and the classroom had been rigged, and it was hoped by the production team that the series would be awarded the cover of the relevant Radio Times, but this was not confirmed.

It was the first time the four cast members had met, and Carole Ann Ford remembers her feelings on the day:
I was very much in awe of William Russell, having seen him in many productions, and he was so dishy.

I thought that Jackie seemed terrifying. I learnt later that she was very shy and whenever she was in a situation where she was uneasy she just went a bit rigid. It made her look a bit awesome.

Bill I liked immediately, and we got on terribly well.

The next day, on Saturday 21st September 1963, that first TARDIS team met in a West London hall, where they would begin the very first rehearsals for the very first episode of Doctor Who.

The location was the Drill Hall at 117 Walmer Road, London, W2. The part of Walmer Road where the local Territorial Army base once stood no longer exists. The street was split in half during the late-1960s to allow a new housing project to be built, and the location where those first tentative rehearsals took place - and where Doctor Who was first brought to life - now lies in Kingsdown Close, the site occupied by a block of flats sandwiched between the Hammersmith and City Underground Line and the Westway.

Recording Television

Television dramas in the 1960s were either transmitted live or recorded as live.

Video technology had developed to a point where shows could be recorded on two-inch-wide magnetic tape. However, editing ability was very limited and had to be done by physically cutting the unwanted material from the magnetic tape and splicing the two ends together.

A microscope was used to examine the tape to ensure the cut was done at the correct point of the electronic signal or else the picture would "roll". Because of the high cost of the raw materials there was a great reluctance to cut the tape, as it was intended that once the show had been broadcast the tape would be recycled and used again.
Any drama had to be recorded in as near to real time as possible. Although it was accepted that a drama as complex as Doctor Who would need some recording breaks, these were very limited and had to be agreed with the programme's producer. A thorough rehearsal of each episode was needed to ensure that each recording proceeded as seamlessly as possible.
Waris Hussein
This was a show that everybody didn't quite know where it was heading. They thought this was the beginning of something where we don't quite know where it's going to go, so we all sat down with a certain sense of occasion.
William Russell
You only had four days. We had to get on with it. It was moving fast all the time.
While the cast were establishing their characters, decisions were being taken on the running order of the series. By mutual consent, David Whitaker and Anthony Coburn agreed that Coburn's story The Robots should swap places in the series running order with the Terry Nation story, originally planned to be fifth in the series run. The main reason was that the scripts for The Robots were still not finished, while Nation's scripts were ready. Design work needed to be started on the story.

Looking much further forward, it was now decided to complete the first year's run with two seven-part stories and one four-part story. Nation was commissioned to write one of the seven-part stories, The Red Fort, which would be set during the Indian Mutiny.

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SOURCES: Doctor Who: Origins. Richard Molesworth. The Beginning. DVD Box Set. BBC Worldwide; The Handbook: The First Doctor – The William Hartnell Years: 1963-1966, David J Howe, Mark Stammers, Stephen James Walker (Doctor Who Books, 1994)