CLASSIC DOCTOR WHO: The Legacy Collection / DVD Review

"When I was on the river I heard the strange babble of inhuman voices, didn't you, Romana?"

"Oh, probably undergraduates talking to each other, I expect. I'm trying to have it banned."

Shada, the untransmitted six part story that was to have closed Doctor Who's seventeenth season, continues to generate a certain mystique even to this day. Prior to the release of this three disc DVD set that includes the 1992 version of Shada and the 1993 documentary More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS accompanied by a wealth of often quite eclectic special features, Douglas Adams's season finale has enjoyed something of an extended life.

Many elements from Shada would eventually find their way into Douglas Adams' 1986 novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency despite him not thinking very highly of the original scripts he wrote in 1979. On this DVD release, you'll even find the Big Finish version of Shada, an adaptation that swaps the Fourth Doctor for the Eighth with the Flash animation that accompanied its original publication on BBCi in 2003. Over the last year, we've also seen the publication of Gareth Roberts' adaptation of Douglas Adams' scripts into a novel that realised much of the potential of the television version. And there was the privately funded project from Ian Levine which saw the ill-feted production completed with animation but couldn't be accommodated by BBC Worldwide when Shada's turn came in the DVD release schedule.

Adams believed at the time of its VHS release in 1992 that "the sort of cachet it gained was simply from the fact that it never got made." (1) He had initially refused to allow any of the material to be released and when permission to release the story on video was given after "he thought he was signing the contract for City of Death... not only did Adams believe that Shada wasn't worthy of release, but he was also concerned that it might infringe on a deal he'd signed for the film rights for his book Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency". (2) Nevertheless, the video release went ahead and Adams donated all his royalties to Comic Relief as a salve to his irritation and Dirk Gently finally materialised many years later in theatre, on radio and as a BBC4 adaptation.
"Beat you, cock!"
Shada's six part story would have brought the curtain down on the Graham Williams era and been the culmination of a season that had seen some of the series' highest viewing figures with City of Death hitting the then all time high of 14.5 million viewers. With Doctor Who in part benefiting from the ITV strike of August to October of 1979, the irony here is that Shada itself was never completed because of industrial action at the BBC.

Shada's genesis was more or less a result of Douglas Adams realising that, as scripts were coming together for the seventeenth season under his aegis as script-editor, far too many of them were unsuitable, couldn't be salvaged and were rejected despite a number of rewriting rescue attempts. This was the fate that befell material received from John Lloyd, Allan Prior, Pennant Roberts and Philip Hinchcliffe, leaving him to step in by late June 1979 and write the concluding serial for the season.

Adams came to the attention of Doctor Who via his submissions to the then script-editor Robert Holmes, first in 1974 with an untitled story that eventually became the 'B Ark' storyline of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and then in 1976 with a story called The Krikkitmen. Although Holmes rejected it, Adams later attempted to pitch it as a Doctor Who film treatment to Paramount Pictures in 1980 and, like its predecessor, The Krikkitmen was also reused in the third Hitchhiker's novel, Life, the Universe and Everything in 1982. Eventually, it was Anthony Read, Holmes's successor, who would commission Adams for The Pirate Planet in July 1977 and from whom Adams agreed to take over as script-editor in October 1978.

However, the story for Shada was not Adams' preferred or first idea. He had approached producer Graham Williams with The Krikkitmen but this was rejected and he then pitched another story where the Doctor's attempts to retire are constantly frustrated by various universe-threatening crises. When Williams also vetoed this, Adams was left with very little time to devise another storyline and both men then collaborated on Sunburst, a story that would delve into Gallifreyan justice and examine how the Time Lords dealt with their criminals. Over a six day period in July 1979 Adams and Williams put together a first draft. This included the Cambridge setting and the Professor Chronotis, Chris Parsons and Clare Keightley characters and the plot involving Skagra, the Krargs and the Think Tank scientists.

Graeme MacDonald, Head of Drama, thought the Sunburst scripts "over-extended" and inadequate for a six part story and requested some attention be paid to certain characters, notably Chris Parsons whom he felt should be more contemporary and have a romance with Romana, as a solution to expanding the scripts. (3) The romantic sub-plot was rejected by Williams and Adams but throughout August and September they undertook a number of rewrites and the story was eventually retitled as Shada.

Director Michael Hayes, who had handled City of Death and been originally selected to work on Shada, was replaced by Pennant Roberts by the time the scripts were ready for the Cambridge location filming between 15 and 19 October. The problems with extending the scripts continued well into the location filming and studio rehearsals when certain episodes were found to under run. Roberts, working with Williams and Adams, added a number of new scenes, unscripted bits and pieces of wit and physical comedy developed in rehearsals and on location.

Joining Baker and Ward in the cast were Daniel Hill and Victoria Burgoyne as Chris Parsons and Clare Keightley and, as villain Skagra, Christopher Neame. Neame had been showcased by Hammer in Lust for a Vampire (1971) and Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) and was recognisable from his excellent television work in Colditz (BBC 1972-4), Edward the Seventh (ATV 1975) and Secret Army (BBC 1977-79). Veteran character actor Denis Carey, whose career stretched from appearances as a dancer in Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes (1948) and Oh... Rosalinda! (1955), Don Sharp's cult horror Psychomania (1971) and roles in The Wednesday Play (BBC 1964-70), Theatre 625 (BBC 1964-68) and Armchair Theatre (ITV 1956-74), Elizabeth R (BBC 1971), Paul Temple (BBC 1969-71), I, Claudius (BBC 1976) and Crown Court (ITV 1972-84), was cast as Professor Chronotis, Cambridge's incumbent Time Lord retiree.

Location filming began, with the scenes of the Doctor and Romana punting down the Cam, on 15 October and, despite Tom Baker trying his hand at punting the day before on the river by the Garden House Hotel, it took several retakes to get the scenes in the can. Various camera positions were taken up on the river bank at the Backs of King's College, on Clare Bridge and on the river using a second punt containing camera and sound crew. Chris's bike ride along King's Parade, Skagra's traffic stopping sashay around Cambridge (despite Adams' claims to the contrary that it would be the one place where such dress would never cause a fuss), his obtaining a lift from an unsuspecting driver and the Doctor's near cycle pile up with Chris (changed from its 'on foot' incarnation in the original script) were all filmed on the same day. (4)

October 16 saw filming in Granchester, just outside Cambridge, where the scenes featuring Skagra's invisible spaceship, the arrival of the TARDIS and the fisherman nobbled by Skagra's mind absorbing sphere were completed. This, incidentally, saw the use of visual effects man Dave Harvard's nifty sphere prop that, using a wrist mounted, concealed motorised car aerial, could be shown moving into shot or towards camera. It is best demonstrated in Skagra's challenge to the Doctor filmed on 19 October on the bridge at Garret Hostel Lane.

Special arrangements with Emmanuel College allowed filming for scenes at and around the college entrance on 17 October, standing in for St. Cedd's in the story, with the crew apparently agreeing to follow traditional college rules not to walk on the grass unless a don was present. An attempt to film Skagra's attack on the driver of the car he steals was abandoned and a chase scene at night, to be filmed on the evening of 18 October, was also cancelled because of an electrician's strike, which resulted in the technical manager being summoned back to London and leaving the production without lighting. Roberts and Williams decided to remount the chase during the day on Friday 19 and this was completed with the addition of St. John's Choristers, who successfully approached the team about making an appearance during a retreat to a local pub and in return agreed to make Baker an honorary fellow of St. John's. (5)

The crew completed the revised chase sequence and returned to London. Monday 22 October saw filming at Ealing that covered many of the CSO effects shots required to show characters walking up an invisible ramp into Skagra's invisible ship. Adams had originally described this more ambitiously in contrast to the resulting footage: "the ideal effect would be to see light beginning to pour out of the space ship door as it opens". Model effects of the destruction of the Think Tank station were also shot on the same day. (6)

After rehearsals for the studio recordings on 25 October, the production moved into TC3 for the first recording block. Between 3 and 5 November, even as industrial action at the BBC continued, this block was left unscathed by strikes and covered most of the opening Think Tank station sequences, the action in the Professor's study and the prison cell on Skagra's ship. However the material planned for the last day of this block, including material on Skagra's ship, the emergence of the Krargs and the Doctor's journey in the vortex, was postponed. Costume designer Rupert Roxburghe-Jarvis and video effects operator Dave Chapman had worked together so that the Krarg costumes could be combined with an inlaid, fiery effect. A series of model effects shots were also completed at the end of 5 November.

It was, however, when the cast came to record the second block from Monday 19 November in TC6 that the production ran into problems. The cast found themselves locked out of the studio due to a demarcation dispute and the recording had to be abandoned. Contractually, rehearsals continued for the the final block due to be taped at the beginning of December but the dispute rumbled on until 1 December and Roberts discovered that none of the sets, having been constructed, were erected for the block because senior management were prioritising the recording of other Christmas programmes.

As Daniel Hill notes on the DVD, Pennant Roberts was hoping to race through the five days worth of incomplete material and record it in one fell swoop and Williams also attempted to schedule a remount over the Christmas period. This proved fruitless, both in terms of timing and economics, and on Monday 10 December Shada was officially cancelled. Suffice it to say, Baker recalls on the DVD documentary 'Taken Out of Time' that the BBC party held for the departure of Williams and Adams was a muted one that would "make you long for death sometimes".

Incoming producer John Nathan-Turner attempted his own rescue operation and Adams reworked the script, condensing material so that it was possible for Shada to be presented as a two part special for Christmas 1980. Working with Roberts, Nathan-Turner believed that the abandoned material required for the special could be recorded in two blocks during October 1980. However, BBC management refused the allocation of studio time to pull Shada together and, by June 1980, it was given up completely.

With what remains of the television version of Shada it's impossible to judge just how well this story would have been received had the full, six-part version been transmitted. Adams seemingly wasn't very fond of it and the script was certainly under constant revision prior to and during production, suggesting that it perhaps needed a further rewrite. However, Baker and the cast are full of praise for the script on the DVD documentary 'Taken Out of Time' and certainly when you see how Gareth Roberts tackled the material in his novelisation, dealing with many of the faults in the original and providing much cohesion, Shada provides an interesting, intriguing story. Much of its 'lost classic' reputation does seem to emanate from its incomplete status but we'll never quite know how good the 1979 version would have been. Some obvious problems remain also with the version that was released in 1993 and is now on this DVD.

However, the newly graded and restored location footage on DVD is the crowning glory of the story. The Cambridge environs are highly appealing and director Pennant Roberts, despite the problems with strikes putting the kibosh on the planned night shoot, makes a virtue of them, especially in the chase sequence. The production certainly has the Williams/Adams imprint on it and the sequences on location are breezy and have a quintessential Englishness about them that goes right to the heart of the series appeal.
"I’m not mad about your tailor"
Many of Adams' recurring themes are here. We have the concerns about personal identity in the Chronotis/Salyavin binary and Chris and Clare as human counterparts of the Doctor/Romana relationship; the nature of power and authority and who wields it in the story of Skagra's obsession to control the universe by imprinting his mind on every being in the cosmos; the use and misuse of knowledge, particularly in the form of a book The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey; and the relationship between humanoids and machines that is shown most effectively in the philosophical debates about mortality, never committed to video tape, between Skagra's ship and the Doctor.

Adams manages to balance most of the elements in the same way that he did on City Of Death and both stories feel like something of a breakthrough in making philosophical points via satire and science fiction. As Margery Hourihan notes, Adams' work is often about the deconstruction of the hero and the villain within an absurd universe. In Doctor Who he finds the perfect space to explore that absurd universe, specifically the Doctor's desire "to avoid inflicting harm on others as far as that is possible" as "perhaps the only intelligible moral position" and the villain's desire to dominate even though "mastery is both impossible and meaningless where there are no clearly defined binary opposites and instability is the only constant." (7)

It bristles with lovely ideas – the Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey book as a key to Shada, the Time Lord prison planet, activates a TARDIS by turning its pages, Chronotis’ TARDIS disguised as Cambridge rooms and Skagra’s mind draining sphere (which comes over very well as a visual effects triumph in the filmed chase sequence). There’s only just enough plot to fill six episodes with some judicious use of the chase sequences but the structuring of such serials had long been a bone of contention for Doctor Who's writers and script-editors.

The strengths of what remains lie in many of the performances. Baker and Ward are very much on form, with rehearsal ad libs and changes embroidering Adams' sparky script. My favourite has to be Denis Carey as Chronotis. It’s a lovely, dotty little performance, well judged, especially in its early inferences to his true identity and as another of Adams' confounding heroic archetypes. Certainly one of the great performances of the Williams era and a pity it never got its full due.

I’ve always been a fan of Christopher Neame too and his performance as Skagra very much echoes his similar work for Hammer in that guilty pleasure Dracula A.D. 1972 – the arrogance, vanity and cruel streak are all to the fore. The frustration here is that so little of Neame's performance was recorded and therefore we don't get a truly complete on screen representation of Skagra, beyond a rather outrageous costume and hat. "I’m not mad about your tailor" is indeed an appropriately witty initial reaction. The supporting characters of Chris and Clare are more or less paler versions of Arthur and Trillian from Hitchhiker but Daniel Hill provides a good line in bewilderment and Victoria Burgoyne's scenes with Carey's Chronotis have an eccentric Ealing comedy flavour to them.

Unfortunately, it suffers from the main bug-bear of the Williams era. It looks cheap despite the assertion that Williams allocated a bigger budget to the season finale in order to avoid the problems he'd had with The Invasion Of Time and The Armageddon Factor. The same budgetary constraints that much of his era struggled with are evident in some of the sets for the Think Tank and Skagra's ship but, on the positive side, the Professor's rooms are beautifully realised. The monsters, the crystalline Krargs, whilst an interesting concept on paper, also come off second best with little representation on screen to define their impact and a nagging feeling that they are simply there to fulfill audience expectation. Adams was always interested in the motivations of the villains rather than the scariness of the monsters and he tended to push the scariness of the various aliens very much to the margins in favour of an intellectualisation about the nature of morality.

In its television form it is a rather muted farewell to the Graham Williams era. He has to be applauded for his ambition and hard work in the face of mounting inflation, interference from the higher echelons of the BBC, strikes, and a leading man in love with his own hype. It’s also hard to watch what remains of Shada as presented in its 1993 form as there are both good and bad things with the version that John Nathan-Turner oversaw for video. Despite little or no sound effects, some missing dubbed dialogue for K9 or much of the completed visual effects footage, he at least managed to get David Brierley and Dick Mills' help in the former and some decent work from Ace Editing on the latter, especially the incomplete sphere effects. These knit together the remaining footage remarkably well.

However, it labours under a score provided by Keff McCulloch which simply does not compensate for the more appropriate music from the then resident Who composer Dudley Simpson. It betrays its 1990s origins too readily and many scenes are frenetically over scored. The other issue is that Tom's narration, which fills in the narrative where sequences are missing, is delivered in the first person, as the Doctor, and the contradiction lies in the fact that Tom looks utterly different from his on screen persona. Most painful of all is that this version of Shada becomes a series of diminishing returns by virtue of the fact that Tom's narration dominates the second half of the story as the studio and location material runs out and we are simply left with him attempting to tell the story. However, his opening introduction is pure Tom(foolery). Nothing can prepare you for his cry of "Beat you, cock!" to Professor Kettlewell's K1 robot as he sets the scene.

Shada then is a bit of a curate's egg. A production and script full of decent ideas and concepts, some more developed than others, where the good performances and a breezy style help it along immensely. I would be hard pushed to label it a 'classic' but 'potential' is the word I would use here and it's a pity it never got to realise it.

(1) Nicholas Pegg, Shada DVD Production Notes
(2) Paul Scoones, The Making of Shada: New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club - 
(3) Nicholas Pegg, Shada DVD Production Notes
(4) Andrew Pixley, Shada, The DWM Archive, Doctor Who Magazine 267
(5) Ibid
(6) Ibid
(7) Margery Hourihan, Deconstructing the Hero: Literary Theory and Children's Literature 

Disc One Special Features
The VHS version from 1993 is presented with two viewing options, as a 'play all' 1 hour and 49 minutes version or as six individual episodes of varying lengths.
Shada - BBCi/Big Finish Version
Available to view on PC and Mac, this is the adaptation from 2003 featuring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and Lalla Ward reprising her role as Romana. The audio play was the result of considerable efforts on the part of Big Finish and BBCi, the team that originally oversaw the BBC's official Doctor Who website, to secure the rights from Douglas Adams. The Eighth Doctor's involvement was established by suggesting that the events of The Five Doctors, in which clips of Shada had been used, had somehow wiped that adventure from the Fourth Doctor's timeline. The Eighth Doctor was therefore used to repair this anomaly by participating in the events of Shada himself. The serial appeared on the website in May 2003 as part of the series' fortieth anniversary celebrations and was later released on CD. Lee Sullivan provided the illustrations for the Flash animations that accompanied the audio on the website. 
Production Information Text
Courtesy of Nicholas Pegg's thorough research, you'll uncover a fascinating behind the scenes story, full of detail, covering Shada's origins, creation, production and eventual cancellation. A mine of information that comes highly recommended in lieu of a commentary for the story and is sprinkled with some welcome witticisms.
Coming Soon
Trailer for The Reign of Terror

Disc Two Special Features
Taken Out of Time -  The Making and Breaking of Shada (25:38)
Chris Chapman's evocative documentary takes actor Daniel Hill, his wife Olivia Bazalgette (who was then the director's assistant on Shada), assistant designer Les McCallum and production assistant Ralph Wilton back to Cambridge to recount the making of the story. Fond memories of Douglas Adams and director Pennant Roberts are framed by the sunlit architecture of Cambridge's university campus and the glittering waters of the Cam. Chapman also weaves in archive interviews with Roberts and a new interview with Tom Baker, presumably out walking his dogs near his East Sussex home. "Cambridge was the backdrop to the most glorious, glorious week of filming I'd ever had" notes Hill and the feeling of a group of actors and programme makers really bonding on location is communicated wonderfully.

The delights include Tom's punting prowess in front of students watching the filming ("it was terribly humiliating") and Daniel's cycling accident near miss on the streets of Cambridge. The warmth that extends to the growing romance between Hill and Bazalgette and Tom's drinking escapades in Gerald Campion's bar soon cools when Wilton relates how the planned night shoot was cancelled by an electricians' strike. Angus Smith, of St John's College Choir, recalls how half a dozen of the choir ended up in the group of college singers that Tom Baker whizzes by on a bicycle and their disappointment that the story never made it to the screen. The high spirits that Hill, Bazalgette and Wilton convey includes Denis Carey's role in the rehearsal and studio sessions that were recorded in Block 1. Block 2 however never got off the ground beyond the camera rehearsal. As Tom notes, "it was terribly sad" that a strike locked the cast and crew out of the studios.

There is a true sense of frustrated ambitions on Pennant's part, who was determined to race through Blocks 2 and 3 in one go and complete recording, but other shows got priority after the strike was over and Shada was cancelled. "We were devastated" notes Bazalgette and McCallum underlines this by describing how the lab sets, never seen on camera, were eventually struck and disposed of. The final word goes to Tom who provides a bittersweet sense of his difficult relationship with producer Graham Williams, a man who he felt he hadn't helped and then regretted was leaving Doctor Who on the back of a failure.
Now and Then - Shada (12:44)
Richard Bignell provides a lovely exploration of the various Cambridge and Grantchester locations that feature in the story. The majority of the locations have hardly charged at all and with the use of maps and the 1979 location footage and contemporary coverage, he builds a sense of how influential the Cambridge background was to the story.
Strike! Strike! Strike! (27:48)
A perfect accompaniment is this documentary, produced by James Goss, about how industrial action plagued the BBC and ITV companies during the 1960s and 1970s, seen through the prism of various Doctor Who stories that were affected in one way or another. Shaun Ley explores how unions, a veritable "alphabet soup" of associations and guilds as ex-president of BECTU Tony Lennon recalls, dominated the production of television and enforced regulations, including recording times (the infamous ten o'clock studio recording cut-off) and the demarcation of activities (who was responsible for props, visual effects, make up). Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Addington recalls the "closed shop" which demanded that you had to be a union member to work in television, the rights and pay that emerged from collective bargaining and how these generated conflict that was, at the time, regarded as "normal".

Gary Russell, former script editor and union rep, is also very erudite in describing the trials that beset those working in television and on Doctor Who. Nicola Bryant and director Richard Martin recall how time was precious and overruns were only permitted by union rep consensus. Not only does this fascinating half hour cover ITV's failed Autumn launch in 1968 and Nigel Kneale's apocryphal story of dealing with strikers on the production of The Year of the Sex Olympics but it also looks at the problems that extend from Hartnell's run in with his dresser, the reasons that Spearhead from Space ended up on film, the miner's strike of 1972 taking Peladon and Sea Devils off the screen, a PA strike that almost saw The Monster of Peladon made in black and white and a scene shifters strike that gave the limelight to an errant step ladder in Robot and saw Blue Peter recording on its sets. For those of a particular generation, you'll smile upon hearing how, because of strikes, cricket was replaced by a repeat of The Sea Devils and Wimbledon was exterminated by a Dalek film in the mid 1970s.

The Invasion of Time, The Armageddon Factor, The Creature from the Pit and Shada were all victims of various disputes and, as Lord Addington points out, this was all taking place during the period that led to the infamous "winter of discontent". The ABS union's pay dispute finally put the mockers on Shada much to Graham Williams's chagrin. Lennon underlines the painful truth that Doctor Who was not a priority for the BBC and was merely a "cheap pot burner that filled a slot on a Saturday evening and commended a reasonable audience". Lennon believed the attempted remount was probably not seen as economically viable by the BBC despite John Nathan-Turner's determination to rescue Shada.

This fascinating documentary, brilliantly researched by Andrew Pixley and Thomas Guerrier, concludes with further tales of union intervention that effected Eric Saward's Warhead (aka Resurrection of the Daleks), The Caves of Androzani and the twin challenges from Thatcher's labour policies and TV-AM's determination to reduce staffing levels which, although leading to a strike, signalled the end of union solidarity at ITV and damaged the bargaining powers of unions representing production staff. Definitely a highlight of the DVD collection.
Being a Girl (30:11)
Not entirely sure why this documentary is included with Shada but it tackles a number of pertinent questions about the representation of women in Doctor Who. Narrated by Louise Jameson, the documentary both unpicks the casual misogyny that epitomised the classic series's stereotypical depiction of the screaming companion and celebrates the strong, independent women who came along later. Broadcaster Samira Ahmed initially looks at what a female producer and characters say about Doctor Who in the 1960s and believes that at the time they better represented 1950s values than the rapidly changing decade that followed. She is perhaps quite harsh on the representation of women in the programme but rightly sees Verity Lambert's role as producer as the appropriate challenge to how the male orthodoxies of the BBC prevented many women in television from doing much at all.

As Emma Price of Doctor Who Magazine's Time Team panel notes, the cliched 'ankle twisting' companion is a dominant codification but a character such as Susan is meant to be the child identification figure and is perhaps not entirely indicative of the sexist trope. Mind you, as The Five Doctors demonstrated, Susan as a grown woman never really got out of the habit of twisting her ankle. Barbara is seen as more equal to the male characters rather than those companions in the current series demarcated by their sexual attraction to the Doctor and the likes of Zoe and Liz are codified as physically strong and highly intelligent. Ahmed's discussion of Sarah and Leela focuses on the positive aspects of the characters, where the acting more than compensates for a feminist agenda or a sexualisation mainly constructed by male producers and writers. Sadly there is no discussion about Romana as played by Lalla Ward who, for all intents and purposes, gradually became the female equivalent of the Doctor, both challenging and equaling his heroic masculinity.

The introduction of Ace is seen as something of a significant change, offering a depiction of a strong female character influential enough to inform the development of "ordinary woman" Rose in the revival of the series in 2005. Ahmed briefly raises concerns about class in the discussion of Ace, something that's rarely touched upon when it comes to understanding the depiction of both male and female characters in the series. Class is also an element of the Rose, Martha and Donna characters as dominant as the new levels of intimacy that are developed on screen. This leads to River, perhaps one of the strongest, most rounded and complex female characters that the series has ever seen (at least, that's the impression you get from this documentary). How the series has also returned to the likes of Jo and Sarah to provide a fuller picture of their lives is seen as the precursor of the child to adult journey of Amy.

Balance is also provided by looking at female companions in contrast to their male counterparts like Harry, Adric and Captain Jack and Rory. On the one hand, the classic series' male companions seem subservient to the stronger Doctor and on the other, the latest incarnations explore the tenets of contemporary masculinity. There are also discussions about 'gender-blind' casting and how villains and monsters allow the series to introduce new ideas about gender but often also fail to empower the audience. Emma also makes a valid point of how many of the female characters end up with the right man, married off at the end of their journey, and Samira sees the eternal wish fulfilment of being with the Doctor as sacred, where "fancying the Doctor" was never the priority of this goal. A fascinating half hour that concludes with the revival of that old shibboleth - a female Doctor.
Photo Gallery
Keff McCulloch's music plays over a collection of colour images from Shada including the sets for Think Tank, Skagra's ship and Chronotis's study.

More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS
After the proposed anniversary story The Dark Dimension had foundered amid the feud between BBC Drama and BBC Enterprises and the conflict of interest with Philip Segal's negotiations for a revival of the series, Kevin Davies, the producer-director of this 90 minute documentary celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of Doctor Who, pitched several ideas for other programmes to BBC producer John Whiston. Davies had proved his mettle with the excellent Making of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy documentary in 1993 and was involved in the post-production side of The Dark Dimension while Whiston had overseen a 1992 edition of BBC2 The Late Show 'Resistance is Useless'. This was a light hearted grab bag of Doctor Who clips, categorised and linked by a trivia spouting anorak. With a Brummie accent.

John Whiston took to the idea of showing the concepts and development of the series within the framing device of a small boy reliving iconic moments from the programme's past and using interviews with actors and crew at famous locations featured in the series. With only a nine week schedule to make the programme, Davies was given the go ahead in September 1993 and eventually started shooting on location in October for what was a 50 minute programme. That first day's filming included perhaps one of the most impressive sequences in the documentary, material for a continuous tracking shot of the boy, played by Josh Maguire, walking through the police box doors and into the control room of the TARDIS, something that hadn't been achieved on the series itself.

And it is that moment that perhaps sums up the documentary's intentions as a nostalgic wallow in the history of Doctor Who, one that is certainly bigger on the inside, and it gathers together interviews with many of those who worked on the show in front of and behind the cameras, 'celebrity' fans and cultural commentators. These are interwoven with a huge amount of archive footage, advertisements and clips to demonstrate the cultural impact of the series. Interspersed are impressive recreations of iconic moments including among many others shop window dummies crashing through store fronts; dinosaurs at the South Bank; Cybermen pursuing Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant on the steps outside St. Paul's Cathedral; Daleks on Westminster Bridge and Frazer Hines and Debbie Watling in a splendid recreation of the Emperor Dalek's control room.

The list of interviewees and participants is impressive and includes Jon Pertwee, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Verity Lambert, Mat Irvine, Sophie Aldred, Carole Ann Ford, Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks, Hartnell's granddaughter Jessica Carney, Nicholas Courtney, Elisabeth Sladen with daughter Sadie and John Nathan-Turner. There are also some rather amusing encounters with Gerry Anderson and his son Jamie who eschews Century 21 for Gallifrey, Toyah Willcox and her well documented love of PVC, Mike Gatting and Ken Livingstone. The two Dalek films of the 1960s are also celebrated with some excellent recreations and interviews with Roberta Tovey and Jenny Linden, the Susan and Barbara of those Technicolour widescreen epics.

Added to this mix are a number of rare archival finds, including Hartnell's personal appearance at the Finningly Airshow of September 1965; Tom Baker and Lalla Ward's Prime computer ads; clips from editions of Blue Peter; Dalek footage from Brian Hodgson, donations from private collectors and title sequence tests from the very earliest episodes of the series.

With only 50 minutes at his disposal and an edict from Whiston and producer John Bush to make changes and add in what became the 'Essential Information' sections and more interviews with Philip Hinchcliffe and Mary Whitehouse, Davies had to leave a lot of his material out of the final edit and compress what he kept in. He was not altogether happy with this situation and made his protests clear at the time. Eventually, the BBC1 transmission on 29 November 1993 ran to nearly 48 minutes.

However, in 1994 Davies was able to reinstate a lot of the material when BBC Video commissioned an extended version of the documentary with a 90 minute running time and also include some rare clips and behind the scenes studio material that he had since amassed. Sadly a number of items never made it into either version of the documentary and perhaps the greatest omission were the interviews conducted at the then BBC Radiophonic Workshop studios with Brian Hodgson, Dick Mills and Delia Derbyshire to discuss their contributions to the series' music and sound effects. A Weetabix advert was also dropped at the last minute when the appropriate clearances weren't made and the final cut ended up at 88 minutes and was released 7 November 1994, almost a year after its original shorter television transmission.

More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS remains an accessible and fan pleasing documentary that captures something of the cultural value, the thrills, the whimsy and the sheer imaginative scope of the programme. Like the best of Doctor Who, it is a labour of love by Kevin Davies and he richly deserves the plaudits associated with the project. From our current viewpoint its ending is now delivered with a certain ironic twist, as the programme interviews the then Controller of BBC1, Alan Yentob, prior to the January 1994 agreement that would see the BBC/Fox/Universal co-production of the Doctor Who television movie finally get the green light. Who would have believed what was actually in store for us and the series back then...

The Making of More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS by Paul Scoones published in the March 1995 edition of Time Space Visualiser.

Special Features

Remembering Nicholas Courtney (25:59)
Moving tribute to the actor hosted by his biographer and friend Michael McManus and elegantly directed and produced by Ed Stradling. Why it is tucked away here when it may have been better in context on the forthcoming special editions of Inferno or The Green Death is a bit of a mystery but that's being churlish about an excellent documentary that, at its heart, features a final, unfinished interview with 'Cairo Courtney' from 2010. This initially explores Nick's childhood in Egypt and the trials and tribulations of a broken family, school bullying and finding his metier in acting. He explains that only after gaining a sense of independence during Army service did he think that drama school would be the making of him.

Weekly rep, support from actor-manager Sir Donald Wolfit and his graduation to television acting are covered but he was rather critical of his first telly, No Hiding Place, and despaired that his performance was "far too much". There's a smashing clip of him as an officer in 'Sword of Honour', a play in the Theatre 625 strand, performing with Edward Woodward and already setting a precedence for the singular role that was to come.

Director Dougie Camfield spotted Nick and auditioned him for the role of King Richard in 1965's The Crusade, a part which eventually went to Julian Glover, but this encounter brought Nick aboard, as Bret Vyon, for The Daleks' Master Plan later that year. Dougie cast him again, originally as the doomed Captain Knight in The Web of Fear but when David Langton, playing Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, dropped out, he was given a serendipitous promotion. The rest is Doctor Who history, including eyepatch, Cromer and 'five rounds rapid' and all covered in various interviews from The Story of Doctor Who and Doctor Who Night.

What elevates this further is the arrival of Tom Baker, first appearing at a window like some errant mad uncle and then joining the interview. It's lovely that Tom, clearly very fond of Nick, is involved and their friendship radiates from the screen as they rib each other about the night Tom stayed at Nick's. "We shouldn't tell the fans about that," booms Tom, with a glint in his eye. Nick conveys his sadness that the UNIT family was eventually dropped from the programme and he only appeared in two of Tom's stories before McManus then relates his post-Doctor Who stage and Equity careers. The latter remained a fixture for 30 years and he was active in the union right up until his death.

Clips from Juliet Bravo, Sink or Swim (his first on screen encounter with Peter Davison) and his role in the Frankie Howerd vehicle Then Churchill Said to Me led into his guest starring in a number of Doctor Who stories, Mawdryn Undead, The Five Doctors and finally Battlefield which was intended as the Brig's swansong. Nick relates how grateful he was to Jon Pertwee for encouraging him to come out of his shell and his growing support for the programme and its fans through the 'wilderness years' is underlined by McManus. A shame that the 2010 interview wasn't completed but I'm grateful that we did at least get to see some of it and this very fitting tribute, another highlight of these DVD special features, is brought to a close with the publication of his autobiography Still Getting Away With It, his final appearance as the Brig in The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2008 and his death and memorial in 2011.
Doctor Who Stories: Peter Purves (13:31)
Material from the 2003 documentary The Story of Doctor Who in which Purves relates, at £30 a show, his experiences working on Doctor Who as companion Steven Taylor, including jumping up and down on a trampoline with Jean Marsh, working with elephants and a sword fight with Barrie Ingham. As ever Purves is erudite and honest about the limitations of early Doctor Who and how chatting to the second Monoid on the right ("weird... with George Harrison wigs") or the third Dalek on the left ("a bore to work with") removes any notion for him of the programme's scare factor. He also waxes about the originality of the TARDIS, guest actors, how the series killed his acting career and he ended up on the training team of the director's courses for colour television. Oh, and how, after he threw away the Trilogic Game prop that he'd kept from The Celestial Toymaker, his Blue Peter career suddenly and uncannily beckoned.
The Lambert Tapes: Part One (10:35)
Confusingly this part is now released after the second part came out earlier in the year on the Planet of Giants DVD. However, it's good to see more of this interview from 2003's The Story of Doctor Who. Verity discusses the show's format and creation and her elevation, at 27 years old, to the position of producer in a male dominated BBC. Tidbits she offers up include being checked by MI5, fighting her corner while working with director Rex Tucker on the first serial, her good relationship with his replacement Waris Hussein and her concerns about 'the grunting' of leggy cavemen. Inevitably, she turns to the Daleks. Sydney Newman's aversion to BEMs apparently "shattered our confidence" in Terry Nation's serial but her confidence was restored by recognising the real appeal of the Daleks. Overall, her desire not to fail as a young producer dominates the interview and fortunately for Doctor Who she was fearless about getting the series to work.
Those Deadly Divas (22:38)
Camille Coduri, Tracy-Ann Oberman and Kate O'Mara - the latter a bona fide deadly diva unless your view also includes Gareth Roberts - try to spell out what exactly a deadly diva is. Roberts offers that the diva is "too cold or too hot blooded" compared to the Doctor's companions, whereas Oberman believes a successful diva should "try and flirt with the Doctor as much as possible". Judging by the bar where Oberman is speaking from, I'd say it involves plying the Time Lord with plenty of drink too. Interestingly, as Oberman points out, many female villains are highly sexualised and this does tie in briefly with Being A Girl's analysis of how women are portrayed in Doctor Who. Money, business and robots are apparently the ruthless woman's concerns in the universe of Doctor Who. Naturally, the likes of the Rani are up for discussion and Roberts and his co-writer Clayton Hickman are unashamed members of the Rani Appreciation Society.

Look out for the careers of Lady Peinforte (a "bloody brilliant hitchhiker" with "terrifying ringlets" according to Roberts and Coduri), Captain Wrack (an "off the scale" part that O'Mara was happy to fight Lynda Baron for), Lady Adrasta (who would probably have thrown the graphics person into the pit for spelling her name wrong on the caption here), Krau Timmin (the disdainful secretary with the all purpose TV remote control), Madame Kara (the Servalan substitute who laughs at Davros' jokes) and Yvonne Hartman (big haired "BBC tea girl" elevated to Director General) and the hallmarks of various possessed companions. As you can surmise, this is a very tongue-in-cheek 22 minutes and perhaps reaches its zenith when Coduri ponders whether Alexandra Moen would really dance like Lucy Saxon when about to face the apocalypse.
Photo Gallery
Behind the scenes shots from Kevin Davies' 1993 documentary with a superb suite of Mark Ayres' music specially composed for the programme. 
PDF Material
Radio Times listing for Thirty Years in the TARDIS
Easter Egg: Richard Martin's Memories of Verity (1:49)
Sweet little piece wherein Martin recall's Verity Lambert's battle to gain respect at the BBC and her unorthodox approach to celebrating Christmas.

Doctor Who: The Legacy Collection
BBC Worldwide / Released 7 January 2013 / BBCDVD 3388 / Cert: PG
6 episodes / Never broadcast: / Colour / Running time:109:36
More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS
Originally broadcast in shorter form 29 November 1993 / Colour / Running time: 87:52

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3 Responses to “CLASSIC DOCTOR WHO: The Legacy Collection / DVD Review”
  1. Kevin Jon Davies says:

    A smashing review. Thanks, Frank.

  2. Thank you, Kevin. Lovely to get that comment from you. Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. KAOS says:

    Fascinating, as always, Frank.

    I've been a huge fan of Mr Davies beautiful documentary since I bought the VHS in '94/5 (I was a kid living in Australia at the time, and fortunately missed the butchered version).

    It's an absolute joy, and I love it to bits. The recreations are lovely, and that tracking shot into the TARDIS at Shad Thames is just perfect

    I think it's especially important for those of us who aren't happy with the sub-Disney version of Doctor Who on our screens now, because it encapsulates "real" Doctor Who.

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