May 18, 2013
.....the Valeyard! Or at least that was one of the names given in the episode. What did you all think of the season finale, The Name of the Doctor? How many of you guessed that ending? How many of you guessed that beginning? Let us know your thoughts. Don’t stop for the next six months - because next up is the 50th Anniversary special! Or maybe we should call it the 2nd part of the 50th Anniversary special….
Posted by Luca on Saturday, May 18 at 8:27 pm
May 17, 2013
1981 was an extremely eventful year for Doctor Who, even with only 3 new stories (comprising 12 episodes) broadcast in the UK (Warriors’ Gate through Logopolis). Most notably, the longest running Doctor (which is still the case to this day), Tom Baker left after the end of this, his seventh season. Romana and K9 (each having been around a few years in different incarnations) left a couple of stories before Tom Baker did (although K9 would re-appear on our screens before the end of the year, though not, technically-speaking, in Doctor Who). A new, fifth Doctor, debuted in the closing seconds of Logopolis. It would not be until January 1982 that viewers got to see a substantial performance of Peter Davison in the role, but his debut in 1981 was quite revolutionary and, as it has transpired all these years later, quite influential. The Doctor could now be played by a younger man.
That wasn’t all. With a delay to a new broadcast slot for the next season to weekdays in January 1982, 1981 was the last of 18 consescutive years where Doctor Who was broadcast in Saturdays in the UK - quite remarkable when you think about the show being a tradition and an establishment. In anticipation of the season (and because of the then-unprecedented 9 month gap between seasons), the BBC broadcast a selection of stories from each previous Doctor for a repeat run in the autumn of 1981, entitled “The Five Faces of Doctor Who”. For many younger fans (at least, though younger or about the same age of the programme) this was the first chance to watch stories from Doctor’s other than Tom Baker, or to watch black and white Doctor Who episodes. The repeat run was the first shift in the BBC and those making Doctor Who to start regularly celebrating its past while also making new episodes. The run of five stories showed was An Unearthly Child (and yes, Doctor Who Magazine, that’s what the BBC called as they do now, and not “100,000 B.C.”), The Krotons, The Three Doctors, Carnival of Monsters and the 2nd airing in 1981 of Logopolis. The ratings - with the episodes shown on BBC2 - were excellent for repeats and for something shownn on BBC2. In fact these broadcasts did comparatively better against expectations than the Season 18 episodes did on first airing (including Logopolis, which was a part of both Season 18 and The Five Faces of Doctor Who).
For many fans, the presence of The Krotons as the selected Troughton highlighted (or drew attention to) the fact that so many episodes in the archives were missing - The Krotons was the only complete 4-part Patrick Troughton story in the archives at that time (and there’s only been one more recovered since then). In 1981 Doctor Who Magazine published a list of what was missing from the archives, making the fact that so much of Doctor Who was missing in the archives public knowledge for the first time. The release of this information was a very dramatic event for many Doctor Who fans in 1981. But some fans didn’t accept this news passively - 1981 is also when the yearning for the recovery of missing episodes and the hunting for them began for so many fans, which still happenining even to this day…..
1981 ended with the broadcast of the first ever spin-off of Doctor Who - K9 and Company. Elisabeth Sladen and John Leeson were back, and nobody knew then that this was only to be the first of two spin-offs for Doctor Who that they would play their customary roles in together!
Something else happened in 1981 with Doctor Who which was very eventful for this writer. On October 29th 1981, I watched Doctor Who for the first time! The episode was The Pirate Planet Part 3 on its Thursday repeat (although I didn’t realize it was even being shown on Saturdays, at least for the first few weeks I watched). Hooked by the cliffhanger to that episode of the Doctor falling off the edge of a plank, I had to tune in next week to find out how the Doctor got out of it. And I’ve been hooked ever since…...
Posted by Luca on Friday, May 17 at 11:02 am
May 11, 2013
The Cybermen return in Nightmare in Silver, penned by Neil Gaiman and the first Cybermen story to feature “Silver” in the title and on going chess match in 25 years. Let us know your thoughts on the episode, and whether it was an upgrade on Silver Nemesis (or any other episode you care to compare it to).
Posted by Luca on Saturday, May 11 at 8:06 pm
May 10, 2013
The 1980’s! Doctor Who’s third different decade that it has existed in, and one that started so brightly. Not with the UK ratings, which saw the show take a ratings dive in large part because the BBC were now losing the Saturday ratings battle in general from new and networked competition. But 33 years later it’s really tough to care about ratings in one country too much when the quality of the episodes being made and shown were so incredibly high-quality. 33 years later one can watch the first season with new producer John Nathan-Turner at the helm (with Christopher H. Bidmead now script editing) and seeing a show that is trying very hard. There was a whole new musical style to the show (which included a new energetic version of the theme tune, but also all of the incidental music now done by the Radiophonic Workshop at the BBC). Whereas previous seasons usually only tended to feature one or two new writers per season, Season 18 featured as many as 5 stories that had new writers (including one script, Full Circle, written by a 17 year old fan, Andrew Smith - something that you’ll never see happen nowadays with the television series). The show had never looked more stylish, with an entire new set of directors used by John Nathan-Turner - Lovett Bickford, Paul Joyce and Peter Grimwade amongst them. It made for a fantastic set of episodes for Season 18, although only 16 of the 28 were broadcast in 1980 - the rest we’ll get to in the next entry, for 1981.
John-Nathan Turner wanted to take the show into the 1980’s and even 30-plus years later, when you watch Doctor Who from beginning to end (or rather, beginning to present day) you can still see what a great job he did. 1980 will always be remembered by Doctor Who fans as the year that JNT came on to the scene and put his stamp on the show.
Posted by Luca on Friday, May 10 at 10:53 pm
May 05, 2013
Dame Diana Rigg made her first ever Doctor Who appearance last night, and her first ever appearance alongside her daughter, Rachel Stirling. Meanwhile Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax featured for the third time. Tell us what you thought of The Crimson Horror - a sweet episode, or a did it cause your skin to go red?
Posted by Luca on Sunday, May 5 at 3:56 pm
May 03, 2013
1979 was the end of an era for Doctor Who in almost as many ways as had been the case in 1969. True, the decade didn’t end with a change of Doctor or broadcast colours as had happened in 1969, but, other than two episodes that were broadcast in early 1980, the Graham Williams era finished in 1979, as did Douglas Adams involvement in Doctor Who. The Delia Derbyshire theme arrangement and Dudley Simpson’s incidental music also finished at this time, two staples of the show that had been there since its inception (or near-inception in the case of Dudley Simpson - he’d “only” been there since 1964.
Not all of this was meant to happen this way - all of these elements should have gone well into the end of February 1980 with the broadcast of the six-part adventure Shada, but a BBC staff strike delayed production on the show that the original production dates were cancelled, and the BBC chose to prioritize its resources on getting other programmes back up to speed. It still seems incredible that the BBC would not choose to complete a 6 part partially-filmed story for 17 year old series that was now starting to earn the BBC a ton of cash in North America and was still garnering high ratings at home. (Technically it got the highest ratings ever in 1979, though that was because another atrike at ITV put the BBC’s only competition off the air for about three months, including two months where new episodes - namely the entirety of Destiny of the Daleks and City of Death) were being broadcast. Nobody knew it at the time but it was in retrospect a sign of things to come in terms of BBC Management of the brand. But despite the incomplete Shada being abandoned during 1979, there were still a fine run of stories that are probably liked by fandom more now than they were at the time. The show was continuing to garner momentun in North America and Tom Baker and Lalla Ward were stars in the UK. Here’s to the end of the very fine and successful decade for Doctor Who that was the 1970’s!
Posted by Luca on Friday, May 3 at 4:07 pm
April 27, 2013
Come Along if You Care
Leave your cares behind and come along to this
Tell us what you thought of the Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
With apologies to the Amboy Dukes.
Posted by Luca on Saturday, April 27 at 9:02 pm
April 25, 2013
As alluded to a couple of episodes ago, 1978 was a big year for Doctor Who in the United States. Although the series had been seen in a handful of US markets since 1972, 1978 was the year the show went national and started to become popular. In the wake of Star Wars the previous year, the Tom Baker episodes (starting with Robot) became a huge success and made Tom Baker THE Doctor in this market - the definitive article, some might say.
In the meantime, in the UK new episodes were proceeding as per usual. The show it its 15th anniversary in stride but without a great deal of fanfare - no special anniversary episodes were made nor was there much in the way of a celebration by the BBC - an appearance in costume by Tom Baker and Mary Tamm (and Carole Ann Ford in civies) on the BBC news programme Nationwide (where a seemingly annoyed and possibly intoxicated Tom Baker gets annoyed with interview Frank Bough for everyone to see nation-wide) was about it. A planned scene where the Doctor is given a birthday cake by Romana in the first episode of The Stones of Blood (the 100th Doctor Who story and also the story broadcast during November 1978, the anniversary month) was nixed by producer Graham Williams.
Something interesting to note about 1978 which is rarely commented upon - when The Androids of Tara was broadcast in December 1978, it was the 101st Doctor Who story and the 51st to be broadcast in colour. As such, only by the end of 1978 could it be said that there were more stories made and broadcast in colour than there was in black & white. Of course by 1978, most shows that had all or a significant number of black and white episdoes made were long gone. Not Doctor Who. There would be plenty of life still to come.
Posted by Luca on Thursday, April 25 at 5:11 pm
April 21, 2013
Just like Emma Grayling and Professor Palmer did in this episode, don’t hide your thoughts and feelings - let us know what you thought about Hide, episode 4 of the current season of Doctor Who. Whether it is your feelings about the plot, the script, the TARDIS & Clara, the on-going story arc, the continuity references to the Eye of Harmony (pronounced traditionally) and Metebelis Three (pronounced, erm…...differently), the comments section is your friend.
Posted by Luca on Sunday, April 21 at 7:23 am
April 16, 2013
1977 was the year that changed things dramatically for science-fiction in the English-speaking world. It was the year Star Wars hit the cinemas and science-fiction (and the trappings of sci-fi) went mainstream. The effect of the change was probably more profound in North America - and the US in particular, as sci-fi had already been mainstream in the UK, as evidenced by the success of Doctor Who. At the end of its 14th season the classic series hit a peak in popularity in the UK that it was never quite to regain again, with viewing figures regularly hitting 11 to 12 million viewers. The series was the subject of a proper documentary for television for the first time - “Whose Doctor Who” for the BBC2 Lively Arts programme. Broadcast in April 1977, the documentary points out that Doctor Who had domesticated science-fiction in the UK. One month later, Star Wars would start to do the same in the USA, something that would in turn help to have a positve effect for Doctor Who‘s fortunes in that country.
Doctor Who of course was now featuring Tom Baker and Louise Jameson as the stars of the show, Elisabeth Sladen having left after an unprecedented length of time as the main companion towards the end of 1976. Before the end of the year however Leela’s arrival would be eclipsed by the addition of another companion - neither male nor female, but robotic. Unwittingly capturing the “cute robots in sci-fi” zeitgeist that emerged with Star Wars in 1977, Doctor Who now had K9, an enduring character who not only stayed with the show until 1981, but also was the first character to get his own televised spin-off adventure (later in 1981). Yes, Elisabeth Sladen was in K9 and Company as well, but you only need to look at the title of spin-off to see what was meant to be the top marketing draw. Brought back again in 1983 and in the new series, K9 is a character that is sure to live on as long as Doctor Who does, and 1977 was the year of his birth.
Posted by Luca on Tuesday, April 16 at 8:15 pm
The Doctor Who Blog's mission is to provide witty and insightful commentary on the world of Doctor Who in all its various forms. And to make several bad puns and references to jokes Tom Baker once made.
- The Name of the Doctor is…...
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 19 - 1981
- Silver Upgrade
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 18 - 1980
- Queen Crimson
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 17 - 1979
- Come Along If You Dare
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 16 - 1978
- Don’t Hide Your Feelings
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 15 - 1977
- Ice, Ice, Very Nice
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 14 - 1976
- The Ring of Clara
- 50 Glorious Years: Episode 13 - 1975
- Wi-Fi Sci-Fi