Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Doctor Who: 1968

Episode 191: The Enemy of the World, episode 6 - or rather, just after it
First broadcast: 5.46 pm, Saturday, 27 January 1968
<< back to 1967

I've chosen something a bit different this time: something that there aren't any images from and that wasn't even an episode. But TardisTimegirl has done an amazing job, animating the surviving soundtrack of a specially shot Doctor Who trailer. It was shown at the end of the final episode of The Enemy of the World to advertise the next story.

It's fun, the Doctor warning children that their parents might be scared of the next story. But it's also a bit cheeky. Not long before this trailer must have been written and filmed, the makers of Doctor Who were in trouble for making the series too gruesome.

On 23 September 1967, part four of The Tomb of the Cybermen included a scene of white goo foaming from a dead Cyberman's chest. That had generated some degree of complaint, and on 26 September co-writer Kit Pedler appeared on a new BBC programme, Talkback, to discuss whether the show was too violent for children.

The footage for that programme no longer exists, but the soundtrack survives - and an excerpt is included on the audiobook Doctor Who at the BBC volume 2. Referring to the debate in the following programme (which does exist in the archive), presenter David Coleman joked of Doctor Who, "perhaps it's too scary for grown-ups"...

And that's what the trailer is playing on. It’s a fun gag, but it acknowledges something that was then quite new, something we almost take for granted now. Doctor Who is best when its scary; that's why children love it.

See also: My chum Matthew on The Web of Fear and its legacy.

Next episode: 1969

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