Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Doctor Who: 1972

Episode 330: The Three Doctors, episode 1
First broadcast: 5.50 pm, Saturday, 30 December 1972
<< back to 1971
The Time Lords watch a new Second Doctor story.
The Three Doctors, episode 1.
First two items of trivia of no interest to anyone but me. The Three Doctors opened Doctor Who's 10th season but was shown closer to the ninth anniversary of the first episode being broadcast than it was the 10th. And when Patrick Troughton returned to the series, he'd been away for less time than David Tennant will have been when he comes back this November.

Anyway. I asked in my piece about 1970 how different Doctor Who's seventh season would have looked to viewers at the time. For all the Doctor might be stuck on Earth in an indeterminate near future, I argued that a lot of the show - the feel, the monsters, the quarries and corridors, the Radiophonic effects - were exactly the same. What changed was that we didn't see inside the TARDIS and the Doctor stopped being a reluctant hero and willingly sought out adventure. With 1971, I argued that Jo Grant made us wonder why we'd want adventures in space and time anyway.

By The Three Doctors, the Doctor had been stranded on Earth for three seasons, just three of the 13 stories allowing him to set foot on another world (four if you count wherever it is the TARDIS comes to rest in the last episode of The Time Monster). But of five stories in Season 9, two were about travelling in time on Earth and two were set in outer space. The production team have since said that the "exile" format was limiting and the show's original format had started to push through.

The Three Doctors, as well as bringing back the first two Doctors Who, also returns the show to the format as it was in their day: at the end, the Doctor can once more travel freely in time and space. (Jo doesn't seem all that thrilled by the prospect of the wonders to come: "I suppose you'll be rushing off, then," she sulks.)

But the story doesn't just free up the future of the series: it does the same for its past. In episode 1, the Time Lords must nab the Second Doctor from his timestream and plonk him into his own future. We glimpse on screen what he's up to just before they grab him.

The show has always hinted in dialogue at events we never saw - the First Doctor's time on Quinnis or with Henry VIII, the Second Doctor taking a medical degree under Lister, the Third Doctor knocking about with Chairman Mao and Napoleon. But here, on screen, we glimpse an adventure: the Second Doctor running from what might be an explosion or weird fog, then stopping to consider his next move.

It's not a clip from some old story: it's something new, presumably meant to fit unobtrusively among his original run of stories.

He's not alone. The First Doctor, too, is glimpsed in a new adventure with him pottering round a nice garden (which features again in The Five Doctors (1983)).
The Time Lords watch a new First Doctor story.
The Three Doctors, episode 1.
And the Radio Times special released to mark the show's 10th anniversary also boasted a series of photos showing strange new adventures for the Doctor's former companions...
A new Cyberman adventure, with Ben and Polly.
Radio Times Doctor Who 10th anniversary special / BBC.
So I'm monstrously grateful to The Three Doctors. It didn't just set the series back on course. The books and CDs I now write for a living basically started here.

See also @theMindRobber's Twitter feed from 1972.

Next episode: 1973


RedScharlach said...

I am fascinated that picture of Ben and Polly, but can't help thinking that Ben would be less vulnerable to a painful attack by the lead Cyberman's grabby hand if he'd only stand with his legs closer together.

0tralala said...

Perhaps he's using the tactic from Carry On Up The Khyber?

More Cyber-invasion of Norfolk here: and here:

RedScharlach said...

Wow, some of those pictures are ace. And the more they look like bad 1970s fashion shoots, the acer they are.

I have utterly no idea what's going on in the one with Susan in it, though. Maybe it's better than way.

0tralala said...

I think it's a nod to the very first story, which some people think is called "10,000 BC" - and so they've gone for a Raquel Welch thing. It was shot not far from me in Crystal Palace - and DWM later did a shoot with Sophie Aldred there, too: