The Face of Evil

“At last we are here. Us.”
Why did BBC4 show `Face of Evil` this week? Do people celebrate the 39th anniversary of something? Who am I? Yes, a curious end to 2015 sees this 1977 tale being broadcast on a main(ish) BBC channel which is about as random as you get. It’s nice though that they chose this rather than the more obvious stories that surround it. In another season `Face` would be highly regarded but appearing in between `The Deadly Assassin` and `The Robots of Death` it doesn’t stand a chance really. I can’t imagine BBC4 are showing it because it has thematic links to the season we’ve just seen but you never know. It is really the precursor to the current series’ interest in the Doctor’s mistakes though there are no confessions dials or guilty admissions to be seen here, just a dogged determination to sort it out. 


The original Dalek novel

The novelizations of the series have occasionally thrown up anomalies but there is none more prominent than the very first which goes under the dramatic moniker of Dr Who in an exciting adventure with the Daleks. Beyond its historical significance David Whitaker’s 1964 novel is notable for the way it changes the story of how Ian and Barbara first encounter the Doctor. Gone is the iconic Totters Lane junkyard, in its place the foggy environs of Barnes Common. It is plausible that some Doctor Who fans grew up thinking this was what the first story was like and it a very persuasive alternative to how the episode `An Unearthly Child` did play out.The novel – originally published by Armada – is determined to set its own atmosphere. The back cover blurb reads: “The story from the beginning! Here is the exciting adventure of Dr Who, Susan, Barbara and Ian, from the moment they meet one foggy autumn night on a lonely common beside a Police Box (Ah, but what a curious Police Box!) to the time they encounter the weird Daleks”. Have we ever heard the Daleks described as `weird` before? Then it goes on to confidently say that “It is a thrilling story, and we know this book will be one of the most popular published in the Armada series. Can you wait any longer? Start reading!” 


The Underwater Menace

“Nothing in zee world can stop me now…..”
Funny how expectations change in just a couple of years. After the emergence of `Web of Fear` and `Enemy of the World` we were anticipating a huge haul of new old Doctor Who if the rumours were to be believed.  Now we’re just happy to welcome the extant `Underwater Menace`. Whereas we could be fairly sure of the calibre of 2013’s releases most of us have seen enough of this story to know it is not going to be reborn as a classic. Fans of a certain vintage will remember a particularly garish Doctor Who Magazine feature about it and we are all well acquainted with the notorious accent of Professor Zaroff and the garish appearance of the Fish People so it would be fair to say anticipation is hovering somewhat South of fever pitch.
"Ethel- stop your interpretive dance, we have guests" 


Edge of Destruction Part 3

"Yes, very good dance Susan."

Exclusive!! Script extract from the planned episode 3 of Edge of Destruction recently discovered underneath a church in Balham.
It is the morning after the night before. The crew have been sleeping on uncomfortable flat beds within inches of each other. The Doctor is up early, jettisoning scissors into space. Susan is in the kitchen cooking futuristic pancakes which look exactly like pancakes except they are triangular. Barbara strolls in.
Susan - "Hello, Miss Wright, I'm terribly sorry .. "
Barbara (confused)- "What, for talking too quickly and screaming all the time?"
Susan bursts into tears and accidentally drops half a bottle of oil into the pan which flares up.
She rushes over to Barbara who cuddles her.
Barbara- "Don't worry Susan it'll be alright"
Susan - "Oh, I'm sorry, I really am it's just that since you came on board the ship, Idon'tknowwhatdayitisorwhatl'mtalkingaboutandl'mfrightenedofeverything ... "
Barbara- "What?"


Why I love the Special Edition of Day of the Daleks

In 2011 Doctor Who fandom was divided about the merits of the Special Edition of `Day of the Daleks` but I loved it and four years later I still do. Fact is I actually-gasp- prefer it to the original. This is only because it really is the original as the production team and viewers would love to have seen it. I suspect many viewers think this is what they saw! The story hasn't been changed but enhanced to better support the narrative. Plus if you don't like it, the original transmitted version is on the dvd as well.  This story was an event and a half in 1972. The Daleks back for their first story in seven years, heralded by a stunning Radio Times cover. As a season opener, being this Doctor’s first rematch against a former incarnation’s enemy and also a time hopping tale that encompasses a possible world war it is within touching distance of classic status. Why doesn’t it quite reach? Well, when the Daleks finally travel to our time to invade there are, let’s face it, three of them. And all the beautiful autumnal Sun filtered filming cannot disguise this fact. It shouldn’t matter but it does.


The Tale of the Africa 90

(Or at least the Nigeria 9!)
WARNING! This post does not include any new information about the location or future release dates of any missing episodes. Just in case you got too excited.
Africa 90 sounds a bit like the name of a football tournament but is actually the unofficial name given for a supposed haul of most of the missing episodes of Doctor Who in Nigeria. It’s the most fluid Doctor Who related news story there’s been in years and by the time you read this it may well have changed again. It’s a tale of dangerous expeditions to Africa, of financial intrigue in the UK and of how key movers in the Doctor Who world can close ranks with surprising effect. It is about blatant denials from various sources. It’s a better plot than anything last season! The one immutable fact is that some of these episodes have seen the light of day. `Web of Fear` and `Enemy of the World` both containing previously missing episodes were made available in the autumn of 2013 first via iTunes and subsequently in 2014 on DVD.  The rest is less certain.
"Please! No!! I don't know where the missing episodes are!" 


The origins of Doctor Who (possibly!)

Doctor Who’s beginnings- the `real` behind the scenes story
as researched by JJJ Pixley
The cast flee after reading the first script
Sydney Newman liked to tame lions and it was this mixture of bravery and madness that he brought to the BBC in the early 60s. Fired out of a cannon he arrived at Broadcasting House full of ideas for programmes. A new science fiction based series aimed at children had already been discussed when Newman had a glorious idea. He was walking through Hyde Park one afternoon in late 1962 when he saw a crotchety old man trying to strangle a duck. This set him thinking; what if there was a series featuring a crotchety old man. At this point that was the only idea he had; in fact the same crotchety old man was approached to star in the series but was deemed too fierce for television. 


Daleks Death Ray Ice Lolly

Kids love ice lollies so linking them to a tv series is a great idea yet this ice lolly which enjoyed popularity in 1975-76 did not feature the Doctor but instead starred his greatest enemies. Comprising a moregous combination of chocolate and mint, the Dalek Death Ray would taste amazing whatever it was called. The top half of the lolly was mint followed by a chocolate base.  Unlike some overly sweet lollies it also did the trick of really cooling people down in the days when we had normal summers.   
Produced by Walls, the product had the added attraction of the stunning Frank Bellamy artwork that adorned the wrapper meaning many fans kept them for years. The lolly also had other Bellamy drawings included which were taken from the 1976 Dalek Annual. These showed aspects of the Daleks’ world and history beyond their encounters with the Doctor. Evocative titles include `The Swamp Creatures of Terroth!, `When Daleks Flooded the World` and `How Daleks Bend Time`. 
As part of the promotion of the lolly, Walls were even reputed to have a fill sized Dalek in the reception of their main office.

 below. Yikes! it's those pesky swamp creatures from Terroth.