Tag Archives: second doctor

WHO-50: The 1960’s

It’s a rather neat and lovely detail of Doctor Who production that the last black and white episode screened in 1969, and the first colour episode in 1970, and that the Second Doctor regenerated into the Third (offscreen) at the same time. This means that “Sixties Who” has a really strong tonal separation from “Seventies Who.”

And yes I did deliberately time this anniversary blogging project so all my Sixties/Black and White posts would be published in 2012, and the colour posts in 2013. I like things to be tidy, okay?

Here’s my links to the WHO-50 posts so far – click the pics!

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Scream, Victoria, Scream! [WHO-50—1968]

I started out skeptical about the new range of BBC audiobooks based on Target novelisations, especially when they extended to cover later books from stories that still exist. Can’t we just listen to the audio-only version of the missing episodes, or indeed watch the DVD? Which completely ignored my own childhood love of the Target novelisations, and indeed read and re-read many of them instead of pulling down the VHS copy from the shelf.

Recently I listened to The Dalek Master Plan dual adaption read by Peter Purves and Jean Marsh (having previously experienced the story as an audio soundtrack only) and found it revelatory – not only is it sometimes easier to follow the story of a missing story when there’s proper fictional narrative involved, but if you get a great reader and good production (and indeed the BBC AudioGo talking books are fabulously produced, including music and sound effects) then it can be a wonderful “reading” experience.

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The Polly Wright Appreciation Society: Highland Edition [WHO-50—1967]

Yes, I’m talking about Ben and Polly again. Mostly Polly. She tends to get put down by modern fans as one of the ‘screamers,’ a mini-skirted avatar representing the show’s sexism, with particular reference to that one time she made tea for everyone in The Moonbase. Anneke Wills herself, the actress who played Polly, insisted that Polly’s passive girlieness was deliberate, in contrast to her gung ho predecessor, Sara Kingdom, and the other great female action hero of the time, Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) of The Avengers.

Last week I mentioned the recent Big Finish special “The Five Companions,” in which Polly established that she does actually see Ben naked on a regular basis. Also in that story, she gets to address her concerns that she wasn’t much use to the Doctor – making tea, screaming and so on. I had to go a bit hmmm at that because it seemed to me more of a case of the fan perceptions being addressed rather than the character who actually appeared back in the day.

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Down With This Ship: Loving Ben & Polly [WHO-50—1966]

As a child I discovered Doctor Who in bits and pieces, fragments of borrowed VHS tapes, Target novels and TV repeats. While Tom Baker was most often on our screens, a great deal of my fascination of the show came from its complex history, and I fell hard for the early black and white stories despite (or because of) how much harder it was to access them.

A lot of my early relationships with the characters involved mad shipping, but the fandom I had access to didn’t seem to view it in those terms – or didn’t talk about it like that in front of me, as I was only a kid! I knew my Mum fancied Tom Baker, but that was about it. Immersed in modern fandom ideas as I now am, it becomes obvious that I have firm, unbending views on the relationships in the show, developed all in my own independent bubble.

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Remembering the Brigadier.

I heard today that Nicholas Courtney recently passed away peacefully. He was 81. My condolences to his family and friends – in the larger community of Doctor Who fandom, he was greatly loved and respected, which is really the best thing any of us can leave behind.

While he had a long and varied acting career, the role he will most be associated with is Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in Doctor Who. Courtney first stepped into the part in 1968 in The Web of Fear, and most recently in 2008 reprised the character in “Enemy of the Bane,” in an episode of spin off show The Sarah Jane Adventures. That’s forty years!

The Web of Fear and its sequel, The Invasion, both worked as a kind of audition for the UNIT concept, which was to be a central hub of the show in the 1970’s. As first Colonel and later Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Nicholas Courtney was the chap who had to deal with Yeti invading the underground, and then Cybermen taking over London. The Doctor was more of an annoyance than anything to him, though he became an ally pretty quickly, and performed what could have been a fairly uninteresting guest role with great charisma and warmth.

Like most people, I fell in love with the Brig during the Jon Pertwee Years. When Doctor Who was relaunched in 1970, in colour and with a new style and format, Pertwee’s Doctor was matched not only with a girl assistant, but with a family. UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) was based on the idea that, if the Earth gets invaded by aliens quite as often as Doctor Who tends to suggest, surely there should be some kind of military force set up to combat said threats. This organisation, Lethbridge Stewart himself and Sgt Benton had all been introduced during the Troughton Years, but became the centrepiece of the new look version of the show.

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A Modern Woman’s Guide To Classic Who: THE SECOND DOCTOR YEARS: 1966-1969

Summary: The concept of regeneration, now one of the most iconic features of Doctor Who, allowed for a new lead actor to create a very different interpretation of the role.  Troughton’s Doctor left aside the grumpy anti-heroics of William Hartnell to be a far more emotional, vulnerable Doctor, capable of high dramatics and physical comedy as well as something of a cunning streak.  With only one early exception, the Second Doctor stories moved away from historicals, sticking with science fiction adventure for the most part.  When it did utilise historical elements or settings, they were combined with alien or other science fictional concepts, a tradition which has continued into New Who. This is an era of monsters and mad science, with occasional moments of batty genius.

More so even than the Hartnell Years, the Troughton Years suffered from the BBC film destruction, so very few whole stories are archived.  For this reason perhaps even more so than the First Doctor, the Second Doctor is often remembered more by fans for his later appearances in the show (The Three Doctors in the 1970’s, The Five Doctors & The Two Doctors in the 1980’s).

Things You Need To Know: The sonic screwdriver and jelly babies both made their first appearances in Second Doctor serials.  And he still can’t steer the TARDIS.  Colonel (later Brigadier) Lethbridge Stewart and Benton both make their first appearance in this era, as do the Ice Warriors and the Yeti. Yes, Yeti!

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