Day 184: Doctor Who Vans-iversary Specials

Okay, terrible pun. But it is Day 184! I’m running out of ideas!

July 3 main

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First things first. Happy birthday mum! See you at the party on Saturday. You can open your present now.

Today isn’t a Doctor Who anniversary of any sort. Actually, that’s not entirely true. With a show that’s been running for nearly 51 years, pretty much every day is an anniversary of some sort; some are just less momentous than others.

Meddling MonkSo yeah, today is the 49th anniversary of the first appearance of Time Lord other than The Doctor and Susan in the show: episode one of “The Time Meddler”, aka, “The Watcher”, was broadcast on this day in 1965. And although the Meddling Monk – played by Carry On star Peter Butterworth –  wasn’t actually called a Time Lord (that concept wasn’t introduced into the show until 1969) he had a TARDIS and it’s made pretty clear he’s from the same race as the Doctor.

So let’s celebrate Meddling Monk day!

Which I’m doing by boasting the fact that I own original, near pristine copies of the both the 10th anniversary and 20th anniversary Doctor Who Radio Times specials. The latter I bought, but the second was given to me by the husband of a friend of my mum’s way back in 1980. He was a rostrum camera man at the BBC and he invited me up to BBC TV centre to have a look around. There was no Doctor Who being filmed at the time, sadly, but I did see a bit of Top Of The Pops being recorded. Can’t recall who was hosting it, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Savile – even as a kid, I loathed him, so I would have remembered if he was there. (I remember at school in one lesson about how to write letters, the teacher wanted us all to write a letter to Jim’ll Fix It, and I refused, because I was scared of having to go on his show and meeting him.)

July 3 script coverBut back in his office, Mr Rostrum Camera Man (I remember he was called Peter, but can’t recall his surname) unearthed not only the 1973 Doctor Who Radio Times special for me but also that other stapled-together sheets of paper you can see on the extreme right of today’s main photo: a filming script for “Planet Of Evil”.

It’s not the entire script; it just covers scenes that were filmed (as opposed to shot on video) on Stage 2 at the Television Film Studios, Ealing. These filmed sequences were then edited into the video studio footage as filmed inserts.

July 3 script

I can vividly recall growing up in that era when UK TV drama regularly swapped from video to film footage and back. At first I didn’t know the reason why it happened, but I could definitely see the difference in quality, and was a bit confused as to why it was happening. I was even more frustrated when I would point it out to grown-ups, who didn’t seem to be able to see what I was talking about. It was almost like there was a perception filter around the TV, and I was the only one who could see through it… but I didn’t understand what I was seeing.

planet-of-evilAs I grew older, though, I began to notice a general rule: outside = grainy; inside = overlit and sharp. I thought I had it sussed. But then something like “The Planet Of Evil” came along, which had a studio-built jungle, and those clever TV people were obviously using the visual language of the ’70s small screen to trick us viewers into thinking the scenes had been shot outside. What was more, I was beginning to realise that filmed sequences somehow made TV shows look more like movies… And thus a lifelong fascination with the making of films and TV was born.

Before I go, here are the answers to yesterday’s quiz, as promised:

July 3 answers

1 Rover – The Prisoner
2 Death Star – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 
3 A Zeroid (Space Sergeant 101) – Terrahawks
4 A drone – Oblivion
5 Original series Sontaran spaceship – Doctor Who
6 Torture droid – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
7 Alien – Dark Star
8 Brain Ball – Futurama
9 New series Sontaran spaceship – Doctor Who
10 Toclafane – Doctor Who
11 Krynoid seed pod – Doctor Who
12 Akhatan – Doctor Who
13 Loc-Nar – Heavy Metal

I think the Marvel-style no-prize goes to Austin Ashwell, who got most of the answers right on my Twitter feed (and followed me especially, so he deserves some kinda mention).

See you tomorrow.

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