Doctor Who – All The Years is a quick examination of what was happening in the world of Doctor Who over all its years of existence. I’m not attempting to create a thorough history–just brief look back at the real-life timeline of my favorite TV show.
(Daily Doctor Who #9)
After kicking of in 1963 (read about that here), Doctor Who got underway in earnest in 1964. The first six episodes of the show aired in ’63, but the next forty-five came out in 1964.
In today’s day and age where we are lucky to get ten episodes every year and a half, it’s hard to imagine that back in the day, Doctor Who‘s first season consisted of 42 episodes, which aired every Saturday without interruption from November 23, 1963 to September 12, 1964, nearly without interruption (they missed July 4 because of extra coverage needed for some big sporting events).
Then, after that grueling schedule, the second season started up again on October 31, after only a seven week break, when it once again carried on weekly until the next year. That’s crazy! You can understand why William Hartnell, William Russell, Jacqueline Hill and Carole Ann Ford occasionally needed a break and had to be written out of an episode!
Those forty-five episodes knocked off The Daleks, which was already underway, and then told another complete eight serials. Terry Nation wrote 18 episodes–the five remaining ones from the first Dalek story, the 6-part Keys of Marinus, and the 6 episodes that made up the second ever Dalek story, which closed the year. John Lucarotti wrote 11 episodes, which comprised the first two historical dramas, with no science fiction elements aside from the TARDIS and the crew, Marco Polo and The Azteks. Story Editor write a 2 episode “bottle episode” commonly called The Edge of Destruction, which only featured the regular cast on board the TARDIS.
The first episode of The Keys of Marinus features a guest appearance by George Coulouris.
He died at the end of the episode, so it wasn’t an extensive role, but I’m fairly certain he remains the only actor to appear in both Doctor Who and Citizen Kane!
Some of these episodes are currently “lost”, in that there’s no known copies of them in existence and no way for fans to currently see them. Indeed, all the original episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960’s are technically “lost” in that the original video tapes were all wiped so that the media could be re-used (with repeats being rare and there being no viable process for home viewing). Since then, some of these episodes remained available thanks to filmed copies of the masters, which were either still in storage or were recovered from other sources.
All that to say, of the episodes made in 1964, all but nine are currently available. Those nine are the entirety of the fourth story, Marco Polo (the first of the series’ historical dramas) and two episodes in the middle of The Reign of Terror. However, the audio tracks of these episodes are available, and a “summary” of Marco Polo combining this with some still images can be seen, and animated versions of the two Reign of Terror episodes have been created and re-integrated into the overall story. So it’s nearly possible to see the entire year of the show.
Personally, my favorite adventures of the year are The Azteks and The Dalek Invasion of the Earth.
The Azteks is the first story where some of the implications of time travel are addressed for the first time. Barbara is mistaken for an Aztek god and realizing the influence she yields, becomes determined to save the Azteks from being wiped out by changing their culture. The Doctor responds with an argument that is a bit surprising if you take the rest of the series’ into account: “But you can’t rewrite history! Not one line! Barbara, one last appeal–what you are trying to do is utterly impossible!” It’s easy enough, however, to reconcile this by saying that the Doctor understands that this is a “fixed point in time” but doesn’t want to bother explaining all that to Barbara.
As memorable as the Doctor’s pleading with Barbara is, I’ve always appreciated more Ian’s more practical arguments: “If only you could stand away from this thing, you’d see it clearly. Autloc’s the extraordinary man here. He’s the reasonable one, the civilised one, the one that’s prepared to listen to advice. But he’s one man, Barbara. One man. You can’t fight a whole way of life, Barbara.”
The Dalek Invasion of the Earth was the year’s final story, and while ostensibly set in the future, it was basically the story of the Daleks invading present day London, which I’m sure would have still resonated with people (and probably writer Terry Nation) in terms of the threat of London being overrun by Nazi’s only a couple of decades earlier. It’s pretty epic stuff made even more so by the first cast change of the series…Carole Ann Ford’s Susan leaves the show at the end of the last episode, in order to get married to freedom fighter David Campbell.
It’s a memorable scene which featured William Hartnell’s most oft-quoted speech: “One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs, and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.”
In addition to the television episodes, the first bits of tie-in media were being created, especially in the wake of the Dalek’s popularity.
The Dalek Book was a collection of stories and comics about the evil creatures that also served as the first of a series of “Dalek Annuals” from Souvenir Press. It was written, presumably, by David Whttaker (the show’s story editor) and Terry Nation (the Daleks’ creator).
David Whitaker also wrote the first Doctor Who novel: Doctor Who In An Exciting Adventure With the Daleks, which I read years later simply as Doctor Who and the Daleks. Adapting the original seven part story, the novel was written from Ian’s perspective. It included a new opening to the story in which Barbara and Ian meet both each other and the Doctor and Susan under different circumstances than on TV, and more of an overt hint at romance between the two at the end. I always enjoyed this book and I held onto it even when I cleared out most of my Target Doctor Who novelizations.
The year also saw the publishing of the first proper Doctor Who comic strip, in TV Comic. The first story was called The Klepton Parasites, and featured the First Doctor (at the time, the only Doctor) teaming up with his young grandchildren, John and Gillian. It premiered on November 9 of the year, and ran weekly, continuing into 1965.
In response to the Dalek craze, there was also a board game released in time for Christmas 1964, called Dodge the Daleks.
The BBC and a company called Scorpion also produced an “Automative Dalek costume” that is now a very rare collectable, as a fire ended destroying a big portion of the stock as well as some of the equipment that went into making them. Apparently, there were only several hundred that went to shops in time for Christmas, and very few survive today. In 2014 one sold at auction for 5000 British Pounds!
Season Two of Doctor Who continued into 1965, which we will look at next time!