Doctor Who – 1965 – All the Years

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. Go back to the beginning and read about 1963 here.

(Daily Doctor Who #16)


1965 was a year of big transitions and new beginnings for Doctor Who. The year kicked off with the The Rescue, a two-part story which introduced the series’ first new companion, Vicki, played by Maureen O’Brien, joining regulars William Russell (Ian) and Jacqueline Hill (Barbara) as they accompanied William Hartnell’s Doctor in the TARDIS. Before the year was over, all three characters would be gone.

The second season of the show continued from January until July with a total of 30 episodes and seven stories (in addition to the 12 episodes and two stories which had aired in 1964). Of these, many were lost but have been recovered, so that now one can watch them all except for two episodes of The Crusaders. Ian and Barbara departed the Doctor in the sixth story, collected as The Chase, and were replaced by Peter Purves as space pilot Steven Taylor. The final story of the season, The Time Meddler, introduced another member of the Doctor’s people (the Meddling Monk, played by Peter Butterworth) for the first time, although no real details about their home civilization were revealed.

The series continued with a third season, which debuted on September 11, 1965, with the story Galaxy 4. That was followed by an unusual episode called Mission to the Unknown, which featured the Daleks but none of the regular cast (including the Doctor). It served as a prologue to The Daleks’ Masterplan which started a bit later. Before that, though, was a four part historical story called The Myth Makers which saw Vicki leaving and being replaced by a handmaiden from Ancient Troy, Katarina (Adrienne Hill). Then The Daleks’ Masterplan kicked off. This would eventually be a twelve part epic, though only seven episodes aired in 1965. In the fourth, The Traitors, Katarina was killed off, it having been decided that the character was not working. She was quickly replaced by the very different Space Security Agent Sara Kingdom, played by Jean Marsh. Sara would only appear in this one epic-length story, and so has been the subject of fan debates ever since as to whether she should actually “count” as a companion.

The last story to air of 1965 was the first episode to air on Christmas Day. Entitled The Feast of Steven, it was a bit of a departure from the actual plot, showing the Doctor and his companions in a madcap runaround in a police station and a film set. As far as I can tell, it didn’t feature the Daleks at all, but did include fake version of Charlie Chaplin and Bing Crosby, as well as the Doctor wishing everyone at home a Merry Christmas!

It occurs to me that in all three years that Doctor Who had been on the air, the Daleks were featured as a villain around Christmas-time. I wonder if this was seen as a tradition by this point, and I wonder if it’s a trend that will continue.

All together, 16 episodes of Season Three aired in 1965, or 46 episodes all together for the year. That’s crazy!

Out of the Season Three episodes released this year, only three survive (one episode of Galaxy Four and two of The Daleks’ Masterplan), beginning one of the show’s hardest hit periods in this respect. The whole year is also one of the ones that I am least familiar with, personally. I’ve seen most of the surviving stories, but not for a long time, and I can’t say I remember them very well. My impressions of The Rescue and The Romans are pretty positive, while The Web Planet, The Space Museum, and The Chase are less so. I think The Time Meddler is one of the ones I’d most like to watch again.

But The Web Planet seems to have been the most popular. At least, the Zarbi and the Menoptera began to appear all over the place, including in a comic story that debuted just after the serial ended.

Behind the scenes, David Whitaker had left the role of Script Editor at the end of 1964, and was replaced by Dennis Spooner for most of the rest of Season 2. Donald Tosh took over starting with The Time Meddler, and continued for the rest of the year. Verity Lambert, the original producer of the series, left her role after Mission to the Unknown, and was replaced by John Wiles (who famously had a tumultuous relationship with William Hartnell).

David Whitaker continued to be majorly involved in Doctor Who, writing The Crusade from the second season, and also doing a lot of the writing for a series of Dalek comics in TV Century 21 magazine.

These were one-page comics which offered an extensive look at the history of the creatures. Of course most of this was contradicted later, but it included a version of their origins, the beginning of their space program, and the development of their plans to conquer the galaxy. The Mechanoids, who had appeared on TV in The Chase, also appeared as antagonists to the Daleks.

The Doctor also continued to appear in comics, with his companion / grandchildren John and Gillian, throughout the year in TV Comic.

As mentioned, one of the stories featured the Doctor and his grandchildren visiting the planet Vortis and encountering the creatures from The Web Planet. Another story apparently involved the travelers realizing they are moving backwards through their own story, and can be read as such if one chooses. Clever!

The year features a number of other significant developments in the broader world of Doctor Who, mostly around the Daleks. First, on June 25 (right in the middle of The Chase) the feature film Dr. Who and the Daleks was released. Starring Peter Cushing and directed by Gordon Fleming, this was a loose adaptation of the first Dalek serial (from 1963-1964) featuring a character actually named Dr. Who, who was a human scientist who had invented his time machine.

Secondly, right at the end of the year, the Daleks broke onto the stage as well, with The Curse of the Daleks, mostly written by–once again–David Whitaker. The show ran for a month, and did not feature the Doctor. Big Finish made an audio version of it in 2008 which I wrote about here.

Other material released in 1965 includes two art books: The Dalek Painting Book and Paint and Draw the Film Dr. Who and the Daleks. Also, the first Doctor Who annual, entitled Doctor Who Annual 1966 but coming out in September 1965. It featured a number of prose stories that included appearances by the Zarbi, as well as the Voord and the Sensorites (both from season one stories that aired in 1964).

A Dalek annual by Terry Nation and David Whitaker also came out, called The Dalek World, which featured a number of stories, comics and features. Terry Nation also wrote The Dalek Pocketbook and Space Travellers Guide, which featured fictional “facts” about the Daleks, as well as real facts about astronomy. Finally, the second Doctor Who novel, Doctor Who and the Zarbi (based on The Web Planet) came out, written by Bill Strutton. Slightly oddly, it refers to the hero as “Doctor Who” throughout.

Season Three of Doctor Who continued into 1966, which we will look at next time!



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