Doctor Who – 1968 – 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 #43)


The first episode of Doctor Who in 1968 debuted on January 6–Part 3 of The Enemy of the World, featuring Patrick Troughton as both the Doctor and the villain, Salamander, alongside Frazer Hines as Jamie McCrimmon and Deborah Watling as Victoria Waterfield. Season five of the series continued on a weekly basis until June 1st, a total of 22 episodes. The rest of the stories were The Web of Fear, Fury from the Deep and The Wheel in Space.

Incumbent producer Innes Lloyd finished his duties on the show at the conclusion of The Enemy of the World, and was replaced for the rest of the year by Peter Bryant, who had started the year as Script Editor (and had previously produced one story, The Tomb of the Cybermen). Derrick Sherwin took over as Script Editor for most of the rest of the year.

The Web of Fear featured the return of Jack Watling as Edward Travers (making him the second recurring guest star, and the first who is the Doctor’s ally), plus the Great Intelligence and the Yeti (making them the series’ third recurring monster). Even more significantly, it was the debut story of Nicholas Courtney as Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Courtney had appeared on the series as a different character a few years earlier, but it his role as the future Brigadier and commander of UNIT is what made him a beloved figure amongst Doctor Who fans. The Web of Fear is thus something of a precursor for where the show would be heading in a few years.

At the conclusion of the next story, Fury from the Deep, Deborah Watling left the show, as Victoria Waterfield stayed behind on modern day earth. The last story of the season featured the return of the Cybermen (for their fourth appearance in about a year and a half, and also debuted Wendy Padbury as new companion Zoe Herriot, a genius-level scientist from the future, joining the Doctor and Jamie.

After that, the BBC did a repeat showing of The Evil of the Daleks which covered most of the weeks before the sixth season started up. That season kicked off on August 10th with The Dominators, and continued with The Mind Robber, The Invasion and the first episode of The Krotons…19 episodes in total.

That means that 1968 featured 41 new episodes of Doctor Who, the last year to air anywhere near so many (Edit: this is not true, a fact I realized as I researched 1975!) The Invasion once again featured the return of the Cybermen, and was also the debut of Terrance Dicks as Script Editor, taking over from Derrick Sherwin. Dicks would go on to be the longest-serving Script Editor the series ever had.

The Invasion also saw Nicholas Courtney come back as the now Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (previously he’d been a Colonel), who now headed up something called UNIT–the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. UNIT was an international branch of the military which was specially trained to deal with extra-terrestrial and other similar threats. UNIT would become major players in Doctor Who for the next six seasons or so, and would continue to make recurring appearances after that.

The Invasion also featured an appearance by minor character Corporal Benton, played by John Levene, who would become a significantly recurring figure in future UNIT stories.

Of those 41 episodes, only 13 are actually missing, which is pretty good compared to previous years. Fury from the Deep is the only completely missing story, but it has recently been fully animated.

You can also watch animated versions of the missing episodes from The Invasion, and pretty soon, The Web of Fear. That leaves only four episodes from The Wheel in Space as the only ones that won’t soon be available.

I have a lot of fondness for this era of the show. The Enemy of the World, I’ve already commented, is one I like quite a lot. The Web of Fear wasn’t as good as its reputation (most of it showed up quite recently after being missing for a long time) but was still fun. The Dominators was a bit of a clunker but The Mind Robber is an amazingly surreal piece of work with a very funny bit where Frazer Hines gets replaced by his cousin Hamish Wilson as Jamie for an episode (Hines was sick, apparently).

I don’t remember The Invasion very well and I’ve yet to watch Fury from the Deep, although I’m looking forward to it!

Over in the world of other Doctor Who media, TV Comics‘ strip continued, still featuring the Second Doctor and his grandchildren, John and Gillian, fighting various menaces, including the Cybermen. John and Gillian were written out in a story that started in August, called Invasion of the Quarks. The Doctor left them behind at a university when he becomes fearful for their safety. He soon encounters his “old friend” Jamie McCrimmon, who becomes the first television companion to appear in the strip.

The titular Quarks were actually from the TV serial The Dominators, which was actually running at the time Invasion of the Quarks started. The Quarks would go onto appear in another couple of TV Comics stories, as the creators apparently thought they were going to be the next “big thing” from the TV show. As it is, they’ve never appeared in the series since their original story (aside from a cameo or two).

The fourth Doctor Who annual came out this year, called Doctor Who Annual 1969, and featured a bunch of Second Doctor stories along with Jamie and Victoria.

And TV Comics also released both an annual and a holiday special, which each featured a couple of Doctor Who comic stories, featuring again John and Gillian, and including appearances by both the Cybermen and the Daleks (seemingly, their only comic story of the year!)

That’s it for Doctor Who in 1968, except for one thing…Frazer Hines (Jamie) released a pop single called Who’s Doctor Who, possibly on October 11th. It’s really goofy, and easily findable on Youtube (here, for example).

He has a time machine
To travel through the ages
To take a look at history
He simply turns the pages

That’s gold!


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