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 #89)
For just the second time in its history, Doctor Who kicked off the year with an episode on New Year’s Day–Day of the Daleks Episode 1. This was the first of 26 episodes for Season 9–the same number as Season 8. And in addition to the episode count, the show continued a time of unprecedented stability. The cast was the same–Jon Pertwee as the Doctor and Katy Manning as Jo Grant, with recurring cast members Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, John Levene as Sgt. Benton, Richard Franklin as Captain Mike Yates, and Roger Delgado as the Master. Producer Barry Letts and Script Editor Terrance Dicks also remained in their positions.
The season consisted of five stories of four or six episodes each, starting off with the return of the Daleks after an absence of over four years. Day of the Daleks was by Louis Marks, and was notable for featuring the first time where the Doctor is seen meeting himself (albeit in his same incarnation) and for being one of the few stories in which time travel is an actual plot point, and not just a means of getting the Doctor to the story’s setting. It also featured the debut of the Ogrons, who would appear again, both times serving as basically the galaxy’s leading villainous henchman.
Day of the Daleks was followed by the four part The Curse of Peladon by Brian Hayles, and Third Doctor and Jo to an alien world for only the second time. This story included the return of the Hayles’ creation, the Ice Warriors, whose leader here was memorably played by Alan Bennion. Interestingly, the Ice Warriors have developed by the time this serial takes place, and are not the story’s villains. The Curse of Peladon also debuts the alien Alpha Centuari, played by Stuart Fell (body) and Ysanne Churchman (voice). All three actors returned for the story’s sequel The Monster of Peladon, which aired a couple of years later (although Bennion was playing a different Ice Warrior at the time). Churchman would again reprise the voice of Alpha Centuari in Empress of Mars which aired over forty-five years later. The cast also included David Troughton, the son of actor Patrick Troughton. The story did not include the Brigadier or any of the other UNIT cast, or indeed any scenes of earth at all.
In the next story, The Sea Devils, author Malcolm Hulke brought back the Master for the first time this season (starting off in prison, where he was last seen being brought to). He also introduced the Sea Devils–the aquatic relatives of the Silurians from Hulke’s story a couple of years previously. This six part adventure included the line of dialogue, “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow,” which became a catchphrase of the Third Doctor, even though this was the only time the line was actually used during his original run. Even though this story is set on contemporary earth, UNIT once again does not appear.
The fourth serial of the year was The Mutants, a six part adventure by Bob Baker and Dave Martin. The story has the Doctor and Jo heading off in the TARDIS again on behalf of the Time Lords and getting involved in a powers struggle on a colonial world. The guest cast included Geoffrey Palmer, briefly, and George Pravda, who had appeared back in The Enemy of the World, and would show up again in The Deadly Assassin. It also includes Garrick Hagon, who is probably best known as Biggs in Star Wars (the original) and John Hollis, who was Lobot in The Empire Strikes Back.
The season wrapped up with the six part The Time Monster, by Robert Sloman. The story had everything and the kitchen sink, featuring the Master, UNIT, present-day earth-bound drama, time traveling drama, and a visit to Atlantis in time to see it doomed. It also featured a new TARDIS interior design which only lasted for this one story because of damage that the prop suffered between seasons. The most famous guest stars of the story were horror-queen Ingrid Pitt as the queen of Atlantis, and Star Wars‘ Dave Prowse (Darth Vader) as a Minotaur.
The story and the season ended on June 24th, but interestingly, this was not the last episode to air that year–Season Ten actually debuted on December 30th of the same year. This was the first part of The Three Doctors, featuring not only the Third Doctor, Jo the Brigadier and Benton, but also the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and the Firsts Doctor (William Hartnell), both returning to the show for the first time since they left.
This is the first time (and perhaps only time? We will see as we continue with this series of posts) that two different seasons of Doctor Who debuted in the same calendar year. The story continued into 1973 and we will discuss it more thoroughly there.
Meanwhile in Doctor Who comics, the Third Doctor’s adventures continued all through the year in the magazine best known as TV Action, with the Third Doctor being accompanied by a series of one-off companions. The last story of the year, Zeron Invasion (starting on December 2) featured Nick Willard, the first ever black companion of the Doctor, in any medium.
In addition to this, the Daleks made a couple of appearances this year for the first time in a while, including a story called The Planet of the Daleks, which was basically the same title as an unrelated TV story the following year. The magazine also published the Countdown Annual–which featured a comic story with the Third Doctor and another one-off companion–and also a TV Action Holiday issue, which featured a Third Doctor short story.
On April 20, The Making of Doctor Who, written mostly by Malcolm Hulke but also with Terrance Dicks, was published–the first ever professionally published non-fiction book about Doctor Who.
It was later revised, but this book writes about the Doctor’s adventures as if they were either documents detailing notes for the Doctor’s trial (see The War Games) or UNIT reports about the Doctor’s activities on earth. At one point, the Doctor is described as being “never cowardly” which was then expanded upon in the second edition, basically creating the language used to describe the Doctor around the time of the 50th anniversary.
World Distributors published their latest Doctor Who Annual in September, numbered according to their conventions the 1973 edition.
There were numerous short stories included, all featuring the Third Doctor and Jo Grant, and featuring at times the Brigadier, Mike Yates, and the Master.
On December 1st, Jon Pertwee, Nicholas Courtney and Katy Manning all appeared in-costume at the opening to the BBC tv Special Effects Exhibition in Kensington. The BBC had run such events before but this was the first time that material from Doctor Who played a significant role, and apparently contributed greatly to event’s success. The Doctor Who portion of the exhibit featued a TARDIS console, a couple of Daleks, various spaceships and a number of different monster costumes.
It ran for six months before it went on tour, and eventually inspired other ongoing exhibitions.
And finally Jon Pertwee released Who is the Doctor, a spoken word song in which he read lyrics over an upbeat version of the theme, as arranged by Rupert Hine. It featured such pretentious lyrics as…
I cross the void beyond the mind
The empty space that circles time.
I see where others stumble blind
To seek a truth they never find.
Eternal wisdom is my guide.
I am the Doctor.
…which is the sort of thing you need someone with Jon Pertwee’s gravitas to pull off. Does he do it? Listen to it on Youtube here and decide for yourself!
See you next time!