Doctor Who – 1973 – 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 #114)


Because the tenth season of Doctor Who had actually begun in the last week of 1972, there were only 25 episodes of the show aired in the first half of 1973. However, since the eleventh season also began in December (on the 15th), there were 28 episodes aired in total. Jon Pertwee starred in all of them as the Third Doctor, and Katy Manning co-starred in the earlier season as Jo Grant.

Elisabeth Sladen then debuted in the later season as Sarah Jane Smith.

Returning as recurring characters throughout were Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, John Levene as Sergeant Benton, and Richard Franklin as Captain Mike Yates. Producer Barry Letts and Script Editor Terrance Dicks remained in their roles throughout the year.

The year kicked off with Parts 2-4 of The Three Doctors, the tenth anniversary story by Bob Baker and Dave Martin, and featuring Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor, and in a reduced part because of his health, William Hartnell as the First Doctor.

The story was significant as the first “multi-Doctor” adventure, and saw the Doctor’s exile to earth reprieved at its conclusion. It turned out to be the last professional work of William Hartnell before he died.

Carnival of Monsters was the next story to come along, by Robert Holmes. This well-regarded four part story was the first to feature the Doctor free to travel as he wished. A Cyberman also made a brief appearance–the only appearance by the monster in the entirety of the Third Doctor’s era.

Ian Marter, who would later become regular character Harry Sullivan, appeared in a small guest role.

The next story was Frontier in Space by Malcolm Hulke. This six-part tale turned out to be the last appearance by Roger Delgado as the Master, as the actor died in an accident on June 18th of this year.

The story featured a re-appearance by the Ogrons (a monster who shown up as henchman for the Daleks in Season 9’s Day of the Daleks, and ended with a surprise appearance by the Daleks themselves, with a cliffhanger that led straight into the following six part story, Planet of the Daleks.

Planet of the Daleks was by Terry Nation, and functioning as it did with its predecessor provided what amounted to a huge 12 part epic in the middle of the season.

The season closed off with The Green Death by Robert Sloman. This story brought the Doctor back to earth in a more “traditional” adventure with the whole UNIT gang. This was an ecology-themed six parter that saw the departure of Katy Manning in one of the series’ very best send-offs, as Jo Grant got married to one of the story’s main guest stars, environmental activist Professor Clifford Jones.

The serial, and the season, ended on June 23, 1973.

Season Eleven kicked off on December 15h, and the close of the year included the first three parts of The Time Warrior, by Robert Holmes, which introduced popular companion Sarah Jane Smith, played by Elisabeth Sladen. The other debut from that serial were the Sontarans, who became on the series’ most popular and frequently re-appearing monsters.

In between, and indeed throughout the year, Doctor Who continued to appear in comics. Picking up from the previous year, the series was originally in TV Action. The stories generally featured the Third Doctor on his own, fighting menaces original to the comics, although the Daleks and the Master each made an appearance.

Interestingly, there was no comic published in the June 30th issue of TV Action, but the letters page of that issue included a question answered by producer Barry Letts in which he revealed the name of the Doctor’s home planet Gallifrey, nearly six months before it was first spoken on TV in The Time Warrior part 2 (December 22 of this year).

On August 18, TV Action concluded as a magazine, and the Doctor Who comic strip reverted to its old home in TV Comic, starting on September 1. It still featured the Third Doctor with a short-term companion named Arnold, a young boy from the future.

Both TV Action and TV Comics were published by the same company, Polystyle, who also produced a number of other one-off products throughout the year. The Doctor Who Holiday Special 1973, was published on June 1, and featured a couple of comic stories and one short story. The Doctor, the Master, the Brigadier and the Daleks all made appearances.

They also released a 1973 Countdown Annual, which had one comic story.

Meanwhile, World Distributors contributed to the year with the Doctor Who Annual 1974, with the usual array of comics, short stories, puzzles and features. In addition to the Doctor, Jo Grant, the Brigadier, the Master and Mike Yates all put in appearances.

World Distributors also published the Dr. Who Colouring Book in January.

In May that year, the BBC tv Special Effects Exhibition closed, but the exhibition was relocated to the northern part of England in July in order to give other people and opportunity to see it. It was a great success there, by all accounts, and ran for another six months, even expanding its features during that time.

Also in May of that year, reprints of the first three Doctor Who novelizations, Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks, Doctor Who and the Crusaders and Doctor Who and the Zarbi, were all published by the Target Books imprint for the first time. This began a long line of novelizations which were significant for many Doctor Who fans, including myself.

Finally, maybe the strangest offering that year, on May 22 two Dalek props were stolen when they sat unguarded on a truck while the driver was occupied elsewhere.

So on June 7, The Dalek Appeal was aired on the magazine-style TV show, Blue Peter. It featured a lone Dalek sharing the news with viewers and appealing (or threatening?) for their help. Strangely, the Dalek was portrayed, and the segment written, by Michael Wisher, who played several roles in Doctor Who but became most famous as the original Davros.

Very quickly after this was aired, the props were located and returned, and so in September on another show called Vision On, we got The Dance of the Daleks, which featured all three Dalek (props) celebrating with a bit of a dance. I couldn’t find The Dalek Appeal on Youtube, but The Dance of the Daleks was readily available from a user called Dalek 63•88 (who has many videos and a website that share a lot of Dalek-related history).

Anyway, the little video is as odd as it sounds.

See you next time!



One thought on “Doctor Who – 1973 – All the Years

  1. The Vision On Dalek Dance was a nice memory from my childhood. Thank you, Ben, for including it.

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