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 #259)
The 80’s began with the conclusion of Season 17 of Doctor Who, which meant that the last two episodes of The Horns of Nimon hit the air on January 5th & January 12th. Another story had been planned to follow that one and end the season–Shada by Douglas Adams–but it was delayed and eventually cancelled due to industrial action at the BBC (and thus was not released in any form for many years).
As a result, The Horns of Nimon by Anthony Read became the unintentional season finale, and also the last episode of Doctor Who to be produced by Graham Williams, script edited by Douglas Adams, the last to be scored by Dudley Simpson, the last to feature David Brierley as the voice of K9, and the last to feature the Fourth Doctor’s original theme song arrangement, opening title sequence, jacket and scarf.
The series re-began in August, on the 30th, with the firsts episode of The Leisure Hive by David Fisher.
Tom Baker was back as the Fourth Doctor for a record seventh consecutive season, along with Lalla Ward as the second incarnation of Romana. John Leeson also returned after a year’s absence to voice K9 again. John Nathan-Turner, former the show’s production manager, took over as producer, and Christopher H. Bidmead became the script editor. Barry Letts (the producer during the Third Doctor era) returned to support the show as Executive Producer. The story introduced a new burgundy-colored wardrobe for Baker (complete with question mark lapels), a new version of the theme song arranged by Peter Howell (replacing Delia Derbyshire original arrangement), and a new starfield-themed title sequence.
The four-part story The Leisure Hive was followed by another four part story, Meglos, by John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch. Jacqueline Hill, who had been part of the show’s original cast as Barbara, returned as a guest star portraying another character.
Tom Baker also had the chance to play the story’s titular villain for part of the serial. Both the Doctor and Meglos-disguised-as-the-Doctor were rendered in wax for Madame Tussaud’s during the production of this serial, leading Baker to claim he was the only person represented in the famous wax museum twice.
Next up was Full Circle by Andrew Smith, another four-part adventure which was the beginning of a trilogy of stories featuring the TARDIS being trapped in a small pocket universe called E-Space. In this first story, a new companion was introduced: Adric, as played by Matthew Waterhouse, who stows away in the TARDIS at the end of the story.
State of Decay followed Full Circle. Written by Terrance Dicks, the story featured a variation on vampires as the enemy, and introduced a major element into the backstory of the Time Lords in the form of their ancient war with the Great Vampires. State of Decay finished its fourth and final episode on December 13th, concluding Doctor Who on TV for the year (the rest of the season airing in the following year).
Another run of Target novelizations were published through the year: Doctor Who and the Invasion of Time, Doctor Who and the Stones of Blood, Doctor Who and the Androids of Tara, Doctor Who and the Power of Kroll, Doctor Who and the Armageddon Factor, Doctor Who and the Keys of Marinus, Doctor Who and the Nightmare of Eden, Doctor Who and the Horns of Nimon, and Doctor Who and the Monster of Peladon.
They were all written by Terrance Dicks, except for The Keys of Marinus, which was written by Philip Hinchcliffe.
Dicks also wrote the Junior Doctor Who and the Brain of Morbius, based on his own novel and his own TV script (although that was released under the pen name Robin Bland). Target also reissued the 1976 book The Making of Doctor Who, which Dicks had also written. On top of that, Achilles Press released American versions of a couple of the books: the ones based on The Android Invasion and The Seeds of Doom.
Four children’s storybooks were released this year as well under the overall title The Adventures of K9: K9 and the Time Trap, K9 and the Beasts of Vega, K9 and the Zeta Rescue, and K9 and the Missing Planet. They were all written by David Martin, who co-created K9 along with writer Bob Baker as “Dave Martin.”
In August, the Doctor Who Annual 1981 was released. It featured the Fourth Doctor, Romana (Lalla Ward version) and K9 in a series of short stories and comic stories.
And at some point in the year the reference work A Day with a TV Producer was published. This profiled John Nathan-Turner and the production of The Leisure Hive.
At the beginning of the year, Doctor Who Weekly continued to be published, starting with issue #13 and going through until #43 at the end of July. At that point, it’s name changed to Doctor Who – A Marvel Monthly. In whatever format, the magazine published interviews, articles, short stories and a lot of comic material, including by the same noted creators as in the publication’s first year: Dave Gibbons, Steve Moore, John Wagner, Pat Mills, Steve Dillon, David Lloyd and celebrated writer Alan Moore.
The stories included appearances by the Cybermen, Ice Warriors, the Silurians, Sontarans, the Draconians, the Great Intelligence, the Yeti, the Autons and the Daleks…and in sometimes in the backup stories without the Doctor. One of the stories also included appearances by the first three Doctors in addition to the Fourth via the concept of “retro-regeneration”–a Time Lord being forced into their regenerations in reverse.
Notably, a story called Abslom Daak…Dalek Killer which began in Issue #17 (which began in January) introduced the character Abslom Daak who went on to appear many more times.
Issue #19 (from February) started a story called Doctor Who and the Star Beast which introduced a despotic alien called Beep the Meep. Beep went on to appear in further comic and audio stories, and Doctor Who and the Star Beast itself was later dramatized in an audio starring Tom Baker.
The same story introduced Sharon, a companion of the Fourth Doctor who made a fair number of comic and prose story appearances.
Issue #47 included a story called Star Death by Alan Moore which told a story about the origins of the Time Lords’ time travel technology, featuring both Omega and Rassilon as characters. It was indeed the first visual depiction of Rassilon in any Doctor Who media.
Meanwhile, the magazine continued to publish back-up strips taken from Marvels Classic Comics, which had adapted famous science fiction stories. This included The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The First Men in the Moon. The series ended with Issue 29, when it was replaced by Dr. Who’s Time Tales. This was another reprint series of short comic stories taken from other series, but repackaged to be introduced by the Doctor. This series for as long as the magazine was published on a weekly basis, Issue #43. They also started publishing reprints of the Daleks comic from TV Century 21 in the 1960’s, under a new heading: The Dalek Tapes.
Marvel’s US publishing group also borrowed material from Doctor Who Weekly–the story Doctor Who and the Iron Legion, originally from the first 8 issues of Doctor Who Weekly, was repurposed into Marvel Premier #57, which came out this year.
In the world of famous people associated with Doctor Who, 1980 saw the death of writer and script editor David Whitaker, who passed away on February 4.
Also, actress Sophia Myles was born on March 18. She only appeared once, but in the memorable role of Reinette in The Girl in the Fireplace.