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 #286)
1982 was the first time since 1972 that an entire season of Doctor Who aired in a single calendar year. In fact, even though it was still 26 episodes long, all of Season 19 of the show aired in between January 4th and March 30th, thanks to the new schedule of putting on two episodes a week (Monday and Tuesday nights) instead of the traditional Saturday evening time.
The season got started with Castrovalva, a four-part story by the previous script editor, Christopher H. Bidmead. This story introduced Peter Davison properly as the Fifth Doctor, and pitted him against the Master for the third serial in a row.
Anthony Ainley was back as the Master, and for time was credited under an pseudonym to avoid revealing the fact that the character was disguised as some else, with Neil Toynay being an anagram of Tony Ainley. The Master appeared to die at the end of the story–I think the first time this had happened (though by no means the last). The new Doctor was once again joined by the companions from the previous story–Janet Fielding as Tegan, Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, and Matthew Waterhouse as Adric.
The next story to air was Four To Doomsday by Terence Dudley, a slow-moving and low-key adventure which featured an extended cultural dance sequence and some actual Aboriginal Australian language being spoken.
The latter was apparently because Janet Fielding insisted they not just use plausible-sounding gibberish. In any case, it’s revealed that Tegan is fairly fluent in an Aboriginal language, which as an Australian (though I wasn’t when I first watched this story) is not at at all a common thing.
The four part Kinda followed next, written by Christopher Bailey. Kinda was full of various religious references, especially to Buddhism and Christianity. The story introduced the Mara, a snake-like ethereal entity that especially menaces Tegan for portions of the story.
Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa has a reduced part in the story due to the fact that it was originally written before her character was added to the show.
Eric Saward’s The Visitation came next in the season, another four-part story which took place in 17th century England. The story had quite a tight cast–pretty much just the four regulars, one guest character (Michael Robbins as highwayman Richard Mace) and one main new monster (a Terileptil played by Michael Melia). It was a popular story, but it’s biggest long-term impact was that the story featured the destruction of the sonic screwdriver, a device the Doctor used increasingly over the previous fourteen seasons.
Next up was a two part story called Black Orchid, again by Terency Dudley, in which Sarah Sutton played a double role–both Nyssa and a girl from the 1920’s. Black Orchid is notable for being the show’s only “pure historical” story since the The Highlanders way back in Season Four, in that it took place in the past and had no science fiction elements other than the TARDIS and its crew.
However, unlike all the other actual pure historical stories this one didn’t have any connection with any historical people or events.
The next story was arguably the season’s biggest production: Earthshock by Eric Saward. Created to have the same action tempo as a feature film, it was a big brash adventure which surprised everyone by bringing back the Cybermen, with almost no advanced publicity, at the end of the first episode.
Then it ended its last episode in a manner even more startling, as companion Adric sacrifices himself and dies, the first time that a long-term character was killed off on the show. The credits for the last episode rolled silently over a shot of Adric’s broken medal for mathematical excellence.
The season’s last story was the four part Time-Flight by Peter Grimwade. The story brought back the Master again, once again in disguise. Like in Castrovalva, he was credited with an anagram in the early parts of the story–Leon Ny Taiy (aka “Tony Ainley”). Time-Flight also featured a brief appearance of Matthew Waterhouse as an illusion of Adric, which was put in the script so that his name would appear in advance cast lists, thus avoiding spoiling the surprise that he was leaving the series in the previous week.
At the end of the serial, a loose story arc that had been running all year long about the Doctor trying to get Tegan back to Heathrow airport finally came to an end, and the episode showed Tegan apparently leaving the TARDIS (though it was always intended she’d return the following year).
John Nathan-Turner continued to produce the show this season, this time without the benefit of an Executive Producer. Eric Saward debuted as the long-term script editor, although it wasn’t completely straightforward. After Christopher H. Bidmead finished his tenure in this position, Antony Root filled in for three months, and script edited Four to Doomsday, The Visitation and part of Kinda (the first three stories produced). Then Eric Saward took over for three months, and finished the work on Kinda, and went on to Castrovalva and Black Orchid. Then Saward was offered the job on a more permanent basis, which meant he technically could not write new Doctor Who serials himself. However, a gap between Saward’s temporary job and permanent job meant he could be commissioned to write Earthshock, for which Root returned briefly so he could be credited as script editor for that story.
Time-Flight concluded on March 30, and that was the end of Doctor Who on TV or the year, except for a repeat of K9 and Company at the end of the year.
But in the meantime, Doctor Who continued in other media as usual. This included the latest range of Target novelizations: Doctor Who and the State of Decay, Doctor Who and Warrior’s Gate, Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken, Doctor Who and the Leisure Hive, Doctor Who and the Visitation, Doctor Who – Full Circle, Doctor Who – Logopolis, and Doctor Who and the Sunmakers. Warrior’s Gate was written by John Lydecker, The Leisure Hive by David Fisher, The Visitation by Eric Saward, and Logopolis by Christopher H. Bidmead—the other novels are by the stalwart Terrance Dicks.
Target books also published The Second Doctor Who Quiz Book (“second” not because it was about the Second Doctor, but because it was the second such book) and the Doctor Who Crossword Book, both by Nigel Robinson.
Also that year, The Making of the Television Series by Alan Road was published in hardcover. This book in particular examined the production of The Visitation, as representative of the making of the whole show.
Later, Magnet Books also published Doctor Who Quiz Book of Dinosaurs by Michael Holt, in which the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa were featured in short stories which led into subject-appropriate quizzes.
In August, both the Doctor Who Annual 1983 and the K9 Annual 1983 were published. The Doctor Who Annual had several short stories featuring the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa, and a comic that also had Adric. One of the stories had them facing the Master. The stories in the K9 Annual featured K9 with Sarah Jane Smith–some of them also included appearances by characters from K9 and Company, Lavinia Smith and Brendan Richards.
Doctor Who Monthly (called that for the first time) continued to be published, with issues 61-72 coming out in 1982, plus a Summer Special and Winter Special. Producer John Nathan-Turner started being credited as an advisor to the magazine at this point, and long-term contributor Jeremy Bentham finished his regular work on the magazine during this run as well.
The Fifth Doctor debuted in the comic stories (without any in-story explanation). In this first year of Fifth Doctor stories, several recurring characters and concepts were introduced: the Shayde (a Gallifreyan construct that the Doctor encountered at various times), the English town of Stockbridge, and Maxwell Edison (a normal man from Stockbridge). Some issues also continued to included back-up comic stories set in different corners of the Doctor Who universe, featuring such figures as the Sea Devils, UNIT, the Dominators, and the Quarks, as well Dr. Ivan Asimoff and the Free-Fall Warriors (both debuted in previous comic adventures). The stories were produced by talent including Steve Parkhouse, Dave Gibbons, John Peel, and David Lloyd.
Up until #78, they also featured reprints of Dalek stories from TV Century 21, originally published in the 1960’s. And in #64, a new three panel gag strip debuted called Doctor Who? by Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett. The ones from this year featured (usually) the Fifth Doctor, with appearances by the Master and the Cybermen, and by non-Doctor Who figures such as Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Worzel Gummidge.
And to finish off, 1982 featured the birth of several people who would later be quite central to Doctor Who: Arthur Darvill, on June 17th
Billie Piper, on September 22
and Matt Smith, on October 28th.
Pretty big year for Doctor Who!
Onward to 1983 (coming soon)