Surely that should be "are what life is all about"? Anyway, we say that Doctor Pete summed it up best when - Beryl Reid to the left of him, Matthew Waterhouse to the right - he told the Cybermen what life is really all about: small, simple pleasures from "smelling a flower" to "eating a well-prepared meal". In tribute to that maxim, then, TV Cream offers up its ten favourite small, beautiful events/moments/things that make us love the world of Doctor Who that little bit more...
We make no bones about it, TV Cream has enjoyed a great deal of innocent merriment at the expense of Doctor Who's erstwhile unofficial advisor on flashback sequences. Our absolute favourite 'Levine scene', however, took place in 1993 when BBC2 were supplementing a repeat run of Planet of the Daleks with some five-minute Who documentaries. One, entitled 'Missing in Action', centred around those old episodes of Doctor Who that are no longer available in the BBC archives. Here we found Levine in a brilliant sequence, possibly staged for the camera, where he was nattering away excitedly on two telephones at once, presumably negotiating the return of some crappy black and white Hartnell bits. "40?!" he gushes. "Oh my God! This is too much too hope for! Oh, oh, oh!" The footage is then accompanied by Levine in voiceover claiming that one recent phone bill came in at over £2000. Well, Ian, you don't really need to talk down two phones at once you know. It's not like that makes it stereo or anything.
As we all know, every hero needs his Moriarty. Batman has the Joker, Ron Dixon has Dick Ronson and the Doctor has Sophie Aldred. Levine's nemesis came in the form of the shadowy Roger K Barratt. Around this time Barratt duped the Who community into thinking he had a copy of Hartnell's last ever episode The Tenth Planet on tape. Alas, it turned out to be an elaborate ploy, a cruel trick to wind-up Who fans. Levine was incensed. With the camera close-up on his quivering fist he railed: "The absolute utter depths of despair when we found out that it was just a blank tape and it was all a hoax. You've no idea what it felt like." He continued: "If I could get hold of this Roger Barratt I think I'd grab hold of him by the scruff of his neck and choke him until I found out why he misled everybody." And then more impassioned: "What kind of idiot does he take us all for?! I wish I could get hold of him". One day, Ian. One day.
That slim publication, 'The TARDIS Inside Out' by John Nathan-Turner, had been a smash success. No question. A volume whose back cover blurb went (in part) "At last, a book on DOCTOR WHO" and contained the info that one of JNT's priorities in casting the fifth Doctor was "Straight hair – Tom's curly locks had become so famous. We needed an opposite image" was crying out for an equally fitting sequel. Thus in 1986 JNT penned 'The Companions' (nabbing a spot on Breakfast Time with Sally Magnusson to boot) wherein he'd examine those exposition-spouting bods who'd accompanied the Doctor for the last 23 years on screen.
JNT on Ben, as played by Michael Craze: "I was delighted in November when Michael, who has now returned to acting, joined us for the Children in Need appeal. An all-time record of £4,000,000 plus was raised." On Ian Chesterton (William Russell): "An actor I have always admired since the successful series Ivanhoe". On Polly (Anneke Wills): "Polly accompanied Ben throughout his stay in the Tardis [sic]". And if your taste in Doctor Who writing was for the more in-depth, there was something for you too... On Dodo (Jackie Lane): "One of the few companions I have never actually met... We have spoken to each other many times over the telephone." Shove that up your arse, Andrew Pixley!
It's our favourite ever Master moment and it took place on March 17, 1973 in the story Frontier in Space. The Master (as played by Roger Delgado) has the third Doctor and Jo Grant imprisoned onboard a police spaceship. Monitoring the pair's conversation on close circuit television, he occasionally butts in via a speaker system to deliver a pithy putdown ("In a reminiscent mood are you, Doctor? Poor Miss Grant, you have my deepest sympathy"). When he gets bored of baiting his mortal foe, however, he then kicks back and digs into a copy of The War of the Worlds by HG Wells which he's halfway through reading.
Why's this so great? It's because the concept of a galactic super-villain who takes along a book to read during the boring bits is just superb. Nowadays we'd guess it'd be a Gameboy. "Peoples of the universe, please attend. Oh. Hold on. Anyone know how to get past this first boss on Spyro The Dragon"?
Actually dressing up as the Doctor is just a bit too on the nose for some people. Let's face it, clumping about in a cricket sweater or frilly shirt is just wearing your heart on your sleeve to the nth degree. With this in mind there is a certain sub-section of Who fandom who, when they're out and about, will dress in what they consider to be a 'Doctorish' fashion. They're not actually coming right out and pinning a stick of celery to their lapel, but they are wearing clothes that one could imagine a notional 'twelfth Doctor' donning. And we've got written proof. The following comes from an article about taking marijuana written by Ian Levy in the Who fanzine (see, these things can be a broad church) Five Hundred Eyes # 5 published in 1990. Levy is undoubtedly got up as a twelfth Doctor in the following sequence: "Here, I felt I could have my 'oceanic experience'. I felt at home here, even if my boater, black velvet jacket, green corduroy trousers and green silk waistcoat did seem a bit staid."
And we've got photographic proof too. In 2003 TV Cream
sent along a representative to the Doctor Who Appreciation Society conference
in London (putting himself and a Sontaran forward for a spot-the-difference
competition on UK Gold whilst he was there) where he snapped several twelfth
Doctors. Five of them we now present for your pleasure in traditional
Doctor Who/Photoshop montage stylee:
Your guide to that picture: From left to right we've got: i) Bookish Doctor ii) Gay cavort Doctor iii) Can I help you? Doctor iv) Disco Doctor and v) Not sure about the beard Doctor. Please note the 'Brigadier' looking on in the background, groaning: "Oh no, here we go again!"
Ian and Barbara stumbled in, Sarah Jane hid in the TARDIS, Romana just appeared, Adric stowed away, Ace had nowhere else to go and Bonnie Langford didn't even arrive. Thankfully, however, there's one companion whose arrival really sets the standard for how the Doctor should have always been introduced to his new onscreen chum. It all happened on February 9, 1983 and the last part of the Peter Davison story Mawdryn Undead. Deposited into the TARDIS by the nasty Black Guardian to nobble the Doctor in a way yet to be specified, Turlough had made it to the end of the story and it was about time he was granted actual travelling companion status.
"I'm not that easy to get rid of" he tells Nyssa and Tegan who look on like some daffy Greek chorus, and then: "Doctor, may I join you?" Peter Davison's made a note that in the previous scene the Doctor had been running and so breathlessly he replies: "I think you already have". At this point Paddy Kingsland's incidental music swells from a harrumph of synth horns (well, the Brigadier had been knocking about just prior to this) into an overblown synthesized electric-guitar fanfare as the Doc and Turlough shake on it. At which point we cut to a space-ship blowing up and then the end titles come screaming in. Hooray! You see, everyone, that's how it should be done!
It's 1993, and what force for good could bring Doctor Who back onto our screens? In May of that year Doctor Who's last Producer John Nathan Turner had been taken out for lunch at the Balzac restaurant by his old friend from BBC Features, Nick Handel. Yep, the same location where JNT had taken the series' longest serving contributor, musician Dudley Simpson, to publicly sack him was again to become witness to some awful news as Handel informed JNT that BBC Children in Need were looking for a Doctor Who sketch! The result was the Doctor Who meets EastEnders runaround Dimensions in Time, which in light of 2003's Dead Ringers skit ("the correct answer is that they all look suspiciously like a disused quarry in Dorset!") can now be seen as a rather taut, witty, affectionate and well-staged production. But enough of that, what we're particularly celebrating here is the resultant promotional appearance Jon Pertwee made on the Noel's House Party segment of CIN on Friday November 26.
With Noel thoughtfully got-up as a stereotypical Who fan (shiny trousers, nasty paisley shirt and 3D specs cribbed from that week's Radio Times) the door bell to Crinkley Bottom rings. Bounding up the stairs Noel accidentally stumbles but ad-libs his way out of it: "I've really done my eyes! I think I need to see the Doctor". Cue Pertwee leaning coolly against the doorway bedecked in third Doctor velvets. Suavely surveying Noel he quips: "Well, well, well. I've never gone this far back in time before!" As Noel invites him in and they amble over towards the TV set, Pert's not done yet. "I've seen you in the year 2010" he says. And then, witheringly: "You're still on television!" Noel plays it silly: "Am I? Oh – am I doing serious programmes?" Here comes the pay-off: "No, I said I travel through space and time. I don't visit fantasy island!" If you think it couldn't get any better, there's then a direct aside to camera: "I heard he was thick, but I thought they were talking about his waist!" For TV Cream this is a Who moment every bit as iconic as Patrick Troughton pissing about on Pebble Mill at One or even "Is this the planet Shepherd's Bush?" Noel then ushers Pert to sit down as Dimensions in Time is about to start. "Yes, I'm looking forward to seeing it m'self" says the mighty-nosed time traveller. "I'm in it you know". And with that 13.8 million viewers (Doctor Who's biggest audience since 1979) settled in to watch part one of Dimensions in Time.
The DVD age has been great for Doctor Who, as BBC Worldwide knock out regular releases packed with brilliant special features. It's in these extra bits that TV Cream really gets to enjoy the fringes of the 'Whoniverse' with an oddball compendium of archive telly that only the most mental person could fail to enjoy. Four of our favourites thus far...
- THE TOMB OF THE CYBERMEN: The Late Night Line-Up voyage into the BBC Visual Effects unit from 1967 with pencil-moustache sporting lothario Jack Kine telling a nubile Joan Bakewell "Doctor Who is, by it's nature, a bit of a romp" and then signing off with a smooth "Thank you, m'dear" before his eyes shift to camera and his expression subtly changes to one of the 'I hope the missus isn't watching' variety.
- THE ARK IN SPACE: A local BBC news report as a team follow Tom Baker down Wookey Hole for the filming of Revenge of the Cyberman. It's text book stuff, with a perplexed Beeb reporter emerging from behind a rock and approaching two Cybermen to ask, "excuse me, have you seen Doctor Who?" "Yes, he's up there" replies the monster. "Up there? Thank you very much indeed!" Unfortunately, however, the Doc is still nowhere to be found. Time to ask that Vogan, then. "Oh, excuse me, I'm looking for Doctor Who. Have you seen him anywhere?"/"No, I haven't seen him at all. Last time I saw him he was having a cup of coffee."/"A cup of coffee?" /"Yeah." /"Thank you very much indeed!" But our man is still all at sea as we cut back to him now standing in front of a huddle of people chattering away together. "Oh I don't know," he moans, "I can't find Doctor Who anywhere - anywhere at all!" Behind him one of the huddle suddenly chips in: "Who are you looking for?" It's Tom Baker! The reporter doesn't realise this and replies "Doctor Who. Have you seen him?" Tom looks around uncertainly as the camera zooms in on him and then: "I'm the Doctor." "You're Doctor Who? Tom Baker?" /"That's it."/"That's marvellous, I've been looking for you through these caverns all morning."/"Well, here I am."/"Are you going to do a scene?"/"Yes. We're just preparing one now."/"Well can we have a word with you after?"/"Certainly!"/"Thank you very much."/"Pleasure." There then follows a nice interview before Tom goes off to the pub for lunch with "some friends". Cue footage of Tom and two Cybermen walking into the boozer, passing an old man who upon seeing them removes his cloth-cap and scratches his head in puzzlement. Now that's journalism!
- THE TALONS OF WENG-CHIANG: 26 minutes of Peter, John and Lesley-era Blue Peter is not to be sniffed at, and this epic compilation of the team making their very own Doctor Who theatre is top. The whole think kicks off with the gang plus dogs wandering around a Doctor Who set (John fetchingly reversing arse first out of a hole in the ground) before John tells us: "Well, no doubt you're surprised to see us in the world of Doctor Who! Well, we're a bit surprised too, I'll tell you!" We then cut to Lesley and "Johnny" talking us through the creation of their Doctor Who puppet theatre – "Actually this jungle set reminds me rather of Leela's home with the Sevateem." After showing us how to make the actual theatre and backdrops it's onto a frankly crap looking homemade Dalek. "I think you should paint him with red spots," says John, "then he'd be the first Dalek to have measles!" Cut to a few weeks later and Pete's telling us they've received 35,000 SAEs for info on how to make the theatre, but now it's time to learn how to create your own sound effects. Weird sounds maestro Dick Mills is now on hand and shows how you can make a spooky noise by running your finger around the rim of a glass. As the team all have a go John notes that "the great thing about it is that when you're tired and have to drop out, nobody really notices you've gone, do they?" Best of all is Peter shoving a sink plunger into a basin of mud, making a gurgling, farting noise which cracks everyone up. "I've only one thing to say to you Dick," says Pete signing off, and then once again pumps that plunger into the mud for a bit more farting.
- THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI: Peter Davison and John Nathan Turner go on South-East at Six to talk about Pete leaving the show and come face to face with some belligerent questioning. "Did you feel a little bit that you were getting stuck in a rut?" Peter is asked on his motives for going, before John Nathan Turner is then quizzed on the likelihood of the next Doctor being a lady. After he reveals this is not something he's seriously considering the comeback is: "But you can't rule it out". "No", says JNT. "And if you did cast a lady, what kind of lady would she be?" Despite being visibly rankled, JNT makes some kind of disinterested answer, keen to get onto the next question. But there's even more: "It would be rather difficult to imagine what kind of a companion a lady Doctor would have, would she have a glamorous young man?" Thankfully the subject of a female Doctor is then finally left, and Peter's back in the firing line. "Do you think, looking back, perhaps you were too young for the part?" Peter refutes this, and claims that the show is now more popular than ever. That's not good enough for South-East at Six, though. "So you don't think it was a bit of a mistake to have a young chap playing the part, then?"
After all of this we finally move onto a plug for The Five Doctors, described as a big special for "Doctor Who freaks". And then just as it looks like it's all over, Sue Cook jumps in as she's yet to have a go at hassling Peter. "Does it worry you that you might not be able to leave the part behind you?" The trial of a Time Lord, indeed.
When Andre "Shut-up, Andre" Vincent popped up in the middle of UK Gold's 2003 Doctor Who weekend to wax funny about the Doctor Who girls he fancied, he alienated his audience at a stroke as he began to reminisce over Louise Jameson in leathers. "And out came onto the screen a vision," he said – nothing wrong here so far. "Layla." What? He said it again: "Layla." At this lights flickered on all over the internet; Doctor Who forums went mad. It's "Leela!", pronounced, quite simply, "Leela" the fans cried. But things got even worse, and Vincent went on to talk about Janet Fielding's Aussie air hostess, "Teggan". Bah! "Tegan! – Tea-gan! For God's sake it's TEA-GAN!!!"
The whole sorry affair highlighted another terrific Doctor Who thing, that despite Vincent having one of those faces that would probably look not much different upside down, he couldn't cut the mustard Who-chat wise if he couldn't get his pronunciation right. It's something that all Who fans will happily admit to, they're sticklers for getting the names right. Thus it's "Trah-ken" not "Tray-ken", "Bor-oo-sa" not "Bor-you-sir", "Log-op-olis" not "Log-go-polis" and "Castro-valve-ah" not "Castra-vala". In fact, in regard to the latter example, a brain-box Who fan even saw fit to correct BSB's own Debbie Flint during their Doctor Who weekend in 1990 when she fell into the Castra-vala trap. And he was right to do so.
So think on next time you're setting up to deliver a comic monologue on a Who topic. Because the fans will pounce on the first snifter of a "croutons".
You'll have to trust us on this, but there exists a preoccupation in Doctor Who fandom for imagined scenarios wherein Peter Davison and his companions get intimate with each other. Honestly. If you stop to think about it, though (go on – try) it's kind of understandable. The thought of Hartnell grunting over, say, Dodo Chaplet is just a bloody nightmare, and whilst Pertwee was quite the dapper gent we'd have to say his Doctor was probably all mouth and no trousers. Tom Baker on the other hand? Well, yes he'd have been like a pig in shit, and that would have been a bit too much for everyone to take. And so it's the shy, sensitive Peter Davison whose Doctor is made the object of various slash fiction stories detailing his 'awakening' (and come to think of it, the fifth Doc even featured in a story of that name) at the hands of the more go-ahead Tegan.
So, let's go there now, courtesy of A Teaspoon and an Open Mind: A Doctor Who Fan Fiction Archive as the fifth Doctor and Tegan enjoy a Roman feast:
"The Doctor looked at his meat and then at Tegan, who was busy eating. He slyly moved his hand towards her inner thigh and touched her, noticing that her leg was slightly hairier than he had thought it was. Then he noticed it wasn't her leg and he quickly moved his hand and his face turned a bright red color. 'Doctor, you just touched my special part!' Tegan exclaimed, quite surprised by his fast move. She wasn't sure if she should slap him, or enjoy the fact that he had done so."
At this point we should also refer back to that issue of Five Hundred Eyes again and the short story 'Technophilia' by Jerome K. We join the tale as Turlough has just persuaded Kamelion to shape-change into a more pleasing form... "When he opened his eyes, Tegan was lying on the bed facing him, legs slightly bent, the thin lace of her nightdress riding up her thigh. She blew him a kiss and motioned him towards her. 'Okay big boy, give it all you've got,' and she winked coyly."
Unfortunately, as the Doctor approaches Kamelion's form becomes affected by the Time Lord's own sexual fantasies. The Doctor bursts into the room and... "'Turlough! What are you doing with ...' He paused to try and take in the full anatomical improbability. 'Adric... where did you come from?'"
Slash fiction writers. They're indomitable, indomitable!
Prior to 1970, when the Doctor was faced with some end-of-episode nasty looming in on him he'd back away nervously into a fade up of the theme music. And it wasn't very exciting, the effect being more akin to the music just kind of strolling in rather than any rush of excitement. All this changed, however, with the story The Ambassadors of Death. Whilst this tale also saw some abortive mucking about with the opening theme (shoving in a recap before the episode title), it was the addition of an electric squeal to the start of the closing credits that was the real gem. As an underscore of the cliff-hanger element it was pants-pissingly effective.
'80s Who composer Mark Ayres explains how it was done:
"The sound consists of two elements, a rising bubbling sound and a descending scream effect. First of all, let's deal with the rising bubbling sound. The process used to create this was very simple. The first couple of notes of the closing titles (as the theme melody enters) were copied onto a new piece of audio tape. This was leadered, then flipped over so that it played backwards. The output of the tape deck was then fed into a frequency shifter set for a downwards shift at a short delay, and fed back into itself. When the tape was played into the shifter, it came out the other end milliseconds later with its pitch shifted down slightly. This output was fed back to the input and so on, creating a downwards cascade of ever more distorted sound. This was copied onto a new tape, and when this piece of tape was in turn flipped over, Delia [Derbyshire] was left with a rising flood of sound starting very distorted and slowly resolving into the opening couple of notes - this was then spliced onto the beginning of the theme.
"The downwards scream was created in similar fashion.
The source sound is a downwards-sliding hard-edged tone produced using
an audio oscillator. Again, this was fed into the pitch shifter with very
short delay, a downwards shift, and heavy feedback. Aliasing distortion
within the shifter added to the overall effect. The result was mixed with
the rising echoes to give the sound we are all familiar with." (See
for Mark's other musings)
And there's just time for two 'electronic scream' related WHO FAX before we go. Firstly, the scream was removed altogether from the end of the 1983 adventure The Five Doctors as it was felt to be inappropriate following on from the fifth Doctor's rather nice "that's how it all began" line. Instead a kind of bibbly-bobbly noise fed us into an ace Stars on 45 mix of the Delia Derbyshire and Peter Howell versions of the theme. Secondly, we should also point out that at the end of episode one of Terror of the Vervoids (1986) Bonnie Langford was instructed to belt her lungs out in the key of F so the Director could do a nice little segue into the scream. Not just a "great little actress", then.