Some Doctor Who today, and it’s a special treat for Christmas Day with some quite important stories.
First, from UK Gold, it’s The Hand of Fear. It starts with some truly awful alien costumes. It’s like they just weren’t trying.
They’re very concerned about the total obliteration of the traitor Eldrad, and how part of it has survived.
After that oblique introduction, we’re back on earth, in a quarry! An actual quarry that’s being used as a quarry. Is that a first for the show?
Sarah complains that it isn’t South Croydon. But she’s not complaining for much longer, as the quarry is being blasted, and she’s caught under loads of rubble. Next to a petrified, disembodied hand.
while Sarah is unconscious at hospital, the Doctor investigates the fossilized hand – it appears to be silicon based.
And Sarah has got its ring. She wakes up, and goes to find the hand. “Eldrad must live” she says as she zaps the doctor looking at it with a blue light from the ring. She pops the hand into a handy tupperware container and scarpers.
“The young woman with dark hair, wearing pink-striped overalls. Yes, just like Andy Pandy.” Even the writers knew that Sarah’s costume was hideous.
The Doctor, looking at the other doctor’s results, think the hand might be absorbing radiation, trying to regenerate itself.
So it’s not good news when Sarah takes the hand to Nunton Nuclear facility, and takes it into the outer chamber of the reactor.
Glyn Houston runs the facility. Always good to see Glyn Houston.
She keeps saying “Eldrad Must Live” and the doctor helping The Doctor also hears that voice, and he tries to kill the Doctor, but dies in the attempt.
The Doctor manages to hypnotise Sarah to free her from Eldrad’s control, but another of the workers in the nuclear plant succumbs, and takes the hand and the ring deeper into the reactor.
There’s a massive explosion, but the radiation has been absorbed by whatever is in the core. But things aren’t safe, because the government has ordered an air strike on the complex to bury it. Seems dangerous to me, but I’m not a politician. The air strike is neutralised, though.
And we meet Eldrad at last. Not as much of a ‘he’ as everyone has assumed.
Eldrad wants the Doctor to take her back to Kastria, back to the time before she was obliterated, but the Doctor refuses, agreeing only to take her back to Kastria in the present.
Oh look, it’s the secondary console room.
When they get to Kastria, Eldrad is hit by a booby trap that leaves her dying. She has to get to the regenerator.
But there’s another presence on the planet, watching them. Trying to stop them.
Eventually, Eldrad makes it to the regenerator, regenerates, into a He. Nice to see Doctor Who tackling Trans issues so long ago.
But the Kastrians died out a long time ago, so Eldrad is the King of nothing, and when he threatens to travel to Earth to enslave them, the Doctor and Sarah defeat him by tripping him up with his scarf.
And, of course, this story ends with Sarah Jane Smith leaving the Tardis, as the Doctor is called to Gallifrey. Which always makes me cry.
After this, there’s a trailer for The Deadly Assassin, then next story in sequence.
Then, recording switches to something that was, at the time, utterly momentous, and deeply disappointing.
It’s Dimensions in Time. Introduced as part of Children in Need by Andi Peters, and beginning with Noel Edmonds on the House Party set.
It’s all supposed to be in 3D, so here’s Kate O’Mara as The Rani, in her Tardis, with CGI heads of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton spinning around.
Tom Baker did all of his bits in a studio.
The Rani’s sidekick is a young Samuel West.
But things look up. Here’s (then current) Doctor Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred as Ace. (Not Eldrad, Aldred.)
They’re in 1973 near the Cutty Sark. But not for long. All of a sudden, McCoy is gone, and Doctor Number Six is there, Colin Baker, with Aldred.
And they’re in Albert Square. Yes, in true Children in Need tradition, it’s a crossover.
And what a strange crossover, as the narrative slips another time groove, and we’ve got Jon Pertwee talking to Bonnie Langford as Mel Bush.
Of course, Langford is now in Eastenders herself. This is a ‘future’ Walford, though, as evidenced by Wendy Richard and Gillian Taylforth.
It’s 2013, a couple of years before Langford did actually join the cast, so we can’t claim any weird synchronicity here.
Then, back to Colin Baker, this time with original companion Susan (Carole Ann Ford), and they’re now in 1973.
And now, Pertwee’s back, but now with Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) in her Hand of Fear costume. You’d think she would have changed out of that by now. But at least it showed the production team were making some kind of an effort.
Peri (Nicola Bryant) Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) and the fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) are menaced by a Cyberman and an Ogron. Presumably the costumes they could get from one of the Doctor Who exhibitions around the country.
“Have you any idea where we’re going?” asks Peri, echoing the audience of the writers.
Every frame of this screams “whatever we can do that costs as little as possible.”
(That Gallifreyan looks suspiciously like uber-fan Andrew Beech.)
After the end of part one, there’s even a phone vote where you can vote for who helps the Doctor.
After this bit, there’s some more Children in Need 3D stuff, featuring David Bellamy.
There’s also some 3D from Venice, with narration by Simon Mayo. And a segment with Jeremy Beadle. I liked Jeremy Beadle, mainly because I used to listen to his LBC Sunday night phone-in, which seemed slightly subversive when I was a teenager.
He’s there so some of the ‘victims’ of Beadle’s About can have their own back on the people who nominated them.
Then there’s the Pet Shop Boys performing I wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing.
After this, there’s a reprise of the ending of the first part of Doctor Who, and another call to vote for part two.
Next, and tying in nicely with the KYTV tape from a couple of days ago, there’s an appearance by the HeeBeeGeeBees.
And an appearance by the actual Bee Gees, who blow them up.
I didn’t bother recording the actual Bee Gees’ performance.
Then, there’s a segment of a quiz hosted by Mike Smith. I think it’s That’s Showbusiness. It’s supposed to feature Danny Baker and Loyd Grossman on one team, versus Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin on the other, but they lost Loyd Grossman. It’s not that he didn’t turn up, he was there and they were all together before the broadcast, but he disappeared just before. He does turn up shortly, though.
After this, it’s over to Noel’s House Party on the following day, for first, a reminder of the phone vote numbers, then for part 2 of Dimensions in Time.
Here’s Pertwee’s first companion, Liz Shaw, played by Caroline John.
Richard Franklin as Captain Mike Yates, along with Bessie, the Doctor’s car.
And what multi-doctor romp would be complete with the Brigadier, who arrives in a helicopter, which probably took up almost all the show’s budget.
And here’s Romana (Lalla Ward) with the Mitchell brothers
Troughton companion Victoria (Deborah Watling).
Louise Jameson as Leela didn’t quite get the same costume – it looks more Sioux than Sevateem.
Even K9 makes an appearance.
This really is the biggest load of old tosh. And if the show had still been on the air, it would have been received as the playful CiN skit that it truly was. But the show had been off the air for several years, and this appeared not long after there was a supposedly serious attempt by BBC Worldwide to produce a one-off TV special, another multi-doctor story, called The Dark Dimension, but this one focusing on Tom Baker’s doctor. It didn’t get much further than initial planning, but there was a script, and veteran Who director Graeme Harper was going to direct it. But it was spiked by a combination of poor diplomacy – the other Doctors weren’t happy at their parts being no more than a “cough and a spit”, and the BBC proper didn’t like the idea of BBC Worldwide making their own productions.
Then, as this one fell apart, former producer John Nathan-Turner brought his own proposal for a glitzy multi-doctor one-off, cleverly tied it into Children in Need, tied it in with Eastenders (his partner, Gary Downie, was floor manager for Eastenders at the time) and to pour salt into the fans wounds, called it Dimensions in Time.
But the most mind boggling thing about the whole thing is that there are two credited writers.
Oh well. I’m over it now. A few years later, Comic Relief did a Doctor Who story, The Curse of Fatal Death, and it was a thousand times better as a Doctor Who story than this, despite actually being a comic parody. But then, it was written by Steven Moffat, who apparently was a bit of a Who fan himself.
Children in Need: BBC One – 26th November 1993 – 19:00
Noel’s House Party: BBC One – 27th November 1993 – 18:45
After this, recording switches to Channel 4 and a FourMations programme called Secret Passions. It’s about computer technology and animation, and among the people featured is William Latham, who had a whole career making swirly ‘biological’ animations, and even started a games company in the 90s that a friend of mine worked for.
The images are freaky, but I’m not sure they’re much more than that.
I don’t have all the programme here – after the Biogenesis short has played, the recording cuts off and we switch to the end of a news bulletin.
There’s a trailer for Around Westminster. And a trailer for Saturday Night programmes.
Then, Tomorrow’s World looks at how the 3D TV effect works (or maybe doesn’t). It has a look behind the scenes of Dimensions in Time too.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 3rd December 1993 – 19:00
After this, another recording, in Channel 4 with Pixar’s short Tin Toy.
This recording stops, and underneath there’s the end of that episode of Tomorrow’s World. Among the stories, there’s a report on the repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.
After this, recording stops, and underneath there’s part of an episode of Whose Line is it Anyway.
This is followed by the start of Brides of Christ, a drama about catholic nuns, starring Brenda Fricker. It also features Philip Quast, of Ultraviolet fame.
The tape ends during this.
- trail: Moviewatch
- News of the World
- Cockburn’s Special Reserve
- After Eights
- trail: tomorrow on 4
- Crunchy Nut Cornflakes
- trail: Cutting Edge: Navy Blues
- trail: Closing Numbers
- Vauxhall – Nigel Hawthorne, Tom Conti, Penelope Keith
- Pretty Polly
- Gold Blend
- Milk Tray
- Cellnet – John Cleese, Ronnie Corbett