13 June 2016

The Making of Doctor Who 1976



Four years after the excellent `Making of Doctor Who` book was published it was decided to re-release an updated version in 1976. Much had happened in the ensuing period, not least a change of Doctor and production team as well as an increasing number of novelisations of the series under the Target imprint owned by Tandem Publishing which was a division of Howard and Wyndham. Features in the `World of Horror` magazine, two special poster mags, the new Doctor Who Appreciation Society and most of all the 1973 Radio Times special did mean that this updated version did not hold quite the same allure as its 1972 predecessor. In four years Doctor Who material was not so thin on the ground. The book was still credited to Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke and included some of the material from the first, sometimes revised and updated as well as new material. The cover features a rather striking piece of artwork of Tom as the Doctor though presumably to fit the brand he is in front of a target!


It starts off with the potted history of the show and the Daleks before running through his adventures in summary. All the fictional Time Lord trial presentation of the 1972 book is gone and events are recalled in a more conventional narrative. Chapter 4 declares that Tom Baker is the Doctor and runs through his career including the now familiar story of how Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks went to see him in the film The Golden Voyage of Sinbad in which he played a villain. The book then runs through the other Doctor actors, a selection of monsters, UNIT and companions. Inevitably a lot of this would be familiar even to fans in 1976 suggesting the book was aimed at a wider market. The narrative often takes the form of introducing the reader to things any Doctor Who fan would probably know.

The centre photo section would be more of a draw then and includes some particularly good shots from `Robot`,`Brain of Morbius`, Tomb of the Cybemen` and `Seeds of Doom`. Irritatingly the accompanying text insists on referring to each story as `Dr Who and the…` presumably to adhere to the naming convention of the Target books rather than the TV show.

Chapter 10 contains a summary of each adventure to date. Unlike the first edition which was content to tell us only the story codes, this one includes the title and a proper if brief synopsis of each story. Of course it got into hot water with older fans for not using the proper overall story titles so the first story is called `An Unearthly Child`, the second `The Dead Planet` etc. This is perhaps because the Radio Times Special did this? The synopses are sometimes brusque giving the impression of a less subtle more violent series. For example `The Krotons` ends with the “He destroys them with acid”. The very next story he “destroys them with torrential rain.” By the `Mind of Evil` he is destroying something with nerve gas!

Last time it was Malcolm Hulke’s `The Sea Devils` whose making was dealt with in depth, this time round it’s  Terrance Dicks’ turn with `Robot`, The format is much the same but again it proves to be the most interesting part of the book nowadays as television production has changed so much over the decades. So we start with merely a production code- in this case 4A- and a brief from new script editor Robert Holmes who wants a story about a robot. Dicks works on this idea deciding to go for a sympathetic robot inspired by King Kong. He talks of the character types that emerge; “the scientist who created the robot- well intentioned but basically weak. The power mad leader behind the whole scheme – in these days of Women’s Lib it might be interesting to make her a woman.” We run through the stages of script development- a key issue is how flexible the robot will be. Location wise whereas `The Sea Devils` went all over the place, `Robot`s outside sequences are to be shot at the BBC’s Engineering training department at Wood Norton, near Evesham in Worcestershire.

The account does cover every aspect of the creation and filming of the show creating a suitable climax for a book that was once an up to date behind the scenes publication but now is an interesting historical account of television production. Here's a few clips from the book....





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