Monday, 27 May 2013

The Doctor Who 50-50: Part 21 - 1982

"An apple a day keeps the...ah.  No, never mind."
 - The Fifth Doctor, Kinda

On Screen

After almost 9 months, Doctor Who returned on 4 January 1982 with a new man in the role.  This wasn't the only change to the series.  For the first time, the programme wasn't broadcast on a Saturday evening.  Instead the show moved to week nights.  Not only that but it was broadcast twice a week.  On the plus side this meant more Doctor Who each week.  On the other hand, it meant that the season was over in half the time, taking three months to complete rather than the usual six.  

The opening story of the season was 'Castrovalva', which picks up where 'Logopolis' left off. The Master is still hanging around like a bad smell and trying to kill the Doctor - because doing it once and causing him to regenerate just wasn't enough.  To start with he tries to send the Doctor (still weak from his regeneration) and his companions hurtling back to the creation of the Universe.  When then doesn't work, the Master goes to a rather convoluted Plan B.

The Doctor heads to Castrovalva, somewhere where he should be able to heal after his regeneration.  But he discovers that the whole place and its people is an elaborate illusion concocted by the Master in order to trap the Doctor.  The Master himself is in Castrovalva (in one of his many cunning disguises), presumably to ensure that the trap succeeds.  Of course it doesn't and the Master finds himself caught in his own trap while the Doctor and his friends make good their escape.

The Master's cunning disguises #1
The running theme for the remainder of this season was the Doctor's attempts to take Tegan back home so that she can catch her flight out from Heathrow Airport.  Unlike Nyssa and Adric, Tegan is not travelling with the Doctor through choice.  She's a working woman with a home and career who has stumbled, literally, into the Doctor's world and doesn't want to be there. It explains a lot of the character's anger and aggression throughout the season.

The first attempt to take Tegan home in the next story, 'Four to Doomsday' sees the TARDIS land on board an alien spaceship orbiting the Earth. The spaceship belongs to a group of aliens who have been travelling between Earth and their home world for thousands of years, picking up representatives of human life on each visit.  Now they've returned for the last time and want to take over so the Doctor and his companions have to stop them.

At the end of 'Four to Doomsday', Nyssa suddenly collapses, supposedly due to exhaustion.  As a result she only appears very briefly in the next story, 'Kinda', as she's sleeping in the TARDIS for much of the story.

Nyssa's absence means that the story is able to focus more on the other members of the TARDIS crew, notably Tegan.  The TARDIS crew is on the jungle planet of Deva Loka along with a group of Earth colonists.  The planet is also home to a seemingly primitive tribe called the Kinda.  Tegan, meanwhile is possessed by an alien entity called the Mara that exists in the subconscious and wants to enter the real world.  The Mara tries to use Tegan to take control of the Kinda and use them to destroy the colonists.

Tegan in the Mara's dream world

The Doctor comes up with an idea to drive the Mara back to where it came from by trapping it within a circle of mirrors as, apparently, the one thing that evil cannot stand is its own reflection.  The plan works and, briefly, we see the Mara's true physical - a giant snake - before it disappears back to where it came from.

'The Visitation' is another attempt by the Doctor to take Tegan back to Heathrow in the early 1980s. It's also the first full-on trip into the past since 'Talons of Weng-Chiang.'  On this occasion he gets the right place but they arrive but around 300 years too early, in 1666.  Rather than an airport they discover leafy forests and manor houses that have been taken over by a group of aliens called Terileptrils.

These particular Terileptrils are escaped criminals who have decided to wipe out human life with a variation of the Black Death.  The Doctor stops them of course but inadvertently starts the Great Fire of London.  

The Doctor makes history
'The Visitation' is also the story where we say goodbye to the sonic screwdriver for a while. Producer John Nathan Turner felt that the screwdriver, like K9 was too convenient a gadget for the Doctor to have.  So he decided to get rid of it by having it destroyed by the Terileptril leader.  Goodness knows what JNT would have thought if he'd seen how the sonic screwdriver is used nowadays.

Staying in the past, 'Black Orchid' is the first 'straight' historical story since 'The Highlanders' in 1966.  In other words it's a story set in the past but with no science-fiction elements at all other than the Doctor and his companions.  Instead, this story - which is set in the 1920s - is more of a murder mystery in true Agatha Christie style.

The Doctor and his companions arrive  at a 1920s garden party hosted by Lord Cranleigh who is engaged to a young lady called Anne who just happens to be the exact double of Nyssa.  Much of the first episode involves the Doctor and his friends dancing, eating, drinking and generally having fun at the party.  It's nice to see them enjoying themselves and a refreshing change of pace.

Tegan (in the centre) is seeing double

Of course things take a darker turn when a murder occurs and the Doctor is blamed.  The Doctor manages to clear his name and discovers the real murderer is Lord Cranleigh's brother, a famous explorer who was left deformed and mad after one particular expedition. 

And so we come to 'Earthshock' - a story that has two big surprises that John Nathan Turner worked hard to avoid viewers discovering ahead of time.  First and foremost, this story marked the return of the Cybermen, not seen since 1975's 'Revenge of the Cybermen'.  So determined was he, that their return remain secret, JNT didn't use them or mention them at all in publicity for this story.  So it came as a genuine shock to many when the re-vamped Cybermen appeared at the climax of the first episode.

The second big shock was the death of Adric.  Not since the mid-60s and the death of Katerina and Sara Kingdom had we witnessed a companion die.  And neither Sara nor Katarina were as well-established characters as Adric.  So to see him blown up saving the Earth from the Cybermen was quite a traumatic event for many viewers.  Just to hammer home how traumatic this event was, the end credits - for the first and only time in the series' history - rolled in silence over an image of the broken badge that Adric had worn throughout his time in the show.

Adric's death also results in the destruction of the dinosaurs on pre-historic Earth.  So, for the second time this season, we have an instance of one of the TARDIS crew being responsible for a major historical event. 

This story is an unusually violent one - seeming to take its inspiration from early-80s sci-fi films like Aliens.  Guest characters seem to be killed off on a whim as a means of upping the stakes.  Even the Doctor is seen to use a gun at one point.  The story was written by the new script editor, Eric Saward and this more violent approach to the series will be seen in some of his later work too.

The Fifth Doctor's first season comes to an end with 'Time-Flight'.  The Doctor finally manages to get Tegan back to Heathrow Airport and then ends up being transported back to pre-historic Earth on a Concorde.  Well at least he travelled in style.

The Master is trapped on pre-historic Earth (having escaped from Castrovalva) and caused the Concorde to be brought there.  He's wearing yet another of his cunning disguises, for no discernible reason - and needs the Doctor's assistance to harness an ancient alien power. Naturally the Doctor doesn't give his help and returns the Concorde and its crew to the present day.

The Master's cunning disguises #2
In a final, unexpected twist, the Doctor and Nyssa decide to go leave in the TARDIS without Tegan, who they believe is now happily returned home.  However, too late, Tegan has decided that she likes travelling with the Doctor after all.  However the TARDIS departs before she can tell him and Tegan is left behind at Heathrow.

Finally, the first Doctor Who videos were released in 1982.  Not episodes of the TV series unfortunately but the two 1960s Dalek films starring Peter Cushing.  

On Audio

Two records released this year.  The first was the theme to 'K9 and Company', though quite why anyone would want to listen to this on a regular basis eludes me.

The second release is a somewhat obscure comedy song called 'Doctor Who is Gonna Fix It' by Bullamakanka, an Australian country band. Up until now I'd never heard this song but it's rather fun so I had to share it.

(Video supplied by You Tube user Al Hine)

In Print

There were a number of new Target novelisations published this year.  Terrance Dicks was, much to his relief no doubt, no longer writing the vast majority of the books.  The new policy at Target seemed to be that the writers of the original TV scripts would be given the first opportunity to novelise their own stories. If they chose not to then Terrance Dicks or one of the other regulars like Ian Marter would be asked to write them instead.

Dicks novelised his own State of Decay (quite different to the audio book released the previous year). The Keeper of Traken and The Sunmakers. Meanwhile original script writers, Stephen Gallagher (using a pen-name), David Fisher, Andrew Smith, Eric Saward and Christopher H Bidmead novelised Warrior's Gate, The Leisure Hive, Full Circle, The Visitation and Logopolis respectively.

The Visitation, coming out a mere six months after it's TV broadcast, was the first Fifth Doctor novelisation.  To differentiate the Fifth Doctor books from the rest of their output, Target chose to use photographic covers rather than the usual artwork.  This made for some uninspiring covers, mostly consisting of publicity stills.  Some of the covers were better than others with The Visitation being one of the better ones.

Speaking of Peter Davision: he lent his name and face to a 'Book of Alien Monsters'.  Much like the Jon Pertwee Book of Monsters back in the Seventies, this was a collection of short stories, totally unconnected to Doctor Who.

Davison also appeared on the front cover of 'Doctor Who: Making of a Television Series'.  This was a children's book that went behind the scenes of Doctor Who, specifically the making of 'The Visitation'.  This was a book that I loved as a child and I still own a copy of it now.

Finally, 1982 also the release of a Doctor Who Crossword Book as well as a Dinosaur Quiz Book.  Not to mention the latest Annual, joined this year by a separate K9 Annual.  This was presumably to tie in with K9 and Company but it rather missed the boat by being a year too late.

In Comics and Magazines 

Doctor Who Monthly went from strength to strength in 1982, even picking up a prestigious Eagle Award for best comic magazine, a fact that it proudly boasted on the cover of issue 61.  Unfortunately, and ironically, the cover of issue 61 also contained a rather obvious spelling mistake as it proclaimed  -in big letters - 'Peter Davidson is the Doctor'.

There was an increase in the number of written features which meant that the back-up comic strip (featuring monsters and allies from the Doctor's past) were gradually phased out over the course of the year.  The main comic strip, however, continued now with the Fifth Doctor.

Steve Parkhouse, the current writer, created a loose trilogy of stories that ran across the year.  All three stories were set in a small fictional village called Stockbridge where the Doctor (travelling alone unlike his TV counterpart) is currently holidaying, enjoying the scenery and playing lots of cricket.

Sir Justin
The first part of the trilogy was an epic 7 part story called 'The Tides of Time' and - in terms of page count -  was the longest Doctor Who comic story to date.  The story sees a demon called Melanicus escape from another dimension and take control of a device called the Event Synthsizer that controls the flow of time.  Using the Synthesizer, Melanicus caused chaos in the Universe and only the Doctor can stop him.

Fortunately the Doctor is not alone, aided by a knight who is lost in time called Sir Justin and a mysterious being called Shayde who is a creation of the Time Lords, sent to aid the Doctor.

One particular Time Lord features quite heavily in this story: Rassilon, the founder of the Time Lords.  Dead in the 'real world' Rassilon exists within the Matrix on Gallifrey (the Matrix was, you might recall, seen on TV in 'The Deadly Assassin').  Rassilon is part of a council of powerful beings from across the Universe,

including Merlin (tying in with the Fourth Doctor's final comic strip story) and it's this council that send the Doctor off on his mission.

Aided by Sir Justin and Shayde, the Doctor confronts the demon and defeats it, restoring time to its proper course.  Sir Justin, however loses his life in the final battle and Shayde also departs, his mission completed, leaving the Doctor alone again.

He's not alone for long though, as the second, and far more straightforward story in the trilogy 'The Stars Fell on Stockbridge' introduces us to UFO enthusiast and general eccentric, Maxwell Edison.  Considered a bit of a loser by the other villagers, Max's luck is in when he first meets the Doctor (a genuine alien!) and they then both explore a supposedly haunted spaceship orbiting the Earth.

This story is a short one and, truthfully, very little of consequence appears to happen.  The Doctor and Max explore the haunted ship find nothing and return to Stockbridge.  However this story is really just a prologue to what happens next.

This story also marks the departure of Dave Gibbons as artist on the strip. The final panel of his final strip sees Maxwell Edison riding off into the distance under a starlit sky, quite appropriate as Gibbons was himself heading off to pastures new.

The artwork for the next story (of which the first three parts were published in 1982) was done by the writer himself with some assistance from an artist named Mick Austin who would go on to the become the regular artist on the strip for the remainder of the 5th Doctor's run.  'The Stockbridge Horror', as the story was called begins with the Doctor investigating some mysterious deaths in the village caused by a being that appears to shoot fire.  As we end the year, this strange Elemental Being infiltrates the TARDIS' systems and is hunting the Doctor...

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Doctor Who 50-50: Part 20 - 1981

"It's the end, but the moment has been prepared for."
The Doctor - Logopolis part 4

On Screen

And so all good things must come to an end.  By this point it was now common knowledge that Tom Baker was leaving Doctor Who.  Before he left though there were some other farewells to be said. 

'Warrior's Gate' is the last story in the 'E-Space Trilogy' of stories.  Here the Doctor, Romana, K9 and Adric find themselves at the Gateway, a void that leads between E-Space and the normal universe, or N-Space.  While there they discover a race called the Tharils who are being treated as slaves because of their unusual abilities regarding time travel.  The Doctor saves the Tharils but Romana and K9 opt to stay behind in E-Space to help the Tharils rather than return home.  The Doctor and Adric leave without them and return to our universe, knowing that they will probably never see their friends again. 

However their's little time to mourn as the Doctor and Adric are immediately thrown into the events of 'The Keeper of Traken'.  The Doctor is summoned by the mysterious Keeper to the peaceful world of Traken.  Traken is an idyllic world protcted by the Source which basically means that no evil can occur on the planet.  Unfortunately for Traken, the Master (still in his decayed form last seen in 'The Deadly Assassin' has managed to infiltrate Traken and wants to take control of the Source for himself.  

Needless to say, the Doctor and Adric stop the Master with help from a young Traken woman called Nyssa and her father Tremas but it comes at a price.  After the Doctor and Adric depart, Tremas is attacked by the Master who takes over his body and begins to use it as his own.  As the Master says: "A new body, at last."


And so we come to the epic finale, Logopolis.  Unknown to the Doctor, the Master has been reborn and is out for revenge.  He sets a convoluted trap for the Doctor, which I'm not entirely clear on right now but it basically results in the Doctor being forced to visit Logopolis, a world of mathematicians who can create anything with their numbers.  The Doctor unwittingly takes the Master with him to Logopolis along with a young Australian air stewardess called Tegan who stumbled accidentally into the TARDIS while it was on Earth.  

While on Logopolis, the Master tries to impose his own will on to the mathematicians and through them take control of the universe.  Instead he accidentally triggers the end of everything which is a big blunder even by his standards.  This results in the Doctor and the Master racing to Earth to find some way of halting the destruction. 

Meanwhile a mysterious figure called the Watcher has been, well, watching events unfold.  He brings Nyssa from Traken to assist the Doctor and she discovers that, not only has the Master killed her father and taken over his body but his actions of Logopolis have destroyed her entire world as well.  All in all not a good day for her.

The Watcher

The Doctor meanwhile, with the Master's help, has managed to save the Universe from destruction but, in a final tussle with the Master he falls from a gantry and is fatally wounded.  His life literally flashing before his eyes in the form of flashback clips, the Fourth Doctor regenerates, surrounded by Adric, Nyssa and Tegan.  As for the Watcher, he merges with the regenerating Doctor causing Nyssa to remark, "He was the Doctor all the time!"

To find out what happened next, viewers would have to wait until January 1982.  So, for the first time in years there were no new Doctor Who episodes showing in the Autumn months.  To counteract this, and to remind viewers that there was life before Tom Baker, John Nathan-Turner arranged for a series of repeats to be broadcast in the November of 1981.  He chose one story per Doctor and they were broadcast under the umbrella title of 'The Five Faces of Doctor Who'.  The stories chosen to be repeated were 'An Unearthly Child' for the First Doctor, 'The Krotons' for the Second, 'Carnival of Monsters' and 'The Three Doctors' for the Third and 'Logopolis' for the Fourth and (because he appears for a second at the end) Fifth Doctors.

And that was pretty much it for Doctor Who on TV in 1981, except that is for 'K9 and Company' the first ever Doctor Who spin off TV show.  It was also the last spin off show for many, many years.  On paper the idea of teaming up popular former companions Sarah Jane Smith and K9 (now Mark 3) seemed like a great one. In reality it didn't work out quite as well, which is why this one-off Christmas Special didn't make it to a full series.  
I would say much more about it but I've discovered that the official Doctor Who You Tube Channel has recently uploaded the entire episode so you can see it for yourself and make your own minds up as to why it didn't work out.  Whatever the reason though it did pave the way for far more successful spin-offs in the years to come.

On Audio

Over the years there have been a number of Doctor Who themed novelty records, some of which are more fondly remembered than others.  'Doctor..?' by a group called Blood Donor is one that seems to have been largely forgotten.  I can't find much information on either the song or the group online and there are only two videos of the song on You Tube.

It's a song that is very much of it's time and, it must be said, it's not particularly catchy so that might go someway to explaining it's relative obscurity.  

Also released in 1981 was a cassette that I have very fond memories of - Tom Baker reading an adaptation of  'State of Decay'.  When I was very young I often used to get this tape out of the library.  Not only was it a great story in its own right, but Tom Baker was the perfect narrator.  He made the audio book sound a whole lot scarier than it appeared on TV, that's for sure. 

In Print

Only three novelisations were published in 1981.  I'm not entirely clear as to why this is: perhaps Terrance Dicks wasn't available to write as many books as he he had been. Perhaps it was because there were now fewer stories to novelise - with the majority of the 3rd and 4th Doctor stories done -  and Target didn't want to run out too soon.  Quite possibly it was also because Target had chosen to spend their Doctor Who budget elsewhere, as they released several other non-fiction Who books this year. 

The three novelisations were 'The Creature from the Pit' by David Fisher, the writer of the TV story (the only 4th Doctor book published this year), Second Doctor adventure 'Enemy of the World' by Ian Marter and Terrance Dicks's novelisation of the very first story, 'An Unearthly Child'.  Just to make it that extra-bit special the book was the first novelisation with the neon tubing logo and the logo was embossed in red foil!.

Those other books released by Target were the first Doctor Who Quiz Book (which pretty much speaks for itself) and the two-volume Doctor Who Programme Guide, written by Jean-Marc Lofficier.  The Programme Guide was a first for Doctor Who.  The first volume covered the TV stories produced to date, giving production and cast lists along with a brief synopsis of the stories. The second volume was an encyclopedia of sorts, listing characters, places, alien races and anything else you can think of in the Doctor Who universe. Neither book was without its errors or omissions but, for the time, they were the most comprehensive books on the TV series that you could want. 

Finally, at the end of the year, the traditional Annual was released with its usual mix of stories and strips.  At this point in time, Peter Davison was close to making his full debut as the Doctor but, naturally it was the Fourth Doctor that dominated proceedings in the Annual.  As a small concession though, the cover of the Annual featured a small picture of Peter Davision taken from All Creatures Great and Small.

In Comics & Magazines

Doctor Who Monthly (as Doctor Who Weekly was now known) continued with its now usual mix of features and comic strips.  With Tom Baker's departure, issue 51 was given over to a special 'Farewell Tom Baker' issue which included a look-back at his stories and a profile on the man himself.  There was also an interview with the new Producer John Nathan Turner.

With no new Doctor Who on TV screens for the rest of the year, the Monthly seemed to take this as an ideal opportunity to look back into the series's past.  Issue 52 was a Jon Pertwee special, while issue 54 focussed on the Troughton era and 56 on the Hartnell years.  Conversely, issue 55 was looking to the future with a couple of articles on Peter Davison with the man himself in costume for the first time on the cover.

In the comic strip meanwhile, the Fourth Doctor was still the main man througout the year: the Fifth Doctor's comic strip debut would tie in with his first TV appearance in January 1982.

Steve Moore was the writer for the first four issues of the year which sees the Doctor and K9 meeting Greek gods and visiting a library so big that it takes up an entire planet amongst other things.  Regarding the library planet idea: I wonder if Steven Moffatt used to read DWM back in the early 80s as that idea is very similar to the Library that he created for 'Silence in the Library' in 2008.

With K9's departure from the TV series, so he too disappeared from the comic strip, between stories and without any sort of fanfare.  His departure coincides with a run of fairly dark tales for the strip.  In part this may be down to the fact that a new writer had taken over the strip: Steve Parkhouse, a man who would guide the strip well into the Sixth Doctor's era.

Amongst the strip stories published in the latter part of the year are 'The Deal' which sees a soldier using the TARDIS as a weapon to kill his enemies, causing an angry Doctor to lock the soldier out of the TARDIS and leave him to his fate which seems somewhat out of character.  This is followed by 'End of the Line' which sees the Doctor helping a group of people to escape from a pollution-filled, cannibal infested city to the 'countryside', which the Doctor discovers is no better than the city.  The story ends rather sadly with the Doctor realising that the people he helped probably never survived their escape from the city anyway.

 A slightly more light-hearted story is 'The Free-Fall Warriors' which sees the Doctor travel to the far future where he meets Doctor Ivan Asimoff and takes a trip with a group of stunt pilots called the Free-Fall Warriors.  Doctor Asimoff - and you can probably guess which sci-fi writer he is named after - will return to the strip in the future.

The last comic strip of the year, and the final Fourth Doctor strip in the magazine was 'The Neutron Knights.'  Here the Doctor is summoned into Earth's far future to help a group of futuristic knights defend their castle from the evil Neutron Knights.  The leader of these heroic knights is called Arthur (as in 'the Once and Future King') and it's none-other than Merlin who has summoned the Doctor to aid the knights.  Having done so, Merlin then informs the Doctor that they will meet again.  Which indeed they do, when the Fifth Doctor arrives in the strip...

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Doctor Who 50-50: Part 19 - 1980

"I heard a strange babble of inhuman voices."
"On, undergraduates talking to each other I expect.  I'm trying to have it banned."
 The Doctor and Professor Chronotis - Shada

On Screen

'The Horns of Nimon' - the final story of Season 17 -  marked the end of an era for Doctor Who which is unfortunate in many ways, not least because the story is not at all well-liked amongst Doctor Who fandom.  It's also unfortunate as 'Nimon' was never intended to be the final story of the season.  That honour was to have gone to Douglas Adams' 'Shada' - a six episode story partly set in Cambridge and which would have introduced a new Time Lord character to the series: Professor Chronotis, a retired Time Lord living on Earth in the guise of a university professor.  

Professor Chronotis from the aborted Shada

'Shada' was partially filmed but a BBC strike meant that it was never finished and thus never broadcast.  And so it was that 'Horns of Nimon' marked the end of the season, a mere two weeks into 1980, and viewers were left waiting until September for more new episodes.  

In between January and September there were changes aplenty behind the scenes. Script editor Douglas Adams and producer Graham Williams both left and were replaced by Christopher H Bidmead and John Nathan-Turner respectively.  Nathan-Turner would become synonymous with 80s Doctor Who, overseeing the series for the next decade.   

Nathan-Turner (or JNT as he was popularly known) wanted to freshen up the series so immediately set about making a number of changes, not all of which were popular with viewers. The diamond logo was replaced with the neon tube effort that you can see at the top of this entry.  The Doctor got a striking new look which was all in burgundy.  And JNT took the decision to tone down the humour that had been so prevalent in the past two or three years of the series.  The Doctor got a bit more serious and JNT, along with Christopher Bidmead, was keen to see more 'real science' appear in the series.  

One other big change was in the music.  Out went the original version of the theme that had been used in one form or another since 1963 and in came a very different version, created by Peter Howell of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.  Personally this is one of my favourite versions of the theme but I can see how fans at the time might have reacted differently as it is so very different to what had come before. 

The incidental music also went through a transformation. Up until 1980 Dudley Simpson had produced the majority of the incidental music with a distinctive mix of synthesisers and traditional instruments.  Now the music was to be done entirely on synthesiser by the members of the Radiophonic Workshop.  Dudley Simpson was out of a job after over 15 years of loyal service.  

With all of the above changes taking place at the same time, Doctor Who almost seemed like a different show when it returned in September of 1980.  Fortunately the Doctor, Romana and K9 were present and correct.  K9 had even got his original voice back, supplied once again by John Leeson. 

The first story of the new season was the visually impressive 'The Leisure Hive'.  The story sees the TARDIS crew visit the war-torn planet Argolis which has tried to re-build itself with the creation of a holiday complex called the Leisure Hive.  But members of a rival race, the Foamasi have infiltrated the Hive and want to bring it down so that they can take control of the planet.  It's up to the Doctor to stop them. 

The next story, 'Meglos' at times feels like a throwback to the more comedic stories of the last two seasons.  The story concerns Meglos, a creature that looks like a cactus, disguising himself as the Doctor in order to try and steal a powerful object called the Dodecahedron.  To ensure that the Doctor himself doesn't interfere, Meglos traps the TARDIS in a time loop, which leaves the TARDIS crew literally repeating themselves for the best part of two episodes.  When the Doctor does eventually arrive, confusion ensues and the Doctor is able to save the Dodecahedron and destroy Meglos.  
One guest actor to look out for in this story is Jacqueline Hill.  Hill, you may recall, first appeared at the very beginning of the series back in 1963, playing First Doctor companion Barbara Wright. 

The next two stories in the series, and the final two to be shown this year, are 'Full Circle' and 'State of Decay'.  These two stories form part of a trilogy of stories which see the TARDIS pulled out of our universe and into another, called E-Space.   

In 'Full Circle', after being dragged into E-Space, the TARDIS lands on the planet of Alzarius where they discover the crew of a crashed spaceship who are under threat from the native inhabitants of Alzarius - the Marshmen. However it turns out that the crew actually died out centuries earlier and have been replaced by Marshmen who evolved into human form and then forgot about having previously been Marshmen.  

This story was written by a seventeen year old Doctor Who fan called Andrew Smith who sent the idea into the production office.  It so impressed John Nathan Turner that he hired Smith to write the scripts.  It was to be his only script for the series although he has, in recent years, returned to Doctor Who with scripts for the Big Finish audio dramas. 

Also in this story we meet a young man called Adric, one of the members of the ship's crew.  Adric (played by Matthew 'I had a letter published in DWW' Waterhouse) is a brilliant mathematician who decides to stow away on board the TARDIS, after the only surviving member of his family is killed by the Marshmen. 

Still searching for a way to leave E-Space, the Doctor, Romana and K9 (along with stowaway Adric) arrive on a world that has regressed to a primitive medieval state in 'State of Decay'.  Written by Terrance Dicks (who was presumably on a break from writing all those books) the story was originally intended to be made a couple of years earlier but was put on hold.  The story concerns vampires and the BBC hadn't wanted 'State of Decay' to clash with a production of Dracula that they were making at the time.  

So the story was dusted off for the 1980 season and this is more of an action/adventure story than the previous few stories.  It's also of course something of an horror story - given the heavy use of vampires and vampire mythology in this story.  One interesting thing that Dicks does here is to make the Vampires ancient enemies of the Time Lords, with the last Great Vampire being forced into hiding by Rassilon, the founder of the Time Lords.  The Doctor has now discovered the Great Vampire's hiding place and ends up creating a giant stake, using a rocket ship no less, with which to kill it.  

After, 'State of Decay' Doctor Who took it's Christmas break, before returning in January 1981 for the final part of the E-Space trilogy. 

On Audio

One audio release only this year: a single release of the new version of the Doctor Who theme by Peter Howell.  


In Print
As usual, the books were dominated by the Target novelisations.  Nine were published this year and eight of those nine were written by Terrance Dicks.  How did he find the time?  

Of those nine novelisations, nearly all of them were Fourth Doctor books: 'Underworld', 'The Invasion of Time', 'The Stones of Blood', The Androids of Tara', 'The Power of Kroll' 'The Armageddon Factor', 'Nightmare of Eden' and 'The Horns of Nimon'.  Third Doctor story  'The Monster of Peladon' and First Doctor tale 'The Keys of Marinus' were the only 'past Doctor novelisations this year.  'Marinus' was also the only book this year not written by Terrance Dicks.  Former Fourth Doctor producer Phillip Hinchcliffe took on the writing duties for that one. 

For the younger readers, there was another 'Junior Doctor Who' novelisation, 'The Brain of Morbius', again written by Terrance Dicks.  In addition there was a new series of story books starring K9.  This series of four short picture books were written by David Martin, one half of the duo who created K9.  The books sees K9 working solo and travelling through space in his own space ship called the K-Nell.  

In terms of other books we had the annual Annual and another children's book, this time a non-fiction book called 'A Day on the Life of a Television Producer' which followed new Producer John Nathan-Turner around on a 'typical' working day making Doctor Who.

Finally, the Doctor Who novelisations made it to Japan with several of the early books being released.  What is particularly interesting is the rather unusual cover pictures.  Something has definitely got lost in translation...

(In case you're wondering these are the covers for 'The Daleks', 'Spearhead from Space' and 'Day of the Daleks')

In Comics & Magazines


The comic strips remained the focus of Doctor Who Weekly throughout 1980 although there were still a mixture of other articles and features as well.  Issues 26 and 27 (both April 1980) introduced two new regular features: the UNIT Hotline (a sort of fan club type page) and Gallifrey Guardian - a news page which still remains in the pages of the magazine to this day.

In the main comic strip itself, the Doctor gives the people of 'The City of the Damned' back their emotions and their freedom in the second half of that story.  Mill, Wagner and Gibbons then took a break for a couple of weeks and Paul Neary (who would also go on to bigger and better things in the comics world) wrote and drew and 2-part story called Timeslip.  This story marks the debut of K9 in the strip (although Romana is AWOL) and sees the TARDIS being  caught by a creature that eats time, the result of which is that time starts running backwards and the Doctor regresses through his previous incarnations.  Eventually the creature gets indigestion (!) and the TARDIS is able to escape, putting everything back to what it was.

The team of Mills, Wagner and Gibbons then returned for two more stories.  'The Star Beast' is set on modern-day Earth and sees the Doctor teaming up with two school children, Sharon and Fudge, to stop a furry alien called the Meep.  The Meep may look cute and innocent but it's really anything but.  At the end of the story it kidnaps Sharon and takes her off in his spaceship and the Doctor has to rescue her from the Meep's clutches. 

With the Meep defeated, the Doctor tries to take Sharon home but ends up taking her several hundred years into the future to a group of  Earth colony worlds that are under threat from 'The Dogs of Doom' otherwise known as Werelox.  At first it seems like these beasts are going to be the main enemies in this story, particularly when a scratch from one of them causes the Doctor to turn into one of them.  But, in a clever twist, they are simply the henchmen for the Daleks who turn up at the halfway point.  

Following this story, Mills and Wagner took their leave of Doctor Who and the writing for the strip was taken on by Steve Moore, who had already written a number of the back-up strips for the magazine. Dave Gibbons stayed on as artist and, would remain the main artist into the 5th Doctor's era.

His first story was 'The Time Witch' which sees the TARDIS dragged into a strange dimension, controlled by a witch called Brimo.  She's not really evil as such but the use of her powers is draining the life out of the 'real' universe (much like Omega in 'The Three Doctors') and the Doctor has to imprison her.  One result of this adventure is that the TARDIS is briefly split in half and, in trying to restore it, Sharon is aged 4 years, turning her from a teenager into a young woman.  It's possible that Moore felt took restricted by having a schoolgirl as a companion and so took the first chance he could get to grow her up.

The next story, 'Dragon's Claw' takes a similar tack to 'The Dogs of Doom'.  Here the Doctor, Sharon and K9 investigate a 16th century Chinese monastary where the monks are trained by 'Bronze Men' from space.  The 'Bronze Men' don't appear until over half-way through the story and when they do appear are revealed to be stranded Sontarans. 

During Dragon's Claw's run, Doctor Who Weekly became Doctor Who Monthly.  This meant more pages for the magazine and, consequently, more pages for the comic strip.  This increase in page count meant that the stories in the strip became noticeably shorter,with all of the stories from here on being just one or two parts rather than 7 or 8 as had been the norm.  

Shoron's time as a companion came to an end in December 1980 (issue 48) as Sharon falls in love and decides to start a new life on a distant world.
Sharon - Doctor Who's first black companion

The back-up strip continued to feature stories about various other characters and races in the Doctor Who universe, including the Cybermen, Sontarans, Time Lords and the Yeti.  There was also a second story for Kroton, the Cyberman with a soul and two stories featuring a brand new character, Abslom Daak - Dalek Killer!  

Abslom Daak was a hardened criminal who chose to go on a suicide mission and fight Daleks.  He travelled the universe with own gang of fellow mercenaries (including a Draconian and an Ice Warrior) dispatching Daleks left, right and centre with a big chainsaw.