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20 years vanish as five Dr Whos link up

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1983-11-15 Glasgow Herald.jpg


ONE was "otherwise engaged," one has passed on, but nevertheless, they will all be there on the night in one way or another — the five Dr Whos.

The 20th anniversary of Dr Who will be celebrated on November 25 when a 90-minute special, called "The Five Doctors," will be transmitted on BBC 1. It will also be seen in 54 countries including America where it has a huge cult following and will go out on 80 stations, coast to coast.

While it might be a relatively simple matter for the Tardis to whiz backwards and forwards through time with the space doctor, it transpires that there is no way it can deliver all the actors who have played the part to the same place at the same time. But they have solved bigger problems than this over the years and current producer John Nathan-Turner was not to be stopped.

William Hartnell, Dr Who I, is dead, but he will be seen briefly in some vintage footage and after that his part is played by Richard Hurndall who bears an uncanny resemblance. Tom Baker, Dr Who IV, is the one who had a prior commitment. He allegedly did not get on well with producer Nathan-Turner and said he was unavailable when it came to the make of "The Five Doctors."

Nathan-Turner was responsible for replacing Baker with Peter Davison, Dr Who V. He insists he got on well with Baker but says he always felt his wit was more like slapstick, which he didn't think heightened the drama — -All that 'Have a jelly baby' stuff _" he says in disapproval.

The solution has been to dig out bits of unused footage featuring Baker and cobble them into the storyline which has been written by Terence Dicks.

Patrick Troughton, who came after Hartnell, readily agreed to take part in the special programme but was worried that he would not be able to remember his lines. Following Troughton came Jon Pertwee, the dashing, cavalier type Dr Who. These two, in particular, are likely to be showing their age now the series is 20 years on, irrespective of the fact they are supposed to be 757 years old.

Many of the Doctor's companions will also be making a reappearance. These include Carole Ann Ford, who played the Doctor's grand-daughter, Susan, in the very first episodes, Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier, Elisabeth Sladen, Lalla Ward (who subsequently married Tom Baker) and the robot dog, K-9. A few of the old monsters will be raising their ugly heads again, although Nathan-Turner is not saying which ones. All will be revealed at a preview in London tomorrow.

The fascination of Dr Who is something which is never likely to go away now. It grips the minds of children and stays with them all their lives. It gets them first when they are in the six to seven age group when they look at the programme with scared fascination from behind sofas.

Now there are Dr Who appreciation societies — fan clubs does not seem the proper expression — in the 54 countries where the programme is shown. There are an estimated 100 million followers world-wide.

Sixty thousand attended the two-day Dr Who convention at Longleat this Easter. They came from all over the UK and as far away as Australia and America. The four surviving doctors (including Baker) and their companions made personal appearances for question and answer sessions. There were programme screenings, marketing tents, auction of old props, a radiophonic workshop' tent, studio sets and make-up events.

Dr Who has a particularly strong following in Chicago and a very big convention is to be held there on November 26 and 27 to mark the 20th anniversary. The four remaining doctors and Nathan-Turner will be leaving for America following tomorrow's preview.

Permanent Dr Who exhibitions are on show at Longleat and Blackpool.

Peter Davison was brought in to replace Baker because the producer was looking for someone more youthful, more heroic, more vulnerable and since he took over the role the audiences have increased — bit, after the 21st series, which starts going out in January, he is leaving prematurely to concentrate on other work.

Dr Who VI is to be another Baker —Colin Baker, who played the nasty JR type in "The Brothers." He is likely to be introduced towards the end of the next series.

Nicola Bryant, the 21-year-old actress who will be playing Dr Who's new assistant, takes over the role in January. Janet Fielding is the outgoing assistant.

The fear of most Dr Whos is that they will get stuck in a timelock and typecast to the extent that they will not be acceptable for other major roles. This is one reason why Davison is leaving and why he has worked hard at appearing in other programmes during has term as Dr Who. Colin Baker is also to be seen in a new BBC drama series "Swallows and Amazons For Ever," starting next year.

Caption: All the Doctors: Richard Hurndall as William Hartnell, Peter Davison, Tom Baker (represented in this picture by Madame Tussaud's waxwork), Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. In the foreground is K-9.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Young, Andrew (1983-11-15). 20 years vanish as five Dr Whos link up. The Herald p. 4.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Young, Andrew. "20 years vanish as five Dr Whos link up." The Herald [add city] 1983-11-15, 4. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Young, Andrew. "20 years vanish as five Dr Whos link up." The Herald, edition, sec., 1983-11-15
  • Turabian: Young, Andrew. "20 years vanish as five Dr Whos link up." The Herald, 1983-11-15, section, 4 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=20 years vanish as five Dr Whos link up | url= | work=The Herald | pages=4 | date=1983-11-15 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=4 December 2023 }}</ref>
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