Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Return of the Time Lord

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Meet the Doctor of the future and travel back with us in time

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He's back ... and about time too

After seven long years, a new Time Lord — in the guise of Paul McGann —lands on our screens in a $3 million TV movie on Spring Bank Holiday, BBC1. Alison Graham met the Doctor Who crew on location in Vancouver

Paul McGann, the eighth Doctor Who, is haunted by the ghosts of Doctors past and the huge legacy of affection handed down by the other actors who have played one of television's most enduring characters.

He is almost apologetic when he stresses that this Doctor will be very much Paul McGann. "I can't help thinking about Patrick Troughton, Bill Hartnell and the others. But I'm doing it my way — that's all I can do." McGann expects comparisons. Indeed, one observer who has seen him in Vancouver claims to have spotted shades of Tom Baker in his performance, though McGann says this isn't deliberate.

But one previous Doctor has helped him to prepare for the pleasures and perils of being the eighth Doctor Who: his predecessor Sylvester McCoy. The action takes place in in San Francisco on New Year's Eve, 1999, where the Doctor crash-lands in the Tardis and, in classic regeneration style, McCoy morphs into McGann.

"McCoy was the first on the phone when I got the role, giving me the low-down." McCoy is a fan and Who convention regular and warned McGann that Doctors are expected to attend such gatherings, though McGann is not so sure. "It fills me with absolute dread. I know it's something I'll do once, just to scare myself. But I'm nervous. I don't do theatre for the same reason."

The film has been nurtured through conception, gestation and birth by life-long Doctor Who fan and producer Philip Segal, who engineered the Anglo-American deal between the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, and Universal Television in America. He is politely defiant at suggestions that Doctor Who, perhaps the most quirky of British science fiction characters, will lose much in translation for a potentially huge American audience. "The only American thing about this story is that it's taking place in San Francisco. I don't think Paul McGann could be an American-style Doctor even if he tried."

Of course, most of the film's potential television audience in the United States will not have heard of Doctor Who, so to ease them into his fractured world McGann has American co-stars Daphne Ashbrook as his companion Dr Grace Wilson and Eric Roberts as the Master.

Everyone is anxious to reassure fans that the essential Doctor Who will not be tampered with. Segal, a British-born American resident for the past 20-odd years, says: "I'm doing this because I am a fan and I want it back as much as everybody else. I'm not interested in tearing the fabric of the show apart. These are the icons. If you're not going to buy into the icons people associate with Doctor Who, then don't do it."

Owing to its worldwide audience, the new Doctor Who film can't be too bogged down in more obscure Whovian mythology. "It was very important to me to tell a story that American audiences could enjoy, without having to understand all the mythology. I think that's the responsibility of doing what I call an international Doctor Who."

Geoffrey Sax, the director, is also keen to stress Doctor Who die-hards will not be alienated (to coin a phrase). "Most people who see the film will have never seen Doctor Who before, so it's got to be accessible and understandable to a whole new audience.

"But at the same time, we do need to keep happy the people who have stuck by Doctor Who over the years, so we've been including certain references which, even if they are lost on a new audience, won't make any difference to their understanding."

The one major concession to American sensibilities is a love story between the Doctor and Grace. The couple share the occasional kiss, but nothing more. Philip Segal contends it isn't a particularly radical departure: "We saw romantic relationships in the Tom Baker years. Besides, our kiss is a kiss for the right reasons [it is shared in a moment of extreme danger]. A lot of the show's fans are kids and I want our Doctor Who to be something you can sit and watch with your family. It's family television, which is what it has always been."

The small and wiry Eric Roberts, whose name is forever doomed to be followed by the bracketed words "Julia's brother", arrived at our interview during filming still wearing his elbow-length black gloves and elaborate rings, part of the Master's wardrobe. He first saw Doctor Who in 1973 while a student at Rada in London.

"We'd all sit watching this programme, saying how awfully cheesy it was. But we would never turn it off." He relishes the high camp of his role. "What's great about this part is that I don't have to take it home with me. It's like being let loose in the playground every day when I get to work. It's fun."

Daphne Ashbrook had to undergo a crash course in Doctor Who mythology to prepare her for the new film, though she is no stranger to science fiction television, having been a guest in Deep Space Nine, which involved hours of gruelling make-up.

"I really had no idea that Doctor Who had such a huge and fanatical following. It wasn't until I heard Sylvester McCoy telling Paul [McGann] that he had no idea of what he was taking on that I realised."

She is adamant that her role is that of an equal, rather than a screaming and helpless

adjunct to the Doctor. "I'm a nineties woman. What's really fun is that it is an equal relationship in a lot of ways."

Back in his caravan, the new Doctor is about to go for his tea with the rest of the crew.

"McCoy told me: 'You can't win and you can't lose. Some people will hate you and others will love you.' It's as simple as that."

Caption: The Master: Eric Roberts adds an American touch to keep international audiences happy New companion Grace: a love interest at last for the Time Lord

THE FIRST DOCTOR William Hartnell Number of episodes: 134 Largest audience: The Rescue(12.5m)

William Hartnell, who died in 1975, was previously best known for playing tough army types, but didn't mind swapping the world of spit and polish for the known universe of Doctor Who. He told RT: "It was like manna from heaven getting right away from all that. The Doctor was irascible, certainly, but there was also an element of magic in him, and that was what I tried to bring out."

Several of his stories had a historical bias-The Aztecs, The Romans, The Crusade - but it was clear by his second adventure, The Daleks, that it was the bug-eyed monsters that would truly capture the imaginations of British youth.

DALEKS First seen in December 1963, the Daleks were created by writer Terry Nation, who took his inspiration from seeing the Georgian State Dancers: "They seemed to be gliding across the floor, their feet invisible under their costumes. It was this strangeness I wanted to recapture." This was realised by BBC designer Raymond Cusick, who came up with their familiar pepperpot shape. Over the years. the design was refined slightly (the Dalek, right, is the 1966 model from Patrick Troughton's first story). Operated by actors from within, the Daleks tended to get pushed to one side during lunch breaks. Unfortunately, the actors were unable to get out without someone lifting off their lids and lunch breaks quickly became a fierce battle to remind the crew to let them out. On location in London, a similar difficulty occurred if they needed to answer a call of nature - until the operators realised they could trundle the Daleks over to a grating in the road and relieve themselves in complete privacy.

Jacqueline Hill, who died in 1993 (as Barbara Wright. far left): "I preferred the historical stories. In the science fiction stories the monsters took over - all I had to do was look frightened and get lost in gloomy corridors."

Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman. centre): "Inside the Spaceship required us to go mad. I think we did it so well because none of us knew what it was about. Whenever We asked why we were behaving in a particular way, we were just told to get on with it!"


Number of episodes: 119

Largest audience: The Moonbase (8.3m)

"I loved the way Bill Hartnell played Doctor, but I knew I couldn't possibly do it like that," recalled Patrick Troughton, who died in 1987, in RT at the time of the tenth anniversary story. So his Doctor became the "cosmic hobo", a whimsical little man with a Chaplinesque gait and his trademark recorder. (The instrument accidentally broken during filming of The Three Doctors, much to Troughton's horror and possibly listeners' delight.)

The second Doctor is also well known for encountering a long line of the series's most enduring monsters: Cybermen four times, Daleks twice, Yetis twice, Ice Warriors twice. Special effects improved and occasionally became a little grislier, prompting heated debate on a Points of View-style programme in 1967 over the increasing "horror" content of the series.

CYBERMEN The ruthless, robotic Cybermen were created by two writers, Dr Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis. Pedler was acting as Doctor Who's scientific adviser during the mid-sixties, while Davis was the show's story editor. Pedler, considered by some to be obsessed by mankind's over-reliance on machinery and computers, was the driving force behind the concepts, with Davis creating the Cybermen's intricate history. Both went on to create the early seventies BBC series Doomwatch. The design of the Cybermen changed over the years from the clumsy cloth-faced, steel encased ones of 1966 to the sleek reflective silver body suits of their most recent story in 1988.

Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon, right):

"I was very keen to keep my kilt - Jamie was a historical character from Scotland and I was determined to keep that image going."

Wendy Padbury (Zoe Herriot, inset):

"Zoe, unlike a lot of my predecessors on the series, was very intelligent and capable of pointing things out to the Doctor. This made Jamie look very thick as Zoe and the Doctor compared notes and he would just go, 'Oh, och aye' now and again."


1963: The BBC broadcasts the first episode of Doctor Who, An Unearthly Child, on 23 November - the day after John F Kennedy's assassination

1964: Doctor Who's first RT cover (22-28 February) also features Hugh and I, Eric Sykes and Benny Hill

Doctor Who enters the BBC's top ten rated programmes in November According to RT; "Over a thousand letters arrived at the BBC asking whether Daleks could - be borrowed or bought." Blue Peter helpfully showed how to construct one - fans preferred the Dalek merchandise that included books, badges, sweets and full-size, child-powered models

The Go Go's release their festive single I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas with a Dalek, rhyming "Dalek" curiously with "mistletoe". Somehow, the song failed to chart ...

1965: William Hartnell predicts that the series could go on "for five years at least". Eight years later he admits in RT - presumably smugly the quote caused him to be "universally scoffed at".

Daleks make their theatrical debut in the London stageplay The Curse of the Daleks

The first movie, Doctor Who and the Daleks, opens in London in June. It stars Peter Cushing as the Doctor, Roy Castle, Roberta Tovey and Jennie Linden

The first Doctor Who Annual is published

1966: Cybermen, second only in the public's affection to the Daleks, first appear in October in The Tenth Planet, Hartnell's swansong

Companions Michael Craze (Ben) and Anneke Wills (Polly) turn up for Patrick Troughton's first day of shooting wearing "Bring back Bill Hartnell!" T-shirts

1967: Violent Cybermen scenes cause a press and public outcry

The Yeti and Ice Warriors make winter debuts. The following year in RT, Roger Jones, an Ice Warrior, says that after half an hour in the costume, he felt as if he had been "working down a coalmine for two days!"

1968: Trailing the next Yeti story, the Doctor warns children: "If your mummy and daddy are scared, just get them to hold your hand."

The ultimate DIY aid, the sonic screwdriver, is unveiled in March 68's Fury from the Deep

UNIT, the series's private army with the collective marksmanship of a child on a helter skelter, first appear in The Invasion, which features Cybermen outside St Paul's Cathedral


Number of episodes: 128

Largest audience: The Three Doctors (10.3m)

How easily did you fit into the role?

I wasn't overly happy with the way my original producers steered the Doctor towards comedy the shower cap scene and silly hats [in Spearhead from Space]. I later discovered they'd also wanted me to play the guitar. Because Pat [Troughton] played the recorder, I think they thought that I could minstrelise my way through.

When did you feel the silliest?

Having a fight with the Minotaur [in The Time Monster], played by Dave Prowse. He felt equally silly because he had this sort of stuffed cow's head on and he couldn't see where he was going. Half the time he charged into the walls.

Did you ever have any hairy moments?

I did a lot of my own stunts, but then I was fairly physical and I'd leave anything that involved a fall to Terry Walsh [stuntman]. After I left, Terry gave me a lovely sword with the inscription, "To the best acting double in the business."

When did you decide to leave?

It felt like the end of an era after my great friend Roger Delgado was killed, and script editor Terrence Dicks and producer Barry Letts were leaving. I was prepared to stay on if the BBC had paid me a little bit more - much to my chagrin they said, "We're sorry to see you go." I asked, "Don't you want to talk about this?" and they said, "No I don't think so."

What's your favourite souvenir?

The Whomobile, which I drive at conventions. But it caused the most hideous accidents because people took their eyes off the road to look at it! What is your biggest Doctor Who regret? I enjoyed playing it and it put me right on the map as an actor. I suppose that it didn't pay as much money as people expected you were earning. The money was pitiful, really.

  • Jon Pertwee's new biography, I Am the Doctor, is published on 21 November


At first, the idea of an American company making Doctor Who seemed dreadful. There was a marvellous story which may be apocryphal - that somebody involved in the casting said, "You know this character has to be very British, we have to keep the Britishness. Who do you suggest to play the Doctor?" And the response was, "How about David Hasselhoff?" I blew my stack! I couldn't believe it!

But there are several British people involved in the production and Paul McGann is a fine choice as the Doctor. He's a great actor, though I do still have to get used to the idea of him in the role because all of us played it differently.

What initially worried us past Doctors was that the new film would finish us off - that we wouldn't get the conventions or the spin-offs, because the TV series would be forgotten. But the new producer Philip Segal assured us that he expects quite the opposite, for the programme to take off in a much bigger way. There's not a Who fan in the world who won't watch the film.

Of course, I'd love to reprise my role for Segal if he continues. But only as a guest character, as they did in The Five Doctors. At 76, I'm too old for all the stunts and the Venusian karate - I might find kicking somebody under the chin difficult nowadays!


Roger Delgado, who died in 1973 (The Master, right): "I love playing the Master he is the man the fans love to hate. I even get letters from kids who complain I'm not wicked enough."

Katy Manning (Jo Grant, inset): "Jo had two O-levels, couldn't pick locks and felt sorry for Daleks. And she cried every time the Doctor got hurt."

Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, below right): "I started with William Hartnell (not as the Brigadier) and ended with Sylvester McCoy. Who's best? Well, as the Brig was heard to say: 'They're splendid chaps, all of 'em'!"


The stars of The Green Death were either real maggots on miniature sets or full-size puppets created using inflated condoms, with a fox's jawbone inserted to be the fearsome mouth.


In the first couple of Sontaran stories, actor Kevin Lindsay, better own in the seventies as the whistling milkman who asked you to take an extra pinta milka day", wore the very heavy and bulky costume. After his death, various other actors donned the costume - but all agree that they were among the hottest ever. In 1984, Clinton Greyn and Tim Raynham travelled to Spain to film The Two Doctors featuring Colin Baker and Patrick Troughton, with the temperatures into the hundreds. Raynham recalls that when they had to die, they had to ooze green blood - Swarfega -from their mouths.


When the Doctor came up against the Dæmons Azal below), the creature made a stone gargoyle come to life. As the gargoyle went to attack the UNIT troops, the Brigadier uttered the immortal phrase to a soldier: "Jenkins. Chap with wings. Five rounds rapid!"




Early morning and the dummies in the shop window seem ordinary enough. Until, one by one, each twitches then comes to life

Hearing the shrill burglar alarms as the Autons smash through glass into the street, the local beat policeman rushes to investigate

The Autons advance on the stricken man, plastic fingers snapped downwards to reveal an alien weaponry

A flash from the gun of the lead Auton, a sharp explosion, and the policeman lies dead. The Auton invasion has begun ...

1970: Jon Pertwee's opening Spearhead from Space, is the first to be broadcast in colour

Doctor Who and the Silurians sees the debut of vintage roadster Bessie

In RT in May, young Sean Pertwee admits to eyeing his father repeatedly while watching episodes of Doctor Who, "Just to make sure that Papa is all right still"

1971: Roger Delgado describes his character the Master as "More than a Moriarty" in New Year's RT More outrage after the deadly plastic gimmicks in Terror of the Autons—including a homicidal plastic demon doll — frighten youngsters. "We had letters telling us of children who were afraid to take their teddy bears to bed, in case they came to life and strangled them," producer Barry Letts admits

Sugar Smacks fans are rewarded with one of six Doctor Who badges free with each packet

RT runs a two-page comic strip for new story Colony in Space

1972: After a five-year break, the return of the Daleks is heralded by an RT competition to "Win a unique Dalek worth over £100 that talks and moves just like those on TV". More than 7,000 entries are received

June 1973: Roger Delgado (the Master), 53, is killed in a car crash in Turkey

Pertwee appears on Blue Peter to demonstrate his Whomobile, a space-age car which will make its first Doctor Who appearance next February

Sea Devils first appear, February 1972

Doctor Who shows in America

Jon Pertwee releases the single Who Is the Doctor? It doesn't chart (though Pertwee will reach number 33 with Worzel's Song, about Worzel Gummidge, in 1980)

RT's 10th Anniversary Special (above) includes instructions on making a full-size, replica Dalek; parts needed include 24 polystyrene balls, 28Ibs fast-setting potter's plaster and, reassuringly, a sink plunger

1974: The first permanent Doctor Who Exhibition is opened by Pertwee on Blackpool's Golden Mile, in April

The giant spiders in Pertwee's final story, Planet of the Spiders, are deemed too scary by Mary Whitehouse and by sufferers of arachnophobia

The Doctor (played by Trevor Martin) makes his theatrical debut in Seven Keys to Doomsday in London, with one-time Troughton companion Wendy Padbury




Number of episodes: 172

Largest audience: City of Death (14.5m)

What interested you about the character?

Nothing particularly, at first. I did it because I was out of work and it was a relief to play a major part. Because I had not watched a great deal of Doctor Who, I had no notion of what it would entail. With the help of talented writers and crew, I just responded to what I was given and it all came together.

Why did you leave?

I believed that, after seven years, I knew every camera angle, every corridor possibility, everything that could be done with the Doctor. I have no regrets about playing the part. It lives on and, through it, so do I. To be known as "The man who used to be Doctor Who and made us happy" is wonderful. To be adored for doing something you adore, well, what more could someone want?

Do you regret leaving?

It was the most wonderful part I ever had and I was a madman to give it up. I got proprietorial and became demanding and insecure. I never meant to be difficult, but I began to live in the world of the Doctor and thought no one understood me and I'd had enough. But of course I hadn't. I could have gone on for ever. I've never really recovered.

  • Tom Baker stars as the Doctor in The Keeper of Traken on Sunday UK Gold and presents Explorer II on Tuesday Radio 2


Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith, right): "My favourite story was Planet of Evil. The chemistry between Tom Baker and myself was spot-on. Also, there were no bits on rubbish tips - was never too keen on outside filming, we always filmed during winter and it was freezing cold."

Louise Jameson (Leela, left): "I think Leela should have died heroically, saving the Doctor. She was that kind of savage really, always seeking the glorious route out, never the romantic one. Instead she married some poor guard on Gallifrey which was, frankly, stupid and illogical."

John Leeson (first voice of K-9): "During rehearsals, I actually scrabbled around the floor on all fours to give the other actors something to react to. But in the studio the radio-controlled prop was used and I sat in my little booth." David Brierley (second voice of K-9): In The Horns of Nimon

K-9 was very important. So important it seemed that Tom Baker was heard to mutter that the show ought to be renamed, 'Doctor Bloody K-9'! He didn't mean it."


Based on the fetal form of humans, the Zygons were created by Robert Banks Stewart, who went on to devise Shoestring and Bergerac. The costumes were a mixture of latex and foam rubber, both heavy and very warm in the studio. When on location, though, the Zygons were the happiest of actors, being snug while the more traditionally human actors froze. The Zygons' Skarasen - a large aquatic reptile inhabiting Loch Ness - was a foam rubber model, moved by puppetry and stop-motion animation, similar to that used by Ray Harryhausen in Jason and the Argonauts. Harryhausen was, admittedly, more successful.


Humans working alongside the robots, meant to be the ultimate synthetic humans, began to develop robophobia, dubbed Grimwade's Syndrome. The illness was an in-joke, named after the late Peter Grimwade, a popular member of the production team who went on to direct the show in the early 1980s.


Capitalising on Erich von Daniken's alien pyramid theories, the Mummies were huge robots covered in bandages. One sequence involved them being shot at close range by another actor who wasn't accustomed to guns. "He didn't fire until he was very close," says "Mummy" Melvyn Bedford. "After doing a dozen takes. I was a bundle of nerves!"



Had Davros created a virus that would destroy all non-Dalek lifeforms, the Doctor asks, would he allow its use?

"It is an interesting conjecture," Davros muses, with megalomaniacal understatement. "But would you use it?'

"To hold a capsule that contained such power. The tiny pressure of my thumb, enough to break the glass, would end everything ..."

"Yes! I would do it! That power would set me up above the Gods! And through the Daleks, I shall have that power!"

1975: William Hartnell, 67, dies in April after illness

"Exciting standup figures" of the Doctor and his enemies are given away in packets of Weetabix. A full set of 24 is now worth around £50

1976: The Doctor Who Appreciation Society (DWAS) is formed

Doctor Who's first radio story, The Time Machine, starring Baker and Sladen, is broadcast as part of a children's educational series

1977: Melvyn Bragg presents the documentary Whose Doctor Who? Teachers, psychologists and families — most interviewees having responded to a letter in RT— debate the impact of the series on children. One youngster notes, "I like to be scared, but when the programme's over I won't leave the room on my own"

The world's first Doctor Who convention is staged in London by the DWAS. Pertwee, Baker and Louise Jameson (Leela) attend

Attempting to cast off her wholesome image, ex-companion Katy Manning poses naked with a Dalek in Girl Illustrated magazine

Robot dog, K-9, debuts in October's The Invisible Enemy

1978: In February, Baker poses outside the make Embassy in London with various monsters in a publicity stunt to sell his episodes to America. Before the year is out, Baker's first story, Robot, airs in the States

In the 15th anniversary year, October's The Stones of Blood marks Doctor Who's 100th story

1979: Doctor Who goes on location abroad, to Paris for the first time. The story, City of Death, becomes the most watched in the programme's history

Doctor Who Weekly is launched

A BBC strike halts filming of Shada and the story never makes its January 1980 TV date. The completed segments are resurrected by BBC Video in 1992, linked by Tom Baker

1980: Baker attends the first American Doctor Who convention in April

A Doctor Who exhibition opens at London's Madame Tussaud's

Tom Baker weds Lalla Ward, his companion Romana 2, in December. The marriage is short-lived

1981: K-9 bows out in Warrior's Gate. An identical replacement reappears in the pilot show K-9 and Company, alongside Elisabeth Sladen in December, though a series is never made

The Master, now played by Anthony Ainley, returns for the first time (besides appearing in mutated form) since Roger Delgado's last portrayal of him in 1973



Number of episodes: 69

Largest audience: Castrovalva (9.9m)

How easily did you fit into the role?

You were almost given an open book and asked, "Well, where's your Doctor?" It was the peripheral things I didn't anticipate - how big the convention scene would become.

When did you decide to leave?

I stuck to a decision I made before I started, to do just three years. It was tempting to stay because the income was assured. But I felt I had to leave or I might not escape the Doctor's grip. What did your era do best?

Action. I probably moved a little quicker than most of the Doctors.

When did you feel the silliest?

Covered in green slime and Rice Krispies in the middle of Amsterdam in Arc of Infinity. But I used to enjoy silly things like corridor acting finding new ways to run down corridors.

Were there any hairy moments?

The only dodgy moment was on the back of a horse and cart in The Awakening. Just as we got off, the horse ran into a church gate, destroying it. That became a BBC blooper.

  • Peter Davison stars in the drama Cuts, to be shown on ITV


I could never see why the BBC didn't carry on making Doctor Who. I think it was largely a political decision. And while I have no qualms about the Americans taking it on ... they'll probably do it very well but it won't be the same animal - I don't understand why we couldn't have been doing it. The programme earned loads of money and none of that money was ever piled back into the series. We had an audience and the feeling was that if that was the case, why did we need the money to make it halfway decent?

Whether the new film will achieve the ratings to be made into a series, I'm not sure. There is still the audience in this country but I question the size of the American market. It always struck me that our idea of how popular Doctor Who was in America was overblown. It had a very strong cult following. Beyond that, nobody had heard of it. When I was recognised in America it was from All Creatures Great and Small, not from Doctor Who.


First seen in the Pertwee era, the Silurians were incredibly popular and rapidly brought back, altered into their underwater cousins, Sea Devils. In 1984 the two groups were paired up (the only time returning monsters have joined forces) to attempt the annihilation of all mankind.


Matthew Waterhouse (Adric, left): "Even after Adric died, he came back twice as a ghost. Peter looked very pale - he couldn't believe he still hadn't got rid of me!" Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka, centre): "Tegan was bolshy and aggressive and a lot of people could identify with that. The Doctor is, after all, a very irritating person."



Number of episodes: 31

Largest audience: Attack of the Cybermen (8m)

When did you feel the silliest?

Chained to a branch, left alone on the ground by the crew for 15 minutes in a wood near Uxbridge. A couple came past and were rather alarmed and ran away!

Were there any hairy moments?

I was dangling over a bottomless well in The Mark of the Rani and some over-enthusiastic extras were belabouring me with sticks. They a bit violent and I dislocated my finger. But I'm the only Doctor who never had a stuntman, which is a great source of pride.

What souvenir have you kept?

I have one of Davros's fingers. There was a wonderful scene where Davros's hand was blown off. I was much criticised for exalting in this with a naff joke, "You look armless!", which I put in myself. But they did take out scene where I pulled the finger out of my nose as if that was where it had landed.

What is your biggest regret?

That I didn't stay in the role for as long as was planned. It interrupted the long-term plan for the character, which was to gradually lighten him up. So viewers mostly saw this arrogant, patronising and awkward character.

  • Colin Baker stars in Fear of Frying at the Weston-super-Mare Playhouse from 20-25 May

MENTORS The Doctor first encountered evil Mentor Sil on the planet Varos. Played by disabled actor Nabil Shaban, who delighted in his role, Sil's temper tantrums and arrogance masked a sharp and malicious mind. Shaban first rose to prominence in Walter, the Channel 4 opening night play starring Ian McKellen set in a hospital for disturbed people. The character of Sil proved so popular that he returned during part of the Sixth Doctor's trial. Sil's master, Kiv, was played by Christopher Ryan, better known for his comedy roles in The Young Ones and, latterly, Absolutely Fabulous. As a youngster, Nabil Shaban once wrote to the BBC suggesting that he could play the Master, and although that never happened, he cites Sil as one of his all-time favourite roles.


Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown, left): "I lied my way into the show! I hold dual nationality, but I'm not American, although I could do a convincing accent. At least, it convinced the producer and everyone else on the programme."

Bonnie Langford (Melanie Bush, inset): "I thought after a while that people might get a bit fed up with this red-haired loon running around shouting, 'Doctor!' and so I left. Her departure was fitting though, going off to nag some other poor space traveller and drive him bonkers!"

1982: For Davison's first story, Castrovalva, the series moves from Saturday teatimes to Monday and Tuesday evenings to public protest. Miss A Bradbury writes to RT "Please put Doctor Who back on Saturday. The atmosphere is completely wrong"

The Cybermen return in Earthshock. The story also witnesses the first death of a companion, Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) in 17 years. "I was a bit disappointed and upset," he said

American Doctor Who fever attracts the largest ever gathering, over 10,000, at a Chicago convention — despite no Doctors appearing

1983: Anthony Ainley's return in The King's Demons is disguised by an anagram in the RT cast list (James Stoker--Master's Joke!)

At a press conference to launch the 20th anniversary special, The Five Doctors, Hartnell's part is taken by Richard Hurndall; Tom Baker declines to take part and a waxwork takes his place at the photo session

The first Doctor Who story released on BBC Video is Tom Baker's Revenge of the Cybermen

The Doctor Who Celebration: Twenty Years of a Time, staged at Longleat over two days in April. Tens of thousands attend, along with all surviving Doctors and companions

London's National Film Theatre screens 70 episodes from the series

After Peter Davison decides to quit the role, incumbent actor Colin Baker tells the Radio Times 20th Anniversary Special: "I was to get my first fan letter within three days announcement I was taking over"

The first RT Doctor Who cover since 1973 marks the showing of The Five Doctors on BBC1 in November. Tom Baker appears briefly, but in a segment lifted from the untransmitted Shada

A BBC appeal in the Sunday Times requests copies of Doctor Who episodes lost from the archives (numbering over 100). Several have since been returned, often by foreign TV stations, though two lost episodes turned up in a church basement

1984: Blackpool is once again lit up Doctor Who-style, with models of Colin Baker's Doctor and a variety of monsters in attendance

1985: Patrick Troughton (above left) stars with Colin Baker in The Two Doctors, with Frazer Hines making a return appearance as his companion

In February it is announced that Doctor Who will be postponed for 18 months, lack of funds is cited as the reason. Colin Baker is reportedly "staggered". Tabloids begin "Save Doctor Who" campaigns

With the TV series in limbo, Eric Saward's six-part Radio 4 adventure Slipback begins starring Colin Baker as the Doctor alongside Nicola Bryant

1986: The Doctor returns in September, in a 14-episode season titled [[broadwcast:The Trial of a Time Lord |The Trial of a Time Lord ]]

In October Colin Baker is informed that his contract is not being renewed



Number of episodes: 42

Largest audience: Silver Nemesis (5.5m)

How did the role affect your personal life?

Doctor Who is a national icon, so it isn't easy. I wasn't able to cycle down the street without people shouting after me, "Oi, Doctor! Where's your Tardis?", which can become somewhat tedious, so I stopped cycling as much. Yes, Doctor Who has made me fat.

When did you feel silliest?

I felt quite silly on the ice in Dragonfire. I was doing sliding-on-ice acting and when I saw the programme no one else was!

Did filming ever get dangerous?

There was a scene where Sophie [Aldred, Ace] was in a water tank [in Battlefield] that burst, which is now used in BBC safety lectures. I saw it was about to happen and with great command thanks to the Doctor, most likely - shouted for the technicians to pull her out, just in time.

Were you planning to continue?

I did think during the second season that I should only do one more, but my arm was twisted basically, if I didn't agree to a fourth season they wouldn't film the third. So I said I'd do it. Having committed myself, I was more than a bit miffed when it didn't happen.

What is your biggest Doctor Who regret?

That I was around when it was being mucked around with, and there was nothing that I could really do other than my best.

  • Sylvester McCoy stars in Funeral Games at London's Drill Hall 28 May-22 June


I'm delighted that Doctor Who is back. To appear in the film for the regeneration scenes was a great revisiting for me and it was a joy to be a part of the rebirth.

When I first saw the inside of the Tardis, it was astonishing- "This is the one I've always wanted! And I've got it, if only briefly." It's just as I would have liked it if I had had the power and the knowledge when I first started the role and said, "Let's go for a different Tardis".

Doctor Who, I always thought, should come out of the Sherlock Holmes world. British heroes tend to be guys who don't wear their underpants outside their trousers, who are more eclectic and less physically violent. That's exactly the effect they have achieved.

As for Paul McGann, he has this wonderful danger and, at the same time, a very impish sense of humour, and he can move from one to the other. He's a splendid actor. If they're going for a younger Doctor, who better?

I don't know the American scene that well, so I don't know what ratings the film is likely to achieve. But I think that fan power will have a great deal of influence on the "industry". I always look on the optimistic side and I just hope for the sake of all Doctor Who fans that the programme continues.


Encased in the latex head was actor Marek Anton, who recalls that the character was originally meant to look human and later transform. But the Destroyer only ever appeared as the blue-faced creature, which involved Anton wandering around the studio, almost toppling over due to the 15in horns, metal breastplate and high medieval boots.


Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Liquorice Allsorts's Bertie, this robot was used to ensure that everyone remained cheerful. Anyone who didn't either went to the Kandy Kitchen or had a visit from the happiness patrol and was never heard of again ...


Sophie Aldred (Ace): "While we did the show, Sylv kept his script in his pocket and always at the last minute he gave me all his long speeches. I'd have to turn them into questions and he'd just say, 'That's right, Ace, you're learning.' He hated learning lines!"

Doctors and Travels in Time written by Nick Griffiths; Monsters and Companions by Gary Russell, author of the novel of the film, Doctor Who (BBC Books, price £3.99)

Over the years many stars have donned weird costumes and put in an appearance on Doctor Who. Here are just a few: can you name them? Answers below

Across, from left: Mark Eden (Marco Polo, 1964), Honor Blackman (The Trial of a Time Lord, 1986), Richard Briers (Paradise Towers, 1987), Martin Jarvis (Vengeance on Varos, 1985), Lynda Baron (Enlightenment, 1983), Stratford Johns (Four to Doomsday, 1982), Keith Barron (Enlightenment), Geoffrey Hughes (Trial), Lynda Bellingham (Trial), Jean Marsh (Battlefield, 1989), Rula Lenska (Resurrection of the Daleks, 1984), Maurice Denham (The Twin Dilemma, 1984) Christopher Ryan (Trial), Beryl Reid (Earthshock, 1982), Judy Cornwall (Paradise Towers, 1987), Ken Dodd (Delta and the Bannermen, 1987), Carmen Silvera (The Celestial Toymaker, 1966), Sheila Hancock (The Happiness Patrol, 1988), Polly James (The Awakening, 1984), Frank Windsor (Ghost Light, 1989), Ronald Fraser (The Happiness Patrol), Julian Glover (The Crusade, 1965), Iain Cuthbertson (The Ribos Operation, 1978), Kate O'Mara (Time and the Rani, 1987)

1987: Patrick Troughton dies in March

1988: The Timelords's Doctorin' the Tardis reaches Number One

Dalek evolution continues in their final appearance to date with this special weapons Dalek from Remembrance of the Daleks

The series's 25th anniversary is more muted than its 20th, though this first day cover is one souvenir issued

Final appearance to date of the shiny Cybermen in Silver Nemesis (November)

1989: Jon Pertwee reprises his role as the Doctor on tour in the stage play The Ultimate Adventure followed by Colin Baker

While recording Battlefield, companion Sophie Aldred (Ace) faces danger when the water tank she is submerged in shatters

Jean Marsh, who appeared as William Hartnell's short-lived companion, Sara Kingdom, returns after 34 years to play adversary Morgaine

The final TV episode, Survival, broadcasts in December. The story is filmed before the decision to scrap the series and the Doctor's final words are, Prophetically, "Come on Ace, we've got work to do." Anthony Ainley's Master appears, as do, less enigmatically, Hale and Pace


The Doctor has never truly disappeared into time and space. His old adventures have been extensively reissued by BBC Video. He lives on in Virgin Publishing's series of new novels, which began in 1991. He reappeared on BBC Radio in two new stories, The Paradise of Death (1993) and The Ghosts of N Space (1996), starring Jon Pertwee. London's Museum of the Moving Image held a 1991 exhibition, "Behind the Sofa". The surviving Doctors were reunited for a special story Dimensions in Time in aid of Children in Need, in 1993. There have been Doctor Who computer games, an RT calendar, interviews with previous cast members released on video, even a Doctor Who pinball table. Now, of course, there is the new film starring Paul McGann, ushering in a whole new era and, starting next week, a brand-new comic strip in RT.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Graham, Alison (1996-05-25). Return of the Time Lord. Radio Times .
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  • Chicago 15th ed.: Graham, Alison. "Return of the Time Lord." Radio Times, edition, sec., 1996-05-25
  • Turabian: Graham, Alison. "Return of the Time Lord." Radio Times, 1996-05-25, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Return of the Time Lord | url= | work=Radio Times | pages= | date=1996-05-25 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=11 July 2020 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Return of the Time Lord | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=11 July 2020}}</ref>