Monday, 11 January 2010

Postcards from Another World 2

Part Two: Success

Many things have been written about Twin Dilemma since its initial broadcast, and it is generally agreed that the success of the serial is due almost entirely to the performances of the two leads, Baker and Bryant, and their instant chemistry. Most cite the scene in which Peri and the newly-regenerated Doctor visit the TARDIS wardrobe and choose his new costume (including the famous blue coat, trademark of the 6th Doctor) as outstanding - some say it lays the foundation for the 6th Doctor’s era.

These scenes were written by Saward at the request of JNT, though rumours persist that there was a great deal of improvisation by Baker and Bryant on the day of recording. Either way, the scenes established a rapport between the two leads that continued throughout the story, elevating what is generally agreed to be an unexceptional plot, direction, guest-artists and production values (the latter, of course, was standard for Doctor Who in the 1980s).

Audience figures of just under 8 million were sustained throughout the four episodes, but subsequent to the season ending word of mouth continued to keep the new Doctor in the public’s attention. This led to the BBC deciding to repeat Twin Dilemma at Christmas 1984, just prior to the new season starting in January 1985. It was edited into two double-length episodes, matching the format that had been chosen for the new season.

When this was announced, planning and production for season 22 was underway, and the decision (taken, naturally enough, without consulting the Doctor Who production team) caught JNT and Saward by surprise. When the new season debuted it would be following hard on the heels of the repeat, not with a gap of over 9 months. This presented them with a problem - one that divided the production team and provoked a crisis.

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