Thursday, 14 January 2010

Postcards from Another World 5

Disclaimer: this is a work of fiction.

Part Five: Season 22 (1985)

Under enormous pressure to follow two ‘instant classic’ stories (Caves of Androzani and Twin Dilemma), the production of season 22 was fraught with difficulties throughout, which can be put down to the already tight production schedule being squeezed even further by significant delays in the early scripting part of the process.

It is to the credit of all who worked on this season of Doctor Who that they rose to the challenge and produced one of the best-regarded seasons in the programme’s history. Credit must especially go to JNT, the Producer, for resisting external pressures and remaining focussed on making the quality of the show as high as it could be given the limited time and budget.

Season 22 saw the introduction of new Companion Nova Rek (Paul Darrow) in the story Attack of the Cybermen, written by Paula Moore but heavily re-written by Eric Saward (Script Editor) and Terrance Dicks (uncredited), with additional dialogue by Darrow himself. Although this story is best remembered for the introduction of Nova Rek and for being the first serial of the 6th Doctor era to feature the Cybermen, it is also noteworthy for its topical inclusion of Halley’s Comet, which was visible from Earth around the time of original broadcast.

Another noteworthy serial from this season is Two Doctors, which saw Colin Baker’s Doctor and his companions team up with former Doctor #2 Patrick Troughton and companion Jamie (Fraser Hines) against the Sontarans. The reunion of old friends and foes was almost (some might just say ‘was’) overshadowed by the reunion of Darrow with his old Blakes 7 antagonist Jacqueline Pearce, playing guest villain Chessene. But it wasn’t all good news: due to production difficulties the overseas filming in Spain had to be cancelled and remounted in the studio, forcing yet more last-minute rewrites by Saward and Dicks.

The jewel in the crown of season 22 is undoubtedly its final serial, Revelation of the Daleks, which cemented in the mind of the British public (if not all those at the BBC - but more on that later) the return of Doctor Who to a golden age not seen since the 1970s. This story saw the Doctor, Peri and Rek come up against Davros and the Daleks once again. The script was written by Eric Saward and, as the last serial of the season to be produced, he had more time to incorporate the changes made to the series into this serial than for any of the others. It was also fortunate that it suffered from fewer production difficulties than any other serial of the season - the only one of any significance being the loss of Alexei Sayle as a guest-artist due to a scheduling clash. The story concludes with the Doctor offering to take Peri and Rek to Blackpool, which was to lead into the first story of the next season…

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