chaoticworlddesigns.com

Doctor Who: The Peter Davison Years, 1982-84

Peter DavisonDoctor Who

    Season 19: 1981-82

  1. Castrovalva
  2. Four To Doomsday
  3. Kinda
  4. The Visitation
  5. Black Orchid
  6. Earthshock
  7. Time-Flight
  8. Season 20: 1982-83

  9. Arc Of Infinity
  10. Snakedance
  11. Mawdryn Undead
  12. Terminus
  13. Enlightenment
  14. The King’s Demons
  15. The Five Doctors
  16. Season 21: 1983-84

  17. Warriors Of The Deep
  18. The Awakening
  19. Frontios
  20. Resurrection Of The Daleks
  21. Planet of Fire
  22. The Caves Of Androzani

Faced with the unenviable task of replacing a character actor who had become nothing short of a national institution, producer John Nathan-Turner elected to go with someone he’d worked with before, someone he knew to have an even temperament, a good sense of fun and also a good sense of when to get down to work. Prior to working on Doctor Who as a unit production manager, Nathan-Turner had served in that capacity on the popular series All Creatures Great And Small, based on James Herriot’s popular book series, where he met Peter Davison. Struck by the actor’s professionalism, Nathan-Turner called on Davison again to replace Tom Baker as the Doctor, and Davison’s initial reaction was to say that he felt he was too young for the part. Nathan-Turner’s persistence finally brought Davison on board. At this point, Davison sought out Tom Baker for advice on playing the part, but in many interviews since, Davison says all he got were two words shouted across a pub: “Good luck!”

Janet Fielding as TeganMatthew Waterhouse as AdricPeter Davison as the DoctorNathan-Turner, Davison, and new script editor Eric Saward set about sketching out a character for the fifth Doctor. Nathan-Turner and Saward were keen on the idea of dispensing with Baker’s near-infallible cool, making the new Doctor a little less certain of whether or not he could control a given situation. They both felt that the suspense of the series’ legendary cliffhangers was undermined by Baker’s wink-and-a-nod approach to the job, which seemed to tell the audience that no matter what happened, the Doctor and friends would escape unscathed. To that end, Saward wrote a script of his own which would point out the Doctor’s vulnerability in the most essential way: one of his companions would die in the course of an adventure.

For the new Doctor’s image, and indeed that of the new trio of companions introduced at the very end of Tom Baker’s reign, John Nathan-Turner wanted readily-identifiable, marketable looks. Having remembered Davison’s penchant for after-filming cricket games, Nathan-Turner wanted the Doctor costumed in Edwardian-era cricket garb, but again with the question mark lapels that had been introduced in Tom Baker’s last season. Davison wasn’t opposed to the idea, but later voiced some concerns that it made him too conspicuous. Airline hostess Tegan would be sticking with her flight uniform, and Adric and Nyssa wore the costumes from their debut adventures full-time.

The first season of Davison’s Doctor would also pose another new challenge: the BBC scheduled it on Tuesday and Thursday nights, instead of its traditional Saturday evening time slot. Just shy of its 20th anniversary, new episodes of Doctor Who would now be broadcast during the week for the first time ever. This also cut the suspense of the show’s multi-episode stories in half, as Tuesday cliffhangers were only 48 hours away from being resolved, instead of a week.

Doctor Who: EarthshockBy and large, Davison’s first season was well-received by audiences. Four To Doomsday and the challenging philosophical drama of Kinda were indicative of the new direction Nathan-Turner had wanted for the show when he started, and The Visitation – a Saward script submitted the previous year when the script editor was just another freelancer – was typical of the new approach to historical settings: some extraterrestrial influence would frequently been seen as the cause for historical events (in this case, the Great Fire of London). Following this, Nathan-Turner and Saward pulled off a major coup with Earthshock, a story introducing a reinvigorated, all-conquering new style of Cybermen. Nathan-Turner had closed this story’s studio filming sessions off to anyone not directly involved with production, and had even declined a chance to get front cover exposure for the Cybermen’s return in the Radio Times, the BBC’s listings magazine. As a result, the venerable adversaries’ return was a complete surprise to the audience – as was the death of Adric at the end of part four. Matthew Waterhouse, upset at being written out of the show so permanently, was still under contract for another story: he appeared as Adric’s ghost in the season closer, Time-Flight. That story also seemed to do away with Tegan, though she would return the following season despite being left behind on Earth by the Doctor.

For the 20th anniversary season, Nathan-Turner was adamant on reflecting the series’ past in each story. In some cases, this was quite a stretch – Mawdryn Undead was intended to bring back Ian Chesterson, one of the original companions from the Hartnell era, while Arc Of Infinity referred back to the tenth anniversary story, The Three Doctors, by bringing back its villain, Omega. Some of these other continuity references were less far-reaching: a trilogy of stories late in the season would reintroduce the Black and White Guardians from Tom Baker’s Key To Time season, and Snakedance was a direct sequel to a very recent story, Kinda. And the season was designed to close with Eric Saward’s Sentinel, pitting the fifth Doctor against the Daleks for the first time.

Not all of these plans went off without a hitch. William Russell was unavailable to reprise his role, so Mawdryn Undead was rewritten to include Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart – now retired, and now teaching math at a boys’ school (a relic of the original plotline – the Ian Chesterson character had always been a teacher since the series’ inception). Industrial strikes within the BBC also canned Sentinel, robbing the season of its climactic story, but the BBC had other plans as well. International co-funding deals had been secured to mount a special, feature-length 20th anniversary story – and now John Nathan-Turner and Eric Saward had to create that story out of the blue, as none of the already-commissioned scripts were suitable for the occasion.

But first they had plans for the remainder of the season. Sarah Sutton wanted to opt out of the series about halfway through the season, so plans were made not only for her exit, but for her replacement. A new male companion was devised, and he would be introduced under less-than-ideal circumstances: he would be on the losing end of a shady bargain with the Black Guardian, on a mission to kill the Doctor. This story arc was intended to play out over three successive stories, with the new companion’s redemption being part of the third story.

The first story of the season, Arc Of Infinity, brought Tegan back into the fold and took the Doctor back to Gallifrey, where it is discovered that someone is trying to take over his body – a possibility grave enough to merit summary execution. Curiously enough, the captain of the guard on Gallifrey was played by an actor named Colin Baker, who would come to figure prominently in the history of Doctor Who just a year later. Snakedance revisited the events of Kinda, but also raised the same confused response from some viewers as this also meant revisiting that story’s Buddhist overtones and internalized drama. The Brigadier’s reintroduction and the arrival of Turlough, the new male companion, occurred as planned in Mawdryn Undead, which also featured a flashback montage of footage dating back to the Troughton era as the Brigadier regains his memory of the Doctor’s adventures. Nyssa departed at the end of the following story, Terminus, and Turlough was redeemed and somewhat uneasily continued his TARDIS travels after helping the Doctor defeat the Black Guardian in Enlightenment. With Sentinel struck from the schedule, the season closed on the two-part The King’s Demons, involving the Master trying to prevent the signing of the Magna Carta. That story also introduced another new companion – a talking, shapeshifting robot called Kamelion.

Originally demonstrated to John Nathan-Turner by its creator, Kamelion was an engineering marvel capable of movement and speech. But just before The King’s Demons could be filmed, the man responsible for creating the robot and its hardware died – and no documentation for its more detailed functions could be found. In its first story, Kamelion was therefore spoken for by actor Gerald Flood, and made very little movement. Its future appearances would be cut back drastically in planning for the next season.

Doctor Who: The Five DoctorsNow John Nathan-Turner and Eric Saward had to crunch to get a 20th anniversary special ready for November. Both agreed that a full-scale reunion of surviving Doctors and companions and villains was in order, though there were some practical hurdles to this task: William Hartnell had died in 1975, and every actor’s schedule had to be considered. Little did they know that, compared to some obstacles that would appear later, the death of the show’s original lead actor would prove to be almost minor. Knowing that crafting a story around so many pre-existing elements would be a challenge, Saward’s first choice to write the script for the special was a favorite of his from the Pertwee era: Robert Holmes.

Holmes took his best shot at a multi-Doctor script, even incorporating an android version of the Hartnell Doctor; John Nathan-Turner had spotted an actor named Richard Hurndall in a fourth-season episode of Blake’s 7, playing the part of an old man with mannerisms somewhat similar to the first Doctor. By making the first Doctor a decoy, Holmes could account for the fact that the portrayal would be different. But ultimately, Holmes informed Saward that he couldn’t weave all of these elements into a coherent, single 90-minute story. Saward turned to another reliable known quantity from Doctor Who’s past, former Pertwee-era script editor Terrance Dicks. Dicks turned in a script titled The Five Doctors, pitting the fifth Doctor against the Master in Gallifrey’s notoriously inescapable “Death Zone,” while the fourth Doctor weathered political intrigue within the High Council of the Time Lords, and the other three incarnations worked their way through the Death Zone for a final confrontation. For the first time in the show’s history, Cybermen, Daleks, Yeti and other menaces would combine their forces to destroy the Doctor. (A sequence featuring the first appearance of the Autons since 1971 was dropped at a late stage.)

Doctor Who: The Five DoctorsBut as the start of production on The Five Doctors drew near, an unexpected complication arose: Tom Baker didn’t want to reprise his role. Dicks literally got the call to rewrite his script at 2:00am while attending a science fiction convention in New Orleans. Nathan-Turner had tried and failed to talk Baker into returning, but the actor had decided to put the part behind him permanently. The Five Doctors would now be reduced to four, but clever use of the never-aired footage from the unfinished Shada provided a way to work “new footage” of Baker into the show. Otherwise, the special went off without a hitch – Patrick Troughton, in particular, was happy enough during filming to plant the idea in John Nathan-Turner’s ear for another story bringing the second Doctor into the series’ present. The Five Doctors aired in November to a rapt reaction from the fans, the primary complaint being that it actually aired in America a few days earlier – and on the actual November 23rd anniversary date.

Doctor Who: Resurrection Of The DaleksPlanning for the 21st season was now underway as well, though Peter Davison had made it clear that he was ready to bow out of the role at the end of his third year (he later attributed this time limit to advice given to him by Patrick Troughton). As with the 20th season, there were numerous elements from Doctor Who’s past woven into the stories: the season opener, Warriors Of The Deep, brought back the Silurians and Sea Devils, both of whom hadn’t been seen since Jon Pertwee’s era. Eric Saward’s Sentinel script was dusted off and retitled Resurrection Of The Daleks. Both Mark Strickson and Janet Fielding announced their own plans to move on, so Turlough and Tegan would each receive a farewell story (in Tegan’s case, it was written into the end of Resurrection Of The Daleks). Turlough would bow out in the following story, Planet Of Fire, which also saw off Kamelion (now almost entirely immobile) and introduced Nicola Bryant as Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, the new companion. For the role, Bryant affected an American accent, as Nathan-Turner wanted to buck the tradition of what he referred to as “Earth-UK companions” (in fact, the last such companion had been Sarah Jane Smith).

The following story, Caves Of Androzani, sported a thickly-plotted Robert Holmes script and the fifth regeneration of the Doctor, but it wasn’t the last story of the season. Nathan-Turner wanted to give viewers an entire adventure with the new Doctor before the series took its customary break for the rest of the year – and thus Colin Baker made an early debut as the sixth Doctor.

    Season Nineteen: 1981-82

  1. Castrovalva
  2. Four To Doomsday
  3. Kinda
  4. The Visitation
  5. Black Orchid
  6. Earthshock
  7. Time-Flight
  8. Season Twenty: 1982-83

  9. Arc Of Infinity
  10. Snakedance
  11. Mawdryn Undead
  12. Terminus
  13. Enlightenment
  14. The King’s Demons
  15. The Five Doctors
  16. Season Twenty-One: 1983-84

  17. Warriors Of The Deep
  18. The Awakening
  19. Frontios
  20. Resurrection Of The Daleks
  21. Planet Of Fire
  22. The Caves Of Androzani

Comments are closed

  • The shows, movies and other stories covered here, and all related characters and placenames, are the property of the originators of the respective intellectual properties. This site is not intended to infringe upon the rightsholders' copyright in any way. theLogBook.com makes no attempt - in using the names described herein - to supercede the copyrights of the rightsholders, nor is any of this information officially sanctioned, licensed, or endorsed by the shows' creators, writers or producers.