AS THE CONTINUITY
BETWEEN "WORLD GAME"
AND "THE TWO
DOCTORS" IS SO TIGHT,
AND PARTICULARLY AS
THE SECOND DOCTOR IS
NOT GREY-HAIRED IN
THIS STORY, IT IS
REASONABLE TO ASSUME
THAT FOR THE SECOND
DOCTOR, This story
takes place AROUND
THIS POINT IN HIS LIFE.
I HAVE THEREFORE
IT BETWEEN THE TV
STORY "THE INVASION"
AND THE NOVEL "THE
BOB BAKER &
THE BLACK HOLE
'THE THREE DOCTORS'
UNIT HQ comes under
attack by an alien
force, and the Doctor
has no other option
but to call on his own
people, the Time
Lords, for help.
Breaking the first
Law of Time, the first
two Doctors are
lifted out of their
sent to help the third.
But in a universe of
anti-matter, an all-
powerful figure from
Time Lord history is
waiting, and even
three Doctors may
not be enough to stop
The Three Doctors
30TH DECEMBER 1972 - 20TH JANUARY 1973
The story goes that it was a group of fans that originally suggested bringing back both William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton to celebrate the series’ tenth anniversary. However it started though, eventually it fell to the Bristol Boys - Bob Baker and Dave Martin - to craft the historic story that would see the Doctor encounter his previous incarnations for the first time. And, for the most part, it has to be said that they did a wonderful job, especially when taking into account the amendments that had to be made to their scripts fairly late in the day to accommodate Hartnell’s infirmity.
“So you’re my replacements — a dandy and a clown!”
Appropriately though, it was the first Doctor - courtesy of the phrase “So you’re my replace-ments — a dandy and a clown!” - that really set the tone for this serial as well as the subsequent multi-Doctor stories. The three antagonistic Doctors are hilarious to watch in their scenes together, particularly Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee who bounce off one another phenomenally, leaving the viewer hungering for more.
Regrettably though, Hartnell’s final performance feels very forced and so in some ways his limited amount of screen time actually benefits the story. With hindsight, it is a wonder that
he managed to contribute at all. The retired actor had to shoot all of his scenes in one day, reading his lines from cue cards and never actually interacting with either of his ‘replace-ments’. Nevertheless, having the first three Doctors working together for however short a time proved a wonderful way to celebrate the programme’s tenth birthday, and it was quite fitting that Hartnell could return to the show that he helped to make such a resounding success.
Baker and Martin’s script is also notable for introducing us to the legendary character of Omega, who would return ten years later as the main protagonist in the fifth Doctor serial
Arc of Infinity, and then again earlier this year as the eponymous focus of the superb Big Finish audio drama Omega. Whilst I do not think that Omega - played on this occasion by Stephen Thorne - is quite as compelling here as he would later become, his potential is instantly recognisable and so it comes as no surprise that the character went on to become one of the cornerstones of Gallifreyan lore.
The script is also kind to Jo and UNIT, giving them almost an equal share of the action. Who can forget the Brigadier’s immortal quote when looking out onto the planet of anti-matter:
“Oh nonsense Doctor, it’s probably Norfolk or somewhere… I’m pretty sure that’s Cromer.”
What’s more, The Three Doctors DVD blows away both previous third Doctor releases, both in terms of the quality of the story and in the quality of the bonus material too. I was even fortunate enough to get hold of the lovely box set that includes a Corgi die-cast model of Bessie!
The commentary is tremendously entertaining, featuring Barry Letts (Producer), Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier), and Katy Manning (Jo Grant). Courtney and Manning especially
are as enthusiastic as ever, and all three of them seem to look back on working on this
serial with remarkable fondness. The delightful production subtitles are present and correct, and as usual we are treated to a collection of rare and unpublished photographs from the recording of the story. Two trailers are also included on the disc – one for the programme’s original 1972 transmission (it’s beyond atrocious) and one for the Five Faces of Doctor Who 1981 repeat season trailer that we also had on the Carnival of Monsters DVD. The interviews relevant to The Three Doctors from BSB’s 1990 Doctor Who Weekend are all also included, as is a clip from Blue Peter celebrating 10 years of Doctor Who, hosted by former companion Peter Purves and featuring Pertwee in the Whomobile!
Above: Katy Manning on stage at Panopticon 1993
And on top of all this, just under half an hour’s worth of footage featuring Pertwee, Manning, and Courtney is featured from the 1993 Panopticon convention. It’s highly entertaining stuff (there is a lot of banter between the three of them) and it’s great to get to hear Pertwee share his memories of the show.
Best of all though is the footage from Pebble Mill at One – it is absolutely uproarious. First off, they bring out a special effects expert who can’t get any of his effects to work, and then they bring out Troughton who gets into an argument with the woman interviewing him, saying that she is misquoting him and making up lies! Priceless.
And so at the end of the day, The Three Doctors DVD is a must for any fan. Despite the inevitable logistical problems surrounding Hartnell’s return to the series, the world’s first multi-Doctor story entertains throughout and is sure to leave even the most hard-nosed of fans with a lump in their throat.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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