Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons (UK - DVD R2)
The Wilson Bros take a Loch at a special edition set of the Tom Baker classic...
For many Doctor Who fans, Tom Baker was THE Doctor, not merely the Fourth Doctor. The three actors who came before him had each brought something unique to the part, but it was little Tommy Baker who grabbed hold of it with both hands and embraced it a manner that left the actor and the role of the Fourth Doctor forever intertwined.
Out of all of the stories during Tom Baker's seven year stint as The Doctor, one story that has been consistently hanging around in the top ten is the 1975 story, Terror of the Zygons. With the Golden Anniversary episode of Doctor Who looming, which will feature the grand return of everyone's favourite one-shot adversaries, the final Fourth Doctor story is about to be unleashed on DVD in a Director‘s Cut...
Something is very wrong up in Scotland; an unknown force is systematically destroying oil rigs and the authorities - and UNIT - are baffled by the destruction of these supposedly "unsinkable" pieces of engineering. The Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) are recalled to Earth to assist with the investigation; what they discover is an attempt to colonise Earth by a race of shape-shifting beings, who are unwilling to share with the existing population and seemingly have the Loch Ness Monster on their side in order to accomplish their goal...
You know that you are in Philip Hinchcliffe/Robert Holmes territory, as another mythical and/or literary creature is tackled by dragging it from the realms of the fantastic and into the light of vague scientific possibility. This time the subject of the Loch Ness Monster is lined up in the cross-hairs grafted on top of Robert Holmes' oversized pipe and writer Robert Stewart Banks created a script which incorporated many Scottish tropes and clichés, along with "Nessie" rampaging across the highlands and even having a spooky castle for our heroes to skulk around, all this and a definite nod to Don Siegel's classic Invasion of the Bodysnatchers make for a wonderfully entertaining mixture. Holmes' influence on Banks' extended to encouraging Banks to focus more on the Zygons, rather than just have the story about the Loch Ness Monster and in taking Holmes' advice, Banks came up with one of the most memorable and loved adventures of Tom Baker's run.
It's easy to see just why Terror of the Zygons is so highly regarded by Doctor Who fans - it's witty, intriguing, handsomely mounted and features the greatest "monsters" never to appear in a follow-up story. The script, by Robert Banks Stewart, contains many Scottish references, with some of them being about as subtle as a caber to the goolies; appropriately, The Brig gets to wear a kilt and sporran in this story (seeing as the latter half of his double-barrelled name is Stewart; The Doctor dons a natty hat and there is the sound of bagpipes playing loudly in the place where UNIT has set up temporary headquarters. Writer Banks Stewart is himself a Scot and it’s interesting that he would choose to play up many aspects that could certainly be considered stereotypical, but many would say that it’s all part of the fun. We would point out that instead of asking to ship in haggis, the doomed oil rig worker should - to be a little more cryptically Scottish - have radioed in for Arbroath Smokies.
Though this was not the final time that UNIT would appear in Doctor Who, there was certainly an element that they were already nearing the end of their relevance, given the direction that the show was moving in; producer Philip Hinchcliffe was keen to have more outer-space adventures and UNIT just seemed to anchor them in present-day Earth, which was awfully handy during the more budget-conscious “exile” period that marked a substantial portion of Jon Pertwee’s tenture, but was probably frustrating after the exile storyline ended. Though it’s always great to see The Brig, Benton et al in Doctor Who, there is a maudlin feel to them in Terror of the Zygons, but it’s not nearly as depressing as watching them in their swansong, The Seeds of Doom.
Indeed, Terror of the Zygons marks the final regular appearance of Nicholas Courtney; Courtney seemed better suited to playing off Pertwee, as Baker’s Doctor was more freewheeling than Pertwee’s and the antiauthority stance that was so prevalent with the Third Doctor diminished due to the more Bohemian Fourth that something was lost and could have been another small indicator that the days of UNIT was drawing to a close.
Tom Baker is in his element here, as he has that mischievous twinkle in his eye that glimmered so brightly early on in the role and gradually dimmed as time went on; Baker once famously described Jon Pertwee as being like “a tall light bulb that glittered”, but Baker is like a lighthouse with a wide beam, attracting the attention of all around and steering them safely out of danger. Here Tom is firing on all cylinders, displaying a casual contempt for authority - rather than the almost pathological one associated with his previous incarnation - in gently winding up Nick Courtney’s Brigadoon, sorry, Brigadier. Along with two great companions of play off and a mystery to be solved, Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor is on top form in this story.
Elisabeth Sladen is her usual spunky self in this story, once again having to prove herself useful when in the company of The Doctor and Harry Sullivan; at the beginning of Terror of the Zygons, the shots of her and her two male co-stars making their way across scenic landscapes is wonderful and there is a vitality and a look of genuine joy on Lis’ face that makes you think that her premature passing was even more tragic.
Ian Marter doesn’t get all that much to do as Harry Sullivan, but Mr M really gets to show a very different side to this thespian skills when he has to act as Harry’s Zygon double in episode two, which has him being cold and disconnected, with some appropriately mean and moody photography on him (courtesy of Doctor Who’s greatest director, Douglas Camfield) during the sequence when he is hiding in the barn. The fact that the character of Harry Sullivan was created before Tom Baker was cast as The Doctor meant that the main reason for Harry’s existence was essentially written out from the start, as Baker was a younger man who was capable of doing all the necessary rough stuff by himself (save for the occasional stunt-doubles, of course), but Harry was ultimately a fun character - even if he was - occasionally - an imbecile.
Playing the mysterious (and somewhat sinister) Duke of Forgill is John Woodnutt, who was no stranger to Doctor Who, having popped up in Spearhead From Space, Frontier in Space and would later crop up again in The Keeper of Traken. Conclusive proof that a good, dependable actor was always kept in mind on Doctor Who.
Angus Lennie makes a return to Doctor Who, having previously played Storr in The Ice Warriors; Lennie is Angus the landlord, the seventh son of a seventh son (and from the sound of him, some would argue that he was probably the last of his line) and seems to exist in order to provide handy expository dialogue to Sarah Jane. By the time that this story was in production, Lennie had already done a year of his seven-year stint on Crossroads (playing the VERY Scottish-sounding Shughie McFee), so he must have shoehorned his appearance in this during a break.
This story, possibly even more so than Invasion of the Dinosaurs, is desperately in need of the option of revamped visual effects. Terror of the Zygons is a great story that is marred by some of the weaker model effects to grace Doctor Who at that particular time. The Skarasen lacks the terrier skull base that made the Drashigs seen in Carnival of Monsters look fairly impressive; OK, so there's the whole ethical nature of using dog skulls for effects work in a family shot to consider, but it still looked pretty good.
The original Quad videotapes for this story still exist and is one of those Doctor Who stories that enjoyed releases on multiple formats before finding it’s way onto DVD; originally in the dreaded omnibus format on video and later on Laserdisc in it’s original episodic format.
The Doctor Who Restoration Team have cleaned up this story as best they can, and the results on the studio footage are most impressive, with a healthy level of detail and vibrant colours that only reach saturation point when reds dominate inside the Zygon spacecraft. The location footage obviously no longer exists and the guys have done their best with it; the film footage is fairly clean and doesn’t look TOO bad, but whenever there are composite shots involving the Nessie-like beastie, clarity takes a nosedive in a manner not dissimilar to the stop-motion work on Luigi Cozzi’s Starcrash, with seemingly nth-level generational loss and muddy visuals.
It’s a somewhat bizarre experience listening to this all-too-familiar arrangement of the Doctor Who theme in 5.1; all of the original elements that make up this version have been separated and you can clearly hear each of them with a fidelity that you would probably never have imagined. Specific pieces of the score startle you a little, as they don’t quite sound how you had always taken them to sound with the added clarity and they float around the soundstage in a sonic blizzard.
There are those would doubtless prefer their version of the Tom Baker era theme to remain in that thick mid-range aural soup that they have listened to for all these years, but you have to give them full marks for presenting this digital upgrade.
As to the newly-created 5.1 soundtrack - considering that Terror of the Zygons is nearly 40 years old and it was made on a relatively small budget and there are precious few (if any) other BBC productions from the period that have had this sort of treatment - the results are pretty bloody impressive! The opening attack on the oil rig has been given a degree of sonic punch that really helps to elevate the tension and excitement in the scene, with low frequencies being used quite extensively and the crashing waves and howling winds filling the soundscape to really sell the scene.
Elsewhere, a gunshot that comes from the rear-right speaker is the one that grazes poor old Harry and really takes you by surprise; the interiors of the Zygon spaceship has all manner of organic sounds oozing from the every channel and seriously augments the otherworldly feel to the Zygons and their craft.
Director’s Cut of Episode One: This can be selected by going into the special features section on the first disc. What this amounts to is a couple of minutes that shows an invisible TARDIS materialising (as it were) and The Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry stepping out. There is some nice banter between the three of them as they set off. This material was the stuff of legend and was dropped by director Douglas Camfield for technical reasons, in that the split-screen effect for the invisible TARDIS wasn’t great and there was a difference in lighting between the two pieces of film used to achieve the effect. Around half of this material no longer existed in colour, but this has been lovingly restored and fans like us are most grateful to those involved.
Audio Commentary: One of the very last release of Doctor Who Classic gets an appropriately sweeping sit-down with those who made it, and from reviewing so many of these things, we already know that it’s going to be as sought-after as a kielbasa in a female boarding-school and just as much fun once eager hands have gotten hold of it. The amiable Mr Mark Ayres is your cosmic chaperone, a man more than familiar with pleasing tones, here wrangling a diverse range of production personnel comprised of producer Philip Hinchcliffe, writer Robert Banks Stewart, production-unit manager George Gallaccio, makeup-designer Sylvia James and a certain special-sounds-designer, who sets the light-hearted tone by introducing himself as: “Dick Mills, who made it noisy”. With no actors aboard this time, it’s all about the fascinating details, rather than indulgent, rambling stories about RADA or the Old Vic, so it’s time to grab a mug of particularly milky tea and enjoy.
The very chatty Banks Stewart perfectly sums up how the central theme is just as - if not more - relevant now, pointing out that the whole energy crisis still looms large; “Don’t forget,” starts the scribe, “…in the mid-70s, the North Sea oilfields…Aberdeen was burgeoning as a city…it was a very big thing. Even today, we’ve got Alex Salmond saying ‘why can’t we keep the oil for Scotland?’”. This sense of relevance is echoes when Gallaccio mentions the model work employed when the station is destroyed at the beginning of the story. “That was really terrific,” he says without a trace of self-congratulation, “…the destruction of the oil-rig., and curiously enough, it makes it quite contemporary, because the rigs are all still with us”.
Mills mentions an aspect of the whole Who experience when it comes to the sartorial side of things, and the poor sods who find themselves stuck in more extravagant clothing; “That was the risk you took as an actor,” Mills muses, “…being caught up on a Doctor Who, and if it was on a string of extra-terrestrial adventures, you never knew when you were going to get home, and of course [Nick Courtney] got stranded in his uniform right at the start!”. Mills is a little warmer on this track than he has been, particularly when praising the work of composer Geoffrey Burgon, who was unnerved when entering to the fold as a newbie, Mills liking his material and calling it “subtle”, which when compared to certain other musicians used on the show, is among the highest of all complements!
With Hinchcliffe’s career being almost entirely that of a producer, and his real footing being at the BBC, it is no surprise for him to really wave the flag for the work which was done back in the days before the system required rigid discipline to get things done; “I think when the history of - not just this programme - is sort written up,“ he asserts, “…people will hopefully realise that…we were operating with electronic cameras in a studio set-up, and this was a huge conveyor-belt, and the speed at which these were coming off - Z-Cars, Softly, Softly, Doctor Who and all the rest of it, as well as all the entertainment shows. The same people were working on all these shows… you think about old Warner Brothers and the “B” movies, they were shooting them in ten days…I think people will eventually get the quantity of drama [the BBC] were producing. Now it’s all done on film - of course it looks wonderful, they’ve got time… I’m not making excuses, but it’s a miracle that the standards were so consistently high most of the time”. He’s a man of passion, is old Pip!
This is one of those rare stories where it seems that everyone is happy with the way it turned out, from the idea, through to writing, right down to the execution - even the hyper-critical Hinchcliffe! They all sing its praises, including the lovely Sylvia James, who joins the ranks of female personnel we are grateful to see the participation of in these things; “As far as the monsters are concerned,” she reflects of the team effort involved, “…in the light of everything going on in production recently…with sort of dinosaurs and various other creature, I felt when I watched this again, how it stood up to the test of time. Very convincing, all of it!” They just don’t make women that classy anymore, unfortunately.
This is a commentary track to savour, with an enveloping atmosphere, interesting perspectives and an infectious sense of camaraderie between all parties, with Hinchcliffe even having a lot of nice things to say about the production, and anyone who has ever experienced his thoughts on Doctor Who before will know that there are usually more than a few areas he is unhappy with at any one time. We have a lot of time for Mr Ayres, coming across as a very nice guy, and he‘s able to disperse his affection for the show into the air of the recording booth, resulting in a very happy listening experience: “This is the A-team.” Ayres says of the Baker/Sladen/Marter trio, “I love these three characters”. There are many out there - including us - who will heartily say: “We couldn’t have put that better”. Audio stimulation of the best kind!
Production Subtitles: Should the commentary track leave you hungry for more information about Terror of the Zygons, then prepare to loosen the waistband of your trousers, as the main course is about the follow the entrée. Here we have another peerless collection of every sort of fact and annotation anyone could ever want, to know, lightly sautéed with a good dash of humour so as avoid causing indigestion or getting stuck in the throat like a fishbone and the Queen Mother at C*********s. Yes, she’s dead, but that particular hotel and their lawyers certainly aren’t…
As always, an exhaustive list of differences between all know versions of the script is to be found here, along with the changes made between page to screen, including at least one rather nice improv by Ian Marter, and how lines like “I knew those depth-chargers would come in handy” were dropped through an aborted rethink of that particular scene. Be it from the Secret of Loch Ness script or any further draft, they are all there to be picked-over and enjoyed, and it always fascinating to work out which stuff should have remained unchanged and what firmly belonged in the “what the hell were they thinking” pile.
This fact-packed-track is absolutely everything you could ever wish to know about the Zygon’s finest hour - yes, we have given future-proofing some thought here - for if you want know find out when particular sequences where shot, you need look no further. As if trying to sell you a used car, it then goes on to astound you even further by giving you the exact date said piece was originally scheduled to be recorded! You want extra gravy? How about the dimensions of Studio 3 and Studio 4 at the BBC? Exactly what period of the day the crews got to use the editing machines, and just why they needed to different ones for the job - it’s all there.
The trademark humour is there to put a swift end to it becoming in any way like your typical “pub bore” diatribe - no, this is far too well written, collated and witty to wear tank-tops and order lemon cordials at a bar. The timing is just impeccable, as demonstrated by the subject of an original idea for the titular monster costumes, which was thwarted by something more effective than a fleet of invading Daleks: “[Designer James] Acheson wanted to build lights into the Zygon cranium, to glow when the creatures became annoyed”. With the skill of the most masterful of comedians, comes a perfectly-timed pause before finishing with: “Power supply problems nixed that”.
With Tom Baker still trying to have the initials “JP” changed in his parking space, it’s only fitting that we are given a snapshot of how certain tabloids viewed the new actor in the role, choosing to focus on a particularly dozy one from venerable reactionary arse-rag - The Daily Mail. Whilst praising the story and the general outlook for the series as a whole, one Stephen Adcock really put the boot into Baker, with the stock hated of his general look, clothing, the scarf all trotted out, along with the hopes he will be strangled by the latter. If you look at it, Terror of the Zygons is the perfect Daily Mail story: aliens infiltrate En-ger-land, along with a dangerous pet, decreasing property prices in London as they go. You have to wonder if Mr Adcock, the man behind these acidic comments finally fulfilled his surname and is much more comfortable with who he is now and less inclined to be angry with the world. This is a nice touch, and reveals that Baker wasn’t universally beloved, so another feather in the commentary cap for providing balance.
If you ever needed proof that an eagle-eye is being cast over Terror of the Zygons, how about the pointing out of a minor breach of Auntie’s rules? Ever watchful, and with a frightening eye for detail, the track in forms us that: “…The BBC always tried to avoid unintentional advertising or product-placement, but look at the wall…it’s a vintage advertising sigh, but Boars’ Head brand of shag tobacco remained on sale until the 1980s.“ Whilst this is pretty minor-league plugging, you have to go a long way before you get to the depths to which a certain kids’ show titled after the instance where a band of the colour spectrum becomes visible in the sky, were George asked Zippy: “Pass me that Rainbow comic...” OK, so Matthew Corbett got nailed to the wall when Sooty pushed their own product, but how did Geoffrey Hayes and co get away with it?
Just like the best restaurants, for all the hell going on out of sight to put all the finest ingredients together, prep them just right and present them to perfection, you are only aware of the quality of the finished product, and how utterly fulfilling the end results are. Here we have a meal fit for Borusa himself, and we really have extend our compliments to the chef on this one, and Mr Martin Wiggins can be commended for a spectacular job well done - not just because it’ll discourage him from spitting in the soup. Who the Hell came up with the idea using food as a framing device? Oh, right…
Scotch Mist In Sussex: This making-of documentary of one of the most beloved stories in the Tom Baker era may not have the participation from the three leads (two sadly for obvious reasons, the other having money as the primary reason), but there ARE new interviews with producer Philip Hinchcliffe and writer Robert Banks Stewart. Stewart immediately confesses that even though he was a sci-fi fan, he was more comfortable writing something set on Earth – he would have been right at home if he had approached Terrence Dicks a few years earlier. The non-accented Scot Stewart decided to take on one of the great tourism myths of his homeland and base a sci-fi related story on that. TV historian Simon Farquhar contextualises the story, including how the then-recent discovery of oil in the North Sea happened around about the time the story emerged.
There is an archive interview with John Woodnut, who played Lord Forgill and Broton, from the early nineties – which was probably from one of the independent Myth Makers documentaries, pops up now and again to provide some invaluable titbits from an acting perspective, along with John Levene who provides amusing anecdotes about the filming, including exactly what the cast and crew referred to the distinctly breast-like controls of the Zygon spacecraft.
The iconic design of the Zygons are discussed and handily, costume designer James Acheson is on-hand to explain some of the ins and outs of their look, including that an idea to have part of the costumes throbbing organically was dropped due to health and safety issues with the internal mechanics required, though given the rather phallic-like shape of the Zygon torso in the first place, having them throb would have possibly been asking for trouble. Hinchcliffe also explains how the Zygons got their rasping, sibilant voices, which came about after what he refers to as “the Vogon experience”, meaning that aliens who have booming Classically-Trained-Actor voices coming from behind masks – we're glad that Phil confirmed what we had always thought about those Revenge of the Cybermen aliens who just seemed to stand at opposite sides of a desk shouting intense bollocks at each other.
Hinchcliffe briefly mentions the elephant in the room – Nessie's appearance in the story. From optimistic assurances through to the shooting and the final appraisal, the only weak link in Terror of the Zygons is discussed and Designer Nigel Curzon sums it up wonderfully by saying “you look at it and you don't think 'my god, that's Ray Harryhausen on a good day' you think 'they've run out of money!'” - Hinchcliffe reveals that much of the footage of the beastie was just and you have to wonder just how lousy the stuff they chucked away must have been...
Ian Marter's departure is also touched upon, with Hinchcliffe confessing that it was “rather sad that” he “had to phase him out” - if memory serves, it was Hinchcliffe who wanted to get rid of UNIT in the first place and Hinchcliff's reasoning for streamlining the cast of supporting characters was supposedly to give The Doctor more screen-time, as he felt that having a large cast of characters detracted from the main character. We'll agree to disagree on that one – John Levene certainly wasn't pleased with Hinchcliffe's decision and he speaks about it – and Tom Baker's ballooning ego – here.
The launch of Lew Grade and Gerry Anderson's Space 1999 is discussed and the impact it had upon the ratings of Doctor Who – specifically the ratings of Terror of the Zygons, which was playing around the same time and TV Historian Farquhar somewhat smugly said that “Martin Landau was no match for Tom Baker”; we're sure that Landau cries to himself in the middle of night about this as he polishes a certain gold statuette...
This is a great look at the making of a classic – it's just a shame that Tom Baker couldn't have participated – but just enjoy what's there and you'll hear some interesting and fairly frank stories about the making of Terror of the Zygons.
Doctor Who Stories – Tom Baker: This is yet another in the series of interviews recorded for 2003's The Story of Doctor Who. The eccentric actor speaks about many aspects of his time on the show, including his relationship with Philip Hinchcliffe, how he approved of having a dedicated pool of writers and directors that came to know his character very well, resulting in an efficient production, and reveals how to get around delivering large amounts of dialogue in a very small corridor. His hatred of a certain robotic companion (hint: it's not Kamelion) is mentioned, and his reluctance to suffer from housemaid's knee was one of the driving forces for his dislike of the character.
Baker is still quite barking and there is most definitely a lot of the eccentricity that he has become famous for as he speaks about the show that he was once VERY reluctant to talk about. Michael Wisher is fondly mentioned, with Baker saying that he was one of most serious men he had ever met and give an amusing account of the efforts that Wisher went to during rehearsals to simulate what he would go through in the make-up and his deep dependence on fags resulted in Wisher sitting down with a paper bag on his head with a plume of smoke rising from it. Terror of the Zygons is one of the subjects of Baker's attention, saying that the titular characters' control panels looked like pizzas (American Hot, to be precise) and Baker praises Douglas Camfield's direction and the voices of the Zygons.
Baker's experiences on Pyramids of Mars are hilariously recounted, as he speaks of his dislike at having to be wrapped up in bandages of a mummy and lamented being ignored and missing out on the tea-break and bacon sandwich, along with the incident on The Sontaran Experiment where he broke his collarbone when a stunt went wrong. No matter what the subject, Baker always has something highly amusing to say on the subject, but there is a semi-serious thread of mortality running through Tom's reminiscences as he speaks of the members of the cast and crew who had since departed, particularly directors, as Baker notes that many director he has worked with die prematurely, with Douglas Camfield being the person who immediately springs to mind. New-Who is mentioned at the end - “they're doing it in Wales. I hope it isn't in Welsh!” This is entertaining stuff and as you listen to these occasionally thrice-told tales, there is a little voice in the back of your mind that tells you to treasure Baker whilst he's still around, as when he goes, Britain will lose one of it's great eccentrics.
Doctor Who Stories – Elisabeth Sladen: Like the above, this was recorded in 2003 for the 40th anniversary documentary. The late Ms Sladen talks about her relationship with Tom Baker and Ian Marter, how the two male co-stars bonded and eventually how she and Baker became very close. Sladen reveals Tom Baker's basic take on The Doctor, including taking lines and delivering them with the opposite emotion and when you hear this, things suddenly click into place.
The pressure of filming in the studio and the differences between working with Baker and Jon Pertwee become the focus of attention, with Sladen defending Pertwee a little by saying that he had to remember long, complicated dialogue and stage direction took a back seat.
Lis reveals that she likes the Daleks, but curiously wasn’t all that enamoured of the Cybermen – her somewhat bizarre reasoning was that she couldn't get past silver boots they were sporting. Speaking of Mondas/Telos’ most famous residents, Ms Sladen also recounts the somewhat embarrassing moment whilst filming on location for Revenge of the Cybermen down in Wookie Hole. She was supposed to sail down a stream on a wee motorboat - she wanted to perform this stunt herself as she didn’t want stuntman Terry Walsh (who was considerably bigger than her) to stretch out her jumper if he doubled for her (it would have meant that she would have had to have worn the ill-fitting jumper for all of the subsequent studio shooting. The camera started rolling, the stunt went wrong and Terry Walsh had to dive in after her, resulting in a very wet Lis - and an equally wet jumper. Ah, Elisabeth Sladen - a true fashion victim!
Lis recounts the moment on Pyramids of Mars where Tom Baker decided to do their homage to The Marx Brothers when trying to evade rampaging mummies – even though it was unscripted and their suggestion would probably have been shot down in flames, they decided to do it anyway and it became one of the most amusing moments in the story.
The subject of K9 is covered; her frustration of K9 and Company's poor script, pared-down shooting schedule and lack of dialogue from the robotic canine companion whilst acting with it all added to her less than fond memories of filming that televisual wrong-turn. This interview was recorded just as news of Doctor Who's revival was surfacing and Lis gives her advice on how it should go; at that time, Lis had no idea that she would not only return to the show, nor did she realise that it would lead to a resurgence in her career. Sadly, fate stepped in and Elisabeth Sladen was taken from the world when she was at the top of her game – we should be grateful that there is so much of her work left to enjoy.
UNIT Family Part 3: Starting with a recap, there is a red and green tinge to the opening montage with a red and green tinge that looks like some of the less successful colour recovered episodes. Beginning with the introduction of the introduction of Sarah Jane Smith, this looks at the dying days of the UNIT stories, including Invasion of the Dinosaurs, which allows Richard Franklin to explain Yates' supposedly traitorous actions on-camera, backed-up by Terrence Dicks and Barry Letts – it still boils down to the fact that Captain Yates was a gullible twat. Jon Pertwee's final story, Planet of the Spiders comes under scrutiny, with the revelation that it was not written to be the leading man's last hurrah; Pertwee left the series for several reasons (money being one of them), but the one they stick to here is that he felt it was the end of an era.
Jon Pertwee's successor is covered, with the casting of Tom Baker and John Levene makes it clear that Baker “wanted UNIT gone” and Baker himself appears on-camera to confirm this. Ian Marter's casting is spoken of, with Dicks reiterating that the character was created to provide muscle for a potentially older Doctor, so when the 40 year-old Baker got the part, Marter's main reason for being in the show was effectively eliminated.
Philip Hinchcliffe was also one of the main instigators of UNIT's demise, saying that UNIT had to go before he even got the job of producer and Nick Courtney pops up to say that he felt that UNIT faded away, rather than going out on a blaze of glory. The gradual paring down of UNIT with each successive story they appeared in during Tom Baker's story backs up Courtney's belief.
The more peripheral adventures of UNIT are also covered, including Nick Courtney's unexpected return in Mawdryn Undead (it was allegedly originally intended for William Russell, which made more sense); The Five Doctors has Nick Courtney confessing how much of a joy it was to be paired up with Patrick Troughton (as opposed to Tom Baker, as originally intended); The Brig's last hurrah in Doctor Who – Sylvester McCoy's Battlefield – tells the oft-told tale of how Lethbridge-Strewart was supposed to die at the end of it, but there was a change of heart. The end of this final instalment of this three-part documentary is rightfully given over to Nicholas Courtney, who was arguably the heart and soul of UNIT, who says that being part of the UNIT Family changed his life. This look at what became a fundamental part of Doctor Who in the seventies has been a fun – if somewhat whistle-stop – experience; the fact that it had been spread over three instalments is a testament to the impact UNIT had on the show.
South Today: This piece of regional BBC news filming sees Tom Baker appearing on-camera during the location filming of Terror of the Zygons. Baker is in full costume and seems to be reasonably relaxed and not in-character has he is asked a mixture of mundane and routine questions, to which he gives his usual mixture of self-aggrandising and earnest answers. This is only short, but it's always great to see vintage Baker being interviewed, especially here, as he explains that The Doctor “is the best role on television” and goes on to say that he's not interested in murders that take place in Dock Green or Salford, which manages to put the boot into Dixon of Dock Green and Z-Cars, meaning that he enjoys large scale-peril. This is short, but very sweet.
Photo Gallery: This five minute assortment mainly consists of on-set pictures, along with a few portraits photos and one or two candid snaps of Baker clearly enjoying himself. There are some interesting behind-the-scenes images, including a nice one of filming the interiors of the Zygon spacecraft, which gives you a good idea of the physical dimensions of the set.
Merry-Go-Round - The Fuel Fishers: Opening with a helicopter shot flying toward the Highlands of Scotland, and images of a barren landscape, this starts out like some sort of seventies remake of The Edge of the World, but this is soon dispelled when Elisabeth Sladen begins a voice-over monologue as she is flying in a helicopter toward an oil-rig.
Sporting a yellow mac that looks very much like the one she wore in The Sontaran Experiment, Lis is soon dropped off on a drilling rig in the middle of the North Sea. After a brief lecture on how fossil fuels are made (dinosaurs aren't mentioned – possibly to avoid annoying fundamentalist Christians) the enthusiastic Lis sets about speaking to some of the workers on the rig.
This is entertaining stuff for those of us of a certain age – to put it into context, we were about four years old when this was made – and the combination of largely non-patronising explanation, simple animated sequences and even the use of static models help to give a good entry-level degree of knowledge on the subject of drilling for oil. This is surprisingly frank about the economics of drilling, including precisely how much it costs to keep an oil-rig running per day, which is something you don't expect to hear in a 1970s programme squarely aimed at children.
Lis interviews a guy by the name of Dick O'Dell, who is from the other side of the Atlantic and is certainly reminiscent of Mr Huckle in Terror of the Zygons, albeit with a more convincing accent. The final piece-to-camera from Lis about being more forgiving about getting oil on her coat when out cycling is jaw-dropping and the cynics in us can't help but think that this was commissioned as part of a government-sponsored (or oil company-sponsored) piece of propaganda to brainwash youngsters into thinking that fossil fuels were the only way to go as far as energy was concerned. This maybe true, but to judge the thing as a piece of educational entertainment, it does the job for which it was intended pretty well and it's always good to see more of the much-missed Lis Sladen.
Remembering Douglas Camfield: The late director of Terror of the Zygons and many other highly regarded Doctor Who stories comes under the spotlight in a much-welcome profile Camfield's military-like precision when it came to filming was due to a stint in the military, but gave that up when he suffered an ankle injury. Turning to television, he got into Doctor Who practically from the beginning and immediately started to impress. Peter Purves was one of the many who enjoyed both Camfield's work and direction and speaks very fondly of him here, saying that Camfield was the director he really looked forward to working with. It's great to see Camfield's son speaking about his father, which really helps to bring a more personal aspect to this documentary.
Camfield is revealed to have had – like many directors – what amounted to rep company of actors that he liked and tended to choose from that pool when directing a project. Presumably because of his military background, Duggie had a fondness for stories involving UNIT (military-based stories made up the latter half of Camfield's Doctor Who career) and Philip Hinchcliffe, John Levene Robert Banks Stewart all sing his praises during those UNIT-based stories.
Camfield eventually defected to Thames Television and worked for Euston Films, who had established a reputation for shooting grittier, more realistic dramas on film He returned to do Terror of the Zygons and The Seeds of Doom (both had UNIT & Robert Banks Stewart). The shooting of The Seeds of Doom had assistant director Graeme Harper getting hold of khaki military jumpers on-set ended up wearing one with a higher rank than Camfield's and the result was a good-natured ribbing, whereas many directors would have gotten in a serious tizz about such things.
Camfield's enthusiasm for Doctor Who wasn't limited to directing, as this documentary reveals that he was very interested in writing for the show. The Lost Legion would have seen a story taking place in the desert with French Foreign Legion – it's a great idea (and would have probably been shot down in Camber Sands, like Carry On Follow That Camel), but despite collaborating with Robert Holmes on the story, it just didn't work. It would be nice if Big Finish could resurrect this idea and record an audio story with Tom Baker.
Away from Doctor Who, Camfield amassed an impressive body of work, first episode of The Professionals, Blake's 7, Shoestring and an all-film adaptation of Beau Geste, amongst many others. It is most welcome to see part of an on-set interview with Douglas Camfield by Terry Wogan, as Camfield was directing his epic version of Beau Geste; Camfield comes across as an affable guy to seems to be tolerating the inane and vacuous antics of Wig-On with a fair degree of good humour.
Freelancer Camfield was lured back to the BBC to direct Target – a shot-on-film series; the first episode of this series was entitled Big Elephant and just happened to be penned by the Bristol Boys, Bob Baker & Dave Martin (this episode just happened to have Katy Manning in the cast, too!). If the Beeb were going to ape ITV's successful all-film drama style, then who better have directing than Douglas Camfield?
Camfield died suddenly in 1984; though he had been taken ill with heart problems during the filming of Inferno (which also had his wife, Sheila Dunn amongst the cast) there were seemingly no major health issues. His son speaks of how highly he is regarded by friends, family and colleagues alike and speculates that he would have moved into features if his life hadn't been cut tragically short at the age of 52.
At the end, several of those who worked with him praise Camfield, including John Levene, who says that he had “pure creative energy”, and Philip Hinchcliffe who calls him an “inspiring leader”. This seems to confirm the notion that people who are well-liked on Doctor Who practically fall over themselves to praise people for whom it was nice to work with. This fascinating documentary closes with a nice montage of images alongside the end credits – including a wedding picture and lovely portrait picture with his wife, Sheila Dunn.
Coming Soon Trailer: With the release schedule of the last few Doctor Who titles being juggled around over the last number of months, it has come to pass that the story trailered on a Doctor Who DVD may not actually be the one coming next - there should be an on-screen caption that reads “stories on the Coming Soon trailer may appear closer than they are”. Anyway, what you get here is a trailer for Patrick Troughton’s first entanglement with the Cybermen - The Moonbase. It should be noted that there is no animated footage included in this trailer; the fact that they are still working on it is the reason why the release date has been pushed back until next year. We’re hoping it’s going to be great.
PDF Materials: As well as getting the customary Radio Times listings for each episode of Terror of the Zygons (the first of which features cracking artwork of Tom Baker), you also have an extensive feature on the Loch Ness monster and some nice illustrations and photographs to accompany it. A very nice touch!
Easter Egg #1: The material that was shot for the 1975 Easter Bank Holiday edition of Disney Time has been included here; you know the one - where Tom Baker is sitting in the a theatre and his handed a note and he exclaims “it’s from the Brigadier!” and promptly leaves. It’s always nice to see more of Tom Baker in character and this is a nice little inclusion.
Easter Egg#2: The original raw footage for the scene included in the “Director’s Cut” of episode one can be viewed here. At least half of the footage is in black and white, and it makes you appreciate the devotion and effort that has been put into restoring it for this DVD release.
Terror of the Zygons is quite rightly regarded as being one of the best stories of the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who; despite a few flaws (most of which are effects-related), this is a cracking story that rattles along and introduced the world to the Zygons. The extras are extensive and the Dolby Digital 5.1 remix kicks a surprising amount of Zygon arse!
This is a strong contender for one of the best Doctor Who DVD releases ever - they saved one of the best until last.
Review by Wilson Bros
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 30th September 2013
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Extras: Audio Commentary, Scotch Mist in Sussex, Remembering Douglas Camfield, The UNIT Family Part 3, Doctor Who Stories: Tom Baker, Doctor Who Stories: Elisabeth Sladen, Merry-Go-Round, Points East, Production Subtitles, Photo Gallery, Coming Soon Trailer, 2 x Easter Eggs, PDF Materials
Easter Egg: No
Director: Douglas Camfield
Cast: Tom Baker Elisabeth Sladen, Nicholas Courtney,
Length: 98 minutes
Follow our updates
OTHER INTERESTING STUFF
Dracula - Superbit Collection UK - DVD R2 Doctor Who: Frontios UK - DVD R2 Skin Walkers US - DVD R1 Orgazmo: Special Edition US - DVD R1 Outback AU - DVD R4
Joe Lynch DVD | HD | BD David Hayter US - DVD R1 | BD RA David Prior: Part One DVD Pete O'Herne DVD Craig Smith DVD