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Season eight of Doctor Who kicked off in fine style with  Terror of the Autons , which introduced a new companion (the nice-but-terribly-dim Jo Grant), a new villian (the sublime Master) and also scared the living shit out of many of it's younger - and not-so-younger viewers. It was going to be a tall order to top the visceral scares of that story, but what was to feature next were terrors of a more cerebral nature...

Though a tad underused, Neil McCarthy always adds a touch of class to any project...

Things are amiss at Stangmoor prison; The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Jo Grant (Katy Manning) are there to see a demonstration of a revolutionary new machine that promises to instantly rehabilitate the most violent and dangerous members of society that extracts the evil impulses from the human brain. The Keller machine, demonstrated by Professor Kettering (Simon Lack) overloads as it works it's magic on violent inmate Barnham (Neil McCarthy) and soon after bizarre, unexplained deaths begin to occur. Whilst this is going on, UNIT is overseeing the first world peace conference, and suspicious things are happening with the Chinese delegation that has Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart understandably concerned...

Taking inspiration from the Anthony Burgess book/Stanley Kubrick film, A Clockwork Orange , the concept of mind control on violent and/or antisocial prisoners was something of a hot topic at the time and the thought of such a machine existing probably had conservatives almost gleeful with delight and liberals fill with disgust. The difference between the methods employed in A Clockwork Orange and The Mind of Evil couldn't be more different - the Ludovico Technique had Alexander DeLarge's eyes clamped open whilst watching violent images and being injected with drugs to cause nausea, effectively sensitising him to antisocial activities; the Keller Machine simply removes the evil impulse from the brain to leave a docile individual - at least that is the theory that the mysterious Dr Keller is putting out. The fact is that lurking within the machine is a creature that feeds on evil impulses and eventually grows too powerful for it's supposed master to handle. It is an unusual twist on what occurred on Doctor Who during the Baker/Hinchcliffe/Holmes "gothic" era, where they took sci-fi/horror tropes and came up with a scientific basis (despite being somewhat flimsy at times); here they have taken a premise that had a fairly sound scientific principle and taken it on a flight into fantasy. It's great fun, though.

The Keller Machine is a curious thing to behold, as there was obviously a conscious effort on the part of the designers to make the thing subconsciously resemble a policeman’s helmet (or “tit” as one was so memorably referred to in The Young Ones); the connection between such a potent symbol of law and order and a machine that can instil fear is something that will bring a wry smile to the lips of those with even the remotest interest in psychology. Director Timothy Combe tries to inject a bit of life menace into what is essentially an inert object by having the camera zoom in and tilt from side-to-side, which is reasonably successful, but teeters on the ridiculous through overuse toward the end of the story.

We might have said before that Jon Pertwee is at his very best when he has some sort of pencil-pushing authority figure to go nose-to-nose with and he is given the chance to thumb that same nose at authority more than ever in this story, as he has The Brig, a bloody-minded scientist and various others to be surly and combative towards. When throwing in the numerous ethical questions raised by the mere existence of the Keller machine (ie, the stripping of free will from a human being in order to make him more socially acceptable, the possible misuse of such equipment on people the state sees as socially undesirable, etc), this is a mixture that Pertwee sinks his teeth into with considerable relish. Pertwee also gets to show off some of his more dramatic range, especially when being on the receiving end of the Keller Machine, but Mr P always had to be careful when doing this sort of thing, as his wide-eyed staring to register fear or pain often made him look cross-eyed (one certain cliffhanger in Spearhead from Space is a prime example of this), and this expression would later be used for comic relief during Pertwee's Worzel Gummidge years.

Katy Manning had quite a tough act to follow as far as her predecessor was concerned, but ultimately Manning infuses Jo Grant with all of the qualities that make up what could quite possibly be the quintessential Doctor Who companion, mixing youthful naivety, vulnerability, resourcefulness and occasionally having her Little Professor going into overdrive and seeing things that her infinitely smarter counterpart fails to notice. There are many who would say that the short skirts she constantly wore also help endear her to fans and they would probably be correct. Here, Manning is given a chance to shine as she takes the broken Barnham under her wing and shows her maternal side; the chemistry between them is very special and the scenes they share together are wonderful to watch.

Roger Delgado is as genially icy as ever as The Master; Delgado - certainly in our opinion - represents the very best of The Doctor's adversaries, both in writing and performance, as he lights up the screen whenever he is on and deftly brings his own unique style of laid-back sardonic menace that thrills and terrorises in equal measure. To make him appear more "human" in his dastardly actions, The Master in this story is seen biding his time in the back of a chauffeur-driven car, whist puffing away on a large cigar and reading a copy of the Financial Times. There is also a sequence where Delgado is introduced, showing him disguised as a tradesman, complete with overalls and a sense of mystery surrounds the identity of this unidentified individual until he slips into a tent and slips out of his overalls and prosthetic mask; it's a neat sequence that Delgado manages with aplomb. We couldn’t possibly leave out the sequence of The Master being driven in his car, whilst dramatic music plays on the soundtrack, and when it cuts to inside the car, it transpires that The Master is listening to the music on the radio and promptly turns it off; it’s a wonderfully amusing piece that almost breaks the fourth wall with a sly wink.

Roger Delagdo gently reminds the guest star NOT to upstage him or marry his wife...

What also makes The Master more interesting in this story is that he is prepared to use the inmates of Stangmoor prison as cogs in his fiendish scheme to plunge the world into a nuclear war and chief of this bunch of lags is Mailer (William Marlowe), a man of reasonable intelligence and – had The Master not been around – would probably have been the brightest of the bad guys in the prison. Marlowe is a great actor with a gritty intensity that contrasts nicely with Roger Delgado’s smooth and erudite Master; the connection to The Master continued off-screen, as he eventually married Roger Delgado’s widow, and they stayed married until his death in 1993.

Guest star Neil McCarthy is as great as he always is; McCarthy was a good, solid character actor who never really got the sort of recognition that he deserved; he always brightened up even the most dreary of projects (remember the vampire story in The Monster Club?). Here, he is able to bring a layered performance the role of Barnham, a violent man who is rendered meek and submissive after his encounter with the Keller Machine, eliciting sympathy from the audience, as he is a victim not only of his own impulses, but also of the system, who has turned him into an empty, childlike shell of his former self.

Pik-Sen Lim is great as Captain Chin Lee; Lim had been married to writer Don Houghton (any jokes about who she had to sleep with to get the part are probably a little obvious...) and it's quite likely that Houghton wrote the part especially for her. During one trippy encounter between Captain Chin and an American delegate attending the conference, the Asian officer is seen transmogrifying into a fire-breathing dragon - such a powerful symbol of Asian communism would quite likely scare the hell out of an Americans at a time when fear of the Commies was still foremost on the minds of the US population. Lim would later find a degree of infamy when she became a regular in the decidedly politically incorrect ITV sitcom, Mind Your Language, which did for racial stereotypes what sun-beds do for moles on the skin.

Dependable recurring guest actor Michael Sheard is on-hand to play prison doctor Summers; the late, great Sheard mixes authority with sympathy in his performance, pitching it somewhere between his pleading “Marcus, it’s your brother!” turn in Pyramids of Mars and his Mr Bronson in Grange Hill.

It could be argued that the plot is a little on the convoluted side, as The Master creates a yet another persona and a machine to brainwash people with, takes over a prison, tries to launch a nuclear-powered gas missile and one or two other things along the way; there are some cynics out there that would say that it’s this densely-plotted to pad out the six-part running time, but we would argue that it’s better to have a longer story with a lot going on in it, rather than one with a paper-thin story that is short on incident ( Colony in Space, for example). There is something of a plot-hole about the Master ruling Earth after a nuclear war – this would be him not having his dematerialisation circuit to hand and being able to bugger off before the ensuing holocaust, but it’s best not to dwell on that…

If there's one thing that The Mind of Evil cannot be accused of is being dull, as there's action aplenty in this six-parter, with the most impressive sequence in this story being the "storming of the prison" by UNIT forces, involving a full-scale assault on location at Dover Castle. Director Timothy Combe really cuts loose on this film sequence, with a veritable barrage of quick shots and plenty of people being on the receiving end of a bullet. The boys of Havoc once again deliver the goods in a manner than only they were capable of pulling off with such panache, as all manner of stunts, falls, multiple gunning-downs of the same performers occur and lovers of this particular era of Doctor Who lap up this sort of stuff.

The above sequence was one of the many reasons why The Mind of Evil went decidedly over-budget, which wasn't helped by some of the film from the original location shoot being damaged; this necessitated a re-shoot, which allowed Combe to go back and film some much-needed inserts that he didn't get first time around. What also ate into the budget are the impressive sets for the interior of the prison, which stand up to fairly close scrutiny, especially when looking at the brickwork of the cells, as they have an authenticity about them that makes seem "real". The spiralling budget meant that someone had to be carpeted over it, and sadly the director copped it; Combe would never be asked back to Doctor Who, which is a pity really, as aside from the dynamic action sequences, Combe displays some directorial flourishes that can be compared to Who's best director, Douglas Camfield - there is a dissolve in one episode between Pertwee and Delgado, where the two of them have been carefully lined up to match perfectly and the result is almost a Jekyll-and-Hyde look at good and evil.

The Mind of Evil was one of those stories from the early Pertwee era that were filmed in colour, and only existed in black and white due to the PAL Quad masters being junked/wiped. Whereas other Pertwee stories either existed in their entirety or partly through NTSC copies that played in America, The Mind of Evil is unique in that it was the only one where nothing existed in colour (save for a short sequence that was recorded on a domestic video-recorder by an American fan back when it aired on US television). The Colour Recovery Process (which obtains colour from chroma-dots contained in the black and white image) had been used to a fair degree of success on a couple of other Jon Pertwee stories ( Planet of the Daleks, Invasion of the Dinosaurs and Ambassadors of Death), but episode one had all of the colour pattern information bleached out during the process of making the black and white film print in the early seventies. Doctor Who enthusiast Stuart Humphryes, who had impressed fans with his colourisation of clips from William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton stories, along with Peter Crocker, was brought in to assist with the painstaking re-colouring of the first episode in this story. So, how does this story - restored to full colour after around four decades - look...?

Despite this conditioning, Pertwee still went on to record I Am The Doctor...

Video


Episode one, as mentioned above, was not able to be recoloured using the Colour Recovery Process; though it was incredibly time-consuming, the colourisation of episode one is even more impressive than the results yielded by the existing methods employed on the subsequent episodes. The results are genuinely startling and there only the odd moments when you realise that you are watching something that has been colourised. The colours are natural and pretty vibrant - great care has been taken in ensuring that colours seen are true to how they would have been - and skin tones are far more convincing than in your average recolourised television programme.

The rest of the episodes look pretty good, with the limitations that the Colour Recovery Process has; episodes two and  five are certainly the weakest of the rest, with notable patches of chromal instability, including the same pink and blue shifting patterns that were seen during the weakest moments of the Colour-Recovered Ambassadors of Death.

Audio


The audio restoration was carried out by Mark Ayres and the soundtrack was taken from the 16mm optical soundtracks taken from the prints, which was the best quality available.

The results, while not perfect, are about as good as you are going to get; there are moments when dialogue sounds as though it was recorded in a small room with bare walls - after consulting with Mr Ayres, it would seem that this stems from the conditions in the studio during filming -  but it's nothing that seriously detracts from your enjoyment of the story.

Extras


Audio Commentary: This is a track a long-time coming, and with the last couple of releases containing ones previously-heard, the causal listener might be forgiven for thinking that this is the same, but in spite the presence of the late Barry Letts, this is guaranteed never before seen the light of day, and an absolute cracker of a commentary it is. Combining the vocal talents of Mr Letts, Katy Manning, Terrance Dicks, Pik-Sen Lim, Fernanda Marlowe, director Timothy Combe and HAVOC bad-ass Derek Ware, Toby Hadoke is the only man capable of keeping all these forceful personalities from overpowering each other, and it’s a load of fun to hear them all in agreement that what they are watching was a genuinely good piece of work.  

It’s no surprise that Katy Manning  pretty much dominates the proceedings, but who are we to stand in the way of a woman of a woman who can send herself into a fit of laughter by pointing out in scene where Neil McCarthy takes in some much-needed liquid sustenance and quipping: “Now there’s a case of an actor who said ‘I’ll take the part because it’s a practical bowl of soup in the sixth episode…’”. With her presence all through the thing, there are too many fun things to set down, and you’ll have a ball getting dangerously close to the through-processes of this hilarious, accident-prone women. Where there is Jo Grant, there is always UNIT, and just like using HAVOC for all your stunt-work needs, Derek Ware proves to be good value on this commentary, providing a really nuts-and-bolts look at the physical practicalities of the work, rather than delivering lines, banging away at a typewriter or directing from a booth.  

Tempering any possible ill-will in the air is the quietly-authoritative Barry Letts, and man whose death left certain participants in subsequent tracks without much to pull them into line, his appearance here bringing a focused comfort upon hearing, like a clairvoyant without all the bullshit. Our favourite pearl of wisdom from him encapsulates all about the way he worked, and just why everybody liked him, “One of the things  - as producer - I tried to make sure of was that other things being equal,” reveals the much-missed producer, “…people were pleasant to work with. If I heard someone was really temperamental - if they were the only person to play the part, they got it - but if I could find somebody who was equally good, who had a pleasant temperament to work with, then I chose him, and I think that had a lot to do with the success of [his] five years… we were like part of a family”. How many others can honestly say they went to such lengths to ensure a happy set?

"This looks like a job for..."

As Yin to a Yang, along comes Mr Terrance Dicks, a man so blustery that he honestly disputes any  similarities between Mind of Evil and A Clockwork Orange, preferring to focus on the other-worldly nature of things, where they might have been more ingenious otherwise, “What I did add very much at the last minute,“ the script editor points out, “…was the whole business of there being an alien parasite inside the machine. This wasn’t in Don [Houghton]’s original script, but it occurred to me sometime during the story that the machine was acting far too intelligently and far too self-willed.” It was around this time that Michael Crichton was writing his screenplay for Westworld, which predicted not only machines becoming self-aware, but also the notion of a computer virus. See previous review of the commentary track for Dicks’ fondness of the Venus/Mars nature of fifties Sci-Fi for clarification.

We would not like to be accused of bashing Dicks, but he does have a rather steamrolling attitude to things, and it’s certainly the nature of script-editors to have enough ego to make square-pegs fit round holes. Once the venom has been unloaded from Dicks, roll-neck sweater and all, he is more relaxed and insightful about the production as a whole, rather than getting all worked up and spewing about the writing side, a good example being his contrast between the acting sensibilities of Pertwee and Roger Delgado, where the formers’ TV training would see him yell “cut” every time something went wrong, whereas the theatre background of the latter pushed him to work through mistakes of any kind. The infamous incident with Delgado slipping on the floor in Mind of Evil is a perfect example of this, prompting Dicks to ejaculate: “If he slipped and fell over, he slipped and fell over in character!”

Personable director Timothy Combe recalls the infamous instance where he was saddled with an actor which became painfully clear he would have to recast the role of Fu Peng, “The actor came to me…with a load of credits, and I thought ‘oh, I don’t need to audition him, it’s only one scene’ and when he arrived, the acting was so wooden there was nothing I could do. I was even was even saying the lines and asking him to copy me, but he couldn’t even do that. I was tearing my hair out… and a scene which should have taken half an hour to do was now suddenly going over-time if I didn’t stop it, so I just let him finish it, and cut it out of the episode”. So we guess that he’s not a member of the Andy Ho fan club, then? It’s nice that with too many people out there ready to diss the boys in the green uniforms, Combe is in full appreciation of them: “I thought that UNIT added such good value to the Doctor Who stories,“ admits the director, and what better way to back this up than Mind of Evil featuring some of the coolest stuff to feature them in?

Pik-Sem Lim discusses the perils of being pregnant whilst being in Doctor Who, with Hadoke recalling that her husband Don Houghton once quipped that the reason why the dragon was so mediocre was so as not to induce premature labour in their guest actress. She was “terrified” of hurting her future daughter, choosing a very slow decent to the floor in her death scene instead of the attention-seeking one other actors would have chosen. The other practical concerns of having a bun in the oven were more easily taken care of, as Lim recalls: “I remember that [they] had to keep letting out the waistline of my costume!” Still, she had a better time of it than a certain other actress a mere few months earlier who ended up paying a lot more for being up the duff…

The Asian actress’ good friend Fernanda Marlowe rattles off an amusing story of when she went to see Pik-Sen Lim in a play, where the Asian actress was besieged by Doctor Who fans, getting her to sign the infamous travelling board of all cast members who had ever appeared in the show. Lim pointed out that Marlowe was also in attendance, and “…I was allowed to sign one side, but no the smarter side,” reflects the former Corporal Bell on the nature of fame, before musing on those so keen for her John-Hancock.   “They were about forty-five,“ she muses, “…and they usually live in Derbyshire”. The lady herself is wry enough to keep the nature of her fame in the show in perspective, particularly when Hadoke brings up that her role was a recurring one. “I was sort-of used to draw curtains and carry clipboards all the time..” quips the actress with presumably a smirk.

Now THAT'S some Chinese we'd love to eat - too vulgar for GB? Maybe, but they like this shit at TheHive...

What else is there to say? We love these damned things, even if the vintage is given away by the presence of Barry Letts and Hadoke still feeling obliged to justify his part in the proceedings, but our man with the mike does his usual bang-up job at keeping the talk geared towards what they’re watching rather than going off-topic. Everyone has both fun reliving the fond memories of one of Doctor Who’s finest hours, and what more can we do that praise such an entertaining, insightful experience to the rafters? Technology has finally caught up with The Mind of Evil, freeing this wonderful commentary from the great archive ark in space - thaw and enjoy.

Production Subtitles: The track even tells you at the start that it will be bringing us all in on the embryonic concepts which grew into other things, the aborted ideas and the many layers underneath the finished programme - could they have put that in any more poetic a fashion? Such bold claims are backed up with the work, as the explicit detailing of the myriad of changes between variant drafts is exhaustive, and The Mind of Evil might have had the greatest amount of tinkering ever undertaken with a finished story, as much time is devoted to reprinting them all here for your edification. It’s almost like experiencing it in an alternate universe, for Chrissake!

Those who haven’t seen The Mind of Evil up ‘til this point might find it somewhat confusing that while Barry Letts is the producer, the story really doesn’t feel like one of his. The track deftly informs us that is the last story to conform to Derrick Sherwin’s vision of Doctor Who, with the more adult themes and high levels of violence, rather than the higher-minded concepts and lighter touch the incoming producer brought to the show. A perfect example of differing approaches might be rather contentious element that The Doctor was pally with Mao Tse-Tung but this is explained away here when delving into an earlier draft, where we find out that our favourite Time Lord actually knew his grandfather rather that the mass-murdering shit which was suggested, and there are few who would dispute that they really ought to have used the opportunity to distance themselves from such a sour note in the proceedings. Chalk up another victory for research!

Speaking of which, every single problem which they encountered during the production is faithfully rolled out, from the dropping of the majority of footage shot at RAF Swingate, the replacing of Andy Ho with Kristopher Kum, as director Timothy Combe really didn’t care for the original actors’ performance, which in turn led to the cutting of  material inside the Commonwealth Institute so as to eradicate all traces of the fired thespian. We even get a laundry-list of complaints director Combe had about the vehicles hired from Kingsbury Motors, including the poor fixing on Bessie’s horn, which was used as a brief feature on a particular shot, along with a dinged wheel-trim, corroded battery and buggered regulator, all combining to lose precious time whilst on location. By this point, Combe must have been ripping his hair out when the milk-float hired proved to be as equally unreliable as Bessie!

This story was in production at the same time as A Clockwork Orange, both dealing with similar themes, which on the audio commentary, Dicks goes out of his way to deny, but this track sides with the rest of us, who are much more cynical! As well as being free-thinking, things here are utterly exhaustive, and an instance must be pretty damned obscure when even the guys researching the production subtitle track can find no trace, and this is the case where it’s explained how the dialogue in the scene where Manning inadvertently saves Pertwee from the “flames” of the Keller machine. A great chunk of dialogue was nixed, and the only record is that The Doctor is “thunderously angry” with Jo Grant for coming back.

Popular cultural at the time has the spotlight swung firmly on it, pointing out that UNIT was another in the pantheon of shows from the era which prominently used acronyms, going on to note that Pertwee’s wardrobe was partially inspired by the clothes seen on the titular character of Adam Adamant Lives! before rolling out the trademark wit and pointing out that his later, more flamboyant tailoring was more in line with Jason King before bringing it full circle and pointing out that Department S was another sixties secret organisation.

It’s smart stuff, you know, and effectively able to ask the sorts of questions which should have been floated whilst being written. When trying to ascertain a timescale for the events, they suppose that it would have taken about a year for The Master to have passed himself off as Professor Keller, as the machine was put in twelve months before, and given that he cannot leave Earth or travel through time, everything suggests that a year has passed between the previous story of Terror of the Autons and this particular tale. After postulating that The Master might have been hiding out as Keller in Switzerland prior to the Auton incident, the track drops the bomb with: “…or perhaps the programme-makers did not attach such significance to such considerations!” Humour with insight - just what we have come to love from these guys!

"Marcus? It's your brother!"

The combined talents of Stephen James Walker and Martin Wiggins hath wrought an exceptionally realised companion piece to The Mind of Evil, revealing things which will change perceptions on certain aspects, and clarify approaches on others, all whilst ramping up the appreciation of those who made it possible - to achieve all three of these things is pretty damned difficult and testament to some superior research and assimilation of information. Just make a bee-line for it when you open the case, will you!!

The Military Mind: Filmed in 2009 at Dover Castle, this delightful, insightful documentary brings back some of the principle players in front of and behind the camera to see just how The Mind of Evil used the locations to their guns-blazing best.  

Always a man with an almost childlike sense of optimism, Barry Letts was deeply shocked that merely being one of the nation‘s favourite TV shows wouldn‘t unlock any door they wanted. “I assumed we would be able to find a location,“ the producer blithely recalls, “a prison, which would let us shoot there…inside the prison, that they would clear a wing for us for a little while…but to our horror, we found that they all refused us utterly”. Such stumbling were no problem when it came to getting military cooperation for the filming, where they were loaned a Thunderbolt missile, which turned out to be MUCH bigger than the picture they saw, with director Timothy Combe describing it simply as:   “mouth-watering”.

Appearing in one or two films ourselves, we know that perfection takes time, and such luxuries were at odds with the BBC, and Combe didn’t get all he needed at the castle, so re-shoots on Halloween were approved, but breaking every single rule in the book in order to make the action sequences as cracking as they are.   “Equity would have been up in arms if they knew I was playing a prisoner,” chuckles Combe, “and my PA was playing a soldier - anybody who was willing to don a jacket on the day!” When it comes to time, even an infinite supply of it wouldn’t have  been enough to get Pertwee to speak the correct Hokkien dialect, with Pik-Sen Lim admitting that is was hard work, to the point where: “When I watched the playback, to be honest, I didn’t really understand much of what he was saying!”

Punctuating all the moments of warm humour to be found are more than a few poignant images. To see Letts and Dicks walking in the grounds of Dover Castle together, with the late producer looking decidedly awkward and uncomfortable as he moves, but it just nice to seen him away from the confines of a studio or his house when being interviewed. The sight of a healthy-looking Nicholas Courtney temporarily tricks the mind into thinking that the old boy is still getting away with it, and is a real double-edged sword of an experience. All involved are on good form and happy to share their memories, just as much as we are to hear them all.

The tempering of jollities brings the edifying proceedings to a close, where the matter of director Combe’s treatment by the BBC is discussed, with Fernanda Marlowe really coming out to bat for him. “Tim [Combe] was getting a hard time,” the actress states.  [/I]“…It  might have because he put so much into it….in later years, watching it again, I realise who good it was, and that possibly that effort was utterly worth it”[/I]. The man himself shows a letter he got from Jon Pertwee praising the way he handled things, and this really emphasises how much he got screwed by the BBC over certain things on the shoot.   “Unfortunately that was the last Doctor Who I did,” states Combe with deep regret. “…and I didn’t have a Sonic Screwdriver to fix things up and do more Doctor Whos”  We won’t spoil the rest, but Combe becomes quite emotional about the matter, and his feelings are palpable.

It was an ending we were not expecting, and this one really has a belter.  It tops off one of the best featurettes to grace a Doctor Who DVD, as its ability to polarise the emotions is nothing short of amazing - you really feel for Combe when he was stabbed in the back by the BBC. It’s one of the last chances to see fresh material with a few of our old friends, and for us, it gave us another look at Dover Castle, which we last saw on a school trip - we’re from Kent, so it was always sort-of in the neighbourhood anyway. We would say “if only all other Doctor Who documentaries are nearly as good as this…”  but they usually are! We give you the Citizen Kane of Doc docs.

The Old Boys - together one for last time...

Behind The Scenes - Television Centre: This 25 minute vintage documentary is a look at a day in the life of the iconic building and is presented by Norman Tozer, who appears right at the start as the rank-and-file workers at the Concrete Doughnut makes their way through the gates. Tozer, resplendent in his pale green polo-neck jumper and coiffured crash-helmet-like hair, presents a piece-to-camera about the activities that go on within the circular wall before going in and taking the viewers on a tour.

You get to see some interesting shots, with a meeting on the planning of an upcoming episode of All Gas and Gaitors, footage of the presenters of Blue Peter rehearsing a musical number; and there is a piece that shows the magic of a large painted backdrop – the sort of thing that unconvincingly stands outside a front door in a sitcom; what is interesting is that when you see it on film, it looks pretty good. Somewhere around this section, the Black and White Minstrel Show gets a mention – why doesn’t that ever get repeated these days…?

This documentary can be seen as strictly routine, as most people now are aware of what goes on in television production, but bear in mind that this was aimed squarely at the sort of person who thought that television was a magical box that instantly conjured up anything that played on it by some sort of otherworldly sorcery, as it takes you through the various stages of production, taking in sets, props, costumes, filming and rehearsal, and everything in between.

This now serves as a nostalgic love-letter to a bygone era of television production; a continuity announcer gets to appear on camera, as he closes down for the night, and the BBC globe gets to be show (it was actually performed live, rather than on video, with the "temporary fault" sign below it, always on-hand in case something untoward occurs. The unintended comedy highlight comes as during a shot of workmen putting rostrum together, there is the sound of hammering, stopping abruptly by an agonised yelp.

Things are brought full-circle by having Tozer appear at the gates at 9.30 the next morning, having spent 24 hours in Television Centre, watching the rank and file coming in once more – another day of work for the employees of the Beeb..

Though the connection Doctor Who is tenuous -  you get to a see a specially-filmed shot of a miniature TARDIS dematerialising and one of an Axon tendril moving - it's great that this has been included, as it helps Doctor Who fans to appreciate just how the series was produced at that time. It’s a great way to spend around half an hour and many will get a nostalgic charge from it.

Then and Now: The semi-regular feature that shows you what locations look like decades after the fact continues and with the help of part of the off-air trailer, a shooting script, black and white clips and handy graphics to point out different areas of Dover Castle, it comes as no surprise that most of the locations are  almost identical to how they were forty years ago, this is mainly due to Dover Castle being an historic building and can‘t be radically altered in any way. Regardless of this, it‘s still great to see new footage of the place contrasting with black and white clips from the show. It should be noted that most of the locations in London look eerily similar, too.

Photo Gallery: There are a selection of absolutely gorgeous colour and black and white images, with loads of pics of Pertwee and Manning (one candid rehearsal picture has Pertwee in shades, cravat, casual shirt rolled up to past his elbows, exposing his navy tattoo - in short, he looks remarkably like he did in The House That Dripped Blood). There are also some nice location pictures of the military hangar, along with the missile and army personnel; in short, these are well worth five minutes of your time.

Coming Soon Trailer: Good grief! It's the Blu-ray debut of Classic Doctor Who, as Spearhead From Space regenerates into high definition. Are we going to be able to review this one? It would be rather nice - we'll keep you posted...

PDF Materials: Apart from the usual - and always appreciated - Radio Times listings, you are spoiled somewhat by having the complete set of promotional material from the 1971 Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks (because sugar IS like smack to some kids...) campaign - one image of Pertwee is so damn bizarre that it looks like he escaped from an old jar of Robinson's marmalade. What's nice is that there is a page of background material before you get to the images, setting the scene about the promotion and that these badges were only given away with the most tooth-rotting of Kellogg's cereal.

"Ello, ello, ello - what's all this then...?"

Overall


It may be one of the last stories to be released on DVD, but it was certainly worth the wait, as few honestly expected The Mind of Evil to be restored to colour. The story itself is great and there are fabulous performances, impressive action sequences and better than average production values. The efforts carried out to restore the image and sound to its former glory represents are very much in evidence – and we can’t praise everyone involved highly enough. Seriously highly recommended!


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