The Faces of the Doctor

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    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Sylvester McCoy. An odd one for me, because, five Doctors in – I suddenly found myself with ‘my’ Doctor. Not in his dreadful first series, but in his last two.

    When Colin Baker’s initial performance wasn’t working, he didn’t change it. He didn’t even seem to realise that there was anything wrong with his initial ideas. When Sylvester McCoy realised his initial ideas weren’t working, he changed them. His Doctor became less comic, more visibly dangerous. Alien, manipulative, unpredictable; someone who could send innocents to their death and could keep secrets. The roots of the AG Doctors are here, in his performance. And in Ace, we see the roots of the AG Companions. The Companion with a mystery, a story arc of her own.

    His major problem was the scriptwriting; his first series contained some terrible scriptwriting – and wasn’t even written for him. His last two series had some good stories produced by very new writers – compare that with the AG series, where the story told by a new or newish writer is usually the weakest of the bunch and the current Head Writer says that Who is no place for a new scriptwriter. So it’s probably not a surprise that even the good stories wobble a bit.

    I think the ‘Cartmel Masterplan’ had its points – and as @jimthefish says, elements might not be entirely dead in the water. If there is a reset, for example, we might get hints that this isn’t the first one…

    But once McCoy was able to direct his Doctor more in the direction he wanted, he was brilliant. If he’d been luckier in his period, he might be remembered as one of the best of the actors playing the Doctor. Instead he seems doomed to be near the bottom of the list – purely because most fans haven’t seen any of his best stories.



    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    I’m glad you (and others) enjoyed that interview. Sylvester always strikes me that way, very open, honest and disarming. I actually get the impression he put a lot of thought into what he wanted to do with the role.


    On the use of accents (and Ace not being allowed to use one) I think this was something in the era, rather than it being “for the Americans”. JNT may have said it to Sylvester, but JNT was, on occasion, a “lying lier with his pants-on-fire”.

    About the same time (early 87) Phil Redmond who produced popular kids soap “Grange Hill” got a snotty memo circulated to all shows with a strong Children audience telling them to stop using “Estuary” English. It’s a bit laughable in that they expected realistic representations of children to start speaking like they came from stage school. I can see JNT going along with it.

    I always compare the BBC to Robocop 2.

    Robocop The BBC has three directives

    “Serve the public trust” Educate
    “Protect the innocent” Inform
    “Uphold the law” Entertain

    In Robocop 2, his directives are written by concerned and interested parties. By committee. He gets about 3 million contradictory directives and goes mental.

    That really is the BBC on occasion.

    Anonymous @

    @bluesqueakpip @jimthefish @phaseshift @htpbdet

    Re ‘the Cartmel Masterplan’ – I’d really appreciate hearing what you have to say in re the difference between that concept and the current concept of ‘Showrunner’ as exemplified by RTD and The Moff.

    I’ve heard various of you mentioning the Cartmel Masterplan on these pages, but @jimthefish‘s clip was the first ‘official’ reckoning of that phrase I’ve seen (and A Cartmel himself seemed to disown the phrase).

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @Shazzbot – ‘Cartmel Masterplan’ is a fan nickname. Andrew Cartmel had a new idea for the Doctor’s backstory – that the Doctor wasn’t ‘John Smith from Gallifrey’ but a reincarnation of a mysterious and important figure from Gallifrey’s past. The writers he commissioned used it; but the next Script Editor to come in would probably have developed and changed it.

    Thing was, there wasn’t a next Script Editor. Instead the writers he commissioned went on to write many of the New Adventures, and many of them followed Cartmel’s backstory ideas. The ‘Cartmel Masterplan’ therefore became much more important than it would otherwise have become – it became the story arc that the New Adventures novelists were following.

    The modern ‘Showrunner’ is an import from the US; where the old BBC style was to have a main Producer and a Script Editor as the Second-in-Command, from Russell T Davies onwards you have a situation where the old Script Editor is now called Head Writer, has a producer’s credit – and is in charge, with the more administrative producer as the slightly more junior member of the team. The producer is now in charge of producing the Head Writer’s vision; the Head Writer sets the direction for the show during their tenure.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    It’s an interesting question on differences. Largely, there isn’t one. People talk about the Lett’s Era, Hinchliffe, and sub sets of Script Editors (Douglas Adams, Andrew Cartmel) but you notice these distinctions are created as fan constructs to discuss periods of the show, and therefore their use comes into being when “fandom” itself is on the rise. No one talks about the “Lambert” era because fans were not around back then.

    In the old days, the main producer and script editor directed the show. They commissioned ideas and scripts to meet an ongoing narrative they had agreed. JNT basically turned that position and made himself the background face of the show in a way no previous producer/script editor had. He was a publicity hound.

    These days that position is both defined and informed by him. SM does not have the power that JNT had. He also does not have full creative freedom. He couldn’t do something like the “MasterPlan” or agree to reveal the Doctor’s name without permission from Worldwide who now do protect the “Brand of the Doctor” with an almost zealous enthusiasm.

    Both he and RTD are expected to be the production “Face” of the show in the way that JNT desired though. Make of that what you will.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    As we talk about “The Gap” it’s interesting to view how important spin-off media became during that time. Not only were the New Adventure books important, but also the work of the comic writers. Each of the faces of the Doctor has been represented in comics, and there is a series of videos which looks at this alternate Universe of the Doctor “Stripped for Action”.

    I’ll embed the one for the Seventh Doctor which looks at his era, but crucially how they reacted to the cancellation, attempting to work with the authors of the New Adventures to drive an ongoing narrative for the Doctor. It therefore features people like Andrew Cartmel and Paul Cornell.

    The entire series is delightful though. It comes alive with the Fourth Doctor and the creation of Doctor Who weekly. They imported some of the mad genius of comics like 2000AD in the shape of Pat Mills and others to create something unique. Why is this important? Well it’s easy to argue that the comics had an effect on the new series in the most positive way. They could get away with so much more. The fourth Doctor had a black companion, and the Eighth had a companion called Izzy who, as time went on, was revealed to be gay in the most matter of fact way. It prompted one fan to cancel his subscription in disgust, and another – one Russell T Davies to write congratulating the writers on being “marvellous, clever people”.

    First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Doctor

    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift — thanks for the links. I have a definite soft spot for the Doctor’s comic script adventures. I’m not sure they ever really had that much effect of what was going on on-screen but they certainly pushed the boundaries of the narrative possibilities. Interestingly, the Sixth Doctor is much more bearable in comic strip form and this definitely seems the natural home for that incarnation.

    But it’s the early ones, primarily the Moore/Gibbons/Parkhouse stories of the Baker and Davison eras that have a special place in my heart. Especially those manly, handsome and tragically misunderstood Moderators of City of the Damned.

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    @phaseshift & @jimthefish

    They’re great documentaries. The only major thing they don’t cover is comic strips from annuals, but otherwise they’re a great overview – It’s a shame there’s no 9, 10 & 11 Stripped For Action (yet) which would of course have to include Doctor Who Adventures (magazine), the two graphic novels that feature the Daleks & the IDW range (which the UK is mostly denied).

    The Dr Who comics have made their own mark. Just think of the TARDIS sound of Vworp! Vworp!

    Bonus Comic > Show facts:

    Kronkburgers (for consumption in The Long Game) come from The Iron Legion 1979

    New Earth (see New Earth and Gridlock) appeared in The Dogs of Doom 1980

    A TARDIS graveyard (think TDW) & the Dr’s impending death (think TNOTD) were seen in Nineveh! (Incredible Hulk Presents) 1989

    I personally think that the Who Nadir of 84/85 (oft spoke of), coincided with the peak of the Who comic with the Voyager stories. All the Alan Moore, Pat Mills & Steve Parkhouse stuff (including the back up strips) of DWM remain my fond favourites.

    I also particularly like the Parkhouse story ‘End of the Line’ 1981 for it’s daring bleakness…

    For those interested in these comics documentaries, there’s also this Dalek one…

    Whisht @whisht

    @phaseshift – wow, yet again you’ve given me plenty to waste my time with!
    Never seen those docs before, and as Stripped for Action focuses as much (if not more) on the artists, they’re just wonderful for me!

    I never read Doctor Who magazine or the strips and only recently read the few that you, @wolfweed and @jimthefish linked to by Moore etc.
    I’m in awe of the skill of those illustrators who can paint and draw strips to tight deadlines.


    and then seeing Pat Mills (with John Wagner writing a Who episode – Song of the Space Whale – in the other documentary!)


    Now, I need to go back to the comics thread and reply to @galactus on the Sandman comics (very overdue!)

    Whisht @whisht

    Now, my memories of McCoy…. are a bit odd.

    Basically, I’d stopped watching during Colin Baker’s reign and saw a couple of McCoy’s but not really followed it much. Seeing the documentaries shared on this forum, makes me think I was probably put off by the “light entertainment” element, and things like Robin of Sherwood for breaking the Who habit. And if you can’t say Robin of Sherwood without half-singing “the hooded man” in a Clannad-inspired way, then you know what I mean.

    So, I won’t bore you with my non-memories.
    Instead (I’ll bore you with) a too-short story of being invited by a female work colleague that I kinda fancied, for dinner in ~2001. I went to the address she gave me and it was a typical (for me) North London arty terraced house – lots of small original hand-drawn sketches and limited prints on the walls, literary clutter etc etc.
    In fact, as I looked at the bookshelf I saw there were half a dozen annuals and books of the McCoy era Doctor with Ace on the shelves.
    “Do you live here?”
    “No – I’m flat sitting”
    “Who does live here?”
    “Oh I don’t know him, he’s a friend of someone I know. Actor I think”
    “Jeezus – this is Sylvester McCoy’s house!”
    “Who?” [add your own “who’s on third?” gag here]
    I looked again at the artwork on the walls – lots of clowns, jesters, Commedia dell Arte etc.
    “Jeezus – this is Sylvester McCoy’s house!”

    as this conversation wasn’t going anywhere, I started to concentrate on her rather than the house.
    That didn’t go anywhere either.

    Lovely woman. Lovely house. and now I realise a lovely guy.

    Hope he doesn’t mind me failing to woo a woman in his gaff.

    Anonymous @

    @whisht – That is a lovely story.  🙂   Thanks for sharing it.  And no, I don’t think Sylvester McCoy will mind you failing to woo a woman in his gaff.

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    @whisht – Yes, I also can’t say ‘Robin of Sherwood’ without doing that. (Loved the 1st two series, anyway).

    Hilarious McCoy story too… ‘Who?’

    kk74974 @kk74974

    Hi you guys, again, I am kind of a new fan of DW, and live outside UK and USA, and after almost reading all this tread I saw some quite good documentaries about “Revisiting” The Doctors, I am watching now the 3rd video, and I was wondering, did they make the Revisited Series to all the 10 doctors? I tried to find them on YT but I couldn’t find any of them….is there any “revisitation” to Doctors 9 and 10?


    Anonymous @

    Hello @kk74974 – I don’t know where @craig got those retrospectives – and like you, I hope there are more to view.

    But if you want further insight into the Doctors before 2005, you should read the posts made by our venerable @htpbdet in his blog series accessed here on our site: has been with the programme since it first aired in 1963, and he has not only a wonderful depth of knowledge of the show, but his writing intimately entwines the programme with his personal life story.  He is a masterful storyteller and I can’t recommend his blog posts enough.


    Craig @craig

    @kk74974 They are being broadcast in the USA only, on the 23rd of each month, so the first Doctor was 23 January and the latest, the sixth Doctor was just broadcast on 23 June. However I haven’t found that one on YouTube yet.

    They’ll be doing 9 and 10 on 23 September and 23 October.

    Craig @craig

    @kk74974 If you want more info on the Doctors I find this guy pretty good. He’s covered them all up to the tenth.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @jimthefish @whisht @wolfweed

    Glad you enjoyed the videos of the comics. They gave me a happy weekend a while ago. I thought this might be the time to bring them up with the GAP discussion. I’ve got most of the collected runs.

    Especially agree with @wolfweed – “End of the Line” and some of the Sixth Doctor stuff are remarkable (The Sixth Doctor in comics is quite different in feel I think to TV). I did like the sprawling pace of stories like “Tides of Time” though.

    On the subject of this period, I don’t know if anyone remembers “Star Cops” from TV in 87? I wrote a post while I was away on it because I just think it chimes with some earlier conversations on the general approach to sci-fi in that era by the BBC and the certainly touches on how insane some elements of Who fandom were.

    Anonymous @

    @Agree with @phaseshift and @wolfweed that End of the Line was quite remarkably. Incredibly bleak piece. I also remember loving the Spider God story at the time. I must admit I’d drifted by the Colin Baker era, finding the TV version of the show was sapping my enthusiasm in all other areas too.

    Just read @phaseshift‘s appraisal of Star Cops. Remember liking it at the time — and probably would have preferred it over the Who of the period — but didn’t know about the fan bid to boycott it. Yet another fine example of Arse right there…

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    I also didn’t know there was a fan bid to boycott Star Cops. I’d have been fairly annoyed – I met Trevor Cooper when we were both working at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. He was one of the actors, I was doing crew.

    But yes, a fine example of ARSE. Let’s try and kill off any chance of decent science fiction programmes on telly, because of course that’ll help out Doctor Who…

    Arkleseizure @arkleseizure

    Okay. I’ve been struggling to think how to put my thoughts because I was still at primary school in 1989, so what I say I will say from the heart: I love Sylvester McCoy.  I love Sylvester because he was the only alien doctor my generation had. The Doctor needs to be otherworldly. People say alien, but I think “otherworldly” says it better. Differently human, if you will.

    My dad, who grew up with the first four, and loved all but but Pertwee, who he merely liked, was indifferent to Davison and loathed Baker II. I can now see why. (I speak here for him, not for me). Davison was actually vey human, albeit with the occasional flash of otherworldliness. Today, I see his grunt at Tegan’s dress in Enlightenment was a sign of this: watching the VHS as a 14-year-old, I reacted very differently! But usually, he reacted as a human would react, much like Pertwee, so I can see where Dad was coming from. Both had enough elements of otherworldliness to remind you that they were indeed from another world, but my first vivid memory of Doctor Who was Pat in The Five Doctors: now there was something special!

    Dad was excited about Peter’s regeneration: he was bored with five. I remember him excitedly singing about “old uncle Tom Baker and all” in the build-up! But what let-down! This is why I prefer “otherworldly” to “alien”. The sixth doctor was an attempt to create a really alien doctor, but in the process, they showed why such an attempt is doomed. Colin actually presented us with an all-too-human git. “Otherworldly” is recognisably “other”. “Alien” is just detestable person.

    So, to Sylvester. Dad loved him from that wink in the opening credits of Time and the Rani. Never mind that, as I now recognise, Time and the Rani was worthless gibberish: at least it gave us a doctor with that Troughtan/Baker I sense of mischief. Sure, with hindsight, there was massive room for improvement, but never mind: Sylvester improved. Once he was rid of Mel, seven could really begin. This was the Doctor who might have humiliated Ace to defeat Fenric, but begged her to forgive him for it afterwards. Peter wouldn’t have been able to do it. Colin would have walked away after with a smug grin. Sylvester did it and then felt terrible for it. But he knew Ace had ultimately gained from it.

    The seventh doctor was properly alien. He was, as I say, otherworldly. I was gutted that he wasn’t allowed to end his era properly. But he left a foundation for rebuilding on. And I’d even say that Matt Smith is my favourite revival doctor so far, because he is, to me, the first in the tradition of Patrick Troughtan, Tom Baker, and, most of all, of Sylverster McCoy.

    Arkleseizure @arkleseizure

    And now, I’m going to do something that I think needs doing here: I’m going to stick up for Anthony Ainley.

    I rewatched Logopolis today, and I was struck by the fact that I really enjoyed Ainley’s performance. I recognised the reason for this when Tom commented that “you’re utterly mad”. He was shocked to realise this: he wasn’t talking to the master he knew after all, but a version unhinged by the mental scars of his decayed period. This, I think, is what Ainley always intended: Delgado with a screw loose. It really could have worked, and I don’t think it’s Ainley’s fault it didn’t.

    Castrovalva might have been a good “strangled at birth” story for Ainley’s Master, but that was never going to happen. Just a pity that it established the Captain Scarlet version of the Master that would test the show’s credibility to bursting point. Time-Flight and The King’s Demons are trash, agreed. The Master in the Five Doctors is relatively underplayed and actually works rather well, genuinely hurt by the Doctor’s refusal to believe him. After that, he goes back to pantomime villain, but lets put the blame where it truly lies, shall we? You know: John Nathan-Turner.

    I think it was The Mark of the Rani, but there’s a story of Ainley giving a subdued intense performance, only to receive orders from above to be “more OTT” in the retake. That’s just what an actor doesn’t need: we’ll keep demanding retakes until you mess it up! Ainley later sounded off in interviews about his frustrations with JN-T and I can’t say I blame him. (JN-T was also to blame for that ludicrous costume Ainley had to wear. He got something better in is last story, and not just the costume).

    Survival was the survival of the Master as Ainley wanted to play him against the weakening dead hand of JN-T. The same unhinged gentleman, albeit complicated by the effects of the Cheetah planet, led to the First good Master story since Castrovalva. Ainley had it in him, but wasn’t allowed to let it out until Survival. Even his costume was good in that one!

    So, that is my defence of Anthony Ainley. His Master would have worked perfectly in another era. I don’t blame him for being in an era when very little worked at all.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Well said on Ainley. I kept out of the kicking of him earlier because it pre-empted this, the end of his run. As I wrote, he and Sylvester were pretty superb together in Suvival I thought.

    I don’t think he had a hope of equalling Delgado, but Delgado was working with Script Editors who knew exactly what they wanted in their character description of him, and the writers did their job by and large. With Ainley things were more complicated.

    Sarah Sutton has told a story about the rehearsals for Logopolis. He approached her and suggested they go to the writers and pitch that their scenes together should be played as if some inner conflict was going on in the Master. That some elements of her father Tremas survived. In retrospect, it was a brilliant suggestion as many of us have said that the writers clearly had no idea what to do with her character. Introducing elements like that should have been seized by the writers and been allowed to play out in Davisons first series.

    They got told to go away. The writers, having perceived themselves to have “won” their battle with Tom Baker were not in the mood to accommodate the whims of actors.

    So I guess he spent the next 8 years doing what he was told, a position John Simm found himself in, because he didn’t seem to really enjoy going so over the top either. His performance in Logopolis is good (I love his “Peoples of the Universe, please attend carefully”, which is why I used it to start to Delgado tribute) and think he gives a great performance in Survival. I admire a lot of elements of his business in Castrovalva (his persona of The Portreeve is very good), Five Doctors (good call by you – I can’t help thinking that was because Terrance Dicks was writing him?) and some elements of Planet of Fire. In others, it all seemed a bit panto. The nadir for me was Mark of the Rani in which he seems to be cast as completely inept idiot, and plays the part beautifully.

    With Survival he was in the position of working closely with an actor who was interested in what they could do with their scenes together, and writers who were prepared to listen. It really shows.

    I’m continuing to wear his face on the Guardian blogs, while I wear Delgado here.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @jimthefish @bluesqueakpip

    The “Boycott Star Cops” thing was all pretty inept. It started in the fanzines and broke out into publications like Starburst (even DWM featured some letters along those lines) and was reported pretty gleefully in a couple of tabloids. It was all a big conspiracy by the BBC to kill off Doctor Who. It seemed to have escaped their attention that the BBC often had other Sci-Fi serials going on in the background – Blake’s 7, Suvivors, Nightmare Man, Day of the Triffids.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    A couple of things for Doctor Seven.

    New Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman has written the Puffin book for the Seventh Doctor (link to news story).

    The Guardian has a short extract:

    From Doctor Who @ 40 – the Sylvester McCoy segment. I can’t believe the viewers voted to show “DragonFire”. Oh well – maybe Andrew Cartmel can explain what the hell the Doctor was doing dangling from that cliff…..

    HTPBDET @htpbdet

    @arkelseizure @phaseshift

    I guess my point of view about Ainley is a simple one: he showed excellent promise as Tremas ( his performance there is one of the few acting highlights that season) but the promise quickly dissipated, and for me, never was fulfilled.

    I have watched Five Doctors again just recently and while, no doubt, he is better there than in other stories – such as Planet of Fire, Time Flight and Mark of the Rani – he is still far from good.

    And I am only talking about his acting. He always struck me as a disinterested actor as the Master- and whatever happens behind the cameras, it is what happens in front that matters. Five Doctors is hardly Doctor Who writing at its best, but other actors in the story manage to turn in exemplary performances.

    I, too, quite like the ” Attend to me” speech – but that is not saying much. And, in a way, that speech makes my point – the way Ainley delivers those lines is perfect, brimming with undisguised mania and mouth-drooling madness but refined, restrained and, therefore, more chilling – yet, funny too. It’s a heady mix.

    But that same care is not lavished on other lines in that or later stories. And its the pantomime cackling that I loathe the most.

    No doubt JNT was to blame. But many actors managed to be true to their craft while adhering to JNT’s singular view of the world – and, equally, there is a line over which professional actors just should not cross – the line where their own ability will be called into question if they do what is asked of them.

    It is interesting to me, that story about Sarah Sutton, Ainley and the writers for Logolopis. Because I do think that Sarah Sutton, without any help from the dialogue or exposition, really shows the struggle she has with dealing with the Master in her father’s body. I think Ainley could have done the same had he been minded to do so.

    For reasons I have discussed elsewhere, I don’t have a real view about Survival, but I can’t say I see any massive difference in Ainley’s playing – except, that McCoy is neither Baker nor Davison. I always thought that Ainley should have been a perfect Moriarty for Davison’s Doctor – the possibilities are clear when you look at Keeper of Traken and Castrovalva. But that is not the way it went.

    Delgado, whatever he had to do or say, always played the scene to its best advantage and worked with the other actors to make the best he could of his character. I think Simm did the same. For me, Ainley did not do that.I never thought he could be bothered – and perhaps that is because of his contempt for JNT and Saward, I don’t know. I never heard him say anything which made me think that he thought his work on the show was not the equal of or better than Delgado’s – and I always thought that was wrong.

    In the same way as Colin Baker must shoulder a deal of the blame for the Sixth Doctor, so must Ainley shoulder a deal of the blame for his Master. Yes, JNT’s vision was warped and the feud with Saward helped no one. But…

    When you look just at the dialogue of the Master in almost all of Ainley’s stories, there are many many ways to play them and still be both over the top but worthwhile. Delgado himself was a master, excuse the pun, at this. So was Simm, in my view, in a totally different way, and there are many other examples in and out of Doctor Who: Toby Stephens in Robin Hood, Andrew Scott in Sherlock, Charles Dance in Games of Thrones. Alex Kingston as River Song is another example of an actor using skill to deliver a quality over-the-top performance.

    But Ainley did not take the difficult or hard-to-pull-off choices. What he settled for was just not that good.

    In any event, there should be people willing to defend Ainley; it would be a sad world were that not permitted.

    Indeed, there are many situations where I would defend him – he is better than many “villains” in many other Sci-Fi series. And he is much much better than Roberts was in the McGann movie.

    But, in the context of Doctor Who itself, and given what Delgado, Pratt and Beevers all managed, and given what Ainley was clearly capable of, his Master  was a disappointment for me.

    And although I loathe JNT for what he did to Doctor Who, I just don’t think that the way Ainley played the Master was entirely down to JNT; Ainley must shoulder the burden too.

    In any choice involving Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Anthony Ainley, Ainley would always be the one to choose. At least there was hope with Ainley.

    Anonymous @

    @htpbdet, @phaseshift and @arkleseizure — I think I’ll have to put a word in Ainley’s defence too. Sure, he’s no Delgado (but who could be?) But I do remember being quite excited at having The Master back in proper form, although he did get more tiresome with every passing story. I do think he picks up a bit in The Five Doctors, probably because, as pointed out above, Terrance Dicks knew how to write the Master in his sleep. Also agree that we saw a slightly different, more successful Master in Survival.

    I think there is an element of truth in the argument that Ainley wasn’t given much direction beyond ‘be the Master’. I suspect not much thought had been put into just who the character was — something that Nu Who thankfully did.

    And so, just for @htpbdet, here’s Ainley giving it full throttle….

    HTPBDET @htpbdet

    @JimThe Fish

    Hey, thanks for that. I have never seen that – what is it from? What is Destiny of the Doctors?

    I liked Ainley there – but then he is rarely like that in the series.

    Who wrote that? Dicks?

    What does he call Troughton? I could not make it out?

    You know, I always used to listen to Ainley but hear Delgado in my head…it made everything better…


    HTPBDET @htpbdet

    sorry @jimthefish – mucked up the tagging

    Anonymous @

    @htpbdet — Destiny of the Doctors was a PC computer game that was released (if memory serves) around the time of the McGann movie (although he doesn’t appear in it). I think all of the living Doctors recorded new dialogue for it, with a couple of Hartnell and Troughton soundalikes contributing also).

    Ainley recorded several cut scenes for the game (his last performance before his death, I believe) and, yes, they’re often a lot better than some of the stuff he did for the TV show proper. (You were also spot on that the dialogue was written by Terrance Dicks. I believe the description of Troughton used is ‘the capable comedian’, which I kinda like.)

    The game itself is largely awful. It basically consists of you taking control of a weird psychic entity called the Graak to try and free the seven trapped incarnations of the Doctor by wandering around the TARDIS which has been infested with monsters, including Yeti, Sontarans, Cybermen, Daleks, Autons and so on. It does have one nice feature in that you can access a database of stories/monsters etc from the console, some of which had little video clips with them.

    Like I said, awful. But that didn’t stop me from playing it to death back in the day…

    (oh and by the way, apparently if you’ve got the DVD of The Keeper of Traken there are some outtakes from Ainley’s Destiny sessions in there as a hidden Easter Egg….)

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Ohhhhh– Destiny of the Doctors. Great cut-scenes, some glorious (at the time) graphic flourishes, but – the gameplay sucked. It couldn’t compare to this GAP treat I was exposed to in the early 90s. The Bally Doctor Who Pinball:

    I forget, exactly how many pound coins I inserted into this beauty in “The Shearbridge” in Bradford, while The Damned played “Smash it Up” and other assorted classics in the background. Too much of my grant probably. I do hope BBC Enterprises (as it was) got its cut. I was king of the table, leaving others disgusted in my wake, in awe at my prowess!

    I have promised myself that, when I win the lottery I will treat myself to one of these delightful contraptions, and a suitably sized house to situate it in.

    After all – it is advocated by the best. 😀

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Hmmm.. much of that I don’t agree with.

    it is what happens in front that matters

    And that is what I do judge him on largely. That has to be informed by behind the scenes issues as well. My point is that Delgado performed his Master in a limited period against one Doctor with a fairly tightly arranged writing team who had drummed into them a consistent philosophy. I don’t think that Ainley had that. If you can suggest he did I would be interested.

    – and, equally, there is a line over which professional actors just should not cross –

    While having no personal experience of TV production, I know a fair few actors who would disagree with you. Did Ainley cross a line that Simm didn’t? Simm expressed the view that he would prefer a direction different to RTDs to return. You nave suggested enjoyment at his portrayal. Is this something that would change your mind?

    “I started annoying myself after a while,” he confessed. “Russell T Davies had a specific idea of what he wanted him to be like. So I just had to do exactly what he wanted me to, and he wanted a giggling lunatic.”

    I think trying to equate someone in the position of Baker or Davison (“the stars”) with support characters like companions or regular occurring guest stars is a bit silly. We know that JNT accommodated his Doctors in a way that he wouldn’t for someone like Nicola Bryant and others. We know Davison saved Sarah Sutton from the chop. They had more power than most, while they were in the role. That is why I can excuse Ainley, but not Baker. Baker was listened to and developed that character. If you are in doubt, I invite you to view the videos we have provided of Baker. Ainley, from commentaries on his rare DVD appearances and fan appearances seemed to have drifted at the direction of writer and Director of the time. To “work to rule”. Perhaps that was his mistake, to appear with so many?

    I’m not prepared to hold it against him though. I’ve rewatched his stuff on many occasion. It’s really variable, but so is the material, and what may laughably be described as “direction” in some instances. He isn’t that bad though, and Survival is something different. I certainly wouldn’t describe him as “the dreary dribbling disastrous dog-turd” that you suggested.

    If you feel that about him, I have no inclination to change your mind. I think other comments stand. You suggest you can’t form an opinion on Survival, but others seem to have. For me, what I took from the screen was a remarkable difference, even in a serial that was weak in other areas. Such is life, and opinion.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    An anniversary special, with multiple Doctors filmed in 3D?

    It has been done before. Nearly four years after cancellation Doctor Who celebrated its 30th anniversary in somewhat reduced circumstances. “Dimensions in Time” is short, and this is not the 3D version. It’s pretty awful as the Doctor interacts with EastEnders. It was done for Children in Need.

    Much better from that celebration is the documentary “30 years in the TARDIS” which benefits from access to many people involved who have passed away, and some great footage about the series. It’s one and a half hours long, so here is the link. I find the sales adds that Tom Baker and Lalla Ward did for computers particularly funny.

    Warning – Dimensions in Time does feature a lead in by Noel Edmonds.

    HTPBDET @htpbdet


    I must have been in a very foul mood when I said Ainley was a dog-turd. Apologies. If I could find that statement and edit it, I would. It’s too harsh. Disappointment is quite sufficient.

    In truth, it was McLeela who had the strongest anti-Ainley views. As time has passed, I have sometimes let her hatred of him shine brightly in my own thoughts. It was a topic she was passionate about. I should be more careful.

    When I was talking about an actor crossing the line, I meant giving less than their best performance or accepting a role they know they cannot do: the line where their own ability will be called into question if they do what is asked of them and they do it badly. Simm does not cross that line for me. But, for instance, Paul Darrow does in Timelash.

    It boils down to a point of view about acting, and I am happy to be alone in that view. Ainley was a better actor ( as his Tremas showed ) than his essentially lazy turn as the Master ever demonstrated. For the reasons you say, Simm may have not have wanted to go the way RTD wanted him to go, but he did it and he did it with style and skill – full throttle. ( Just so we are clear – I don’t like where RTD took the Master, but I liked what Simm, as an actor,  did with what he was asked to do.)  Kate O’Mara had essentially the same problems Ainley did with script and direction – but she finds a way to make her Rani memorable and distinctive.

    Ainley was capable of that, but did not. Now, people can excuse that and blame variable writers and absent directors and insane producers, and that is completely fine. But,  in the end, the choices made were Ainley’s. And it is those choices, the acting choices, which I don’t like.

    I wanted to like Ainley’s Master – I too was glad to see that wonderful character back.

    I don’t think Delgado always had the best scripts or the best directors, but he was always consistent on his take and played the character with great skill.

    I am not sure why you think I need to be convinced that Colin Baker was largely  responsible for his incarnation? I think he was an excruciating actor and an appalling choice and I don’t think I have ever suggested otherwise. Have I? (If so, I blame painkillers…!)

    I don’t discount anyone’s view about Survival – because of my own circumstances when it first aired, I cannot watch it without thinking about other things and McLeela’s opinion and energy is inextricably tied up in that. I am happy to accept that Ainley gives a different stronger performance there – he certainly does in the Destiny of the Doctors excerpt posted above.

    Indeed, I don’t discount anyone’s view about Ainley generally. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion – and I am entitled to not share it.

    Being a fan of the programme does not mean it is necessary to like or approve of everything that happens in it.

    Nick @nick


    Being a fan of the programme does not mean it is necessary to like or approve of everything that happens in it

    Not that its needed but this is just about the best definition of a fan you can give. If only the F-ARSEs out there could understand.

    @phaseshift, @jimthefish @arkleseizure

    Apart from Survival I haven’t watched any of the Anthony Ainley Master stories since they were first shown. I have fond memories of Traken, Logopolis and Castrovalva for sure. I recall he was good in some of the other stories (Planet of Fire, Kings Demon spring to mind) as well. In fact I enjoyed most of the stories he was in at the time (it was always good to have the Master back) although some were disaster concepts from the outset (what were they smoking when they came up with The Rani thing they were all in ?).

    Not generally keeping up with the Media, I hadn’t seen the John Simm article before. I found that very reassuring as I hated RTD’s Master concept almost from the moment John Simm appeared. I know he’s one of our best current actors (and would make an excellent Doctor), but I thought the AG Master story arc to be a wasted opportunity. Simm showed great flashes of his talent, but overall I found the portrayal to be far far far OTT to really grab me. I’d love to see John Simm back to play the Master from a dark dark place.

    I may be in a  minority of 1 here, but it seems RTD got this one wrong. (shucks he’s allowed). Actually, I have always wondered how the Show Runner can write quite as many episodes as they do. You can never be quite as good editing your own work and I think a series like Who needs quite close attention if you’re going to make the best of the rather limited opportunity. There’s already a lot to fit in a small number of stories as it is.



    HTPBDET @htpbdet


    You are not alone re Simm – as I said above I did not like where RTD took the Master but I liked how Simm played the character as envisaged by RTD. Not many people could have made that piece of wrong-thinking as good as Simm did.

    janetteB @janetteb

    We watched Utopia and the episode that follows, (forget episode name and too lazy to look it up) last night and yes, the more I watch those the worse I find Simm’s Master. RTD wrote some lovely stuff and I loved the way he riffed on current social and political themes but he had a deplorable tendency to go over the top. He was in desperate need of a good script editor who would say, “great story, lovely ideas, but we don’t need to end it with giant fighting robots or the destruction of the galaxy every time to make it dramatic. There is drama enough in the small stuff. ” I generally loved the first half of RTD’s stories, lost interest in the second. His strengths and weaknesses were very different to Moffats.

    By the time Simm was dispatched I was relieved, not because he was evil but because he was stupidly annoying. A bad character portrayed well is a pleasure to watch, the “villian that we love to hate”. Delgado was perfect as an ongoing villian who we could admire even while we despaired at his evil deeds. Ainley felt like a poor attempt to be Delgado. Simm ceased to be the master and became a deranged monster. He did not pose a real threat to the Doctor either because we knew that the later was so much smarter whereas we felt that Delgado’s Master was the Doctor’s equal in the brain department. I still look forward to the next regeneration of the master and following the discussion on another thread, rahter like the idea of the master returning as a Livia, (I Claudius) type woman.



    Anonymous @

    You know there’s six seasons (series if your in the UK) of the modern show and one 4-6 part stories of every season of the classic show on Netflix at the moment

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Indeed, I don’t discount anyone’s view about Ainley generally. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion – and I am entitled to not share it

    I would never suggest anything otherwise – indeed, I indicated my lack of interest in changing your mind. I think the conversation just presents an alternative view than that you presented back here (if you are looking for the comment). I can edit it if you wish, but I think you’ve clarified your position.

    Personally, Simm (an actor I rate highly) didn’t seem comfortable in the role at all. It all seemed a little forced.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    As well as the end of Ainley, the Seventh Doctor period also saw the last appearance in the regular main show of the Brigadier in Battlefield.

    Nicholas Courtney always seemed a “Splendid chap”. Shortly before his death he started to record a long interview with his friend Mark McManus, which unfortunately was never completed. This is what remains though, talking about his life and his work with Who and beyond. Some nice clips, and Tom Baker drops in for a chat. (Colin gets a bemused look in a corridor). It’s about 27 minutes long.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @phaseshift. Thank you so much for that link. Had the family gathered around my laptop watching. As Tom Baker said, “there are many Doctors but only one Brigadier.”  The Brig’ was central to my early Doctor Who experience. The first story I watched was his last (I keep getting it confused with Andriod Invasion but it was the one set in Scotland which is Terror of the Zygons. Gotta love those comic strip titles.) But then I watched endless repeats of earlier stories which featured the Brig. I was thrilled when he reappeared in Sarah Jane Adventures and the reunion between the two characters was as warm as I imagine the reunion between the actors was. Indeed to me that scene is one where character and actor merge and as a viewer we are aware of what the moment means for actor as well as for character.

    Thanks again for sharing,



    HTPBDET @htpbdet


    Totally agree. Nicholas Courtney was central to the survival of Doctor Who in the Seventies and that is often overlooked.

    Oh how I wish Web of Fear was still with us – he started as he continued…magnificently.

    The thrill I got when he came back in Invasion was immeasurable.

    And he helped ease the pain of the loss of Troughton.

    I cried copiously when he passed – he and Sarah-Jane Smith in the same year.

    Those first six months of 2011 were truly a bad time.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    I’m glad you and the family enjoyed it. When I watched it, I was surprised by the Juliet Bravo clip. I’d seen it before and never realised it was him. I agree on his appearance in SJA as well. You could tell he was not in the best of health, but he obviously relished a chance to be the Brig again.

    I did like the way they handled his death within the show itself. I thought Smith delivered that scene as he receives the news of the Brigs death as a real hammer blow. I’m also glad they decided to bring in his daughter Kate from the spin-off media to continue to proud tradition of Lethbridge-Stewarts.


    I’d love to see Web of Fear in its entirety, but at least I’ve got the restored soundtrack on CD, which are a remarkable thing themselves. Pat Troughton and Nicholas Courtney have such expressive voices I can picture their faces and expressions from just the audio. It’s remarkable to get that level of characterisation from voice work from a visual medium, when some audio drama specifically recorded for that purpose struggles.

    HTPBDET @htpbdet


    I do love the audio recordings – it is astonishing how vivid it all seems. I am glad that you get a lot of Troughton’s voice virtuosity – combined with his remarkable eyes, it was really something. And he is at the top of his game in Web of Fear.

    It is interesting to listen to Nick Courtney with Hartnell and then with Troughton. He seems to really come alive with Troughton – and once alive, never flags.

    Yes, modern actors, alas, are not taught to use their voices properly. It’s a great pity.

    Whovian @whovian

    Hey does anyone think Matt Smith is ugly, the 11th doctor?

    Anonymous @

    @whovian – you’ve signed up to the wrong forum.  If you don’t have something intelligent to say, quite soon, both you and your comment will be vapourised.

    paulb @paulb

    Dragonfire, Little Girls and Teddy Bears


    What was the point of that “Poor man’s Newt from Aliens” in the McCoy story Dragonfire?
    Her silvery party frock looks like an awful pageant dress!

    Nick @nick

    @phaseshift @craig @Shazzbot

    As a general observation, wouldn’t it make more sense to split this into several sub-threads for each of the Doctors ? The way its currently structured there is no possibility for any future discussion about William Hartnell or any of the previous Doctors here


    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    I honestly think that splitting the topic in the way you suggest won’t make a blind bit of difference to relative uptake. I’ve repeated myself on a few pages that people new, or just joining the conversation are free to make comments and discuss Doctors already covered. That advice remains, and if the topic becomes a lot busier then I would split it, streaming the content into relevant topics.

    If people don’t like this format, an alternative is already available in @htpbdet s individual posts on each Doctor to date, and they are free to discuss the merits of individual Doctors on those if they prefer the kind of individual topics you suggest. They can be accessed in The Doctors blog page here.

    Next month, because observations on the Paul McGann era are likely to be limited, I had hoped to pick up a couple of emerging themes on how people viewed the Doctor before the return of the show. This is obviously easier in a consolidated topic which contains all the relevant posts. That is one of the advantages of this particular format, especially when comparing or contrasting two or more Doctors.

    Nick @nick


    Understand. As a general observation, being pretty new here I’ve come across a couple of essentially dormant blogs and threads quite by accident. I can’t help thinking that there should be a better way of organising the Home page to reveal this.



    ScaryB @scaryb

    @nick @phaseshift

    For what it’s worth, I think it works like this – there’s been a bit of backtracking to different Drs and, yes, @htpbdet‘s brilliant blogs on various Drs as alternative.

    The homepage has been pretty dynamic so far, responding to what’s topical, so things come and go in prominance, or go to sleep when they’re not newsy.  if someone makes a comment in an old thread it shows up in activity so will pull people in if there’s interest. But maybe it’s easier for those of us who have been here from the start to know what there is…

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