Doctor Who’s Susan

Back in the inception of Doctor Who, there were several ideas about the cast of characters. Perhaps the most interesting of all was the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan. Full of promise and mystery, she was set to be the most remarkable companion of all. A psychic all action heroic character, Susan was not to be a kid who got into trouble needing rescue.

So what happened?

YouTuber Clever Dick takes a gander at the character’s history and development along with the casting. His videos are stunning and well worth a look. Honestly, I could watch his videos on each Doctor’s era all day.

Doctor Who – Daughter of the Gods

Daughter of the Gods by David K Barnes

“Why don’t I remember this?”

When Zoe reattaches an old piece of equipment to the TARDIS console, she, Jamie and the Doctor are very lucky to avoid a collision.

But the place they find themselves in may be even more dangerous – because there they encounter another Doctor, a space pilot named Steven…and a young woman called Katarina who really shouldn’t be there….

Katarina is having bad dreams that she is dead. She tries to explain this to her two lords Steven and the Doctor, but neither understand and chalk it up to culture shock from retrieving her from the time of the Trojan Wars. But there is something more to Katarina’s dreams and it is all coming to a head.

The story begins with the Doctor’s junk drawer-room where he puts all the assorted bric-a-brac that he accumulates throughout his travels. While e is entertained with a remote control car, Zoe is more concerned with a device that belongs in the console; an instrument that would alert the travelers to another vessel in the time space vortex. As she installs the device, it picks up another craft that looks hauntingly like a Police Box. The vessels collide, causing a crash landing.

After exiting the TARDIS in search of a dematerialization circuit to fix the ship, the travelers are caught up in a mass evacuation led by a very familiar face, Steven Taylor. But if Steven is here, thinks the Doctor, ‘he’ must also be here and he doesn’t remember ever travelling to this planet. Jamie is separated from the others and narrowly fends off a gang who are troubling a young woman, Katarina. Katarina is on her way to her temple and brings Jamie along as it will be a safe place from the chaos on the planet. When Jamie sees that the temple is the TARDIS wheels start to turn in his head. Is she from his future or past? How does she know the Doctor? It’s quite a quandary.

While the Doctor attempts to explain himself to Steven without giving too much away, he is interrupted by a face on a video screen proclaiming that everyone must exit the planet. The face is his, or at least it was. It’s his previous self, the Doctor.

Daughter of the Gods is an incredibly ambitious story, combining the first two eras of the classic program, something that has never been attempted before. Bringing the world of the First Doctor to that of the Second Doctor is a bit of a head spin and the two incarnations of course do not get along.

It is a delight to hear Frazer Hines and Peter Purves pull double duty as Jamie and Steven as well as the Second and First Doctors respectfully. They pull off the mannerisms and vocalizations with ease and make you yearn for this adventure to be on the small screen. What a fifth anniversary this would have been. The inclusion of the Daleks is icing on the celebratory cake and they bring the required source of menace to tale.

If you are a fan of 60’s Dr Who, this is an audio story that belongs on your shelf. It’s available for download directly from

Doctor Who – This Sporting Life

This Sporting Life
By Uma McCormack

When the Doctor, Steven, and Dodo arrive in London in March 1966, World Cup fever is already underway. But disaster has struck: the trophy has been stolen, and the police are at a loss as to who could have taken it. When someone shoves part of the trophy into Steven’s hands, the travellers become embroiled in the case...

This Sporting Life is a short story that involves the World Cup and a desperate race of aliens in need of help. The Doctor gets himself involved in the search for the cup by using a device to track down a specific kind of radiation that leads him on the trail to a goldsmith. Steven and Dodo trail along to help but it’s mainly the Doctor who must save the day and return the World Cup to its rightful place.

I’m a big fan of Peter Purves as Steven in Doctor Who. His character doesn’t get much exposure in the surviving episodes but like many companions, he has seen renewed life in audio form thanks to Big Finish. He also adds his voice to the character of the First Doctor, William Hartnell with great aplomb. Honestly, it’s like Hartnell is in the story his voice is so good.

Part of the Short Trips line, This Sporting Life is a reference to the great film that starred actor Hartnell and got him attention from the casting directors of Doctor Who back in 1963. It’s a fun little tale but the true joy in this story comes from hearing Purves narrate and supply the voice for the First Doctor.

If you are looking for an enjoyable adventure from an era that is currently lost to fans, be sure to purchase this story for download at

Doctor Who – The Beginning

The Companion Chronicles – The Beginning by Marc Platt

A delightful two hander with Terry Molly and Carole Ann Ford, The Beginning is a wonderful 50th anniversary adventure.

The story begins with the Doctor and Susan escaping Gallifrey in a rickety time capsule on its way to the vaporization chambers. They take off without realizing that there is another occupant, Quadrigger Stoyn, a technician tasked with preparing the antiquated capsule for destruction. The ship dematerializes and lands on the planet Earth in the distant past. They meet a strange race of aliens called the Archaeons. The aliens are firing red lightning at a distant moon, adjusting the development of life on the planet. The Doctor protests at this interference and the Archaeons begin dismantling the TARDIS, causing a time jump into the distant future.

Susan awakens in a lunar transport, hooked up to life support. She is recognized as an alien and given an indoctrination of the planet Earth’s history. She is in constant mental contact with the Doctor who is quite taken with the planet’s development. Eventually the two are reunited and they meet the Archaeons again who are displeased with the planet Earth’s progress. Seeing their experiment as a failure, they are determined to end the project with more of the red lightning, this time causing destruction rather than developing life.

Quadrigger Stoyn is desperate to escape the situation in the revived TARDIS but the Doctor has other plans. He cannot let what the Archaeons are doing stand.

Released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the program, The Beginning is an imaginative tale that embraces the strangeness of Doctor Who, unfettered by the budgetary restraints of the TV production. The mirror-like globular Archaeons are an interesting alien race and one that could be revisited in later adventures. Speaking of which, this is the first of three adventures featuring Quadrigger Stoyn who would return in subsequent stories. A passionate, nerve-wracked and devious Time Lord, Stoyn is a fascinating character.

Ford does a remarkable job at narrating and providing the voices for Susan and the Doctor throughout the story. She captures her time on the program perfectly. Likewise Molloy is incredible as always playing the character of Stoyn. I had enjoyed his time on the program as Davros, but he shines here. If you are looking for an unusual story set in a previously unexplored era of the Doctor Who mythos, The Beginning is a great choice.

The Beginning is available for free at for the week. A new story will be available each week.

Doctor Who explores the Web Planet and meets the Zarbi

The Web Planet

DrWho_Hartnell_WebPlanetStory 2.05
Written by Bill Strutton
Transmitted 13 February 1965 to 20 March 1965

Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction TV series. A cult phenomenon today, it was transmitted to over 80 countries back in the 1960’s and revered as a unique program combining the elements of fantasy, high adventure and sci-fi. In comparison to the series as it stands today, Doctor Who was geared as an educational program for children back when it first aired with entertainment a secondary concern or means to an end.

Sydney Newman’s team of writers performed extensive research before the first script was even commissioned. But in its second year, Doctor Who was a runaway hit (thanks in large part to the popularity of the Daleks).

Celebrating its 52nd anniversary this week, I decided to take an in-depth look at an often-forgotten adventure, the ‘one with the giant insects.’ Not just overlooked, the Web Planet was believed to be lost until prints were discovered in the 70’s.



Bill Strutton’s script came at a time when Doctor Who was very experimental and looking to stretch its creative muscles. Some say that The Web Planet was too ambitious and given the thrown together nature of some episodes (such as an entire race of grubs introduced to extend the story some more) in comparison to the inspired brilliance of others, I am inclined to agree.

Director Richard Martin, who had previously worked with the Daleks in their first televised appearance, excels at crafting bizarre captivating alien worlds. The costumes designed by Daphne Dare who worked on over 87 episodes of Doctor Who are outstanding. Additionally, the music (performed on glass tubes) is otherworldly and the camera effects make the studio filming unique. All of these creative factors combine to produce an adventure that stupefies the viewer and demands to be watched. This is a classic that does indeed push the boundaries of what Doctor Who can accomplish.

However… it’s all a bit of a mess.

The TARDIS crew arrive on Vortis after a fun romp in ancient Rome. The Doctor and Ian don what appear to be designer atmosphere suits and explore the planet while the TARDIS is hijacked by an unknown force and dragged across the lunar-like terrain.

They are soon drawn into a battle between the butterfly people called Menoptera and the ant people called Zarbi. Things get weird when it is revealed that the Zarbi are only operating under the control of a disembodied evil consciousness called ‘the Animus,’ represented by a tangled mass of tendrils and a creepy voice.

The plot stumbles along through SIX episodes with some truly hilarious (though unintentionally so) moments such as William Russell struggling to act with William Hartnell who is at a loss for his lines (bless the man, I know he wasn’t well but this occasion is a side-ripper in which Russell just stares at the elder actor saying “Hmm?” several times), a rogue Zarbi who rams headlong into a camera and a giggling crew member who interrupts a dramatic cave-in. I can just imagine the cast wondering aloud ‘What are we doing??!!’ Having lost his patience, Hartnell even calls out the absurdity of the situation, referring to a communication device as a ‘hair dryer.’

All that accepted, I have to admit that I have a great fondness for the Web Planet. It explores the fantastical side of children’s entertainment and sure, the giant ants are goofy but the Animus is spine-tingling. The cast is (with some exceptions) in fine form and the Menoptera are just awe-inspiring. Hardly as graceful as a butterfly, but fascinating.


To make matters more interesting, the Animus is one of many disembodied evil entities called the Great Old Ones who survived the death of a previous universe. The pantheon of Great Old Ones include the Great Intelligence, the Fendhal, Fenric, the Nestene Consciousness and the Celestial Toymaker (check out this amazing resource for more in-depth information). See what you can do with a presumably silly idea and some imagination? Make it akin to HP Lovecraft’s mythology.

In case you’re wondering why anyone would be even remotely interested in this story, keep in mind that it had the highest viewing figures of the program in the 60’s with 13.5 million tuning in. Yes, the Zarbi gave the Daleks a run for their money back in the day. Writers were so enamored by the killer ants that the Doctor returned to Vortis six more times in other guises.

Given current leading man Peter Capaldi’s fondness for the classics, don’t be surprised if you see a return trip to Vortis in the near future. And after reading this, you’ll be in the more-informed cool kid club.


The Fifth Doctor Who returned to the Web Planet in this Big Finish audio adventure.


The Zarbi and Menoptera appear in the Dr Who comic strip


Doctor Who and the Web Planet book cover for Portuguese release

Early draft of the Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet script reveals surprising details

A glimpse of the animated Cybermen from the Tenth Planet DVD

A glimpse of the animated Cybermen from the Tenth Planet DVD

Due for release on DVD this year, The Tenth Planet is one of the most important of classic stories as it introduced the Cybermen and also the very concept of regeneration (then hardly detailed at all and even referred as rejuvenation by some). Acting as the scientific adviser to the program at the time, author Kit Pedler created the Cybermen as a statement on humanity’s reliance on technology as it progressed into a new age.

The Tenth Planet depicted the invasion of a race of beings from Earth’s twin planet Mondas, a world that was previously hidden on the other side of the sun until it was piloted to Earth in order to drain it of energy. The Cybermen are very primitive and at the creepiest here, cobbled together by spare human parts and mechanical enhancements. It is interesting to note that Pedler’s initial script would have built on the Cybermen’s need to transform human beings into cybernetic units in order to continue their dying race. This later became more evident, especially in the Tomb of the Cybermen in which the iconic line ‘you will be like us’ became coined.

An upcoming book on Kit Pedler will delve deeper into the Tenth Planet’s origins and the paths not taken. Here is an excerpt from the excellent website


I found this script and two more from ‘The Moonbase’ (known then as ‘The Return Of The Cybermen’) among a very large collection of Kit’s papers which one of his children had kept in their attic .As I looked through it, I realised it was the first draft [script editor and co-writer] Gerry Davis prepared when Kit fell ill in June 1966.
The structure is more or less the same, though a lot of the dialogue is different. Some things were cut, especially involving the Cybermen. For example, the Cybermen planned to convert [companion] Polly and the Doctor into Cybermen towards the end of the story, and kept them prisoner in what they described as a waiting room. The most eye-catching difference is what didn’t happen at the end of the episode.

The Quest For Pedler by Michael Seely is scheduled for release early in 2014. Further details can be found at, or you can pre-order from Amazon for just £19.99

Available from Amazon:

Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet TP

Doctor Who, Story 29: The Tenth Planet DVD

Doctor Who: Cybermen

The First Doctor Handbook

Watching Doctor Who – Galaxy 4

The Aztecs Special Edition DVD arrived in the post today. Why am I excited about a story that I have already watched several times over?

Because of the enhanced audio and video as well as the astounding extras including a documentary on Doctor Who toys and collectibles called Beyond the Celestial Toyroom and this superb gem… a restored version of Galaxy 4.

(full review here)


(Galaxy 4 art from Nick Giles)

One of the many incomplete stories, a casualty of the BBC Archive junking back in the 1970’s, Galaxy 4 is missing almost all of its four parts. Using small clips of the remaining material, computer generated imagery and the recently discovered third part entitled Airlock, fans can now watch a story from 1965, an era when the program was at its most inventive and strange (featuring the comedic Myth Makers, the epic 12 part The Daleks’ Master Plan, the historical The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve, and the musical western Gunfighters). I enjoy nearly all of Doctor Who, but I have a soft spot for this era, especially as the Big Finish audio range has fleshed out the period with new stories.

I have read the Target novelization and listened to the audio CD, but actually watching this story is a delight. The script by William Emms is very basic compared to many other stories. The Doctor and his companions arrive on an alien world on the brink of destruction. Two warring factions are pitted against each other, the Drahvins and the Rills. The Amazonian Drahvins are a constructed warrior race led by the coldly cruel Maaga. They continually describe the Rills are monstrous and deadly, which the Doctor finds rightly suspicious. The Drahvins squad are childlike with barely any thoughts or personality of their own.

When a Rill is finally revealed, it is a horrifying sight that must have gotten viewers scrambling for the back of the couch. Yet, typical to form, the Rills are the benign aliens while the beautiful if cruel Drahvins are the true monsters. The Doctor has very little time to assist the Rills before the planet explodes while the Drahvins attempt to destroy the weird aliens once and for all.

The big take away from Galaxy 4 are the cute and bizarre robotic servants of the Rills nicknamed ‘Chumblies’ by the Doctor’s young companion Vicki. Bernard Lodge’s sound effects are so evocative that the Chumblies are not just another silly Dalek replacement attempt, but have a truly weird dreamlike quality. The story is reminiscent of the Web Planet, another adventure that divides fans due to its sheer oddness and child-like fantasy qualities.

Galaxy 4 was a ratings winner back in the day, attracting between 9 and 11 million viewers each episode. A story that is mostly overlooked by even the most devoted of Whovians, it is once more back in the hands of the fan community to be judged once more. We may never get the opportunity to view Galaxy 4 in its entirety, but the people at 2 Entertain have painstakingly created a unique opportunity to step back in time to 1965 and watch a rare relic of the past.


Doctor Who: The Aztecs – Special Edition

Doctor Who: Galaxy Four [Hardcover]

Doctor Who: Galaxy 4 (BBC TV Soundtrack)

The First Doctor Handbook

Doctor Who: The Web Planet

Animated Doctor Who Tenth Planet gets special Australian preview

The most iconic episode of Doctor Who (after the introduction of the Daleks) is the changeover from William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton in ‘The Tenth Planet.’ The four part adventure set in a secluded polar base under siege from strange cybernetic aliens is a classic in its own right, but the final part includes a moment that would go down in TV lore when lead actor Hartnell fell to the floor of the TARDIS and was fazed out of existence via a video effect, leaving an entirely new face on the screen.

(full article on The Tenth Planet here)

Sadly, all but a few short clips still exist in the BBC vault from this story, but shortly fans will have the opportunity to review this adventure in its entirety thanks to a new process of animating the missing episode. This will mark the second incomplete story to be released on DVD with animated segments filling in the gaps (Invasion and Reign of Terror being the other two). If this avenue is explore more fully, there are many more incomplete stories that could once more see the light of day and gain exposure to a new audience!

I only just learned that surviving clips and part three of Galaxy Four will be included in The Aztecs Special Edition (only the existing parts, no animated sequences), so it is an exciting time for fans of classic Doctor Who!

Currently, there are 106 missing episodes from 1963-69, mainly impacting the run of Patrick Troughton who played the Doctor from 1966-69.

DrWho_HartnellThe following stories from the First Doctor era starring William Hartnell are still incomplete: Marco Polo, The Reign of Terror, The Crusade, Galaxy 4, “Mission to the Unknown”, The Myth Makers, The Daleks’ Master Plan, The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve, The Celestial Toymaker, The Savages, and The Smugglers


(click to visit artist hansbrown-77’s deviantart page)

From the Second Doctor era starring Patrick Troughton, these gems are lacking material: The Power of the Daleks, The Highlanders, The Underwater Menace, The Moonbase, The Macra Terror, The Faceless Ones, The Evil of the Daleks, The Abominable Snowmen, The Enemy of the World, The Web of Fear,  Fury from the Deep, The Wheel in Space, Invasion and The Space Pirates.

Even more exciting news is that The Ice Warriors may be next in line!


(full article on The Ice Warriors here)

Via DoctorWhoNews:

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Australian fans attending Whovention: Gold this weekend were fortunate enough to see a world premiere preview of the animated fourth episode of the forthcoming The Tenth Planet DVD.

To rounds of very enthusiastic applause, a warm and appreciative crowd saw clips from the animated episode, during panels hosted by Dan Hall (Pup Ltd and commissioning editor of the Doctor Who DVD range) and Austen Atkinson of Australian based animation company Planet 55 Studios. During the panels a number of animated clips were shown, including the famous William Hartnell regeneration scene (see images below) and other behind the scenes material. Video from the animated episode will be available next week on  Fans reacted very positively to the material, as well as to queries from Dan Hall as to whether more missing episodes should be subject to similar animation in the future. Mr Hall noted however that while the existing business model for BBC Worldwide DVD releases did not currently allow more than two episodes a release to be animated that future options for allowing the release of more animated material may become more feasible at some later stage.

Also featured on the panels were Planet 55 Studios animators Colin BennettJosh Campbell & Chris Chapman who discussed the painstaking hours of work required to recreate the missing episode of The Tenth Planet as well as the two animated episodes from the newly restored Reign of Terror DVD. Austen Atkinson confirmed that work on the animated Tenth Planet episode was likely to be completed in the next month with the DVD release due in the second half of 2013. Dan Hall also confirmed that an announcement on whether the missing episodes of the forthcoming The Ice Warriors DVD would be similarly animated will be announced in the near future, also on

Doctor Who – The Tenth Planet part four gets animated

In its third year, Doctor Who was running into a few problems. Several change overs in the cast and production crew along with the ailing health of the lead actor William Hartnell threatened to accomplish what several monsters and mad scientists failed to do, destroy Doctor Who forever.

However, an inspired decision was hatched that prolonged the program’s life by replacing William Hartnell with another actor playing the part of the Doctor. Previously, there was some thought of replacing Hartnell earlier in another adventure, The Savages, but that came to pass. Instead, a story was written in which the Doctor defended a polar military base from alien attack at the cost of his own life. At the conclusion of the fourth part, William Hartnell underwent a bizarre transformation and arose as a new man. Actor Patrick Troughton was cast as the second Doctor (a move that even Hartnell himself supported).


(for my full article on The Tenth Planet, click here)

Due to the loss of many classic episodes of Doctor Who, all but a few clips of the Tenth Planet’s final part exist, robbing fans of the most important moment in the program’s history. All of that will change when later this year this adventure will be released in is near-entirety with an animated finale.

Via DoctorWhoTV:

The Tenth Planet is to have its lost fourth episode animated for a new DVD release, BBC Worldwide has announced.

Commissioning editor of the classic DVD range Dan Hall spoke about the news at the Gallifrey One convention this weekend.

He said: “It’s a real thrill to be bringing such an iconic Doctor Who episode back to life. Without the events established in The Tenth Planet episode 4, there would be no Doctor Who as we know it!”

The missing episode features the departure of First Doctor, William Hartnell. It has been missing from the BBC Archives since the mid-1970s, and will be reconstructed using the same Thetamation process used to recreate The Reign of Terror episodes 4 and 5.

The DVD will also feature a special making-of featurette called ‘Frozen Out’ that tells the full story of the arrival of the Cybermen and the first regeneration.

The exact release date is still to be confirmed, but is expected late 2013.

Doctor Who and The Planet of the Giants

‘The Planet of the Giants’

Story 009
Written by Louis Marx, directed by Mervyn Pinfield and Douglas Camfield
Transmitted: 31 October – 14 November, 1964

A man is murdered to cover the secrets of a pesticide and its deadly side effects. The TARDIS malfunctions and becomes miniaturized in the middle of the situation. If the dangers of a country garden and common kitchen fail to kill the travelers, the deadly DN6 could spell certain doom for not just them but all of humanity. The Doctor and his friends must use all of their cunning to expose the conspiracy surrounding the pesticide and survive the experience of being shrunken in size.

An unusual tale at the time, Planet of the Giants is a clever story told on two levels; one in which two men endeavor to cover up a murder and forge certification for a deadly pesticide and the other in which our heroes survive a bizarre experience. The two threads meet in the conclusion as the Doctor and friends become instrumental in the exposure of the plot, and also manage to restore themselves to their proper size. Its part Incredible Shrinking Man, part suspenseful eco-thriller.

The story deals with the nefarious dealings of industrialist Farrow and his attempts to force his pesticide DN6 through to the market. When a government representative makes it plain that he intends to squash his plans, Farrow murders him and entraps his business partner Smithers in the act. The murder is witnessed, in a fashion, by the reduced TARDIS crew, who perceive the attack as a cannon explosion. They also encounter a number of indications of the full power of DN6 as they travel through the garden and find it all but lifeless.

The Planet of the Giants has much in common with The Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, a cautionary tale spotlighting the dangers of DDT. It also has a genesis tracking back to the seminal days of Doctor Who. When Doctor Who was in its earliest stages, the first adventure was to revolve around the time/space travelers being shrunken, after a brief encounter in Totter’s Lane. The craft was to have malfunctioned and placed the crew at the mercy of everyday pests as the struggled to cross through a conventional home. When this was judged as far too costly, the idea was shelved, but it would return a year later.

The story goes that script editor David Whitaker was taken with the idea of shrinking the Doctor and tried to reintroduce the concept several times. The end result from Louis Marks was not just a science fantasy, but also functioned on a much more sophisticated level, displaying the dangers of DN6 visually as the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan fought off insurmountable odds only to be almost done in by a man made threat. The very real danger that was posed by industrialists looking to make a fortune at the expense of the health of the planet and its people is well represented here.

In 1964, the program was on the edge of cancellation or some other drastic action as Carole Ann Ford had decided to leave and the three remaining cast members were making demands. The Beeb was considering the possibility that they were all replaceable, but lucky for us all producer Verity Lambert succeeded in charting the course to a successful second series. What was intended as a four parter was reduced at the last minute to three parts with episodes three and four heavily edited down to one. However, that situation has since been rectified.

Released on DVD this year, The Planet of the Giants received the five-star treatment. Surviving cast members Carole Ann Ford and William Russell were joined by Katherine Mount as Jacqueline Hill and John Guilor who practically raises William Hartnell’s voice from the grave! The missing third episode is recreated using stills, footage from the program and computer generated imagery. It’s very strange, but an audacious attempt to do something new. Directed by Doctor Who enthusiast Ian Levine, it is a very special feature that adds a certain amount of luster to the program.

The Planet of the Giants is often overlooked by fans (including yours truly) which is frankly a crime as it is a smart adventure story with an important message. It’s rare that Doctor Who can be so relevant and entertaining at the same time while also innovative in television techniques and storytelling.

A rare gem, The Planet of the Giants is well worth a second look.


Pre-order the Dr Who William Hartnell bust

Doctor Who: Planet of Giants