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4.6 out of 5 stars
Doctor Who - The Tenth Planet [DVD]
Format: DVD|Change
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on 11 October 2013
The Tenth Planet is a key story in the history of Doctor Who. It marks the departure of the original Doctor, William Hartnell, introduces the Cybermen and it is the first "base under siege" story, which would prove to be a staple of the Troughton era, particularly during season 5.

Although they would go on to menace the Doctor right up to the present day, it appears that the Cybermen were created purely as a one-off menace. Visually, of course, they are totally different from their later appearances - with their human hands, cloth covered faces and sing-song voices. On the one hand they look ridiculous, but on the other they are chilling in a way that no other Cybermen would ever be.

Soon, the Cybermen would be just another monster, their only goals being conquest and power. But in The Tenth Planet they merely want to survive - and if that means draining all the energy from the Earth in order to replenish their own planet, Mondas, then that's what they'll do. To them, this is logical, particularly if they can take the humans back to their planet and convert them into Cybermen. Why would anyone object to a life free from pain and disease? Certainly the Cybermen can't think of a reason, but the Doctor and his friends can.

Although William Hartnell didn't want to leave the show, his failing health sadly meant that there wasn't really any alternative. Indeed, a bout of illness meant that he had to be written out of episode 3 at very short notice, a particular problem given Doctor Who's treadmill-like year long production schedule.

But whatever his health issues or his feelings on leaving the part he loved, Hartnell is never anything but totally professional and rock solid. His confrontations with the Cybermen and General Cutler are particular highlights and his new companions, Ben and Polly (Michael Craze and Anneke Wills), provide him with good support.

Although the structure of the story is a little odd - the Cybermen arrive, go away for an episode, come back and then are defeated a little easily - The Tenth Planet, apart from the importance it holds in the history of Doctor Who, is a strong story in its own right, directed with assurance by Derek Martinus.

With the fourth and final episode missing since the 1970's, Planet 55 have re-created it via animation. Their work on Reign of Terror was a little controversial, but this works better and should gain more widespread approval as unlike Reign it sticks more closely to what the episode could have looked like. It's a very impressive effort with some good visual touches.

Toby Hadoke moderates with his usual skill and good-humour the commentary on episodes 1-3 (no commentary on episode 4). Joining him are Anneke Wills (Polly) and designer Peter Kindred, with a generous number of guest actors from the story - Christopher Matthews, Earl Cameron, Alan White, Donald Van Der Maaten and Christopher Dunham. Given that this story was made nearly fifty years ago, it's lovely to have so many participants on this one, particularly Anneke Wills whose love and affection for both the series, and her co-star, the late Michael Craze, still shines brightly.

Elsewhere, there's the Episode 4 telesnap reconstruction that was included on the VHS release. It may have been somewhat superseded by the animation, but it's still nice to have it included. The making of documentary - Frozen Out - has plenty of ground to cover, and is a good watch with Anneke Wills, amongst others, on hand with some interesting anecdotes. The thorny topic of Hartnell's difficult behaviour - both his racist attitudes and his general irritability - isn't shied away from, and there's also some interesting info on how the production coped with a Doctor-shaped hole in episode 3.

There's more of Anneke Wills on Doctor Who stories, which is culled from interview material shot in 2003 for The Story of Doctor Who documentary. Although it's quite short - at around 13 minutes - Wills' joy and enthusiasm make it another treat. She's been sadly under-represented on the DVDs due to the lack of surviving episodes from her time on the show, but with both The Moonbase and The Underwater Menace to come next year, I'm looking forward to spending more time in the company of Ms Wills.

Boys! Boys! Boys! sees Peter Purves, Frazer Hines and Mark Strickson chat about their experiences on the show, and is a jolly little programme. It's a pity that Strickson couldn't have been in the studio with Purves and Hines (instead he appears by satellite) but it's still a very amusing watch as Purves and Hines, in particular, bounce off each other very well.

There's another couple of documentaries, Companion Piece and The Golden Age, a nice piece of archive footage from a 1973 edition of Blue Peter, the usual Photo Gallery and PDF materials, which leaves one more little gem on this DVD - an interview with William Hartnell shot shortly after he left Doctor Who.

Filmed in his dressing room whilst preparing for a panto appearance, at times the short interview finds him in a prickly mood, dismissing pantomime as not being "legitimate theatre" for example. This is the only on-screen Hartnell interview that exists and it was only recently rediscovered - and it's wonderful to have a brief glimpse of Hartnell, the man.

So not only is The Tenth Planet a very solid story it also has a high quality package of special features that make this DVD a must buy.
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on 28 August 2013
1966's The Tenth Planet is without doubt one of the greatest acheivements of Doctor Who & Television in General. This 4 part classic is the true genesis of a television programme that is still going strong 47 years later. I have always held this serial in high regard as apart from the introduction of the Cybermen and the concept of Regeneration, this is a cracking good script from one of the greatest eras in the shows history. By this point, Innes Lloyd {Producer} and Gerry Davis {Story Editor} have ingratiated themselves fully with the ins and outs of the show, and with a great amount of intelligence and courage, they produced one of the real highlights of Doctor Who's 4th season.

Just imagine if they had said, well, Bill's had a good run and so has the show, let's can it and make another police drama series. Luckily, this was not contemplated as both Innes and Gerry had vision. Vision that has made possible a show that this year celebrates it's 50th year on British Television. And of course, we must never overlook the fact that along with the concept of renewal, Gerry Davis and Kit Pedler also came up with the second greatest villians of all time, The Cybermen. Although primitive by todays standards, the Cybermen of The Tenth Planet are probably the must unnerving purely due to their closeness to conversion. A bit of hand here, a bit of motor there. Scary stuff, even now. I can't imagine what viewers in a paranoid 60's Cold War Britain would have thought. Dear me.

At heart, the real shock of the Tenth Planet is William Hartnell. The man that created a phenomenom was slowly winding down after 3 exaustive years in a very demanding part. Over the course of the last 3 series we have laughed and loved Bill's particular mannerisms and his completely solid professional conviction. I have always said that no Doctor since Hartnell has been able to convince me as easily as Bill does the utter almost scary seriousness of the greatest part on British Television. And I don't think there ever will be. It's a testament to a great man and a great actor that the part he created thrives 50 years hence forth.

The Tenth Planet is not to be missed, it's one of the true greats of Doctor Who. New beginnings and depressing ends have created an unbelievable masterpiece.

The BBC DVD Release of this iconic serial is a thing of beauty. From the cover to the extras, the DVD is an absolute must for any fan. Of course, everybody is concerned about the new animated episode 4, and all I will say is that it is a considerable improvement over The Reign of Terror. A much more measured pace fills the void in this 4 part classic. The 2000 tele-snap recon from the VHS has been included as well, but you really have to experience this story with the animated episode. A thing of real artistic simplicity and beauty. Fair play to the boys and girls at Planet 55, I hope we see more Hartnell era work from them in the future. The Crusade wink wink ;}.

I shall list the current line up of Extra's for those like myself who are eager to know the more trivial details of a DVD release. Enjoy;

1.Frozen Out - 29:08 - Making of.
2.Episode 4 - 24:20 - 2OOO Tele-Snap Reconstruction from the VHS Release.
3.Doctor Who Stories - Anneke Wills - 13:37 - Anneke Wills on Her Time on the Show.
4.The Golden Age - 15:48 - ???
5.Boys Boys Boys - 19:31 - A Look at the Doctor's Male Companions.
6.Companion Piece - 24:23 - A Look at the Role of the Companion in Doctor Who.
7.William Hartnell Interview - 03:16 - An Interview with a Legend - Newly Found.
8.Blue Peter - 09:04 - ???
9.Photo Gallery - 03:37 - Relevant Photo's from The Tenth Planet's Production.

Overall then, this is a landmark release for a landmark story from a landmark Doctor. It simply doesn't get better than this. Except an animated Power of the Daleks, we can all dream I suppose.


Thank you.

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on 18 August 2013
The full story itself which I got on the impressive 'regeneration' box set, is basically, 'The doctor and his friends turn up at a base which is then raided by cybermen' I won't give away too much as some people may not have seen this. I am 27 so unfortunately never saw the original, but the animation for the 4th episode is really very good and as close as we will ever get to seeing the original full story(unless rumours of the last episode existing somewhere are true?) The original BBC reconstruction which was put together using stills,the original soundtrack and I believe a few short clips? is one of the extras on this set, which is a pretty good extra on its own,but you also get documentaries and the usual coming soon trailer as well as other goodies. All in all it is wonderful to have this set out and the extras are superb!!!, now I am just hoping they do the same with 'The Wheel In Space'
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on 18 August 2013
This story contains two iconic moments in Doctor Who's 50 year history, The first is the first appearance of the Cybermen created by Dr Kitt pedler to rival the Daleks in popularity and did it well as they appear in several stories from the 1st doctor to the 11th Doctor. The second is that it is the first Doctor Who story to feature the Doctor Regenerating as William Hartnell had to retire due to being very ill(his last final appearance as the 1st Doctor is the 10th anniversary story the Three Doctors).The Doctor Who team came up with the idea that the Doctor could change his appearance and the show could continue. I first saw this story when it was released on VHS video and sadly the final episode doesn't exist in the BBC archives but the regeneration scene does thanks to Blue Peter and I cannot wait to see the animated 4th episode.
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on 8 December 2014
Viewed head-on, this is deeply flawed; the narrative takes a massive dog-leg halfway through, when the central character - the Professor Challenger of the story - keels over, leaving the fight to his subordinates, until he finally revives, the general tries to shoot him, and the bad guys finally go away. Not outstanding storytelling.

Mondas is not a coherent threat; let's get this straight - it is draining energy how? There's no real answer - it's doing it by magic, isn't it? And the solution to magic is, well, more magic, which is pretty much what happens - Mondas eats too much energy and dies - it's not really thought through beyond 'keep the story going and they won't notice it doesn't make sense'.

Another problem is that the ideas are way, way bigger than the budget - this is a story of space rockets, secret bases in Antarctica, another planet, alien creatures and global disaster, and the BBC didn't have anything like the resources to spare to tell that story. While the snow set is commendable (apart from the flapping trapdoor), the control room doesn't have the scale, and nor does Wigner's office. The reactor room in Episode 4 looks the business, however.

For all that, it is a good yarn told with good spirit. While one can sardonically question the wisdom of whoever it was appointed Cutler in the first place, Robert Beatty plays him very well; I'm convinced by the man if not by the job title. The multi-ethnic crew works well, and nobody's accent seems to creak (so good to see Earl Cameron as Williams), but it's re-assuring to know there's an Englishman among them - Doctor Barclay is to be relied upon for a stiff upper lip and a well-presented cardigan - there is a particularly Quatermass-ish feel to this version of 1986.

But the stars of the show are the Cybermen - and what a design! They do look quite properly weird - other-worldly - but are they a credible threat? Not sure - I'd like to see one laugh off a machine gun - not that they do laugh, of course. For creatures governed by logic, there is a cobbled-together quality to them - and it is all credit to the performances and the direction that they're not funny. I'm not sure how logical design has produced guns that look like electric fires either.

And I like the way that when they speak, that weird sing-song Peter Hawkins/Roy Skelton voice issues from a wide open mouth with no visible articulation going on - they are menacing, but much more, just plain weird. (It's a pity that the 'Parka's they disguise themselves in do not in any way make them look like anything other than Cybermen).

The animated Episode Four is lovely (I especially like the silhouette Cybermen) but, all budgetary considerations aside, it's a story that succeeds almost in spite of its star - unwell for the first two episodes, absent for the third, and only half there for the fourth; this is not a great curtain call for William Hartnell.

'He could be a bit difficult to work with' is a refrain generally followed with 'but he was a marvellous actor' but rarely by an explanation of what made him so prickly; what emerges in The Making Of is a picture of a man enraged at Anno Domini and his own failing powers - showing off his tap dancing to Reg Whitehead comes across as maladroit at the very best - at worst peevish - and the dressing room interview shows a man untouchably convinced of his own professional prowess.

I'm glad it wasn't me working with him.
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on 18 November 2013
A very important story for obvious historical reasons; last Hartnell, 1st Cyberman story, the beginning of the Kit Pedler/Gerry Davis writing partnership & 1st regeneration. Is it a good debut for the Cybermen and a good finale for the Billster? To be honest; yes.. and no.
Pedler and Davis (both misspelled for an episode each in the opening credits)delivered a good script with a large flaw but many virtues. The tardis crew turn up at space tracking station at the South Pole (its icy wastes well created for studio and over 40 years ago) just before the appearance of a new planet from which the Cybermen arrive.
Davis the old school dramatist always believed the companions should get a lot to do and go off on their own away from the Doctor at significant moments in the story. This proved to be a virtue given Hartnell's health (absent for an episode) necessitating a rewrite. Polly gets to be the main moral voice of the story berating both Warhorse commander Cutler and the Cybermen as the occasion commands. Anneke Wills does all this brilliantly and really sells it.
Ben played by Michael Craze gets to work out how the Cybermen might be tackled and if you've never particularly noticed Craze's acting before then watch the excellent moment where he conveys disgust at having to kill a cyberman!
A great debut for the Cybermen are characterised here better than in any other story since. They are not belligerent do-badders but they just no longer have or understand emotion.
They are a lot more logical than in some appearances. They offer to save the humans from Earth's expected destruction by taking them back to their planet Mondas but are not going to force them. It will not affect their plans so they let the base crew converse with some doomed astronauts and as Polly berates them for not caring they retort;
"there are people dying all over your world yet you do not care for them!"
How many other scripts give the Cybermen a retort like that?
Now they may look naff in photos but they tower over everyone and are much more impressive moving about onscreen. The only downside is in an attempt to sound inhuman they are given voices that sound Swedish and do not create the menace intended!
FYI the trait associated with 80' stories-vulnerability to their own weapons, actually begins here.
The Cybermen show why Pedler was such a find for Who. He knew a lot of real science & could successfully blend it with a strong imagination e.g. the organic part of the Cybermen is stated here to be their brain which seems plausible but their planet is a twin planet to Earth which is pure SF imagination. He also had a sense of humour nodding at real scientific achievements good and bad by going to the opposite end of the aphabet e.g. Zeus missions instead of Apollo ones and a Z bomb instead of an A Bomb
A good base set looking nice & functional and a the guest cast has 2 standouts- Robert Beatty as the ultra ruthless Cutler and David Doddimead as the sensitive scientist Barclay. Watch also for the marvellous Steve Plytas making a lot out of a small role with Secretary Wigner.
For William Hartnell it's not the best of finale's for a couple of reasons. 1) the Doctor's role and that of his companions is important but not central they have to keep things from escalating as the main threat resolves itself. For spoiler's sakes I won't go into detail but the resolution is a big flaw in an otherwise enjoyable story. 2) This was no one's fault but due to his health he wasn't able to give a strong performance although he does manage a few good moments- asking where their emotions are is one.
The restoration work is again good, I'd never noticed you can just about make out the eyes of the Cybermen actors when I had it one VHS for example.
The same crew who animated 2 eps of Reign of Terror did episode 4 where they were able to be guided by the telesnaps ( check out the telesnap and soundtrack reconstruction made for the VHS release among the extras which also includes some filmed of the telly moments). As a result this is a much better reconstruction combining the facial expressions I believe added a lot to Reign with cutting more suited to the time this was originally made. It's improved the story no end.
The commentary with main contributor Anneke Wills amongst others-notably the 2 doomed astronauts is a good one. Earl Cammeron remembers how comfortable the spacesuits were and Anneke remembers the problems of trying to look cold in fur coat in a hot studio. Shame there is no commentary for ep4.
Frozen Out is a top notch making of doc. Anneke again is the star. She remembers the excitement of Kit Pedler ("A real scientist"), hiow the regeneration went and be warned makes no bones about Hartnell's irascibility and bigotry! Reg Whitehead is wonderfully proud of being the 1st Cyberman "others will say it's them but is isn't!"
Also the original vision mixer tells us how the 1st regenration was done with the help of animation from Quiros (Ice Warriors).
Companion piece is a free ranging look at the companion role with some classic who companions and Arthur Darvill plus some professional fans turned writers (they actually have the most interesting things to say!)
Boys, Boys Boys is the male version of the previous girls features with Peter Purves, Frazer Hines and by satellite Mark Strickson. They're all fun but Frazer is especially entertaining.
There's also some Blue Peter stuff which I think featured on the 3 Doctors releases.
I shamefully neglected to mention this when I first posted the review but there's also a rare interview with William Hartnell(*1), yes a rare opportunity to hear him speak as himself not in character. This is backstage at a pantomime he did not long after leaving Who. It starts part of the way through a discussion about Daleks ( it's explained what we get is all that remains) which Hartnell admits are difficult to work with. It's clear he wasn't thrilled to be in a pantomime and the interviewer failed to make much of a rapport with him. A good insight anyway as Hartnell tactlessly distinguishes between pantomime and "legitimate" acting, makes it clear how much he values an agent ("the last thing I want to do is talk turkey"), says he was a good singer in his youth and has no interest in dancing (interesting in light of Reg Whitehead's memory of him tap dancing in "frozen out")plus had no fears of type casting. A bit of gold dust.
I also shamefully neglected Anneke Will's Doctor Who Stories interview. She recalls enjoying her time on the show and here there are several stories you may have heard before but as ever charmingly told but also less well known anecdotes like her being on a bridge over a canal as a boat passed under occupants shouting for "Polly" to join their party!
Dominic Sandbrook's Golden Age looks at whether there was any such thing as a golden age for the Police Box Show. Of course there isn't e.g., my golden age is Tom Baker's 1st 3 years but it may not be yours. The topic is quite well explored even if the feature could have been a little longer.
An enjoyable story with a packed set of extras, recommended highly.

*1 recently rediscovered pop over to the BBC Radio 4 website to listen to the Billster's appearance on desert Island Discs
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on 6 January 2014
'The Tenth Planet' is in several ways a landmark Doctor Who story. It is William Hartnell's last Doctor Who story as a regular, it features the first regeneration and the first appearance of the Cybermen. So with all this historical significance you would expect 'The Tenth Planet' to be a gripping, action packed and satisfying conclusion to the Hartnell era. Sadly it is none of those things.

The most basic flaw is the fact the everyone in the story seems to spend ages sitting or standing around doing nothing. The Doctor, Ben and Polly get virtually nothing to do in this story (Polly is lumbered with the trivial and demeaning task of making the coffee) and perversely the Doctor is the most sidelined of the three. You get the distinct impression that wherever possible lines were given to Ben or Polly rather than the Doctor due to the exaggerated problem of Hartnell forgetting his lines.

The only way you can justify the regulars being sidelined in this way is if the guest characters were engaging and well rounded, sadly with the exception of General Cutler none of the guest characters make much of an impression.

Disgracefully Hartnell is entirely absent from episode three of this story, now I understand that Hartnell was ill that week, but given that it was his final story could they not have rescheduled the taping so that he could be present?

On a more positive note, the Cybermen look very impressive, with their human hands being very creepy and I also like their voices in this story. This is also one of the only Cybermen stories which convincingly portrays the Cybermen as emotionless creatures, their dialogue here is appropriate.

There are also some good performances, most notably Robert Beatty and Hartnell does his best with what he's given. The scenes on the south pole are well executed in a television studio.

The animation on episode four isn't great but it is adequate, personally I prefer the VHS reconstruction of the fourth episode which is included on disc one, notes appear on screen at various points to explain what is happening and so it can be more coherent than the animated version.

Once the decision had been made to replace Hartnell the production team should have given him a great Doctor story to go out on, sadly this story gives the impression that the production team merely wanted to get rid of him with a minimum of fuss. For someone who did as much for Doctor Who as Hartnell that is revolting. 'The Tenth Planet' is a poor story and a deeply unsatisfactory swansong for Hartnell.

On disc one there is 'Frozen Out' a making of documentary. This is a fairly good feature but Anneke Wills' moaning about Hartnell's alleged irascibility is tiresome. Luckily Wills does make some worthwhile contributions to the documentary when she isn't badmouthing Hartnell. There's also a detailed explanation of how the regeneration effect was achieved.

There are a lot more extras on disc 2. 'Doctor Who stories-Anneke Wills' is a feature in which Wills talks about her time on the show. It's mostly engaging but it's marred by more of Wills slagging off Hartnell (as if she hadn't dug the knife in deeply enough in the 'Frozen Out' documentary).

'The Golden Age' discusses whether there was ever a golden age of Doctor Who. It's another good extra, but it could have been far more detailed and it comes to an entirely predictable conclusion.

'Companion Piece' is about the role of a companion in Doctor Who. It's very good, there are insightful comments from the likes of Nicola Bryant, Arthur Darvill and Nev Fountain.

Sadly there are no documentaries about William Hartnell's career or his legacy in Doctor Who, there is however some very pleasing footage from an interview he did shortly after leaving Doctor Who.

Some good extras save this release from being a total disaster.
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 December 2013
William Hartnell's final Doctor Who story comes to dvd. A two disc set with the episodes and some extras on disc one, and more extras on the second.

Originally broadcast in 1966, the Tenth Planet had four twenty five minute long black and white episodes. As with a lot of the 1960's stories, this one is incomplete. But where many had episodes wiped which the BBC thought they'd never need again, the last part of this one was lent to the Blue Peter office in 1973. And it ever came back. Nobody knows what happened. Only the last moments - since they were used in a Blue Peter feature, survive.

This has two versions of part four, though. One reconstructed using the soundtracks and photos from the episode. And one using the soundtrack plus animation for the visuals. Opinions on the quality of animation are subjective, but let's just say this doesn't have the rapid editing of one recent effort, or the seemingly simple figures of another, so it shouldn't meet with any disapproval.

The Tenth Planet see the Doctor, plus companions Ben and Polly, visit a polar base in 1986. Just as a strange planet fills the Earth sky. And strange silver humanoids arrive from it. Earth's long lost twin planet has returned. And it's inhabitants want to ensure it survives. By whatever means necessary.

The Cybermen have appeared. The show, and the Doctor, will never be the same again.

The Tenth Planet has a very different feel to some of what has gone before. It tries hard to create an international setting, and does this pretty well. With people from different countries at the base and scenes from around the world. It's a prototype for the base under siege story the show would often go on to do. With monsters attacking humans at a remote location and the Doctor and friends being caught in the middle between military minds wanting to shoot first and scientists trying to stop them.

The Cybermen are very different in style to what they've been like since. They look like humans who have undergone a lot of surgery rather than brains in silver casings. They also have highly distinctive sing song voices. Which once heard are never forgotten.

William Hartnell's health of the time means he is rather immobilised for a lot of this, and absent for all of part three. With Polly being left to put the kettle on Ben [Michael Craze] has to carry a lot of the story himself. He does this superbly well. Ben being an ordinary human in an impossible situation who the moral strength and determination to do the right thing. It's a great story for him. Even if, after seeing Cybermen being gunned down and gold plated with no compunction in 1980's stories, it's strange to see people here get broken hearted about having to hurt them.

A memorable story for the style, the setting, the monsters, and an ending which defined so much of what to come. It's worth five stars.

The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English.

Subtitles: English.

It's also English audio captioned.

Disc one also contains:

A commentary from a lot of the cast plus one of the crew.

The radio times listings for the story as a PDF file.

A photo gallery of stills from the story and it's production.

A trailer for an upcoming release in this dvd range [in this case the second Doctor story the Moonbase].

Production information subtitles.

And a making of documentary. This one runs for twenty eight minutes. A lot of this is reminiscences from Anneke Wills, who played Polly. She is a very good interviewee with lots to say about the story and her working relationship with William Hartnell so this is very good viewing. She and other interviewees do paint an interesting picture of a man who clearly had a lot on his mind and a lot of mood swings.

Disc two has:

An interview with William Hartnell. Three minutes worth of recently found footage from a local BBC programme who interviewed him when he was in panto later in the year. Not all the interview survives, and some of it lacks any sound. But as pretty much the only interview there is with him from the time, it's fascinating viewing.

There's also:

Doctor Who stories: Anneke Wills. This is more footage shot for a 2003 documentary on the show. It runs for twelve minutes. As with the making of, she's a very good interviewee with lots to say so it's a good watch.

Boys, boys, boys. Runs for eighteen minutes and follows the style of other extras on recent releases in getting companion actors together and letting them chat about their experiences. In this case it's male actors though. Thus Peter Purves, Frazer Hines and Mark Strickson are allowed to reminiscence for eighteen minutes. The loose format of this does allow for some good chat.

Companion piece runs for twenty five minutes and has actors - from the old and new series - who have played companions talk about their experiences and why the show needs such characters. The fast pace of this makes for an entertaining watch.

The Golden Age runs for fifteen minutes and is just one person talking to camera, on how people perceive different eras of the show to have been better than others. And how the memory cheats. This is thought provoking viewing and well argued making it well worth a watch.

Blue Peter is the piece Blue Peter did on Doctor Who in 1973 to celebrate Doctor's Who tenth year. It runs for nine minutes and will appeal to those who grew up on the programme.
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on 10 January 2015
The Tenth Planet has a reputation that will always be hard for it to live up to - the first Cybermen! The last 1st Doctor story/First regeneration story!

The story just isn't much cop though. It's a tedious base-under-seige story with forgettable supporting characters and a distinct lack of William Hartnell (he was presumably sick during the filming of this as he is absent for a significant amount of the story). No witty dialogue; not a particularly amazing plot. This story gets its fame from it's importance in the show's history rather than its own merits. As a good piece of drama it deserves faint praise at best.

The Cybermen aren't exactly poorly realised - I normally try to defend them as intended to be bizarre rather than frightening. But they do sound a lot like Peter Sellers' Bluebottle voice from The Goon Show. The concept of the Cybermen is really interesting, but their role in the plot once their concept has been explained is to behave like routine bad guys for the rest of the story.

It's still an enjoyable enough watch - the missing 4th episode has been very well reconstructed using animation as has been done with certain stories since The Invasion. This divides opinions with some people, but as long as the animation is of a good quality I think it's a great way of making the surviving soundtracks come to life.

So The Tenth Planet is probably a story I would categorize as being for completists only. If you watch the story on its own terms and try to forget about its subsequent reputation as a game-changer, it keeps chugging along being just about interesting enough to hold the attention. If you're new to Doctor Who or are curious about trying some Hartnell/Cybermen for the first time I definitely wouldn't recommend this one as it is not representative of either. Watched in the 21st century it's more of a curate's egg.
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on 1 October 2013
NOTE TO AMAZON CUSTOMERS: This preview is based upon the Press Review copy supplied by BBC DVD on 1 October 2013.

It's 14 October 2013 and Christmas has come early, as BBC DVD releases a treat that will beguile and fascinate DOCTOR WHO fans worldwide.

It may not contain electro-deletion at the touch of their metal-cased hands, or delectable self-controlled limbs that can attack the unwary and nor displaying an ability to move at a sub-quantum speed, but DOCTOR WHO - THE TENTH PLANET does introduce the half-flesh, half-mechanical Cybermen to an unsuspecting 1965 viewing audience and, now, to an appreciative & new following eager, in this 50th anniversary year, to comprehend why the drama series is so enduring.

Certainly, in DOCTOR WHO - THE TENTH PLANET we have what could have been the beginning of the end for BBC 1 family-orientated programme as its lead actor leaves, or could have been the sparks that would re-energise it. Thankfully, it was latter, and not since 1963 when the series came so close to being cancelled after the recording of AN UNEARTHLY CHILD's `pilot', was the series mired with such doubt. Was the conceit of `reincarnation' going to be accepted by millions of viewers?

This DVD release recounts the momentous changes that the series uncontrollably had to deal with, and it's a fascinating story and told in DOCTOR WHO - THE TENTH PLANET in an accomplished manner. And, of course, the release contains a true `previously-thought-lost' gem; an on-screen interview with William Hartnell. Truly, it is Christmas.

Disc One highlights:

In FROZEN OUT - THE MAKING OF THE TENTH DOCTOR the cast & crew recall the pressure of the Ealing soundstage filming as it doubled for blizzard-ridden Antarctic, the casting of multi-cultural personnel for the subterranean base (which irritated the programme's lead actor, it seems according to Anneke Wills: "Bill had a real block about coloured people. Michael Craze and I were ashamed for Bill". Whilst Earl Cameron, playing Astronaut Williams, praised the story's director for "...casting a black actor at the time was very futuristic..."), the design of the Cybermen and, of course, the conceit of `regeneration'.

Throughout SEASON THREE, there was an exodus of viewers watching the series and its Producer, Innes Lloyd's view was that it only had a chance to continue if William Hartnell left it and a method to allow the re-casting of the lead character could be designed. FROZEN OUT demonstrates the ingenuity of the production team of 1966, especially the set designers & costume makers, to re-create the sub-zero environment of an isolated community and the unnerving flesh-biomechanical aliens, whilst being supported by its Director, Derek Martinus. Described as "...an insightful director...", his calmness under pressure to meet unacceptable deadlines and budgets was the glue that, as Designer, Peter Kindred suggests "...held us all together." One of the most heartening contributions comes from THE TENTH PLANET's Vision Mixer, Shirley Conrad, who had the unenviable task in creating the `regeneration' process on-screen. Admitting that they (the production team) were "...trying things..." to create the unique television moment but were thankful that both actors' "...cheekbones matched..." whilst Anneke Wills thought "...it was bloody magic..." and it was "...a lovely thing going down in history..."

The EPISODE FOUR VHS RECONSTRUCTION is as thrilling & exciting as the ANIMATED version, and is recommended for viewing before watching the latter.

Disc Two highlights:

Still in his fifties, Hartnell agrees to an interview with local BBC broadcaster, Roger Mills of Taunton's POINTS WEST (broadcast on 17 January 1967) as he appears as the character, Buskin, in PUSS IN BOOTS, and, as he's renowned for his `grumpiness' the interview could have been a disaster from the start. However, if you watch it a number of times, you will observe a professional intensity in his choice of words and behind his eyes that belies a more resigned, consolatory matured actor (and that's all he was; an actor) who has nothing to prove, nothing to be shameful of and, as such, possess a refreshing openness (none of the `luvviness' that the acting profession can regurgitate on hearing "Action"!") that it may surprise (some) fans.

Interviewer: Do you think you'll ever shake it (DOCTOR WHO's The Doctor) off?
With honesty and with inner belief, William Hartnell: Oh, yes. By being a success in something else. That's the actor's job. I don't like anything (acting roles) `blue' or salacious or `suggestive'. I'm not that type of actor.


Interviewer: Is pantomime something you'd like to continue doing in the future?
Assertively, William Hartnell: Ooh, no, no, no, no, no.
Interviewer: Oh, why not?
William Hartnell: Well, I'm a legitimate actor. Pantomime is for the sort of person who is used to variety and going on the front of the stage, but I'm a legitimate actor. I do legitimate things.

And, if you've seen Hartnell in BRIGHTON ROCK and THE SPORTING LIFE, quite right too. A legitimate actor who had potentially risked his reputation and career on a teatime series for the BBC, but only a `legitimate' actor would have succeeded in the role.

Whilst the interview is brief, and it is a Billy Hartnell that we, fans, may not have seen before - a scrawny middle-aged actor, dressed in a t-shirt, attending to his own stage make-up - it does impart that he is not the officious & overbearing, often bumbling & forgetful, lead actor that his co-stars frequently configured him to be.

In this lost interview, the myth that is William Hartnell may be (thankfully) broken but the enigmatic spell that he cast remains as possessive and enduring as ever, and without whom the series may have withered without reaching episode five, desiccated on the floor of Lime Grove Studios.

Interviewed in 2003, DOCTOR WHO STORIES - ANNEKE WILLS effervesces with a joyous love for the drama series even though "...my entire career was wiped...", as former companion, Polly, Anneke regales viewers with previously undisclosed memories from her short time (only 32 25-minute episodes) working alongside both Hartnell and Patrick Troughton.

On the initial casting for Polly, Anneke Wills: My eyelashes were longer than my (mini) skirts. They wanted a `dolly-bird'.

Candidly, she reveals the attempts to "...cotton wool..." Bill Hartnell to stop him from being as irascible so much, and how it "...was a relief to have Pat Troughton marching into the rehearsal room with a big grin and saying, `The fun starts here!'..."

On leaving the series, Anneke Wills: Better leave now...at that time, you do get typecast.

Scripted by Simon Guerrier and narrated by Dominic Sandbrook, THE GOLDEN AGE is, in effective, an on-screen essay surmising if there ever was a `golden age' of DOCTOR WHO, and, if there was, when was it and how can it be tangibly defined. Admittedly, the first words from Sandbrook are "...taste is objective..." which is probably good indication of the documentary's intent and goal. Nothing more than an on-screen `blog' that would more at home on YouTUBE than on a BBC DVD release, or on a fan website. With the aid of series' clips, media coverage and official documentation, Guerrier's message is succinct; there is a `golden age' for the series but it is dependent on whom you talk to and when. "It's not the show that's changed, it's the critics". Sadly, the documentary is the fast food hamburger equivalent of a `pickle'; it's there to bulk up the main event and, as such, you can take it or Frisbee it into the nearest waste bin.

BOYS BOYS BOYS could be subtitled as "Testosterone Testaments", drawing on the experiences of Peter Purves, Frazer Hines and, via satellite, Mark Strickland as companions of the iconic Time Lord from the 1960's and 1980s, and an entertaining & informative affair it is, though I wonder if Matthew Waterhouse remains sitting cross-legged in his hallway waiting for the RSVP Invite to drop onto his door-mat? Would four male companions in a single documentary have been too much? Nevertheless, the trio discuss working with their appropriate Doctor, the limitations of being a `male companion' and their exit strategies.

On filming his debut story, THE HIGHLANDERS, and joining as a regular character Frazer Hines: I had already filmed me (as Jamie) waving goodbye to the Doctor at Frenchen Ponds. I had to go back and re-film it again.

On being Turlough in DOCTOR WHO, Mark Strickland: (it was) gold-plated family entertainment.

On not being a famous for the role back in the 1960's as he is now, Peter Purves: ...not cult of celebratory...

On leaving the series and attempting to secure the next acting role, Peter Purves: You didn't have the kudos.

Similar in its content is COMPANION PIECE, in which, yes, former companions including Arthur Darvill fresh from his suicide dive from a New York apartment block (DOCTOR WHO - THE ANGELS TAKE MANHATTAN - 2012) who admits straightaway that being cast as Rory Williams he didn't "...think I'm playing a sex symbol..." With punctuation from a professional Psychologist, DOCTOR Who writers and actors assess how the inherent motivation of a companion/assistant to the Doctor is one of an `addiction' lifestyle (as 2005's SERIES ONE's broadcast teaser-trailers announce; "Do you want to come with me?") when compared to `normality'. It's a fascinating bottom-line and, if you compare it then to `fandom', it's too close to the unexpected truth; DOCTOR WHO is an addiction and subliminally it promotes it like the NEW NEW YORK Dealers of illegal Mood Patches in DOCTOR WHO - GRIDLOCKED (2007).

The 10th anniversary of DOCTOR WHO is celebrated by the perennially-supportive BLUE PETER with nefarious clips and a brief summary of the drama series to date (1973).

As ever, the DVD is complimented with Pdf material from the RADIO TIMES, the extensive & excellently researched on-screen INFORMATION TEXT, comprehensive PHOTO GALLERY and a COMING SOON TRAILER for DOCTOR WHO - THE MOONBASE.

Overall, DOCTOR WHO - THE TENTH PLANET is genuinely rewarding for its fusion of story-focussed content and tenuously-linked featurettes that, to be honest, could be issued on any CLASSIC SERIES release.

However, this BBC DVD release in many ways echoes the charismatic & facetted nature of series that we first witnessed, open mouthed, on 23rd. November 1963 as the two unsuspecting yet earnest school teachers barged their way into the lives of two space:time travellers, and with DOCTOR WHO - THE TENTH PLANET, in a way, we see the end of that story as the Doctor dies and is reborn anew.

The drama series that we know it today embraces that period (effectively, the three years of the William Hartnell era), and it's founded on the same principles, vision and philosophy, and without DOCTOR WHO - THE TENTH PLANET, who knows, the drama series would have merely been a broadcasting footnote.

For DOCTOR WHO fans, 2013 has been an outstanding time for exceptional BBC DVD releases, and if you were to buy just two this year, along with superlative Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space (Special Edition) [Blu-ray], DOCTOR WHO - THE TENTH PLANET should be an overriding choice.
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