TV reviews

The Doctors: Heroes And Villains! – DVD Review

Having gone through each of the first eight actors to play the show’s lead role, as well as volumes themed around Heroes!, Villains!, Monsters! and More Monsters!, the latest entry in The Doctors series – named Heroes And Villains! – brings us a further collection of interviews with actors connected with the worlds of Doctor Who, albeit some perhaps more loosely than others.

Beginning in 1984, Reeltime Pictures had started releasing a series of video interviews which initially focused upon actors and production team members on Doctor Who, before then gradually expanding the range over the years to incorporate other TV shows, such as Blake’s 7, Star Trek and Babylon 5, under the moniker of Myth Makers. Recently, Koch Media has been releasing edited compilations of some of these on DVD as The Doctors range, neatly skirting round any thorny copyright issues by not using the show’s name.

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Credit has to be given to Reeltime Pictures for managing to give fans in-depth interviews with stars and crew during a period before DVD special features (or even DVDs) had been conceived of. Some of the Myth Makers releases have since become more important, due to the featured interviewees having since passed away, meaning they were never able to contribute to any value added materials for official releases of their Doctor Who stories on DVD or Blu-ray.

In the case of Heroes And Villains!, however, it does feel as though the chosen theme is rather a strained one, given the range of subjects included here and how involved they were in the show at all, let alone whether they truly fit into being either a ‘hero’ or a ‘villain’. For example, one of the people on this release is known chiefly for being an extra or supporting artist, and none of his roles in Doctor Who would really seem to qualify for either category (his omission from the front of the DVD cover is also quite telling).

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However, minor quibbles aside about the overall motif used, Heroes And Villains! brings together an eclectic and overall mostly satisfying collection of interviewees, covering much of the programme’s almost 57-year history. On the first disc are three veteran actors – Prentis Hancock, Geoffrey Beevers and the late Angus Lennie. Having been in the profession for around five decades apiece, their interviews all give a good overview of how things have changed over the years, as well as the struggles faced by thespians once they get to a certain age.

Hancock and Beevers both fit the Heroes And Villains! title well, with the former having been both good and bad guys, and the latter having portrayed the evil Time Lord known as the Master opposite Tom Baker, before reprising the role in numerous audios by Big Finish. Lennie – best known as the resident chef Shughie McFee in the soap opera Crossroads – seems a less obvious choice, having appeared as supporting characters in the show’s classic era; his interview also suffers by not having the questioner present, consequently lacking fluidity and any chance for organic chatter.

     
     
     
     

The second disc is probably the highlight of the entire set, and it opens with Shame Rimmer, one of those ubiquitous actors who you would probably know more for his face – or even voice – than  perhaps his name; Rimmer has appeared in You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever and The Spy Who Loved Me, as well as the first three Superman films, Dr. Strangelove, Coronation Street and – as the voice of Scott Tracy – Thunderbirds, so he has plenty of anecdotes to tell from such an extensive career.

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Kai Owen – Rhys Williams in spin-off series Torchwood – is a boisterous, and occasionally a bit sweary, but also deeply earnest contributor, and once he drops his guard in the form of his laddish Welsh ‘boyo’ front, proves to be engaging and extremely likeable. The final subject – Nick Joseph – might seem like a curious addition, having appeared in only minor roles in Doctor Who; however, his inclusion is actually more than justified by the tales he has to share of his extras work appearing in everything from James Bond to Star Wars and even EastEnders, proving a very affable chap indeed, along with having a deep respect of fandoms.

While maybe a little too light on Doctor Who content for the dedicated fans, and having the most tenuous attempt to try and justify its title, The Doctors: Heroes And Villains! is still a very welcome addition to the range, if not perhaps quite as fitting a swan song for The Doctors series as it appears to be. Although perhaps something of a curate’s egg, there is still plenty to enjoy here, particularly with those fans who have a broader range of interests beyond the programme.

The Doctors: Heroes And Villains! is out now on DVD.

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