TV Reviews

The Doctors: The Pat Troughton Years – Behind The Scenes Vol. 2 – DVD Review

Time and tide waits for no man, ironically not even for BBC TV’s venerable Time Lord. With the show hurtling inexorably towards its diamond anniversary jamboree in a little over 12 months’ time from now, the fugit of tempus reminds us of how many people that were part of Doctor Who’s rich history over the last six decades are sadly no longer with us.

Patrick Troughton – the second incarnation seen on screen, and the first newly-regenerated Doctor – sadly left us back in 1987, at of all places a Doctor Who convention in Georgia. Since then, we have lost a number of Troughton’s colleagues from both sides of the camera, some of whose contributions to the programme were not able to be properly charted while they were still here. Their absence from documentaries and commentary tracks is keenly felt.

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However, thanks to the diligence of fans from over the years, a number of cast and crew were able to be caught on tape for interviews or at conventions, meaning that we have video of them going on the record about their time spent working on the series. Reeltime Pictures’ DVD series – The Doctors – is a valuable source of such rarities, and in the follow-up to The Doctors: The Pat Troughton Years – Behind The Scenes Vol. 1, which came out earlier in 2022, we have another collation of invaluable material.

Vol. 2 kicks off with Derek Martinus, a director who worked on a number of Troughton tales, as well as having the rather onerous task of creating the very first transformation of the lead character, from Hartnell to Troughton, in 1966’s story ‘The Tenth Planet’, which also introduced the Cybermen. It gladdens the heart to see that Martinus had such a rich and varied career, both prior to and after his work on Who, and he has some entertaining anecdotes to regale us with about his theatrical exploits.

One of Doctor Who’s most highly-regarded directors was Douglas Camfield, who departed far too soon in early 1984. He still remains something of an enigma to fans, although a recently reissued biography has gone some way towards a redress of that. Here we see a very rare glimpse of the man himself, making an appearance at a 1982 convention, and this proves to be a fascinating insight into his career. Very early VHS footage has been spruced up as much as possible, but the opportunity which this presents far outweighs any minor technical quibbles.

A recording of a later convention panel offers us up a duo of directors – Christopher Barry and Michael E. Briant – who had worked with several Doctors across the years, including Patrick Troughton. Barry was responsible for overseeing the very first appearance of the Daleks back in 1963, and Briant worked with them later on, so the panel chat lets us compare and contrast their experiences of how they both handled the tin-plated pepperpots, Briant having the extra challenge of taking them out on location and trying to make them move in a giant sandpit.

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The second disc in the set brings us designer Barry Newbery, whose CV entries for the series would show him being there right from the very start, and was still doing his part over 20 years later. Alas, so many of the episodes which Newbery had designed have long since been wiped, but he is able to show us his own set photos, giving us a visual record of what is now sadly lost to us. It helps illustrate how much work he put into his designs, including the sumptuous historical settings that he meticulously researched and recreated in a tiny studio for low-res black and white cameras.

Another convention panel from the archives brings us ‘The Peter Bryant Team’, collecting some of the back room talent who worked under Peter Bryant, the producer that took over the reins midway through Troughton’s era. Script editor and writer Victor Pemberton and director Morris Barry share the stage with Bryant, and while this was around some 20 years out from their time on the programme, they still manage to come up with plenty of material, helping prompt each other when some of those details elude them, something which is understandable after so long.

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Finally, we have another group of talking heads, all of whom were recorded separately at a 2007 event in Gloucester, with a few actors in the mix, providing quite a nice contrast to the production team members featured elsewhere throughout this DVD set. Having mostly played more than just one role on the programme across the years, we get to hear of all their experiences of turning up at different times in its history, as well as what it was like to appear alongside Troughton, who seems to have been held in high regard.

In all, The Doctors: The Pat Troughton Years – Behind The Scenes Vol. 2 is the perfect companion piece to the previous set, and they complement each other beautifully. Reeltime really have done the legacy of the Second Doctor actor proud with these two releases.

The Doctors: The Pat Troughton Years – Behind The Scenes Vol. 2 is out now on DVD from Reeltime Pictures.

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