HIDDEN TREASURE: The Compulsion to Research _Doctor Who_

By: Andrew Pixley
02 December 2000

     The great thing about research is it's a rapid form of 
propulsion along an unknown road.  How would I have known that 
my desire for fact gathering that was starting to blossom in 
childhood would take me from watching Tom Baker's confronting 
Davros in "GENESIS OF THE DALEKS (PART 5)"[1] in 1975 to 
watching Tom Baker pretending to be Davros, sat in the base of 
a Dalek in a studio for _Doctor Who Night_[2] in 1999?
     The background to a television series can be just as 
fascinating as the show itself - occasionally even more so as 
the finished broadcast only represents the visible tip of the 
hidden production iceberg; a vast mass of aborted pilots, 
script changes and omitted scenes.  So much which can enrich 
the appreciation of viewing is hidden from sight, and it is a 
rewarding challenge to bury into obscure corners of the world 
to unearth such hidden treasures, understanding more the hows 
and whys and reasons of the production teams.
     So - context first.  This journey to the unknown began 
for me at the age of three when I watched in amazement as a 
giant silver cyborg hurled a burly space station commander 
down a corridor as "THE WHEEL IN SPACE"[3] was broadcast on 
BBC-1 in 1968; this sight of the fantastic (or the violent, 
make your own minds up) obviously appealed to something inside 
me, because other subsequent images are etched into the 
memory, notably the Doctor and his friends cautiously entering 
a city full of Daleks in the penultimate episode of "THE EVIL 
OF THE DALEKS".[4]  Soon, the more fantastic and imaginative 
television shows on offer were eagerly being devoured by this 
fledgling telephile, one of my favourites being a series from 
the commercial Thames Television called _Ace of Wands_[5]  
about a mystery-solving magician with telepathic powers ... 
akin to a junior version of _Doctor Who_.  But it was to 
Doctor Who that I returned and never left in 1971, wracked 
with concern about Jo Grant - the big sister I never had - 
being forced into a dark tunnel at the end of "COLONY IN SPACE 
(EPISODE THREE)"[6] after being separated from a new, 
different Doctor Who.
     Having heard from my parents and elder half-brother about 
the earlier days of _Doctor Who_ which I had clearly missed 
and would never see (the concept of a home video recorder 
bringing 405 line monochrome images into my living room at 
whim then being as much a science-fiction concept as the 
Daleks' time travelling capabilities), I was further 
tantalised by clips of yet an *earlier* Doctor on the long-
running children's magazine programme _Blue Peter_.[7]  
Fortunately, the following year Piccolo issued the book which 
changed my life: _The Making of Doctor Who_.[8]   Disappointed 
at first that, as the photographic cover had suggested to me, 
this would be a novelisation of "THE SEA DEVILS"[9], I 
purchased the slim tome and my seven year-old mind busily 
assimilated the details of the Doctor's past adventures.  But 
there were still no titles to them - I had been logging my own 
details of the recent shows by title in a school exercise 
book.  And then, the following year, came the show's tenth 
anniversary.  The _Radio Times_ produced a lavish tribute 
magazine[10] which illuminated my bedroom with its colour 
like dazzling gems ... and gave me a story list *with* titles.  
And since the two lists contained information lacking from 
each other, I started to fuse the two into one comprehensive 
work.  And I've not looked back.
     My desire to mine the past and record the present (oddly 
enough, the future has never excited me as much - pessimism 
maybe?) was then fuelled with my discovery of the brand new 
Doctor Who Appreciation Society[11] in 1976, and that there 
was a man *already* writing about the things I wanted to know, 
and printing the things I wanted to see.  His name was J. 
Jeremy Bentham, the head of the DWAS Reference Department.  
Then, he was a legendary and titanic name - now, he is a good 
friend.  Jeremy had clearly been down to the local libraries 
and been reading through the old _Radio Times_' (the BBC 
listings magazine) to give times, dates, names and all manner 
of other data on the old shows.  Synopses for long-past 
skirmishes with cavemen and Sensorites were being presented 
from crackling audio cassettes and fading BBC Enterprise 
brochures.  Yes, Jeremy was saying, it *can* be done.  You can 
discover what you want to know if you go and look for it.
     So, in 1979 I started to go and look myself.  Fascinated 
by Euston Films' _Quatermass_[12] serial (and, admittedly, 
losing interest in a rather juvenile _Doctor Who_ - hey, I was 
fourteen at the time), I took the bus into Sheffield city 
centre, mounted the steps of the City Library and, for the 
first time, hunched over dusty newspapers to discover as much 
as I could about the original BBC serials of the 1950s, 
attempting to unearth more data as to how these shows were 
broadcast and received at their original time of production.  
It was like finding a hoard of treasure maps, whispering of 
many wonders.  And discovering that old local newspapers with 
their television listings were available to me for 7 hours for 
the price of a 4p (about 10c) bus-ride, I started to work my 
way forward, logging shows as I went: _H.G. Wells' Invisible 
Man_[13] gave way to _A for Andromeda_[14]  and _Adam Adamant 
Lives!_[15] and _Counterstrike_[16] and _UFO_[17] and 
_Moonbase 3_[18] and _Survivors_[19] ... but all through the 
run, the Doctor was always there.
     And it was while studying in the library that I met 
another devotee - photostatting some _Blake's 7_[20] cast 
lists - who invited me along to a meeting of a new _Doctor 
Who_ local group.  They launched a fanzine, and so for the 
first time I could write about all these old shows I was 
researching - the facts plucked from soundtracks of old 
episodes sent to me from Miami, Florida after a detailed 
letter about the Dalek serials (compiled from my notes) had 
been printed in _Starburst_ magazine[21] and attracted the 
attention of a like-minded fan across the Atlantic.  And so 
the journey expanded - with my new friends I now travelled to 
theatre performances, one-day conventions and the like.  And 
when the school holidays arrived, I was now casting my fact 
net further afield; the nearby city of Doncaster beckoned me 
on its railway service to its library where copies of the 
_Radio Times_ and _TV Times_ (the independent listing 
magazine) back to 1974 offered the synopsis and cast 
information lacking from the _Sheffield Morning Telegraph_.  A 
major treasure trivia of facts!  By 1982, the _Doctor Who_ 
zine, _Steel Sky_[22], had run its course of four issues and 
we were eager to move on - after all, everyone was doing 
_Doctor Who_ fanzines by then and we wanted something with 
more meat on it, to be saying something different.  And with 
my notes to hand, and the enthusiasm of others for shows like 
_The Avengers_[23], _The Prisoner_[24] and so on, we did 
just that, starting work on _Time Screen_[25] which we 
described as 'the magazine of British Telefantasy'.
     Now it was time for university, and in 1983 I arrived at 
the gates of academia in the frozen north of Bradford ... but 
was distracted by the heaven of the City Library, offering the 
_Radio Times_ back to 1953.  A terrific find!  For the next 
four years, every spare moment was spent copying out cast 
lists, working out transmission sequences, and cataloguing 
articles.  While on industrial placement in Nottingham, a 
writing colleague who owned a car suggested a visit to 
Birmingham where complete sets of _TV Times_ were known to 
reside, providing similar coverage on commercial shows.  By 
now, vital, bulging files of archive TV information resided in 
my bedsit alongside the circuit diagrams and flow charts.  And 
through _Time Screen_, we could make the old shows live again 
with articles and episode guides to material that had been 
distant memories.
     And it was the level of detail packed into _Time Screen_ 
which led - after four years - to me receiving a telephone 
call one night, shortly after me and my newly acquired first 
degree had bought a house in Nottingham.  John Freeman, an 
editor at Marvel Comics, had been reading the detailed 
information in our semi-pro fanzine.  Would I like to come and 
inject this sort of detail into the Archive feature for 
_Doctor Who Magazine_?[26]
     I couldn't believe my luck.  The Archive features?  This 
was the key element of the magazine for me, and had been ever 
since the juvenile _Doctor Who Weekly_ in 1979 when Jeremy had 
started to work his way forward from the very first serial.  
Here was a chance to connect together all the notes I had made 
over the years and convey how the stories had been put 
constructed.
     And so it goes on.  Here, almost thirteen years later, I 
will soon have archived every broadcast _Doctor Who_ story in 
_Doctor Who Magazine_.  Four editors later, I will have 
covered all the script ideas, commissions, location filming, 
recording dates, cuts and edits and viewer reactions.  And on 
the last stage of this journey, I've been fortunate enough to 
have unparalleled access to videotapes, crew members and - 
most importantly - paperwork.  From my writings on _Doctor Who 
Magazine_, the BBC have employed me to act as consultant on 
both 1993's _30 Years in the TARDIS_[27] documentary and 
1999's _Doctor Who Night_.  The piles of paper and notes 
continue to grow ...
     So, what feeds this obsession for facts?  Naturally, this 
has changed over the years and my original fascination with 
the narrative content (monsters, force-fields, space stations) 
has been supplanted with an admiration for the skill of 
production and the fact that _Doctor Who_ was at the forefront 
of technology for so long.  Look at the way that disasters 
occurred during production.  Vital cast members fell ill, 
strikes caused the loss of studio recording, foul weather 
hampered location filming, scripts proved unworkable at the 
eleventh hour ... and yet (with one famous exception[28]) the 
ingenuity of the creative personnel was such that the show 
always made it on time as we waited by our televisions each 
Saturday teatime.  No other show of its type ran so long or 
was so complex and demanding to make.  And, deep down, no 
other show offered that warm, safe feeling, which we all get 
when remembering our favourite heroes battling the fantastic 
in top-class family adventure.
     The facts which are now in my arsenal to fight mystery, 
curiosity and ignorance come from many diverse sources ... and 
hopefully sources which will *never* run dry.  At the BBC is a 
mind-blowing cache of scripts, programme-as-broadcast sheets, 
audience reports, personnel files, production paperwork, film 
schedules and cross-indexes which, even after seven years, are 
still presenting fresh surprises.  The BFI offer other books, 
trade journals and indexes, while the National Newspaper 
Library houses periodicals great and small from across the 
country.  And then there's the people, the other researchers 
whose work has been equally as inspiring as that of Jeremy in 
the early days.  Either reading Stephen James Walker's 
chronology of the show from 1962 to 1966 in _Doctor Who: The 
Handbook - The First Doctor_[29] or studying Richard 
Bignell's unpublished but detailed location notes for the 
show's outdoor production history, I know that these are just 
two of the many people I can relate to, who aren't content to 
sit back and take from others, but have been to dusty archives 
and wind-swept quarries pursuing that elusive piece in the 
jigsaw that helps us form a complete picture of what did go on 
behind the scenes of our favourite show.
     And so we work together.  And as a team, we can achieve 
things we never believed possible, lending our own areas of 
expertise to each other's projects and making each other's 
work more comprehensive.  And in additional to the 
professional books and magazines (which finance further 
research), we can delve into quite horrific detail with 
privately published works, designed to fit the specifications 
of our somewhat anal dreams.  A couple of years back, 
unrivalled co-operation led to David Brunt of the DWAS 
Reference Department and myself assembling and publishing a 
limited edition book, _The Doctor Who Production Guide_[30] 
in which we listed every known day of production on the show 
from 1963 to 1996, with venues, tape numbers, times, dates, 
project numbers, music cues, stock footage listings ... and a 
companion volumes with cast lists down to extras and minor 
crew.[31]  Now, to me starting off as a fan in 1971, that 
really *would* have been science-fiction.  But we did it, and 
the exciting thing is there's plenty more left to do...
     And amidst all the paperwork and notes, there's always 
the pleasure of comparing the facts to the actual programmes 
to see if they fit the pattern or theory you have in mind.  
And that's a thrill in itself, coming back to something you 
saw when you were younger and appreciating it through fresh, 
more-informed eyes.  And also, knowing that, deep down, you 
still love it for the sheer fun and adventure.  No matter what 
scripts are there or juicy memos come to light, you can't do 
better than savouring the actual programme.
     And so the journey continues, rippling outwards from its 
origin of the individual.  I travel around and meet a lot of 
fans and travel around to find a lot of new facts.  The 
advances of technology allow communication around the world in 
an instant with fellow researches, many engaged in the most 
elaborate reconstructions of the missing moments of the 
Doctor's history, or producing some of the very fanzines you 
can buy.
     In my favourite novel, _Oliver's Travels_ by Alan Plater[32], 
the hero is obsessed with trivia; he cannot cope with 
the big questions of life like politics and religion, and so 
fills his mind with details of football, jazz, crosswords and 
long-forgotten music hall comics.  I can relate to that.  He 
also expouses the view that the truth in life lies down the 
back streets and the side alleys, not on the main roads.  Yes 
Mr Plater, I subscribe to that too!
     In March 1996, I traveled down to the furthest rim of the 
UK and the county of Cornwall to investigate the location 
shooting for "THE SMUGGLERS"[33] and "COLONY IN SPACE"[34], and, 
while staying there, telephoned the then-leader of the Cornish 
DWAS Local Group to see if I could meet up for a chat.  That 
was almost five years ago.  Next year, she'll become my wife.
     So you never know where your research will lead you, or 
what wonderful treasures you may find.

c Copyright Andrew Pixley, 2000.

-------------------------------------------------------------

     Andrew Pixley has a couple of excellent degrees in a 
subject which he's not in the least bit interested in any 
more, and frankly wishes that he'd got a proper job at 18 and 
left University until later on.  However, life has its 
compensations, and since 1988 he's been as happy as a pig in 
excrement writing the monthly 'Archive' pieces for Panini's 
_Doctor Who Magazine_ in which he details the production 
history of one of his favourite shows.  He's also been hired 
by the BBC to work on the anniversary documentary _30 Years in 
the TARDIS_ and the BBC-2 _Doctor Who Night_ as well as 
publishing reference works via the Doctor Who Appreciation 
Society.
     He wouldn't like you to think that he just does _Doctor 
Who_ though.  He's written about things as diverse as the old 
radio show _Journey into Space_ to the seminal wackiness of 
_Monty Python's Flying Circus_.  He's contributed to the _TV 
Times_, _TV Zone_, _Starburst_, _Dreamwatch_, _SFX_, _Music 
Collector_ and _Vulcan_ amongst others on the professional 
front, and to fanzines dedicated to _The Prisoner_, _Blake's 
7_, _The Avengers_ and the shows of Gerry Anderson on the 
other.  He's spoken at the British Film Institute and produced 
programme notes for the National Film Theatre, as well as 
contributing regularly to the BFI's _Primetime_ and having a 
monthly nostalgia column in _Cult Times_.  He also loves the 
film _The Third Man_, the novels of Alan Plater, the music of 
Tom Lehrer and his fiancee Julie very very much.

-------------------------------------------------------------

                            Endnotes:

1) "Genesis of the Daleks", _Doctor Who_ (Serial 4E).  6x25m 
colour.  Projects: 2344/7056-7061.  BBC Television.  BBC1 tx: 
08 March 1975 to 12 April 1975.  Starring Tom Baker.

2) _Doctor Who Night_.  1x130m colour.  Projects: 01/NMY 
M306N-M309W. BBC Television.  BBC2 tx: 13 November 1999.

3) "The Wheel in Space", _Doctor Who_ (Serial SS).  6x25m b/w.  
Projects: 2347/9349-9354.  BBC Television.  BBC1 tx: 27 April 
1968 to 01 June 1968.  Starring Patrick Troughton.

4) "The Evil of the Daleks", _Doctor Who_ (Serial LL).  7x25m 
b/w.  Projects: 2316/8956-8959,9068-9070.  BBC Television BBC1 
tx: 20 May 1967 to 01 July 1967.  Starring Patrick Troughton.

5) _Ace of Wands_.  46x25m colour.  Thames Television.  ITV 
Tx: 29 July 1970 to 29 November 1972.  Starring Michael 
Mackenzie.

6) "Colony in Space", _Doctor Who_ (Serial HHH).  Projects: 
2340/7048-7053.  BBC Television.  BBC1 tx: 10 April 1971 to 15 
May 1971.  Starring Jon Pertwee.

7) _Blue Peter_. 3000+x25m b/w&colour.  BBC Television.  
BBCtv/BBC1 tx: 16 October 1958 to present.

8) Hulke, Malcolm and Terrance Dicks, _The Making of Doctor 
Who_, (London: Pan Books Ltd, 1972).

9) "The Sea Devils", _Doctor Who_ (Serial LLL).  6x25m colour.  
Projects: 2340/7063-7068.  BBC Television.  BBC1 tx: 26 
February 1972 to 01 April 1972.  Starring Jon Pertwee.

10) _Doctor Who (10th Anniversary Radio Times Special)_, eds. 
Driver, David and Jack London, (London: Radio Times, 1973).

11) The Doctor Who Appreciation Society may be contacted at PO 
Box 519, London, SW17 9XW, UK.  Email: DWAS@DWAS.DrWho.Org.

12) _Quatermass_.  4x60m colour.  Euston Films.  ITV tx: 24 
October 1979 to 14 November 1979.  Starring John Mills.

13) _H.G. Wells' Invisible Man_.  26x30m b/w.  ITP/Official 
Films.  ATV-London tx: 14 September 1958 to 05 July 1959.

14) _A for Andromeda_.  7x45m b/w.  BBC Television.  BBC tv 
tx: 03 October 1961 to 14 November 1961.  Starring Peter 
Halliday et al.

15) _Adam Adamant Lives!_.  29x50m b/w.  BBC Television.  BBC1 
tx: 23 June 1966 to 25 March 1967.  Starring Gerald Harper.

16) _Counterstrike_.  9x50m b/w.  BBC Television.  BBC1 tx: 08 
September 1969 to 10 November 1969.  Starring Jon Finch.

17) _UFO_.  26x60m colour.  ITC/Century 21.  ATV Midlands tx: 
16 September 1970 to 15 March 1973.  Starring Ed Bishop.

18) _Moonbase 3_.  6x50m.  BBC Television.  BBC1 tx: 09 
September 1973 to 14 October 1973.  Starring Donald Houston.  
N.B. This series was made by the then-current _Doctor Who_ 
production team during Season Eleven.

19) _Survivors_.  38x50m.  BBC Television.  BBC1 tx: 16 April 
1975 to 08 June 1977.  Starring Carolyn Seymour et al.

20) _Blake's 7_.  52x50m colour.  BBC Television.  BBC1 tx: 02 
January 1978 to 21 December 1981.  Starring Gareth Thomas, 
Paul Darrow.

21) "Starburst Letters", _Starburst, Issue #8 (April 1979), 
21.  N.B. This letter now appears laughably inaccurate.

22) ed. Crooks, Stephen, _Steel Sky_, Issue #1 (May 1981) - 
Issue  #4 (Spring/Summer 1982). 

23) _The Avengers_. 161x60m b/w&colour.  ABC.  ABC/Thames tx: 
07 January 1961 to 21 May 1969.  Starring Patrick Macnee et 
al.

24) _The Prisoner.  17x60m colour.  ITC/Everyman.  ATV 
Midlands tx: 29 September 1967 to 02 February 1968.   Starring 
Patrick McGoohan.

25) ed. Mackay, Anthony, Paul Hickling et al, _Time Screen_, 
Issue #1 (undated: May 1984) - Issue 21 (Spring 1995).

26) ed. Barnes, Alan et al., _Doctor Who Magazine_ (and 
variants), Issue #1 (17 October 1979) to present.

27) _30 Years in the TARDIS_.  50m colour.  Project: 01/LMA 
A926X. BBC Television.  BBC2 tx: 29 November 1993.

28) "Shada", _Doctor Who_ (Serial 5M).  6x25m colour - 
unfinished.  Projects: 2349/ 2801-2806.   BBC Television.  
Unbroadcast: made in October-December 1979.  Starring Tom 
Baker.

29) Howe, David J., Mark Stammer and Stephen James Walker, 
_Doctor Who: The Handbook - The First Doctor_, (London: Doctor 
Who Books/Virgin Publishing, 1994).

30) Brunt, David, Andrew Pixley and Keith A Armstrong, _The 
Doctor Who Production Guide: Volume Two - Reference Journal_, 
(UK: Nine Travellers Publishing/Global Productions, 1997).

31) Brunt, David and Andrew Pixley, _The Doctor Who Production 
Guide: Volume Three - Cast and Crew_, (UK: Nine Travellers 
Publishing/Global Productions, 1998).

32) Plater, Alan, _Oliver's Travels_, (UK: Little, Brown and 
Company, 1994). 

33) "The Smugglers", _Doctor Who_ (Serial CC).  4x25m b/w.  
Projects: 2315/8512-8515.  BBC Television.  BBC1 tx: 10 
September 1966 to 01 October 1966.  Starring William Hartnell.

34) "Colony in Space", _Doctor Who_ (Serial HHH).  Projects: 
2340/7048-7053.  BBC Television.  BBC1 tx: 10 April 1971 to 15 
May 1971.  Starring Jon Pertwee.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Prepared for:
'Time and Space On Television' - 
A Display of Realia Related to the 
_Doctor Who_ Television Series

A display located at:
Milwaukee School of Engineering 
Walter Schroeder Library
November 23, 2000 - February 01, 2001

Display sponsored by:
Earthbound Timelords 
(http://www.bw.edu/~jcurtis)
Wolves of Fenric 
(http://www.wolvesoffenric.freeserve.co.uk/)
Milwaukee School of Engineering MAGE Club 
(http://www.msoe.edu/st_orgs/gaming/)
Milwaukee School of Engineering Walter Schroeder Library
(http://www.msoe.edu/library)

--------------------------------------------------------------


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