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)" in 1975 to
watching Tom Baker pretending to be Davros, sat in the base of
a Dalek in a studio for _Doctor Who Night_ 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" 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". 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_
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)" 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_.
Fortunately, the following year Piccolo issued the book which
changed my life: _The Making of Doctor Who_. Disappointed
at first that, as the photographic cover had suggested to me,
this would be a novelisation of "THE SEA DEVILS", 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 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 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_ 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_ gave way to _A for Andromeda_ and _Adam Adamant
Lives!_ and _Counterstrike_ and _UFO_ and
_Moonbase 3_ and _Survivors_ ... 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_ 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 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_, 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_, _The Prisoner_ and so on, we did
just that, starting work on _Time Screen_ 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
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_?
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
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_ 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) 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_ 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_
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. 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
In my favourite novel, _Oliver's Travels_ by Alan Plater,
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" and "COLONY IN SPACE", 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
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.
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
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,
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
24) _The Prisoner. 17x60m colour. ITC/Everyman. ATV
Midlands tx: 29 September 1967 to 02 February 1968. Starring
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
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
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.
'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:
Wolves of Fenric
Milwaukee School of Engineering MAGE Club
Milwaukee School of Engineering Walter Schroeder Library
Return to the Articles Index
Return to the Earthbound
The High Council can be reached at email@example.com
Last Updated December 5, 2000