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Doctor Who: ‘The Doctors The Tom Baker Years Behind the Scenes Vol 1’ review

Extensive archive interviews from the talent behind the Fourth Doctor’s era.

Doctor Who Tom Baker Years
Credit: Reeltime Pictures

The collection of archive interviews originally released by Reeltime Pictures featuring the talent behind ‘Doctor Who’ continues to grow. ‘The Doctors The Tom Baker Years Behind the Scenes Vol 1’ brings together another batch of six video interviews and convention footage across two DVDs. Each runs to just under an hour, providing over five hours of viewing in total.

These compilations are a must-have for devotees of classic ‘Doctor Who’. This set focusses on some of the major (and even minor) players in the era of the Fourth Doctor, played so memorably by Tom Baker. This period of the show remains its zenith in the minds of many fans.

The first instalment is perhaps the most precious. Not only has producer Graham Williams been dead for over thirty years, leaving us at a tragically young age, but quality interviews with him are incredibly rare. Here, he appears on stage at a ‘Doctor Who’ convention five years before his untimely death in 1990. Over the course of the in-depth interview we get a glimpse of the man behind the name at the end of the credits, which is perhaps synonymous with ‘cheap and cheerful’ 70s Who. Williams comes across as erudite, well-educated and reserved, but his jokes about working with Tom Baker land well with the audience. The picture and sound quality are lower compared to the other interviews (reflective of the technology of the era), but the pleasure is in hearing Williams’ own account of his time on the show, including both the highs and the lows.

Doctor Who Tom Baker
Credit: BBC

Next up is David Fisher, who wrote four (or should that be five? Don’t worry, his contribution to ‘City of Death’ is covered in the interview) Tom Baker stories. Unusually, he only wrote for the Fourth Doctor. Fisher talks to Nicolas Briggs in 2015, not long before his 2018 death. His recollections are interspersed with readings from the Target novelisations of his stories.

Andrew Smith is also a writer, and he was still only a teenager when he contributed ‘Full Circle’ to Tom Baker’s final season, which memorably featured the original monsters the Marshmen. This interview was captured in 2015 behind the scenes at a ‘Doctor Who’ convention. Andrew recalls how grumpy Tom Baker was in 1980, and contrasts those memories with his reunion with the jovial Baker when he was writing Fourth Doctor audio adventures.

“Costumes should be interesting and fun to look at,” June Hudson says, opening the second disc. The celebrated ‘Blake’s 7’ and ‘Doctor Who’ costume designer is well-known for her eye-catching operatic designs. Here, she recounts her whole career, including designing Tom Baker’s distinctive Burgundy look for his final season. The interview was originally released in 2006.

Doctor Who Tom Baker
Credit: BBC

The next instalment features members of the ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ team, but it’s fair to say that it focusses upon Michael Wisher, who played the original Davros. Many fans feel that his performance was never bettered. Wisher, who died in 1995, is captured attending ‘Doctor Who’ conventions in the 1980s. As with the Graham Williams interview, the quality of the recording isn’t as sharp as we’re used to these days, but it’s made up for with his fun and engaging reminiscences. In one memorable segment, Wisher appears on stage in full Davros mask. Wisher’s son Andy provides links between scenes for the original 2006 release. The archive footage also sees Michael Wisher reunited on a convention panel with Peter Miles, who played Davros’s sidekick Nyder. Dalek and Cyberman voice actor Roy Skelton and fellow actor Peter Halliday (fresh from recording ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’) also join in the fun on a humorous panel, led very much by an effervescent Wisher.

The final instalment, originally recorded at a ‘Doctor Who’ convention in 2008 and released in 2010 features four actors. The late Arthur Cox recalls working on ‘The Dominators’ with Patrick Troughton, distinguished stage actor David Weston is asked about his key role in ‘Warriors’ Gate’, David Garfield gives his memories of learning his trade in Laurence Olivier’s theatre company before his role in ‘Face of Evil’, and finally Terence Denville recollects his many small roles and contributions to ‘Doctor Who’ over the years.

These interviews, introduced by the modern day voice of the Daleks, Nicholas Briggs, are rich with nostalgia and insider knowledge for all fans of ‘Doctor Who’. It is necessary to be an uber-fan in order to understand the appeal of these insights. The lack of clips from the show will be enough to alienate casual viewers. If, however, you are steeped in the history of the show and enjoy hearing first-hand accounts of making it from those mysterious names that appear on the credits, then ‘The Doctors: The Tom Baker Years Vol 1’ is a must-have. For those of us old enough to remember the conventions from the good old days (my very first was in 1989, only a year after one on this release!) then there’s an Aladdin’s Cave of nostalgia to dive into!

Doctor Who Tom Baker
Credit: Reeltime Pictures

Cast: Nicholas Briggs, Graham Williams, David Fisher, Andrew Smith, June Hudson, Michael Wisher, Peter Miles, Roy Skelton, Arthur Cox, Terence Denville, David Garfield, David Weston Director: Keith Barnfather Certificate: E Released by: Reeltime Pictures Running time: 307 mins Release date: December 2021 Buy The Doctors: The Tom Baker Years Behind the Scenes Vol 1

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