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Revisiting Jon Pertwee’s era of ‘Doctor Who’

Although the Pertwee era is consistently entertaining television, it peaks early

There are no embarrassing special effects in the whole of Season Seven. One or two wobbly ones, maybe, but not any that make you wince with shame. Season Eight announces itself with a smorgasbord of CSO (blue screen fake backdrops) that would, alas, become a staple of the show for the next decade. But that’s to get ahead of ourselves. It also marks the introduction of the brilliant Roger Delgado, who provides three years of solid service as the Doctor’s charming nemesis, the Master. It’s hard to pick a dud story out of Pertwee’s second season, but it’s also hard to find any to rival the incredible stories of Season Seven, ‘The Daemons’ arguably coming closest. Though that story will be forever close to my heart after spending my stag do in Aldbourne where it was filmed. The first slip in standards that I detected was towards the back end of Pertwee’s third year in the role, where twelve unremarkable back-to-back episodes comprising ‘The Mutants’ and ‘The Time Monster’ become something of a slog to get through. The first instances of “acting for children’s television” occur in ‘The Mutants’, where the supporting cast grants itself licence to ham it up as if they’re in pantomime in Southend-on-Sea. Paul Whitsun-Jones and James Mellor are especially guilty of over-acting. The cramped sets seem smaller than anything that was filmed in Lime Grove during the Sixties. All of a sudden, we’re a million miles from the glory days of ‘Inferno’. Thank goodness things get back on track with the return of the First and Second Doctors to celebrate the show’s tenth anniversary, before another slump in Pertwee’s fifth and final season (but more on that later…)

Greg Jameson
Greg Jameson
Book editor, with an interest in cult TV.

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