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Doctor Who: the recoveries

December 11th, 2011 (10:42 pm)

(Typed on the coach - apologies for poor formatting and spelling mistakes.)
So, there I was at Missing Believed Wiped, having sat through a good Dennis Potter play, listened to Kenith Trodd be surprised the audience wasn't as visibly shocked by the 1966 racism, enjoyed Frank Mumford's puppets advertising VP wines and cigarettes (Empire) and singing Burl Ives songs, and watched a lightweight docudrama about a Norwegian agent in the Second World War who impersonates an SS officer, but kills his girlfriend's brother. (This was called The Man Who Changed Faces. It's as if they were trying to tell us something.)

Then followed a brief Pete and Dud sketch from 1978 - great timing, an obsessipn with Anna Raeburn, and the comparison of a Cosmopolitan diagram of a woman's erogenous zones to the London Underground map - and then the mystery 'BBC SciFi Footage'. Why were there so many big name Doctor Who fans in the audience?

Of course, I knew by then (though had been misled earlier in the day.) Mark Gatiss came down from the back and introduced Ralph Montagu of the Doctor Who Restoration Team and Terry Burnett, a former TVS staffer from whose film collection these episodes were recovered. There was a brief chat and Mark Gatiss gave the run DVD order. The Hartnell titles began...

We started with Galaxy 4: Airlock, of which we saw about ten minutes asthe timelot had been arranged with one episode only in mind. Design seems non-naturalistic; the Rill ship seems to involve a lot of ltticework (of thesame pattern as seen on walls in several later Docotr Who stories). Stephanie Bidmead has an impressive speech as the put-upon, exasperated but self-disciplined Maaga, whop knows the flws in her own people's system: how can you run an invasion in space when only the commanding officer is able to think? Until now, I did not know that the Chumblies sparkled. They also lead Vicki off in body-cuffs, and burble along merrily like less dementd Quarks.

The Underwater Menace 2 is... better than one might expect. It's a better opportunity than ep 3 is to see the regulars in action. Troughton's performance is more raw than it will later become, with more physical comedy (he punches his head and pulls a face to illustrate how mad Zaroff is, anticipating his more restrained dismissal of Klieg in Tomb) ; for the first time since the mass junkings we have footage of Jamie in his original Highlanders costume, and Frazer is already eclipsing poor Michael Craze. Anneke Wills doesn't have much to do except run around in a surgical gown and hide. This episode makes explicit that th plot is a school science project taken to extremes; the Doctor even demonstrates the effects of the raising of Atlantis to Ramo in a practical. Troughton's hat countin this part is two - a plastic souwester early on, and then full anemone-like Atlantean priestly headwear for his audience with Thous. Quite mad as a premise, and it flounders a bit, but Menace's reputation is enhanced by this recovery.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/470382.html.


Posted by: gwydion_writes (gwydion_writes)
Posted at: December 12th, 2011 03:33 am (UTC)

Glad you made it in time! I'm a big fan of the BFI and occasional member- sometimes subscribe to their magazine Sight and Sound.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 12th, 2011 11:52 am (UTC)

I've not been for ages. It was strongly hinted to me that I should come along to this event - but I utterly failed to pick up the coded references as to why...

Posted by: Lady Summerisle (strange_complex)
Posted at: December 12th, 2011 09:24 am (UTC)
One walking

Thanks for the report, and I am (slightly selfishly) very glad you got there in time! I've seen the short clips which the BBC has made available, and they both look really good - I absolutely cannot wait to see the full episodes.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 12th, 2011 11:57 am (UTC)
Hartnell words

Given that the episodes we saw were the unrestored ones, I can't wait to see them either. While the veteran BBC cameraman who returned David Bowie's performance of 'Jean Genie' praised the quality of the film recordings, there's a clarity and air of authenticity which the Vidfire process can add, and there is at least one Australian censor clip to restore to The Underwater Menace.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: December 12th, 2011 11:57 am (UTC)
"Nothing in the world!!!! Etc. etc."

Very exciting news! Am I out of the fan loop for only having just heard about this or was it hush-hush?

I have thought for a while that Galaxy 4 and The Underwater Menace, while not great, are not as bad as their reputations suggest. Galaxy 4 in particular manages to avoid the usual sexist matriarchy/Amazons in space cliches. The Underwater Menace is more of a guilty pleasure, but at least the characters in the story admit that Zaroff's plan is nonsense. And more Troughton visual 'business' is worth waiting for.

I await their eventual arrival on DVD with interest. I just hope they don't excessively duplicate material from The Lost in Time DVD; I hate being forced to buy things I already have.

The Pete and Dud sketch sounds vaguely familiar too, although I don't remember anything other than the premise.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 12th, 2011 01:02 pm (UTC)
Re: "Nothing in the world!!!! Etc. etc."

It was hush-hush. I'd completely failed to interpret a hint on Saturday; and was told on Sunday morning that the find would be an episode of The Wheel in Space. This was wishful thinking by a Wendy Padbury fan, I suspect!

Galaxy 4 certainly has potential, from what I know of it. The clip on the BBC Doctor Who website isn't part of the material which I saw yesterday, but it fills out my impression of the episode and of where Hartnell's Doctor was at the end of the Lambert period. By the time of The Underwater Menace the Doctor is much closer to the character I grew up with, but in Galaxy 4 the Doctor is fallible, thrown by the appearance and alien-ness of the Rills, and dependent on Vicki's youthful optimism and openness.

The other thing to remark upon from The Underwater Menace is the opening scene, with Polly about to be operated upon to turn her into a fish person; the always capable Colin Jeavons (a regular on Play School in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which is where I first knew him, as well as being the voice/narrator of Barnaby) as Damon assuring Polly that she won't be kept long as the power supply fails (thanks to the Doctor's sabotage) pretends that she is a willing patient. The notion of a subterranean society surgically altering themselves to cope with their environment must have influenced Marc Platt's Spare Parts.

The Pete and Dud sketch had probably beeen performed elsewhere, though this 1978 recording is a new recovery.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: December 12th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
Re: "Nothing in the world!!!! Etc. etc."

I knew the Pete and Dud sketch from audio only, I think, so maybe it was an off-air recording.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 12th, 2011 04:49 pm (UTC)
Re: "Nothing in the world!!!! Etc. etc."

I expect that it was an off-air recording from an earlier performance - 1978 is rather late for them to be doing this sort of thing.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: December 13th, 2011 04:02 pm (UTC)
After some research...

I'm not a big fan of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, but I remembered I was given Goodbye Again: The Definitive Peter Cook and Dudley Moore a few years ago (a mixture of scripts and biography/commentary, by no means comprehensive, despite the title).

The sketch is Women's Rights, originally from their stage show, Behind the Fridge. The sketch is dated 1973. It was apparently the last proper Pete and Dud sketch they wrote. I'm still fairly sure I heard it on the radio at some point, though.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 13th, 2011 04:50 pm (UTC)
Re: After some research...

Thanks for clarifying this!

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: December 14th, 2011 06:08 pm (UTC)
Re: "Nothing in the world!!!! Etc. etc."

It was hush-hush.

Returning to this to say that the latest DWM has a couple of quiet allusions to the discovery (in the hidden indicia comment and the fact that the next issue advert promises something on The Underwater Menace) so obviously they knew some time in advance.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 14th, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
Re: "Nothing in the world!!!! Etc. etc."

I'd not looked for the indicia comment! I'm obviously slipping... Given that the finds were made in July and August, I expect that DWM were informed fairly early on; the 'BBC Sci-fi footage' had been in the Missing Believed Wiped listing for two months, but I'd forgotten about it!