Doctor Who - Documentary s06e20 Episode Script

Talking About Regeneration

That's the trouble with regeneration.
You never quite know what you're going to get.
When you're doing an ongoing saga, whether it's a soap saga or a drama series or a science fiction series, there's going to come a point in time when the actor playing the leading part or one of the leading parts, is going to either have had enough, demand too much money or want to leave for some other reason.
It's time to say goodbye.
So there has to be a way of writing him out.
Be very hard to imagine William Hartnell still doing it even now, even if he were still alive, 'cause he'd obviously have to do the show and do Doctor Who Confidential.
The brilliant thing about it is, is that back in 1966, they didn't try and replace William Hartnell with someone similar.
They completely changed the character of the Doctor, and I think that's one of the reasons Doctor Who has been able to go on for so long.
When they first wanted to write William Hartnell out, it was in a story called The Celestial Toymaker.
The toymaker in question had made William Hartnell vanish and he would have reappeared at the end of the story with a different face.
And that's great because it's a good, clever idea.
But also, it would have meant it could only have worked the once.
When that fell through and they just had to write Hartnell out very, very quickly, all that happens in Tenth Planet is he just falls over.
There's no explanation given at all.
I guess this old body of mine is wearing a bit thin.
What do you mean "wearing a bit thin"? (SIGHS) Don't worry, child.
Don't worry.
Don't worry.
GARETH ROBERTS: The actual regeneration itself is just beautiful, I think.
Wonderful Derek Martinus, a brilliant, brilliant director.
The Doctor's hand on the controls Cut to the Doctor looking scared as well as That feeling he's fighting it, which is really strange and exciting, you know.
LIDSTER: It's certainly implied that it's to do with the TARDIS.
The only sound effect is the TARDIS dematerialising.
CLAYTON HICKMAN: I think it looks brilliant.
It looks absolutely lovely.
They've managed to get a mixing desk that doesn't quite work, which is the genius of it.
It's a broken mixing desk that makes the effect.
But they've lined them up beautifully.
They fade between the two in such a fabulous way that it genuinely looks like an organic process.
And it's never done that well again.
There's something quite odd, unusual and unnatural and mysterious.
It must have seemed so mad at the time.
And because it's so vague, it means it can be done again.
Your appearance has changed before, it will change again and that is part of the sentence.
You can't just change what I look like without consulting me! It's very callous, the ending of The War Games.
Troughton leaves because he's been caught by people who were killjoys, and they just change his face for the sake of it.
He's just, in a sense, punished.
But in another sense, it's kind of his own fault for asking to change his appearance.
There's something about that sound effect in the Time Lords' courtroom, it's very, very sad.
Spooky, eerie music.
And the whole sequence is actually very sinister.
It ends with him spinning away into darkness shouting, "No".
I mean, he's completely helpless.
I think that's a very brave way to end a series of Doctor Who.
TIME LORD: The time has come for you to change your appearance, Doctor, and begin your exile.
Is this some sort of joke? The Doctor keeps up that kind of child-like facade right till the very last moment, even with the Time Lords.
No! Stop.
You're making me giddy! "Oh, put me down! Oh, goodness me!" You know, all that kind of thing.
"Oh, my giddy gobstoppers.
" No.
No! No! It's very sad, you know, as he sort of gurns his way into the distance, all that kind of thing.
There's something very sort of haunting and downbeat about it.
Oh! The original idea, so we hear, is that had Roger Delgado still been around, they would have ended the third Doctor's tenure with a battle to the death between the Doctor and his arch enemy, The Master.
You do wonder, had The Master died at the end of Jon Pertwee's final story, whether that would in some ways have compromised Jon Pertwee's own departure, and actually how much Jon would have enjoyed that.
What's great about Spiders is that it's all about Jon.
I had to face some of my fear, Sarah.
Had to face my fear.
The third Doctor was so confident, all the way through.
And from the moment he arrives back in UNIT, he's a completely broken man and he's dying.
And I think what's fascinating about that one is that he does actually die.
It's very explicit that the Doctor dies.
And I think Jon Pertwee and Liz Sladen in it are absolutely brilliant.
It's a really, really sort of sad moment, and what's great about it is there's no music.
It's played very real.
Please don't die.
A tear, Sarah Jane? No, don't cry.
While there's life, there's ROBERTS: It's very, very beautifully written.
Jon Pertwee himself gives a wonderful, you know, one leg up, fading into unconsciousness performance.
Another Time Lord comes and gives it a push.
Helps the Doctor come back to life.
All the cells of his body have been devastated by the Metabilis Crystals, but you forget, he is a Time Lord.
I will give the process a little push and the cells will regenerate.
He will become a new man.
It's still a bit mysterious.
We still don't know, even now, however many years later, exactly what's going on with the regeneration.
When will all this happen? Well, there's no time like the present, is there? Whether it was something that was invented or something that happens naturally to them.
If it happens naturally, then it's the weirdest piece of evolution.
Look, Brigadier, look.
I think it's starting.
Everything around the regeneration from the third Doctor to the fourth Doctor is great.
It's a beautiful concept, you've got Cho Je hovering there looking all friendly and lovely.
You've got the Brigadier and Sarah, you've got a lovely performance from Jon Pertwee.
The actual regeneration itself is rubbish.
Jon Pertwee out, Tom Baker in.
Do that, there you go.
That'll do.
It's two great Doctors.
It's a great moment, but it should have looked a lot better than that.
What makes it work for me now is that simplicity.
It's just about a character that we've grown to love dying.
The series tends to become more about regeneration.
It was mentioned more casually, during the Tom Baker years.
When we hear in The Deadly Assassin this stuff about the Master's 12 lives, which, you know, is just a pure piece of one-off plot expediency from Robert Holmes to explain what's going on in that particular story.
Well, he had some sort of plan.
That's why he came here, Engin.
After the 12th regeneration, there is no plan that will postpone death.
It lands the series with, you know, a huge, great slab of mythology as a consequence.
I quite like this one, but it's a bit short.
Hmm? Well, lengthen it then.
Go on.
What fans often forget about Romana's regeneration is that it's supposed to be funny.
It's a joke.
It's kind of to show that, you know, she's much cooler than Doctor Who.
Anything he can do, she can do 10 times better, and with much more poise and élan.
People sort of go, "But she has gone through "her regeneration cycle like that.
" You think, "No, she hasn't.
"It's obviously just choosing what she wants to look like.
" SHEARMAN: There's something very brave about Tom Baker's departure.
It's because it's the first time that a story has actually given over to being all about the regeneration at the end of it.
And there's this wonderful funereal atmosphere.
There was a character that was meant to turn out to be me or the Doctor's next regeneration.
ROBERTS: With that wonderful, beautiful, evocative moment as the Doctor sees the Watcher for the first time across the road, you know.
In the most mundane, bizarre, everyday setting.
You know, he's seeing his own death looking back at him.
I mean, I remember this from the novelisation, which was very beautifully written.
It was as if things were so bad in the universe that the Doctors kind of overlapped.
That the Watcher was a kind of impression of the fifth Doctor coming through.
The poet Shelley saw himself on a balcony pointing out to sea a month before he drowned.
Nothing like this has ever happened before.
You know, that's what that always reminded me of.
Here was a character who was now waiting in the wings.
For years, I thought it was probably Peter Davison.
As if Peter Davison was going to spend the entirety of the filming walking around with his face in a mask, not saying anything.
And it wasn't indeed me for most of the episode.
It was some poor supporting artist they wrapped up.
The flashbacks he gets when he's hanging there.
You actually get to see what this Doctor had meant to people.
You actually get a reminder of why he's so brilliant.
Predictable as ever, Doctor.
He's been the Doctor for long enough that you actually can afford to feel nostalgic, that we're actually saying goodbye to something which has become a genuine institution.
From, I think, the shot of the hand, just the hand by itself falling off the pole.
The last sequence, the last few minutes, he sort of arrived as Tom fell off the gantry.
And then, he basically turned into me.
And I was asked to go along to Tom's last studio day.
And then you just have that wonderful moment where it's just him lying there and the camera does this sort of strange, very non-Doctor Who style movement.
I think the sheer beauty of that effect is just incredible.
We did it in an incredible rush, and they made me up with a white face and they dragged me out to the set and I had to lie in the same position as Tom, they'd frozen the frame.
The Watcher! Beautiful music, I mean, it actually sends a shiver down your spine.
It's a really emotional moment, I think, in Doctor Who.
He was the Doctor all the time! It took a long time, this sequence.
You had to go from Tom into Tom with a white face, into some other person with more of a white face, and then slowly in to me, dissolving into me.
And when you see Peter Davison's face coming through, it just feels like the most positive, new, fresh, beautiful thing you've ever seen.
Many people asked me about this apparently very good look I do when I sit up.
About, "Oh, look at me.
Who's this? This is my new regeneration.
" It's not that at all.
I'm just completely stunned by the previous 15 minutes and getting me to that state.
I think from this time on in the '80s, regeneration is mentioned so often.
I think, there's not a single Colin Baker story, for example, which doesn't mention the fact at some point other incarnations of the Doctor.
Which is a strange thing.
It doesn't really allow the Doctor to breathe on his own in some way.
The whole danger with regeneration anyway, as a concept, is it reduces the sense of what the Doctor has at stake.
So that if you start talking about it too often, if, as in Mawdyrn Undead, you have sequences where people say, "I'm going to steal your remaining eight lives," what you're stressing to the audience all the time is, "Well, the Doctor at the end of a cliffhanger "is facing mortal danger.
" He's actually not.
He's only facing the chance of changing into Colin Baker or not.
HICKMAN: Peter Davison's regeneration is It's a piece of television which has so much thought and effort put into it.
Open your mouth.
You must drink this.
This is definitely my favourite regeneration.
Graeme Harper directed it.
Is this death? My life was running out and I was going to regenerate.
So I was acting my heart out, and when I watched it back, all I remember seeing is Nicola Bryant's cleavage bending over me.
And I think that's all anyone saw.
-Where is it? -What? -The bat's milk.
Only enough for you.
It's very tragic, and you've got two very good actors playing on screen.
Two people dying.
Two friends dying.
And, again, once he actually collapses you have that almost the same movement as Logopolis where the camera moves across pans down onto him in a breakaway from the normal way Doctor Who is shot.
I always wondered about whether the decision to stage the fifth Doctor's regeneration with the Rather than flashbacks, with people from his past coming back to address him directly was inspired by the ending of I, Claudius.
Claudius is dying and various members of the cast come up and address him as he's going.
And it's very dramatic and exciting.
And I wondered if John Nathan-Turner had flagged that up as something to do.
It's just the most beautifully shot, carefully directed, wonderfully performed sequence in, you know, in almost the whole of Doctor Who.
You get a sense of every box being ticked, so Davison's lying on the ground, and suddenly, every single companion pops out, out of his mouth and gives him a word.
And it feels like they're actually obeying the Radio Times booklet about who the companions were because you have You have the robot there, you have Kamelion.
And he's only in about three episodes.
And Davison's last word is, "Adric".
It should be, "Kamelion?" You know that.
In Eric Saward's Twin Dilemma novelisation, where he's talking about It was the sight of Adric among all those flashbacks that caused the Doctor to regenerate because he just suffered such a terrible feeling of guilt that he didn't ever even like him.
No, my dear Doctor, you must die.
I think what really makes it is Anthony Ainley, because he is absolutely terrifying there.
He's so vicious when he's screaming at the Doctor to die.
And his face coming forward.
It's really, really terrifying.
As far as we were concerned, the story before had seen Davison watch his death.
Die, Doctor! Die, Doctor! It's almost as if the man he's had such a history with is beckoning him towards death as well.
And I thought that had a great impact.
(LAUGHING MANIACALLY) It really felt like a strange pull, the Doctor being pulled towards death by his arch enemy.
I remember Graeme saying that he based the sound effect on the build-up of sound on the end of The Beatles' A Day In The Life.
Where everything is all building and building and building, builds to a massive climax and then you just get that kind of final note, sailing away into the distance.
And that's what it looks like, really.
I think the thing that took me ages to notice is that you get a foreshadowing of his regeneration at the end of part three.
Just when he's trying to steal that spaceship, he starts looking at the stars, and you get that sort of Quantel-ly regeneration thing coming towards him and he fights it off.
So you've got a whole episode of Peter Davison surviving just so he can save Peri.
And it's not flagged up, there's no fanfare.
It's just him refusing to die until he saved his friend, and, you know, that's Davison all over.
Time and the Rani, that's a funny one.
What can you do? You know, you've got a leading man who won't come back and you've got a period of Doctor Who's history where they would never even have contemplated not showing a regeneration.
If it had opened with Sylvester McCoy in the TARDIS, how bold would that have just been? I mean, that would have been a great teaser for the show.
We'd have had Mel in the TARDIS calling for the Doctor, he comes to the doors, it's a different actor.
There's something remarkably bizarre about Time and the Rani.
It's not like any other Doctor Who, and it's not like any other piece of television.
I remember when Teletubbies first started, that's the only thing that's ever reminded me of Time and the Rani.
SHEARMAN: If Mel can survive without a scratch, why should the Doctor? And the Rani should have come in at that point and said, "Leave the girl corpse, it's the man I want.
" And I'd have bought it.
I remember in the novelisation, I remember this very clearly, it said, "Tumultuous buffeting had triggered the regeneration.
" So I think we have it from Pip and Jane Baker's mouth that it was "tumultuous buffeting" that caused it.
I think the Rani very deliberately tried to replace the Colin Baker manifestation of the Doctor with somebody less apparently able.
She quite deliberately tried to make him into a fool, so that she could have greater control over him.
The whole beginning of Time and the Rani is mad.
It feels like you're flicking channels or something.
It's narratively so strange.
If you'd never seen Doctor Who before or you didn't know what it was about, I don't know what you'd make of that opening sequence.
You know, like Mark Greenstreet on a planet looking up into the pink sky as something whizzes by.
It's the TARDIS being hit by laser beams.
It's Kate O'Mara standing there with a big thing in her hand.
It's just utterly, utterly bonkers.
Colin and I had been old sparring partners, many, many times.
It was sort of rather satisfying saying, you know, "Forget about her.
Just concentrate.
I want him.
It's him I want.
" And I thought, "Well, Colin, your number's come up, finally.
"I finally get to polish you off.
" As a 10-year-old, I thought it looked like Colin Baker.
I thought it was a brilliant recreation of Colin Baker.
ROBERTS: Funny enough, I remember the very first time I saw that regeneration, I was perilously drunk.
And I remember thinking, "Oh, they've done that really well.
" Sylvester McCoy in a wig did actually fool me as a child.
But I was probably a stupid child.
Time and the Rani is, from the word go, about something it doesn't want to be about.
It's about the absence of Colin Baker.
It just seems wrong.
Time and the Rani itself is one of the most pleasurable things you can ever sit down and watch.
I will forgive it anything.
SHEARMAN: The TVMovie is odd.
Back at the time, and I remember this very well, I mean, I thought that the show was dead.
And the talk suddenly that it might be resurrected and then suddenly it was and they were casting Paul McGann, and then I heard they were casting Sylvester McCoy as well, because they were going to ensure that the show felt real, by meaning they would actually even go to the trouble of filming a regeneration sequence.
At that point, if you'd asked me at that age, 26, if that was a good thing, I'd have said, "That's the best thing in the world.
" That will actually, for me, make it real.
Looking back, of course, it's utterly the wrong decision.
I think people used to wonder whether they'd ever do it in Doctor Who, where you start one story with one Doctor and you end with another.
But obviously the TV movie is one where you get the regeneration in the middle, and I guess that taught us all why you shouldn't do that.
Especially if you're re-launching Doctor Who for a whole new audience in America.
It did seem a very, very strange way to introduce the series to a whole new audience.
If they'd started in a strange way with a mysterious man being rushed in to have an operation, dying, and then being resurrected, and then fill the rest of the stuff in afterwards in back-story, that might have worked.
Paul McGann gets little screen time as it is.
It takes, I think, 23 minutes for him even to appear.
If it had begun with Paul McGann as the Doctor, we could have actually had an adventure.
My favourite thing about it is that Doctor Who is in the morgue, under a sort of shroud.
And, obviously, they thought, "Well, if he regenerates under a shroud, we're not actually going to see it.
" And I think in the script it says there's a sort of a rush of supernatural wind and the shroud blows off his face.
But, obviously, they didn't do that, so what actually happens is that Sylvester McCoy, lying under a shroud does this There's nothing you can I'm assuming they recorded Sylvester's half first.
So you've got the Doctor and his face is doing this.
And then you've got to mix into Paul McGann doing the same thing, but obviously Paul doesn't feel comfortable doing it, so he's sort of going "Must I?" And you've got something which is kind of rubbish and kind of wonderful.
It's kind of the successor to the Time and the Rani regeneration, only costing 10 times more and being about 0.
3% better.
LIDSTER: And the music is brilliant.
The shot of the first breath coming out of his mouth, I think, is inspired.
I think that's a really brilliant moment in Doctor Who.
And then he comes out of the tomb in his shroud, and he's gone from being Frankenstein's Monster to being Jesus, whichis interesting.
Who am I? One of the things I'm asked about by friends, when I was in on those first meetings of the revival in 2005, is how much thought was given to there being a regeneration sequence from an old Doctor to a new.
And there was none.
It was never mentioned.
It would have been insane to have mentioned it.
I think that everyone had learnt that in some ways from the TV movie.
Again, that's the thing about the TV movie, the first thing we see the Doctor do is fail.
He just falls over, which is not very heroic.
Christopher Eccleston can be heroic and can establish this strange, new character, that, for most of the audience, who are meeting for the first time.
Run! I'm assuming that he's like the new Doctor We get the regeneration looking into a mirror shot, which Tom Baker does so beautifully in Robots.
We get it, but without the regeneration.
But let's be honest, I don't think any of us wanted to open with a regeneration after what we'd seen in the TV movie.
We've now got the Time War, you know.
What was it like? You know, what did it look like? Was it the McGann Doctor or the Chris Eccleston Doctor that fought it? All that kind of thing.
It's, you know, a great sort of source of mystery.
I imagine if I was younger I'd be thinking about that all the time.
ROSE: I can't remember anything else.
I think that the whole Parting of the Ways regeneration is terrific.
I really do.
I think it's the only one in the show's history which actually tries to reassure the audience as it's doing it.
-Why can't we go? -Maybe you will.
And maybe I will.
But not like this.
Which means that it's entirely appropriate that he dies standing up.
Throwing his arms wide and saying, "That's it for me, mate.
" And that's kind of the perfect way for him to go.
ROBERTS: The standing-up-ness is just wonderful.
It's one of those ideas that you think, "Why didn't anyone ever think of that before?" It's such a dynamic way of doing it.
It's such a powerful way.
You wouldn't have wanted Chris Eccleston's Doctor to go out being a bit feeble.
It must have been astonishing for a kid watching that, who'd not seen the old series, to see your hero change face for the first time.
New teeth.
That's weird.
The tenth Doctor is just suddenly there.
Suddenly there standing up alive, bristling with energy.
We can change the Doctor and we know the show is going to survive, and look how brilliant it's going to be from now on.
We've got another one and he's going to be as great as before.