Doctor Who - Documentary s06e22 Episode Script

Stripped for Actionc - The Second Doctor

The 1960s in British comics are a slightly moribund era.
You know, the great glory days of the Eagle are pretty much 10 years in the past.
And the glory days of, say, 2000AD in the strip, you know, the post-punk comics revolution, are 10 years in the future.
BARNES: In the 1960s, the home of Doctor Who is TV Comic, which is a weekly publication featuring all sorts of children's television favourites, such as The Avengers, Tom and Jerry, and Doctor Who.
Right about '66, you sort of had a mix of what I would say was material aimed still at the very young end of the market, but also some strips aiming towards people who would be older, such as those fans of Adam Adamant, who couldn't see it before 8:00 in the evening.
So, it was a bit of a half-way mixture.
Products half-aimed at children, half-aimed, I suppose, at the generation I was at that time, which was going into my teens.
A lot of the older strips were dropped, and in came a lot more strips aimed at older people.
Along with that came the Daleks, the rights to use the Daleks.
The BBC negotiated those within, I think I'm right in saying, about six weeks of the strip finishing in TV2 1.
So, all of a sudden, Doctor Who was big name news.
And they decided to reward that by not only making it the cover comic strip, but promoting it to three pages, rather than two pages, it had been before.
The first Doctor Who and the Daleks story celebrates the fact that TVComic now has the rights to do the Daleks by destroying the Trods.
The Trods were the robot enemies, you know, the surrogate Daleks, if you like, that TVComic used in the first Doctor strips.
BENTHAM: The arrival of the Daleks was really the I don't think there was any real major crossover between TV 21 and the Daleks strip as seen in TV Comic.
And, in fact, the painful bit from someone who had been a very loyal fan of the Dalek strip in TV2 1 was that, all of a sudden, the Emperor vanished.
The character of the Emperor Dalek wasn't carried over into the writers and illustrators of the TV Comic strip.
My least favourite Patrick Troughton strips are probably the ones with the Daleks, en masse.
I think by the time Troughton was facing the Daleks in TVComic, they'd been done to death.
I think they'd really run out of interesting things to do with Daleks in the strips.
Which is weird, because it didn't take long when you're into the Pertwee stuff for the Daleks to make a really good comeback.
And you go, "Oh, there is something fresh to do.
" But there's something about that '60s period, and they're on television so much.
And I think, they were just a bit dull in TVComic.
In a sense, I think possibly the Daleks were made to look a little bit silly.
I mean, silly in that they were quite easily defeated.
What is it That Troughton hitting one on the head with his fist, and it just stops.
When the Daleks were withdrawn, I think it was only about 6 months they really had full rights to use them.
Of course, then the rush was on to find what they could replace the Daleks with.
At that time, of course, the next big monster was coming to Doctor Who, which were the Cybermen.
It's really odd that John Canning seems to have only been given reference material for The Tenth Planet version of the Cybermen, you know, with the cloth faces.
But he really does make them his own.
So they weren't sleek.
They weren't the silver giants that we've come to have think of as Cybermen now.
These were the very early, very primitive ones.
BARNES: The Cybermen in TV Comic are a rather odd species.
They're not emotionless or completely logic-driven in the sense that they are in the TVshow.
They've got all sorts of bizarre plots and plans.
They get undone by things like flowers.
They've got accessories like skis.
There's a story where you see Cybermen on skis.
Actually, I think it makes perfect sense for Cybermen to be on skis.
I mean, actually, the quickest way of getting across the frozen tundra is not a march like, you know, Captain Scott, it's to use skis like Amundsen.
The second Doctor travelled with his grandchildren, John and Gillian.
They were a hangover from the William Hartnell strips, where, as a kindly grandfather, it made sense that his fictional companions that were nothing to do with the TV show were his grandchildren.
Because, kids watching it would look up at the Doctor, and go, "He's like my granddad.
" You want to identify with the companion, therefore it becomes grandchildren.
By the time Patrick Troughton became the Doctor in TVComic, it made little point having grandchildren, because he was a much younger man.
They lasted for a good year or so, with the second Doctor.
And then suddenly left.
The story went that they see a fortune teller and the Doctor is warned of imminent and terrible danger coming.
And so decides to drop John and Gillian off at a space university, basically, where they complete their education.
It does seem little bit surprising that he didn't want to endanger their lives, 'cause he hadn't had any problem with them meeting Daleks and Cybermen and falling down pits, etc.
But he obviously had an attack of conscience in this particular moment.
Very soon afterwards, Jamie McCrimmon becomes the companion, and this is important, because he's the first TV companion to be immortalised in a comic strip.
In terms of whether he was like his television persona, well, I suppose, given that Jamie had this kind of cod Scottish accent which on television you could get away with doing, with all the accents, and the phrasing.
In comic strip terms, his accent was never too prominent.
You didn't have too many "craig an doors" or anything like that, when Jamie was in action.
But again, he fulfilled very much the role that John and Gillian had performed, which was basically to be line feeds to the Doctor's brilliance.
The Doctor was still the central character.
BARNES: 'Jamie is a great character to use in the comics.
Because great comics characters need an instantly recognisable silhouette.
Jamie has it.
He's a bloke with a skirt.
They need to have instantly recognisable attributes.
Well, Jamie speaks in a Scots accent.
He's a brilliant comics character, actually, and far more vibrant and interesting than John and Gillian could ever have been.
There's actually, in the BBC's archives, there is a memo from Terrance Dicks, who was working on the series at that point, who obviously had been given the job of reading the TVComic strips to give approval.
And he does query, "Why on Earth is Jamie working in a tracking station?" In the same story that Jamie's introduced as the companion in the strip, the Quarks were also introduced as a new, ongoing opponent for the Doctor.
BENTHAM: It was quite a surprise to me when the Quarks suddenly turned up in the TVComic strip.
To begin with, they'd only ever been seen on one series on television.
And given the way in which the writers almost disowned the "Dominators" TV serial, it was quite a surprise when, all of a sudden, they were sort of pushed as perhaps the next big thing for Doctor Who.
BARNES: Quarks turn up quite a lot in the last year or so of the second Doctor strips.
They look good.
They look great.
The only problem is, nobody appears to have told the people doing the strips that the Quarks didn't actually speak.
In the strips, you get these incredibly chatty, rather verbose Quarks, also with their own agenda.
They're not bossed about by the Dominators as it were on the telly, they're actually their own They've actually got their own mean little identity of their very own.
The Quarks really do have a propensity of coming up with really bizarre plans.
There's a story which involves them concocting some giant killer wasps.
Where did they get that from? Not only could you never do that on television, but no one would've ever dreamt of trying to do it on television.
And that's what made the Doctor Who TVComic strip work so well.
It understood the medium it was working in.
It said, "We're doing comic strips.
"We're doing silly comic strips for kids.
Let's have fun.
"Let's do Quarks versus Giant Wasps, because no one else ever will.
" Perhaps the least successful Troughton story, or certainly the most bizarre, is one called The Sabre Toothed Gorillas, where the Doctor lands on this planet, I think with John and Gillian at this time, and they're pursued by these gorillas who have huge sabre teeth, who are very angry.
And they're rescued by a scientist who has spent the last 10 years on this planet working on this miracle substance called Squidge.
Squidge is a miracle substance which can bounce 10 times as high as rubber and you can do anything with it, according to the scientist.
And he seems to have spent 10 years just making a trampoline and some bats, for which he uses to beat the gorillas with, which is probably why they're so cross in the first place.
So, it's quite ludicrous, but it is quite fun.
Once he's exiled to Earth, the second Doctor washes up in this London hotel and cuts a figure very much like Adam Adamant, who was another character who appeared in TV Comic.
He's an adventurer out of time who investigates weird and bizarre happenings.
But, more significantly, I think, is he's a minor celebrity in this world as well.
So that's how, you know, the Doctor can appear on TV shows, as himself.
I think my favourite second Doctor strip is actually the last one, which is The Night Walkers.
And I suppose I like it because it does tie into the TV series.
We see the Doctor, the Doctor starts off on a panel game show on TV, which, somehow, leads him to investigate a mystery in the countryside, where these rather clich├ęd yokel farmers, say, "Oh, it be up in the field over there, something strange be going on.
" And the Doctor goes and investigates, and finds that, of course, it's walking scarecrows.
And the scarecrows are in fact agents of the Time Lords, who are there to complete the Doctor's sentence.
And that strip was just one of the few that were set in this gap between the end of The War Games and Spearhead from Space.
I think to sum up everything about the second Doctor in TVComic, it's epitomised by being slightly more adult than the Hartnell strips were, a lot more fun, a lot more real Doctor Who, and I think the inclusion of Jamie towards the end, and then their sort of little mini series set on Earth, just made it feel right, like Doctor Who.
But I honestly believe, if there's one thing you want to say, to sum up, Patrick Troughton's run in TVComic, it's the words "John Canning".
Because without him, there would be no Patrick Troughton.
There would be nothing memorable about the Patrick Troughton strips.
I think to sum it up, it's John Canning, it's finger pointing, and it's Cybermen on skis, and that's it, that's just brilliant.
If one was to sum up the second Doctor's comic strips, it's that there is definitely much more of a consistent style, mainly because John Canning was the artist throughout so you have the same look and feel.
And, also, it was actually starting to acknowledge the TV series a lot more, in the sense that it was actually using the Daleks and using the Cybermen, using the Quarks, and Jamie joins as the companion for some of the strips.
So, it was more recognisably Doctor Who, I suppose, rather than just Doctor Who in name, as perhaps it had been with the William Hartnell strips.
The second Doctor strips in TVComic areare weird ones to evaluate in this day and age, because, you know, the character's wrong and the monsters are kind of wrong, you know, the chatty Quarks or whatever.
But, they are so out there.
They're so weird.
They're so unlike anything else that's ever gone out under the Doctor Who banner, that I think we ought to love them, really.