Just a quick tribute to writer Mervyn Haisman, who has died.
Haisman, along with Henry Lincoln, wrote the two Yeti serials from the Troughton years, which are two examples of Doctor Who at its absolute finest, in my book. I can't count the number of times I read Web of Fear, the Target novelisation was always in my desk at school, and I still think of whenever I'm travelling around the Tube in London.
Both The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear are, sadly, no longer in existence but the two stories can be heard on Yeti Attack! from BBC Radio. Web is famous, of course, for introducing The Brig, and the superb Nick Courtney. The audio books are wonderful, and I commend them to you.
Here's a little animated trailer I found on Youtube for the latter. Thanks for the memories, Mervyn.
Sydney Newman wanted to turn Sylvester McCoy into a woman, the Torygraph 'revealed' today in a report on what a spot of archive research turned up while the extras for Time and the Rani were being shot.
Thing is, I'm 99 per cent sure all of the stuff in the newspaper's report was already well known. I remember reading all of this some time ago, in what I imagine was one of Andrew Pixley's comprehensive Archive pieces in DWM or possibly the Howe-Stammer-Walker 80's book. Either way I reckon it's a good 15 years since this research first came to light.
Newman, recognised as the person who can lay most claim to being the creator of Doctor Who (not Terry Nation or Vere Lorrimer!), was drafted in to reboot the series at the end of Colin Baker's tenure.
Unfortunately Newman's ideas for a rebooted series were utterly abysmal, consisting of a time-warp back to the early sixties where Patrick Troughton would be brought back in with a couple of children as companions; one of whom would brandish a trumpet whose sound would herald the start of battle.
The one thing I clearly recall is that Newman suggested that the new Doctor should say ‘Hush, child, you’re addlepating me!’ whenever the young companions were talking too much, or something.
One of the story outlines he details is a literal lift from Planet of the Giants too, while another suggestion involved the three regulars being shrunk and injected into a human body. Two ideas about 40 years past their sell-by-date.
This has always suggested to me that Newman scrawled down a load of old tat on the back of a fag packet during a boozy lunch – and if people thought the last three years of Who during its original run weren't that good, they would pale into insignificance if the car-crash television envisioned by Newman had come to pass.
The headline element to it all, of course, is the suggestion that the Doctor should be turned into a woman, something I've always thought of as a horrible, senseless gimmick that not even JN-T or RTD ever seriously considered.
The Telegraph article ends with a quote from some 'women in science' group who reckons - surprise, surprise - that the next Doctor should be a woman for some reason too tedious to explore any further.
I suppose this story has broken in the national press now because 2Entertain are trying to flog Time and the Rani; a desperate task by any standards. Ed Stradling was apparently 'astonished' by the contents of the Newman letter; something that must come as a surprise to Doctor Who fans.
Anyway, the release of Time and the Rani should give us time to reflect on all of this. I personally think that it's a story of totally unremitting dross, with literally nothing to redeem it.
It's become fashionable to call Pip and Jane Baker's nadir (I know, I know!) things like 'wonderful and silly' and 'lovely and fluffy' by people who should know better. It's utter shit and hails from a period when Who was almost totally lost.
For my money it got somewhere near back to its best over the next two seasons - with some obvious exceptions - and it's a huge relief that we got stuff like Ghost Light, Remebrance, Fenric and Survival instead of Newman's addlepated vision.
Good old Syd. We have a lot to be grateful for. But, by God, a rebooted Newman series in 1987 may well have killed off Who for good.