The Doctors – The 2 Years of Pat Troughton


Keith Barnfather (director)

Real-time images (studio)

E (certificate)

315 minutes (length)

August 02, 2022 (published)

4 days

Welcome to Geekville! It doesn’t seem that long since this reviewer was writing about The Peter Davison Years and now we’re already on THE PAT TROUGHTON YEARS Vol 2. Anyone interested in the second Doctor Who will be delighted with this 2-disc DVD release.

To be honest, we don’t really talk about Pat Troughton much. It is mainly the interviewees who talk about their individual contributions to the series during its time and we start with Derek Martinus (interviewed in 2006). Martinus won a scholarship to Yale after his national service and got involved in acting (like many on the technical side of Dr. Who). On his return to London he was lucky enough to get a part in a production at the Arts Theater Club where he was scouted by a director (resulting in his discovery of a desire to become a director ). Luck seems to have been on Martinus’ side. Some time later – after writing to her – he met the legend that was Sydney Newman and was invited to take the ‘BBC Director’s Course’ and the rest is history. He worked on the series from 65′ to 70′ and directed around 26 episodes across 6 soap operas – among them the ’67 classic ‘Evil of the Daleks’ (which has now been restored, albeit with animation and some original footage) but more on that on the second disc. It is only too evident from Martinus’ manner that he found the First Doctor, William Hartnell, a bit of a problem (as many seem to have done) and speaks highly of Pat Troughton with “his enthusiasm refreshing” while Jon Pertwee also brought “great enthusiasm”. Martinus continued to do costume dramas and later corporate work. He seemed a contented man, although the BBC no longer wanted him.

Next up is yet another giant: Douglas Camfield (arguably the most respected of all Dr. Who directors) who was coincidentally born the same year as Martinus. Camfield’s involvement with the show dates back to ‘The Unearthly Child’ and there’s no room here to go into the number of productions he’s been involved in – spanning fourteen years in all! He also directed many other BBC series during his relatively short life. Unfortunately, as presenter Nicholas Briggs points out, this 1982 Panopticon 5 interview, filmed on an old VHS camera, isn’t exactly state-of-the-art, but regardless, you’ll want to see it anyway. Subtitles are provided free of charge. There is only one proposed microphone shared with interviewer Ian McLachlan. Camfield goes into quite a bit of technical detail and often consults his notebook – did you know that using a “Quantel machine”? It’s also a change to hear something positive about Hartnell, as he was the one who gave Camfield his first break as a director. Camfield describes himself as a “Hawk” director and describes Pat Troughton as “a pleasure to work with”. It really would have been something to see Camfield remake “The Daleks Masterplan” with new technology. The directors of Panopticon 7 (September 6, 1986) stars Michael E. Briant and Christopher Barry (interviewed by Chris Dank) who between them were responsible for no less than 16 stories!

Barry was brought in by Verity Lambert as a production assistant (a great way to learn the ropes) and had been a trainee at Ealing Studios before joining the BBC in 1955. He worked on the 63′ series at 95′ and it was he who had the pleasure of directing most of the first episodes of Dalek (the schedule being too busy for a director) explaining to a friendly audience the difficulties of directing a Dalek – he had the idea to put them on sand and railroad lines and recounts an unfortunate Dalek smash-up. There were complaints about the violence in ‘Robots of Death’ (directed by Briant) but the robots looked so good, didn’t they…aah. To defend these charges, the directors refer to his thinking about the world (now more than ever)… which is fair enough. Briant even went so far as to have a Cyberman beheaded for a kid (it might have scared the kid even more). You will also experience the benefits of the Chrome Key and the first episode of “Creature from the Pit” being the most terrifying experience of Barry’s life! He thought producer Barry Letts was crazy and that Tom Baker wanted to direct the show. That’s what we love to hear!

Disc 2 kicks off with Nick Briggs traveling to a suburban street in South London to interview designer Barry Newbery at his home (the interview took place in 1999). If someone who calls themselves a “Whovian” hasn’t heard of this man, you better think again. Newbery has designed no less than fourteen sets starting with “An Unearthly Child” – no small feat considering the show’s meager budget! He presents himself as a rather gentle and unassuming man (then aging a bit) who describes his work as “the best in the world”. As for his colleagues, virtually everyone “was a pleasure to work with”. Newbery obviously found it easier to work in monochrome and explains why he had to use fiberglass. He shows Nick a large amount of photographs from the show that appeared a few years later in a book.
Then comes the team of Peter Bryant (another ex-actor), filmed at Imperial College London for Panopticon 9 in 1988. As Nick rightly points out, these conventions represent an irreplaceable moment in history. As well as Bryant, we also have Morris Barry, Derek Martinus and Victor Pemberton on board, with Ian McLachlan once again as an interviewer.

First, a considerably younger Martinus reflects on his career. Verity Lambert brought him in practically from the cold (he must have been impressive on the aforementioned directorial journey) to succeed an ailing director on ‘Galaxy 4’ – where he found himself as a virtual ‘mangenue’ crossing swords with the crafty old veteran Hartnell (“who was planning on having it for breakfast”) but…
Victor Pemberton (who was first recruited as an assistant screenwriter) is quick to tell us that Pat Troughton was his favorite doctor. Pemberton felt (remember this is 1988) that the series had become like a circus element with light rather than dramatic entertainment and lacking in good stories! Morris Barry was considered by some to be an old school director and worked on three episodes of Troughton (and returned as an actor in “Creature from the Pit”). He has a number of fascinating insights to tell us, including an informative story about the Quarks – “poor little guys in some kind of box” (school children, actually) and the ventilation situation was also an issue major for Daleks and Cybermen, as one can imagine.
Peter Bryant actually produced all of the Pat Troughton episodes. Like Pemberton, he too laments the downgrading of the program to his detriment. He tells us it was hard work with the amount of shows they had to produce in a year. He had first been a radio producer before being brought in to replace Innes Lloyd. It was he who had the brilliant idea of ​​casting Jon Pertwee (who has always been something more than just a comedy actor). When McLachlan finally asks them about Pat Throughton, it seems they all enjoyed working with him, even though Morris Barry thought Hartnell was the better doctor. Pemberton remarks that he might be “very blood-witted” – this has a funny tailpiece.

Finally, we have brief interviews with five not very well-known actors (Peter Craze, Jane Sherwin (ex-wife of Derrick), Hubert Rees, Terence Bayler and Roy Spencer) – all of whom have interesting anecdotes to tell about their experiences. Jane Sherwin mentions that she wished she had credit for the very dangerous stunt of driving the World War I ambulance directly in front of the camera in “The War Games” (which Throughton had refused to do). Being Derrick Sherwin’s wife, she felt she couldn’t refuse. Craze becomes so anti-romantic that he refers to Hartnell as a “wretched old wotsit”!

Once again, THE DOCTORS – Behind the Scenes (in this case THE PAT TROUGHTON YEARS VOL 2) is a real thrill for all Dr. Who geeks who like to take their obsession one step further. It’s a shame that there were never clips of the various episodes included, although that might have something to do with copyright issues.
This limited edition 2-disc DVD is strictly limited to 1000 copies each.


Comments are closed.