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DVD Review

DVD cover

Doctor Who
The Doctors
The Peter Davison Years


Starring: Peter Davison
Distributor: Koch Media
4 020628 871369
Certificate: E
Release Date: 02 November 2020

Mythmakers started to release a long series of interviews with Doctor Who actors and actresses way back in the early nineteen eighties. Originally released on VHS tapes, they are now being re-released on DVD. It is understandable why DVD was chosen. The long-existing format is relatively cheap and the quality of the original tapes would not have justified trying to upscale the content. This all boils down to the quality is as good as it is likely to get.

Initially released as single interviews, the greater capacity of the DVD format means that these have been collected under a single theme.

The Doctors: The Peter Davison Years, produced by Reeltime and released by Koch Media covers the period between nineteen eighty-one and nineteen eighty-four, the period of tenure of Davison’s Doctor. Whilst the bulk of the material covers this period, some of the Doctor companions had started on the show as a companion to Tom Baker, including Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton, and Janet Fielding, each of whom had to join in the eighteenth season, but were gone before the Doctor regenerated. Only Mark Strickson and Gerald Flood, who played the voice of Chameleon were companions to only Peter Davison.

The set is very generous with the amount of content on offer running to several hours. Initially, you get a whopping twenty-six-minute introduction, which covers the maker’s recollections of making the original tapes. This is presented by presenter Robert Dick and producer, Keith Barnfather.

Janet Fielding (58 min 43 sec) played Tegan Jovanka, an Australian air hostess. Plucky and generally presented as a strong character she suffered much from a completely impractical wardrobe, something which Fielding has never been reticent to talk about. Her interview, at least here sets the template for the one-to-one interviews consisting of private recollection of the show as well as the people they worked with. Although Fielding is particularly candid about some of the shortcomings of the show, there seem to be few regrets about her participation.

Sarah Sutton (55 min 41 sec) played Nyssa, an intelligent aristocrat of Trakken. Sutton fared better than Fielding, not least because of her wardrobe, including the flat shoes she so fondly remembers. Like the Fielding interview, this is a combination of old interviews and new.

The one regret is that they never got a one-to-one interview with Peter Davison. In lieu of this, the first disc contains the panel from Panopticon VII (58 min, 31 sec) consisting of Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Mark Strickson, and Gerald Flood. If anyone has ever gone to a convention, you will know what you’re in for. The actors, for the most part, usually comment favourably about their time on the show. They trot out their usual stories and answer questions from the audience.

The piece is introduced by Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), considering the stick he received from being on the show he is happy to look back on his time fondly, even though the cast still gives him a bit of stick on the panel. Because of the nature of the recording, he also will occasionally repeat questions which the panel can hear, but the microphone failed to pick up.

Disc two kicks off with Panopticon VIII (1 hr, 02 min, 06 sec) and another panel introduced by Waterhouse. If you liked the first one, then this is a lot of the same.

Matthew Waterhouse (1 hr, 06 min, 06 sec) played Adric, a mathematical fifteen-year-old genius. Waterhouse got a lot of stick for his portrayal of Adric, to the point of cruelty from some quarters. Few seemed to care that he was what he appeared to be, a young man with little to no acting experience whose previous job had been to cut up newspapers and stick them into folders. Given his treatment, his appearance on the DVD, and his restrained reactions show a kinder reaction to his time on the show, more than his many detractors.

Mark Strickson (Vislor Turlough) was, for much of his run on the show, one of the most interesting companions. Introduced by the Black Guardian to kill the doctor, his duplicitous nature livened up many stories. Unfortunately, and Strickson agrees that when he turned good there was very little for his character to do, which ultimately lead to him leaving the show. This is not Stickson’s fault, a lot of the Davison era was overburdened by companions, fine as individuals, but rarely given enough time with their characters.

Last up we have Anthony Ainley (1 hr, 03 min, 26 sec) who played the second iteration of the Master. Occasionally scurrilous, but always entertaining Ainley recounts, among other things his dislike for John Nathan-Turner, who was the producer of the show.

Individually there are some interesting interviews here. Thematically there are several issues that arise in more than one section, the treatment of the female companions as bimbos and eye candy for the father in the audience. More than anything you get the feeling that there is a genuine fondness for their time on the show and the companionship they shared on and off-screen.


Charles Packer

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