DVD Review: Doctor Who - The Greatest Show in the Galaxy / Director: Alan Wareing / Screenplay: Stephen Wyatt / Starring: Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Christopher Guard / Release Date: Out Now
The final Seventh Doctor/McCoy DVD to be released finally limps its way on to our shelves with an absence of fanfare that is almost deafening.
In fan circles, the story is known for one specific character, Whizz Kid, who mumbles some infamous lines about ‘the show not being as good as it used to be’ and then going on to comment that the early unseen shows must have been better.
Yes, these are side swipes at fandom that came with the blessing of the show’s much criticised producer. Fandom seldom forgives and almost never forgets and it is rather sad that this one issue has come to dominate the way that this story is seen by many.
The story itself contains many of the themes that seem familiar. Ace facing up to a childhood phobia (did the Seventh Doctor simply want this poor girl to suffer?) The feel of Celestial Toy Maker and yet it is quite defiantly its own creature.
At the invite of intergalactic junk mail, the Doctor decides to take his companion to the Psychic Circus on the planet Segonax. There they find a group of scared performers who live in fear of the sinister and (unsurprisingly) creepy Chief Clown.
Being Doctor Who there is even more to fear about this particular circus, why is there such a small audience (a problem facing so many real circuses) and a set of malevolent creatures thrown in to boot.
There are some standout performances that drag this story above its general perception. The punk Werewolf played by Jessica Martin is a character worthy of modern Who while the ‘Bloke from EastEnders’ Market’ is both malevolent and chilling while being one of the more OTT performances in the shows history.
The recording of this story was so beset with incident that it is a small wonder that it was ever finished. The discovery of asbestos meant that it was largely shot in a car park.
The Disc comes with a commentary from Sophie Aldred, Jessica Martin and Christopher Guard, writer Stephen Wyatt, script editor Andrew Cartmel and composer Mark Ayres. McCoy was sadly unavailable due to wizarding duties on the other side of the world.
The obligatory ‘making of’ has been christened The Show Must Go On. There are a handful of deleted and extended scenes, including unused model effects shots originally intended for the story but never seen due to its harsh lighting – which is odd as it’s one of the most realistic I’ve ever seen.
As often happens with 2/entertain there is often the odd gem discovered and in The Psychic Circus we have a music video set to a song written by Christopher Guard and featuring vocals by Christopher Guard, Jessica Martin and TP McKenna, it was produced by Mark Ayres and there had been plans to release it as a seven inch single.
The Disc also contains Remembrance Demo Two scenes from Remembrance of the Daleks re-scored by Mark Ayres and another instalment of Tomorrow’s Times.
Included is also the Doctor Who sketch from Victoria Wood – as seen on TV. The usual goodies in the form of Radio Times listings, glorious programme subtitles, a photo gallery and a lovely coming soon trailer for Planet of Giants.