The Jon Pertwee years are justly and fondly remembered as the period during which Doctor Who made perhaps its most indelible impression upon the consciousness of the nation. No longer a simple case of ‘escape the monster and run around in a variety of interchangeable locations’, the programme now took place in a recognisable universe, and these were the years when the cliché about aliens invading the Home Counties was born. Three decades later, Russell T Davies would understandably look to this period for inspiration when reviving the series after a fifteen-year interregnum.
Roughly midway between the two, Keith Barnfather’s Reeltime Pictures started up a little cottage industry, interviewing Doctor Who alumni for a series of VHS releases they called the Myth Makers. Presented and conducted by a then-hirsute, occasionally distracting Nicholas Briggs, the tapes ran to around half an hour and would generally be recorded in a location the interviewee was in some way associated with. Later, the interviews doubled in length and relocated to their subjects’ living rooms, and Barnfather and Briggs would go back to some of their early encounters to record new material and offset the original deficit. As a primer for fans new to the Myth Makers, or maybe a collection for those who might have baulked at buying discs of old interviews absent of “feature material”, The Jon Pertwee Years collects together half a dozen of these conversations, repackaging them across a six-hour, double-disc set and vastly improving the value for money ratio.
The six subjects of this first collection, are all actors associated with the third Doctor’s tenure. Disc 2 comprises a trio of UNIT staffers – the super-enthused John Levene, the dubiously-reputed Richard Franklin, and best of all the affable and always captivating Nicholas Courtney – but the first disc is where the real treasure lies. Alongside his companions Caroline John and Katy Manning, there’s an hour-long conversation (or rather, two half-hour conversations) with the third Doctor himself, Jon Pertwee, conducted in the relaxing surroundings of his own home.
What marks out the Myth Makers interviews as a valuable and unique resource is the lack of affectation and sometimes specificity that you might get with interviews conducted at conventions, or for particular story releases. Here instead, you get a series of fairly informal and wide-ranging conversations with six of the people who contributed in no small manner to the evolution of the series into what we know it as today. The production is so low-key (with occasional exceptions in the early outdoor segments), it’s almost like sitting down to pass the time with Pertwee et al. yourself.
For any classic series fans unacquainted with the Myth Makers, this introductory package is a genuine pleasure, almost revelatory in its simple intimacy.
Special Features: Introduction by Barnfather and Briggs
THE DOCTORS: THE JON PERTWEE YEARS / CERT: E (EXEMPT) / DIRECTOR: KEITH BARNFATHER / WITH: NICHOLAS BRIGGS, JON PERTWEE, KATY MANNING, CAROLINE JOHN, NICHOLAS COURTNEY, RICHARD FRANKLIN, JOHN LEVENE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW