The late 1960s saw Doctor Who in decline, and indeed almost cancelled altogether. The stories had become repetitive, the Daleks had gone seemingly forever, and the series was beginning to look rather cheap and creaky. By 1969, audiences had dwindled to a third of what they had been in 1965.
And yet none of the classic Doctors are thought of with more love and respect than Patrick Troughton’s second, despite his tenure in the TARDIS coinciding with the aforementioned problems. In part, this is because of Troughton’s superlative, gentle and yet harried performance. And to a very great extent, it’s because of the chemistry that Troughton had with all five of his companions. The team that finished the decade, with Troughton alongside his signature companion Jamie and spirited newcomer Zoe, has a balance and rapport to rival any regular cast from Doctor Who’s entire fifty-plus year history.
This latest release from the archives of Keith Barnfather’s Myth Makers interviews, comprises conversations with all five of those companions. It begins with a fifty-minute tribute to Patrick Troughton which also includes clips from Nicola Bryant (who worked with him on The Two Doctors) and the likes of Shaun Sutton, Christopher Barry and Derrick Sherwin, as well as a convention recording of Troughton himself. Introduced by Nicholas Briggs, this documentary tells the story of the second Doctor’s travels from the perspective of those most intimately involved in them, and while it doesn’t of necessity feature any clips from his episodes, it is nevertheless both comprehensive and compelling.
The rest of the interviews that make up this five-and-a-half hour package are the usual mixture of indoor and out, old and new, contrived and natural, and while the picture quality might not be what you’d get from the BBC, the in-depth conversations – which aren’t unedited but have the feel of the unabridged about them – go into far greater depth and allow their subjects much more breathing space to really get into their topics. What really helps is how the subjects quickly drop their professional, convention going patois and soon fall into the unaffectedness of easy company that you’d never see in public spaces.
If you think you’ve heard all the anecdotes and there’s nothing new to discover about these people, then you’ll be surprised at how Briggs as an interviewer sits back and lets the actors reveal as much about themselves as their time working on Doctor Who, aided by some of the locations chosen to record in. It’s a shame Koch Media couldn’t have licensed Troughton’s American PBS footage to complete the set, but that doesn’t mar what is an otherwise exemplary collection, and what is for vintage Doctor Who fans, an essential purchase.
Special Features: Introduction
THE DOCTORS – THE PAT TROUGHTON YEARS / CERT: E / DIRECTOR: KEITH BARNFATHER / STARRING: PATRICK TROUGHTON, ANNEKE WILLS, MICHAEL CRAZE, FRAZER HINES, DEBORAH WATLING, WENDY PADBURY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW