Doctor Who : The Weblog of Fear

News and Views on Doctor Who merchandise, books and audio

Animating Doctor Who – The Web of Fear special edition

Last month saw the release of The Web of Fear : Special edition (see my earler blog) which featured an animation of the still-missing third episode. I managed to speak to Adam Boys and David Devjak of Shapeshifter Studio, the Australian company working with Big Finish Creative, responsible for bringing that missing episode to life. Read on to find out how they did it.

Can you tell us a little bit about Shapeshifter Studio (formerly Thaumaturgy), your role in it and where we might have seen your work?
Adam Boys of Shapeshifter Studio
Adam Boys

Adam : Shapeshifter has been operating for over 10 years here in Sydney, and has developed an amazing core team of multi-disciplined post-production and animation specialists. Our main goals are to keep work here in Australia, stay creative with our partners and have fun along the way. I came on board to assist David, the Managing Director with the company’s development into production and for The Web of Fear, I took on the role of Director while David focussed on the animation development. I also performed the motion capture for the 14 or so characters in the episode!

David : I set up Thaumaturgy about 12-years ago when we started providing Colour Grading and Visual Effects work. We grew fairly quickly to cover all of post-production and then more gradually the entire production process. 

The team has worked on over two thousand episodes of Home and Away along with hundreds of other episodes of Australian television including Packed to the Rafters, Allsaints, Playschool, Giggle & Hoot, Australian Story and more. 

Today I mostly take on our development work – like setting up new Visual Effects, improving our animation pipeline, or trying something quite different like AudioBooks. 

David Devjak of Shapeshifter Studio
David Devjak
How did you get involved in animating Doctor Who?

Adam : The company has been lucky enough to work on several of the Doctor Who animated episodes, mainly in a post-production capacity. We have provided compositing services and created some really cool FX over the years. But we also worked with Big Finish on another animation a few years back, Prisoner Zero, which aired on Netflix. David directed several episodes of this and it was a great opportunity for us to show our dedication to taking on more of a production role for Doctor Who.

David : Big Finish set up an animation company in Australia to work on the animated Reign of Terror and they were based quite close to Thaumaturgy on the Central Coast north of Sydney. We helped out on a handful of shots for The Tenth Planet (including the regeneration scene!) and when Big Finish created an original animated show – Prisoner Zero – we had a large role in the animatics and compositing. 

We’ve had a great relationship with the Big Finish team ever since and when Web of Fear came up, we were lucky enough (and extremely grateful) that they and BBC were willing to explore a new approach to the character animation.

Were you familiar with Doctor Who before you were involved or were you new to it?

Adam : The team are massive sci-fi nerds – and we all love various shows in the genre, including Doctor Who. I was brought into the new Who by a friend I had a crush on, which ended up being a great gateway into the show. She moved on, but my love of Doctor Who didn’t. I was such a huge fan of Christopher Eccleston’s performance, too. But as far as classic Who goes, it was not hard to jump right in, as I’d already been a big fan of sci-fi from the era, The Twilight Zone, for instance. And in Australia, we grew up on a lot of British television, so I found no barriers to falling in love with the charm and creative ingenuity of the teams making classic Doctor Who.

David : Big ‘Yes’. 

I watched every rerun of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker as a kid, and I can remember reading about the missing episodes for the first time in a special magazine that was published for the 20th anniversary. 

I’m lucky enough that my daughter now enjoys watching new Who with me.

This animation is more 3-Dimensional than previous stories - how did that decision come about?

Adam : Having worked on many of the previous animated episodes, we’ve seen the success of that style and all the pitfalls. The 2D vector animation is a great way to manage a budget and scale, but can’t manage simple things like the checkered pattern of the Troughton’s pants, for instance. More importantly, our episode needed to fit in the middle of 2 live-action episodes on either side, so we really wanted to bring some unique physical characterisations to the animation style. As well as creating some dynamic lighting and environments that would match with the sets being seen throughout. For me, the actors in this show are so charming in their physical performance, that I really wanted to make sure we carried that through, and honoured them, despite it being animation.

David : The first episode I worked on was The Tenth Planet where we did effects and compositing. We learned a lot from the animation team and the episode was well-received due to the lifelike character motion. Unfortunately, the animation process used – rotoscoping – was extremely time-consuming and expensive and I don’t believe it has been used on Doctor Who since Moon Base was animated. 

We wanted to see if there were new ways to achieve that lifelike performance without becoming quite so expensive and after a lot of tests, we settled on motion capture and using 3D characters. 

What were the particular challenges of doing this animation?

Adam : We loved the process and were met with challenges all throughout. Most of these we were able to learn from and solve without too many issues. David will most likely agree, but the one thing we would love to have had more time to work with is the overall look. If we are lucky enough to continue working on these awesome stories, that’s where we know we can improve. Especially with the advancements in programs like Houdini and Unreal Engine, we want to find that perfect balance that takes full advantage of 3D and motion capture but delivers a final look that has more of that charm and nostalgia of the 2D process.

David : The whole team took really well to the 3D workflow and we are really happy with the character performances we have been able to get this way. The main struggle we had was getting the look and feel of the animation right and have the style sit nicely alongside other animated Doctor Who series. I would like to push any future work we do with this approach to feel more like traditional 2D animation.

How did you make Directing decisions - did you work from the Telesnaps?

Adam : We absolutely took advantage of the telesnaps and existing episodes of The Web of Fear, some of which we endeavour to re-create perfectly. We also had the ability to reach out to the great Frazer Hines, through our stunning producer, Gary Russel, for things like the colour of Victoria’s dress. And of course, there are camera scripts that have survived which help to clarify all kinds of things. But for me, the biggest directorial tool I had was the audio itself. Maybe it’s due to a background in performance, but I loved being able to imagine the actors’ physicalities as they said their lines, interpret all their little motions and interactions – like how Chorley and the Doctor pass each other towards the end of the ep, the audio generated all kinds of nuance and imagination.

David : We looked at every piece of reference we could find.  

Gary Russell and the BBC team were able to provide us with all of the behind-the-scenes and publicity photography from the series and of course we have the existing episodes to work with. This was a fantastic resource for matching things like the sets – we built them to match as closely as we could.  

However, we did learn that some of this material isn’t quite as useful as we expected. 

For instance, how many fingers does a Yeti have? It was quite late in production when we were checking our renders against some of the photographs that we learned there were both 3-fingered and 4-fingered Yeti suits built. 

The Telesnap recreations of the episodes also include a lot of photos that were made especially for the recreation. For instance, when Driver Evans buys a chocolate bar, we built a perfect match for the chocolate bar wrapper in the Telesnap recreation only to learn later that this photo was staged for the recreation and there isn’t any reference for the original prop.

What were your sources when putting the episode into colour, and did you start with the widescreen colour version, or the 4:3 monochrome?

Adam : We worked with 16:9 frames that had 4:3 overlays throughout the entire process. We had to consider the main action being visible in the 4:3 at all times, and then offer extra things for the viewers of the 16:9. These were simple, like a background actor having a private moment or reaction to something. For me, this is what the actors on set would have done.

As far as the colourisation, we used colour references from the time, where we could find them – modern images of army uniforms, images of the types of lights that were used in the Tube, things like this. Having colour graded previous episodes of animated Who, we were familiar with how to maintain that classic BW televised feel and not lose any dynamic elements.

David : BBC was very clear from the outset that they wanted both versions so we had both in mind throughout the project. We ran tests throughout the process of what all of our character and set designs looked like in both colour and monochrome and all of our test renders used a 4:3 frame so we could try to judge both versions. 

When it came time for the final renders, we started with the 16:9 colour, and then we did a lot of reframing and colour grading to produce the 4:3 version from that.

Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

Adam : We are finishing up the post-production on a teen drama that David is a co-producer on, and we are in development for an original animation – a kid’s sci-fi comedy/adventure. 

Unfortunately, I can’t name names, but it’s been great getting to write jokes for kids and apply all our animation experience to something of our own. We also have support from some really prominent names in the Australian animation scene, such as Scott Edgar and Dwayne Labbe, the latter of whom was the lead animator on one of my childhood favourites, Darkwing Duck. Excited to see where this one goes! 

David : We’ve got a real mix of live-action and animation projects coming up. We’re just finalising a six-part Australian drama (which is a little tricky during lockdown!) and we’re in the early development stages on some original sci-fi animation. I’m hoping we’ll be able to use everything we learned on Web of Fear.

Thank you. Also if there's anything else you'd like to mention that I haven't asked about please feel free to add that in.

Adam : I truly hope the fans can see what we were aiming to bring forth with this new approach and trust that we are dedicated to refining and improving this so we can hopefully take this series to some really special places! But most of all, and as cheesy as it sounds, I hope they have as much fun watching as we did making.

David : It has felt like a real honour every time we’ve been able to work on Doctor Who. BBC and Big Finish have been fantastic to work with and we’re very excited by everything that comes up next.

The Web of Fear – Special Edition

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Doctor Who: The Web of Fear has a Special Edition released, available to buy now on on Blu-Ray & DVD.

The Web of Fear

The Web of Fear is a classic Second Doctor story, originally broadcast in 1968. The story was one of the many ‘missing’ episodes that pepper the 1st and 2nd Doctors’ tenures (as the BBC regularly deleted material between 1967 and 1978), but that had been recovered through the diligent work of Phillip Morris in 2013 (see his story below), and got it’s DVD release in 2018 (along with another missing story The Enemy of the World).

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However episode 3 was still missing and, on the DVD, had to be replaced with a soundtrack over a photomontage of telesnaps – not the most satisfactory way of experiencing the story. That episode has now had an animation makeover and is at the heart of this new Special edition.

To find out more about the 2nd Doctor see this earlier article.

The Web of Fear episode 3 animation

There are two versions of the animated episode – one to match the original episodes in black and white and 4:3 ratio and a colour, widescreen version – thus keeping everyone happy, those who want to see old Doctor Who in colour and fitting modern TV screens, and the purists who want to see it as it as close to the original as possible. The animation is brought to you by Thaumaturgy, the same team who animated Fury from the Deep.

The Disk details

The evocative cover for the Blu-Ray has been created by artist, and fan, Lee Binding, who has done many of the recent Doctor Who blu-ray releases (buy prints of his at Redbubble). Below is the text-less cover art.

Cover art for The Web of Fear Special edition Blu-Ray, by Lee Binding
copyright Lee Binding, with permission

There are various commentaries to enjoy from cast, crew and animators, and the original material has been lovingly upscaled to HD. There is also a making-of documentary – “Going Underground”. See below for the full disk contents.

Disk 1- the story

Episodes 1 – 6, including animated Episode 3 (4:3 B&W Version)


  • Episode 1: Ralph Watson (Captain Knight), Frazer Hines (Jamie), Tina Packer (Anne Travers) moderated by Toby Hadoke
  • Episode 1: Deborah Watling (Victoria) and Derrick Sherwin (story editor) moderated by Gary Russell (from the Lost in Time DVD)
  • Episode 2: Roger Bunce (cameraman) and Brian Hodgson (special sound designer) moderated by Toby Hadoke
  • Episode 3: Adam Boys (animation director) and David Devjak (head of studio production Shapeshifter) moderated by Toby Hadoke
  • Episode 4: Ralph Watson, John Levene (Yeti) and Derek Martin (stuntman, soldier) moderated by Toby Hadoke
  • Episode 5: Frazer Hines and Tina Packer moderated by Toby Hadoke
  • Episode 6: Frazer Hines, Sylvia James (make-up designer) and Tim Woolgar (son of Jack Woolgar) moderated by Toby Hadoke

Disk 2 – Bonus features

  • Animated Episode 3 (16:9 Colour Version)
    • with Commentary from Disc 1
  • Reconstructed Episode 3
  • The Missing Years
  • Photo Gallery
  • Making-of Documentary: Going Underground
  • Shapeshifter Animation Process
  • Original Trailer (Animated)
  • The Many Voices of Jack Woolagar
  • PDF Archive
    • Original Scripts
    • Radio Times Billings

Where to buy The Web of Fear Special Edition

Doctor Who – The First Doctor


If you only know the Doctor in the 21st century then this series of articles will fill you in on their previous incarnations, a bit of the history of the TV show, and where to find collectibles, DVDs and books to catch up on the story. (Recent Doctor Who lore has pointed to there being earlier versions of the Doctor than we previously were aware of but, for simplicities sake, I shall still number the Doctors in the order of regenerations that we know for sure.)

In this article we will look at the First Doctor!

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Who is the First Doctor?

When we first meet the Doctor it is through two teachers from Coal Hill School, Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton, who are concerned about one of their pupils, Susan Foreman. She’s a genius but seems scared when Barbara suggests going to her home to discuss her specialising, saying her Grandfather doesn’t like strangers. When Barbara checks out Susan’s address it turns out to be a junkyard, so Ian and Susan follow her ‘home’ one day and see her go into the junkyard, and enter a Police Box.

They meet an old man outside who pretends he didn’t see the schoolgirl, but when Ian and Barbara force their way into the Police Box they are shocked to find an expansive, futuristic control room. Susan and her Grandfather explain that they are aliens, exiled from their own planet, travelling in a space and time machine, that Susan named the TARDIS – Time And Relative Dimension In Space. When Susan threatens to stay on Earth with the Teachers rather than leave with her Grandfather, now they’ve been discovered, the old man sets the Tardis in motion taking them all to prehistoric Earth.

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This Doctor is unable to accurately steer the TARDIS, and never knows where or when they will end up next – one minute it could be an alien planet, the next somewhere in Earth’s history. Ian and Barbara get used to travelling with Susan and her Grandfather, but when they get an opportunity to go home they take it. The time traveller sadly leaves his Granddaughter on Earth in the future, when she falls in love. He continued his random travels with other companions, until meeting his end after defeating the Cybermen.

Why did the first Doctor regenerate?

Towards the end of his first encounter with the Cybermen the Doctor collapses. When asked by companion Polly what’s wrong he says “Oh, I’m not sure, my dear. Comes from an outside influence. Unless this old body of mine is wearing a bit thin.“ All he knows is the he needs to get to the Tardis. Once in there, he begins to change…. [In the 12th Doctor’s final story, Twice upon a Time, he meets the first Doctor fighting against his regeneration, as he’s afraid of going through the process for the first time. But seeing how the 12th Doctor makes a difference to those around him, and saving lives, he decides to go through with it, succumbing to the transformation into the Second Doctor.]

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[We looked at the Second Doctor here!]

The First Doctor’s personality

When we first meet him the Doctor is quite brusque and self-centred. He could be quite manipulative when trying to get his own way – for example when the rest of the group disagree with investigating a city on a dead planet, because of safety concerns, the Doctor claims a piece of tardis mechanism – the ‘fluid link’ – is low on Mercury, and visit to the city is required in order to replace it. (And, thus, we meet the Daleks.) His irritableness is worn away through his interaction with his companions, and he learns from them the necessity to get involved and come to the aid of those in need.

Behind the camera

In 1962 the BBC were looking at whether science-fiction might make make a suitable vehicle for teatime viewing, and this ended up with Canadian Sydney Newman, who had recently come to the BBC as Head of Drama. He took the idea from a BBC report that a time-machine would make a good science-fiction device to base a series on (which could make the series semi-educational with stories set in Earth’s history). He added the ideas of a grumpy frail old man, on the run from his technically advanced planet, and mysteriously known only as The Doctor. And so, the seeds were sown. [To see a more in-depth article on the development of Doctor Who, see the superb Doctor Who News series of articles.]

Who played the First Doctor?

William Hartnell was chosen by producer Verity Lambert (the BBCs youngest, and only female, drama producer) and director Waris Hussein. He was best known for playing Sergeant Major Percy Bullimore in The Army Game, but it was the his role as the aging rugby league talent scout, ‘Dad’ Johnson, in This Sporting Life that caught the eyes of the fledgling Doctor Who makers, leading them to ask him to take on the title role.

He played the role for three years, but failing health led to him  stepping down in 1966, in the second story of the fourth season, The Tenth Planet.  He returned seven years later, taking part in the show’s 10th anniversary story, The Three Doctors,  joining his later selves, played by Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton, but his health was such that it was not much more than a cameo.

[Three other actors have also played the first incarnation of the Doctor on screen :

Richard Hurndall took on the role for the 20th Anniversary episode, The Five Doctors;

David Bradley was the latest version in the 12th Doctor’s swansong, Twice upon a Time (having already played William Hartnell in the docudrama about the origins of the show, An Adventure in  Space and Time); and

Peter Cushing took the first Doctor to the silver screen in the 60s with two movie versions of the first two Dalek stories – Dr Who and the Daleks (1965) and Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966)]

When did the first episode of Doctor Who air?

The very first episode of Doctor Who was shown at 5.16pm on Saturday 23rd November (the day after John  F. Kennedy was assassinated). However a power cut had hit much of the country that day, and BBC executives agreed to repeat the episode the following week, just before episode 2.

What is a 'Police Box'?

Nowadays, the Police Box is synonymous with Doctor Who, as it there is no longer anything else like it. But that was not always the case. In the 1960s these were a regular feature  in may cities, so viewers would be very familiar with them, and they would not look unusual, like they do now. Hence the Tardis’ “chameleon circuit” successfully doing it’s job and coming up with a suitably unobtrusive disguise. (A Tardis should blend into it’s surroundings, nit stand out. ) For some reason, though, the chameleon circuit apparently broke down and the ship remained this classic shape for the rest of it’s life (with one or two brief exceptions).

Version of Police Boxes had existed in the UK since the 1890s, to give the Police better communications and, thus, improve their crime fighting ability. But the classic version we know and love did not appear until the late 1920s in metropolitan London. Their use was phased out in the early 1970s, as the Police started using personal radios.
[To look in more depth at this subject visit The Mind Robber, who has written an excellent article – he is also a great 3D artist and Doctor Who fan, so while you’re there enjoy his many Who-based galleries!]

Doctor Who?

Throughout our time with this first incarnation, he never refers to himself as “the Doctor”. Before meeting him Ian had a notion that Susan’s grandfather was “a doctor”, and initially referred to him as “Doctor Foreman”, as that was the surname that Susan used (and “I. M. Foreman” was on the outside of the junkyard), but it’s clear that’s not his name when he responds “Doctor Who? What’s he talking about?”  It is, of course, this mystery about the Doctor, that was a central point, summarised in the show’s title itself!

First Doctor Infographic

Click here for our First Doctor Infographic

First Doctor Merchandise

Stuff to buy to further your time with the First Doctor.

First Doctor Figures

The First Doctor & Susan, Ian and Barbara Black and White Figurine Set
by Eaglemoss £39.99

9cm tall figurines of the first Doctorm Ian, Barbara & Susan as seen in 'An Unearthly Child' - by Eaglemoss
Mr Men Dr First figurine – £11.99
Funko – First Doctor Nycc 2017 Convention Figurine – £34.99
First Doctor Funko Pop figure

Classic Doctor Who on DVD - The First Doctor

Doctor Who – The Beginning (An Unearthly Child [1963] / The Daleks [1963] / The Edge of Destruction [1964]) – £10.99

Doctor Who – The Space Museum/The Chase [DVD] – £10.99

Doctor Who: The Aztecs [DVD] – £5.99

Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror [DVD] – £5.99

Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion Of Earth [DVD] [1964] – £5.99

Doctor Who: The Rescue & The Romans [DVD] – £5.99

Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet [DVD] – £6.99

Doctor Who – The Five Doctors (25th Anniversary Edition) [1983] – £5.99

Doctor Who – Lost in Time [DVD] [1963] – £10.99

Other First Doctor video

Doctor Who And The Daleks (Peter Cushing) [Blu-ray] – £12.99

Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (Peter Cushing) [Blu-ray] – £12.99

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2017 – Twice Upon A Time BD [Blu-ray] – £7.99

An Adventure in Space and Time [DVD] – £6.99

First Doctor Audio

Doctor Who: The Massacre: A 1st Doctor Novelisation Audio CD – Unabridged – £16.00

Doctor Who: The Ark: 1st Doctor Novelisation Audio CD – Unabridged £14.24

Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection One 1964-1965: Narrated full-cast TV soundtracks Audio CD – Unabridged – £35

Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection Three: 1st and 2nd Doctor TV Soundtracks Audio CD – £24.44

Doctor Who: The Web Planet: 1st Doctor TV soundtrack Audio CD – Unabridged – £10.97

The First Doctor Adventures – Volume 1 (Big Finish Audio) Audio CD – £25.49

First Doctor books

Doctor Who and the Daleks – £6.95 (£2.49 kindle)

Doctor Who: The Three Doctors – £8.19 (£2.99 kindle)

Doctor Who: Dr. First (Roger Hargreaves) £4.45 (£3.49 kindle)

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Where to buy the 2021 Doctor Who Calendar

2021 Calendars

We may be half way through 2021, but you may still need a calendar, and there are bargains to be had – Doctor Who included!

There are three Doctor Who 2021 calendars currently available : two wall calendars – 12th Season specific (Jodie Whitaker’s 13th Doctor), and one featuring all the TV Doctors;  the other is a desk calendar featuring every story from it’s 50+ year history. You can also buy a desk planner, and a diary.

(If you remember Doctor Who being on VHS then you may well enjoy the 2021 Calendar by artist Andrew Skilleter, who created many of the covers, and this calendar celebrates them, and you can buy it from his website for £15.99 £7.99)

These are available from Amazon, but also from Calendar Club who, at the time of writing have 20% off, if you spend £15 or more (so if you buy two £9.99 calendars, you’ll pay £16 – and you get free delivery if you spend £10 or more. This finishes 30th October).

The Calendars

13th Doctor (Season 12)

Blackwells £7.49 (click on the banner below)

Front cover of Season 12 2021 Doctor Who calendar
The June pages from the Season 12 2021 Doctor Who calendar featuring The Master and the Time Lord Cybermen
The rear cover of the Season 12 2021 Doctor Who calendar featuring all 13 pictures

Desk Calendar - The Story So Far

Front cover of the Doctor Who desk calendar - The Story So Far
Page for 1st June of the Doctor Who desk calendar - The Story So Far - featuring the 5th Doctor Story 'Snakedance'
Rear cover of Doctor Who desk calendar

2021 slim Diary

front cover of the Doctor Who 2021 slim diary (which is the front of the Tardis)

The Desk Pad

Out of print (sorry!)

Front cover of Doctor Who desk pad
A page from the 2021 Doctor Who desk pad giving space for notes for a week

'Classic' Edition - all the TV Doctors

Out of print (sorry!)

Front cover of the Classic Edition 2021 Doctor Who Calendar
June section of the Classic Edition 2021 Doctor Who Calendar featuring the 7th Doctor
Rear cover of the Classic Edition 2021 Doctor Who Calendar featuring all the Doctors

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at  Doctor Who calendars. If you have, please leave some comments below, and please sign up to my newsletter to get deals, news & views from the worlds of Doctor Who by e-mail. Thanks.

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Doctor Who : Time Lord Victorious – Road to the Dark Times Blu-Ray

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Road to the Dark Times

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The Dark Times. A universe where Death is still finding its feet. A universe where terrible races are born into eternal battle. Where the Great Vampires rage across the skies, where the Racnoss devour worlds, where gods play games with the future. A universe before even the Time Lords. A history that it is forbidden to enter. The ultimate battleground between the Dalek Empire and the Time Lord Victorious. Welcome to the Dark Times.

The Time Lord Victorious story is set in the Dark Times, as the Doctor comes face to face with Death (or, at least, the race who bring death to the universe – the Kotturuh) and the Daleks.

This Blu-Ray brings you TV stories linked, at least tangentially, to those Dark Times. If you are just a 21st century Doctor Who fan, this could be a great way to discover what the ‘classic’ 20th century show was all about. Meet the 3rd, 4th and 7th incarnations of the Doctor dealing with Daleks, vampires, Time Lords and ancient evil. And be reminded of how the 10th Doctor became the ‘Time Lord Victorious’! Four Doctors, seven tales, one epic backstory!

The Seven Stories

These seven stories aren’t, on the face of it, linked but bring a back story to either the Daleks, the Time Lords, or some of the ancient evil that existed before either of them.

The Third Doctor

Planet of the Daleks
After pursuing the Daleks through space, the third Doctor lands on the planet of Spiridon, in the midst of a tropical jungle. There he, and his companion Jo Grant, find more than just Daleks. Poison-spitting plants, an ancient Dalek enemy, invisible aliens and a vast hidden vast army waiting to mobilise and conquer.
Just another day at the office!

The Fourth Doctor

Genesis of the Daleks
The Time Lords give the Fourth Doctor a mission – stop the Daleks becoming the dominant force in the universe, in whatever way necessary. (My ‘head canon’ says that this was part of the Dalek/Time Lord Time War, as seen in 21st century Doctor Who.) Follow the Doctor, with companions Harry Sullivan & Sarah Jane Smith, as they witness the birth of the Doctor’s deadliest foe at the hand of their creator Davros – will they be able to avert the Genesis of the Daleks?

The Deadly Assasin
The Fourth Doctor, travelling alone, returns to his home world of Gallifrey, where he is arrested for the assasination of the Time Lord President. Can the Doctor discover who is really behind this plot, and will he survive a battle of the minds in The Matrix?

State of Decay
The Fourth Doctor and travelling companions , the Time Lady Romana and faithful robot dog K-9 (and, unknown to them, the young stowaway, Adric) are trapped in the universe of E-Space. They land on a planet with a medieval society, where the peasants live in fear of the Three Who Rule – immortal vampires. They discover that, behind it all is a mighty, ancient enemy of the Time Lords, who is slowly regaining power. Can the Doctor and Romana defeat The Great One, before becoming vampire sacrifices?

The Seventh Doctor

The Curse of Fenric
The Seventh Doctor and Ace arrive in wartime Britain, but discover a foe far greater than the Nazis – an ancient evil who has been manipulating the Doctor in order to get released from the prison the Time Lord himself had put him in centuries before. A story involving Vikings, vampiric Heamovores, ancient evil, WWII decoding machines, deception and faith – Business as Usual for the Doctor.

The Tenth Doctor

The Runaway Bride
The Tenth Doctor finds Donna Noble transported on to the TARDIS direct from her wedding – and she’s not happy! Returning to Earth mysteries pile up, ending up with the Doctor facing the Empress of the Racnoss – a race thought to be wiped out by fledgling Empires in the Dark Times. Can the Doctor stop The Empress from destroying the Earth, and will Donna finally get to have her Moroccan honeymoon?

The Waters of Mars
The Tenth Doctor lands on Mars, only to discover that it is the doomed Bowie Base One – a fixed point in time that he cannot change. As the members of the crew each become infected by a Martian virus the Doctor suddenly decides that, as he is the last Time Lord, he can determine which Laws of Time apply and which don’t! Can the Doctor stop the Martian virus from reaching Earth, and will he regret becoming the Time Lord Victorious?

Where to get The Road to the Dark Times for the best price

The Blu Ray is out on November 9th, but is available for pre-order now. Here are the best deals I could find:
Amazon : £22.99
Zoom: £22.99

The Time Lord Victorious is a multi-stranded story, being told with books, audio and comic strips. To see more details about what's to come in the Time Lord Victorious stimeline see my earlier Blog here!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look at the Road to the Dark Times Blu-Ray. If you have, please leave some comments below, and please sign up to my newsletter to get deals, news & views from the worlds of Doctor Who by e-mail. Thanks.

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25% off Doctor Who at Zoom

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Zoom Day is featuring 25% off if you spend £15 on Doctor Who. Ends midnight (UK time) today 28/09/20.

Click here for the deal.

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Fury from the Deep – Where to find the best deals

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The 60s Doctor Who story, Fury from the Deep, has had an animation makeover and is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and limited edition Steelbook. Below we’ll talk about the best places to buy it, some background to the story and, in this year that would have been Patrick Troughton’s centenary, it seems fiiting to discuss the Second Doctor’s era in more detail (and discuss where you can buy more of his stories, and other items).

Fury from the Deep

Combination picture of Fury from the Deep standard DVD box, and Limited Edition Blu-Ray steelbook

Fury from the Deep is one of the missing stories from the 1960s, when the BBC wiped various recordings to make room for new ones (thinking that people wouldn’t be interested in seeing them again[!]). The story featured in the series’ fifth season, and took part over six episodes. It’s notable for featuring the first appearance of the Doctor’s trusty sonic screwdriver, and the last appearance of companion Victoria. Not much of the original recording is left, but what is left is available as one of the Special features.

The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Victoria and Jamie to the Kent coast of England, where the ESGO complex is drawing up natural gas under the North Sea via a huge network of pipes linked to their off-shore rigs. But the Doctor is convinced he can hear something in the pipes, a heartbeat, something… alive?

Others at the complex have heard it too, and one by one contact with the rigs is being lost. But Chief Robson will have none of it, and work will continue. And so it does… until sentient, aggressive seaweed begins attacking the base and taking over the personnel one by one, creating a spearhead from which is will launch its attack and enslave the entire human race… Can the Doctor discover a way to stop the weed advancing? Or does the only real chance of success lie with Victoria and if it does, can a way be found to utilise that without harming one of the Doctor’s very best friends…

Special Features

All six episodes animated in HD and full colour Episode 6 Behind the Scenes 8mm Footage
Alternate Black & White presentationBehind the Scenes
Audio Commentaries Photo Gallery
Episode 6 Film TrimsPDF Scripts
New 5.1 Surround Mix by Mark Ayres Teaser Trailer
Production Subtitles The Cruel Sea- Making Fury From the Deep
Surviving Footage The Slide Audio Drama
Telesnap Reconstruction with Optional Narration by Frazer HinesArchive Interviews

Where to buy (updated 29/09/20)

 SteelbookBlu-RayDVD £45.99£18.99£14.99
ZoomSold out!£18.99£14.99
HMVSold out!£19.99£14.99
Ebaybids from £11.50£18.50£13.99

Who is the Second Doctor?

In case you only know 21st century Doctor Who (Christopher Eccleston -> Jodie Whittaker), or just want to dig a bit deeper into the Second Doctor stories, here’s a bit of background, and some places to find out more.

Patrick troughton as The Doctor, playing a recorder

Doctor Who began in 1966 and for three years the title character was played by William Hartnell. He loved playing this children’s hero, but became ill and would no longer be able to carry on in the role. This could have been a major problem for the BBC, but the writers of the show came up with the idea that, as The Doctor is an alien, perhaps he could ‘renew’ his body and, thus, be played by a different actor! An idea we’re all comfortable with now, but was a major gamble at the time, as they did not know if the show could still be  successful without it’s familiar leading man.

Producer Innes Lloyd chose Patrick Troughton for his wide experience and versatility (see IMDB for his credits), and the decision was made to play him as a “cosmic hobo”, a bit like a Charlie Chaplin in space. Troughton was very nervous about stepping into Bill Hartnell’s shoes, and felt the pressure of the show upon him. But audiences were won round to this charming, sometimes clown-like figure, who’s outer joviality hid a steel-trap of a mind, and a deep sense of justice.

The second Doctor fought many monsters, old and new. The Cybermen featured in 4 stories, and the Daleks in 2, and new returning enemies arose in this era : the Ice Warriors and the Great Intelligence. This Doctor travelled with many companions – two he inherited from the “first” Doctor Ben (Michael Craze) and Polly (Anneke Wills), soon to be joined by young Scot Jamie McCrimmon (Fraser Hines) who stayed with this Doctor from the second story right through to his last. Jamie was joined by Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling) and Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury). This era also saw the first stories to feature UNIT, with their leader, firstly Colonel, later Brigadier, Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney).

2nd Doctor with a Yeti, Dalek, Ice Warrior, Cyberman and Kroton

The end for the Second Doctor came in an epic ten-part story, The War Games, where we ended six years of mystery, finding out that The Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. When he reluctantly calls on his people – from whom he is on the run – to help, they do so but they also put the Doctor on trial for breaking their laws of non-interefence in other worlds. The Doctor puts up a strong defence saying that there are evils in the Universe that need fighting, but is sentenced to exile on a planet he has shown much interest in – Earth – and for his appearance to be changed again . . .

Troughton seemed unaware how loved his Doctor was until he started participating in conventions in the 80s, and was thrilled to find out. He reprised his role in the 10th anniversary story The Three Doctors, and the 20th anniversary The Five Doctors, and the non-anniversary The Two Doctors with sixth Doctor, Colin Baker.

Where you can find 2nd Doctor stories and collectables

Before I ever saw him on TV I first encountered the Second Doctor through the story novelisations by Target. You can find many of these on Ebay and Amazon, and you can hear many of them being read as audiobooks on Audible. Some of them have also been made into beautiful, collectable vinyl albums ( like The Abominable Snowmen).

Doctor Who - The Abominable Snowmen Vinyl

You can, of course, buy the DVDs/Blu-Rays. Some are the whole story. Others, because the original was wiped,  like Fury, are animated (The Faceless Ones, Power of the Daleks). Some are stories that were missing, but have now been found – like this blog’s name’s sake The Web of Fear, and The Enemy of the World), and you can hear the story of how they were found in the interview below for the ‘Time Space Visualiser’ virtual con. You can find the DVDs at Amazon, Zoom and Zavvi.

I have made a list of all the 2nd stories and how they are able to be experienced – Target novelisation, audio recording with narration, audiobook, dvd and blu-ray. Go to the ‘Extras’ link at the top of the page (or click here).

If this has given you a taste for the Second Doctor and you want to hear new stories, there are a few ways you can do this.  Big Finish continue to produce classic Doctor stories, and you can find Second Doctor ones here. You can also buy CDs of these stories on Amazon, and hear them on Audible.

Finally you can commemorate the Second Doctor with various other items of interest from stamp covers, to a model of the Doctor with the Tardis‘Mr Men books’, all of which can be found at Amazon, and figurines & badges available from Eaglemoss. Iwoot also have various Second Doctor items like artwork or, if you’re so inclined, a mask!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look at the time of the Second Doctor. If you have, please leave some comments below, and please sign up to my newsletter to get deals, news & views from the worlds of Doctor Who by e-mail. Thanks.

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The Best deals on the Doctor Who Annual 2021

Disclosure: This post may containe Affiliate Links, so I earn a commission. See Privacy Policy for more info.

Today sees the release of this year’s Official Doctor Who annual (2021), by Random House Childrens, Penguin & BBC Studios, and we’ve listed the best deals we could find .

Packed with the usual activities, puzzles and stories, the annual also links in with the current multi-stranded Time Lord Victorious storyline, with a guide to the ‘Dark Times’ in a special River Song story! There’s also a peek into the world of the TARDIS with a TARDIS Tour and TARDIS Trip Reviewer. Plus more in depth fact files on episodes like Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror and multiple opportunities to get to know your enemies better with breakdowns of 12th season monsters like the Skithra, the Dregs, the CyberMasters and much more. 

The Best Deals

The Recommended Retail Price is £7.99, and here are the top deals we could find:

Blackwells £6.50
Forbidden Planet £5.99
Foyles £7.99
Waterstones £7.99
The Time Lord Victorious is a multi-stranded story, being told with books, audio and comic strips. To see more details about what's to come in the Time Lord Victorious stimeline see my earlier Blog here!

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Where to buy”Defender of the Daleks” #1

Today marks the start of the Doctor Who Time Lord Victorious, and is kicked off by by issue one of Defender of the Daleks from Titan comics. Below I have listed the various places you can buy it, and the prices so you can get the best deal!

Forbidden Planet (main variant covers A-E) £3.75 (+£1 p&p) 

Forbidden Planet (Ltd Ed FP exclusive variant)
– only 500 printed! £12.99 (& £3 p&p)

Time Lord Victorious Trailer

To find out more about the other elements of the Time Lord Victorious adventure, see my earlier blog post here.

Cover Variants

Cover by Lee Binding featuring the Eighth, Nineth and Tenth Doctors
Cover A (Lee Binding)
Cover B by Priscilla Pertaites
Cover B (Priscilla Petraites)
Time Lord Victorious "Defender of the Daleks" Issue 1 Cover C by Andie Tong
Cover C (Andie Tong)
Cover D by Hendry Prasetya
Cover D (Hendry Prasetya)
Cover E a sketch version of Cover D by Hendry Prasetya
Cover E (Hendry Prasetya)
Forbidden Planet special cover for limited edition, one Dalek based on the main one from Cover D
Forbidden Planet special Cover (Hendry Prasetya)

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Time Lord Victorious – join the adventure

Disclosure: This post may contain Affiliate Links, so I earn a commission. See Privacy Policy for more info.

Missing Doctor Who? Can’t wait until series 13 for more adventures in space and time? Then perhaps this epic adventure will help tide you over.

Doctor Who has a long history of imaginative stories, but I don’t know if it has attempted anything as ambitious as the Time Lord Victorious – a story that encompasses books, comics, audio adventures, figurines, escape rooms and features three different incarnations of The Doctor, along with foes old and new.

See the Time Lord Victorious trailer here.

So, where and when can you buy the different elements and follow this story?

1. September
2. October
3. November
4. December
5. 2021
6. Conclusion & calendar


Defender of the Daleks cover - an illustration of the Tenth Doctor brandishing his sonic screwdriver, surrounded by hundreds of daleks.

So it begins
It all starts on 2nd September with the Tenth Doctor facing his old enemies in Defender of the Daleks issue 1 by Titan Comics. “When the Doctor faces his ancient foes once again, it soon becomes clear that things aren’t what they seem – time is all wrong and something is coming that terrifies even the Daleks.

It’s written by Jody Houser (Spider-Man: Renew your vows, Stranger Things volume 3, the Thirteenth Doctor Volume 2) and illustrated by Roberta Ingranata (the Thirteenth Doctor – a Tale of two Time Lords, Witchblade), the first issue will have five different covers, (and a special Forbidden Planet-specific one). Issue 2 follows on 8th October.

See this blog to see what purchase options there are for Defender of the Daleks!

The latest Doctor Who Annual, out on September 3rd, contains the next connected story – featuring the time-travelling archeologist, River Song (more information to follow when we know it).

See more details about the annual here.
Monstrous Beauty cover - an illustration of the Ninth Doctor and Rose on an alien planet running from alien soldiers and spaceships who are shooting at them.

The next linked story will be part 1 of Monstrous Beauty, a Ninth Doctor and Rose comic strip in issue 556 of Doctor Who magazine (out 17th September), written by Scott Gray (Doctor Who: The Clockwise War, Batman: Night of the Owls) who created the strip with artist John Ross (Doctor Who: The Clockwise War, Star Wars: Honor and Duty). The story continues over the next two issues.


1st October sees the 10th Doctor kick off the main story, with the BBC book The Knight, The Fool and the Dead by Steve Cole (Young Bond – Shoot to Kill, Doctor Who: Combat Magicks), and we’re introduced to a new character, Brian the Ood. (New to us, at least but, as you’ll see later, not to the Doctor).

The cover of 'The Knight, The Fool and the Dead' - showing the Tenth Doctor on an alien planet with an Ood and, in the background, a mysterious hooded figure.

The Doctor travels back to the Ancient Days, an era where life flourishes and death is barely known… Then come the Kotturuh – creatures who spread through the cosmos dispensing mortality.” However “the Doctor is an old hand at cheating death. Now, at last, he can stop it at source. He is coming for the Kotturuh, ready to change everything so that Life wins from the start. Not just the last of the Time Lords. The Time Lord Victorious.

The Cover of 'Short Trips: Master Thief / Lesser Evils' featuring a mysterious hooded person, and two versions of the Master (as portrayed by Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley)

Next we move from The Doctor to his nemesis, The Master in Big Finish’s short story audio Short Trips : Master Thief / Lesser Evils. This is will be available from 7th October (but can be pre-ordered now) as a digital download. A CD version will be available as part of the Eighth Doctor bundle (see below). Master Thief, by Sophie Iles (Doctor Who Magazine contributor, and artist) features the first incarnation of The Master that we met on the television (opposite Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee), as played by the late Roger Delgado. His renegade Time Lords boots are filled by by voice artist Jon Culshaw (probably best known for his impressions on BBC Radio 4’s Dead Ringers – where, amongst others he brilliantly impersonates Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker). He also takes on the mantle of the other incarnation of The Master to feature in these stories, as played on screen by the late Anthony Ainley (opposite the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors!) – Lesser Evils is written by Simon Guerrier (Doctor Who : The Women who Lived, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Slayer Stats, and many Big Finish audio adventures).

8’s here
Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor takes the reins next in the first of a Big Finish audio trilogy – He Kills me, He Kills me not – available October 14th. Written by new author, Carrie Thompson, it features the return of his oldest enemies, the Daleks and (re)introduces us to Brian the Ood.

The cover of 'He Kills me, He kills me not', featuring the Eighth Doctor standing in front of the tardis holding his sonic screwdriver, next to an Ood in a tuxedo.

On the desert world of Atharna, the Doctor’s life is about to be changed forever. Looking to visit one of the Seven Hundred Wonders of the Universe, he’s quickly embroiled in a web of deceit. Worse than that, this Wonder of the Universe is missing, and the Doctor is about to encounter one of his most dangerous and duplicitous adversaries. The Doctor is about to meet Brian.

A picture of the two Dalek figures, a golden Emperor, and a silver and blue drone.

October 20th see the first Time Lord Victorious figurines from Eaglemoss/Hero Collector – the Dalek Emperor & Dalek Drone. They will be a 1:21 scale and are the first of four sets, followed on November 1st by the Dalek Commander and Dalek Scientist.


The Eighth Doctor continues his adventure on November 11th, with the next in the Big Finish audio trilogy – The Enemy of my Enemy, by Tracy Ann Baines.

The cover of 'The enemy of my enemy' with the Eighth Doctor stood on an alien planet with three daleks behind him, looking at him.

The people of Wrax are happy to begin peaceful negotiations with the Dalek Empire. The two species are preparing to engage in an alliance that will last throughout the ages. The only one who seems to object to this happy union is the Doctor. He knows that you can never trust the Daleks. But more than that, he knows that the Wraxians should never have existed…

Doctor Who day, November 23rd, see the 3rd Eaglemoss/Hero Collector set released – Dalek Executioner and Dalek Strategist.

8 & 10 on vinyl
Doctors Eight and Ten join forces (well, almost) in Echoes of Extinction – a dual story released on vinyl LP on November 27th (from selected Asda stores), and on download from Big Finish on December 4th. These two seperate, but interlinked, stories are written by Alfie Shaw, a Producer, Director and author at Big Finish, and also stars other actors from the worlds of Doctor Who – Arthur Darvill, Torchwood’s Burn Gorman and Mina Anwar ( The Sarah Jane Adventures).

The cover of 'Echoes of Extinction' - 
A picture of the Eighth and Tenth Doctors with aliens behind them.

“Trapped, a haunted monster waits to consume new victims. It needs help. It needs a doctor. Unfortunately, it also needs to kill whoever it meets. Thrust into immediate danger, and on the back-foot, it will take all of the Doctor’s ingenuity to triumph.

Two interlinked adventures. Two Doctors. One foe.”


December 3rd sees the Tenth Doctor, and Brian the Ood, feauture in the BBC Audio The Minds of Magnox, written by Darren Jones who has penned several Doctor Who audios for BBC Audio and Big Finish. The story will be told buy actor Jacob Dudman – who has read Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor stories for Big Finish. This is the first BBC Audio that will be available as download, CD and Vinyl. (The CD will be available from Forbidden Planet.)

The cover of 'The Minds of Magnox' featuring the Tenth Doctor and an Ood.

In this original story, the Doctor travels with Brian, the Ood assassin, to the planet Magnox, one of the greatest receptacles of knowledge the universe will ever know, and home to the Minds of Magnox. The Doctor needs to ask a vital question, but the answer is Grade 1 Classified. In order to gain an audience with the Minds of Magnox he must take a dangerous test. 

Meanwhile, Brian gets involved with a criminal group and is asked to assassinate the Minds of Magnox. However, others also have the planet within their sights…

The Trilogy completed
The third installment of the Eighth Doctor trilogy, Mutually Assured Destruction, is released December 9th. It’s by Lizzie Hopley, who has gone from acting in Doctor Who audios to writing them!

The cover to 'Mutually Assured Destruction' with the Eighth Doctor stood in front of an exploding futuristic building.

The fallout of the great battle.

Outnumbered and alone, on a Dalek time-ship careering through the vortex, the Doctor must use all his cunning to survive. As the saucer disintegrates around them, the Doctor is trapped with a crew of increasingly desperate Daleks.

Or are the Daleks trapped with him?

It all comes together
Finally (for this year, at least) the various story threads culminate in Una McCormack’s All Flesh is Grass published by BBC books on December 10th. Una is a New York Times best seller of Science Fiction who is passionate about “women’s writing, science fiction, and helping people find their words and voices.” Her previous works include the Star Trek: Picard novel The Last Best Hope, (which became a USA Today bestseller), and Doctor Who: The King’s Dragon.

The cover to 'All flesh is grass' with the Tenth Doctor in Gallifreyan regalia, stood in front of the Eighth and Ninth Doctors, with an army of flying Daleks behind them.

The Tenth Doctor has sworn to stop the Kotturuh, ending death and bringing life to the universe. But his plan is unravelling – instead of bringing life, nothing has changed and all around him people are dying. Death is everywhere. Now he must confront his former selves – one in league with their greatest nemesis and the other manning a ship of the undead… .


A picture of a person dressed up in the fourth Doctor's long scarf looking at the tardis which has behind it to the right modern london, with the London Eye, and behind it to the left wartime London with searchlights and zeppelins.

Next year there is another Eaglemoss/Hero Collector to look forward to – Brian the Ood, with the tenth Doctor in his Gallifreyan Time Lord Victorious garb (March 1st, pictures to follow, when available) and a new immersive experience called Time Fracture, which is open for booking (with dates from 17th February).


So the next 4 months have a roller-coaster of a multi-threaded adventure with the Eighth, Nineth and Tenth Doctors as they fight death itself, work with the Daleks and meet Brian the Ood. Stories to read and listen to (to be enjoyed on their own, or as part of the bigger picture), and linked collectibles to add to your shelf.
And all in time for Christmas!

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