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The Doctors: 30 Years of Time Travel and Beyond

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RealWorld
The Doctors: 30 Years of Time Travel and Beyond
TheDoctorsCover
Original release date: 2002
Runtime: 65 minutes
Key crew
Director: Bill Baggs
Producer: Bill Baggs
Writer: Adrian Rigelsford

The Doctors (sometimes known by its subtitle, 30 Years of Time Travel and Beyond) was a 1995 documentary produced by BBV Productions. It was a sixty-five-minute retrospective on the entire history of Doctor Who from 1963 to 1995. Although unofficial, it included interviews with many famous Doctor Who personalities still alive in 1995. It was mostly compiled from previous interviews conducted by Bill Baggs and his associates.

It featured home movies of the filming of several Doctor Who serials. It contained the first public showing of some colour footage of the filming of a few missing episodes from the 1960s. It also contained interviews with some people who have not generally appeared on official BBC DVD documentaries or commentaries.

Overview Edit

The Doctors interviewed people important to the first thirty-two years of the franchise's history. It was arranged mostly in chronological order and took its viewers through a brief overview of each Doctor's "era" on the programme. In its concluding chapter, it discussed things that had happened to the franchise since its cancellation — such as the continuing life of Doctor Who Magazine and the Virgin New Adventures series. It ended by discussing the early 1990s history of the franchise.

Amateur video Edit

Though published professionally, The Doctors was an amateur production. This was obvious in many interviews, where microphone booms were clearly in shot. At one point, as well, Peter Davison and Mark Strickson were walking at the location of Mawdryn Undead, and they had to alert the cameraman that he was about to back into a park bench. There was no attempt at grading the raw footage, or at fixing technical flaws in the recording. The DVD version, in particular, failed entirely to meet the usual technical specifications of the medium.

Home movies Edit

Aside from the interviews themselves, the only moving pictures in the documentary were home movies of location filming of Doctor Who. As these were not made by the BBC, it cannot exercise any control over their dissemination. The movies on this volume are some of the few published glimpses of the filming of Doctor Who in the 1960s and 1970s. What is believed to be the full, unexpurgated versions of some of the movies were presented as the DVD's only special feature. These movies were also remarkable for being entirely in colour — all the more unusual since some of the filming was of the traditionally monochromatic First and Second Doctors. Serials represented by the home movies included: The Smugglers, The Abominable Snowmen, The Demons, City of Death and Shada. None of the Fourth Doctor's home movies were included in the special features.

Since the DVD was published, however, these movies gradually made their way onto official BBC DVD releases — most notably as a part of the Lost in Time box set.

Interviews Edit

Many of the interviewees were people who would contribute to BBC DVD releases. However, this documentary was one of the few homes to interviews with John Nathan-Turner and Shaun Sutton. The Nathan-Turner portions came from what was likely his longest filmed interview about Doctor Who. It offered rare interviews with two members of the production team of The Dark Dimension — a 1993 project that came close to reviving Doctor Who before the 1996 tele-film.

Unofficial status Edit

Because the producers had no relationship to the British Broadcasting Corporation, they were unable to use any footage from Doctor Who. Still photography was limited to production and advertising stills. Thus, the original interviews which form the basis of the documentary are interspliced with home movies made of the filming of certain episodes of Doctor Who. As a result, the documentary was, at the time of its release, famous for being the first home of some never-before-seen footage, particularly involving the filming of The Smugglers and The Abominable Snowmen, two serials with missing episodes.

Curiously, though, the cover design featured the BBC's trademarked police box design and the DVD menu utilised images of Daleks, whose design is also reserved by the BBC.

Anachronistic release Edit

The length of time between the completion of the documentary and its DVD release set up an interesting phenomenon. Consumers would have bought a "new" DVD, purporting to be a history of "the Doctors", lacking coverage of the Eighth Doctor. They might well have been even more confused by the DVD menu. While the cover had images of only the first seven Doctors, the menu contained a picture of Paul McGann. His name was never even mentioned in the documentary, as all interviews were completed before he had been cast. Nevertheless, the interview with Doctor Who Magazine staff touched briefly on the possibility of a project for Fox Broadcasting in the United States.

Crew Edit

Some members of the crew had significance to the Doctor Who franchise beyond this single production. As with most BBV projects, the principal creative force behind The Doctors was Bill Baggs himself. Adrian Rigelsford was involved as well, though it is unclear exactly what he did. The DVD cover claims he was the writer, but the on-screen credits list him as "consultant". This would seem closer the mark; the piece consisted entirely of interviews. As such it had no narrator, and no obvious opportunity for the employment of a writer in the conventional sense. Nevertheless his influence was fairly obvious. The documentary's coverage of The Dark Dimension was almost certainly because Rigelsford had written Dimension. Nicholas Briggs, more famous for voicing Daleks and being the showrunner at Big Finish Productions, provided the electronic score.

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