Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Doctor Who historical queries

1) Until I deleted the relevant paragraph, Wikipedia recorded the following incident as having occurred during the making of The Seeds of Death:
According to Peter Bryant, William Hartnell made an unscheduled visit to the studio during recording of this serial. Bryant claimed Hartnell voiced his disaproval of Wendy Padbury's "skimpy" clothing, accusing the production team of making "pornography" and telling them that they were all "cursed". Bryant claimed that Hartnell argued with Patrick Troughton and told the production team that he wanted his old role back. Bryant said he later concluded that Hartnell had been "reduced to such foolishness" by his illness.
The source is given as Eric Luskin, Doctor Who in the 60s, p. 98. If this is true, I'm a bit surprised that nobody refers to it in the commentary for the DVD. But I am made suspicious by a more detailed account of what is said to be in the source. This web page says:
UNIT was, according to Peter Bryant, "set up to prevent Earth being attacked by aliens", and was quite successful, prompting the production team to decide that from 1970 the Doctor would be exiled to Earth and forced to help UNIT as their Scientific Advisor. Patrick Troughton was very excited by this idea, but problems arose for him whilst working on The Seeds Of Death, when William Hartnell arrived unexpectedly in the studio, thinking that he was still the Doctor and began ordering people around. In an American book about the series, Peter Bryant recalled what happened:

"Pat was very irritated by Bill's mad behaviour, and went over and told him to get out, but Bill started telling everyone about the time he said, 'One day, I shall come back', and explained that the time was now. Things got worse and worse, particularly when Bill saw Wendy Padbury [who played companion Zoe], as she was wearing a very sixties 'dolly bird' costume. He called it explicit porn, and said we were all cursed. The BBC security men then threw him out, but I was saddened by such a great man being reduced to foolishness by his illness."

This incident disturbed Troughton greatly, and he announced that he wanted to leave the programme, as did Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury. This caused a great deal of consternation, as Peter Bryant was also bent on leaving to work on more adult drama programmes.
The source is given as Doctor Who In The Swinging Sixties, by Eric Luskin (Star Books, 1988). There is a lot of circumstantial detail that doesn't check out about this story; apart from anything else, the front page of the site makes it clear that it is not a serious assemblage of facts. Argument from silence is never foolproof, but it's surprising that Wood and Miles, Howe and Walker and Cornell, Day and Topping all chose to draw a veil over this incident, if they knew of it. (I know that Cornell for one is no big fan of Hartnell's.)

If the story was indeed The Seeds of Death, Hartnell's reported reaction to Zoe's costume is rather surprising, as she spends most of it in a fairly modest outfit, certainly in comparison with some of her other costumes. The timing in this account of Troughton, Hines and Padbury's decisions to leave the programme do not square at all with the much more detailed sequence recorded by Wood and Miles (with back-up from BBC archives).

And I do not believe in the source either. Having checked the Library of Congress and the various on-line used book sites, I have found no record of any book anywhere on any topic by Eric Luskin (the earnest presenter of a couple of American documentaries on Doctor Who). There are a couple of books with similar titles: Stephen Baycroft's The Promethean Magician: Doctor Who in the Sixties (apparently self-published by the author in Sydney, in 1996), and of course Howe, Stammers and Walker's Doctor Who: The Sixties (Virgin, 1994).

So I have concluded that the story is a joke in rather poor taste, and deleted it from Wikipedia; but I am open to persuasion if anyone else has seen it in a real source. Does anyone know any more?

2) On a rather less sordid note, Episode three of The Face of Evil ends with the disturbed computer Xoanon breaking down and eventually saying, in a child's voice, "Who am I?" Doctor Who lore records that the voice was provided by "seven year-old Anthony Frieze, who had won a Design-A-Monster competition administered through the BBC exhibitions at Blackpool and Longleat."

It's not a hugely common name, and I see that there is a 41-year-old Anthony Frieze who was a Conservative candidate in Darlington in 2005 and ran unsuccessfully for the Conservative nomination in Hammersmith earlier this year (the nomination went to rising Tory star Shaun Bailey).

The ages don't quite check out - a 7-year-old in 1976 would now be 38, not 41 - but it would not be the first time that Doctor Who lore got someone's age wrong.

Incidentally, the current MP for Hammersmith and Fulham was the Conservative candidate who I defeated in a students union election in 1989. He claims that I am still the only person who has beaten him in an election. Due to the redrawing of the constituency boundary, he is shifting to the new Chelsea and Fulham seat, hence the open spot in Hammersmith.
Tags: doctor who, doctor who: 01, doctor who: 02, doctor who: 04

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