Michael Jayston

Doctor Who: Terror of the Vervoids (1986) [DVD]

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1986 was a dark time for the Rebel Alliance. I’m sorry, I mean a dark time for Doctor Who fandom. The series was under searing attack from the higher echelons of the BBC who had recently put it on hiatus for 18 months and only grudgingly brought it back for season 23 because of fan pressure, warning that the show was very much on probation and taking up space in the last chance saloon. Added to that, long time series contributor Robert Holmes died suddenly while writing a key part of the season’s interconnected overarching storyline, other writers pulled out and story ideas fell through. On top of all that, producer John Nathan-Turner had a spectacular falling out with script editor Eric Saward who stormed out and gave a excoriating interview to a magazine which was particularly scathing about Nathan-Turner, the show’s star Colin Baker and pretty much the entire production team and show – which was pretty rich considering he’d been at the heart of it for four years, and Nathan-Turner had even put his own job on the line to keep Saward when the BBC hierarchy wanted his head over some perceived infraction or other.

vervoids-dvd-coverWith the show battling for survival, I’m afraid I was missing in action. I was having a far more interesting time at university and had put away such ‘childish things’ as I saw them back then. Besides, I’d never taken to the Sixth Doctor – even to this day, when asked what my favourite story from Colin Baker’s tenure in the Tardis is, I can’t actually offer an answer because none of them come up to an acceptable quality threshold in my eyes. And I feel bad about saying that because Baker himself is a lovely person and, as I later discovered, a rather wonderful actor. I saw him on stage a couple of years after he left Doctor Who, performing the central role of Sidney Bruhl in Ira Levin’s play Deathtrap at the York Theatre Royal opposite Anita Harris, and he was really outstanding. It’s clearly not Baker I have a problem with in Doctor Who but rather the way he was required to portray the part and the stories he was given. And of course that spectacularly God-awful costume. Read the rest of this entry »