When 'Inferno' was released on D.V.D. earlier this year, I nearly didn't buy it as my V.H.S. copy was still in good condition. Then I changed my mind, and thank goodness for that because then I'd have missed this cracking documentary.
Opening with a brief recap of earlier Season 7 adventures, it swiftly moves onto the origins of Don Houghton's story. Outgoing producers Derrick Sherwin and Peter Bryant had decided to exile the Doctor to Earth and make longer stories, decisions the Script-Editor Terrance Dicks did not agree with.
'Inferno' underwent two major rewrites; firstly, to bring in some monsters ( Primords ) and secondly, accommodate the seven-episode length by flinging the Doctor into a parallel universe where he meets evil dopplegangers of his friends. In retrospect this second development can now be seen as the moment when the story took on the mantle of greatness. As you may have gathered, 'Inferno' is my favourite 'Dr.Who' story of all time, and I'm pleased to report that this documentary is fascinating throughout, full of interesting behind-the-scenes information and comments. Nice to see the cast and crew praising the late Douglas Camfield, even though most of the serial was helmed by Barry Letts. I agree with Nicholas Courtney when he describes the meshing of Camfield's and Letts' work as 'seamless'. John Levene seems not to have aged a day since 1970! As indeed has Ian Fairbairn, who played doomed technician 'Bromley'. Its especially moving to hear Caroline John recalling the day she was told she was not coming back to 'Dr.Who'. I felt the character of 'Liz Shaw' should not have been dropped. Liz was a feisty, intelligent lady, far removed from the 'screamers' of the show's monochrome years, and her presence enhanced 'Dr.Who' immeasurably. Its the only decision Barry Letts took on 'Dr.Who' with which I strongly disagree.
Shame about the caption identifying the author of 'Spearhead From Space' as Malcolm Hulke. It was, of course, the legendary Robert Holmes. Otherwise, a practically flawless programme.
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