Wednesday, 7 February 2018
The Edgy Destruction
The Complete And Utter History Of Dr WHO? (Part Four)
The final episode of 'Doctor WHO AND THE Dales' ends with an unexpected explosion, as the TARDIST crew are thrown to the ground and the studio lights go out.
What viewers might not have known at the time (though it is common knowledge now, amongst dedicated researchers such as myself, of course!) was that this was also a surprise to the production team that day!
DR WHO had been assigned several studios at the newly-built BBC Lime Road complex and the cast celebrated by bringing in food on a daily basis. William Hartley-Hare was a big fan of pies and had popped a Bedford clanger into one of the large stoves in the Loam Road canteen. Unfortunately, recording over-ran on Episode 7 of 'The Dead Dales' and the pie exploded, knocking out all the lights in the building and frightening a heron. The noise could be heard many miles away and even travelled as far away as the Midlands where an episode of the popular detective series 'Oh Corks, Sergeant!' that had been running since Victorian days was being transmuted live. Lead actor Jon Barrys looks perplexed for a split second, but recovers and carries on with his lines.
What was worse was that most of the sets for the intended next story 'Dr who And The Mark Of The Ogopogo' was being stored in the canteen and the backdrops got all covered in gravy and jam and that. Set Designist Barty Newbarty estimated it would take two weeks to scrape the excess off, so Script Editing Advisor David Whittington had to make something up pretty quick.
The result was the intruding story 'Doc Who and The Bringer Of Disaster' (also known as 'The Edge Of Disgruntlement' and 'Afore The Sun').
It was loosely based on the recently transmitted time-travel play 'Hancocks' Half Hour And A Lift', in which time-travelling comedy double act Hugh and I. Floyd [Note to self: check what the full name of the second one is!] playing the mysterious Lift Attendants, travel back in time in their time-travelling ship (the LIFT - short for something or other, probably) to the time of half an hour (hence the name!) before the creation of the Solar Plexus.
Interestingly enough, the Fault Location Meter in the TARDIST was a piece of set detail that had been half-inched from this earlier production when everyone was distracted by a wasp.
The resulting production was strongly criticised at the time for a scene in which Dr Whose grandparents John and Gelatine (played by Princess Suzanne McGovern) threatened Cold Hill schoolmasters Ewen 'Johnny' Chess and Babar Write-Read-Rithmatic with some jolly good scissors and this scene was removed from the surviving 18mm film copy a week next Tuesday.
Also of interest in this scene was that in certain shots, Ewen was actually represented by a cardboard cutout for reasons of safety. On the early 45-line TV sets, this was not noticed by the majority of viewers, but in the cleaned up Lazardisc version some people have picked up on it.
'The Brink Of An Explosion' was perhaps not the most memorable of stories, but the next story would put 'Doctre Who' firmly on the front cover of 'TV Comic'!!!
"To tell you the truth, I thought it was made by a fur boot..."
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