BBC has now released The Tenth Planet on DVD, featuring the first Doctor, William Hartnell. Traveling with the Doctor are Polly and Ben, portrayed by Anneke Willis and Michael Craze respectively. The arrive at a frozen monitoring station just in time for a crisis in trying to retrieve several astronauts during a power failure. The station is multinational, complete with caricatures of a lusty Italian and overwhelming American.
The Tenth Planet from Doctor Who is a very important series featuring Hartnell’s regeneration into Patrick Troughton and the introduction of the Cybermen of Mondas. With costumes designed of stockings and metal the Cybermen were initially far more childish, but still frightening for the audience in 1966.
As always, the disc includes a large wealth of informative special features and interviews that one cannot find by simply downloading the episodes.
The special features include Frozen Out, a making of special. In it, Anneke Willis (Polly) mentions Hartnell’s difficult nature and implies his racism when working with actor Earl Cameron (Williams). Cameron speaks highly of working on the program, and about the strangeness of being cast as an astronaut during a time where the role was not available for non-white males. Racism aside, the viewer is also treated to a look at how the BBC technical team was able to blend Troughton and Hartnell’s faces in an age before photoshop.
Included is an interview with William Hartnell as he prepared his makeup for a pantomime portrayal in a play version Puss and Boots. Hartnell is in his usual form, commenting that he felt that the Doctor was seen as “a cross between the Wizard of Oz and Father Christmas.” He seems visible irritated and mentioned that with his future roles he would not do anything, “blue or salacious or suggestive” as he was “not that kind of actor!”
A 2003 interview with Anneke Willis (Polly) shows how she was picked from over 150 auditioning actresses to play a “60’s dollybird.” Willis discusses her look at the time, saying “I came ready made. My eyelashes were longer than my skirts!” From her interactions trying to stay on William Hartnell’s (or Bill as she call him) good side to the sheer amount of screaming required of a companion, Willis is candid and talks as if she is revealing the great secrets of the show. With half of her episodes lost to time and a lack of desire to store them at the BBC, she can only reflect on her time with Hartnell and Troughton with a smile.
The Golden Age is a tongue-in-cheek look at the same problems that plagued the show in the past and again in the present, including financial woes and concerns about violence. The special highlights how popular opinion changes over time, sighting the 1996 movie starring Paul McGann. Though seen as a critical and fan success at the time, the move is now considered by many to be a failure. The special examines what it means to be a fan as well as many of the people who have tried to shut down the show over reasons of violence. This includes Baroness Bacon, who once in 1971 stood up in British Parliament to ask “what has happened to Doctor Who.”
Boys, Boys, Boys is Peter Peeves, Frazier Hines and Mark Strickson talking about their time on the TARDIS in an informal grouping of the three. While this section does drag on a bit, it is interesting to hear how the companions were chosen and what inspired them.
Companion Piece is a psychological look at Companions throughout the series and why their psychological reasons may have been behind staying aboard with the Doctor. If features Arthur Darvill, Nicola Bryant and several writers as they discuss what goes into the reaction acting and the screaming involved.
The Blue Peter 10th anniversary discussion is included as a bit of camp, highlighting the desire to celebrate the show at certain times as well as accidentally showing the hype used to hide major programing issues and departures of actors.
Overall, the disc is well worth a look for Classic Doctor Who fans. Newer fans will find themselves witnessing the first regeneration for themselves, as well as getting a look at the past special effects work. It is worth the purchase price for that Doctor Who fan on your Christmas list.