I am a videotape editor at BBC Pebble Mill, part of my job includes transferring master material onto modern formats for editing purposes.
In response to a request from the Broadcast Archives at Windmill Road to report faults on 2″ videotape master material, I was actively looking out for problems, particularly problematic Doctor Who recordings. One such recording to pose a problem was The Five Doctors which had been booked for a transfer to VHS for Telly Addicts. Although not serious, there was some light scratches throughout the first three minutes of the tape.
The recording was also a 72 version and close examination of the paperwork revealed it to be a mixture of second and fourth generation video material. Checking the Windmill Road database revealed the existence of the entire recording block of The Five Doctors, including all the studio recordings and gallery sessions. This particular story was the last ‘Doctor Who’ to be made entirely on 2″ videotape and this was the first problem that had to be overcome.2″ videotape cannot be visual searched.
The tapes, which are mainly 90 minute recordings, are very heavy and bulky and once on the machine required an extensive line up procedure to retrieve the best quality from them. All the recordings were transferred onto VHS and logged. It was at this point that I realised that an extended version could be released utilising all the benefits of going back to the original material. I was considering two options regarding the longer version. The first was re-editing the extra material back into the transmission version of the programme and smudging the sound. This would have meant music disappearing and reappearing as it did in the Silver Nemesis video release that BBC Enterprises did. The second option was a complete re-edit of the entire programme from scratch with the possibility of replacing the 1983 video effects with 1995 versions. It became obvious that a reworking of the music in stereo was essential. This was obviously the option that I favoured and the only one offered to BBC Worldwide. The possibility of an extended version was included in a document concerning all the Doctor Who recordings, which was put together by my colleague Ralph Montagu, who is the head of the restoration team.
It wasn’t until February 1995 that Sue Kerr, senior producer at BBC Video, contacted Ralph about the project. She wanted a budget proposal and a production timescale which they could use to plan the release date of the title.I worked out a budget for editing, graphics, video effects and mixing the sound in stereo, plus an extensive reworking of the music. With the go ahead given at the beginning of June, I was left just ten weeks in which to complete the project.
A first edit of the programme does exist, which was a useful pointer as to what extra material there was. This version runs an extra seven minutes longer that the transmitted version and I could have just used this version. However, I did not like the arrangement of some of the scenes and there was even more material in the studio recordings and film sequences I could include. One of the problems with the original version was the rather lack lustre opening in the TARDIS console room and the twinkly music that went with it. This didn’t strike me as a traditional opening to a Doctor Who story which usually begins with a teaser for the rest of the story, followed by an introductory scene with the Doctor et al. I felt it better to start the new version with the Dark Tower and Richard Molesworth, who also helped research much of the background material on Thirty Years in the Tardis suggested a look inside the Tower using extra material from the Tower interior studio recordings. This would act as a taster for the as yet unseen Tower later in the story. The audience already familiar with the original version will, I hope be surprised and rather pleased with the new opening, whereas a new audience will hopefully wonder what this tower is and what its significance is to the Doctor.
Much of the extra material has been reinstated from the beginnings and ends of scenes which were shortened in the original version for timing purposes. Also, many of the opening scenes involving the obelisk/timescoop were rearranged. I have put almost all of these scenes back into script order as I feel it makes much more logical sense to the viewer and improves the flow of the story. What this actually means is that the scenes involving the ‘grabbing’ of Doctors’ one, two and three are followed immediately by the timescoop scene where they are positioned on the gameboard. Only then do we see Doctor five (Peter Davison) react.
The first completely new sequence occurs 17 minutes into the programme. This is a sequence showing Borusa making his way to the conference room prior to his first meeting with the Castellan and Chancellor Flavia. I wanted to make something of Borusa’s entrance. He is, after all the Lord President and it somewhat irritated me that there wasn’t some sort of fanfare to introduce him. Peter Howell came to my assistance here, providing a suitably regal theme counterpointing Phillip Latham’s rather understated performance.There is also an extra TARDIS console room scene inserted after the scene where Doctor three rescue’s Sarah Jane. This features Doctor five attempting to send a signal to the Time Lords. There were two extra console room sequences and both have been incorporated into the new version.Other scenes have been re-edited using different takes, particularly the scene where the Commander presents the Lord President with the Black Scrolls. Other scenes involving different takes are more subtle and difficult to spot. I’ll leave the discovery of those to the seasoned Doctor Who viewer. Similarly, there are extra shots cropping up in all sorts of scenes, including the Dalek chase and the Cyber slaughter with the Raston Robot. An extra, rather comical scene involving Sarah Jane and the Cybermen is also included just prior to Doctor three lassooing the Tower battlements.
In other sequences I have actually removed shots or tightened them up to heighten the dramatic impact. This is noticeable in the sequence where Doctor three is confronted by the phantom Mike Yates and Liz Shaw. However, generally the pace is a little more relaxed and hopefully a little easier to follow.Overall, there are an extra ten and a half minutes more in the Special Edition than in the original version but extra material isn’t the only reason why this version is different. All the video effects have been reconstructed, the obvious ones being the obelisk which has been given a more three dimensional look. Rather than a flat black box shape, it is more like a glass cone with the image inside distorted as if looking through real glass. These sequences were 3D rendered in the computer graphics section at Television Centre using Silicon Graphics workstations and Abekas solid state recorders. The rendered images and the associated mattes were then edited and added to the final D3 recording using the Charisma DVE.
All the video effects with the exception of the cyber guns have been remade – the Dalek chase sequence has a Remembrance of the Daleks style extermination effect which has been slightly toned down to match the original a little more. The Chessboard sequence was more of a problem – I wanted an effect similar to one used in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark, where beams of light punch through the Nazi soldiers. Obviously, budgets at the BBC are small, but Alison Rickman in the video effects workshop came up with a light beam which was animated on the Harriet Paintbox and laid back into the final programme.
As I speak, the Dolby Surround soundtrack has yet to be mixed, but I have high hopes for it. Any specific questions about the project can be sent to me direct.
Paul Vanezis, 26th July 1996