The Ark in Space
The Sontaran Experiment
Genesis of the Daleks
Revenge of the Cybermen
Season 12
BBC Books
The Scripts - Tom Baker 1974/5

Authors Justin Richards and Andrew Pixley Cover image
ISBN# 0 563 53815 5
Publisher BBC
Published 2001

Summary: All 20 scripts from Season Twelve, with annotations, deleted scenes and trivia.


Seasoned stories by Robert Smith? 15/4/02

The latest hardback offering from the BBC claims to be "The most comprehensive guide to Doctor Who ever published" and it's not hard to see why. At 368 pages, this clocks in at over half the length of The Television Companion - yet it covers merely one twenty-sixth of the material.

At first glance, this book might seem a little redundant. Anyone likely to buy a hardcover version of the scripts surely has the episodes in question on their shelf and can pop them in the VCR any time they want to check a line. So what appeal does this have to the discerning Doctor Who fan in an increasingly flooded market?

Quite a lot, actually. This isn't just a nicely bound version of twenty scripts. The book features every conceivable approach to the five stories in question, from outline stages to aborted subplots to day-by-day filming to promotion and distribution. Regular readers of Doctor Who Magazine might find the above litany a little familiar. Although barely credited with "additional text" in tiny print on the back of the cover page, this is (essentially) the work of Justin Richards and Andrew Pixley, making this the closest thing to the DWM Archive in book form we're ever likely to get.

And while the Archive could get a little tedious with its tiny font and references to things that were hard to imagine without having a copy of the episode on hand, the material here is broken up throughout the camera scripts, so we can see exactly which scene in part 1 of Revenge of the Cybermen caused Elisabeth Sladen to have a fit of giggles, or where in The Sontaran Experiment we see the burns on Roth's arm.

The real stars of the book are the scripts themselves. In that respect, Season 12 is a great choice of seasons to launch what is hopefully a new range of books. What we get aren't just transcriptions of the episode, nor simply a reproduction of the camera script. Instead we have deleted scenes, altered lines, effects that were intended but ultimately abandoned, the original cliffhangers (I knew about part 5 of Genesis, but not part 3) and a variety of footnotes throughout the scripts indicating how the special effects were achieved, where scenes were cut and inserted into other scenes, visual directions, items of note (the Brigadier's name is consistently misspelled "Lethbridge-Stuart" for instance), comments by the production team, plain old trivia (Elisabeth Sladen cannot whistle, so she had to be dubbed in part 4 of Revenge of the Cybermen, as well as her final scene in The Hand of Fear) and more information on ring modulators than you ever needed to know.

The scripts are fascinating reading and the format of the book keeps you flicking back and forth, both mentally (as the intended lines and the actual lines are juxtaposed) and physically (to the long list of footnotes). By chance, I'd watched three of the five stories quite recently, so I assumed the actual scripts for those episodes would be of little interest, yet I found myself just as engrossed in them as the two stories I'd not seen in years. Robert Holmes' witty directions for The Ark in Space are worth the cover price alone.

There are also five appendices, ranging from the obvious (commissioned but unused scripts and a detailed outline of the original storyline for Return of the Cybermen) to the surprising (a documentary that covered shooting throughout Robot that was ultimately never screened) and the loopy (details of the Howard da Silva narration).

I only have one complaint about this fabulous book and that's the fact that all the photos are in black and white. This really is a book to be treasured and the type of fan to shell out for a hardcover book is probably willing to pay a little extra for a slightly more attractive looking product. On the other hand, I have no complaints about the way the photos we do have are organised. Each story is introduced with a fabulous close-up of Tom Baker and the selection of additional material is quite varied. It's not just photographs either; we also have original sketches of Styre's Robot, the planned Sontaran battlefleet, a map of Dartmoor from the film schedule showing the various acting areas and local amenities for the crew, newspaper clippings and set designs for the Ark's cryogenic chamber.

There are also boxed areas devoted to details of the new title sequence, composite mapping for the CSO effects in Robot, details of the special effects used to create the virus in Revenge, an alternate ending to part 4 of Genesis and a complete list of personal props used by Tom Baker (carefully itemized and stored to keep the continuity straight).

Almost everything you ever wanted to know about Season 12 is right here in one fascinating volume. I'm a bit surprised this was released in hardcover, but it's a thoroughly absorbing insight into every aspect of the making of a season of Doctor Who. No matter how great or small your interest in Doctor Who is, you'll find plenty of new information and fascinating details in here. I can't wait for the next one.