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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Lost TV Episodes
Collection One: 1964-1965 (Reissue)


Starring: William Hartnell
Publisher: BBC Audio
RRP: £35.00 (CD), £16.00 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 78753 523 7 (CD), 978 1 78753 524 4 (download)
Release Date: 07 March 2019

William Hartnell stars as the Doctor in five thrilling soundtrack adventures from the early days of Doctor Who, featuring serials lost from the television archive. These five soundtracks are enhanced with linking narration by William Russell, Carole Ann Ford and Peter Purves. In a bonus feature, three members of the original regular cast recall their time on the programme…

The material in this collection has been around the block a few times (some episodes more than others, as we shall see), as this is a re-release of a 2010 box set containing stories that had already been sold individually. However, it is a worthwhile reissue, as the previous edition had became rather scarce, with copies commanding ridiculously inflated prices on online marketplaces. The collection is now more affordable than ever – the physical edition costs less than half the recommended retail price of the previous release, and you can halve that again if you just want the download, though you would miss out on some valuable special features.

The manufacturing costs of the CD version have been kept to a minimum this time by dispensing with the individual jewel cases that were inside the previous release. What we have here is a more slimline spindle pack. However, the CD liner notes, including cast and production credits and behind-the-scenes information, are included in PDF format on the final disc of the physical edition. But I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s see what’s on the first three discs first…

When the TARDIS breaks down in Central Asia in 1289, the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara are stranded on the Roof of the World. They are rescued by the explorer Marco Polo, who invites them to travel with him as he journeys to Peking. But Polo wants to present the TARDIS as a gift to the emperor Kublai Kahn…

Four out of five of the adventures in this collection are historical ones – they feature no science-fiction elements other than the TARDIS and its crew. In the earliest days of Doctor Who, stories of this nature alternated with serials set in the future or on alien planets, but after The Highlanders in December 1966 to January 1967, the genre all but disappeared. This contributed to a widespread belief that the historical stories had not been very exciting, an impression supported by the fact that most of them (with the exception of The Crusade) were not novelised until two decades after their original transmission. It was an opinion made all the more difficult to challenge by the fact that so many such serials, the earliest of them being Marco Polo, had been erased from the archives.

However, the surviving soundtrack of Marco Polo gives the lie to that old generalisation, despite being seven episodes long. Writer John Lucarotti’s constant changes of location – from the frosty Himalayas and the creepy Cave of Five Hundred Eyes to the luxurious residence of the elderly and eccentric Kublai Kahn (Martin Miller) – keep the audience interested. Of course, we don’t get to see these wonders (unless you seek out the wealth of surviving photographs from this story), but we can still hear the unnerving sounds of “the singing sands”, the vicious storms of the Gobi Desert.

The versatile Tristram Cary adds to the atmosphere with some beautiful incidental music, produced using conventional instruments including flute, harp and percussion. It’s hard to believe that this is the work of the same composer who gave us the musique concrète of his better-known Dalek soundtracks.

Directors Waris Hussein and (for the fourth episode) John Crockett coax excellent performances from their cast, including Mark Eden as Marco; Zienia Merton as Ping-Cho, the young Chinese girl who befriends Susan (Carole Ann Ford); and the aforementioned Martin Miller. Derren Nesbitt is also good as the villainous Mongol Tegana, though it has to be said that he doesn’t sound particularly Asian. Ethnic actors were more of a rarity in the 1960s, and it was common for white performers to portray other races.

Doctor Who originally had a Reithian remit to educate and inform as well as entertain, and this is evident in Marco Polo, though some liberties have been taken for the sake of storytelling (for example, the real Marco travelled with his father and uncle, who are completely absent from this tale). Quite apart from all the historical background that is provided, we learn why water boils at lower temperatures at high altitudes, what causes condensation, and where the word “assassin” came from.

One of this serial’s gimmicks was the device of an on-screen map, which showed the progress of Polo’s party through Asia as he documented his travels (via a voice-over) in his journal. To compensate for the lack of visuals, a stylised map can be found on Disc 12 as a JPEG image, showing the locations visited during the course of the adventure, with accompanying notes in PDF format. This illustration was produced before tele-snaps (off-screen stills) came to light, which showed what the map had actually looked like in the programme. The original three-disc release of this story in November 2003 had also included MP3 files of all seven episodes without William (Ian Chesterton) Russell’s linking narration, but these have not been retained in the box set. However, we do get PDF scans of the original camera scripts for this and the other four serials.

The fifth episode, “Rider From Shang-Tu” is rather poor quality in places, owing to the age and rarity of the recordings, but frankly we’re lucky to have anything to listen to at all. The same cannot be said of many other television programmes from a similar period. Originally broadcast from February to April 1964, Marco Polo was only Doctor Who’s fourth serial, so it is remarkable that, even at this early stage, it had acquired fans (namely David Holman and Richard Landen) dedicated enough to make their own domestic audio recordings. The first of the lost stories is a real piece of history, in more ways than one.



The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara to Robespierre’s Paris of 1794, where the French Revolution is in full swing. Separated from each other and the Ship, the group find themselves caught up in the machinations of an English undercover spy as they struggle not to fall foul of Madame Guillotine…

The partially missing The Reign of Terror and The Crusade (each of which lacks a couple of episodes) have had a number of official releases in addition to these narrated soundtracks. The four surviving episodes of the Season 1 finale The Reign of Terror were issued as part of the final Doctor Who VHS release in November 2003, with just a brief summary of events read by Carole Ann Ford to cover the missing episodes “The Tyrant of France” and “A Bargain of Necessity”. The complete soundtrack followed on a double CD in February 2006, again narrated by Ford. This was arguably made redundant in January 2013, when the DVD of the serial included fully animated versions of the missing episodes.

The story itself might not merit so much attention, however. The tone of the narrative is uneven, with writer Dennis Spooner and director Henric Hirsch apparently undecided as to whether this tale should be humorous or gritty. On the one hand, we have the over-the-top comic characters of an alcoholic jailer (Jack Cunningham) and an avaricious road works overseer (Dallas Cavell), while on the other we hear Susan’s abject horror and despair when she is imprisoned with Barbara (Jacqueline Hill), awaiting execution. Spooner would subsequently lean more heavily towards out-and-out farce in The Romans.

The plot drags, especially during the first couple of episodes. The end of part one, “A Land of Fear”, is particularly prone to padding, with a long, dialogue-free segment dealing with the threat to the unconscious Doctor (William Hartnell), who is trapped in a burning building. Composer Stanley Myers (who went on to score several major movies, including The Deer Hunter) goes some way towards compensating for the slow pace. His incidental music often makes good listening, particularly in this audio-only media, though it is sometimes a little too conspicuous.

The Reign of Terror strays from the programme’s original education remit by showing Napoleon Bonaparte (Tony Wall) playing an entirely fictitious role in the fall of Robespierre (Keith Anderson). We also witness the show’s first dalliance with historical / literary pastiche, which would later come into full force in stories like The Smugglers, The Highlanders and Black Orchid, as Spooner evokes the flavours of A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Pimpernel.

There is a serious discussion between Barbara and Ian about historical events towards the end of the fifth episode, though this is marred by a bleed-through of the series theme, owing to a fault in the off-air recording. This problem was eventually rectified for the DVD release, but unfortunately the additional restoration work has not been fed back into this reissue.

Ford narrates the story well, elevating the dull bits with a voice-over that always complements the tone of the scene in question. Though hardly a classic, The Reign of Terror does contain some good character moments, especially those involving the regular cast, and Ford’s narration only adds to the quality.



The TARDIS materialises in the middle of the holy war between Richard the Lionheart and the Saracen leader, Saladin, in 12th-century Palestine. As the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki explore their surroundings, they are suddenly caught up in a Saracen ambush. Intrigue and espionage ensue as Barbara is kidnapped…

The only incomplete story from Doctor Who’s second season, The Crusade has enjoyed even more commercial outings than The Reign of Terror. Prior to the release of the narrated double CD in 2005, the soundtracks of the missing second and fourth episodes, “The Knight of Jaffa” and “The Warlords” had already been issued – twice – first on a CD supplied with the Crusade / Space Museum VHS box set in 1999, and then as substantially restored audio tracks on the Lost in Time DVD collection in 2004. The existing episodes, “The Lion” and “The Wheel of Fortune”, have, of course, also been released on VHS and DVD. Indeed, prior to the recovery of “The Lion”, “The Wheel of Fortune” was lucky enough to be made available on the Doctor Who: The Hartnell Years tape back in 1991.

The main reason for listening to this version is the narration provided by William Russell, which clarifies what is going on in terms of action. The first and fourth episodes are at something of a disadvantage on audio, as several sections of the woodland scenes are relatively devoid of dialogue. Ironically, though, Russell’s description of the fight in “The Lion” actually makes it seem more bloody and brutal than it appears on screen.

When the actors speak is when this serial really comes into its own. Guest stars Julian Glover as Richard the Lionheart and Jean Marsh as his sister Joanna provide some truly intense scenes, while Bernard Kay’s Saladin comes across as more honourable than many of the supposedly righteous crusaders, and Walter Randall is boo-hissingly evil as the villainous El Akir. Great chunks of writer David Whitaker’s dialogue possess a lyrical Shakespearean quality, most notably in the case of the Earl of Leicester’s (John Bay) eloquent speech about the value of warriors over diplomats. “You’re a man for talk,” he says to the Doctor, “I can see that. You like a table and a ring of men. A parley here, arrangements there… But when you men of eloquence have stunned each other with your words, we, we the soldiers, have to face it out. On some half-started morning while you speakers lie abed, armies settle everything, giving sweat, sinew, bodies, aye, and life itself.”

The story comes undone somewhat during the final episode, during which the characters’ disparate and desperate situations seem to get resolved rather quickly. It’s as though someone suddenly broke the news to the writer that he was supposed to be submitting a four-part serial rather than a six-part one. In particular, the comedic robber Ibrahim (Tutte Lemkow, portraying as memorable a role here as he does playing the more sinister bandit, Kuiju, in Marco Polo) changes his allegiance with staggering rapidity.

Such issues aside, I whole(lion)heartedly recommend The Crusade. Sit back and let Whitaker stun you with his words.



When the Doctor, Steven and Vicki land on an arid planet, it seems as though the place is desolate and lifeless. Then they discover two crashed spaceships: one contains the Drahvins, a race of stunning beauty, the other contains the hideous Rills. However, as the team soon find out, appearances can be deceptive…

“Staggering rapidity” are not words that one normally associates with Galaxy 4, the earliest non-historical Doctor Who story to be missing from the television archive (apart from six minutes of footage from the first episode, “Four Hundred Dawns”, and an almost complete print of the third, “Air Lock”). It originally launched the third season in September 1965, which is the point at which the mass casualties of lost episodes really kick in. Further defying the old myth that the science-fiction adventures were more thrilling than the historical ones, William Emms’s plot is rather sluggish.

The ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ moral at the heart of this serial was innovative at the time, neatly reversing the roles of the monstrous villains (the Daleks) and their attractive opponents (the Thals) established in the show’s very first alien planet story two years earlier. In Galaxy 4, the repulsive Rills (nobly voiced by Robert Cartland) are (spoiler alert!) the good guys, and their robotic servants the Chumblies are rather adorable – we can’t see them here, of course, but we hear the cute noises they make, and narrator Peter Purves enters into the spirit of things by stating that one of them “chumbles away”! Meanwhile, the physically beautiful Drahvins are obedient soldiers dominated by the coldly ruthless Maaga (Stephanie Bidmead). A decade before the Sontarans, the Drahvins are cloned warriors. Equally interestingly, and at the suggestion of producer Verity Lambert, they are also a matriarchy, having disposed of any ‘excess’ males in their society. “Oh, we have a small number of men,” Maaga explains, “as many as we need. The rest we kill. They consume valuable food and fulfil no particular function.” The message is a simplistic one, though, and the writer takes his time to get to the point, in one of the more slow-moving examples from the Hartnell era.

The serial was not well liked by the programme’s regular cast, in particular Purves, whose character Steven Taylor inherited lines and situations that had originally been devised for the schoolteacher Barbara Wright. As a result, the space pilot sometimes behaves out of character, allowing himself to be held hostage by the Drahvins, for example, and then duped into getting trapped in their air lock. The fact that the Drahvin clones (all except the devious Maaga) are so dim-witted makes Steven’s captivity seem even less believable.

Somewhat confusingly, the sound effect for the Drahvins’ doors is reused from earlier Dalek episodes, while the distinctive beeping hum of the Dalek control room can be heard inside the Rills’ spaceship. Director Derek Martinus makes more effective use of stock incidental music, much of which is sourced from the avant-garde album Les Structures Sonores by the French group Lasry–Baschet (comprising brothers Bernard and François Baschet, and married couple Jacques and Yvonne Lasry).

The cliffhanger at the end of this serial leads directly into Mission to the Unknown, a single-part, Doctor-less episode also directed by Martinus (the two stories were effectively produced as a five-part serial). Deviating slightly from the transmission order of the lost episodes, Mission to the Unknown is not included in this box set. It will instead be presented in the next one, as it acts as a prelude to the 12-part epic, The Daleks’ Master Plan

Galaxy 4 will never be held up as a classic, either on video or on audio, but it has its charms. Out of ten, the fourth story in this collection gets:



The Doctor, Steven and Vicki materialise on the plains of Asia Minor, not far from the city of Troy, during the time of its siege by the Greeks. Vicki is taken into custody by the Trojans, while the Doctor is hailed as the god Zeus and forced to help the Greeks gain access to Troy. He forms the idea of a wooden horse…

We step back into history for the final adventure in this box set, which ably demonstrates how Doctor Who’s historical stories cannot all be tarred with the same brush. After the educational drama of Marco Polo, the genre pastiche of The Reign of Terror and the Shakespearean flourishes of The Crusade, The Myth Makers gives us sophisticated high comedy.

Writer Donald Cotton drew upon his extensive knowledge of classical and medieval literature, including the epics of Homer, the plays of Aeschylus and Euripides, Virgil’s Aeneid, Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida. However, instead of setting out to educate his audience, he assumes a degree of familiarity with the legend of the Trojan War, and with possibly historical figures such as Achilles, Agamemnon, Odysseus and Homer, and has some fun with them. As well as taking a leaf out of Dennis Spooner’s book in terms of the comedic tone, the writer also builds upon a notion established in Spooner’s Season 2 finale The Time Meddler – that of time travellers being able to influence the events of the past, rather than passively or helplessly observing them, by having the Doctor being instrumental in the construction of the famous wooden horse.

The serial boasts great comic performances from the entire cast, including Ivor Salter as the ribald Odysseus and Francis de Wolff as the fiery Agamemnon on the Greek side; Barrie Ingham as the cowardly Paris, Frances White as the melodramatic prophetess Cassandra and Max Adrian as the world-weary King Priam among the Trojans; and Hartnell himself, who always seemed more comfortable delivering comedy than complicated scientific dialogue. This is despite the fact that he had a tough time making the story, being struck on the shoulder by a camera and suffering a bereavement. Tutte Lemkow is also there again, though you can’t hear him as the mute servant Cyclops.

Things turn more serious during the final episode (as they would also do in Cotton’s later serial, The Gunfighters) when the carnage of battle ensues. Not even the TARDIS crew escape unscathed. One companion bids a poignant farewell, another joins, and one gets seriously injured, leading to another cliffhanger that carries over into the next box set…

The collection as a whole and The Myth Makers in particular showcase the sheer variety of the Hartnell era, and it’s a great pity that the visual recordings no longer exist (no complete episodes survive from The Myth Makers and, unlike Marco Polo, not even many still photographs remain).



In addition to the aforementioned PDF files, the bonus disc also includes interviews with former regular cast members William Russell (18 minutes, compiled from material recorded for the individual CD releases of The Sensorites and The Crusade), Carole Ann Ford (6 minutes, from the original CD release of The Reign of Terror) and Maureen O’Brien (16 minutes, extracted from an interview presented on the CD of The Space Museum). Russell reminisces about his time on the show, singling out producer Verity Lambert, associate producer Mervyn Pinfield and director Douglas Camfield for particular praise for their ingenuity. Both he and Ford express their preference for historical stories. Ford also discusses the development (or rather lack of it) of her character, Susan, which led to her leaving the series. Her replacement, O’Brien, also has some far from fond memories of being a Doctor Who companion, as she would much rather have been doing theatre than telly work at the time.

It’s a shame that there’s no interview material with Peter Purves, who (unlike O’Brien) is one of the narrators of this set. Though the individual releases of Galaxy 4 and The Myth Makers did not carry any such features, the actor did refer back to these adventures when interviewed for the CDs of The Ark and The Gunfighters.

Still, let’s be grateful for what we do have. With complete scripts and soundtracks to savour, not to mention a handy Marco Polo map, these episodes don’t seem so lost any more.

Richard McGinlay

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