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Revelation Of The Daleks
The Doctor and Peri go to Necros to attend the funeral of an old friend of the Doctor's. There they discover that Davros is posing as the Great Healer of Tranquil Repose, a famed institution where the terminally ill can be placed in suspended animation until a cure for their ailment is found. Davros is experimenting on the comatose bodies to produce a new race of Daleks loyal to himself. To defeat his old foe, the Doctor may have no choice but to ally himself with the original Daleks on Skaro.
Doctor Who's twenty-second season had seen a significant emphasis placed on bringing back elements of the programme's past: the Cybermen in Attack Of The Cybermen, the Master in The Mark Of The Rani, and the Second Doctor, Jamie and the Sontarans in The Two Doctors. Even Timelash had used the Third Doctor and Jo Grant as a plot point. To cap everything off, the production team decided that the season finale would pit the Sixth Doctor against the Daleks for the first time. Script editor Eric Saward had already written for the Doctor's oldest foes in the previous year's Resurrection Of The Daleks, and it was agreed that he would tackle their latest appearance as well. In deference to BBC restrictions on a script editor writing for his own programme, it was decided that Saward would compose his Dalek story during a six-week break before the renewal of his contract.
With this in mind, a storyline was commissioned from Saward on March 27th, 1984 under the title “The End Of The Road”. An early idea had been to depict the Daleks working with and/or against another monster, but this was made difficult when Dalek creator Terry Nation imposed a number of conditions on such a pairing. Instead, Saward decided to draw upon Evelyn Waugh's 1948 satire The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy, which was set in the Los Angeles funeral trade; he was entranced by the idea of a story which ruminated upon the treatment of the dead by the living. On July 13th, shortly before Saward began his vacation, the scripts for “The End Of The Road” were commissioned.
Eric Saward was entranced by the idea of a story which ruminated upon the treatment of the dead by the living
Part of Saward's holiday was spent on the Greek island of Rhodes, and this influenced the development of his scripts in several respects. Most notably, Orcini was inspired by the Knights Hospitaller who had occupied the island in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Several names were also derived from Saward's time in Rhodes: Tasambeker from the saint Tsambeker (to whom barren women prayed in the hope of conceiving a child), Kara from a local potato called cara, and the planet Necros itself from the Greek word nekros meaning “corpse”. Other names were adapted from The Loved One, in particular Mr Jobel from Waugh's odious mortician Mr Joyboy. Vogel and Bostock were suggested by Mrs Bogolov and Mrs Komstock, while Arthur Stengos was taken from the cosmetician Aimée Thanatogenos (by way of a ferry boat owner whom Saward met in Rhodes). The glass Dalek, meanwhile, was the realisation of an idea Nation had had when writing his creations' debut in The Daleks back in 1963, but which had been dropped due to the prohibitive cost of building such a prop.
Most Dalek stories since the mid-Sixties had followed a common title convention and, in keeping with this pattern, “The End Of The Road” was rechristened Revelation Of The Daleks. Furthermore, by referencing the final book of the Bible, it echoed similar allusions in the titles of both Resurrection Of The Daleks and 1975's Genesis Of The Daleks. It was classified as Serial 6Z, the last to be made as part of the year's production block. Directing would be Graeme Harper, who had last worked on Peter Davison's swansong, The Caves Of Androzani, the year before. This would be Harper's final Doctor Who outing of the twentieth century. However, he would later have the distinction of being the only director from the classic era to return to Doctor Who for its rebirth in the twenty-first century, starting with 2006's Rise Of The Cybermen / The Age Of Steel.
For the first time, Revelation Of The Daleks would see an actor reprise the role of Davros: Terry Molloy had also played the part in Resurrection Of The Daleks, whereas the character had been played by Michael Wisher and David Gooderson in his first two appearances. One casting conundrum for Harper was the DJ. There was some hope that a well-known name from the music industry might be attracted to Doctor Who, with an initial approach made to Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who. In the end, the part went to well-known comedian Alexei Sayle -- who had recently published an article explaining why he should be cast as the Doctor! More bizarrely, producer John Nathan-Turner offered the role of the Mutant to 75-year-old theatrical legend Sir Laurence Olivier... albeit probably only semi-seriously.
Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who, was initially approached about the role of the DJ
Filming for Revelation Of The Daleks began with a four-day location shoot. The first two days -- January 7th and 8th, 1985 -- were devoted to scenes in the wilds of Necros, which would be represented by two Hampshire locations: Bollinge Hill Farm at Buriton and the Queen Elizabeth Country Park at Horndean. Part of the Horndean filming took place at Butser Hill on the 7th, and it was planned to return there on the 8th for the sequence where Orcini and Bostock destroy the flying Daleks. However, a significant snowfall had preceded the arrival of Harper's team in Hampshire, and it was no longer feasible to transport the necessary equipment to the site. Consequently, an alternative arrangement had to be made in haste.
Cast and crew remained in Hampshire on January 9th, when the IBM North Harbour Building in Portsmouth offered a venue suitable for the Garden of Fond Memories. Then it was off to West Sussex on the 10th, with the long wall found on the Goodwood Estate in Halnaker, and the rescheduled flying Dalek scene completed at Tangmere Aerodrome in Tangmere. In fact, Revelation Of The Daleks boasted four new Dalek casings; these were co-financed by BBC Enterprises, who would then have use of them for promotional engagements. The new casings were painted in the white-and-gold livery of Davros' Daleks, while existing casings bore the grey-and-black scheme of the Supreme Dalek's forces.
At about the same time as the location shoot, some model filming was conducted for Revelation Of The Daleks on the premises of the BBC Visual Effects Department. Then studio work began with a two-day session in BBC Television Centre Studio 1 on Thursday, January 17th and Friday, January 18th. Scenes were recorded in the reception area, the new catacombs, the DJ's studio and the cell. This was followed by a three-day block in TC8 starting on Wednesday, January 30th. The cameras rolled on the sets for the old catacombs, the incubator room, Davros' laboratory and Kara's office. The last day -- February 1st -- also saw a remount of the material in the cell. Unfortunately, in post-production, the BBC's Head of Series and Serials, Jonathan Powell, reacted badly to Jenny Tomasin's portrayal of Tasambeker. As such, both episodes were edited to reduce Tomasin's screentime.
Jonathan Powell confirmed that Doctor Who was not being cancelled, but production was being deferred from Spring 1985 to Spring 1986
Transmission of Season Twenty-Two had begun to strong ratings on January 5th, just before Revelation Of The Daleks entered production. Nathan-Turner and Saward had already begun lining up scripts for Season Twenty-Three, and the final line of Revelation Of The Daleks saw the Doctor promise Peri that he would take her to Blackpool -- the setting for the next year's debut serial, “The Nightmare Fair” by former producer Graham Williams. On February 21st, however, came the first signs that something was very wrong. Both fan adviser Ian Levine and writer Robert Holmes (who was beginning to develop “Yellow Fever And How To Cure It” for Season Twenty-Three) informed the production team that they had heard rumours that Doctor Who was being cancelled. Four days later, after returning from a convention in the United States, Nathan-Turner was told the truth by Jonathan Powell: Doctor Who was not being cancelled, but Season Twenty-Three was being postponed, with the start of production deferred from Spring 1985 to Spring 1986. The news was leaked by the press on February 27th.
In the ensuing weeks, BBC1 Controller Michael Grade would offer a number of reasons for this hiatus, all of which likely played a role in the BBC's decision. After a promising start, the ratings for Season Twenty-Two had dwindled to the lowest levels since Tom Baker's final year in 1980. The programme had been criticised in some quarters for being too violent and humourless. But most probably most relevantly, the BBC was facing a financial shortfall in early 1985, as the organisation tried to fund the premiere of its expensive new soap opera EastEnders and the debut of its Daytime News Service. On top of this, Powell vocally disliked Doctor Who while Grade was dismissive of science-fiction as a whole, meaning that the programme lacked a champion at the top of the BBC hierarchy.
Fan campaigns to save Doctor Who were quickly under way, soon joined by various media outlets. Indeed, Powell would later confess that the ferocity of this response precluded any possibility of the BBC using the hiatus as a pretext for cancelling the show. On March 1st, BBC Television Managing Director Bill Cotton took the unusual step of telephoning David Saunders, Coordinator of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, to confirm that Doctor Who would be back on television in Autumn 1986. As was reiterated in a formal press release the same day, when the show returned it would revert to its original twenty-five-minute format instead of the forty-five-minute episode length trialled in Season Twenty-Two -- a decision made in part, Cotton claimed, to ensure a longer broadcast season for the programme.
Bill Cotton claimed that a return to 25-minute episodes would ensure a longer broadcast season for Doctor Who
The same day, plans were announced to record a single to protest the situation. Called Doctor In Distress, it was written and produced by Levine and Fiachra Trench. Performing as “Who Cares?” were Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Anthony Ainley (the Master), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), and a variety of British entertainers -- albeit none of them with the name value associated with such rumoured participants as Elton John and the Village People. Doctor In Distress was recorded on March 7th and 8th, and released on the 15th, with all proceeds going to the National Society for Cancer Relief.
Revelation Of The Daleks part two aired on March 30th, bringing Season Twenty-Two to an abrupt end -- the final scene having now been edited to end on a freeze-frame just before the Doctor uttered the word “Blackpool”. By now, it was clear that the intended scripts for Season Twenty-Three would, at the very least, have to be heavily reworked for the twenty-five-minute timeslot, but Nathan-Turner and Saward hoped that much of their plans could still be salvaged. Both men were unhappy with the abandonment of the forty-five-minute episodes, as they were confident that they would be able to take better advantage of this format with a year of experience under their belts.
Soon, however, the production team's designs were dealt another blow when it was learned that the thirteen forty-five-minute episodes planned for Season Twenty-Three would not, in fact, be replaced by twenty-six twenty-five-minute installments. This possibility was first mooted amongst fans at a convention on April 6th, when Levine announced that he had learned the BBC would be cutting the order to just twenty episodes. Nathan-Turner refuted this claim, but around the end of May, Powell informed him that the situation was, in fact, much worse: Season Twenty-Three would run to just fourteen episodes, the shortest in total duration in the history of Doctor Who.
It was now clear to Nathan-Turner and Saward that an entirely new approach for the post-hiatus season was required. They jettisoned the original scripts (although some thought was given to retaining “Yellow Fever And How To Cure It”) and began to develop an entirely new concept which would link the fourteen episodes together. Much as Doctor Who was on trial within the BBC, so too would the Doctor be put on trial by his own people...
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