New Beginnings - DVD Boxset

The 2007 UK DVD releases kick off with 'New Beginnings' (previously known by the working title 'The Return of the Master'), a boxset of the three stories - 'The Keeper of Traken', 'Logopolis' and 'Castrovalva' - that saw both the return of the Doctor's arch-enemy and the transition from Tom Baker's Doctor to Peter Davison's. Packed with special features, including the only DVD commentary recorded by the late Anthony Ainley and possibly Tom Baker's most enlightening interview to date, this boxset covers one of the most pivotal times in the show's history.

The Fourth Doctor's Coffin PlaqueAll three stories exist as D3 digital videotape copies of the original BBC 2" quad transmission tapes. 'The Keeper of Traken' is entirely studio-based, with no location film inserts, whereas both 'Logopolis' and 'Castrovalva' were made using the traditional mix of studio video and 16mm location filming. The stories were remastered in the usual way, with the tapes being decoded to digital component using the BBC Transform PAL decoder, graded and noise-reduced by Jonathan Wood, then dropouts and other manual fixes applied frame by frame as necessary.

Audio went off separately to Mark Ayres to be remastered in his studio. This remastering started off as a pretty standard affair for all episodes: theme music replaced from masters, general denoise and de- click, drop-outs and peak-distortion repaired, with levels legalised where necessary and edits tidied. All episodes had generally very high levels of tape noise, so some fairly heavy noise reduction was used at times, though there are places where noisy music and effects combined with lifted dialogue make effective noise reduction nigh-on impossible. There was also some extraneous noise from a loosely- mounted boom microphone in some scenes in Traken - again, this has been removed where it does not interfere with dialogue.

'The Keeper of Traken' was fairly straightforward, with only a modest amount of videotape dropout to fix manually. There was some picture movement when the Master's TARDIS dematerialises at the end of the story, which was fixed to make the effect work better. Typically this sort of work is done on most of the materialisation / dematerialisation shots as we have greater control over precise picture position than the original editor. This story featured some occasional clumsy audio equalisation switching for the "on-screen" sequences within Melkur and the Doctor's TARDIS. One cannot be too critical of this, as they did not have automated mixing consoles in 1980, and the edit appears not to have been split-tracked. Additional automated equalisation, careful noise reduction and subtle shifting of edit points has helped to disguise this.

'Logopolis' has quite a large amount of location film in it which, although generally nicely graded and sharp, was absolutely covered in dirt and sparkle. As the film sequences no longer exist (although we were loaned a reel of rush prints of some of the Barnet Bypass filming, courtesy of Steven Sigel - this was used in one of the extras on this disc) it was a case of having to paint out an awful lot of dirt by hand. Some of the original studio recording tapes appear to have been scratched prior to the edit too, with quad scratches apparent on some shots in the last episode. These were fixed by making up a matte to cover up the scratched areas and using it to key in a very high level of DVNR scratch removal into just those small parts of the picture, allowing us to remove the scratches without damaging legitimate detail in the other parts of the image.

Mention was made in the production files of the poor audio quality of some episodes of 'Logopolis', mainly concerned it appears with the TARDIS Cloister and Console Room. In the Cloister there was a lot of sub-bass rumble on the microphones - it sounds as if the studio doors were open for some of these scenes - leading to a general dulling in sound quality. This has been corrected as much as possible, and the sequences were split off to a separate track in Nuendo to be treated to higher levels of noise reduction, with the background sound and some music added back in from the Radiophonic masters. These scenes also suffered from the use of radio mics - especially on Adric where some clothing rustling was very apparent. Again, careful editing has removed much of this.

In the Console Room during parts one and two and again towards the end of part three as Logopolis starts to disintegrate (once more probably due to excessive studio noise, from the clattering time-rotor in the case of the Console Room!) some lines were re-recorded in the original dub. This was rather given away by poor synchronisation, which has been improved as much as possible, here, by careful shifting of syllables and the replacement of one entirely. In part four, a conversation between Adric and Nyssa was interrupted by a poor edit (yet again probably due to studio noise) leading to some truncation of two words and the total loss of a third. These have been reinstated by using the appropriate syllables from elsewhere in the episodes and rebuilding the background sounds. Other instances of excessive studio noise have been tamed where possible, again often entailing reconstructing the music and effects from master elements. The Cloister Bell sound effect was miscued in part one, leading to Adric pointing out that it has stopped...when it hadn't. Now, it has. In part two,  the missing sound of the TARDIS doors at one point has been added back (the Doctor tells Adric to close the doors, and Adric presses the button - one of three separate control used to operate the doors in these episodes! - but there was no sound).

Luckily, film sequences for 'Castrovalva' still exist in the BBC library, including the original A/B rolled camera negatives, so it was decided to go back to these to provide the optimum quality for the location film work. Both rolls were transferred on the Spirit telecine at BBC Resources, then graded and combined onto a single insert tape by Jonathan Wood. At this point it became apparent that there were a couple of scenes which didn't appear in the final programme, so these were reserved for the DVD extras. Some of the location film had overlaid video effects in the final version, so these needed to be either cut out of the original pictures and laid over the new ones, or digitally recreated and re-composited. The difference in quality was marked however, as the following example demonstrates. Roll your mouse over the picture to view the remastered version. Note the enhanced picture area and resolution, the colour fidelity and the extra detail, particularly in the highlights such as the sky and the Doctor's pullover.

The opening pre-titles scene of this story was again affected by high levels of background audio noise and some very obvious editing drop-ins. To try to disguise this, the scene was stripped back and rebuilt as much as possible.

Having rendered the episodes to files for final synchronisation with the restored pictures, Mark set about mixing the commentaries, all of which will sound subtly different having been recorded over a period of three years, in three different studios using three different engineers and three different microphone setups! Mark has also provided isolated score tracks compiled from the archive master recordings - the music and selected effects masters were also supplied to the featurette producers for use as background material where appropriate.

Mark's final job for this release was perhaps the most challenging - to provide a "sequel" to the 5.1 surround sound mix of the original theme music that appeared on the "Beginning" set, this time showcasing Peter Howell's reworking from 1980.

The 16-track master tape has been known to exist ever since Mark's cataloguing of the Radiophonic Workshop archive way back in 1997, yet machines to play these tapes on are now few and far between. But in preparation for this release, and with the help of one Mr Ron Geesin (whose wife Frances, it turns out, was a costume assistant on The Keeper of Traken), the tape was finally transferred to digital format. Back at Mark's studio, it was remixed into stereo and 5.1 sound and is now heard complete for the first time - including a few seconds of additional atmospheric whooshing at start and end, and an additional repeat of the main melody. To accompany this, Mark has also edited a short video from the opening and closing titles sequences.

Paul Vanezis was the senior content producer for this release and he managed to pull together a huge amount of extras, both newly made and contemporary with the stories. Here he explains the background to this release:

"The release slot now occupied by 'New Beginnings' was originally to have been home to another boxset title. However, I have always liked this trio of stories and I think Chris Bidmead's writing is excellent, so I pushed for a change in the schedule. Fortunately, 2Entertain agreed that we could create the package we wanted (although on a tight budget) and we were given the go ahead.

'The Keeper of Traken' had originally been suggested as a single release because we had a commentary already in the can. This was one of several commentaries we had recorded in early 2003 to take advantage of the availability of Matthew Waterhouse, and the recording features the late Anthony Ainley, Johnny Byrne and Sarah Sutton as well as Matthew.

Having a full commentary recorded for 'The Keeper of Traken' did dictate how we should approach 'Logopolis' and 'Castrovalva'. Firstly, they were going to be full commentaries for all episodes, unlike previous boxsets such as 'The Beginning' and 'Lost in Time'. Secondly, we needed the key people involved who were still with us and available. I also planned a series of extra features featuring interviews with everyone who could tell me about that whole period of change. We had a Doctor leaving, new companions coming in and a new Doctor. There was a lot to discuss.

Whilst negotiations were taking place with other artists I arranged to interview Chris Bidmead. I felt that as script editor and writer, he would be the backbone of many of the features on the three discs. This was undertaken on the 19th of May at Waterfall Studios in west London. This single interview gave me the structure for the main feature on the Logopolis disc, 'A New Body at Last' (although I had toyed with a more humourous title, 'The Regeneration Game: Let's Shut That Door on Doctor Four' and within the team it was often referred to as 'Bye-bye Beevers, Enter Ainley'!).

Further interviews were arranged, again at Waterfall for Wednesday the 5th of July. Interviewees were Peter Moffatt, Sheila Ruskin, John Black, Sarah Sutton, Geoffrey Beevers, Adrian Gibbs and Johnny Byrne.

My main interviews were complete with three obvious exceptions: Janet Fielding and of course Peter Davison and Tom Baker. Janet has, since I first began working with her, declined to be interviewed on camera, but agreed to take part in both the 'Castrovalva' and 'Logopolis' commentaries. Peter Davison has a very busy schedule, but moved one or two things around which meant we could record an interview with him on the same day as the commentary recording. This took place on the 7th of July in Dubbing Theatre 3 at Television Centre. The interview with Peter was recorded first, followed by the commentary recording of 'Castrovalva' with Peter Davison, Chris Bidmead, Janet Fielding and Fiona Cumming. After lunch we also recorded an interview with Fiona Cumming for the 'Castrovalva' DVD.

The final interview I needed for the boxset was with Tom Baker. He was very keen to take part but dates, and the added difficulty of flying him over from his home near Toulouse had so far scuppered my plans. We eventually found a window in both our schedules that also coincided with the availability of our other contributors to the 'Logopolis' commentary. We recorded this on the 28th of July at Angell Sound in central London with Tom Baker, Janet Fielding and Chris Bidmead. After lunch, we travelled to Waterfall again to record the final interview for the release with Tom.

Editing the features was going to be a challenge as a lot of material had been generated and at least two features would be very complex affairs. I decided to allocate 'The Crowded TARDIS' , 'Being Nice to Each Other' and 'Directing Castrovalva' to Steve Broster. As Steve lives very close to me, it meant we could exchange tapes easily. However, there weren't just logistical reasons; Steve had acted as assistant producer for the interviews I had recorded, being present at them all, and knew the material. Steve began editing in July. I had already started blocking out 'A New Body at Last' in May, editing it on my system at home on Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5, adding material as it came in. The timeline below shows that it was quite a complex edit.

Adobe Premiere project screen for 'A New Body at Last'

The documentaries required two voices to help tell the various stories. For 'Being Nice to Each Other' and 'The Crowded TARDIS' I suggested George Williams. George was my assistant producer on my 'Edge of Darkness' documentary and has done quite a bit of uncredited voice over work for various programmes, including Top Gear. For 'A New Body at Last' I needed a distinctive regional accent. I decided to ask Denis Lawson of whom I am a big fan. He agreed and the voiceover session was undertaken at St. Annes Post in Wardour St. on September the 8th with Denis. The programme was sound-mixed at the BBC Mailbox studios in Birmingham the following Wednesday with a grading session with Jonathan Wood on September 16th.

Each disc is self contained and the contents break down thus:

Disc 1 - The Keeper of Traken

4 x 25 mins colour episodes with commentary  from actors Anthony Ainley, Matthew Waterhouse and Sarah Sutton, writer Johnny Byrne.

Being Nice to Each Other (dur. 30' 04") - a new documentary looking at the making of this story through the eyes of the cast and crew. Featuring actors Sarah Sutton, Sheila Ruskin, Geoffrey Beevers, director John Black, writer Johnny Byrne and script editor Christopher H. Bidmead. Narrated by George Williams.

The Return of the Master (dur. 08' 40") - Geoffrey Beevers, Christopher H. Bidmead and John Black talk about how they realised the return of the Doctor's arch-adversary.

Sarah Sutton on Swap Shop (dur. 11' 14") - Noel Edmonds interviews Sarah Sutton, with questions phoned in from young viewers.

Trails and Continuities (dur. 5' 55") - TV trails and continuity announcements.

Photo Gallery (dur. 8' 23")

Isolated Music - isolated synchronous music from the story.

PDF Material - the 1982 Doctor Who Annual, Radio Times listings for 'The Keeper of Traken' and the BBC Enterprises Season 18 sales literature as Adobe pdf files for viewing on PC or Mac.

Programme Subtitles

Subtitle Production Notes


Disc 2 - Logopolis

4 x 25 mins colour episodes with commentary from actors Tom Baker and Janet Fielding, writer Christopher H. Bidmead.

A New Body at Last (dur. 50' 20") - a new documentary covering the transition from Tom Baker to Peter Davison. Featuring actors Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton and Adrian Gibbs, script editor Christopher H. Bidmead, directors Peter Moffatt and John Black. Narrated by Denis Lawson.

Nationwide - Tom Baker (dur. 4' 30") - an interview with Tom Baker from the BBC news magazine show.

Nationwide - Peter Davison (dur. 3' 40") - an interview with Peter Davison on his forthcoming role as the Doctor.

Pebble Mill at One - Peter Davison (dur. 12' 00") - Peter Davison interviewed on the long-running BBC lunchtime show.

News Items (dur. 1' 55") - a selection of BBC News items, including reports on Tom Baker and Lalla Ward's wedding, the announcement of Tom Baker's departure and Peter Davison's arrival.

Continuities (dur. 2' 23") - continuity announcements for the story.

Photo Gallery (dur. 8' 23")

Isolated Music - isolated synchronous music from the story.

PDF Material - the 1982 Doctor Who Annual, Radio Times listings for 'Logopolis' and the BBC Enterprises Season 18 sales literature as Adobe pdf files for viewing on PC or Mac.

Programme Subtitles

 Subtitle Production Notes


Disc 3 - Castrovalva

4 x 25 mins colour episodes with commentary from actors Peter Davison and Janet Fielding, director Fiona Cumming and writer Christopher H. Bidmead.

Being Doctor Who (dur. 13' 29") - Peter Davison discusses his casting and time as the fifth Doctor.

Directing Castrovalva (dur. 11' 19") - Fiona Cumming talks about directing Peter Davison's debut story.

The Crowded TARDIS (dur. 11' 25") - by the end of Tom Baker's tenure, the TARDIS crew had grown from the usual one companion to three. This featurette examines the reasons behind this change of direction. Featuring actors Tom Baker, Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton, director John Black and script editor Christopher H. Bidmead. Narrated by George Williams.

Blue Peter - Peter Davison (dur. 9' 15") - Peter Davison interviewed on the popular children's magazine show.

Swap Shop - Peter Davison (dur. 20' 40" ) - Noel Edmonds interviews Peter Davison, with questions phoned in from young viewers.

Deleted Scenes (dur. 1' 34") - two deleted scenes from the story.

Continuities and Trailers (dur. 5' 28") - continuity announcements and TV trailers for the story.

Theme Music Video (dur. 3' 34") - a brand new remix of Peter Howell's version of the theme music for the series, exclusively remixed from the original multitrack master. Option to listen to the music in either stereo (default) or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround versions.

Photo Gallery (dur. 5' 19")

Isolated Music - isolated synchronous music from the story.

PDF Material - the 1982 Doctor Who Annual, Radio Times listings for 'Castrovalva' and the BBC Enterprises Season 19 sales literature as Adobe pdf files for viewing on PC or Mac.

Programme Subtitles

Subtitle Production Notes

Footnote: It seems to be worrying some people that the 1982 Doctor Who Annual appears on all three discs. This is not a mistake, it simply means that the same menu screen can be used on all three releases and also gives more flexibility for the US market where the stories may be released individually as well as together.

Copyright Steve Roberts, Paul Vanezis, Mark Ayres  19 September 2006. No reproduction allowed without written permission.