The Space Museum & The Chase - DVD

We head back to 1965 for the next release, a boxed pair of William Hartnell stories spread over three DVDs. 'The Space Museum' sees the TARDIS crew trying to prevent their own glimpsed future as exhibits in a museum on the planet Xeros, whilst 'The Chase' is six episodes of mayhem as the Daleks chase our heroes across time and space...

Daleks versus MechanoidsBoth stories were originally made on 405-line studio video with filmed inserts, but now exist as 16mm film recording negatives produced by BBC Enterprises for overseas sale. As usual, these precious archive masters were transferred to tape by Jonathan Wood, using the Spirit telecine at Television Centre, then the tapes went onwards to Peter Crocker for picture restoration and to Mark Ayres for sound restoration.

The film recordings were made during April and May 1967, in a fairly random order. All episodes required dirt & sparkle removal, in addition to repair of dirty vision mixer cuts (single frame mixes). Mechanical film jitter was stabilised prior to VidFIRE processing of sequences originated with electronic cameras.

In addition, certain episodes threw up specific problems. Episodes one, two and four of 'The Space Museum' suffer from noticeable non-linear horizontal geometric distortion, leading to objects changing shape as they move across the screen or the camera pans. This has been undistorted as much as possible by eye. Perfect results were an unrealistic aim due to the usual mains hum causing a superimposed low frequency cyclical sinusoidal distortion.

Episode one has off-locks at most of the physical VT splices during the scenes involving the travellers in their exhibit cases, as well as tape scratches. The shot of the travellers disappearing may be the first genuine use of “rollback and mix” in the series, and it is not surprising that the results are rather unstable.

Episode two also has a sawtooth distortion on vertical lines, most likely due to poorly aligned video heads. This is especially difficult to fix due to the superimposed mains hum and film jitter tending to “move the goalposts” constantly.

Episode three suffers from an intermittent scratch near the centre of the picture throughout the episodes. Also there is lots of tape damage with frequent dropouts, line flashes and off-locks, worsening as the episode progresses. Some of the off-locks were challenging to repair due to the presence of smoke in the scenes.

Episode four had three frames missing (possibly to remove a bad off-lock) during the scene of Ian helping the Doctor away from the freezing apparatus. These were recreated artificially.

Moving on to 'The Chase', episode one suffers from problems with sync going into and out of film inserts on the Time-Space Visualiser. While the TSV images themselves are supposed to look poor as the picture detunes, the shots after required repair (notably Barbara watching as Shakespeare ponders on Hamlet and Ian dances to the Beatles).

Episode two (like episode three of Space Museum) suffers throughout from VT damage in the form of dropouts, line flashes and off-locks.

Episode three also suffers from tape damage which is particularly bad – probably irreparable - during the film inserts of New York. Luckily, Andrew Martin at BBC Information & Archives was able to locate the original film inserts used in 1965 so these were newly transferred by Jonathan Wood and dropped into the episode during the grade - which also required him to match geometry and mix through to the original film sequence as that sequence itself is mixing back through into the studio video .

Episode four has notable instability and horizontal jitter due to field sync instability. This is often impossible to fix due to the localised nature of the distortion, which is burnt in to the film recording, and the lack of a suitable clean image as reference.

Episode five is notable for frequent off-locks around the physical splices in the VT required by the pre-recorded fight sequence between the Doctor and his robot double. As with “The Keys of Marinus”, there were also four suspicious physical splices in the FR neg. However, the episode length matches the time on the PasB documentation and nothing is missing according to the camera script; therefore it is likely that the splices were simply to remove bad off-locks at edit points.

After all of this, the lack of any major obstacles in episode six came as something of a relief!

One of the highlights of the extras package for many people will surely be a glimpse inside the workshops of model-makers Shawcraft of Uxbridge during the heydays of their work on Doctor Who, via the amateur 8mm colour film 'Follow that Dalek'. The film is presented in its entirety on the disc, as well as providing a strong backbone to John Kelly's documentary overview of Shawcraft's work on the programme. Richard Bignell explains the background to the discovery of this precious piece of film...

"The recovery of the cine film stretches back nearly eight years when a post was made on the old Restoration Team forum in May 2002 by someone calling himself "Danny Boy", recounting how he had heard about the existence of a film made at Shawcraft showing the Daleks being built during the mid-1960s.

As the RT forum didn't archive its postings, I would often print out any potentially useful material, and this was one that I decided to keep, just in case it could ever be followed up at some future point.

To be honest, the account given by Danny Boy (who actually turned out to be actor Dan Hogarth, who has appeared in a number of Big Finish Doctor Who productions) seemed to be the classic tall-tale that you so often read on the internet. Dan had said that during the 1980s, he had gone to a film fair in Leeds and got talking to someone who said he had once been an film editor at the BBC and who had also worked as a columnist on one of the old cine enthusiast magazines. Dan recounted how his interest had been piqued when the man said that he'd worked on a Doctor Who story where the Doctor was in a jungle, had wandered into a temple and been arrested for sacrilege. This individual then mentioned to Dan that a friend of his had apparently taken some 8mm cine film of the Daleks being built during the 1960s and that this friend (that Dan couldn't remember the name of) possibly ran an amateur film makers club somewhere in Sussex. Dan had been given the man's details and on telephoning him, he found that the cine film did exist, that it had been taken at Shawcraft and that no, the man wasn't going to let an unknown 16-year old borrow it!

In February 2008, I came across the old printout that I had made and I thought it might be worth looking into, as the internet had now grown so much bigger, making information more accessible and finding people far easier.

Dalek and MacraMy first port of call was to contact someone I knew who was still very much into 8mm film and I asked if he was aware of any columnists from the old cine magazines who had also been involved in any way with the BBC. Two names came back as possibles. One was Bernard Ashby, who had been the film editor on 'Arc of Infinity', but who now lived in Australia and the other was a man called Keith Wilton who lived in Ealing and who ran the regular British Film Collector's Convention in the local town hall.

Keith proved easy enough to find, so I sent an email off to him recounting Dan's tale and asking if it rang any bells with him. A couple of hours later, I had a reply. Keith was indeed the person that Dan had spoken to in Leeds. He had briefly been a film editor at the BBC and had worked with Mat Irvine on the effects footage for 'The Creature from the Pit' in 1979. More importantly, he was also able to confirm the existence of the Shawcraft footage. The man who had taken it was called Gerry Irwin and during the 1960s, they had both been members of the Ealing & Boston Manor Cine Club. Keith wasn't too sure, but he thought that Gerry might still be alive, although he had long moved away from the Ealing area.

Via further research on the internet (and following up on Dan's memory of Sussex), I came across the old website of the Hayward's Heath Movie Makers, which had a photograph of Gerry Irwin, confirming that he was involved with the club – and that he had died some twelve years previous.

TARDIS models at Shawcraft workshopsContacting the club secretary, I explained the situation and I asked if there was any possibility that Gerry might still have family who lived in the area. The helpful reply told me that Gerry's wife had moved down to Worthing, but that she had since died as well. However, Gerry did have a daughter called Christine who also lived in the same town and they passed her address onto me. A quick check revealed that she'd actually sold her property some six months earlier, but I decided to write, hoping that her mail might still being forwarded to her new address.

A few days later, I had a telephone call from Christine Irwin, who had moved to Dorset, further along the coast. Not only did she remember the film her father took, but she also confirmed that she had been able to dig it out and that she would be delighted for us to use it. I immediately got in touch with John Kelly, as he didn't live too far away from Christine, to see if he could make contact with her and physically collect the footage, which he did very quickly. It was then taken up to the BBC in London where it was professionally transferred.

On viewing the footage, we realised that it had actually been taken over two separate visits, a few weeks apart and that it showed a wealth of Doctor Who props and monsters. However, some were seen only briefly, so I suggested that an optional subtitle track should be added to help people identify exactly what they would be able to see on the film, and with some help, pretty much everything was pinpointed.

The original film, which was submitted into Movie Maker magazine's 10 Best Competition in 1968 (and won Gold Star recognition) did have a narrated soundtrack, done by Gerry Irwin's friend, Fergus O'Kelly – whose Irish tones would be instantly recognisable to anyone who watched BBC Schools maths and science programmes during the 1970s. Sadly, the commentary (which wasn't terribly accurate anyway) couldn't be cleared for use, so a soundtrack of various Doctor Who sound effects from the period was put together to go with the footage."

Extras for this boxset were put together under the leadership of producer James Goss and include...

The Space Museum:

Commentary with actors Maureen O'Brien and William Russell, writer Glyn Jones. Moderated by Peter Purves.

Defending the Museum (dur. 9' 27") - writer Robert Shearman provides a personal and robust defence of this somewhat forgotten story. 

My Grandfather, the Doctor (dur. 10' 04" ) - Jessica Carney talks about the career of her grandfather, William Hartnell.

A Holiday for the Doctor (dur. 14' 00") - spoof comedy recollections of sixties Doctor Who starring Christopher Green as actress Ida Barr.


The Chase:

Commentary with actors Maureen O'Brien, William Russell and Peter Purves, director Richard Martin.

Cusick in Cardiff (dur. 12' 44") - Raymond Cusick, the designer of the Daleks, visits the new series production studios in Cardiff to be shown around the TARDIS set and meet the newest version of his design. With Raymond Cusick, production designer Edward Thomas and designer Peter McKinstry.

The Thrill of The Chase (dur. 10' 25") - director Richard Martin looks back at the making of the story. 

Last Stop White City (dur. 13' 15") - School teachers Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton were the first people from Earth to travel with the Doctor and his granddaughter Susan in their time and space vehicle, the TARDIS. From their first step into the TARDIS in 'An Unearthly Child' to their departure at the end of 'The Chase', the duo were involved in sixteen thrilling adventures that captured the imagination of a generation. This documentary tells their story. With actors William Russell, director Richard Martin, studio vision mixer Clive Doig and writer Simon Guerrier.

Daleks Conquer and Destroy (dur. 22' 37") - since they first appeared on our television screens in 1963, the Daleks have been a source of enduring fascination for followers of Doctor Who. But just what was their appeal? With producer Verity Lambert, Dalek designer Raymond Cusick, director Richard Martin, actress Carole Ann Ford, writer Robert Shearman, designer Matthew Savage, model unit supervisor Mike Tucker and new series Dalek voice artiste Nicholas Briggs.

Daleks Beyond the Screen (dur. 21' 55") - from the outset, the merchandising opportunities presented by the popularity of the Daleks was quickly realised and continues right through to the present day. With producer Verity Lambert, Dalek designer Raymond Cusick, director Richard Martin, new series Dalek voice artiste Nicholas Briggs, designer Matthew Savage, writer Robert Shearman, Doctor Who merchandise collector Mick Hall, model unit supervisor Mike Tucker, Private Eye journalist Adam MacQueen, BBC Worldwide's Kate Walsh and Dave Turbitt.

Shawcraft - The Original Monster Makers (dur. 16' 58") - this documentary looks at the work of Uxbridge-based Shawcraft Models, who during the sixties provided many of the props and models for Doctor Who. With BBC designers Raymond Cusick, Spencer Chapman, John Wood and Barry Newbery, and Annette Basford, the daughter of Shawcraft owner, Bill Roberts.

Follow that Dalek (dur. 12' 00") - an amateur 8mm cine film from 1967 looking around the premises of Shawcraft Models. The film features numerous props and models from Doctor Who, many seem for the first time in colour. This feature includes an optional subtitle track which will require a menu to enable or disable.

Give-a-Show Slides (dur. 12' 15") - sixteen stories presented on seven slides each, as featured in the Doctor Who Give-a-Show Slide Projector toy from the sixties.


Plus of course the usual Photo Gallery, Subtitle Production Notes, PDF material and Coming Soon trailer.

Copyright Steve Roberts, Richard Bignell and Peter Crocker,  24January 2010. No reproduction allowed without written permission.