The Underwater Menace - DVD

The decade-and-a-half task of bringing all existing episodes of Doctor Who to DVD finally came to an end with the somewhat delayed release of the incomplete Second Doctor story The Underwater Menace in 2015.

The recovery of the previously-missing second episode of this story from collector Terry Burnett in 2011 fulfilled the "50% existing" requirement that allowed a story to have its own DVD release*. Initially it was hoped that the two missing episodes could be animated as per previous releases, but the costs of doing so proved too high. After languishing on the shelf for almost two years, pressure from fan groups and from individuals within BBC Worldwide finally saw the story's release in October 2015, completing the long journey of bringing every single existing Doctor Who episode to shiny disc.

Rather than animate the missing episodes, the instruction that came to us via our commissioning editor was that they were to be presented as an inexplicably basic telesnap and off-air soundtrack reconstruction. Although we offered to prepare reconstructions to the standard of that featured on The Web of Fear for no extra cost, we were firmly told that the reconstruction must be exceptionally basic - no recreated opening titles or credits, no composite shots, no moves to add life to the storytelling, and all the telesnaps had to be presented one after another in the order they were shot and without repetition. A very odd commercial decision which were are at a loss to understand.

The two existing episodes were restored using our standard workflows well documented in previous articles on this site. Episode two had previously been censored by an overseas broadcaster, so contact was made with the Australian Archives who kept a collection of censor cuts discovered by researcher Damian Shanahan in 1996. Australian Archives were able to scan the film cuts at 2K resolution and send them to us as video files (through the post on a USB memory stick!). Upon close examination by our picture restoration specialist, Peter Crocker, it turned out that the censor cuts were from the same physical film print that had been returned to the BBC in 2011, enabling Crocker to seamlessly match them back into the episode. A film break mid-way through the episode which was missing some material was patched by Crocker using a zoomed cutaway to a shot used in another part of the episode.

Disc contents:

Commentary. For episode 1, the second part of an interview with actor Michael Troughton that began on ‘The Ice Warriors’ DVD. For episodes 2 and 3, a traditional commentary with actors Anneke Wills, Frazer Hines and Catherine Howe, special sounds supervisor Brian Hodgson and floor assistant Quentin Mann. For episode 4, archive material featuring Patrick Troughton, directors Julia Smith and Hugh David, and producer Innes Lloyd. Moderated and linked by Toby Hadoke.

A Fishy Tale (dur. 28’ 30”) – cast and crew look back on the making of the story. With actors Anneke Wills, Frazer Hines and Catherine Howe, AFM Gareth Gwenlan, production assistant Berry Butler and new series writer Robert Shearman. Narrated by Peter Davison.

The Television Centre of the Universe – Part Two (dur. 32’ 10” ) – Yvette Fielding continues her tour of BBC Television Centre in the company of actors Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson, with contributions from former colleagues along the way. With senior camera supervisor Alec Wheal, AFM Sue Hedden, former BBC producer and writer Richard Marson, exhibitions assistant Bob Richardson, production assistant Jane Ashford and videotape engineer Simon Anthony.

PDF materials, Programme Subtitles and Photo Gallery.


Copyright Steve Roberts, 9 April 2016. No reproduction allowed without written permission.

* No, we don't know why The Crusade wasn't given the same treatment.