'Carnival of Monsters'

Moving up into third place in the 2002 DVD release schedule is the season ten story 'Carnival of Monsters', starring the popular pairing of Jon Pertwee as the Doctor and Katy Manning as UNIT operative Jo Grant. The story also features a guest appearance by Ian Marter, two seasons before he became a regular as Harry Sullivan and, unusually, was directed by the then series producer, Barry Letts.

'Carnival of Monsters' still exists on its original transmission tapes, along with an earlier edit of episode two. This earlier edit is quite unusual, in that it features an experimental version of the theme tune, which was rejected before transmission. However, this version has been both inadvertently sold overseas, transmitted by UK Gold and deliberately released on VHS - which causes a certain amount of confusion, as being an early edit, it repeats some material which is seen in other episodes and thus the viewer is treated to a strange 'temporal anomaly'!

Because Katy Manning is now an Australian resident, we took the opportunity to record a commentary with her and Barry Letts when she visited the UK in September 2000, even though the story had yet to be scheduled for release. We took this decision because, although we didn't want to tempt fate, Katy and Barry are really the only two surviving members of the 'Carnival' team, as sadly Jon Pertwee, Ian Marter and writer Robert Holmes are no longer with us. It's also an important story for Barry, as he was both director and producer.

The commentary was mixed down at BBC Pebble Mill as usual, then laid back onto Digital Betacam copies of the episode which then became the masters that were used for the subsequent cleanup work.

The video quality appears to be quite good throughout, but the quality of the 16mm film sequences is quite poor. Unfortunately, the physical film sequences no longer exist, so going back  and retransferring them from scratch was not possible. All of the film sequences (around 18 minutes in total, including titles) were compiled off onto a separate tape and then put through DVNR to reduce and remove the minor faults and grain, before moving into Scratchbox for intensive frame by frame retouching. The film is generally very soft and suffers from some inter-field flicker, a product of the twin-lens telecine systems that were used to transfer the film in the seventies. There is a lot of dirt on both the positives and negatives, so both black dirt and white sparkle were problems, as were small vertical scratches and scuffs. It also seems that there was a problem in the developing tanks at the film lab, as there were quite a lot of marks with vertical chemical streaks on the film. To make matters worse, there were lots of glue marks on the frames adjacent to every film join, a sign that the sequences had been made up as a continuous physical roll rather than being printed from A/B rolls. With hindsight, it would have been better if we had edited out these bad frames before we had 'locked' the episodes to length for subtitle and commentary purposes. It is now not possible to edit them out, so they have been either retouched, replaced by a repeat of the adjacent 'good' frame, or simply left as they are. Scratchbox was used to correct around 4000 defects and the sequences were then dropped back into the episode working masters.

The working masters were then used as the source tapes to produce the DVD masters. Each episode was put through the DVNR on a low setting to reduce video noise and at the same time James "Eagle Eyes" Insell and myself spotted and logged any dropouts or other picture disturbances. These were subsequently repaired by Dave Hawley on a second run through and the film sequences were colour-corrected to match the surrounding video material. All of the film sequences were somewhat lacking in colour, so the saturation was increased throughout.

The episodes on the disc will be the complete transmitted versions of all four episodes.

The extras for this release are:-


Copyright  Steve Roberts, 1 February 2002