Doctor Who from 1970 gets remastered

John Pertwee John Pertwee in Spearhead from Space, first aired in 1970

The first Doctor Who to be filmed in colour has been digitally remastered in time for the television show's 50th anniversary next year.

Spearhead from Space, first transmitted in colour in January 1970, has effectively been given a face lift with state-of-the-art tools.

The four-part story is the only one from the original Doctor Who series that can be remastered into HD because it was filmed on location on 16mm due to industrial action at Television Centre in 1969.

With only this exception, the entire original series was recorded to videotape and of much lower quality, making it unsuitable for true HD.

BBC Studios and Post Production's Digital Media Services painstakingly started the remastering process with a variety of specialist tools. The original film was scanned and digitised, allowing for restoration work.

The lead colourist also used an approach that gave Spearhead from Space a cinematic finish. Colourist Jonathan Wood said: 'We decided to treat this four-part story like an individual filmed drama rather than thinking of it as part of an ongoing series normally shot in a tv studio.' The result, he added, is 'dramatic'.

Clive Hodge, head of Digital Media Services at BBCSPP, said he is 'delighted' that BBC Worldwide commissioned the restoration work in time for the 50th anniversary in November.

He said: 'It's fantastic that the younger generations will have the chance to see this landmark story in the same picture quality that they've become used to with the more recent series.'

Spearhead from Space was the first to star John Pertwee as the third Doctor and also the first to feature UNIT, the fictional military organisation, as a regular part of the show. Caroline John is also introduced as the Doctor's new assistant.

The plot revolves around an army of murderous Autons marching across Britain.

The Blu-ray version of Spearhead from Space will be released through BBC Worldwide in July 2013.

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