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24 September 2014

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Season 22

Regular cast:
The Doctor (Colin Baker)
Peri (Nicola Bryant)

Regular crew:
Producer: John Nathan-Turner.
Script Editor: Eric Saward.
Production Associate: June Collins on Attack of the Cybermen, Sue Anstruther on all stories except Revelation of the Daleks, Angela Smith on Revelation of the Daleks.
Title Music: Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Peter Howell.
Special Sounds: Dick Mills.

Doctor Who's twenty-second season would not only show the new Doctor becoming noticeably more stable after his rather manic debut in The Twin Dilemma but would also see some important changes being made to the style and pacing of the stories themselves. These came about largely as a consequence of a decision taken by Controller of BBC1 Alan Hart to double the length of each episode, with a commensurate halving - from twenty-six to thirteen - of the number of episodes per season.

The new episode length was originally to have been fifty minutes but was eventually fixed at forty-five minutes after John Nathan-Turner pointed out that, with fewer title sequences required, a fifty minute episode would actually have demanded more than twice the usual programme content, increasing the strain on the series' budget and resources. In another respect, however, this season marked a return to tradition, as it saw the series back in a Saturday evening slot for the first time since Tom Baker's departure. It was also the first since season seventeen to have the same regular cast - Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant - throughout. There was, however, a major upheaval in the offing.

Revelation of the Daleks was one of a number of stories in the twenty-second season to provoke criticism regarding the level of violence and horror in Doctor Who - and, unlike previous criticism of this kind, on this occasion it came as much from the series' fans and members of the general viewing public as from self-appointed TV watchdogs.

Some commentators even suggested that this season marked a departure from the strong moral standpoint that had previously been one of Doctor Who's most distinctive and popular features. The stories undoubtedly dealt with some unusually heavy themes, including video nasties, genetic experimentation and cannibalism, and also featured gory and disturbing scenes of torture, dismemberment and suffering. Even the Doctor's actions did not entirely escape reproach, attention being drawn to his shooting down of some Cybermen in Attack of the Cybermen, his engineering of the killing of Quillam and the Varosian Chief Officer in Vengeance on Varos and his asphyxiation of Shockeye in The Two Doctors.

It was not only viewers, either, who had concerns about aspects of this season's content; some senior BBC executives also had serious reservations. As written and recorded, Revelation of the Daleks should have ended with the Doctor promising to take Peri to Blackpool. By the time its closing episode came to be transmitted, however, the series' very continuation was in doubt, and a freeze-frame ending was substituted with the word 'Blackpool' left unspoken on the Doctor's lips...

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