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22 October 2014

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Encouraged by his Doctor Who-loving children to write for the show, Ian Stuart Black approached the production team with a story outline for The White Savages.

Taking over from Donald Tosh, incoming script editor Gerry Davis (co-creator of the Cybermen) liked the idea and commissioned the four part story. In fact Davis liked Black so much that he asked him to write the next story (The War Machines) too.

The Savages has the distinction of being the first Doctor Who story not to have individual titles for each of its episodes - as more than one hundred episodes had been transmitted at this point, perhaps they were running out of ideas?

Another significant event was the departure of Peter Purves as Steven Taylor. New Producer Innes Lloyd had begun to develop fresh ideas for the show and TARDIS crew. Coupled with declining ratings, that prompted them to let Purves go at the end of his existing contract to allow them to try something new.

Purves had often voiced his frustration at the lack of Steven's development and wasn't entirely unhappy to go. He went on to become one of Blue Peter's most popular presenters and has recently provided linking narration for many of the BBC Radio Collection releases of missing Doctor Who adventures.

Making his first Doctor Who appearance, German-born Frederick Jaeger played Elder leader Jano. Jaeger would return twice during Tom Baker's tenure; as Jekyll and Hyde-esque scientist Sorenson in Planet of Evil and perhaps more memorably as Professor Marius - creator of metallic mutt K9 - in The Invisible Enemy. Oddly, Ewen Solon (Chal) would also re-appear in Planet of Evil, as Vishinsky.

The story featured location work at a gravel pit (quelle surprise!) near Chalfont St. Peter in Buckinghamshire, plus Oxshott Sandpit near Oxshott in Surrey.

All four episodes are currently missing from the BBC archives, although one smart fan did tape just over forty seconds of part four off the telly with his 8mm camera at the time.

Black novelised The Savages himself back in 1986. More recently, the story was released on CD with narration by Peter Purves.

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