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The Doctors: The Jon Pertwee Years – Behind the Scenes Vol 1 [DVD Review]

Doctor Who fans have been well-catered for over the last couple of decades when it comes to behind the scenes material about their favourite show. From magazine interviews, articles and countless tie-in books to DVD extras, Blu-ray documentaries, podcast interviews and YouTube videos, the entire story of the classic science fiction show has been told again and again, each new format or release offering up new tidbits of information about how the greatest television phenomenon of all time was made across nearly 60 years.

In truth though, the Myth Makers VHS interviews got there first and served as a precursor to today’s DVD special features. Produced by Keith Barnfather of Reeltime Pictures and presented by Dalek voice supremo Nicholas Briggs, these in-depth interviews provided fans with the kind of insights and personal behind the scenes glimpses only ever dreamt of in the days before DVD featurettes and commentaries were a thing. Now collected across a new range of DVD sets, these programmes serve as the ultimate archive of Doctor Who-related interviews with the show’s creative alumni and are a treasure trove of information and entertainment for fans old and new.

The first disc of this debut set in the collection is dedicated solely to the driving creative forces behind the Jon Pertwee era – Producer Barry Letts and Script Editor Terrance Dicks. The first programme on the disc (75 mins) sees Nicolas Briggs in conversation with the two former colleagues, and their friendship is a delight to behold as they swap war stories about their time spearheading the show in the early 70s, revealing how they got involved with the show, how they bought it back from the brink of cancellation and how they ultimately made it into a ratings success once again. The second programme on the disc (100 mins) sees Briggs reunite the two for a further interview in which they discuss the casting, the writing process, the making of several key stories from their era and even the culture of working at the BBC at the time. At almost 3 hours, there isn’t a wasted second here, as both interviewees are a delight to spend time with.

The second disc offers up convention panel footage featuring writer Don Houghton in conversation with Dicks, Letts and fellow Who writer Bob Baker (48 mins). Author of two rather beloved fan favourites from the early Pertwee era, Houghton sadly passed away in 1991 and gave very few video interviews before he passed, so this is a goldmine for Whovians desperate to hear from the man himself. Here, he proves to be a charming and insightful interviewee, and whilst we’re not able to enjoy a proper one-on-one interview with the man, we get to enjoy hearing him in conversation with his fellow creatives at a well-attended Doctor Who Appreciation Society convention in 1987.

Next up is a documentary on the Directors of the Pertwee era (53 mins), which features Paul Bernard (director of Day of the Daleks, The Time Monster and Frontier in Space) and Christopher Barry (The Daemons, The Mutants) discussing how they broke into the business and how they ultimately ended up working on Doctor Who. Again, both interviewees have since passed away, with Bernard passing away in 1997 before the advent of DVD documentaries, so their recollections here are particularly invaluable and full of exciting stories.

Flight Through Eternity: The Three Doctors Volume 3 (53 mins) rounds off the collection with a selection of Third Doctor guest star interviews conducted at the 2008 Flight Through Eternity convention, including Valentine Palmer and Anna Barry (Day of the Daleks), Damaris Hayman (The Daemons) and Terence Lodge (Carnival of Monsters, Planet of the Spiders). Each enthusiastically talks about their time on the programme, however fleeting it may have been, and the end result is a nice complete package that covers a wealth of behind the scenes stories from arguably one of Doctor Who‘s finest eras.

The highlight of this DVD collection is the amount of interviews with cast and crew members who are sadly no longer with us, their stories and recollections now collected and catalogued together for posterity. This, not to mention the hours of footage and enlightening stories, makes this a must-have for any Whovian’s DVD shelf. Beautifully packaged and delightful to watch, fans should ensure they get a copy of this first limited edition outing for this new range as quickly as possible.

The Doctors: The Jon Pertwee Years Behind the Scenes Volume 1 is available on a limited edition 2-disc DVD now and can be purchased here.

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