This second instalment of THE DOCTORS – THE JON PERTWEE YEARS is just as informative as the previous one. As mentioned before and in all fairness, if you are not a diehard fan of DR. WHO this never less than fascinating compilation will probably be of very little interest to you. Once again we must commend Nick Briggs (any Who-ist will know of his achievements in this specialized field) for a fine job and of course Keith Barnfather who made the programmes in the first place.

First up we have the writing partnership of Bob Baker and Dave Martin 'The Bristol Boys' as we go straight into the interview at a countryside house, the sign outside says 'Private for use of Pier and Residents only'. They met through a mutual friend when they were both living in the same Bristol Street. Bob ran a small shop and was working in animation ('Vision On') and Dave was in advertising. After a few near misses (a spectacular version of Peter Grimes that “damn nearly got made”) they sent an 'unsolicited script' to the Beeb (one couldn't conceive of such a thing now). They eventually found an agent in Bob's office associate. Much to their surprise, some eighteen months later they were contacted by a BBC producer! They ended up writing no less than eight DR WHO's and created K9 - not that everyone was overly happy about the robot dog (for one, it appeased Mrs. Whitehouse) but kids loved being 'frightened' by DR WHO anyway. Bob wrote ‘Nightmare in Eden’ on his own at the request of Douglas Adams and Graham Williams. They eventually went their separate ways after having contacted Russell Davies who felt they had nothing to contribute to the new format.

One of the best things about these compilations is that we often get someone who doesn't play the lovey game - which in many respects is a cardinal rule for the 'jobbing actor'. This in many respects is what makes Robert Sloman's interview of particular interest and some people may find some of his opinions a little unsettling. Others will find them refreshing. Sloman was clearly a free thinker and he is not saying these things to shock. He is best known for the Pertwee classic 'The Daemons' though credited as Guy Leopold. Like Barry Letts, Sloman had also started out as an actor and it was through their respective wives that they met. He'd hoped for five or six years more but sadly Robert died the year after this interview. Informing us that “all writers are as nutty as fruitcake” (he has a point) and “to read everything we can lay our hands on” this interview is worth the price of admission alone.

Next up is Louis Marks. He'd originally studied Renaissance Italy at Oxford where he gained his Doctorate - always interested in films he nevertheless found himself writing scripts for the TV Series ‘Robin Hood’ in the late 50's. Louis himself modestly puts most of his achievements as a writer down to luck. He cites Rachel Carson’s frightening 1962 book 'Silent Spring' as a source of inspiration for some of his DR. WHO work. Marks was, however, a versatile writer and worked on many varied projects. He later became a very successful producer. Like many others he pays homage to the genius of Robert Holmes and acknowledges the deft hand of producer Barry Letts. 'Masque of Mandragora' was a fitting farewell episode for Louis. Then it’s on to Tim Combe. The name itself is a verbal exercise. And he’s yet another one who started out as an actor. He had the good fortune to meet Julia Smith (producer of 'East Enders') at Webber Douglas and she introduced him to the BBC (now there IS a stroke of luck). Soon he found himself working on a number of projects, eventually directing ten episodes of Z-Cars before moving onto to DR. WHO. He'd been asked to go on a director's course and worked on five DR. WHO episodes - three with Hartnell and two with Troughton. He befriended the former describing him as a lonely but sincere and kind man. Like many others he too mentions 'little money and little time”. Tim cites Pertwee as his favourite Doctor and mentions his worrying that Roger Delgado (the best and first Master) being a better actor. That’ actors for you! Tim went on to become a successful theatrical agent.

Now on to Dudley Simpson - the doyen of DR. WHO composers and an Australian who had quite a distinguished classical career in his native land. Dudley composed for no less than 22 episodes! As a pianist Dudley says he could accompany anybody. During the war he found himself in the army who lend a helping hand in getting him a three year diploma course. He then found himself playing piano for the Ballet Rambert when they visited Australia. It was Margot Fonteyn who advised him to go to England. He was eventually given a job by conductor Hugo Rignold and found himself as lead conductor at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden. It was, however, a little later that he met a BBC producer at a party given by Merle Park (the ballet dancer). Dudley wrote 'Moonstrike' and the rest is history. It must be said this interview takes 30 minutes before DR WHO is even mentioned but Dudley’s typically Australian ‘down to earth’ attitude easily compensates for the diehards.
Then it's all aboard for the 2008 Panoptican for which sadly there isn't enough space left to cover. We have interviews with four actors all of whom featured in Dr. Who episodes (in many cases more than one). Those in question are David Spenser (a child actor and brother of Jeremy and also the partner of Dr. Who scriptwriter Victor Pemberton) - you may be amused about the anecdote of how he got his foot in the door. Then there’s Shirley Cooklin, wife of producer Peter Bryant and now an author. Nick Briggs and Shirley herself claim no nepotism was involved and Shirley tells us Gerry Davis created the part of Kaftan in 'Tomb of the Cybermen' for her. Sonny Caldinez at 6'4 and a half was an ex pro-wrestler and stuntman and tells us about the horrors of wearing the ‘Ice Warrior’ costume. He played an Ice Warrior four times and seemingly was the only actor who could fit into the costume. Finally we end with Prentis Hancock - far and away the busiest of these four actors who started in Rep and trained at Rose Bruford where Tom Baker started out.
Once again, this mighty interesting 2-disc DVD-set is bound to thrill the army of DR. WHO devotees.