Opening in London on March 23rd 1989, Doctor Who took to the stage in The Ultimate Adventure. Christopher Morley shows you to your seats...

We know for a fact that several past Doctors & their companions (and indeed the present incumbents of the TARDIS) have trodden the boards down the years. But what you may not know unless you're an obsessive fan of either the Third or Sixth Doctor is that both have a degree of theatrical experience!

Wait with us behind the curtain as we look back at The Ultimate Adventure, Terrance Dicks' first and perhaps only attempt at a musical. Yes, you read that right! And amongst the song & dance there were Daleks & Cybermen, as they formed an alliance to kidnap the intended American representative at an Earth-based peace conference in a sort of rehash of the basic plot of Day Of The Daleks.

Who knew the dictatorial dustbins and men from Mondas respectively could hold a tune? Well, actually audiences would have been a bit disappointed in that regard as they don't actually get to show off their singing chops- more's the pity! The man in the dandy jacket and opera cape has done so before of course, while taking a shower after tumbling from the TARDIS in Spearhead From Space.

But what about the show itself? As put it:
"Broadly speaking Terrance Dicks' story was pitched for a younger audience than the majority of television stories however it remained true to the spirit of Doctor Who that its plot could be followed easily by children, while the dialogue sustained enough jokes for the older members of the audience. The narrative took the ambitious form of a string of set-pieces with special effects and multiple locations that were realised with varying degrees of detail.

There were three key elements that contributed to the lure of this production: Firstly the lead was an actor who had actually played the Doctor on television, something that had never happened before. Secondly it featured both the Daleks and the Cybermen, which was something of a fan's dream. Thirdly the production employed lasers and a large computer screen to great visual effect giving the play a technological edge and a portrayal of futuristic weapons and force-fields that was superior to most of the television series."
Quite the spectacle then, back in the day!

Story wise, the synopsis goes like this (Of course, if you were there you'll remember this like it was yesterday, naturally?)...
"With the help of the mercenary Karl, the Daleks and Cybermen have entered into an alliance to use the Doctor as a pawn in the destruction of Earth. The Doctor and his companion Jason are summoned to Earth by the British PM, who needs the Doctor to prevent a kidnap attempt against the US envoy to a forthcoming peace conference.

The Doctor and Jason thus travel to the nightclub Number Ten, but are too late to prevent Karl and his men from kidnapping the diplomat. A nightclub singer named Crystal inadvertently accompanies the Doctor and Jason into the TARDIS as they follow the trail of the mercenaries to Altair Three, where they barely escape an attack by Cybermen.

They next follow a clue to the Bar Galactica, run by Madame Delilah, but Karl and the mercenaries are waiting, and they are forced to flee along with the alien Zog.

The Daleks then capture a TARDIS and transport it to their mothership, but the Doctor outwits them and tries to take himself and his companions to safety.

They end up on a seemingly barren planet which reacts adversely when Crystal starts singing, and subsequently travel to 18th-century France, where they narrowly avoid being beheaded. The Daleks have sabotaged the TARDIS, but the Doctor fixes the problem and returns to the Bar Galactica, where the Daleks turn on the mercenaries, killing most of them.

Karl thus helps the Doctor to locate the Dalek ship, where the Doctor rescues the US Envoy and tricks the Daleks into revealing that they intend to dispose of the Cybermen once their plans have succeeded.

As the Cybermen and Daleks begin to fight, the Doctor takes the Envoy back to Earth, only to find that he has been brainwashed and intends to blow up the conference. The Doctor defuses the bomb and sings the Venusian lullaby to break the Envoy free of his conditioning. Crystal, who has fallen in love with Jason, decides to continue travelling with him and the Doctor.''
When Jon Pertwee handed the keys to the stage-TARDIS to Colin Baker the play was adjusted accordingly to conform with the Sixth Doctor's persona.

But which leading man performed in which dates on the tour, at which venues? See below-
Jon Pertwee:
23/03/89 - 01/04/89     Wimbledon Theatre, London
03/04/89 - 08/04/89     His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen
10/04/89 - 15/04/89     Empire Theatre, Liverpool
17/04/89 - 22/04/89     Theatre Clywd, Mold
24/04/89 - 29/04/89     Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
01/05/89 - 06/05/89     The Bristol Hippodrome
08/05/89 - 13/05/89     Twongate Theatre, Basildon
15/05/89 - 20/05/89     Theatre Royal, Glasgow
22/05/89 - 27/05/89     Manchester Opera House
29/05/89 - 03/06/89     Apollo Theatre, Oxford
At the Birmingham shows on April 29th Jon Pertwee was ill, so his understudy David Banks took the lead as the Doctor, delivering his own unique take on the character (pictured center)...

Banks was part of the ensemble cast, usually playing the role of Karl the Mercenary, but many Who fans will know him better as the Cyber Leader in all the 1980s Cybermen stories - Earthshock, The Five Doctors, Attack of the Cybermen and Silver Nemesis.

Then, from June 5th, it was time for Colin Baker to step in!
05/06/89 - 10/06/89     Newcastle Opera House, Newcastle upon Tyne
12/06/89 - 17/06/89     Theatre Royal, Nottingham    
19/06/89 - 24/06/89     Grand Theatre, Leeds        
26/06/89 - 01/07/89     Theatre Royal, Brighton            
03/07/89 - 08/07/89     Edinburgh Playhouse, Edinburgh              
10/07/89 - 15/07/89     Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton               
17/07/89 - 22/07/89     Theatre Royal, Northampton           
24/07/89 - 28/07/89     Marlow Theatre, Canterbury               
31/07/89 - 05/08/89     King's Theatre, Southsea            
07/08/89 - 19/08/89     Congress Theatre, Eastbourne

Big Finish made an audio adaptation in 2008, Colin Baker returning in the same campy spirit of the original stage performances! They then followed it up in 2011 with a sequel, ingeniously titled Beyond The Ultimate Adventure.
The Doctor, Crystal and Jason have survived monsters, Madame Delilah and Mrs T, but then their former enemy Karl calls them back to the Bar Galactica. The mercenary has a cryptic message concerning Ultima Thule, where fabled treasure and a threat to the universe await...

The journey requires entering another dimension, where old enemies – and a brand new adversary – lie in wait…
...and songs, naturally!

As for Colin Baker himself, The Ultimate Adventure wasn't even his first brush with a good warble. The ending of Terror Of The Vervoids reveals that the man in the technicolour dreamcoat has taken to a good singsong, though Mel isn't too pleased with his vocal efforts!
DOCTOR: She means that, too. Memory like an elephant.
MEL: That's his idea of a compliment, comparing me to an elephant.
DOCTOR: But so ludicrously appropriate, I find it amusing.
MEL: Well, at least if you're laughing you can't be singing. Have you ever heard his rendering of On With The Motley? Count your blessings.
Clearly not a patch on the man he used to be then...

If you saw The Ultimate Adventure, drop us a hypercube....
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