DOCTOR WHO: 10 Things You Might Not Know About PLANET OF GIANTS - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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DOCTOR WHO: 10 Things You Might Not Know About PLANET OF GIANTS

These things haven't been made bigger. Geek Dave's been made smaller. 

1. The idea of a story that featured the miniaturisation of the TARDIS crew went back to one of the foundational documents of Doctor Who: "Dr. Who: General Ideas on Background and Approach" written by Cecil Edwin Webber, while working as a staff writer for the BBC, and heavily amended by Sydney Newman.

C. E. Webber (sometimes known by the nickname "Bunny") suggested that the first story "may result from the use of a micro-reducer in the machine which makes our characters all become tiny". The idea was carried forward in a May 16th 1963 document, prepared by Newman, Webber and Donald Wilson, in which the first story, called The Giants, was proposed. Its first episode was to be broadly similar to An Unearthly Child, but instead of landing in Earth's past, the TARDIS would land in the Coal Hill School laboratory, at a much-reduced size. The travellers would spend the next three episodes avoiding the now-huge students, teachers and classroom objects all around them.

Webber completed his full outline on June 4th 1963, which now included a scene in which the travellers placed themselves under microscopes so the students could see and communicate with them, but a week later Sydney Newman began to sour somewhat on Webber's idea, noting that the storyline didn't seem to allow for much in the way of character development. He also felt that portraying the shrinkage of the TARDIS would be "patently impossible without spending a tremendous amount of money" and asked Webber to reconsider his ideas so they could be achieved practically.

2. Webber began work on his draft scripts but only completed the first two episodes before the script was officially rejected by Wilson and Rex Tucker (the interim producer who briefly preceded Verity Lambert). Their objections were quite different to Newman's. They now knew that the first serial of Doctor Who had to be recorded at Lime Grove Studio D, whose cameras couldn't be fitted with wide-angle or zoom lenses. This made the convincing portrayal of miniaturisation impossible. Webber was duly paid for his first two scripts in July 1963 and the idea was temporarily shelved.

Tucker was also critical of Webber's work, stating that he felt Webber was not capable of 'writing down' to the level required. But Webber's draft script for the proposed first ever episode formed the basis of the broadcast first episode of Doctor Who, An Unearthly Child, which was eventually written by Anthony Coburn. Webber did receive a co-writer's credit on internal BBC documentation for the episode, although not on screen. 

3. Doctor Who's first ever script editor, David Whitaker was appointed at the end of June 1963 (and stayed in the role through The Dalek Invasion Of Earth). He wrote a memo on August 8th saying,
"We badly need a serial about our four running characters being reduced in size". 
His plan of attack to achieving this goal was to eliminate Wilson and Tucker's objection, and move production of the series out of Lime Grove Studio D and into a more suitable recording studio (which did eventually happen, as we discussed here), and the following month he placed a "shrunken Doctor" serial back on the season 1 schedule.

4. On September 16th 1963, Whitaker tasked Robert Gould to write a "shrunken Doctor" story. It was to have nothing to do with Coal Hill School, but it was to return the TARDIS crew to 1963. The Gould script proceeded slowly but was never completed as on February 4th 1964 Whitaker released Gould from that idea and requested a replacement story (one which was also never completed).

Whitaker then commissioned Louis Marks to write an outline for a "shrunken Doctor". Impressed with his ideas, the serial that would become Planet Of Giants was finally moved to full commission at the end of May 1964.

5. Marks submitted his script with the title The Miniscules, and during production this, along with Miniscule Story, were both used as working titles. Eventually the name was changed to the title of Marks script for Episode One, Planet Of The Giants.

6. Planet Of Giants was to be recorded in the same production block as season one of Doctor Who, but it was decided to hold it for transmission to the start of season 2. It was initially thought that this adventure would be the second story of the new season. However, when Chief of Programmes Donald Baverstock decided that Doctor Who should run later into the summer before the break between seasons, The Reign Of Terror was bought forward to end the first batch of episodes, making Planet Of Giants the second-season premiere.

7. Test filming for the miniturisation effects began on July 30th 1964 at the Ealing Television Film Studios. In cases in which the characters had to be seen standing next to “giant” objects but for which it was impossible or impractical to use oversized props, a film technique was used whereby the object was magnified by projecting its image through a mirror onto black drapes. Unfortunately, these shots did not turn out well and had to be remounted.

8. Doctor Who had already been renewed for a second season, during filming of The Sensorites, but it wasn't until filming for this serial began, in August 1964, that producer Verity Lambert finally secured confirmation of a second production block from Baverstock, after months of stalling, offering Lambert three more months of Doctor Who, with an option for an additional three months. However, when Lambert attempted to negotiate contract extensions with William Hartnell, William Russell and Jacqueline Hill (having already planned to write Carole Ann Ford out of the programme in The Dalek Invasion Of Earth), she encountered resistance from all three actors. Hartnell, in particular, wanted assurance that Doctor Who would continue for at least a full six months, while each of them wanted more money than their producer was offering.

Lambert sought advice from both Baverstock and Head of Series Elwyn Jones, who was standing in for the vacationing Newman. Baverstock indicated that he might be willing to guarantee six months for the new recording block. He also suggested that Doctor Who could be rested for six weeks following The Dalek Invasion Of Earth to give Lambert a chance to find new actors (possibly even overhauling the entire cast). Jones, however, was not happy with the latter possibility, and instead suggested that Hartnell might be able to carry the series by himself for a few episodes if necessary. Ultimately, however, the six-month assurance and compromise pay raises enabled Lambert to sign all three performers. 

9. Production on Planet Of Giants was completed with the recording of part four, The Urge To Live, on September 11th 1964. However, upon viewing Episodes 3 and 4, which focused more heavily on Hilda and Bert, Head of Serials Donald Wilson ordered them spliced together in order to form a faster-paced climax.

The decision to splice the last two episodes into one would have ramifications for the second production block of the series, when the producers were left with a one-episode space at the end of the block following Galaxy 4 (which would be broadcast as the first serial of season three). Rather than producing a single-episode stand-alone story or extend any of the planned serials, "Mission to the Unknown" was commissioned to serve as a prelude to The Daleks' Master Plan without the participation of any of the regular cast.

10. Planet Of Giants was first broadcast from 31st October to 14th November 1964, making it the first three part Doctor Who adventure of the Classic series (The Two Doctors was broadcast in three parts in 1985, but each at 50 minutes long, with six 25 minute episodes existing. 1987's Delta and the Bannermen was the next proper three parter).

The 2012 DVD expanded the story to its original four part length with recreations of the original episodes 3 and 4, based on the original scripts and featuring newly recorded dialogue from regular cast members Ford and Russell and other actors impersonating the remaining (all deceased) cast. A variety of techniques were used to re-create the missing visual material, but most of this was done by re-editing existing footage from the finished episode 3.

Next time, it's a return to London and The Dalek Invasion Of Earth.

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