Doctor Who: 10 Things You Might Not Know About THE TIME MEDDLER - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: 10 Things You Might Not Know About THE TIME MEDDLER

Geek Dave meddled with things man was meant to leave alone.


1. The Time Meddler was broadcast from July 3rd 1965, the year before the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. Production constraints meant Doctor Who could not satisfactorily feature the battle, but nor could it be fully ignored, hence the period was taken for the setting of this story

The Time Meddler is the first example of what is known in Doctor Who as the 'pseudo-historical' or 'ahistorical' story, which is one that uses the past as a setting for a science fiction story, as opposed to the pure historical stories, which are set in the past but have no science-fictional elements attached to them besides the presence of the regular characters and the TARDIS. (Although there were science-fiction elements mixed with historical facts in a portion of The Chase, this was the first full story to combine the two.)

2. The Time Meddler also features the first Time Lord other than the Doctor and Susan to appear in the series, in the form of the Monk - although the term Time Lord would not be invented for another four years. The Monk (which was actually the working title for this story) would also go on to become the series' first recurring individual villain - returning for The Daleks' Master Plan.


3. Behind the scenes, the production of this story came at something of a chaotic time for Doctor Who. Producer Verity Lambert had decided to leave and was winding down her involvement in the show, with new producer John Wiles taking over production duties before this story was completed. William Russell and Jacqueline Hill had both departed the series in the preceding adventure, The Chase, necessitating the introduction of a new companion in its final episode who would then need further development in this serial. The Chase had also proved to be an expensive story to produce, so this adventure would have to be inexpensive. Also, William Hartnell's agent had convinced Lambert to give the star another week's holiday, meaning that the Doctor would have to be absent from the story's second episode. And, to make things more complicated, no regular Doctor Who writer was available!

Because of all this, on March 11th 1965, Lambert wrote to Head of Serials Donald Wilson seeking permission to commission story editor Dennis Spooner to write the scripts, a practise very much discouraged by the BBC. Wilson acknowledged that the situation was unusual, and agreed to Lambert's request. As it happened, Spooner shortly thereafter decided not to renew his six-month contract; therefore, his replacement, Donald Tosh, would be given the story editor's credit for The Time Meddler, despite the fact that Spooner continued to work on Doctor Who in that capacity well into the summer months.

4. Displeased at the number of changes Doctor Who was undergoing, and feeling as if the new production team did not fully care for the series in the same was the original team had, William Hartnell play-acted throwing temper tantrums during rehearsals for this story in an attempt to intimidate John Wiles and Donald Tosh.


5. Footage of the Viking ship was taken from a BBC Newsreel item about a Viking recreation on the south coast of England. In the remastered DVD version this footage is restored from the original 35mm film recording; the picture quality of this restoration reportedly appeared too good compared to the restored videotape and 16mm location footage, leading the restoration team to digitally add grain and soften the image to make it better resemble the rest of the episode. The complete item can be found on the DVD release as an extra.

6. The director assigned to The Time Meddler was Douglas Camfield, who had recently helmed The Crusade. As production began on this story, he was also asked to oversee some last minute additional sequences for The Chase involving the departure of Ian and Barbara, including accompanying William Russell, Jacqueline Hill and a stills photographer on a tour of London landmarks for shots to be included in that story.


7. Actor Peter Purves had played the role of Steven Taylor in The Chase, but he didn't become a full companion of the Doctor's until The Time Meddler, when he is discovered passed out inside the TARDIS.

Purves had auditioned for Doctor Who several times, including unsuccessfully for a part as a Menoptra in The Web Planet. The director of that adventure, Richard Martin, remembered him and when he returned to helm The Chase cast Purves as the character Morton Dill, and subsequently Steven Taylor. Making Purves the first actor to play two completely different roles (without the use of heavy makeup or prosthetics) in the same story. He's also the first actor to appear in a guest-starring capacity before being offered a regular role (this later occurred with Ian Marter, Freema Agyeman and Karen Gillan) but the fact that Purves played two different roles, one to become ongoing within the same story, however, remains a unique circumstance.

It wasn't always necessarily going to be the case though, as it wasn't until Douglas Camfiled was overseeing drop-in shots for The Chase that Purves was finally offered and accepted the role of the Doctor's new companion. Otherwise Steven Taylor would've likely been left wondering around the forest in a disorientated state at the end of The Chase.

8. In the opening episode of The Time Meddler, titled The Watcher, Maureen O'Brien mispronounced the scripted explanation of the TARDIS acronym - Time And Relative Dimension In Space, as given in the very first Doctor Who story, An Unearthly Child. Here, Vicki says it pluralised  - Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. This error would be inadvertently retained throughout the rest of the programme's history.


9. Episodes 1, 3, and 4 of The Time Meddler were reported missing from the BBC Film and Videotape Library following an audit in 1978. Edited telerecordings of all four episodes were returned to the BBC from Nigeria in 1985, and complete copies of episodes 1 and 3 were returned in 1992.

However, 12 seconds from episode 4, depicting an act of violence, remains missing from the otherwise complete prints of all four episodes, as it was removed by censors. The 2008 DVD release includes an extra called The Missing 12 Seconds, featuring the audio for this missing sequence with original script excerpts and text explaining that the Vikings Ulf and Sven are being stabbed to death by Wulnoth and the Saxons.

10. The Time Meddler would be the final serial of season two of Doctor Who. No "Next Episode" caption is present on its final episode, Checkmate, making it the first episode not to include one (the final serial of the first season, The Reign of Terror, which provided a caption for the first episode of Planet of Giants). Instead, an extended version of the theme music is heard as images of the three lead actors appear on-screen in front of a space backdrop.


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