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Doctor Who's Missing Season

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Doctor Who's Missing Season
It's hard to imagine the contempt with which the BBC treated Doctor Who in the 1980s given the corporation's love affair with the show now. Back in 1985, despite sturdy ratings against fierce ITV competition, and the fact that it earned more money than it cost to make, Doctor Who was cancelled, with BBC execs' fingers wagging at the violent content and supposedly poor quality.

Pre-production on the show's twenty-third season was already underway, with scripts in various stages of writing. But these were all scrapped, and when a public and media outcry over the axing did persuade the BBC to bring Doctor Who back after 18 months off air, a brand new range of interlinked stories under the banner 'The Trial Of A Time Lord' was produced.

Recently though, audio adventure maestros Big Finish announced that the Sixth Doctor and Perpugilliam Brown - played once more by Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant - would reunite for a series of stories based on the remnants of the scripts for the original and aborted season. To whet your appetite, here's a look at the four key stories that never made it to the screen…

'The Nightmare Fair'

The very final scene of the twenty-second season's excellent 'Revelation Of The Daleks' concluded on an abrupt freeze frame, with The Doctor about to tell luscious companion Peri where he was going to take her. (Insert your own smutty puns at your discretion). The missing dialogue was in fact the word 'Blackpool', but the cancellation and uncertain future of the show led to the decision to scrap the promise.

The plan was for the two time travellers to venture to the seaside town and stumble across old enemy The Celestial Toymaker, not seen since his eponymous debut story opposite William Hartnell's Doctor in 1966. Graham Williams's story would have featured the pair fighting for their lives while immersed in a series of video games after discovering that the Toymaker was using a local arcade for his own sinister purposes. Michael Gough, best known for his recurring role as Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred in the '80s/'90s Batman movie franchise, was reportedly going to reprise his role as the villain.

'The Ultimate Evil'

After their Blackpool shenanigans, The Doctor tries to take Peri on a proper holiday to Tranquela - a supposedly peaceful continent on an alien country. Unsurprisingly, there is evil lurking behind the scenes in the shape of rogue arms dealer Dwarf Mordant - a character with a distinct similarity to recent Whoniverse villain The Graske.

Waly K. Daly's plot thickens further when Mordant spreads hatred among the pacifist race, which sets its sights on a battle with a neighbouring continent. It's up to The Doctor to broker peace. Presumably his ridiculously garish costume would have united the factions in laughter.

'Mission To Magnus'

Sadly nothing to do with 'The Talons Of Weng Chiang's Magnus Greel, this tale would have seen the slithery Sil from the previous season's 'Vengeance On Varos' hook up with the iconic Ice Warriors - not seen on the show since 'The Monster Of Peladon' in 1974.

'Varos' scribe Philip Martin's script (and subsequent novelisation) entailed The Doctor, with Peri in tow, being brought to the planet Magnus by his Gallifreyan school bully Anzor. Working in tandem with Sil, who would later feature in the official twenty-third season story 'Mindwarp', Anzor uses the female caste on the planet to further his megalomaniacal goals. But underneath the polar ice caps lurk the Ice Warriors - and they're in no mood for chilling.

'Yellow Fever, And How To Cure It'

Legendary Who writer Robert Holmes was all set to pen this curious sounding story, which would have seen producer John Nathan Turner's predilection for foreign locations catered for. Set in Singapore, The Doctor and Peri would have encountered the likes of the Autons, The Master and The Rani over three episodes. Sadly, Holmes didn't make it beyond an initial outline before the plug was pulled on the planned season.

He did return to pen several episodes of the ensuing 'Trial Of A Time Lord', but passed away in May 1986 before he could complete work on the season finale. The interest in 'Yellow Fever' has been heightened due to Holmes's stature among Whovians. Russell T. Davies heaped praise upon his skills, stating the following:

"Take 'The Talons of Weng Chiang' for example. Watch episode one, it's the best dialogue ever written, it's up there with Dennis Potter, by a man called Robert Holmes. When the history of television drama comes to be written, Robert Holmes won't be remembered at all because he only wrote genre stuff. And that, I reckon, is a real tragedy."

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