Doctor Who Season 2 saw a peak in the show’s popularity, but radical changes where happening on both sides of the camera.
Doctor Who Season 2 in 1964 saw the series’ popularity reach fever pitch. The Daleks had helped catapult the programme to dizzying heights of fame the year before, and viewers were poised for the metal mutants’ long-awaited return.
And when it finally happened in ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth,’ the series saw some of its highest ratings to date with 12.4 million people tuning in for its second and sixth episodes. In this action-packed adventure (later adapted into a big budget movie with Peter Cushing) the Daleks have taken over the Earth in the year 2164, and have enslaved the population, forcing the inhabitants to assist with an ambitious mining project to replace the planet’s core with a super engine. For what purpose? To pilot the Earth anywhere in the universe, of course.
And this Doctor Who Season 2 story proved so popular that, even when the BBC was routinely wiping its own archive, a special request was put in to have this story preserved owing to its historical significance, representing some of the Corporation’s finest SF output.
But ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ wasn’t just notable for bringing back its eponymous monsters. The serial also marked the departure of regular cast member Carole Ann Ford, who played the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan Foreman. Ford had grown tired of Susan’s lack of character development and wished to move onto other things, and it was decided that she would leave the programme near the beginning of Doctor Who Season 2. In the event it was in this, the second story, with Susan falling in love with an Earth rebel named David, and choosing to stay behind to help him rebuild the planet.
‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ wasn’t the first serial in Doctor Who Season 2, though. The production team had nominated ‘Planet of Giants’ by Louis Marks to launch the programme’s second year – although, during post production, it was felt that the story lacked the necessary punch to keep viewers hooked. For this reason, the team made the unprecedented decision to drop the story’s fourth episode (even though it had already been filmed) and cut the adventure down to three parts.
As such, ‘Planet of Giants’ features some of Doctor Who Season 2’s first missing episodes – the lost instalments of the original parts three and four, which were most probably destroyed during the editing process.
Otherwise, Doctor Who Season 2 has few casualties in the Doctor Who missing episodes department. This is partly due to the show’s growing popularity around the world; more countries were ordering prints of the series, and therefore more copies of Doctor Who Season 2 were made. And so whilst the original videotapes have long since been destroyed, the Doctor Who Season 2 episodes that we have today exist because they were returned from overseas broadcasters. The only exceptions are two episodes from the season’s sixth serial ‘The Crusade,’ which remain missing to this day.
However, this does mean that Doctor Who Season 2 is mostly complete, with 37 of its 39 episodes currently sitting in the BBC archive. This makes it a strong contender for a Blu-ray release, and indeed it’s coming up this December. Order your copy via the link below.
But we mentioned radical changes in front of, and behind, the camera. Carole Ann Ford had already decided to leave the series, and it wasn’t long before Doctor Who‘s original producer Verity Lambert (who had cast the First Doctor William Hartnell) would be following her, keen to work on other projects following the immense success of this new Science Fiction series.
Similarly, the Doctor’s other companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright (played by William Russell and Jacqueline Hill respectively) were scheduled for departure. Like Susan, these characters were destined to leave the TARDIS at the end of a Dalek story – in this case, Doctor Who Season 2’s penultimate adventure ‘The Chase.’ And their exit was made possible through their acquisition of a working time machine (courtesy of the Daleks) which was able to return them to their beloved London 1965 (and not Spain, as some people have suggested…)
But the Doctor Who production team didn’t want another ‘couple’ joining the TARDIS team, and instead chose Peter Purves as Steven Taylor to join the Doctor on his travels, plus of course the relatively new companion Vicki played by Maureen O’Brien, who had been introduced shortly after Susan’s departure. Team TARDIS, therefore, was now a little smaller, and well established in time for the Doctor Who Season 2 finale ‘The Time Meddler.’
And this was quite some finale, as – for the first time in the show’s history – it introduced another member of the Doctor’s race (unless you count Susan.) The famous Meddling Monk had his own TARDIS but was the antithesis to Hartnell’s Doctor; he was the villain of this adventure, keen to disrupt the course of human history by ensuring that Harald Hardrada won the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
And despite this dramatic development, we learn little else about the Monk in ‘The Time Meddler.’ He’s obviously a Time Lord, but the Doctor’s race wouldn’t be identified as such until the very end of the Patrick Troughton era. And even though the Monk did return in the following year’s epic story ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan,’ his ultimate fate remained undisclosed – at least, in the television world of Who.
Doctor Who Season 2, therefore, is perhaps one of the most important in the series’ history, but not just because of the Meddling Monk. Overall, the season helped to solidify Doctor Who‘s place in the consciousness of the British public, and helped to ensure the programme’s long-term future. Indeed, this level of popularity wouldn’t be seen again until the Barry Letts / Third Doctor / Jo Grant era of the 1970s, although it could be argued that the Third Doctor’s era would never have happened if Doctor Who Season 2 hadn’t been so well-crafted, and well-received.
So what’s your favourite memory of Doctor Who Season 2? And which is your favourite story? Let us know in the comments below.
Cybermen Doctor Who scarf – order now from the Lovarzi shop!