I Love... 1968

By Steven Alexander

One of the problems that archivists, reviewers and generally-anal-types face when they catalogue their favourite TV shows is that seasons often overrun the end of a year. If you sort your episodes into year groups, you get cut up sections of seasons, vastly different eras and changing casts. 1968 is a case in point – it starts with some of the episodes of Enemy of The World and finishes up with half of The Krotons. While Season Five belonged to Victoria "Leatherlungs" Waterfield, Season Six was the property of Ms. Zoe "Pixienose" Herriot. The Web of Fear appears to have been a dramatic high for the series, the sole remaining episode being one of the most eerie and atmospheric I’ve ever seen. The Krotons features eggboxes with spinning heads that have the environment-bothering catchphrase "EXHAUST!!" Inbetween there are fourteen episodes of Cyber-villainy, one seaweed screamathon, a surreal masterpiece and a joyfully camp run-around (yes, that is The Dominators I’m referring too!).

Although the stories may have varied in quality and events behind the scenes were going awry, the main cast remained a joy to watch throughout the year. Troughton couldn’t put a foot wrong in 1968, all his performances are spot on. It’s easy to imagine that people had forgotten who Hartnell was, as that female singer on 30 Years In The TARDIS said. (Ironically, I forget who she was, though I can remember Mike Gatting quite clearly.) It is possible that Troughton was a great actor, but when you’re playing the Doctor, acting skills are handy to have but not essential. Where he succeeded was in making the Doctor the most endearing, reassuring and entertaining person on television. Whether saying goodbye to Victoria, facing off with the Master of The Land of Fiction, or suffering arithmetic collapse in the Teaching Machine Test, he was great fun to watch. It makes the fact that many of his episodes were erased in the great bonfires of the seventies even more depressing, because Troughton made every second of his screen time worth watching. He even managed it at times, like in The Dominators, when it blatantly wasn’t him.

The Doctor had a relationship with Jamie that was difficult to define. They were primarily friends, even though Jamie would probably describe the Doctor as a wonderful magician, capable of anything. Jamie was fiercely loyal towards the Doctor and trusted him implicitly. It was more than that though, as there was also the playfulness and teasing they showed towards each other. His attitude must have reflected and coloured the viewer’s feelings about the Doctor. By 1968, Jamie had been with the Doctor for almost two years and even looking back now, it is difficult to imagine one without the other.

By all accounts, Doctor Who seemed near the end of its run by December 1968. It had been going for five years and had entertained a lot of people, but the recent season was lacklustre and fraught with problems. Troughton was preparing to leave. However, 1968 also saw the introduction of two of the people who would take Doctor Who through the next twenty years; Terrence Dicks and Robert Holmes.