Tuesday, 31 May 2011

On The Outside It Looked Like An Old Fashioned Police Box

Original Transmission: 23rd June 2009 on Radio 4

Presented by Mark Gatiss

Premise: Mark Gatiss was a child of the 1970s, growing up when Doctor Who aired once and then was forgotten about. Except for the publication of a televised adventure, there was no way to relive these stories, leading to there incredibly fame. Gatiss looks back at the series of novelisations in this thirty-minute radio documentary.

Review: With a ridiculously long title, this was an affectionate look at a series that clearly means so much to presenter Gatiss (who no-doubt idolised author Terrance Dicks as a child). Sadly Gatiss’ love for the novels was buried under a heavily written monologue, but he tried to make his craze known. Probably the best part of this documentary is that Mark got to interview Dicks himself and tell him what Dicks meant to him at in his youth.

A few Who stars are interviewed along the way, although not nearly enough nor was enough length given for a worthwhile in-depth look at how these stars truly felt about some of the work that has been undertaken by them or for their characters through the novels. I enjoyed hearing what pretty much everyone had to say; Chris Achilleos revealed a funny story about something demanded by Jon Pertwee and there was a strong reaction from Anneke Wills (Polly). Due to this being aired in 2009, we get RTD himself ‘bigging’ up the Target franchise from his own childhood memories.

The show was weighted down from far too many excerpts from the recently released audio adaptations of the novelisations, although it did give a look into whose readings are the best to get. Basically I learnt to stay away from any read by Phillip Hinchcliffe. To sum this adventure up, it definitely could’ve done with more of Gatiss’ own presentation rather than a script and an hour to get through all the material the Target series managed to achieve. Also, the directing of interviews wasn’t brilliant, at one point Terrance Dicks began speaking, said two words and was interrupted with a voice-over telling us who he was, before returning to his thoughts, giving me a feeling of how messy the production values.
That old fashioned police box (on the outside)

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