We’re back with another podcast, taking a look at the recent developments in the Doctor Who fan community during lockdown.

Join your hosts Christian Cawley, James McLean, and Brian Terranova as they look at tweetalongs and other ways Doctor Who fans can deal with enforced downtime.

Shownotes

Take care out there, Kasterborites – we’ll be back soon.

Join us as we look back on the opening episode of the Fifth Doctor’s era, as Peter Davison makes his first full appearance as Doctor Who.

Listen out for wry observations, TARDIS talk, and thoughts about how the show compares with other episodes in the same run. James McLean and Brian Terranova are your hosts – why not get your DVD or streaming service ready and watch along with them?

If it wasn’t for Davison, I’m pretty sure that I would not have been illustrating or designing Doctor Who merchandise. Indeed in all honesty I probably would not have as much affection for the show as I do.

Although I remember Tom Baker vividly (Destiny of the Daleks is one of my very first recollections of Doctor Who), unlike many I was never upset when one day I tuned in to see the curly-haired traveller fall off a radio telescope to his death.

However what followed completely changed my view on the show, developing from passive interest into addiction.

In 1980, newly installed Producer John Nathan-Turner was widely criticised by many for some of the major changes he introduced to the show, including the removal of K9 and the Sonic Screwdriver.

Then he cast Peter Davison as Doctor number five.

Known primarily for his role as Tristan Farnon in ‘All Creatures Great & Small’, Peter Davison was seen as a bit of a gamble by JN-T for such a hugely popular role.

Many felt Tom Baker was an irreplaceable Doctor. I can’t imagine how daunting it must have been, as well as a challenge for Davison, to take over from such a cult figure – as popular a Doctor today as he was back in the seventies!

Born Peter Moffatt in April 1951, after a spell working in a tax office in Twickenham Davison landed his first TV roles, which included appearances in ‘The Tomorrow People’ and as the popular Tristan Farnon in ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. It was in this late seventies show, that he caught the attention of JN-T, who immediately earmarked him as the next Doctor. It took several attempts to lure him to the role, mainly because of Davison’s own doubts about his suitability, but it was announced finally in November 1980.

Davison’s Doctor presented a more human hero, gone was the air of alienism, replaced with a more general concern for all life. Some may argue he was oversensitive, but Davison played the role more akin to Troughton’s Doctor with a very English attitude, quite similar to Pertwee. Of course the Fifth Doctor would later die from poisoning, a similar fate to that of his bouffant-bonced predecessor.

Season 19 was a fairly stable introduction for Davison’s Doctor, helped in large by the previous season’s behind-the-scenes changes. The season boasted stories such as Black Orchid a classic whodunnit, serving up a terrific fare utilising the BBC’s excellent period wardrobe, Earthshock a twisty space shocker introducing a modernised version of one of his oldest foes and Kinda a Buddhist themed and quite complex tale about the mind.

Not only did the show begin to deviate away slightly from the core children’s audience (with complex storylines and characters in Kinda and Castrovalva) the show also moved to a midweek slot, further proof that the show was trying to hit some middle ground among children and adults.

JN-T also brought the Doctor’s character back to his thinking roots which allowed Davison more slack in his portrayal of the Doctor. Out went the sonic screwdriver in The Visitation, destroyed by the Terileptils; it gave the Doctor a chance to flex his problem-solving muscles again after years of get out clauses, K-9 being the other prominent clause.

This move also allowed vulnerability to become a facet of the Doctor’s character. The Doctor would find himself suddenly under pressure to do the best thing he could, often with dire consequences; this is shown to full effect in Earthshock, with the Cybermen using emotional blackmail against the Time Lord threatening him with Tegan’s life at one point, and of course the loss of Adric, aboard the doomed freighter.

Such moves rippled through the Doctor Who community, not used to expecting such dark adventures. This reinforces what I have always believed: Doctor Who is best when he’s vulnerable and not everything goes to plan. Consider the brilliance that is Robert Holmes’s The Caves of Androzani.

From realising the worst of his and Peri’s condition to hijacking a shuttle craft to find the raw Spectrox nest, the Doctor has no chance. He knows this, but will do anything he can in his power to leave Peri as a survivor, even if this regeneration kills him. It almost does.

Unfortunately we were only given a short reign for Davison’s Doctor. Following advice from Patrick Troughton to stay just three years, Davison made his mind up in 1983 that he should bow out of the show, a decision taken on the back of a frustrating season 20. By the time of the superior Season 21 , Davison considered reversing his decision.

Highlights include Frontios, Resurrection of the Daleks and of course The Caves of Androzani. Frontios offered Davison the chance to play the character as he saw him, against the odds, thrust into a tough situation, and this all round well written story really shines and is possibly one of the most underrated gems of the shows tenure.

So with the show moving into a new decade, with a new producer and with new ideas, it was nothing short of a masterstroke casting the talented Davison. It was always emphasised, even by Peter Davison, that the Doctor should not be a Luke Skywalker figure, but that’s exactly what he was in my eyes at the age of 6.

The old, forlorn and weary Doctor had suddenly become a youthful, heroic Doctor which to me meant a little more action and parity with Buck Rogers, Starbuck, and Luke Skywalker. A mention must also go to the costume designers who came up with the most impressive identity (to date, in my opinion) for Peter Davison. The mix of cricketing jumper, pinstripe trousers and Edwardian frock coat gave the Doctor a refreshing look away from the previous incarnations of frilly shirts, dark coats and dark coloured scarves, announcing Doctor Who to a bright new era.

Importantly for the new Doctor this era saw a change in character. We had a Doctor just as intelligent as previous incarnations but very vulnerable too, a Doctor who made mistakes, who didn’t always think before rushing into danger and of the dire consequences of his actions. We had a show that also had added violence, and a show, still with wit, but with a serious underlying morality and a show that carried Doctor Who forward in a fantastic modern way.

When Doctor number five drew his last energies feeding Peri the Spectrox antidote and began the change for Doctor number six a small part of my appreciation for the show died; I knew I had seen and grown up with my favourite.

My feelings remain the same today, all these years later.

We’re back with a chat about the current Doctor Who news, covering Christopher Eccleson’s memoir, Chris Chibnall’s recent SFX interview, and the release of the title of Doctor Who Series 11 Episode 2… No trailer reaction, as we recorded this before its release!

Your host this week is Christian Cawley, accompanied by James Baldock, and Simon Danes.

Well that was perhaps the worst week in Doctor Who since 1989. Reaction against the Jodie Whittaker news denounced as “sexism”; Peter Davison dragged into a Twitter firestorm by former Labour leader Ed Miliband (who has so far refused to apologise) leading to the former Doctor Who star quitting the social network; character actor and playwright Trevor Baxter dies; former Doctor Who companion Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield) sadly too passed away.

One we’d rather all forget. Christian Cawley and James McLean pick through the bones.

Shownotes

This week, Christian Cawley and Brian A Terranova try to decide which Doctor Who stories they’ve changed their opinions about over the years. Prompted by James McLean’s schoolboy spreadsheet of scores from An Unearthly Child through to Survival, we consider how the reputations of various serials and stories have changed over the years.

Shownotes Series 6 Episode 30

James McLean and Brian A Terranova steer the podKast with a K back in time this week, as the adventure continues for the TARDIS travellers, fresh from the loss of Adric, as they arrive at Heathrow and find themselves tracking a lost Concorde…

Shownotes Series 6 Episode 23

Cool new theme tune by Russell Hugo!

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You never expect it… then it happens. That’s the secret of time travel, and in a weird, timey-wimey episode, Christian Cawley and Brian Terranova this week discovered the world of a 1980s #DoctorWho radio show, as a pair of radio hosts (with our names, bizarrely) chatted about their excitement over new Doctor Who star Colin Baker, and the excellent Caves of Androzani episode 3 that they had just watched…

Shownotes Series 6 Episode 15

  • The Caves of Androzani

Theme tune by Russell Hugo. Thanks, Russell! Music bed is the property of the BBC, no infringement intended.

It’s time to set it straight: was Mummy on the Orient Express the best episode of Doctor Who Series 8, or has everyone just gone mad, seeing things that aren’t there and only living for another 66 seconds?

Christian Cawley, Brian Terranova and James McLean find out…

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Kasterborous PodKast Series 4 Episode 36 Shownotes

Introduction by John Guilor; this week’s podKast theme is Jim Parker’s theme tune to Midsomer Murders.  Russell Hugo’s podKast theme will return next week.

This week, we set our sights on Christmas Day and Matt Smith’s sad departure from #DoctorWho. It is, indeed, The Time of the Doctor, and there is much to discuss… Also, look out for news of…