The Doctor is caught up in events at Stangmoor Prison, where Professor Keller's new machine is said to be able to remove all evil impulses from the minds of the prisoners.
DVD RELEASE EXTRAS
- Commentary - stereo. With actors Katy Manning, Pik-Sen Lim and Fernanda Marlowe, director Timothy Combe, producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks and stunt arranger Derek Ware. Moderated by Toby Hadoke.
- Programme subtitles.
- Subtitle Production Notes.
COMMENT DVD RELEASE (2013)
- THE MILITARY MIND (dur. 22’ 43”) – shot back in 2009 on location at Dover Castle, this look at the making of the story is made unexpectedly poignant by the appearance of Nicholas Courtney and Barry Letts, who both passed away in the intervening years. Featuring actors Nicholas Courtney, Pik-Sen Lim and Fernanda Marlow, director Timothy Combe, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks. Narrated by Cameron McEwan.
- NOW AND THEN (dur. 7’ 06”) – the latest in our long-running series visits the filming locations used in the story to see how they have changed over the years.
- BEHIND THE SCENES: TELEVISION CENTRE (dur. 24’ 00”) – back in 1971, at around the time THE MIND OF EVIL was in production, presenter Norman Tozer visited Television Centre to find out what went on over 24 hours in the life of what was then an incredibly busy ‘television factory’.
- Photo Gallery - production, design and publicity photos from the story.
- Coming Soon - a trailer for a forthcoming DVD release.
- Radio Times Listings and the 1971 Kellogg's Sugar Smacks promotion in PDF format.
In THE MILITARY MIND, to a stirring soundtrack reminiscent to BAND OF BROTHERS, Nicholas Courtney confidently strides, sporting a pair of colourful trainers, towards the imposing battlements of Dover Castle to retrieve the fading memories of 1970 and the making of Don Houghton’s THE MIND OF EVIL. Within its (seemingly) impenetrably stone walls, Courtney is joined by the incomparable pairing of the story’s producer, Barry Letts and its script editor, Terrance Dicks, along with director Timothy Coombe and actors Feranda Marlow (Cpl. Bell) and Pik-Sen Lim (Capt. Chin Lee).
Terrance Dicks: (at the start)… you think someone is going to be hung but then is ‘Keller-machined’ which is worse.
Whilst the narrator’s broad Scottish accent is incomprehensible at times, this documentary is both comprehensive and truly entertaining as it chronicles the trials and tribulations of budget overspends, restraints on location filming and an over diligent (yet, as you can see from the finished episodes, exemplary) Director.
Barry Letts on Timothy Coombe: Tim is a very good director. (He) makes the storyline very clear.
Whilst it is not fully completely documented by the BBC, due to the financial overspend across the six episodes, THE MIND OF EVIL was Coombe’s final contribution to the series, leaving it bereft of one of the its most successful action directors (Coombe: “I would have approached it slightly differently. It was a very sad occasion; I felt a little hard done by that I didn’t do any more DOCTOR WHO’s. I really was and I am still”). With intransient weather conditions in the middle of winter, Coombe’s skill in setting-up complicated fight scenes (“…hell of a day…the light went down at four o’clock I the afternoon…a very happy crew but under constant pressure…”) using a single camera method is, for its time, remarkable and this documentary ably ratifies this observation (even if a re-shoot had to remounted at Dover Castle to film close-up of episode five’s UNIT assault, and for the fact that Coombe and his production associates (including series PA, John Griffiths) played, in the absence of Equity actors, an assortment of the Brigadier’s troops and Stangmoor Prisoners).
Feranda Marlow on Timothy Coombe: All that effort was utterly worth it. I’m not sure he got the support that he should have got.
Meanwhile, back at Television Centre, Barry Letts was more concerned that Ray London’s interior set designs were the cause of this financial overspend than he was with minutiae of story elements that he, even forty years one, regrets.
Berry Letts on the “dragon”: He looked like an enormous pyjama case. Terrance (Dicks) christened him “Puff the magic dragon” after the song of the time.
Cleverly, the documentary seamlessly “melds” the now-and-then locations together as the contributors arrive at Dover Castle, however, overall, the documentary is all too brief at 23-minutes (lengthy contributions from Nicholas Courtney noticeably absent considering, I would assume, the arrangements in his attendance) are considering the historical importance of THE MIND OF EVIL and the restoration efforts that have been undertaken to deliver a product not seen in complete colour since 1971.
Sadly, missing from the DVD EXTRAS is the explanation of the re-mastering and “colourisation” process that has delivered a unique snapshot of a bygone television age. Utilising two processes, the six-parter has extensively restored with episode one, remarkably, digitally hand-coloured by Stuart Humphryes (using “Bablecolour”) and the remaining five updated using the “Chroma Dot Colour” recovery technique. Frequently blasé, DOCTOR WHO fans should have been reminded with this release of the enduring passion and technical expertise attributed to restoring the programme for DVD (and, in the instance of 2013 re-release of DOCTOR WHO – SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE, on Blu-Ray) release by BBC CONSUMER PRODUCTS. It’s easy to forget that it’s not just case reaching for a film can off the shelves of the BBC ARCHIVE and copying it for release the next day.
The restoration of episode one is extraordinarily astute, the depth and accuracy of colour application is superbly observed and as delicate as the brushstrokes of a Constable or a Rembrandt. Remarkable, the intensity of picture contrast ensures that Pertwee’s embroidered shirt collar is as crisp as on the day it was starched, as is the fineness of Pik-Sen Lim’s lip liner make-up or the fact that her (expected) black tunic is a actually a dark blue. Furthermore, the picture definition can be increased – no matter how marginally – by viewing the DVD via an “upscaling” Blu-Ray player unit.
One last thought from this documentary; Corporal Bell. BBC WALES, wouldn’t it be nice to re-cast Fernanda Marlow as a promoted UNIT character in a future NEW SERIES episode. Major Bell?
Admittedly, I have a “soft spot” for the NOW & THEN featurette that have been a constant throughout the CLASSIC SERIES releases as, for many fans, it is as close they can come to the series as many can get. From the Doctor and Jo’s arrival at Dover Castle’s Constable Gate, to Fitzwilliam Gate’s assault by the UNIT troops under the stewardship of Sgt Benton, to a Ministry of Defence’s airfield at RAF Swingate, to UNIT’s headquarters based in London’s Cornwall Garden. NOW & THEN is a true journey through time that is both fascinating and entertaining.
Like the humble Morbius-like sausage, this DVD has an unsavoury, unnecessary filler akin to connective tissue or rusk or ground bone that ensure that the percentage of its meat is reduced and thus affecting its overall quality. BEHIND THE SCENES AT TELEVISION CENTRE is a substantive (at 24-minutes) ‘the filler’ within THE MIND OF EVIL DVD sausage. Bar brief glimpse of a TARDIS model, the reverse of a set design ‘flat’ (Stangmoor’s hospital wing) and a Axon eye, whilst this documentary demonstrates the creativity of designers, expertise of camera teams and the dusting prowess of headscarf-wearing BBC cleaning ladies it is unacceptably distant from DOCTOR WHO and should not have been included on this release.
The DVD EXTRAS conclude with the perennial PHOTO GALLERY (crisp, clean and devoid of age), RADIO TIMES LISTINGS (PDF), 1971 KELLOGG’S SUGAR SMACKS PROMOTIONAL material and a COMING SOON TRAILER for DOCTOR WHO – SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE Blu-Ray.
However, the highlight of the DVD release is the six-episode STUDIO COMMENTARY. Once again, it is essential listening (note: always access this content with the on-screen INFORMATION TEXT and access it before the ‘standard’ episode content).
It may be a minor inclusion but the application of the BBC Continutity Announcer on the DVD's episode navigation is highly successful and, if the DVD prodcuers are redaing this, should be adopted on forthcoming releases.
Hosted by Toby Hadoke, he takes us back to January 1971 when 9.1 million UK viewers tuned into THE MIND OF EVIL’s first episode but instead of cowering behind his sofa he’s tempted its cast and crew to hold his quivering hand.
Rotationally, the studio commentary is provided by actors Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Pik-Sen Lim (Capt. Chin Lee), Fernanda Marlowe (Cpl. Bell), aided and abetted by Timothy Coombe (Director), Barry Letts (Series Producer), Terrance Dicks (Script Editor) and Derek Ware (stunt arranger from HAVOC).
Here’s the highlights of the studio commentary (recorded in 2010):
On the essence of DOCTOR WHO, Barry Letts: We never thought of DOCTOR WHO as a children’s show. We never did pantomime acting.
On being the Chinese Delegate, Pik-Sen Lim: I didn’t turn out as evil as I had would have wished.
Terrance Dicks: I think you were too cute, Pik-Sen.
On casting Corporal Bell, Timothy Coombe: In fact, Corporal Bell wasn’t a woman. I turned her into an actress.
Terrance Dicks: An early Feminist.
Information Text Fact: The story was inspired by a 1969 STAR TREK episode, DAGGER OF THE MIND.
On the script, Pik-Sen Lim: I knew the script as I typed it.
(In fact, the actress was married to its writer, Don Houghton)
On the direction technique. Barry Letts: Beautifully directed and wonderfully acted.
Information Text Fact: The name of the story’s prison, Stangmoor was an amalgamation of two UK prisons, Strangeways and Dartmoor.
On the NEW SERIES formatting of 45-minute, Terrance Dicks: Too rushed.
On Roger Delgado’s Master. Katy Manning: There’s never been a better (Master).
On her favourite story, Katy Manning: This, without a shadow of a doubt. This is terrific, I thought it was sophisticated, a fabulous story.
On Jon Pertwee’s interest in developing his character in speaking another language, Katy Manning: Jon loved this! He was an open book for that kind of thing.
As he contributes ‘facts-and-figures’ that astound the other contributors, Toby Hadoke: I’m here for a reason.
On rehearsals, Katy Manning: We even had a toy drawer in the rehearsal room for our down-time.
On fan activity, Fernando Marlowe: …I was nailed to the floor and they rushed off to get ‘the boards’. I was allowed to sign one side but not the smarter side. They were about 45 (years old) and usually live in Derbyshire. Quite extraordinary.
Toby Hadoke: and they’re probably listing to this.
Fernando Marlowe: I was flattered and pleased to be asked.
On casting regular ‘extra’ Dave Carter, Timothy Coombe: I’d given him the nickname of ‘Big-D’.
Toby Hadoke: Pertwee was fond of him and he got him in (the series) if possible so he crops up quite a lot.
On the character of Jo Grant, Katy Manning: Where did the ‘dizzy’ Jo Grant come from? I thought she was solid. She wasn’t (dizzy).
Toby Hadoke: Much maligned.
Katy Manning: and doesn’t scream that much.
On episode three’s post-attack, Pik-Sen: The worst faint ever wasn’t it? I was terrified of hurting (my little) daughter.
Terrance Dicks: Very graceful subsidence to the floor.
On the guest actors, Toby Hadoke: An underrated turn by William Marlowe. It’s like he’s in THE SWEENY.
Timothy Coombe: I wanted it all laid back. A chap who’s got natural charisma.
Terrance Dicks: He genuinely looks hard. He doesn’t throw his weight about but he looks hard.
Information Text Fact: In episode three, when Mailer leaves Jo Grant in the Prison cell he changes the written script from “…sleep…” to “…beddy-byes…”
Information Text Fact: Just before this production, Nicholas Courtney was recovering from depression and insecurity that had affected him so badly during the filming of TERROR OF THE AUTONS. However, from this story onwards, he began to enjoy his time
On Roger Delgado’s Master, Terrance Dicks: The essence of suave.
Toby Hadoke: He’s quite a BOND villain in this.
On making DOCTOR WHO every week, Terrance Dicks: Our aim to make suave that the Test Card was not shown at 5:30pm in the Saturday afternoon.
On the scene with the recovering Doctor aided by Jo Grant, Katy Manning: With my eyesight that pill is very lucky that it went near the mouth.
Terrance Dicks: Could have gone up the left nostril very easily. “Don’t shoot straight up my nose”, he (Pertwee) used to say. Obviously you didn’t hear him Tim on this.
Timothy Coombe: No, I didn’t.
Information Text Fact: When not acting, Nicholas Courtney worked in a London-based Model Soldier shop (TRADITION OF LONDON – closed in 2012).
On special visual effects of the vanishing “Mind container”, Barry Letts: A quick wobble or a slow wobble.
Katy Manning: That’s life.
In conclusion, DOCTOR WHO – THE MIND OF EVIL DVD release is a radiant masterpiece with the crowning glory being its holistic restoration (a print colourisation and audio clean-up) that delivers a prime example of a “hybrid adventure” from the Pertwee era; the Doctor and Jo, the Master, and the UNIT family combination that enthrals, entertains in equal measure.
COMMENT - AUDIOBOOK RELEASE (2009)
As I "mature" the appreciation of the CLASSIC SERIES increases evermore; the once previous basic stories can be approached with less apprehension and derision. The "comic strip" style of the Pertwee era can be tedious at times, certainly predictable and precocious but with the advent of remastered DVD and, in particular, BBC AUDIO narrated soundtracks a new perspective can be applied.
Don Houghton's DOCTOR WHO - THE MIND OF EVIL comes from an enigmatic period of the series (season 8 - 1971) with such classics as TERROR OF THE AUTONS, THE DAEMONS and, less so austere productions, THE CLAWS OF AXOS and COLONY IN SPACE. However, all five productions are historically iconic due in part to a true television partnership between Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado's Master.
With THE MIND OF EVIL we witness the Master's devilish attempts to thwart the Doctor and UNIT to rule Earth with the aid of a glutinous green bubbling mass of hate acquired by the renegade Time Lord on his travels. And whilst other DOCTOR WHO commentators (contributors to "Virgin Books" DOCTOR WHO HANBOOKS in particular) ridicule the production's repetitious action set-ups and convoluted themes, for me it unfurls like tulip warmed in Springtime sunshine. Yes, it takes it time but, nonetheless, the rewards are highly satisfying. The subtly of complete horror & menace is balanced with witty gems (Nicholas Courtney's "mockney" (a mock Cockney accent created for his "Trojan Horse" delivery man's disguise).
The narrated soundtrack is confidently & reverently delivered by the drama's Captain Yates, Richard Franklin. The first of many, I hope. Unlike many of the actors that have provided a narration, Franklin's "debut" is addictive, riotous and proprietorial, making the six-part story impel forward at a pace that would change the mind of jaded CLASSIC SERIES fans. And credit where credit is certainly due; Robert Ayres' succinct linking script is deservedly key to Franklins success.
Narration: The Master enters the process chamber and warily approaches the Keller Machine. It responds to his presence, beginning to theob and pulse with light. He suddenly recoils clutching his temples. The Master lurches to the control desk and jabs at various buttons trying to turn off the machine but the theobbing in his head suddenly increases. He turns to face the machine, and it seems to shimmer before his eyes. A giant image of the Doctor appears 20 foot tall laughing derisively. The Master cowers in a chair but the apparition gets closer. The Doctor's giant hands reach out to crush him. the Master breaks free of the Doctor's grasp.
The added bonus is, regrettably short (probably due to the six-parter being crammed onto a two-disc set), an admirable interview with Franklin. Again, the first of many, I hope.
DOCTOR WHO - THE MIND OF EVIL may, just may, never be released on DVD as for the fact that only a minor percentage exists in colour. Although I cannot see why 2|entertain BBC should withhold it from release - even though it comes from the "colour age" of DOCTOR WHO. In the meantime, this re-mastered BBC AUDIO is a welcome addition to the archive.