I’ve just finished wading my way through the shiny new DVD release of The Trial of a Time Lord and I have to say it’s been the best Christmas money spent for quite some time.
Not for the story so much, which is as patchy as ever for all its delights, but for the extra features. This is where the real behind-the-sofa stuff is hidden – as if the story of all the back-stabbing and bureaucratic blame-shifting that went on in the Doctor Who offices in the 1980s wasn’t scary enough, the monsters here are truly convincing and utterly terrifying. Clips of militant Liverpudlian Doctor Who fans menacing writers Pip and Jane Baker (who are pretty scary-looking themselves) compete unsuccessfully for terror-factor against Ian “bubbling lump of hate” Levine, a fan who really got too big for his boots (in more ways than one). It’s hard enough to see why he’s on the DVD at all, even less so how he managed to enveigle his way into the Doctor Who production office sufficiently to be able to launch a significantly damaging attack against the producer.
And let us not forget, presented on the DVD in full, the most terrifying thing Doctor Who has ever spawned, bar none!!!:
…the words are in fact the work of the great Ian Levine, and indeed it’s hard to deny that “there was the Brigadier and the Master and a canine computer” or that “each screaming girl just hoped that a Yeti wouldn’t shoot her”. It’s all the more poetic for being accurate, the spelling of “canine” aside.
Best of all, though, the DVD contains the following moment from Saturday Superstore:
Let’s just analyse what’s going on here: Colin Baker is cutting a cake in the shape of a TARDIS, watched by presenters Sarah Greene, Mike Reid and John Craven, four Time Lords, a creature which is possibly a Mandrel crossbred with a Mentor, Ludo from seminal but non-Doctor Who-related film Labyrinth, two kids wearing party hats and, holding one of them on his lap, a man who may or may not be Bono.
That was the 1980s, that was.
The man who comes out of the DVD with the most dignity, by the way, is Colin Baker, clearly shown here to be both a nice man and a super Doctor who just happened to be doing his job at the worst possible time. Whatever Ian “bubbling lump of rhyming 80s fanwank shite” Levine manages to imply, the material on the DVD makes it more than clear that there was more than one fine Baker to take on the Doctor’s mantle. How ironic that one of the contributors suggests that his performance is too big for television – has he seen David Tennant???