Memories of the Eighties

Seasons 18-25: The Leisure Hive - The Greatest Show in the Galaxy

Murray Jackson

After the fourteenth season was shown I managed to miss most of Doctor Who right up until The Keeper of Traken, which was annoying because Logopolis didn't show for another year.

Peter Davison brought a new angle to the Doctor that many didn't like. Personally I enjoyed his portrayal and the high standard of production made the stories all the more enjoyable. For me the Davison era was rivalled only by the Troughton era and Season 13.

Colin Baker on the other hand started badly with The Twin Dilemma and the series never recovered, churning out stories like Timelash and the entire Trial of a Time Lord saga. After such a dire mistake as The Trial of a Time Lord, the series could only go one way - down. So with Season 24 and Sylvester McCoy, Doctor Who lost all integrity and a series that had once been filled with drama and suspense mutated into a dire half hour sit-coin.

Favourite stories (no particular order): Earthshock, Pyramids of Mars, Terror of the Zygons, The Caves of Androzani, The Invasion, Black Orchid, The Mind Robber, Spearhead From Space, The Silurians, Logopolis, Mawdryn Undead, Frontios.

Paul Scoones

The Leisure Hive was brilliant when I first watched it, and it still is. There was no warning that the show had been re-vamped; I sat down to watch the first episode of a new story, and instead of the TARDIS and the greeny-blue time tunnel, I was dazzled by a spectacular explosion of stars and thrilled by a decidedly more pacey theme arrangement. Baker's staring face was still reassuringly there, materialising out of the starfield, but the logo took me by surprise. The only thing I did know was that Baker was going to regenerate into that chap out of All Creatures Great and Small, courtesy of a slightly inaccurate newspaper article. I was on the edge of my seat from The Leisure Hive all the way through to The Keeper of Traken; every time the Doctor fell into danger, I expected him to regenerate, but no, Tom Baker was still there. I thought he might have done so in the Tachyon Generator (let's face it, he almost did), or when that slab almost fell on him in Meglos, but no. I remember being pleased that I recognised the Master in Part Three of The Keeper of Traken (the evidence was on the cover of the book The Deadly Assassin). After a break of a year, the Doctor did regenerate in Logopolis, but in the intervening months, I had purchased Jean-Marc Lofficier's invaluable Programme Guide, which sort of spoilt it, as did the Listener coverage of that story.

After another long break, we finally got to see the first half of Peter Davison's era; such was his impact on me that he has since become my favourite Doctor; ousting Baker, who in turn had ousted Pertwee. It is poor reflection on the sixth and seventh Doctors that Davison remains my favourite to this day.

In the last one and a half years, I have seen just about everything from Terminus to Dragonfire, (ironically, the eight episodes I have yet to see are Davison's), courtesy of the videos loaned to me by the friends I have made through TSV. I was bitterly disappointed by The Trial of a Time Lord, which Doctor Who Magazine had given unjustifiably good press, but later, watching Season 22, I realised that Colin Baker's era was blessed with very bad stories. For those of you yet to progress beyond Mawdryn Undead though, The Five Doctors, The Awakening, Frontios, Resurrection of the Daleks and especially The Caves of Androzani are all absolute masterpieces. JNT's great slip in standards occurred virtually overnight - between The Caves of Androzani Part Four and The Twin Dilemma Part One, to be precise. It has never recovered since.

Sylvester McCoy falls somewhere above Colin Baker but below the other five as far as being a good Doctor goes. His portrayal is too quirky for my liking, his stories push the limits of the show (in the wrong direction!), and the general standards are returning to the point where I can apply the same criticism as I do of the sixties - it's just too juvenile. When I celebrate on 23rd November this year, I'll be looking back on my fondest memories of the show; sadly, nothing from the Sixth or Seventh Doctors' eras is included in them. A potentially positive note lies in the fact that we have yet to see the 25th season. Advance reports are mixed; it could be good, but it could just as easily be bad.

Ken Tod

The most striking thing of the eighties was the change in opening/closing titles and theme music. I felt that it marked a coming of age/updating of the programme, which was appropriate. I hated the music so much at first that I used to make fake vomiting noises whenever it was on. However I grew to like it as with many of the changes that have occurred to the programme.

My favourite eighties stories were Full Circle, Keeper of Traken, Logopolis, Castrovalva, The Visitation, Earthshock, Arc of Infinity, Mawdryn Undead and The Five Doctors.

As we have not seen Season 21 and 22 yet I cannot comment further apart from The Two Doctors. I enjoyed this one apart from the 45-minute episode format. The scene where Chessene licks the Doctor's blood on her hand was, in my opinion, not necessary.

Having seen both Seasons 23 and 24 on video my favourite stories were Mindwarp, The Ultimate Foe, Time and the Rani (apart from some over the top acting from Sylvester McCoy) and Dragonfire. I like the new title sequence and music.

Finally, some ideas regarding the programme in its present format. Expand it to twenty episodes in total, five four episode stories or at least room for a six-episode story if warranted. Bring back the Yeti and Ice Warriors for at least one story each. Hopefully the BBC will do something really special to celebrate the Anniversary, a TV Special perhaps, which we could see here in New Zealand. Also I think they should have a big campaign in England and overseas to film collectors and TV stations to hunt down and return any missing episodes, especially of the second Doctor's stories from Season 5.

Well, that's about it for now, I have probably been a bit biased in some of the things I have said, but everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Scott Walker

After season 17, I remember watching a new, exciting style of Doctor Who, which caught my attention for good, John Nathan-Turner's era. These years are the times in which I have my firmest concrete memories. There was no particular scene that stuck out in my mind. There were occasions when unavoidably I would miss the show or was at a house that did not enliven itself with such a programme. It was a case such as the latter that a friend and myself actually went desperately searching for a living room window to watch Part One of Castrovalva. Any, glimpse of the Doctor was enough for me then. Looking back, it was a silly thing to do, but that's what life's for, agree?

Still, at this stage I had no idea of the existence of fan clubs, magazines, and the sort, and as soon as I was introduced to DWM, things snowballed from there. I joined the Australian Fan Club in 1985, and again in 1987. I started building up a large collection with money earned from odd jobs. It was in October 1987 that I had my first real contact with Science Fiction fandom, Christchurch NASF. It was here that I was introduced to Andrew Poulsen. I remember the first thing we talked about, merchandise. It was almost a battle of wills, trying to get the upper edge with our collections, however, we found we both had impressive collections, that we both started watching and collecting at about the same time, and that we both had a burning desire to set up a fan club. And, well, here we are, as they say, the rest is history!

Wendy Toynton

Moving up into the eighties one wonders how long it will be before I hear of a Sylvester McCoy story with a decent plot. I hope there is some!

Paul Kelly

The eighties, for me, have also shown some great Doctor Who, firstly the regeneration of Baker into Peter Davison. I wasn't all that impressed with Davison, at first, in Castrovalva, probably because he was a big change from Baker. Although I soon began to like him and by the second story he had lost his earlier stiffness.

Stephen Murray

Davison was a bit of a disappointment to me the first time around. Too young to play the Doctor. After some eighteen years I stopped watching.

The future looks promising, Sylvester McCoy has a little bit of all Doctors in him. With the seasons shorter the quality might continue to grace out screens for another 25 years.

This item appeared in 25 Years of a Time Lord (January 1989).

Related Items: Memories of the Sixties, Memories of the Seventies