Doctor Who Listener Archive - 1983

Note: These are the articles, photos and other Doctor Who related items from issues of the New Zealand Listener. The full text of each item has been transcribed as it is often indistinct on the scanned cuttings. Spelling and grammar have not been corrected. We would like to hear from anyone who can provide better quality copies or scanned originals of any of these cuttings and also from anyone who can identify any additional Doctor Who items from the New Zealand Listener that have not been included here.

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Listener Clippings

[clipping: 1983-02-19-A][clipping: 1983-02-19-B]

19 February 1983
Vol 103 No 2246 (19-25 Feb 1983)
p75: article entitled 'New Season Television' includes a preview of the new series and a photo (col) of the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Persuasion [from Four to Doomsday]

FOUR to Doomsday is the title of the new Dr Who series starting this season on March 21 (Mondays on ONE, 5.30pm). A mighty spaceship thunders through the vacuum of space. There are no signs of life. Suddenly, a grinding, wheezing sound shatters the silence and the solid blue shape of a telephone box slowly materialises. So begins Peter Davison's second adventure as the inimitable Dr Who. And his first encounter with Monarch, a monstrous reptilian creature with plans to conquer Earth.

Right: Dr Who has always been a character with a difference, and a number of different actors have played the role. Latest is Peter Davison, left (All Creatures Great and Small), who begins his second adventure as the interstellar doctor on Mondays on ONE.

[clipping: 1983-03-12]

12 March 1983
Vol 103 No 2249 (12-18 Mar 1983)
p110: photo (b/w) of Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor [from Castrovalva]; TV listings: Castrovalva Part One (TV1, Monday 14/03/83)

At the end of the last DR WHO series, Logopolis, the Doctor was pushed by the evil Master from the top of a giant telescope. The time traveller was mortally injured - but then the mysterious, translucent Watcher appeared, merged with the shattered body of the Doctor and through a remarkable physical and mental regeneration transformed him into a new, younger Doctor. Peter Davison, one of the stars of All Creatures Great and Small, plays this role in a new series beginning at 5.30 this evening. He is the fifth Dr Who; the first, William Hartnell, was regenerated back in 1966 and since then there have been Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

[clipping: 1983-03-19-A][clipping: 1983-03-19-B]

19 March 1983
Vol 103 No 2250 (19-25 Mar 1983)
p65: front cover of the Junior Listener (March 1983) pull-out supplement: full page photo (col) of the fifth Doctor [from Black Orchid]

p70: article entitled 'What's on TV' in the Junior Listener pull-out supplement featuring a preview of the series and a photo (col) of the Fifth Doctor [from Kinda]. The episode screened the week of this issue was Castrovalva Part Two (TV1, Monday 21/03/83)

Doctor Who
Mondays on ONE, 6.30pm.

Last year the brave hero of this series leapt from the top of a giant radio, telescope to his apparent death. But, as luck would have it, the Time Lord was quite able to handle the situation. When the mysterious Watcher appeared with the battered body of the Doctor, an incredible thing happened. The mortally injured time traveller turned into a new, younger Doctor - 30-year-old Peter Davison.

For those younger viewers who have only ever known Tom Baker as Doctor Who this transformation process has been used since sickness forced the first Doctor to give up the role in 1966. The producers of the series then had a way of making sure the programme could continue for a long, long time.

Peter Davison is in fact the fifth actor to play the role of the Doctor in the 18 years the series has been on British television. He is also the youngest Time Lord to pass through the doors of the Tardis.

Peter was 12 when the very first Doctor Who series was screened. Since then he has become a dedicated fan and he knows all the different Doctors that have been before him very well.

Peter's Doctor will be a little different from all the others. He still wants him to be heroic, but he thinks that over the years the suspense of "now how is he going to get out of that tight corner?" has been missing. Peter wants to bring that back. He is not going to rely on instant miracles to get him out of trouble.

Peter's Doctor will have some human failings and will tackle problems by jumping in "boots and all" hoping that he'll come out of it in one piece.

The new Doctor Who is going to 'be one to 'keep an eye out for, and, he won't be easy to miss - he'll be the one wearing the strange Victorian cricket outfit.

[clipping: 1983-04-02]

2 April 1983
Vol 103 No 2252 (2-8 Apr 1983)
p110: photo (b/w) of the Fifth Doctor and Mergrave [from Castrovalva]; TV listings: Castrovalva Part Four (TV1, Monday 04/04/83)

It's not at all clear what's going on in this scene, but all will be revealed in the final episode of the present series of DR WHO at 5.30pm. We can say that that's the Doctor (Peter Davison) at left, and the chap with the flour bag on his head is Mergrave (Michael Sheard). The Doctor and his friends get involved in a new adventure next week, in another four-part series, called "Four to Doomsday".

[clipping: 1983-05-14]

14 May 1983
Vol 104 No 2258 (14-20 May 1983)
p76: Look [formerly Junior Listener] (May 1983) pull-out supplement: advertisement for Doctor Who Target novelisations

[clipping: 1983-06-04]

4 June 1983
Vol 104 No 2261 (4-10 Jun 1983)
p102: photo (b/w) of the Fifth Doctor and Richard Mace [from The Visitation]; TV listings: The Visitation Part One (TV1, Monday 06/06/83)

Fifteen years ago DOCTOR WHO viewers discovered the "truth" behind the ghost ship Marie Celeste. The mysterious disappearance of its entire crew was brought about by an invasion of Daleks.

The series has since presented numerous fictional explanations for some of the strangest events in Earth's history. The Doctor revealed that the pyramids of Egypt are of alien origin and that the Loch Ness monster is really an alien cyborg controlled by the power-hungry Zygons.

In the latest four-part adventure, beginning today at 5.30pm, the Tardis takes the Doctor (Peter Davison, right) and his friends to London - just before the Great Fire of 1666. As the history books say, the fire started in a baker's shop in Pudding Lane. But the doctor reveals - with the help of a medieval actor, Richard Mace (Michael Robbins) - that aliens once again have a finger in the pie.

[clipping: 1983-06-11]

11 June 1983
Vol 104 No 2262 (11-17 Jun 1983)
Front cover: photo (col) of the Fifth Doctor [from Kinda]


[clipping: 1983-06-11-B]

p12-13: interview with Peter Davison, entitled 'In the Swim' by Graham Ford, about both Sink or Swim and Doctor Who. The episode screened the week of this issue was The Visitation Part Two (TV1, Monday 13.06.83)


These days Peter Davison's career is buoyant, but as staff writer Graham Ford discovered it is only a few years since he was in danger of sinking without trace.

IN THE MID 70s a rather shy young man took a job, as a filing clerk. He was absolutely broke and had no foreseeable future in his chosen profession. Hardly a likely proposition for smash success. No one could have guessed that he was to become a Time Lord, a randy vet, and one of the busiest actors around: Peter Davison. The star of Dr Who, All Creatures Great and Small and a new series Sink or Swim.

New Zealand viewers will be getting a double dose of Davison on their screens from now on, in Dr Who, on Mondays and Sink or Swim, on Sundays. In Sink or Swim he plays a bashful northern lad, Brian. Brian is a gloomy, gauche fellow making his way at a snail's pace in London. Unfortunately he has his sex-obsessed younger brother, Steve, foisted on him. Both brothers are penniless, utterly disorganised and bicker endlessly. Out of their rather tragic quarrels come the laughs.

"I've got right inside Brian's skin," says Davison, "I'm very comfortable in the part. Brian is convinced he missed out on a lot not having been brought up in London where it all happens. He wants to experience things and to improve himself, but he's hopelessly naive."

"Sink or Swim was a great relief because a lot of viewers didn't recognise me. After All Creatures Great and Small, I had this anxiety that I would be inundated with similar roles keen, public school parts."

The British public did not take to Sink or Swim as they have to other productions Davison has been in. For such a modest, self-effacing person he has enjoyed a remarkable popular response. He has a kind of squeaky-clean vulnerability many viewers seem to relish.

In fact, Davison has been able to survive all the publicity very well. He constantly stresses his ordinariness. But there is a theme of insecurity that keeps running through his conversation. His marriage to actress Sandra Dickinson has obviously played an important part in his life, providing a confidence and drive that was previously lacking.

FEW characters have generated the same popularity as the lazy, layabout, ladykilling vet, Tristan Farnon.

"I began getting more fan mail than Christopher Timothy and Robert Hardy. There were lots of teenagers writing in and asking for photographs and respectable housewives were among the greatest fans."

However it is his popularity as the fifth and latest Doctor Who that is the most surprising. Past Dr Whos have had to get used to signing hundreds of autographs an hour and addressing the well-informed members of university Dr Who societies. Even so, the response to Davison has been extraordinary.

He and his wife Sandra, have been forced to move house four times in the last three years. Davison says he has to disguise himself in dark glasses and woolly hats to escape overzealous fans. Just going out for dinner can be more hazardous than trying to disarm a malevolent Dalek.

Rapid costume changes are fairly common for such a busy actor. When Sink or Swim was being recorded, he had to play bespectacled Brian in the mornings and the flamboyant Doctor in the afternoons. Lunchtimes required a schizophrenic jump for Davison as he rushed between studios. Didn't he find the leap from London to light years confusing?

"No not really, they're so very different," he says. "But I'm still feeling my way as Dr Who - it takes time to get into a part like that. And I like to begin by playing any character very straight, and letting the identity emerge almost by itself. There's a lot of me in him but also blend in other aspects."

The best advice on how to play Dr Who came from a little boy, says Davison, who said he ought to be like "Tristan but brave". "That's more or less where I've pitched it."

He is not intellectual in his approach to acting. Out of a somewhat colourless man comes the flare of Tristan and the eccentricity of Dr Who.

I had no real idea what Tristan Farnon was going to be like at first. I started him off quite bland but he very quickly came to life. I wasn't so used to the ways of television in those days and I remember waiting for someone to comment on my performance. Tristan was first seen waking up in a car with a terrible hangover. I played the scene then waited for the director to make encouraging noises but there was total silence. Finally he said quietly, 'All right everyone we'll go on,' and I assumed I had been appalling. The same thing happened after my very first Dr Who scene but these days I know the silence means, 'You're doing OK, carry on'.

Davison attended the Central School for Speech and Drama before three years in repertory. After a brief taste of television with a part in The Tomorrow People Davison fell on hard times. He spent 18 months sorting out files for the Inland Revenue.

"It was dull but I admit I enjoyed knowing I'd get a wage packet each week. And they let me out for auditions." One of these auditions was for a programme called Love for Lydia.

"The producer couldn't believe that anyone working in a tax office would go along. Out he did say he was looking for an unknown and there weren't many actors more unknown than me!"

The role in Love for Lydia lasted for two years. He then landed a job in All Creatures Great and Small for three years.

"By playing a sum total of two parts in five years I managed to miss out on building up a career slowly ... I'm particularly grateful to Tristan because a lot of his confidence rubbed off on me. A few years ago I was very shy, I still am really, but being known makes life easier. People accept you and you don't have to keep breaking the ice. When you've been on the box everyone is your friend. But otherwise acting is an ordinary job like any other - I wouldn't want to make too much of it."

To recuperate from the stress of the stage and the camera Davison retreats to his home in Woking. He describes it as "a nice, ordinary, modern house" quite close .to his parents. He and Sandra are very keen on cats and they have four of them.

"Three of them are quite ordinary like me; the fourth is a Persian chinchilla which I married with my wife. We're both very keen on cats they're so independent."

His American-born wife also acts. She played the glamorous Trillian in The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which her husband makes an incognito appearance as an intergalactic space animal. The fact that both husband and wife are actors doesn't seem to cause them much trouble.

"No there's no spirit of competition between us," he says grinning, "but I don't know if my male pride could stand it if she was getting more work than me!"

SINK OR SWIM, Sundays on TWO, 9pm.
DOCTOR WHO, Mondays on ONE, 5.30pm.


Davison with series co-star Robert Glenister as brother Steve: penniless, utterly disorganised and endlessly bickering.

[clipping: 1983-07-02]

2 July 1983
Vol 104 No 2265 (2-8 Jul 1983)
p118: photo (b/w) of the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric [from Black Orchid]; TV listings: Black Orchid Part One (TV1, 04/07/83)

When the Tardis lands on Earth in 1925 Dr Who (Peter Davison, left), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) are invited by mistake to a fancy dress ball. But the fun ends when the Doctor becomes involved in a murder. The first part of a new two-part DR WHO adventure screens at 5.30pm.

[clipping: 1983-07-16]

16 July 1983
Vol 104 No 2267 (16-22 Jul 1983)
p126: photo (b/w) of Captain Briggs [from Earthshock]; TV listings: Earthshock Part One (TV1, 18/07/83):

Like Susan Hampshire, Beryl Reid suffers from a handicap that makes acting very difficult - dyslexia. "Learning lines is hard going," says Reid. "I have to take myself firmly in hand and refuse to be distracted. When I start learning a script I first pick out the words I recognise and then fill in the rest. I get someone to hear my lines once I've unscrambled the words." Despite her handicap Reid has always been in demand as an actress, appearing in countless TV series and films. Recently she was seen here as Connie Sachs in Smiley's People. Today at 5.30 she turns up In a new four-part adventure of Dr Who.

[clipping: 1983-08-13]

13 August 1983
Vol 104 No 2271 (13-19 Aug 1983)
p126: photo (b/w) of the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa [from Time-Flight]; TV listings: Time-Flight Part One (TV1, 15/08/83):

In the new DOCTOR WHO story, beginning today at 5. 30, the Tardis is upstaged by the present-day world's most advanced passenger aircraft, Concorde. The supersonic jet is at the centre of a plot involving a voyage back in time to primeval Earth and an encounter with one of the Doctor's most formidable foes - the Master. The crew, Tegan (Janet Fielding, left), the Doctor (Peter Davison) and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) are now of course without their young companion Adric, who was killed during a battle with the Cybermen.

Clippings for 1982.