The final, 155th, story of the original “Doctor Who” series, “Survival”, is out on DVD on 16th April as a two-disc set. The BBC are promoting this as the fortieth release from the classic series, on this format, although story wise it’s actually the 43rd. “Lost in Time” contained no complete stories while the Hartnell set and forthcoming Anthony Ainley box both contain three apiece. And the 40, or 43, also includes the 1996 TV movie which some would argue isn’t part of the original run even though the DVD was marketed as though it is. It just depends on your point of view. I’m sure, sometime in the future, new “Doctor Who” will be reissued as though it belongs with the original series, maybe in the event of a further revival. It’s interesting, though, how time changes perception of how these things are distinguished.
In light of the recent budget release of the two-part story “The Sontaran Experiment”, I wondered how the BBC would now deal with three-parters considering, in terms of length, “Ghost Light” doesn’t represent value for money in comparison with the eight-part Troughton story “The Invasion”! The answer is simple, loads of extras. I was lucky in purchasing that McCoy story as part of a BOGOF (buy one, get one free) offer but as its companion was the six-part “Genesis of the Daleks”, even then, length wise, “Ghost Light” is still poor value. It’s a terrific story though so, in this case, quality overruled quantity and, besides, I had to have it as I was at University with one of the night maids - in the cast! That probably sounds a bit naughty so let me put your minds at rest. She trained as a musician and played flute in some first performances of my compositions. If you’re reading this, Vivienne, I still have the tapes!!
“Survival” was the last broadcast story but not the last to be made. That was “Ghost Light” and so, in one sense, my friend has the honour of appearing in the last ever original “Doctor Who” story alongside the legendary Sylvia Syms. But, in the eyes of the viewing public, Anthony Ainley’s swansong, and perhaps his best performance in the role of the Master, was the proper close of a terrific 26-year run. And, this release complements this month’s release of his first three stories. I have to admit, I would’ve preferred “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy”, from the Sylvester McCoy era, as this would’ve completed my favourite quartet of his stories, adding to the three already available. Same director (Alan Wareing), same location, better story. No matter, the last episode of “Survival” does boast a brief appearance by a very young Adele “bad cat man” Silva, now better known for her part in soap opera “Emmerdale”. And, as she also contributes to a two-part documentary on the story, by way of celebration, below is a six-picture gallery in which she looks a little older! Vivienne, by the way, is the redhead in the picture above, back left, under the word THE.