Thursday 3 November 2011

346 Planet of the Daleks Episode Three

EPISODE: Planet of the Daleks Episode Three
TRANSMITTED: 21 April 1973
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Dalek War: Frontier in Space & Planet of the Daleks
Episode Format: 16mm b&w film recording recoloured using computer colouring & chroma dot

Wester takes Jo to the Dalek base and tells her they are experimenting on a bacteria. The Doctor has finished converting the Tardis log into a device to scramble a Dalek. Taron takes the Thals to where Spiridon's Liquid Ice allotrope comes up out of the ground. They will use the shafts created by the ice flow to enter the city. Marat takes change of the map showing where the explosives are hidden. Vaber & Latep go to hide by the main entrance to the city. Jo conceals herself in a basket and is carried in by Spiridon slave workers. Taron, Rebec & Marat crawl through the ice tunnels as they hear the rumblings of an eruption starting. Jo is brought to the Dalek's control room and overhears them sending a Dalek to interrogate the prisoners. The Doctor's device works throwing the Dalek into a state of confusion and deactivating it. The Daleks detect the ice eruption and prepare to close the cooling ducts as the ice catches up with the Thals. The Doctor & Codal flee, but are pursued. They use the lift but finding Daleks waiting for them are forced down into lowest levels of the base where they rescue Taron, Rebec & Marat who are trapped behind a vent. Marat is killed holding off the pursuing Daleks as the others lock themselves in a room. The Daleks find the map showing where the explosives are concealed and send a patrol to deal with it while summoning cutting equipment to get through the door. They discover they are in a giant refrigeration unit. Jo follows the patrol which has gone to destroy the explosives. Using the escape shaft for the hot air generated in the refrigeration process the Doctor constructs a method of escape by trapping hot air under plastic sheeting. The Doctor discovers that the room is refrigerating a chamber containing thousands of Daleks. The Thals desperately wait to see if their improvised balloon will lift them as the Daleks prepare to open the door....

An all out action episode with the Daleks at their very best: pursuing people and never giving up. Fab. Loved it. Yes it resembles The Daleks 4: The Ambush as the original Tardis crew escape from their cell in the Dalek city with some running about in lifts and even a Dalek with a flame torch arm cutting through a door (we'll see another element from The Daleks 4 in a future episode of this story) but I don't care. It's just done so well.

I did have to stifle a giggle while watching the Thals scrabble around in the liquid ice as I was reminded of It's a Knockout!!

Planet of the Daleks was almost complete when the BBC's Film & Video library was audited in 1978. Episodes 1,2 & 4-6 still existed on their original tapes. Only episode 3 was missing. Indeed season 10 faired rather better than most with just 5 episodes - Planet 3 and Frontier in Space 1-3 & 6 - missing from the archives at the time of the initial audit. Nobody knows why episode 3 wasn't there, the BBC library holdings don't seem to show any logic at all. Keep the Sensorites, dispose of Dalek Masterplan ...... When BBC enterprises was contacted for their Doctor Who holdings it was found that they held black & white film copies of all six episodes, so that copy of episode 3 completed the story.

Of the differing versions of Doctor Who episodes, three are considered fit for broadcast in the UK: original video tape, film copies and converted NTSC video used for transmitting the episodes. But for a number of Pertwee episodes, all of which we've now seen, lower definition off air NTSC colour video recordings exist:

Silurians 1-7 (of 7)
Ambassadors of Death 2-7 (of 7)
Terror of the Autons 1-4 (of 4)
The Daemons 1-3 & 5 (of 5)

Techniques have been developed over the years to marry the colour from these recordings to the higher definition black & white pictures, with variable success: The DVD versions of The Silurians and Terror of the Autons are superb but attempts to restore The Ambassadors of Death have met with trouble due to an intermittent rainbow pattern that appears on the original recording.

However there are eight Third Doctor episodes which exist in black & white for which no colour copy of any description exists:

Mind of Evil 1-6 (of 6) although a small amount of footage from episode 6 does exist
Planet of the Daleks 3 (of 6)
Invasion of the Dinosaurs 1 (of 6)

So how do you restore these to their original glory?

For many years recolourisation was deemed to be to expensive to use but in 2006 Legend films were contracted to recolour the episode when a combination of their rates and a good Pound Dollar exchange rate made it affordable. The technique worked but with limitations.

Some years ago BBC Engineer James Insell was at home watching an episode of Jon Pertwee Doctor Who that only existed in black & white when it was transmitted on UK Gold. He noticed that occasionally there would be little flashes of colour in the picture. At the time the black & white film prints of the Doctor Who episodes were made engineers had been meant to apply a filter to the process to remove the colour information, stored as a series of coloured dots in your TV picture, from the film recording. In practice this rarely happened. He then set about developing a process to attempt to read the dots from the pictures and decode them. And, incredibly, they managed it. The technique has now been used on episodes of Doctor Who, Dad's Army and Are You Being Served?

Planet of the Daleks 3 was run through the process and the results combined with the existing recolouring to give a copy which looks absolutely fantastic.

For more details see the recolourisation feature on The Planet of the Daleks disc in Doctor Who - Dalek War, or read about it at The Restoration Team's Dalek War article or on Wikipedia's colour recovery page.


  1. The restored colour episode really does look great. Combining the two techniques worked wonders, though I got the impression Legend were a bit miffed.

  2. What, because of the whole "sticking their asking rates up" thing?

  3. I seem to recall someone from the RT explaining the benefits/limitations of each of the techniques in a thread on whatever Outpost Gallifrey was called that week.

    Then someone from Legend popped in an disagreed with the negatives directed at their recolouring work and basically said the CR process was flawed and anything it seemed to add was probably just a glitch in the software.

    I believe they mainly deal with other work now and the exchange rate is different too, which sort of maybe explains the huge increase. I did wonder if it was partly to do with what happened on POD3 though.