Tuesday 28 December 2021

On This Day... 28th December

47 years ago today, Tom Baker made his debut as the Fourth Doctor. Part One of Robot was first broadcast on 28th December 1974 - launching Season 12. An omnibus repeat of Planet of the Spiders the day before got the viewing public in the mood, and reminded them of the regeneration from Pertwee into Baker.
In 1963, The Daleks reached its second episode - The Survivors - which finally gave us a proper view of the titular aliens.
In the same way that we never actually saw a Dalek in their first ever episode, so we didn't get to see The Krotons in their first episode, which was broadcast today in 1968.
Meanwhile, in 1988, Season 25 drew to a close with the third and final episode of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy. This was the last occasion on which a continuity announcer would give us the reassuring news that a new series of Doctor Who would be shown next year.

We had something special on this day in 1981 - Doctor Who's first ever spin-off. This was K9 and Company: A Girl's Best Friend. Lis Sladen had been asked to return to the series as Sarah Jane Smith, to help smooth the transition from Tom Baker to Peter Davison, but she had declined. K9 had just been written out of the series earlier in 1981, but JNT knew from the media reaction to this that there was still more mileage to be gained from him. A series of his own, with an old companion, seemed like a good idea. The story did well, despite a major regional power failure, but the BBC decided not to pick it up for a full series.

Today we also remember the writer Donald Cotton, who provided two historical stories during the William Hartnell era. These were The Myth Makers, and The Gunfighters. He died on this day in 1999, aged 71. Both of his stories were characterised by a great deal of humour in the first three episodes, followed by a bloodbath in the fourth. He also novelised Dennis Spooner's The Romans for Target Books - another historical with lots of humour and a more serious conclusion.

And finally, we also remember Edward Brayshaw. He was the first truly villainous Time Lord - the War Chief, in The War Games - practically a rehearsal for the Master.
Brayshaw had earlier appeared as another villain - the duplicitous Leon Colbert in The Reign of Terror. To many he is best remembered as the long suffering Mr Meaker in the classic BBC TV kids show Rentaghost. He passed away on this date in 1990, aged only 57.

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