Doctor Who – The Sensorites

Aha! Look what just reached the top of my “to watch” pile – a first season First Doctor story, first shown over six weeks from 20 June to 1 August 1964. William Hartnell is the Doctor, accompanied by the original crew of his granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford), Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) and Ian (William Russell).

The TARDIS materialises inside a spaceship for the first time in the series. The ship is trapped in the vicinity of a planet known as the Sense-Sphere[1], home to the Sensorites. Having had a bad experience with some humans previously, the Sensorites are using their mental powers to prevent the ship from leaving.

A suitable (if slightly long) adventure follows, with trouble being caused by divisions among the Sensorites, some humans pretending to be monsters, and lots of general confusion. If you’re prepared to accept the limitations of the near-live recording process and technology of the time, there’s enough here to enjoy. Not classic classic Doctor Who, perhaps, but still worth watching at least once.

Extras are a bit of a problem with material this old – many of the participants are long dead, and the survivors often have only vague recollections of particular episodes from nearly fifty years ago. But a bit of effort and thought has been applied, and in addition to the usual bits and bobs, we have:

  • Looking for Peter – Toby Hadoke does a bit of investigation to find out more about the little-known writer of The Sensorites, Peter R Newman. Nicely done.
  • Vision On – Vision mixer Clive Doig talks about the art of putting together TV drama in the days of “as live” recording
  • Secret Voices of the Sense-Sphere – there are some odd background voices just audible on the soundtrack. Clive Doig (again!) explains all…
[1] This was name-checked many years later as a near neighbour of the Ood-sphere…