50 Glorious Years: Episode 12 - 1974
1974 was the end of an era for Doctor Who. Jon Pertwee, Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks all left their respective roles in making Doctor Who after a 5 year run (for Dicks, it was actually 6 years as he became script editor for Patrick Troughton’s final season). Richard Franklin would also leave the series in Pertwee’s final story, Planet of the Spiders, leaving the UNIT team back down to the two members that had pre-dated the Pertwee era, the Brigadier and Benton (though in a neat bit of continuity, Harry Sullivan is referenced in Planet of the Spiders before making his debut along with Tom Baker in Robot on December 28th of this year). It was the first year with no Master stories since 1970.
At the time this must have been quite the change - Pertwee’s five year run had been the longest to date and many of the younger viewers would only have known about earlier Doctors from having seen The Three Doctors. And the new guy coming in was so much younger than the Doctor typically was (a marked change from today with the likes of Tennant & Smith in the role) and also largely an unknown entity.
In some ways, this year was also the end of the sixties - the sixties counter-cultural movement that is. Not just in Doctor Who of course, which was mirroring what was happening in the real world, even if unintentionally. Once Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks left, the stories no longer featured hippy characters or remained concerned with environmental issues, featured meditation, counter-cultural fashions and other aspects that were of interest to or symbolic of the 60’s counter-culture as a whole. In the UK there were a gradual fizzing out of the 60’s counter-culture in the mid-70’s which was to end with the birth of the punk movement in late 1976 - at which point Doctor Who (thankfully) ignored what was happening in the real world. It is an interesting contrast in that by watching Doctor Who, you can’t help but notice that the 60’s counter-culture happened, but you’d never know there was a punk movement in the late 70’s.
By the end of the year, Tom Baker starred in his first episode as the Doctor. The Doctor Who world (and arguably, the world itself) was never the same again, and, quite amazingly, things only got better for the franchise’s fortunes as it headed into its 12th season on the air….......
Posted by Luca on Sunday, March 24 at 9:40 am