Doctor Who
The Three Doctors

Starring: Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell
BBC Worldwide
RRP: £19.99

Certificate: U
Available now

There's something nasty draining power from the Time Lords home world. Within days the energy loss will rob them of their powers to traverse time and space. Time, in the real sense, is running out but the one chance of hope, the Doctor, seems powerless against an alien menace that appears to transgress the laws of physics. In a last ditch attempt to defeat the unknown attacker the Time Lords grant the Doctor access to his past selves in the hope that three heads will be better than one...

The Three Doctors marked the show's 10th birthday and in the spirit of the occasion the story has a party atmosphere about it. Despite the impending destruction of Time Lord society the tone of the story is light hearted and humorous with UNIT once again showing a closer resemblance to Dad's Army than a crack military organisation used to tackling alien attacks. The Brig makes Sgt Wilson look like Bomber Harris.

Also, Patrick Troughton seems to have forgotten how to play the Doctor, replacing the fey and obtuse characterisation from his tenure on the show with a more clowning and clumsy take on the part. However, despite his lack of subtly he still manages to steal most of his scenes if only because his screen presence is so powerful.

Hartnell's ill health meant his contributions were limited to some pre-recorded segments although this actually works rather well as his appearances help add dramatic punctuation to an otherwise rather camp production. Not that camp is necessarily bad, but it might just have been better to have added a little more tension to the plot. Even the evil Omega, the cause of the power drain, comes across as a nice bloke with a temper problem rather than as a scheming genius.

In essence The Three Doctors is the archetypal Pertwee romp and as such it's wildly entertaining. Not great then, but nonetheless engaging, and with the host of extras crammed on this disc the whole package makes for a fab night's viewing. Katy Manning is quite clearly as mad as a box of frogs and her contribution to the commentary often runs off at tangents which somehow suits the story. Her musings also add to the fun which is at heart what The Three Doctors was all about.

So not a classic then, but certainly a consummate piece of high camp. "Bona!" as Julian and Sandy might have said. So go vada...

Anthony Clark

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