The Tenth Planet

This story is not known to exist in its original format
(4 black-and-white 25-minute TV episodes)
in its entirety.
DVD NTSC
Region 1

DVD PAL
Region 2
VHS Video
NTSC
NTSC
PAL A
PAL B
(Doctor Who Story No. 29, starring William Hartnell)
  • written by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis
  • directed by Derek Martinus
  • produced by Innes Lloyd
  • featuring library music tracks
  • 4 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: The Doctor, Ben, and Polly land in Antarctica in 1986, discovering an international space mission control base. As the crew observe a new planet approaching Earth, creating havoc with pre-planned orbital flights, the Doctor recognizes this as a turning point in history, predicting that they are about to have "visitors". But the Doctor's own health is fading fast. Will he last long enough to help humanity survive first contact with the Cybermen of Mondas?

The DVD's include:

  • Three digitally remastered complete original episodes (#1,2,3)
  • A new animated recreation of the missing episode (#4), synchronized to the original television sound!
  • The "telesnap" reconstruction of episode 4 from the 2000 A.D. VHS release (24 min.)
  • Plus extra features:
    • Audio commentary on episodes 1-3 by Anneke Wills (Polly), Christopher Matthews (Radar Technician), Earl Cameron (Williams),
      Alan White (Schultz), Gregg Palmer (Cybermen Shav and Gern), Christopher Dunham (R/T Technician), and designer Peter Kindred.
    • "Frozen Out" making-of featurette (29 min.), with Wills, Cameron, Kindred, Reg Whitehead (Cyberman), and vision mixer Shirley Coward.
    • Interview (3 min.) of William Hartnell (The Doctor) - recently re-discovered.
    • Interview (14 min.) of Anneke Wills (Polly)
    • "Boys Boys Boys" featurette (19 min.) on the Doctor's male companions, with Peter Purves, Frazer Hines, and Mark Strickson.
    • Pop-up Production Note Subtitles for episodes 1-3 only
    • Photo Gallery music and sound effects montage (4 min.)
    • "Companion Piece" featurette (24 min.) on the role of the companion in Doctor Who.
    • "The Golden Age" featurette (16 min.) - history or myth?
    • Blue Peter clip (9 min.) - this show about Doctor Who's Tenth Anniversary "borrowed" episode 4 of "The Tenth Planet" to copy the regeneration scene, after which the episode mysteriously vanished.

The VHS Packages include:

  • The first three complete episodes
  • a full-length "telesnap" reconstruction of the fourth, final episode, including:
    • the complete audio from the television episode
    • montages of photos, video stills, and documented "telesnaps" from the actual episodes
    • the infamous Regeneration clip in full motion
    • numerous 8mm off-screen clips in full motion showcasing William Hartnell's final performance
    This reconstruction remains one of the best examples yet of how an incomplete Doctor Who story can and should be restored to full length....

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)


The BBC has released all of its surviving material for "The Tenth Planet" on video, including a reconstruction of that lost Holy Grail of missing Doctor Who episodes, the concluding fourth episode.


The initial VHS reconstruction is far better than what we got on videotape for "The Ice Warriors" (story no. 39)..... To start with, the entire soundtrack has been used, and not just a select few scenes (which is why this package does NOT include a separate CD for episode four's audio). Also, where the telesnap photos and reused stills from previous episodes are not quite enough to make the action understandable, subtitles are scrolled across the bottom of the screen without obscuring any part of the still thanks to an inlay effect. This is much better than the narration present in "The Ice Warriors", and detracts nothing from the mood that "The Tenth Planet" works to convey. The regeneration clip is, of course, included as expected, but the real bonus is the collection of full motion "home-movie" style film clips spread throughout the episode. As these generally focus on William Hartnell's best lines, you really can say that you've seen his last performance as the Doctor after seeing this. Hartnell is by far the best element of this last episode, and makes this video a must for true fans of the series.

DVD Animation

Our options for viewing "The Tenth Planet" are now even greater for DVD, as we get to choose between the old VHS reconstruction included as a bonus, or a newer animated version presented where the "proper" episode should go. Both versions are really good, but their strengths are very different. The animated version is much superior for action sequences and for most scenes in and around the reactor room, where the faces of our human protagonists were obscured with radiation-suit visors and their speaking scenes were mostly concerned with technobabble. These bits are much easier to follow now, and the clarity of the characters' faces improves one's engagement with them as well as improving the tension of the scenes. However, the old VHS reconstruction still reigns supreme when it comes to scenes performed by Robert Beatty or William Hartnell, thanks to the excellent still photos and the treasure trove of full motion clips, and since Hartnell's final performance as Doctor Who is one of the big draws here, there's still a lot to be said in preferring the "VHS" one. Indeed, it almost feels rude to see the first regeneration presented as a cartoon on the DVD's "official" version of the episode, when indeed the actual live-action footage is widely available in high quality. Perhaps the very best option would be a mix-and-match edit, where the best version of each scene, or indeed each shot, could be drawn from either animation, telesnap photo, or full-motion clip. And in that sense, I might well be torn about which version of some scenes to use, because both versions have bits that they seem to have done better than their counterpart has. Perhaps such a mix-match edit is too complex to do for every lost episode needing recreation, but "The Tenth Planet, episode 4" is worthy of being the exception to the rule there.


Many of the elements unique to this first design for the Cybermen have effective, horrific qualities not seen in any other cyber-story. With the soft-cloth design of the face, and dark, haunting eyes in behind, these Cybermen appear to be masking leprosy or skin cancer or something, and they cannot speak without sending the chill of being cybernized into those normal humanoids that they intend to "save".

Of course, there's much more to be said about this debut Cybermen design, and the many layers of parallel elements in the plot echoing both the Doctor's health and ideas of workplace relationships, but we'll save all that for the original in-depth analysis version of this review. If you've seen "The Tenth Planet" already, or you're not afraid of spoilers, what are you doing here? Flip over to that page.

Derek Martinus is not the best director Doctor Who had seen up until this point in terms of mastering camera angles and shot sequencing, or in pulling genius performances out of the cast, however, for all of the tangible technical problems with "The Tenth Planet", it manages somehow to surmount this intangibly. A unique atmosphere surrounds it which Martinus must be given much credit for. Anticipation is a key ingredient that grows stronger and stronger as the story unfolds, and with such major concluding events, it does not disappoint. Experienced actor Robert Beatty gives an exceptional performance anyway, probably the best I've ever seen of him anywhere, as if anyone could stop him! (He can also be seen commanding an oil tanker in Superman III, and as a ranking space officer beside Rock Hudson in the TV miniseries of Ray Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles".) William Hartnell works his usual magic whenever the story moves to him, and Michael Craze and David Dodimead put in solid performances as well.


This is most certainly one of the most powerful classics of the Doctor Who program, with layers of elements containing hidden significance, making repeat viewing quite rewarding.



Rankings for Season Three and the Rest of the William Hartnell Era:

Best Story:

    The Excellent Ones:
  • The Dalek Masterplan
  • Galaxy Four
  • The Tenth Planet
  • The Savages
  • The War Machines

    Honourable Mention:
  • The Ark
  • The Smugglers
  • The Massacre (John Lucarotti novelization only)

    Silly, but still enjoyable:
  • The Myth Makers
  • The Celestial Toymaker
  • The Gunfighters
  • Mission to the Unknown

    And lastly, the utterly pointless:
  • The Massacre (Donald Tosh TV version)

Best Writer:

  • Dennis Spooner (The Dalek Masterplan)
  • Terry Nation (The Dalek Masterplan, Mission to the Unknown)
  • William Emms (Galaxy Four)
  • Ian Stuart Black (The Savages, The War Machines)
  • John Lucarotti (The Massacre)
  • Kit Pedler (The Tenth Planet, The War Machines)
  • Gerry Davis (The Tenth Planet, The Celestial Toymaker)
  • Brian Hayles (The Smugglers, The Celestial Toymaker)
  • Paul Erickson and Lesley Scott (The Ark)
  • Donald Cotton (The Myth Makers, The Gunfighters)
  • Donald Tosh (The Massacre)

Best Director:

  • Douglas Camfield (The Dalek Masterplan)
  • Michael Ferguson (The War Machines)
  • Derek Martinus (Galaxy Four, The Tenth Planet, Mission to the Unknown)
  • Michael Imison (The Ark)
  • Christopher Barry (The Savages)
  • Julia Smith (The Smugglers)
  • Michael Leeston-Smith (The Myth Makers)
  • Bill Sellars (The Celestial Toymaker)
  • Paddy Russell (The Massacre)
  • Rex Tucker (The Gunfighters)

Best Composer:

  • Tristram Cary (The Dalek Masterplan, The Ark, The Gunfighters)
  • Dudley Simpson (The Celestial Toymaker)
  • (BBC Library Tracks)
  • Raymond Jones (The Savages)
  • Humphrey Searle (The Myth Makers)
  • Donald Cotton and Rex Tucker (Lyrics for "The Gunfighters")

"The Tenth Planet" is not known to exist in its original format (4 black-and-white 25-minute TV episodes) in its entirety.

The three existing episodes from this story (#1-3) are available on DVD:

DVD NTSC
Region 1 U.S.


NEW for
Nov. 19, 2013.
DVD NTSC
Region 1 Canada


NEW for
Nov. 19, 2013.
DVD PAL
Region 2 U.K.


NEW for
Nov. 18, 2013.

The DVD's include:

  • Three digitally remastered complete original episodes (#1,2,3)
  • A new animated recreation of the missing episode (#4),
    synchronized to the original television sound!
  • The "telesnap" reconstruction of episode 4
    from the 2000 A.D. VHS release (24 min.)
  • Plus extra features, see top of page for full list.


Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet

VHS Video
NTSC
NTSC
PAL (bundled with "Attack of the Cybermen")
PAL (standalone)

This video features:

  • The first three complete episodes
  • a full-length reconstruction of episode 4, including:
    • the complete audio from the television episode
    • montages of photos, video stills, and documented "telesnaps" from the actual episodes
    • the infamous Regeneration clip in full motion
    • numerous 8mm off-screen clips in full motion showcasing William Hartnell's final performance

Audio CD - Doctor Who - The Tenth Planet - BBC Radio Collection (2 discs). Features:
  • CD audio version narrated by Anneke Wills, who also played Polly

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "The Power of the Daleks"



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