On 29 October 1966, just shy of three years after Doctor Who premiered on the BBC, a seemingly innocent broadcast of the fourth episode of “The Tenth Planet” transmitted showing the Doctor appearing increasingly old and frail and telling Polly that his ‘old body’ was ‘wearing a bit thin’. The First Doctor, played by William Hartnell, then collapsed at the controls of the TARDIS and miraculously transformed into a younger man.
I say ‘seemingly innocent’ as that final pivotal episode of the series has been lost from the BBC Archives since the 1970’s, with the exception of a very short clip of the regeneration itself. Pivotal given that ‘The Tenth Planet’ saw both the introduction of the menacing Cybermen and the departure of the First Doctor, William Hartnell.
Earlier this year, doctorwho.tv revealed that The Tenth Planet would be animated by Planet 55 Studios, who had earlier animated ‘The Reign of Terror’, thus recreating the lost episode. Dan Hall, commissioning editor of the classic Doctor Who DVD range, speaking at the Gallifrey One convention said: “It’s a real thrill to be bringing such an iconic Doctor Who episode back to life. Without the events established in The Tenth Planet episode 4, there would be no Doctor Who as we know it!”
Now, the same folks over at doctorwho.tv have released a first look at the work of Planet 55 Studios. Head of Studio, Austen Atkinson, said “We are about to finish two years of development and production work on the project – the first scene was animated all the way back in 2011! You have no idea how hard it was to keep that secret!“. Chris Chapman, Lead Animator on this sequence, said “We knew that we had to throw everything at this scene and in fact the whole story is historic, with the first appearance of the Cybermen, so we really worked very hard on it. It was a real pleasure. It has definitely made me a fan of Doctor Who.”
The animated version of ‘The Tenth Planet’ will be released on DVD in late 2013. What a brilliant present for Doctor Who fans to get to celebrate the 50th!