Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who


Once again we dip into Classic Who with an episode steeped in firsts. Join Deb, Erika, Kat and Tansy as they revisit “Spearhead From Space” and talk about the first Third Doctor story, the first Liz Shaw story, the first Doctor Who in color and more! Listen as Deb and Tansy squee, Erika (shockingly) discovers that she actually likes a Pertwee story and Kat being amused at the mayhem.

How does “Spearhead from Space” fare in your Classic Who rankings? Do you feel this is a good jumping off point for Classic Who or do you think this story is an outlier. Can you identify Mr. Seely’s accent and WHAT is up with those tan lines?

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!


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Download or listen now (runtime 1:22:00) 

Comments on: "116 – Spearheading a New Era" (9)

  1. “You arrived last night in the middle of a shower of meteorites.”

    “Did I really? How terribly exciting.”

    I’m happy to hear so much love for this one because it’s always been one of my favourites. And you’re right, this is probably as likable as the third Doctor gets. He displays more genuine charm here than he did later on when he was shouting at everyone and stealing their sandwiches. I still love his era of the show, but it would certainly have benefited from more of the Pertwee we get here.

    As to Seeley’s accent, you got it right. That was your generic West Country/farmer/yokel accent that we’d expect to hear when any telly show ventured into the primitive wastelands outside London. It’s a shame Liz wasn’t on this week because she’d probably have had a good rant about this. 😀

  2. When I rewatched the whole show in order a few years ago, I was not only struck by how huge the change in style was for this story; I thought that structurally it felt like the pilot for The UNIT Show (which would have had with the Brigadier and Liz as the leads), into which the Doctor inserted himself (initially as a means to escape). I’d have liked to have seen The UNIT Show; instead I got Torchwood, which didn’t really work for me.

    I think that there’s deliberately plenty of room left in the script for Pertwee to play the role however he liked – there are deliberate comic moments, and deliberate serious moments, sure, but also plenty that could go either way. This is a reason I particularly miss The Power of the Daleks – I’d love to see how Troughton established himself in the part compared with the way Pertwee did.

    Liz Shaw was always one of my favourite companions, from the time I first met her in the novelisations (at the time this and Silurians were the only Liz Shaw novelisations). It’s just a shame that several of the writers couldn’t effectively write a smart woman, falling back on the stereotyped companion who needs to have the basics explained. (There’s some of the same problem with Romana.)

    I think the first “Dr John Smith” reference is in The Wheel in Space.

    One huge influence on Pertwee’s Doctor (not so much here but as he established himself) that I think is worth mentioning is the 1966-1967 Adam Adamant Lives: an Edwardian dandy and adventurer is frozen in 1902 and revived in the 1960s, and fights crime with a contemporary young woman. (Produced by Verity Lambert, as it happened, with Sydney Newman still as head of television, and Donald Cotton co-wrote the first script.) Well worth a look if you can get hold of what’s left of it.

    Another thing I got from that rewatch: “bringing back a classic monster” is very often a mistake, especially if all you have to say in the story is “look, here is a classic monster, you like (Daleks|Cybermen|etc.) so you’ll like this story”. I’m inclined to agree with you that a new monster was the exact right thing to use here.

  3. Tansy, do you remember if the ABC used to skip a lot of Liz Shaw’s season? I have clear memories of seeing Spearhead From Space and the Silurians many times (and welcoming the beginning another few months of that great lounge room game, “What Colour Coat Is Pertwee Wearing Tonight?” – apparently we didn’t care about his hair!), but I only have fuzzy memories of most of the rest of the season. I’m almost certain I never saw Inferno until I was an adult.

    However. Liz was part of the reason I studied science (her, and a desire to be a scientific advisor on Doctor Who when I grew up. Pity it was cancelled when I was 15); how devastated was I to discover that most scientists DON’T wear gogo boots?!

    As an even more distant aside, while brushing my little Verity’s hair this morning it occurred to me that she has the perfect hair to cosplay Tom Baker, and if I straighten mine, I could do a decent Sarah Jane. Which means I have to find a place to do it, and time to knit a teeny-tiny, super-long scarf. This is the only place I could think of to post about this thought, hope you don’t mind. 😉

    • Hi Sarah, it wouldn’t surprise me at all — they definitely showed them in the last big rescreen, the 2003-2005 one, but both Silurians and Ambassadors were only available in black and white for that, and I definitely remember that in one of the earlier repeats they left out the first episode of Invasion of the Dinosaurs (which was likewise only available in B&W) so it’s likely they only put the colour ones on most of the time. Like you I didn’t see those until an adult – but I also didn’t see Inferno until it was released on VHS. For most of my childhood, the only Liz Shaw I had to go on was Spearhead From Space, but I assumed that was because of my mother’s recording skills — she was very erratic with Jon Pertwee, only saving occasional or milestone stories, while with Tom Baker she had to SAVE EVERY PIXEL.

      • I remember the first screening of Invasion of the Dinosaurs – there was a big fuss because ep 1 was B&W. We didn’t get a VCR until I was 18, so everything was live TV or nothing. Fortunately it was background viewing most of the time. 🙂

      • Oh, and I missed the big rescreen because I was living in the USA then, with no BBC America. 😦 I got to live a bit of “real” US fandom, watching it late at night on PBS!

    • Oh and PS: you should totally do the Tom Baker, Sarah Jane cosplay even if it’s just to send a pic in to us!!! I will admit I have been hanging on to a pink jacket that is still too big for my younger daughter because I am hoping she will want to cosplay early Romana II someday. Damn it that means I’ll have to let her grow her hair for a few years…

      • It occurred to me that I could also be Nyssa, but Sarah Jane is more iconic. I’m not much of a knitter though – scaling the scarf might be a bit much!

  4. […] the 3rd Doctor’s first season! We already covered “Spearhead from Space” back in ep 116, so it’s time for some Silurians. Join Erika, Katrina, and Lizbeth as we talk about Jon […]

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