As one might expect for a 50 year old (or near enough) series, there are a few significant Anniversary dates which pop-up on the Doctor Who calendar each year. November 23rd everyone knows. Also significant are March 26 (premiere date for nu-Who) and of course December 25th. But a bit more obscure, but no less important is today, October 29th, when one of the most important episodes of Doctor Who ever shown was telecast.
Episode 4 of The Tenth Planet ran October 29, 1966. It cannot be understated what a daring, indeed risky move it was to replace the lead actor in a show of this sort. If it hadn’t worked here, and in the six following episodes of The Power of the Daleks, it’s quite likely that Doctor Who would be remembered as an imaginative, quirky, perhaps a bit clunky, monochrome curiosity, and there would be no legacy to build upon. Regeneration is one of the foundational concepts in Doctor Who, and to that end the Classic Capitology team is proud present a vastly improved and complete set of caps for The Tenth Planet.
The story itself is of course known as the first Cybermen story, but they are more prototype here in concept and execution than the overall driving force in the narrative. William Hartnell’s declining health looks like it impacted production in more than the expected ways, so it’s left to Ben, Polly, and the Polar Base staff to carry the story, and to that end the whole of The Tenth Planet is a bit ungainly. But that aspect is lost among the firsts this story delivers.
Even with the recent missing episode finds from the Troughton era, the most sought after missing episode in the whole of the series is Episode 4 of The Tenth Planet for its intrinsic historic value. As it is the Classic Capitology team resorted to a crazy quilt approach stitching together telesnaps (of poor quality–sorry about that) and caps from the final 30 seconds… the regeneration itself. We hope everyone likes them.