The Beginnings of Colour … In Glorious Black and White!

The Tour, via the RadioTimes, was reminded that September marks the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of colour production of Doctor Who with Spearhead From Space.

The Tour has written about Spearhead before but it’s worth some slight reiteration here.  It’s a unique story in the whole of Classic Who not so much because it heralded the dawn of the color era of the show, or that it was the first story for a new Doctor, or even that it sits somewhat apart even from the stories of an otherwise exceptional Season, the seventh.  Rather it’s all down to the fact that Spearhead From Space was entirely (owing to a BBC strike) shot on film.  As a result Spearhead From Space is glorious to look at and an ideal fit for HD as film inherently holds more information in each frame than videotape.

The article in the RadioTimes also included a dozen or so gorgeous shots of Pertwee in all of his resplendency which we have folded into our own gallery.  Most of these we had already but not in this quality.  The hilarious part is that these shots are all in magnificent monochrome.

When the first wave for Doctor Who hit the states in the mid-eighties and expanded beyond Tom Baker’s considerable output, PBS stations where and when they could went both forward and backward for their offerings.  Peter Davison got incorporated in but so did Jon Pertwee, with a catch.

The Great Purge of the BBC Archives touched the Pertwee era in considerable and wildly inconsistent ways and at that time the Pertwee stories were complete, both not all in color.  It wasn’t uncommon to see Inferno in color one week and Terror of the Autons in black and white the next.  Invasion of the Dinosaurs fared worst of all, with episode 1 in B&W and the rest in color.

Poorer quality color versions of these stories would eventually surface, and restorations would heal many others, so seeing Pertwee as an extension of the 60’s monochrome era wasn’t all that unusual back then.  Of course it’s also worth remembering that many license payers didn’t even own a color set back in 1970, so seeing Pertwee in grey was just part of the overall experience.