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Dr Who: Underworld (Serial 4Y, Doctor Who Series 15): Part One (January 7, 1978); Part Two (January 14, 1978); Part Three (January 21, 1978); Part Four (January 28, 1978)
Date of the First DVD or VHS
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Author of the Entry:
Richard Scully, University of New England, email@example.com
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Elizabeth Hale, University of New Egnalnd, firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Nkemleke, Universite de Yaounde 1, email@example.com
, b. 1939
Bob Baker (1939) is a highly-regarded TV and feature-film scriptwriter for the British market. As well as writing a number of stories and serials for Doctor Who (between 1971 and 1979) – in which capacity he collaborated with Dave Martin – he also co-wrote the Wallace and Gromit films with the characters’ chief creator, Nick Park: The Wrong Trousers (1993), A Close Shave (1995), Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), and A Matter of Loaf and Death (2008). Baker and Martin invented the Doctor’s robotic dog K-9 (from 1977), and several of the series’ other iconic characters. Beyond Doctor Who, Baker collaborated with Martin on the children’s TV show Sky (1975) and Into the Labyrinth (1981-2), as well as scripts for Shoestring (1979) and Bergerac (1981 & 1983). A K-9-themed TV series aired between 2009 and 2010, buoyed by the successful revival of Doctor Who from 2005; and co-wrote his autobiography – K-9 Stole My Trousers (2013) – with Laurie Booth. Yet another K-9-themed project – The Essential Book of K-9 (2015) – is his most recent work to-date.
Bio prepared by Richard Scully, University of New England, firstname.lastname@example.org
, 1935 - 2007
Dave Martin (1935-2007) was a British TV and film writer who, notably, collaborated with Bob Baker during the 1970s on numerous Doctor Who serials (1971-1979). Martin and Baker invented the Doctor’s robotic dog K-9 (from 1977), and several of the series’ other iconic characters. Beyond Doctor Who, Martin collaborated with Baker on the children’s TV show Sky (1975) Into the Labyrinth (1981-2), as well as scripts for Shoestring (1979) and Bergerac (1981 & 1983). A Make Your Own Adventure book of Doctor Who – Search for the Doctor (1986) – also appeared under Martin’s name. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007, and passed-away within months.
Bio prepared by Richard Scully, University of New England, email@example.com
, 1935 - 2015
Anthony Read (1935-2015) was an English TV writer and script editor, who also wrote prose fiction – based on his 1983 TV series The Baker Street Boys (2005-2012) – and a number of popular history works (largely focused on aspects of the Second World War). Read’s first TV credits were for the series Detective (1964), The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling (1964) and Sherlock Holmes (1965) for BBC1. Other works ranged from adventure stories (The Black Arrow, 1974-5), courtroom drama (Sutherland’s Law, 1974), and crime thrillers (The Professionals, 1977-1980). Under a pseudonym, and while acting as Script Editor for the series, he wrote The Invasion of Time (1978) for Doctor Who. He oversaw the remainder of the 1977-78 and 1978-79 series, and was then instrumental in having Douglas Adams appointed as his successor for the 1979-80 series. He was then invited back to pen The Horns of Nimon (1979), which treated the labyrinth/Minotaur myth in similar style to Underworld (1978). With Bob Baker and Dave Martin, he contributed to the series Into the Labyrinth (1981), before perhaps his highest-regarded work: an adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes oeuvre, The Baker Street Boys (1983). Further iconic sci-fi work came in the Chocky series – Chocky (1984); Chocky’s Children (1985); and Chocky’s Challenge (1986) – as well as scripts for Heartbeat (1998) and his final credits came on Revelations (2002-3). A member of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (and chairman, 1981-2), he was a strong mentor for many younger writers.
Bio prepared by Richard Scully, university of New England, firstname.lastname@example.org
Norman Stewart (Director)
Tom Baker – The Doctor
Louise Jameson – Leela
John Leeson – Voice of K-9
James Maxwell — Jackson
Alan Lake — Herrick
Jonathan Newth — Orfe
Imogen Bickford-Smith — Tala
James Marcus — Rask
Godfrey James — Tarn
Jimmy Gardner — Idmon
Norman Tipton — Idas
Jay Neill — Klimt
Frank Jarvis — Ankh
Richard Shaw — Lakh
Stacey Tendeter — Naia
Christine Pollon — Voice of the Oracle
Sequels, Prequels and Spin-offs
Dicks, Terrance, Doctor Who and the Underworld, London: Target, 1980.
‘Underworld’ was typical of mid-1970s Doctor Who (1963-1989; 2005-present), in what is still regarded as its most successful period. Scripts in the era of the Fourth Doctor (played by Tom Baker) – with his enormous, multi-coloured scarf, and the ability to switch between high comedy and serious drama – delved regularly into mythological, historical, and literary themes that were already well-known to the family audiences. These were often transposed from their original, Earth-bound settings, to science-fiction contexts. While primarily a space-age retelling of the Jason and the Argonauts myth, the setting of ‘Underworld’ is also a labyrinthine maze, and the race of people encountered by the Doctor and his companions, Leela and K-9, are called ‘Minyans’ (a direct reference to the Minoans). The names of the main characters are corruptions of Ancient Greek originals, from various contexts (Jackson = Jason; Herrick =- Herakles; Orfe = Orpheus, and so on…). The quest that forms the main narrative of the serial, is that to locate (deep in the ‘Underworld’ of the title), the ‘P7E’ (Persephone): a lost starship that contained all the genetic ‘race banks’ of the Minyan species. There is also a deliberate engagement with the Orpheus myth, and the conflict between mortals and the gods: many centuries earlier, the Minyans encountered the Doctor’s own race – the godlike Time Lords – and worshipped them as deities. The Minyans acquired higher technologies from the Time Lords (including the near-immortality bestowed by the ability to ‘regenerate’ at the point of death), but their society was riven by war and conflict as a result. Slavery is also featured, as the subjects of the Oracle at the centre of the P7E (around which a small planetoid has formed over the millennia, turning the ship into a literal ‘Underworld’), are all compelled to work to provide sustenance and resources in a command economy.
‘Underworld is a key example of mid-1970s British TV entertainment. The episodes of Doctor Who featuring the Fourth Doctor (played by Tom Baker) – with his enormous, multi-coloured scarf, and the ability to switch between high comedy and serious drama – garnered huge audiences, both in Britain and worldwide (notably in the United States and the British Commonwealth contexts). Between 8.9 and 11.7 million viewers (in Britain) watched the ‘Underworld’ episodes when first broadcast. The time-and-space travelling theme of the program was a handy device for justifying the incursion into an interstellar reimagining of mythical contexts; and the Doctor and his companions serve as useful avatars for the young audience-members as they are introduced to and familiarised with the mythical context of the storyline (or, rather, reacquainted with matters with which they may have been familiar; with such themes only slowly being phased-out of British elementary-level schooling in the 1970s). Such themes were also familiar to audiences acquainted with Ray Harryhausen’s Jason and the Argonauts (1963) – a significant stop-motion fantasy film co-produced by British and the American partners, which saw multiple re-screenings throughout the 1960s and ‘70s.
BBC Online, Doctor Who – The Classic Series: ‘Underworld’ [Archived website], at www.bbc.co.uk (accessed: August 17, 2018) [comprises analysis and details from: Paul Cornell, Martin Day & Keith Topping, The Discontinuity Guide, 1995; David J. Howe & Stephen James Walker, Doctor Who: The Television Companion, 2003].
Harmes, Marcus K. Doctor Who and the Art of Adaptation; Fifty Years of Storytelling, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014, esp. pp.68 ff.
Howe, David J., Mark Stammers & Stephen James Walker, Doctor Who: The Handbook: The Fourth Doctor, London: Virgin Publishing, 1992.
Howe, David J., Mark Stammers & Stephen James Walker, Doctor Who: The Seventies, London: Virgin Publishing, 1994.
Keen, Anthony G. ‘It's about Tempus: Greece and Rome in “Classic” Doctor Who’, in Space and Time: Essays on Visions of History in Science Fiction and Fantasy Television, edited by David C. Wright, Jr., and Allan W. Austin, Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010, pp.100–15.
Keen, Anthony G., ‘Sideways Pompeii! The Use of Historical Period to Question the Doctor's Role in History’, in Impossible Worlds, Impossible Things: Cultural Perspectives on Doctor Who, Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures, edited by Ross P. Garner, Melissa Beattie, and Una McCormack, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2010, pp.94–117.
Part One- 8.9 million
Part Two - 9.1 million
Part Three- 8.9 million
Part Four- 11.7 million