Telepathy, creepy monsters and Peter Glaze – yes it’s The Sensorites, that often over-looked gem from the first run of adventures starring William Hartnell. Never an adventure to trouble anyone’s top twenty or probably top 50 this is a story that uses an uneasy ambiance and some pretty cool looking sets to tell its tale.
The Doctor and his companions land on a spaceship orbiting a distant and mysterious world, where a human crew lie frozen somewhere between life and death. The planet is the Sense-Sphere, home of the Sensorites, beings of immense intelligence and power. Unable to leave, the Doctor and his companions must deduce the Sensorites’ intentions: are they friendly, hostile, or frightened? And what is the deadly secret at the heart of the Sense-Sphere?
As you’d expect this 6-parter is a bit padded out but when the main plot is on show it moves at a fair pace. Now when I say fair though I don’t mean lots of shoot-outs and violence, I mean the story progresses with an intelligent tempo. Following on from rather over-rated The Aztecs it’s a real sci-fi story with plenty of atmosphere, some nicely realised aliens and solid set construction. It’s a dialogue driven piece rather than effects bonanza full of firsts such as Susan’s telepathy and the Doctor mentioning his home planet etc.
The cast are solid and suitably stiff-upper lipped and though Hartnell does fluff a few lines here and there he does give one of his most rounded performances. The rest of the regulars do well and the Sensorites themselves, though bizarre creations are actually very effective, even if they resemble rotting, bearded fish.
Commentary – Toby Hadoke moderates this entertaining gag-track that has contributions from actors William Russell, Carole Ann Ford, Joe Greig, Martyn Huntly, Giles Phipps, director Frank Cox, designer Ray Cusick and make-up designer Sonia Markham who each appear on a rotation sort of business. Hadoke helps jog along their memories of the recording of the episodes and gets some real pearls of information from them. Well worth listening to just to hear Hadoke’s infectious enthusiasm.
Looking For Peter – This quite brilliant documentary from Toby Hadoke tries to discover who on earth was Peter R. Newman, the man behind The Sensorites. Little is known about this talented chap, a quick Google of his name reveals that he wrote for Doctor Who and is given different dates for his death! Without giving too much away Toby does his best to uncover exactly who he was and why he seemed to disappear after writing Doctor Who. I won’t spoil it for you but it’s a very well made piece about a man only his family seemed to know about.
Vision On With Clive Doig – Ahh, the music used here is that from “The Gallery”, the soundtrack that accompanied viewer’s pictures during that classic TV series Vision On, the show in which Doig directed. But this is about vision mixing and Clive Doig was one of the best who worked on the first few years of Doctor Who. Far too short at only seven minutes or so, Clive describes his time on the show and how no one would have guessed at how successful Doctor Who would become.
Secret Voices Of the Sense Sphere – This extra unravels the mystery of some strange voices that appear during the story. Again if I tell you it would spoil it though many of you probably will guess but it’s a great chance to hear Clive Doig again.
Photo Gallery – A compendium of snaps from the production of the story accompanied by some rather creepy sound effects. One for die-hard fans.
PDF Materials – As you’d expect there’s the usual Radio Times listings here but as a real bonus we get to see the Original Design Drawings from the story.
Info Text – Watch with this one as once again it uncovers some real gems of information.
Coming Soon – A smart and polish piece of promotion for the forthcoming Revisitations 3 box-set.
The Sensorites is one of the stronger stories from the first series and has been cruelly over-looked for too long. Yes, it’s not exactly the greatest adventure or the most action-packed but one worth investing your time in even if you’re not much of a fan of the black and white era.
Released on January 23rd, you can buy your copy of The Sensorites from Amazon for just £12.99!