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Published on June 10th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space Special Edition Blu-ray

Coming soon – July 15th, to be precise – is one of the most intriguing and anticipated Doctor Who releases ever. You thought that only modern episodes could be seen in HD?

Think again…


Originally broadcast on BBC1 between 3rd-24th January 1970, this is the only adventure from the classic era of Doctor Who which can be remastered into true HD quality owing to all four episodes being shot on location on 16mm film..

Starring Jon Pertwee in his debut appearance as the Third Doctor, Caroline John as Liz Shaw and Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Spearhead from Space marked opening of Doctor Who‘s colour period, a brand new era for the show (with the Doctor now earthbound) and sees the first appearance of the Autons, controlled by the malevolent Nestene Consciousness.

Extra features on the disc are as follows:

  • A Dandy and a Clown – exclusive documentary looks at the life and career of Jon Pertwee
  • Carry On: the life of Caroline John – a tribute to the actress who played the Third Doctor’s companion
  • Title sequence raw material
  • Restoration comparison
  • Programme subtitles
  • Digitally remastered picture and sound quality

Available from 15th July with an RRP of £20.42, and available now from Amazon for just £15.56, Spearhead from Space in high definition is a classic Doctor Who experience that you just cannot miss!


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

12 Responses to Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space Special Edition Blu-ray

  1. avatar rickjlundeen says:

    I admit I’m a bit skeptical here. It’s great that they’re trying out blu-rays for the old adventures but even digitally remastered for regular DVD’s, the quality was good but not what one usually gets with DVD’s even. If they manage to make a quantum leap in the quality for blu-ray, bless ‘em but I think it’ll be a hard sell. although if you’ve never purchased it and have a blu-ray player, nothing to lose then, I suppose!

    • avatar Al says:

      That’s the point. This anniversary year a lot of people are trying out DW for the first time, or reengaging with their memories. Lots of people refuse to buy standard definition DVDs, or have TVs that only play high-def sources with acceptable picture quality. For many, this might honestly be the only classic-era disc they’ll buy. It won’t be a hard sell at all. I bought the original DVD more than a decade ago and I plan to buy this. I am curious if the original DVD features will be included, though (they don’t always do this). As for quality, if you think old shows can’t be remastered to HD, go look at Twilight Zone, Space: 1999 and The Prisoner and how they turned out. And even though I paid good money on the DVDs, I’ll be first in line to buy The Avengers, and any show with Gerry Anderson’s name on it if they ever reissue them on Blu-ray.

  2. avatar Mark Lenton says:

    But remember that even the video taped episodes have never actually been seen in their native 625 lines (the resolution of vhs was only 300 and I forget how many DVD gives us (about 500 I think) but it’s still sort of what you would get from watching the mastertapes of old Who’s. Not to mention the mpeg 2 encoding issues. I would welcome an experimental release of a season of DW upscaled to HD from the original 625line mastertape, at least we could argue then if more would be welcome….

    • avatar Al says:

      Problem is so many of those mastertapes no longer exist. And remember, most DW is not just videotaped (except from 1986 onwards and a few oddball stories in 1975-77) but also includes a mix of film, and I read somewhere they’d have to track down the original film elements, many of which are now lost. Presumably they survive for Spearhead or they wouldn’t be doing this release. There’s a reason why we don’t see many videotaped shows transferred to Blu-ray if they’re more than a few years old – in my reply above I mention Twilight Zone on Blu-ray, but the half-dozen episodes they shot on videotape had to be done in standard def because they could not be acceptably upconverted.

  3. avatar rickjlundeen says:

    Oh, if there’s a shot of an even better picture than one gets on a DVD, then yeah, definitely, they should go for it. I’m not that well acquainted with the video line rez stuff.

  4. avatar Mark Lenton says:

    I’m not saying it would be much of a difference – certainly not like the jump we will hopefully see with a full 1080p lines of Spearhead, but it would still be better than we have seen before

  5. It’s one of the best if not THE best introductory stories for a Doctor; the fact we didn’t get to see a regeneration scene of Troughton merging into Pertwee makes the New Doctor even more of a mystery and a stranger who we get to know gradually through the story; always a boon to see this one on release!

  6. avatar vortexter says:

    Could they make the 16mm film copies that were used for overseas sales into high def blurays?

    • avatar Mark Lenton says:

      Well yes they could but since they were only filmed off 405 line and then 625 line monitors there would be no gain

  7. avatar vortexter says:

    Such a shame but to be fair, we are lucky to have the vidfired versions. I think the McGann TV movie will look the business. I would love it if they put the real Dalek voices on it at the beginning rather than the Daffy Duck versions.

  8. avatar Al says:

    It’s a shame the standards authority for Blu-ray (whatever it’s called) won’t allow Blu-ray releases of standard definition materials simply for the purpose of taking advantage of the extra storage capability. It should be possible to get, for example, the entire Sylvester McCoy era onto onl a couple of discs, with extras; Colin Baker likewise. Maybe 5 for Tom Baker. It would be great for omnibus compilations (once Terror of the Zygons comes out Pertwee through McCoy will be complete), but sadly, I’m told they won’t allow it. You can include standard definition material in terms of archival special features and the like, but the main feature still has to be high def.

    It occurs to me there is a possibility of a future HD release of classic series stories, if they decide to animate a completely missing story such as Marco Polo, but do so with high-def animation. That they could put on Blu-ray.

  9. avatar Mugen Pharoah says:

    The third release of this excellent story on DVD. After buying it a second time I’m reluctant to get it again……if it seems worth it I might. Pertwee is my number one Doctor plus the hospital doctor in this story looks like Ade Edmondson in Bottom as Eddie Hitler, which is a bonus.

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