The Three Doctors

For our last download of 2013’s Fiftieth Anniversary Year, what else could we have but the Tenth Anniversary Story!

Doctor Who Big Finish Three Doctors

Radio Times Three Doctors

It’s a damn shame that Bill Hartnell wasn’t well enough to appear in The Three Doctors any more than he did.

That’s why I did my Telecomic version, putting the First Doctor into the show, with his contribution imagined as if he’d really been there and taken part. For me, that’s the definitive version of the story and so I had no real intentions of Fan Editing the TX Version. However, lots of people asked me if I was going to do it so I decided that if people want to see it, I’d best tackle the bloody thing after all, especially this year of all years!

There’s not a great deal you can do about the lack of Bill in the story so, until the day when full motion photo-realistic CG actors become both viable and affordable and I can do a Levine and pay John Guilor to do Hartnell’s dialogue, for this Fan Edit Version, we’ll just have to make the best of what we’ve got.

We open with a shot of Dr Tyler’s land rover and then cut to the UNIT lab, so it looks like he was leaving the Bird Sanctuary instead of arriving. The next major difference is that I redid the arrival of the Gell Guards so they fade in instead of popping into vision and trimmed their battle with the UNIT troops back a bit to give the sequence a bit more pace and energy…

Then we’re into the Tardis and if you look closely when the Doctor, Jo and Benton first run in, you can see that the shot you are watching is what’s on the scanner screen – you can see that the image changes as the Tardis door closes. There are plenty of other times during the story when it’s perfectly obvious that what the actors are reacting to is not on the screen, so that was going to have to be fixed too. I decided in the end to plough on to the finish and then go back and do all those annoying little fixes later.

The only other change I made at this stage, aside from the usual cuts, was to tighten up the exchanges between the actors in the studio and Hartnell’s inserts. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, timing your reactions to a piece of film where gaps have been left for your lines and there are inevitably places where the timing’s a bit off. That’s something that should have been fixed in the edit, so since they didn’t do it at the time, I did it instead and as a result the conversation flows more naturally.

The main problem with part two is the padding section where Dr Tyler makes his escape. In order to cut that out I had to bring forward the Omega & Pertwee sections from part three to intercut with the scenes of Pat & The Brig in the Tardis. The danger with doing this is that you sometimes have to chop scenes in half otherwise you can find yourself with a gap and nothing to fill it! But I was able to catch up with part three and cover the gaps with no problem.

Putting parts three and four together with what I’d already edited, we get a 71 Edit of 1 hour and 23 minutes. But now we have to go back through the story and start making proper cuts. The process was to cut all the bits we didn’t need first, to give us a 72 Edit and then to go back through that and fix things like scanner screens etc for a final 73 Edit.

three doctors covers

For the 72 Edit, the first thing to fix was the dodgy vanishing act that UNIT HQ does at the end of part two by making it a fade instead of a pop. The other major fix was the bollocks that is the removal of Omega’s mask. Whichever way you look at it, this scene makes no sense whatsoever, so I’ve cut it in the only way I reckon you possibly could so that it sort of makes sense. It’s still an awkward moment but why the hell does Omega tell the Doctors to remove the mask for him, only to then do it himself seconds later? 

I managed to cut about 3 minutes worth of stuff from the 71 Edit and then I was ready to move to the final stage and do all those fiddly little fixes. First thing was the loop of the blob’s energy zap, which just plays repeatedly on the scanner. Apart from anything else it’s quite distracting so I masked it with a static shot where I could.

Complete History 43When Troughton talks about the Brig “blazing away as usual” the Brig clearly wasn’t on screen. But he is now as I reused the Brig/Palmer section and put it on the screen so they are actually looking at what they’re talking about! Though quite how the Tardis is able to show a picture of itself that’s clearly being taken from across the room it’s in…

But then, as your Fan Brain will tell you, according to the Valeyard the experiences of third parties can be accessed provided they are within the collection range of a Tardis, so let’s just pretend that the bugging of the Doctor’s Ship took place at the end of The War Games!

When it came to Hartnell on the scanner, for some reason he looks like he’s in 16:9 in the first two eps, then he suddenly goes full screen for part four. So I warped the image from his earlier appearances to match them all up, as well as boosting the contrast to try and make the reflected tv studio a bit less obvious and give us a clearer look at dear old Bill.

When the UNIT building gets transported it simply fades away without a zap and I worked on the before and after photos to make them match up more. As for the Brig, well I’ve toned down his reaction to ending up in Omega’s World so he doesn’t come across as such a twat. Okay, I get that this is totally outside his experience but, he’s an Army Officer, you would think he would be more pragmatic about it, especially after all he’s seen from The Web of Fear up to this point.

I also recut the scene in the lab after they step out of the Tardis to lose the shot where you can clearly see the back of the box and that there is no Tardis inside. Now if I’d had the time, money and inclination [and if my name was Kelvington instead of Whopix] I would probably have rotoscoped the Tardis interior into the prop. But that’s a little bit beyond my experience and, since it’s a non-static shot, I concluded it wasn’t worth the effort so I just edited round it instead.

Three Doctors DWM

Dr Jon fighting the dark side of Omega’s Mind, also known as “Piggy Conehead”, is even more dull in slo-mo than most of Jon’s fight scenes so that gets cut right back to the bare minimum to keep the pace moving and get to the next multi-docs scene as soon as possible.

When the three of them mind link there’s a terrible jump cut from Bill in mid-shot in his bubble, head up and eyes open to a close up of him, head down and eyes closed so I covered that with a screengrab of Pat from the mind link sequence. The mind link itself was redone with three individual screengrabs, one of each Doctor, at a frame each. I also colour corrected the Hartnell grab as it’s incredibly red in the original for some reason. I also included two frames from my comic strip version of the story in the sequence, just so we could, briefly at least, see all three of them together.

After that it was a case of going back through and checking all the cuts and fixes had rendered okay before adding in the end credits and making some final adjustments to the contrast to darken things up a bit in Omega’s World.

Overall I still prefer my comic strip version but this is about as good as the TV version is going to get. And at 1 hr 20m, it’s nearly all there anyway, just organised slightly better. Maybe by the time we get to the Sixtieth Anniversary, we’ll finally get the version we all want to see!The Three Doctors by Adrian Salmon



In this post I would like to acknowledge


for helping with the ongoing cost of hosting all of the 148 files available for download on this site.

Whopix will return in the New Year with The End of Time.


4 thoughts on “The Three Doctors

  1. This was the first Dr Who I ever saw, so it holds a very special place in my heart. Well done, sir.

    I did this edit myself a year ago. I managed to whittle it down to an hour and eleven minutes. I was determined to cut most of the Brig’s less than intelligent scenes. For the most part, I think I succeeded.

    1. There is only so much you can do with the Brig in this story, interesting how one Editor keeps ten minutes the other discards – but then, that’s the whole point of the exercise!

      Glad you liked it. If only Philip Morris could find the original film inserts…

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