The longest Doctor Who story at a mammoth 12 episodes, The Daleks' Masterplan formed the backbone of the programme's third season, and was
inspired by the phenomenal success of the previous Dalek stories. It featured three companions, only one of whom lasted the whole story; an excellent
megalomanic villain, superbly played by Kevin Stoney; the brief return of the Meddling Monk; and of course, the Daleks. The adventure is set on 5 different
planets, and even has time for a one-off Christmas special in the middle!
The story was transmitted after 'The Myth Makers', in which the Doctor picked up a new companion, the Trojan Katarina, to join Steven Taylor. The first
episode, though, recalls the events of 'Mission to the Unknown', broadcast 5 weeks earlier. Set in 4000AD, the story opens with two Space Security
agents, Bret Vyon (Nicholas Courtney, later to play the Brigadier) and Kurt Gantry (Brian Cant), investigating the disappearance of Marc Cory's expedition. The
script writing for the serial was shared between Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner because of the sheer length involved.
Episode 7 was scheduled to be broadcast on Christmas Day 1965, so as the story had by this point reached a natural break, a light-hearted special ('The Feast
of Steven') was shown, and it was by the standards of the series it was a doozy, following the English tradition of Christmas pantomimes.
Christmas Day in 1965 fell on a Saturday. DOCTOR WHO was well into a successful third season in its by-now-traditional Saturday tea-time slot on the BBC
schedules with William Hartnell in the lead and was going all out to appease the rampant Dalekmania that had taken England and the series by storm by unleashing
the massive 12-part story The Dalek Master Plan over a three month period. Rather than take a break for more traditional holiday-fare the powers that
were in the BBC decided not to break up the Dalek epic halfway through (at episode 7) and continue to run the series. The Producer at the time John Wiles
felt the unusual slotting on Christmas day provided an ideal chance to break from the larger story temporarily and try something totally different.
In England the theater tradition of Christmas pantomimes was a well understood and accepted form of entertainment. Thus virtually all links to the story up
to that point were forgotten for a week to indulge in the 'Christmas spirit' as it were. In other words nothing less than a full-blown pantomime and send-up as
the Doctor and his companions--Steven and Sara--ricocheted from one ridiculous situation to another.
As it was viewers at the time didn't mind the diversion--although the episode was never sold into syndication overseas. Even so the most infamous feature in
this episode was William Hartnell's closing speech--directly to the audience! Although this closing exists in the scripts that exist today, both script editor Donald
Tosh and director Douglas Camfield insist it was not in the shooting script! Camfield was reportedly so incensed that, according to Heather
Hartnell, he gave Hartnell the original print shortly after it was broadcast and in subsequent years the Hartnell family would then gather together
after Christmas dinner to watch The Feast of Steven all over again. The following is a photonovelization taken from the Zerinza (the Australian Doctor
Who Club) adaptation of the story by Rosemary Howe back in 1987. Ho! Ho! WHO!
Episode 8, shown on New Years Day 1966, also had a more light-hearted feel to it.
Only episodes 5 and 10 of the story survive on video today, along with several clips of various lengths from the first four parts. Rumours abound about the
existence of other episodes (see the article by Michael Phillips on the Missing Episodes),
but none have yet surfaced. Parts 8-10 and 12 were the first to be recorded on 'crystal-clear audio', and the remaining episodes do exist on audio in reasonable