Which Doctor Who story will they animate next after “Power of the Daleks”?

Stills from “Power of the Daleks”

This week I was lucky enough to be at the BBC’s press launch for the newly animated lost Doctor Who story “Power of the Daleks

Inevitable in the Q&A afterwards people’s thoughts turned towards whether they would animate another story in the future. So I thought I’d just jot down the impression I got from the event.

The BBC Worldwide people seemed positive towards that idea, but also were clear that they had to see the reaction to this one first – and I guess the bottom line, does it recoup costs for them? It’s been a significant up-front investment.

Anneke Wills who played Polly opposite William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton was on the panel, and she jumped in and said that she would most like to see them do “The Smugglers” next, and if not that then “Fury From The Deep”. She also said it was wonderful to see Ben and Polly on screen again, because so little of what her and Michael had worked on together had survived. I was fortunate enough to get to chat to her for ages before the screening. She was utterly lovely, and there’s a BBC interview with her from the event too which is wonderful.

From the BBC Worldwide people there seemed to be a sense that these types of reconstruction were complex to do, and this one had taken nine months, with an implication that they really had to rush to get it done to meet the launch deadline – they were saying they literally only finished episodes four and five on Wednesday, with them due to be available at the weekend.

But they said they had learned so much that it would be quicker to do next time.

There was also loads of things said about how complicated some stuff is to animate, that we maybe as fans wouldn’t think of. Patrick Troughton’s checked trousers, for example, were cited as a costume choice you’d never make with animation in mind.

Some stories are also a lot more complex than others to do. Charles Norton, who animated “Power of the Daleks”, said that he’d looked out of interest at one of the missing episodes of The Crusades. He said you’d think it was one of the easiest to do, because you’ve got two of the episodes already.

But, he said, the one he looked at had 25 different speaking characters, several of whom had different costumes during the episode, and pretty much had more locations/backgrounds in that one episode than there were in the whole of “Power of the Daleks”.

If I was a betting man, I’d say they will do another one, but that I reckon it will be 18 months till the next one at least, to give the team a chance to rest and work on something else. Charles actually sat out of the screening I was at – he said he’d got to the point in the project where all he can do is cringe looking at it, seeing all the stuff that didn’t work the way he wanted, rather than enjoy it as an achievement.

He also said there were some bits where they didn’t have the camera script, there’s some seconds not covered by the telesnaps, and all you have on the soundtrack is some bumps and scrapes, so it was quite hard to know what to do during those bits.

It was also interesting when he talked about doing it in 16:9 rather than the original 4:3. It means they haven’t done it exactly shot-for-shot. I don’t know what fans will feel about this. I’d never looked at the telesnaps before, and now looking at them compared to what has been animated, I can see how the composition of some shots is quite different. This might upset people much more familiar with the source material than me.

I also think it is worth noting that Charles himself described “Power of the Daleks” as using ‘limited’ animation. When you see the whole thing there’s definitely some shortcomings around the way characters move around, but I genuinely loved watching it. It’s a great Doctor Who story, and I think they’ve worked really hard to produce a watchable version of it that is as faithful as possible.

I really look forward to the next one, whatever they pick and whenever it happens.