The Twin Dilemma
Working Titles: A Stitch In Time, A Switch In Time.
Starring: Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown).
The Doctor experiences serious regenerative instabilities, causing him to nearly strangle Peri and then decide to live as a hermit on the barren moon of Titan. This leads him to a plot by his old friend, the Time Lord Azmael, who has kidnapped twin mathematical geniuses named Romulus and Remus. Azmael's adopted planet, Joconda, has been taken over by the sluglike Mestor and his Gastropods, and the Time Lord is now doing Mestor's bidding in order to spare Joconda further destruction. But even Azmael is unaware of Mestor's true plan -- to destroy Joconda's sun, and thereby scatter Gastropod eggs throughout the galaxy.
Colin Baker had been acting professionally since the dawn of the Seventies, earning numerous credits on both stage and television. His most famous role was as the villainous Paul Merroney in The Brothers, while other appearances included Blake's 7, War And Peace and the Doctor Who serial Arc Of Infinity. On June 10th, 1983, Baker was invited by Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner to a meeting at which Baker was offered the role of the Sixth Doctor. Baker had been a fan of the programme for years, and leapt at the opportunity he was being presented. Nathan-Turner was keen to avoid a repeat of Peter Davison's brief three-year tenure on the show, and so signed Baker to a four-year contract -- and even this was far short of Baker's stated intent to break Tom Baker's record of seven seasons on Doctor Who. Only script editor Eric Saward was less than pleased with Nathan-Turner's choice of actor, feeling that Baker was being miscast in the role.
Nonetheless, the three quickly set about developing the character of the Sixth Doctor. As usual, a contrast was desired with the previous incarnation, and so it was decided to make the new Doctor a very unpredictable, argumentative, boisterous individual, prone to spouting old English poetry and theatre, and possessed of a vast repository of obscure vocabulary. Baker wanted to make viewers initially suspicious of his Doctor, but gradually earn their trust over the course of his time on the programme. For his costume, Baker preferred a black velvet outfit, but Nathan-Turner vetoed this on the grounds that it was too similar to the Master's costume. Instead, the producer wanted something totally tasteless to replace Davison's understated cricketing garb, and costume designer Pat Godfrey had to go back to the drawing board several times before finally devising something with which Nathan-Turner was happy. Godfrey's only other requirements were that blue not feature in his patterns (so as not to interfere with Colour Separation Overlay effects) and that the question-mark-collar Nathan-Turner had introduced in 1980 be maintained. It was Baker who decided to add a cat badge to his outfit; he would change this often. Only years later would Nathan-Turner finally admit that Baker's garish clothing was in fact a mistake, and worked against the show.
Davison's regeneration story, Castrovalva, had seen the new Doctor appear very feeble. This time around, Nathan-Turner and Saward decided the regenerated Time Lord should be very manic, prone to enormous mood swings. To fashion these ideas into a coherent story, Nathan-Turner suggested that Saward contact veteran scriptwriter Anthony Steven, with whom the producer had worked on All Creatures Great And Small. In July, Steven produced an idea entitled A Stitch In Time. The first episode was commissioned under the slightly modified name A Switch In Time on August 2nd; by the time the last three episodes got the go-ahead later that month, the serial was known as The Twin Dilemma. The character of Azmael was inserted into the story at the prompting of unofficial fan adviser Ian Levine, who had suggested the Doctor meet his old mentor, referred to in The Time Monster and State Of Decay. Unfortunately, Steven misunderstood the nature of the Doctor's relationship with the character, and made Azmael a tutor at the Prydonian Academy instead.
Steven made very slow progress on his scripts, explaining his problems with increasingly bizarre excuses, most famously a claim that his typewriter had exploded. When the drafts were finally delivered, Saward discovered numerous problems, especially with the final two installments. With Steven now taken ill, Saward set about rewriting them considerably. Originally, for example, the climax was set in space and didn't involve Mestor at all; furthermore, Mestor was to be revealed as having been possessed by another entity called Azlan (or Aslan). The Twin Dilemma would be Steven's only Doctor Who work; he died in 1990.
Unusually, Nathan-Turner had decided to star the new Doctor in the final story of Season Twenty-One, instead of holding him over to lead off the next year. The producer felt that this would give the public an opportunity to get used to the new star, instead of leaving them waiting for nine months until Season Twenty-Two rolled around. The director assigned to Serial 6S was Peter Moffatt, who had last worked on the twentieth-anniversary special The Five Doctors in March. Moffatt soon found himself having great difficulty finding twin boys to play Remus and Romulus Sylvest. Instead, he favoured casting two girls, but Nathan-Turner was unhappy with the change of gender, and at the last minute Moffatt was approached by an agent representing Andrew and Gavin Conrad (the latter going by the stage name "Paul Conrad" to avoid confusion with another actor named Gavin Conrad). Moffatt was unimpressed by the boy's acting ability and lack of experience, but reluctantly hired them all the same.
The Twin Dilemma was due to begin production with a three-day studio session beginning on January 10th, 1984. Unfortunately, in December the BBC was hit by yet another strike, by the scenery shifters in this instance, forcing a massive rescheduling of recording time. The preceding serial, The Caves Of Androzani, had to be allocated the final two days of The Twin Dilemma's first studio block as a result. Unlike the previous year, however, when the Season Twenty finale The Return had to be abandoned altogether because of industrial action, Nathan-Turner managed to prevail upon his superiors to obtain extra days in the studio to finish The Twin Dilemma, arguing on the basis of the importance of a new Doctor's first adventure.
In the end, Serial 6S began production with what was originally to have been its second three-day block, from Monday, January 24th. The revised shooting schedule meant that cast and crew then went on location at two quarries in Hertfordshire on February 7th and 8th, before coming back to the studio for three more days starting Tuesday, February 14th. Sid Sutton, with the assistance of Terry Handley, prepared a revised version of the opening and closing credits to herald the arrival of the Sixth Doctor. Sutton maintained the basic starfield scheme he had devised in 1980, but added a rainbow effect and used two images of Baker to make the Doctor appear to smile. He also revised the neon logo, changing the colour and making the overall shape somewhat curvier. The first full episode featuring the Sixth Doctor was broadcast on March 22nd; Season Twenty-One came to a close just over a week later, on March 30th