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During production of The Dalek Master Plan in 1965, the production team realised the seventh episode of the mammoth 12-part story would fall on Christmas day. Rather than reschedule, the writers took the opportunity to have an 'intermission' from the main Dalek storyline, and produced a whimsical adventure which wouldn't affect viewers should they miss it.


The Feast of Steven is essentially two storylines; the first being set in a Liverpool police station, where the Doctor is arrested for loitering! The second has the TARDIS crew on the run from an angry film crew after they accidentally land in the middle of a 1920s film set! The episode concluded with the infamous scene where the Doctor turns to the camera and wishes the viewers a happy Christmas. The episode went to air on Christmas day 1965, at the special time of 6.36pm, and ran for 24'36". Sadly, like many other episodes from the era, this would be the last time the episode would be seen.


Due to the comical nature of the episode, it was deemed unnecessary for it to be telerecorded onto 16mm film, as it wouldn't be sold overseas (when The Dalek Master Plan was offered for overseas sales, it was classed as an 11-episode story). As such, the episode only existed as a 2" 405-Line Quad tape, before being wiped by the Engineering Department on August 17th, 1967, along with several other episodes of the story. As no other copy was made, this episode is now considered gone for good.


However, not all hope is lost. The complete audio soundtrack of this episode was recorded off-air by fan Graham Strong (see here for details), which allowed the episode to live on, albeit in audio only. Of the visual representation however, the 20 images that you see below are all that remains. These were taken by actor Robert Jewell, whose main association with Doctor Who was as a Dalek Operator. In this story though, Jewell was able to get out of the Dalek casing and play the role of Bing Crosby (see Image 17).


Click on the images below for a larger look.


Steven & Sara argue

in the Tardis

The Doctor is arrested

for loitering in a Police Box

Steven attempts to

rescue the Doctor

The damsel in distress

in the sawmill

The starlet's scene

is ruined!

Blossom wants

to redo her scene

The director argues with

Sara while Blossom cries

Meanwhile in the

Arabian palace…

The Doctor & Sara

on the run

Steven & Sara try to

return to the Tardis

The Doctor meets

a struggling clown

The Doctor & the clown

watch the chase

The Doctor listens to

the clown's problems

Steven & Sara are pursued

through the film sets

…and listens and listens…

…and listens…

The Doctor learns the

clown's identity

"…with a name like

Bing Crosby…?"

The Tardis vanishes,

leaving a stunned crowd

The Doctor offers a toast

to his companions

The Doctor wishes viewers

a happy Christmas


Marco Polo is the largest casualty of the historical dramas from the William Hartnell era. The seven-part story is considered a classic by those who were fortunate enough to see it. Until the late eighties, only the audio recordings of the episodes were known to exist, along with a hoard of roughly 200 photos taken during production. No image or clip existed of what the serial was like on screen. That is, until DWB 57.


A fan watching the episode during it's screening on the ABC in Australia must've really enjoyed this serial, so much so that during the final episode he grabbed the only recording implement available to him at the time – a camera. What he captured were eight tantalising images, and were later published in DWB issue 57.


In February 2004, it came to light that Telesnaps from six of the seven episodes had been recovered from it's original director, Waris Hussein. The telesnaps for Episode Seven were of greater quality than those captured in Australia, but these images still remain as a memory of an episode we may never see again.


Special thanks to Ash for providing me with these images.   



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