Doctor Who: The Time Meddler
DVD review (region 2)
Starring William Hartnell, Maureen O'Brien, Peter Purves, Peter Butterworth
Release date 4 February 2008
The Doctor and Vicki take stowaway companion Steven back in time as they encounter a fiendish plot to subvert the events of 1066…
With its witty dialogue, playful plot and a wonderful turn from Peter Butterworth as the Meddling Monk, The Time Meddler is an often forgotten gem from the early years of the show.
William Hartnell gives a remarkable performance as the Doctor. Whether it’s his moving speech to Vicki (this was the first story that didn’t feature any of the regular companions as Ian and Barbara had recently departed) or his superbly timed battle of wits with the equally adept comic Butterworth, it’s a story he clearly enjoyed making - despite his absence on ‘holiday leave’ during episode two.
Peter Purves slips into his role in the show with considerable ease. Despite having hair that looks like it would stop a bullet, he makes for a fine companion and a great foil for Hartnell’s mellowed take on the Doctor.
Perhaps the weakest element of the story is the local villagers, who are all fairly stereotypical. But Alethea Charlton’s Edith does get to share a particularly charming scene with the Doctor early on.
The Monk himself is a magnificent character, more mischievous than evil. It’s a genuinely odd moment when Vicki and Steven enter his TARDIS, and it still carries a huge amount of dramatic weight after all these years. It’s a pity that his rematch against the Doctor, in The Daleks’ Masterplan, no longer exists. On the evidence seen in the Time Meddler, he’s a character who deserved a few more appearances in the show.
The extras include a text-based tribute to Verity Lambert, a gallery, a lovely documentary about the early comic strips (which is often a little too harsh on the style of the stories of that time) and an audio commentary which features, amongst others, Lambert enthusing for one last time about the show she helped create. Jonathan Wilkins
A wonderful piece of vintage Who that showcases William Hartnell at his very best.