Davros - DVD Boxset

The 'Davros' boxset contains all five televised stories featuring the creator of the Daleks, along with all the existing (and one brand-new) Davros audio adventures from official Doctor Who licencees, Big Finish, and an over-arching documentary which pulls all these stories together into their timeline.

CGI Davros from 'Davros Connections' documentary.With four of the five Davros stories already out on DVD - 'Genesis of the Daleks', 'Resurrection of the Daleks', 'Revelation of the Daleks' and 'Remembrance of the Daleks' - 2entertain decided in December 2006 to move 'Destiny of the Daleks' up in the schedule and gather together all five stories into one boxset, along with all the official Davros spin-off audio stories from Big Finish, just in time for Christmas 2007.

Originally, the plan was to simply package the existing releases of all four stories together with the new 'Destiny of the Daleks' and Big Finish discs. However, Steve Roberts was quick to point out that whilst most of the stories were 'Special Edition' releases, 'Remembrance', one of the first of the Doctor Who releases in 2000, was somewhat lacking in comparison. As well as the much smaller special features package, 'Remembrance' has always been a bit of an albatross around the Restoration Team's collective neck, owing to an error we made during the remastering of the story which meant that a small number of video effects were missing from the first two episodes. Steve successfully lobbied for funding to allow 'Remembrance' to be re-packaged, correcting the team's errors and adding an enhanced extras package including a 5.1 audio mix and two documentaries looking at the making of the story. Changes in UK music licensing agreements also meant that, in the home territory at least, the story could be released with two tracks from 'The Beatles' included, as per the original transmission.

The initial intention was to go with the remaster we did in 2000, with the missing effects reinstated and to give them another manual clean-up pass to pick up any dropouts we had missed originally. However, as soon as this work started, it became obvious to the cleanup team at SVS that the standard of the pictures they were working on was well below that they were used to, particularly in the area of PAL cross-colour. Even through the remaster had been carried out using a then state-of-the-art 'Golden Gate' PAL decoder borrowed from Snell and Wilcox, our use of the BBC Research and Development 'Transform PAL Decoder' since 'Resurrection of the Daleks', coupled with seven years improvement in digital noise reduction and colour grading technology, really showed up the deficiencies of the existing master. Understandably, the cost of remastering the story from scratch was not part of the original agreement, but after a fairly lengthy persuasion and costs being cut back to the bare minimum (including certain people working on the project for free), agreement was eventually reached to allow this to happen.

The episodes were Transform Decoded from the BBC D3 transmission copies of the original 1" analogue edit masters, then graded and noise reduced by Jonathan Wood at BBC Resources. Picture cleanup was carried out at SVS and sound restoration by Mark Ayres as usual.

During picture cleanup, considerable 1" tape dropout was corrected throughout, in keeping with most late 80s vintage recordings. Some sections involving video howl-round effects had produced illegal video levels, overloading the FM modulation process in the 1" analogue VTRs  during the final edit. These sections were as-intended in the '71 edit version, so were replaced from this. Otherwise, a relatively straight-forward clean-up.

The audio side was considerably more complicated, mostly due to the desire to undertake a much-deserved remix of the episodes into 5.1, an idea we had toyed with back in 2000 but had been forced to dismiss at that time. Mark Ayres takes up the story...

"After the relative straightforwardness of 'Destiny', 'Remembrance of the Daleks' came as a bit of a shock. For the original DVD release, no audio remastering was performed at all, but here we decided to start again from scratch.

'Remembrance' was the first Doctor Who story to be dubbed and broadcast (in the London area as part of the then-experimental NICAM service) in stereo, and those working on the show's audio were themselves on a steep learning curve.

First thing, as usual, was to replace the theme music at the start and end of each episode with my remastered versions. The episodes were also subjected to a light denoise and declick. But there were many other problems.

The stereo dubbing suites at the BBC had originally been built for mono use, and a timing error on the eight-track tape machines used for layoff and layback of audio (they had offset heads to reduce crosstalk) meant that almost every drop-in during the mixing process either left a slight hole, or caused the audio to hop from one side of the stereo to another. These drop-ins were cleaned wherever possible, in some cases I resorted to remixing the offending sections, taking special care to match the original mix precisely. At about 6 minutes into episode one, as Ace, the Doctor, Mike and Rachel leave the school for Totters Lane, the original mix suddenly crashed to mono for about 20 seconds - I remixed this section in stereo. Similar work was required during one of the battles in episode four. In part one I also retimed Sylvester's line, "She doesn't talk to strangers" in the playground scene, which was replacement dialogue recorded in the dub (ADR) and not totally in sync on the original mix. I attempted the same with the scene in the van as the Doctor and Ace travel back to the school. Some levels were corrected at times, particularly in part three (which had a "right" bias) and part four (which was generally low and compressed).

One other nettle which had to be grasped where this story is concerned was the tricky issue of the source music used in two scenes in the cafe, both by The Beatles. In part one, "Do You Wanna Know a Secret" was heard, while in part three we had "A Taste of Honey". When this story was first released on DVD, neither of these tracks could be cleared for release so were replaced with library tracks. For this new release, however, we understand that new "blanket licensing" deals in the UK mean that the tracks can now be included, so the episodes were remastered as transmitted.

Unfortunately, the same does not hold true for territories other than the UK, so I have also produced "international masters" of episodes one and three, making the following substitutions:

To replace "Do You Wanna Know a Secret" in part one: "Love Me Too (1)" (composed by Chris Marshall)

To replace "A Taste of Honey" in part three: "Love Me Too (2)" (composed by Chris Marshall)

The second track is essentially an instrumental version of the first. Both are from the Bruton Production Music Library.

"Love Me Too (2)" is as used on the first DVD release, but part one's substitutions were rather more complicated. For episode one, Billy J Kramer's version of "Do You Wanna Know a Secret" was used in the UK, but - like the Beatles - was (and is) unclearable for the US,where a track called "Dream Machine" by D. Edwardson (from the KPM Library) was used instead. This time around we decided that "Love Me Too" was more effective.

With the stereo remasters delivered, I turned my attention to the 5.1 remix that is a feature of this re-release. My first job was to look again at the music.

Unfortunately, the original masters of Keff McCulloch's incidental score are lost. They appear in the BBC's own catalogues, but there is a gap on the shelf that has been there for many years. The only source we have is a MiniDisc that I borrowed from Keff and transferred to DAT a few years ago. For the original DVD's isolated score track, I simply resynchronised the music from this copy but for this new release, as the music will be used as part of a remix, more care was required. The MiniDisc is not an ideal source, being data compressed. I also suspect that it was transferred on a tape machine aligned for CCIR equalisation, when the original masters were probably NAB. Added to this, Keff was working at enormous speed, and the masters were rather noisy, with an occasionally lopsided stereo image. All of this needed attending to. A corrective eq curve was applied to reverse the NAB-CCIR problem, and the cues were all individually rebalanced, declicked, denoised and repaired. To help disguise the MiniDisc compression, further eq was applied dynamically to best serve each cue, and I added some additional overall reverb to help disguise the slight "graininess". This done, I retracked the music in sync with the original masters, and printed the new isolated music scores for use. The sync may be slightly "tighter" than on the original dub and DVD isolated score at times, as I was also mindful that this new tracklay would form the basis - with some minor alterations - for the 5.1 mix.

With that done, I set about resyncing clean dialogue from the undubbed '71 edits of the episodes for use on the remix. This turned up a number of little lines and asides which were unused in the original mix, but which we decided to add into the 5.1 as little "easter eggs" and surprises: these 5.1 mixes are not slavish recreations of the original dubs. Unfortunately, this resyncing process also highlighted some missing lines of added and replacement dialogue which were originally added in post-production. Some of these could be lifted from the restored tx mix, while for some ADR lines the better editing and restoration techniques available now enabled me to rescue the original recording. Elsewhere, more creativity was required!

Then I moved on the effects. Trying to create a 5.1 experience for some of these classic episodes can be tricky. These programmes are played very "in front of the camera". It was simply not possible to create a lot of "business" and background action for scenes on the original shoots, and trying to impose this in sound can pull the audience away from the action. On a story like 'Survival', with its planet of volcanoes, it is possible to be a bit daring, but to have added a lot of off-camera sound to, say, the scenes in 'Remembrance' set in the visually deserted streets outside the school, would have been merely distracting. Hence I have continued to play these scenes "front", leaving the more expanded image for the "set pieces". And on these one can go to town, not just in surround placement (every Dalek gunshot is on a separate track so that it can be panned around the image), but also with the greater dynamic range that 5.1 mixing gives you and with the Low Frequency Effects channel which allows (for instance) the landing Dalek shuttle to really shake the room. I added a lot more "Foley" effects to this new mix as well - footsteps, hits, clangs, crashes and clothing rustle.

With effects and dialogue placed, I premixed these together, adding reverberation to interior scenes, and light compression where necessarily to glue it all together. Finally, the music is mixed in, with the dialogue and effects adjusted occasionally to make room. The listener may notice some very slight changes to the music tracklay in the 5.1 mix, as I felt that a few slight edits helped it to do its job a lot better.

As with the stereo versions, UK and international 5.1 masters were prepared to take account of music rights issues."


The full line-up of extras for the 'Remembrance of the Daleks' disc is thus:

Dolby Digital 5.1 re-mix by Mark Ayres.

The original commentary with actors Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred from 2000 is re-used.

Steve Broster has produced two new documentaries for this version:

Back to School (dur. 32' 38") - cast and crew talk about the making of the story accompanied by rare behind-the-scenes material. With actors Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Simon Williams and Karen Gledhill, writer Ben Aaronovitch, script editor Andrew Cartmel, director Andrew Morgan and journalists Moray Laing and Paul Lang. 

Remembrances (dur. 15' 14") - cast and crew talk about the influences and references to other Doctor Who adventures that are spread throughout the story. 

The original Extended and Deleted Scenes package (dur. 12' 24") has been supplemented by brand-new introductions to each scene from Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred.

Outtakes (dur. 4' 12") - bloopers and gaffs from the recording of the story.

Multi-Angle Sequences (dur. 1' 03" and 0' 47") - allows the viewer to watch Ace's escape from the Chemistry lab and the Daleks blowing up the large gates from one of two camera angles. Via a menu, the viewer should be allowed to choose which angle of each scene to start on, but should be free to use the 'Angle' button on their remote to change the view at will during play.  This is a feature that was never implemented as intended on the 2000 release.

Trails and Continuity (dur. 4' 58") - BBC1 trails and continuity announcements from the story's transmission, in this extended package.

Photo Gallery (dur. 8' 36") - production, design and publicity photos from the story, heavily expanded and packaged into our now standard video sequence format.

Isolated Music - gives the viewer the option to watch the story with the clean music track.

Radio Times Listings in Adobe PDF format for viewing on PC or Mac. Programme subtitles. Subtitle Production Notes.


Exclusive to this boxset is Brendan Sheppard's new documentary, Davros Connections (dur. 43' 15"), which pulls together the whole of the Davros Boxset into a single chronology, as well as being a fascinating documentary in its own right. This is an in-depth look at the history of the Daleks' creator, Davros, as portrayed in both the TV stories from the BBC and in audio adventures from official licensee Big Finish. With actors Terry Molloy, David Gooderson and Peter Miles, producer / director Gary Russell, director Ken Grieve, writers Eric Saward, Ben Aaronovitch, Gary Hopkins and Joseph Lidster. Narrated by Terry Molloy.


The Big Finish disc is a separate DVD containing all the stories encoded as Dolby Digital 2.0 audio tracks.

The behind-the-scenes documentary following the recording of the 'I, Davros' series will also be included.

The set will also contain an 8-page collector's booklet.


Copyright Steve Roberts,  12 August 2007. No reproduction allowed without written permission.