The Mind Robber

2005's second UK release is the imaginative and well-loved Patrick Troughton story 'The Mind Robber', which takes place in the Land of Fiction - where, quite literally, anything can happen...

'The Mind Robber' exists in the BBC archive as original film recording negatives. The first four episodes are 16mm films with combined optical soundtracks made for overseas sale and the last is the original 35mm transmission film with separate 35mm magnetic soundtrack.

The four 16mm com-opt films also have 16mm sep-mag sound films associated with them, although they are not originals. Instead, they were made from the com-opt prints struck from the negs. Depending on the condition of the optical tracks on the negs, it is sometimes better to use the sound taken from prints for a couple of reasons. Because the variable-area track is 'closed down' on a print when there is no audio, there are less crackles and pops caused by dirt or scratches during quiet passages, whereas the negative, being inverted, has a fully open track during quiet passages and can therefore be noisier. Also, the photo-chemical process of film makes the soundtrack flare slightly at the edges, which introduces some distortion. Printing the negative onto another film causes an equal but opposite flare which effectively cancels out the distortion. Both the negative optical track and the sep-mags were transferred so that Mark Ayres had a choice of which to use during audio remastering.

The episodes were transferred by Jonathan Wood via our standard route - one-light Spirit telecine transfer to Digital Betacam videotape, tape-to-tape grade and edit to remove dirty frames at shot changes and a light DVNR to reduce grain, dirt and sparkle. Remaining faults were painted out manually. There were no major problems as the films were in very good condition. After cleanup, VidFIRE processing was applied in order to restore the 'video look' to all five episodes.

Episodes one and three suffered from extensive scratching of the original Quad tapes. This manifests as almost (but irritatingly not quite) static white or black lines dancing over the image in a recurring diagonal distribution. These were removed where possible by painting them out with a wire-removal tool (which blends adjacent pixels) and recording these strokes. Up to 32 scratches would be painted out on a single frame. These recorded strokes were then replayed over subsequent frames until the registration with the scratches was lost (even a one pixel vertical shift due to film instability would result in a worse artefact rather than removal) and the process repeated.

In episode three, the scene where a book appears on the large screen is affected by the inlay channel crosstalking across the vision mixer from the start of the scene. Unfortunately, this could not be corrected invisibly so it was left as broadcast.

The Commentary features actors Wendy Padbury, Frazer Hines and Hamish Wilson, with the show's director, David Maloney.

The disc included two new featurettes. First up is The Fact of Fiction, a 35 minute look at the show's production, with actors Wendy Padbury, Frazer Hines, Hamish Wilson, Christopher Robbie, director David Maloney, script editor Derrick Sherwin, writer Peter Ling and designer Evan Hercules. The second is Highlander, a 22 minute look at Frazer Hines' career, covering both Doctor Who and his subsequent work. Both featurettes come from the successful partnership of Richard Molesworth and Steve Broster, who have been responsible for several featurettes on earlier discs.

A 7 minute long Picture Gallery is included, as is a short Easter Egg. Rumour has it that Basil Brush may yet put in an appearance on this disc, alongside a curious hybrid of a Yeti from 'The Abominable Snowmen' and 'The Web of Fear'. All together now, "I'll not forgetty the Yeti... The Yeti I'll not forgetty!"

Copyright Steve Roberts, 9 December 2004