The BBC’s “Doctor Who” YouTube channel has been busy re-editing classic “Doctor Who” episodes for a new generation. Available now for streaming, you’ll find “The Hand of Fear” and “The Masque of Mandragora” from the Tom Baker Era. You’ll also find a shortened version of “Battlefield” from the Sylvester McCoy era.
“The Hand of Fear” sees the departure of Sarah Jane Smith, played by Elizabeth Sladen. Sladen would return to the show in 2006’s “School Reunion” alongside David Tennant as the 10th Doctor. Her reappearance would prove to be so popular the BBC would commission “The Sarah Jane Adventures,” which would run from 2007 to 2011, ending only because of the passing of Sladen from cancer.
“Battlefield” features the last regular appearance of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, as portrayed by Nicholas Courtney. Courtney would later reprise the character in a 2008 episode of “The Sarah Jane Adventures.” Both characters would have a lasting impact on the show that has lasted well into the modern era.
These shortened episodes make a great introduction to the Classic era of “Doctor Who.” I’ve been a fan since the mid-’70s when the show found its way to the US via PBS. The pacing of classic-era serials can be tedious, especially considering that modern stories take 45 minutes or less. You may find yourself looking for more from the show once you’ve binged 11 seasons of the new era on HBOMax, and this is a great start.