In an attempt to bring added value to the video release of a story that was repeated only a few years ago, Steve Cole, the editor of the Doctor Who range of books and videos at BBC Worldwide, commissioned the team to produce an extended version of the 1989 Sylvester McCoy story, 'Battlefield'. This work was carried out by Paul Vanezis, Steve Roberts and BBC videotape editor Johnathan Birkett on 1 November 1997, at BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham.
It is the usual practice when editing a television programme to make a first-edit of the show (known for historical reasons within the BBC as a '71') and then to refine this further through one or more re-edits to produce the final version. Sometimes, the earlier edits are still retained within the BBC Archives, although sadly many of these tapes have been wiped. Fortunately for BBC Video, '71s of all four episodes of 'Battlefield' still exist and so it was feasible to attempt to replace some of the material that had originally been shot and edited, but subsequently removed to get the episode to the correct length.
Steve Cole viewed the longer versions and outlined the additional scenes which he would like reinstated if technically possible. Unfortunately it was impossible to reinstate every scene because we were working within quite tight confines. All that we had access to were the transmitted versions and the '71s - no raw studio or location footage and no clean music. The budget for the new version was very tight and although we had tried, we had been unable to contact the original composer, Keff McCulloch, with a view to borrowing copies of his music cues. Mark Ayres managed to find the original background sound effects at the Radiophonic Workshop however.
Sound was the major problem we were faced with because, if we had to insert a new scene into the existing programme, we would have to split any existing music and sound effects across the original edit and find ways to get into and out of the new scene without any apparent disturbance to the viewer. This meant that certain extra scenes or scene-extensions were not reinstated simply because they were in the middle of complex musical cues.
No changes were made to the first or the last episode, but nearly two minutes of material was added back into the middle of the story.
The first additional scene comes near the end of the episode, between the Brigadier and Shou Yuing driving away in the 2CV and the Doctor and Ace arriving in the interior of the spaceship. It takes place on a spiral staircase between the end of the tunnel under the lake and the control room of the spaceship. This is quite an important scene, as it serves both as an explanation of the organic nature of the craft, how it was grown and functions, and as a much better insight into the geography of the situation - it is now obvious to the viewer that the tunnel ends deep below the spaceship and the Doctor and Ace have had a long vertical ascent to get to the control room.
This was a difficult scene to reinstate, as the way it had been originally edited had employed a bit of a trick. As Ace reaches the top of the staircase, she says "Any sufficiently advanced form of magic.... is indistinguishable...." and then adds "from technology." as she enters the room. Because the preceding half of the sentence was edited out of the final version, it would be nonsensical for Ace to enter the room and say "From technology.", so Sophie Aldred had been audio-recorded saying "Wow!" at a later date. This was then dubbed over the beginning of her original words and the vision quickly cut away from before the viewer noticed any mismatch. To get around this problem , we removed the spaces in the three components of her sentence and made it appear that she had said the whole thing on the spiral staircase. Luckily her back was to camera, so there were no lip-sync problems. This scene added approximately 45 seconds of material.
The second addition is an extension to the scene in which the Doctor and the Brigadier emerge from the tunnel mouth and are greeted by Bambera. After the exchange between Bambera and the Brigadier, the scene continues with Lethbridge-Stewart instructing Bambera to ensure that the perimeter is sealed, and the Doctor commenting that it is "Just like old times, eh Brigadier?". This adds approximately 10 seconds.
The next addition will be familiar to viewers of Kevin Davies' documentary 'More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS' and features the Brigadier being introduced to Ace. "Just call me the latest one - and I can get my own blanket." she says, obviously annoyed. The Brigadier tells the Doctor that women aren't really his field, to which the Doctor quips "Don't worry Brigadier, people will be shooting at you soon!". This adds approximately 40 secs.
The final addition is an extension to the scene in the hotel, when Ace and Shou Yuing hear the thunder and begin to realise that something nasty is about to happen. This is another important scene, and it's quite difficult to understand why it was originally cut out, as it serves to explain both Ace's attitude to the Brigadier, and her own feeling that she is the one who is supposed to be protecting the Doctor. Again, this was technically problematic because there is music over the first part of the scene (from the transmitted version), but no music over the second part (from the '71). We solved this by dipping the music away under a loud thunderclap, added over the original thunder effect. A further thunderclap was added later in the scene and then the music brought back up to cover the scene change back to the transmitted version. This adds approximately 22 seconds.
The story is released in the UK by BBC Video in March 1998.
Text: Steve Roberts / Grabs: Peter Finklestone