One of the most popular Tom Baker stories, 'The Robots of Death' was chosen as the second Doctor Who DVD release and is the first to carry the unified Doctor Who DVD product range cover design, rather than the generic silver sleeve used for 'The Five Doctors - Special Edition'.
All four episodes exist as D3 copies of the original Quad videotapes. The episodes were digitally noise reduced on the DVNR-1000 to aid MPEG compression and transferred to Digital Betacam videotape. Unfortunately, some episodes had dubbed-in video faults on the D3 masters, so the Quad masters had to be recalled from their new home at the National Film and Television Archive (NFTVA) in Hertfordshire. They were replayed on the VR-2000 quad machine at Pebble Mill and thankfully the previous faults were not present. As well as noise reduction, dirt and sparkle was removed from the film sequences and they were colour graded to maintain even colour balance across transitions from studio sequences and within the film segments themselves.
A number of extras were agreed for the release. The first is a commentary track featuring writer Chris Boucher and producer Philip Hinchcliffe, recorded at the Voice Studio in Television Centre. A private collector kindly loaned some Shibaden monochrome video recordings that had once belonged to the Doctor Who Production Office. These contained timecoded pre-SYPHER recordings (ie the studio sound before the programme had been fully mixed using the BBC SYPHER system) of some of the studio sessions and also a number of unused model shots of the Storm Miner vehicle. A selection from these tapes appear on the finished disc. Also included are a photo gallery and a studio floorplan, along with a continuity announcement and slide (which were originally intended to be used as hidden 'Easter Egg' features on the disc). As with 'The Five Doctors - Special Edition', the programme was mastered onto a DVD-9 single-sided, dual-layered disc for optimum picture quality. However, analysis of the amount of space actually used on the finished disc shows that almost 28% of the available space is wasted, apparently to allow room for additional extras to possibly be included on a future release utilising the same encode of the main programme material. We have expressed concerns about this and hopefully the wasted space will be kept to a minimum on the future releases.
'The Robots of Death' was released in the UK on 13 th November 2000.
Copyright Steve Roberts, 16 November 2000