Blu-ray Preview: Spearhead from Space

By Christopher Allen


A new Doctor crash-lands on Earth during a shower of meteorites. As the Doctor recovers, something nasty is collecting the meteors at a local plastics factory, where the future of mankind is being formed…

The deeper dive

  • Due to industrial action at BBC Television Centre, that rendered studios unusable, the entirety of Spearhead was shot on 16mm film, rather than videotape. This means that an HD picture can be scanned from the original film prints.
  • Spearhead features a series of notable firsts: it's the first adventure for the Third Doctor and Liz Shaw, the first in colour and the first to introduce the Doctor's two hearts.
  • Listen out for a sting of Fleetwood Mac's Oh Well - Part 1 in the establishing shots of the plastics factory.

Lovely extras?

The highlights of the disc are a pair of documentaries - both biographical and memorial, but very different beasts. The first, A Dandy and a Clown tells the flamboyant tale of Jon Pertwee, with both professional and personal insights from colleagues and friends. From his turbulent relationship with his parents, to being discovered on Naval radio, and from Worzel Gummidge to his joy in later years at attending Doctor Who conventions, the stylishly presented biography sheds light on a very talented but insecure actor. By contrast, tribute is paid to Liz Shaw actress Caroline John, who passed away in 2012, in Carry On. A more intimate piece, with contributions from her husband Geoffrey Beevers, her daughter and other relatives, this documentary paints a portrait of a strong, family-orientated woman of great faith. Putting her children ahead of her career, and coming to terms with her Doctor Who legacy, the warmth with which Carry is remembered makes this documentary a real tear-jerker. Other extras include the original title sequence tests and side-by-side analysis of the film restoration for Blu-ray.

Why buy?

Being the fourth home release of Spearhead (VHS, DVD, DVD Special Edition, Blu-ray), it's fortunate that it's also one of the most compelling and terrifying Doctor Who stories of the era. Seeing it in high-definition is rather special, and utterly strange when watched in context of stories that surround it - so much more like a scary 70s horror film, than a Doctor Who adventure. The pair of biographies celebrating Jon Pertwee and Carry John are pitch perfect and beautifully crafted.

The bottom line

Autons in high-def. Pertwee has never looked so craggy. Fabulous.

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