Your Guide to The Daleks’ Master Plan CD releases

There are currently two CD releases of, arguably, the longest serial in the Classic era: The Daleks’ Master Plan. These CD sets not only contain all 12 episodes (3 survived, 9 missing); they also feature the serial’s prequel Mission to the Unknown (still missing) on the first disc, acting completely standalone on the set but still remaining a key element of the twelve-part epic.

Each episode contains linking narration read by Peter Purves (Steven Taylor), to denote the character actions, locations, and story for the listener(s). These are sourced from remastered off-air recordings by David Butler who did Mission, while David Holman and Graham Strong (who connected his tape recorder to his TV, without a microphone, to capture a “crystal clear” sound quality) covered Master Plan.

BBC Radio Collection CD (2001)

The very first CD release, under the BBC Radio Collection banner.

Once you insert the Mission to the Unknown disc, you will come across a selection of CD-ROM ‘Easter Eggs’ (i.e. hidden contents) featuring:

  • Scripts for the linking narrations of both serials (PDF)
  • Comprehensive track listings (PDF)
  • Full episodes soundtracks without narration (MP3)
  • Clips from Mission and Master Plan, before and after restoration (MP3)
  • Continuity announcement for Mission (MP3)

As with the Marco Polo 2003 CD release, it’s a real privilege that we can experience all episodes with and without narration; unfortunately, this isn’t the case for every other release of the missing/incomplete black and white serials.

If you listen to the MP3 files, you will notice that the sound quality of each episode tends to vary at times, due to the original recordings having suffered from irrelevant background noises or technical difficulties, which proved to be a challenge for Mark Ayres.

The Lost TV Episodes – Collection Two: 1965-1966 box set (2011)

Instead of getting an individual standalone re-release, Mission and Master Plan together formed part of a second box set collection, consisting of missing serials which aired between 1965-1966. This set also includes The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve, The Celestial Toymaker, The Savages, along with a bonus CD containing The Lost Episodes 60-minute documentary which originally aired on BBC Radio 4 in 2009.

Unlike the 2001 release, the Mission disc does not contain the CD-ROM contents. Instead, we are treated to a whole load of PDF camera scripts for each respective serial, and an interview with Peter Purves, all exclusive to the set. On a positive note, reading the camera scripts whilst listening to the soundtracks, or watching the surviving TV episodes, can help you visualise the camera shots, angles, and terminologies when denoted.

Charles Norton, producer and director of The Power of the Daleks 2016 animated release, describes the usefulness of camera scripts in Doctor Who Magazine #505:

“Then there are the camera scripts [ie the scripts used at the time of recording the original episodes], which are a wonderful resource because they’re essentially a storyboard in written form.”

I wholeheartedly agree. You can’t complete an animation project (TV or film) without a script and storyboard – it would be harder to illustrate the animated sequences and sync the soundtrack and character dialogue.

The Lost TV Episodes – Collection Two: 1965-1966 Re-Release (2019)

On another note, Collection One: 1964-1965 will be getting a physical and downloadable re-release on 7th March, featuring PDF camera scripts and exclusive interviews with the cast. With Collection Two: 1965-1966 due on 5th September, maybe this could give Mark Ayres the opportunity to do some restoration work on the recently discovered high quality recordings of Master Plan, labelled “The Randolph Tapes“, for the re-release. I believe it would be a spectacular addition to the merchandising.

From off-air recordings and captured telesnaps to surviving footages and animated reconstructions, I can definitely say that we are very fortunate to be able to experience every single black and white TV episode of the First and Second Doctor eras, including the 97 which are sadly still missing from the archives, today.

With the limited edition vinyl out now, along with the Mission to the Unknown live action student remake currently in production, and the story continuing in Big Finish’s Fourth Doctor Adventures Series 8 arc The Syndicate Master Plan, let’s hope that The Daleks’ Master Plan will receive the well-deserved animation treatment.

In the meantime, you can check out Graham Strong’s website where he explains how he recorded the missing episodes in further detail.