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Hidden Depths

The writer and story editor Victor Pemberton passed away on 13 August. He leaves behind some of the most celebrated episodes from a golden age of Doctor Who.
The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) uses an unusual screwdriver in Episode 1 of Victor Pemberton’s story Fury from the Deep (1968).

Victor was irritated by what he perceived as the show’s over-reliance on the sonic screwdriver.

Victor Pemberton reinvented himself numerous times during his long career. A restless spirit who was never destined to stay with Doctor Who for long, he nevertheless made an enduring mark in a short space of time – as story editor of The Tomb of the Cybermen (1967) he helped to craft one of the black-and-white era’s quintessential tales, and when he wrote Fury from the Deep (1968) he conjured some of the most disturbing scenes in the series’ history. The demise of Van Lutyens (John Abineri) in Episode 4 is a chilling example of Victor’s uncompromising attitude to the series – the engineer pays a terrible price for his curiosity when something drags him screaming into the darkness at the base of an impeller shaft. Victor clearly didn’t regard Doctor Who as a series purely for children and, as he once pointed out, “I have a very nasty mind.”

Van Lutyens (John Abineri) is dragged into the impeller shaft in Episode 4 of Fury from the Deep.

Despite the knife-edge suspense on the planet Telos, or the relentless advance of the parasitical seaweed creatures, it’s not the horror of Doctor Who’s fifth series that Victor will be best remembered for. He had a particular affinity with Victoria Waterfield, the character played by Deborah Watling, and was proud of the touching exchange between her and the Doctor (Patrick Troughton) in Episode 3 of The Tomb of the Cybermen. “Our lives are different to anybody else’s,” says the Doctor, trying to reassure his grieving companion. “That’s the exciting thing. Nobody in the universe can do what we’re doing.” The following year, in March 1968, Victor wrote Deborah out of Doctor Who in the poignant conclusion to Fury from the Deep. Earlier in the serial he’d included a scene where the Doctor used his sonic screwdriver for the first time, although this was one legacy Victor could have done without – he was irritated by what he perceived as the show’s subsequent over-reliance on the prop, which he claimed he’d introduced as “a mere gag of sorts”.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

ISSUE 517 OF DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF THE SEVENTH DOCTOR WITH SYLVESTER McCOY! Thirty years after he first appeared as the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy reflects on the role that changed his life... Also this issue: DEBORAH WATLING TRIBUTE DWM remembers the late Deborah Watling, who played the Second Doctor's companion Victoria from 1967 to 1978, with contributions from Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Frazer Hines. VICTORIA'S SECRETS A previously unpublished interview with Deborah Watling from 1990. VICTOR PEMBERTON TRIBUTE Remembering the late Doctor Who writer and story editor Victor Pemberton. GAIL BENNETT An interview with original American Doctor Who superfan Gail Bennett. FURY FROM THE DEEP This month's Fact of Fiction explores 1968's Fury from the Deep, the last story to feature Deborah Watling as Victoria Waterfield. THE PARLIAMENT OF FEAR Part Three of our brand-new comic strip adventure, The Parliament of Fear, featuring the Doctor and Bill; written by Scott Gray and illustrated by Mike Collins. DOMINIC GLYNN The composer recalls writing and recording the score for 1989's Survival. THE TIME TEAM The Time Team continues its mission to watch every episode of Doctor Who with 2012's The Doctor's Wife. PLUS! Previews, book and audio reviews, news, the Watcher's column, prize-winning competitions and much, much more.