‘THE MASSACRE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S EVE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Steven’s Story in France
History isn’t pleasant as Steven thinks it is!
This is another historical adventure from the William Hartnell era of ‘Doctor Who’! ‘The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve’ is a four-part historical adventure by John Lucarotti (officially), set in Paris 1572. It is a story where the Doctor and Steven are on the eve of one of the darkest days in history.
‘The Massacre’ is sadly one of the lost TV stories from the BBC Archives. None of the four episodes are in existence and there’s no surviving footage found of the story on the ‘Lost in Time’ DVD. The story however can be available to listen to via a CD or a download in its complete audio soundtrack.
The audio soundtrack of this story has some superb linking narration given by Peter Purves, who played Steven Taylor in the story. I did enjoy Peter narrate this story since it did help with following it. ‘The Massacre’ CD is now available as part of ‘The Lost TV Episodes: Collection Two’ CD box set.
The story’s credit is given to John Lucarotti, but the original idea came from script editor Donald Tosh who commissioned him to write it. John Lucarotti had written two previous historical adventures in ‘Doctor Who’ which were ‘Marco Polo’ and ‘The Aztecs’. He’d been contracted to write a third story.
Following disagreements with script editor Donald Tosh, John Lucarotti eventually agreed to write ‘The Massacre’. When he’d sent the scripts in, Donald Tosh wasn’t happy with them so he eventually rewrote the scripts himself. But John Lucarotti wasn’t happy with the final versions of those scripts.
It’s interesting that behind-the-scenes, John Lucarotti found the writing process of ‘The Massacre’ an unhappy one. It was different for him working with the John Wiles/Donald Tosh production team compared to the Verity Lambert/David Whitaker team when he wrote his first two stories for them.
‘The Massacre’ as a story is an interesting one. I wasn’t very familiar with the period of Paris 1572 as depicted in the story. I knew about the French Revolution of course, but this was an earlier period of history in France as this was about the conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants at that time.
Being a Christian myself, I found it interesting how the French Catholics took a hostile view towards the Protestants who were starting to grow at the time in France’s history in 1572. ‘The Massacre’ itself takes place on the 23rd of August 1572 and it lasted for several weeks according to the Doctor.
Saying this, I did find this story rather serious and grim throughout. I was gripped into the story, but most of it was people talking to each other and not enough action happening. The historical detail must be accurate, but I had a sense this was being more of a period drama instead of an adventure.
Don’t get me wrong! I like period dramas as I’ve seen them on TV. But when it’s a ‘Doctor Who’ story, it runs the risk of being boring and hard-to-follow for younger viewers who were watching this story at the time on TV. They probably didn’t know what was happening with the historical content.
But the selling point of ‘The Massacre’ has to be that William Hartnell gets to play two roles in the story. Not only does he play the Doctor but also the Abbot of Amboise. This is an unusual story of doubles though, since William Hartnell becomes absent for most of the second episode of this story.
By the time he returns to the third episode, William Hartnell is playing the Abbot. It’s not clear whether the Doctor is pretending to be the Abbot or whether the Abbot just happens to look like the Doctor. Steven isn’t wiser either and becomes afraid when he is on his own and without the Doctor.
The Doctor’s absence in the second episode and having William Hartnell play the Abbot for most of the third episode was something that writer John Lucarroti objected to. It wasn’t part of his original scripts for the story but Donald Tosh rewrote them thinking this would be better in terms of the tale.
William Hartnell’s performance in this ‘Doctor Who’ story is very enjoyable and interesting. He plays the Doctor at the beginning and at the end in the first and fourth episodes. Having him play the Abbot as a completely different character was intriguing and is different to how he plays the Doctor.
Hartnell’s performance as the Abbot is quite smooth and cool. He also doesn’t have the eccentricities shown in his performance as the Doctor. This highlights Hartnell’s talents as an actor as the creation of the Doctor is his own, just as the Abbot is, since he doesn’t fluff on any lines in that performance.
I would like to know though whether the Doctor was pretending to be the Abbot or whether the Abbot was just a different character altogether. The Doctor and the Abbot never meet each other in the story, since this was due to technical reasons. But didn’t the Doctor meet himself in ‘The Chase’?
However it’s Peter Purves as Steven who steals the show in ‘The Massacre’! Steven is given a central role as a character whilst the Doctor is away and off to see Preslin at the start of the story. Steven anxiously waits for the Doctor to return to the tavern and has to cope on his own when he doesn’t.
Steven soon finds himself getting involved unintentionally with events in the story. He sees the Abbot and believes him to be the Doctor. He’s soon accused for being as Catholic spy by the Huguenots and he risks the friendships he forms with people such as Nicholas at de Coligny’s house.
He befriends Anne who helps him to find the Abbot and to see whether he really is the Doctor. He also overhears that someone is going to assassinate the Sea Beggar and tries to warn someone about it. I found it tense when Steven gets in a fight with Gaston who refuses to have anything to do with him.
The story’s guest cast are as follows. There’s Barry Justice as King Charles IX of France; Joan Young as the Queen Mother; Leonard Sachs as Admiral de Coligny; André Morell as Marshal Tavannes; Erik Chitty as Preslin; Eric Thompson as Gaston; David Weston as Nicholas and John Tillinger as Simon.
There’s also Annette Robertson as Anne Chaplet. Anne is an interesting character as she’s a servant who used to work at the Abbot of Amboise’s apartments but has now run away. She runs into Steven and helps him through the dangers of France he’s in since she finds him kind-hearted to her.
The story ends bleakly with Steven reunited with the Doctor before they eventually return to the TARDIS, just in time before the massacre in Paris starts. The atmosphere gets grim in the TARDIS, since Steven blames the Doctor for not taking Anne Chaplet with them in the TARDIS when he could.
Following recent events in ‘The Massacre’, Steven threatens to leave the TARDIS the next time the ship lands. They eventually land somewhere and Steven soon steps out. I liked that scene where the Doctor is on his own, reflecting on his companions who’ve left him and saying that he can’t go home.
This story also features the first appearance of Jackie Lane as Dodo Chaplet who runs into the TARDIS to meet the Doctor. Dodo happens to be a descendant of Anne Chaplet. I wonder why Jackie Lane didn’t play Anne Chaplet in the story, since she could easily be recognisable as both Anne and Dodo.
Very soon, Steven returns and re-joins the Doctor with Dodo in their travels in the TARDIS. The Doctor comments that Dodo is much like his granddaughter Susan and both he and Steven accept her as a travelling companion. This is a very quick introduction to a companion at the end of a story.
‘The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve’ has been an interesting historical adventure in ‘Doctor Who’. I didn’t know much about the incident beforehand, but I know a little more now. I enjoyed William Hartnell’s performances as the Doctor and the Abbot and Steven taking centre-stage in this.
‘The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve’ rating – 7/10
‘DOCTOR WHO – THE MASSACRE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
John Lucarotti’s Version of ‘The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve’
This has been the most unusual and interesting ‘Doctor Who’ novelization/audiobook to read/hear!
I’ve read and listened to the Target novelization/audiobook of the story, ‘The Massacre’ by John Lucarotti. But this is not the novelization/audiobook you’d expect to read/hear when you come to it. The novelization/audiobook is officially based upon ‘The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve’ TV story.
However, as I’ve mentioned in my TV review of this story, due to behind-the-scenes disagreements between writer John Lucarotti and script editor Donald Tosh, the story was altogether not the work of the original author. The scripts were rewritten by Donald Tosh to which John Lucarotti was unhappy.
Therefore when it came to be asked to write the novelization of this ‘Doctor Who’ story from the classic series originally shown in 1966, John Lucarotti decided not to novelize the rewrite by Donald Tosh. He decided to novelize his own scripts as he had originally written them for the TV series in 1966.
So yeah! This novelization of ‘The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve’. It bears no resemblance to the TV story at all! This is a completely different version of the story by the original author. This was very interesting to discover. It had me wonder how much difference there was in the John Lucarotti version.
I suppose because the original TV story was lost from the BBC Archives, John Lucarotti took advantage of novelizing his original TV scripts not matching to the final product, thinking the missing TV episodes would never resurface. Not that it matters, since we do have the TV soundtrack on audio for the story.
Having said that, I’ve enjoyed reading/listening to Lucarotti’s version of ‘The Massacre’. It was interesting to discover what could’ve been had the production team went with Lucarotti’s TV scripts instead. I think the Lucarotti version of ‘The Massacre’ would’ve been better if technically challenging.
The novelization was published in 1987, 21 years after the original TV story was transmitted. The book is divided into 17 chapters with a prologue at the beginning and an epilogue at the end. I couldn’t tell what episodes there were to expect in this version, especially as this is not indicated in book and audio.
I purchased the audiobook for ‘The Massacre’ novelization off from Audible as a download instead of purchasing it from Amazon as a CD. I suppose if I had purchased the audio CD which would’ve consisted a 4-disc set, I could tell what episode breaks there would’ve been if this was a four-part tale.
Speaking of which, the audiobook is read by Peter Purves who played Steven Taylor in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series. Peter Purves is a brilliant narrator and I enjoyed his reading of ‘The Massacre’ novelization in this audiobook. Peter recommended ‘The Massacre’ novelization/audiobook so highly.
It was when I attended the ‘Pandorica 2015’ convention in Bristol, September 2015 that I heard Peter Purves recommend ‘The Massacre’ novelization/audiobook highly. He described how much difference there was in the novelization compared to the TV version and finding an intriguing experience to read.
Like I said, Peter Purves is a brilliant narrator. He’s also good in voicing William Hartnell’s Doctor as I’ve heard him perform the Doctor in many audio productions from the BBC and Big Finish. His voice for the First Doctor is so spot on and I could easily visualise William Hartnell saying his lines of dialogue.
So where do I begin in terms of describing how the novelization/audiobook is different to the TV story. Well, let’s start with the prologue and the epilogue. The book starts and ends with the Doctor begin asked to explain his actions in 16th century France to a group of Time Lords. Stop! Wait! Is this correct?
Yeah, the Time Lords feature in the ‘Doctor Who’ novelization of a First Doctor story. Pretty unusual, considering the Time Lords don’t appear until ‘The War Games’ with the Second Doctor. And this is before the Doctor gets himself caught by the Time Lords when he’s tried to avoid them all this time.
So how does this work without disrupting the continuity? I don’t know, maybe it’s a rogue group of Time Lords who’ve agreed to keep the First Doctor’s timeline in preserve before he’s captured as the Second Doctor by the High Council. Maybe this is just a group of Time Lords from the CIA or something.
Maybe the Doctor’s questioning by the Time Lords takes place during ‘The Five Doctors’ at some point, especially as the First Doctor is hinted at walking in a garden in the novelization’s epilogue. I’m speculating this since Peter Purves is voicing the Doctor in those scenes as the William Hartnell Doctor.
Apparently the producer of the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series at the time, John Nathan-Turner was unhappy with the Time Lords being included in ‘The Massacre’ novelization. But it was then explained to him and he gave his approval. Not sure what that explanation was, but it must be wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey.
Mind you, considering that there are now two versions of ‘The Massacre’ in TV and novelization/audiobook form, it can be argued that the novelization/audiobook exists in a parallel universe. But then again, I wouldn’t dispute it as ‘Doctor Who’ gets complicated as a TV series anyway.
In terms of similarities to the TV story in the novelization, well it’s only similar in terms of its start and build-up before it goes off on a different tangent in the middle part of the plot. It starts with the TARDIS arriving, the Doctor and Steven going to the auberge (French for ‘inn’) and then both of them separate.
A significant difference in the novelization compared to the TV version is that the Doctor has an active part to play in the story. In the TV version, the Doctor was mostly absent in the second and third episodes, as William Hartnell went on a week’s holiday and played just the Abbot in the third episode.
John Lucarotti has the double role of the Doctor and the Abbot of Amboise as a key centrepiece to the story’s plot. I actually prefer this approach since it was unclear whether the Doctor was acting as the Abbot or not in the TV story. In the novelization, the Doctor and the Abbot are so completely different.
I wish the scripts by John Lucarotti were made for TV instead of the Donald Tosh rewrite. It would’ve had William Hartnell more actively involved in the story compared to the minimal role he performed. I can understand why John Lucarotti was unhappy with the rewrites as I would feel the same way too.
I enjoyed when the Doctor kept shifting identities from being himself to being the Abbot in order to do undercover work for the Huguenots like Lerans and Muss. It allows the Doctor to be manipulative and cunning in a First Doctor way. It was interesting how he tackled undercover in 16th century France.
The Abbot’s character in the novelization was interesting to discover compared to the TV version. The Abbot comes across as more religious fanatic compared to the Doctor. As well as dismissing Steven, he’s also bent on having the TARDIS burned up, seeing it as a sign of Satan, Hades or something like it.
There were times when I think the Abbot was perhaps a little two-dimensional reading/listening to the book/audio and perhaps he was. But it was interesting to find how different the Abbot’s character is to the Doctor and what actions he takes in the build-up into how the actual ‘massacre’ collates itself.
But do the Doctor and the Abbot actually meet in the novelization of the story, you ask? And the answer of course is…yes, they do. I’m glad the two actually confronted each other. The Doctor assumes the Abbot’s identity, calling the real Abbot a fake, to which the real Abbot becomes outraged.
The Abbot’s demise is also handled differently in the book compared to the TV version. In the book, the Abbot gets killed by Simon Duval. This is different as it gets assumed by everyone that the Abbot was killed by Steven to which he didn’t. And the Abbot was killed in his office, not left out in the street.
Steven also reacts very upset when he sees the Abbot lying dead on the office floor, thinking it might be the Doctor who’s killed. He isn’t caught by anyone who assumes he killed the Abbot as in the TV story. Thankfully Steven reunites with the Doctor, finding he is still alive as he becomes cross with him.
In fact, Steven’s journey in the novelization is different compared to the TV story. He still has to cope on his own for a time in the story, but it feels happier and less depressing as in the TV version. His interaction with Anne Chaplet is a happier one and he also gets to reunite with the Doctor earlier here.
But it’s not just one time Steven reunites with the Doctor. It’s twice. The second time occurs when Steven’s separated from the Doctor to free Anne Chaplet and her family before he finds the aforementioned Abbot dead in his office and presumed him to be the Doctor. He reunites with the Doctor later.
Having Steven separated from the Doctor twice in the novelization makes it more compelling. It adds to the anxiety to our hero has when trying to reunite with the Doctor before getting separated from him again. I didn’t expect Steven to get separated twice from the Doctor in the novel. It was effective.
I must admit the French religious politics did escape me whilst reading/hearing the novelization/audiobook. It’s only because I’m not that knowledgeable in 16th century French history. I’m sure it must be historically accurate. The author makes this point to be clear on it at the beginning.
The book contains an author’s note at the beginning where he says the historical events described in ‘The Massacre’ are factual. This does make me wonder whether the TV version of the story is not historically accurate as the novelization is. It could be both of them. But I’m not entirely sure about it.
I did struggle to identify whether the story’s supporting characters in the novelization matched to the TV version. They probably don’t as this is John Lucarotti’s version of the story. The Lerans and Muss characters stood out for me as well as Simon Duval who became an intriguing link between our heroes.
The monarch characters of the Queen Mother and King Charles weren’t as interesting for me to read/listen to in the novelization/audiobook. It felt the same as in the TV version. This was mostly due to the French politics in the conversations they had during their scenes which I did find a struggle with.
The climax to the book was different in the book compared to the TV version. It felt gentler and optimistic in the novelization compared to the depressing one in the TV version. I found this a little disappointing as there was no emotional impact to the massacre in the book as it was in the TV version.
There’s also no argument between the Doctor and Steven in the TARDIS in the book as opposed to the TV version. This could be due to Anne Chaplet and her family surviving in the novelization as opposed to the presumption they could be dead in the TV version. I believe that the TV version of this scene is better.
As a consequence, there’s no scene with the Doctor saying, “Perhaps I should go home. Back to my home planet. But I can’t!” in the book. This was to provide hints to his origins in the TV version. Mind you that is rather spoiled in the novelization since the Time Lords appear in the prologue and epilogue.
The book does not contain the final scene of the TV story where the Doctor and Steven are joined by Dodo Chaplet once the TARDIS travels forward to 20th century Earth. Therefore Dodo does not appear in ‘The Massacre’ novelization at all. She only gets referred to by name in the novel’s epilogue.
It was interesting to discover when it was stated that Dodo Chaplet happens to be the spitting image of Anne Chaplet in the book’s epilogue. Rather ironic, since Anne and Dodo weren’t played by the same actress. Maybe Jackie Lane should have played both parts in the TV story. Or Annette Robertson.
‘The Massacre’ novelization/audiobook by John Lucarotti…is actually pretty good. I’m very pleased I read/listened to this novelization/audiobook as it has been intriguing and unusual experience to discover what the story could have been like as the production team gone with John Lucarroti’s scripts.
If you were to ask me which I prefer: the TV version or the novelization/audiobook version, then I would say…the novelization/audiobook version. This is because I respect John Lucarotti’s original intentions for the story and because his version had more of the Doctor involved than the TV one did.
I greatly enjoyed Peter Purves reading the audiobook for this Target novelization. He performs the First Doctor well, sounding like William Hartnell from the TV series. I look forward to when I see Peter Purves again at another convention and tell how much I’d enjoyed this Target novelization/audiobook.
‘Doctor Who – The Massacre’ rating – 7/10
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