02 – The Massacre by James Cooray Smith

The Massacre by James Cooray Smith

‘Here in Paris we know what is right.’

During its first three years on air Doctor Who’s production team divided its stories roughly equally into two categories: ‘future’ – science fiction stories set on alien worlds, involving monsters or both – and ‘past’ – serials set in human history which, initially, had no science fiction elements beyond the presence of the series’ leads in the historical period portrayed.

The Massacre (1966), a serial of disputed authorship, of which no video copy is known to survive, was one of the last of Doctor Who’s ‘past’ stories as originally defined. Produced during a fractious, transitional period in the series’ evolution, it nevertheless deals with the topic of religious civil strife in the Paris of 1572 with maturity and complexity, and from a variety of angles, many surprising for a tea-time adventure serial.

This Black Archive title looks at The Massacre both in terms of its place in Doctor Who’s ongoing production and public reception, and as a piece of historical fiction intimately concerned with Christianity which draws on a variety of primary and secondary sources, many of them never previously acknowledged in discussion of the serial.

James Cooray Smith contributed production notes to a number of the BBC’s Doctor Who DVD releases.

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