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.