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Recap / Doctor Who 1985 JFIGS "A Fix With Sontarans"

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"Finally, someone else with fine dress sense! Our coats: are they not awesome?"

Dear Jim,
I like Dr. Who very much because I have got Colin Baker's Doctor Who suit made by my Nan and a tent TARDIS. Please could I see Colin Baker and go inside the TARDIS.
Yours sincerely Gareth Jenkins (Age 8)

The banned one. Until it received a George Lucas Altered Version omitting the material that got it banned 37 years later.

For the uninitiated, there was a show in Britain where children essentially wrote in to popular BBC presenter Jimmy Savile (inventor of the throwback station and, after his death, revealed to be a prolific sexual predator) to have their wishes fulfilled, no matter what they were. A set of children were chosen each week to somehow have this come true, and the result was known as Jim'll Fix It. One such child sent in the above letter.

Ladies and gentlemen, "A Fix with Sontarans", written by Eric Saward.

The story begins with The Sixth Doctor bumbling around the TARDIS, desperately fiddling with the center console while he mumbles things. With a flash, former companion Tegan Jovanka (having left The Doctor earlier) is somehow now on the TARDIS. Throwing aside most problems with the Doctor having regenerated again (handy, as Tegan saw this happen before), the Doctor quickly announces that Sontarans have invaded his TARDIS somehow and are going to blow it up with a bomb. (This special was broadcast during The Two Doctors' transmission period, which explains why the Sontarans also appear here.) And that he needs help, but he didn't mean for her to show up. While arguing with Tegan some more, The Doctor accidentally smacks the same controls again and summons the mighty, the powerful...

...approximately 8-year-old Gareth Jenkins, dressed in a smaller version of the 6th Doctor's outfit. Gareth quickly agrees to help set a trap for the Sontarans, and Tegan is asked to help out by... getting Gareth a box to stand on. The Doctor and Gareth then press a lot of buttons, mostly consisting of the Doctor saying lines and Gareth repeating them exactly back as he does the action. Within seconds, the Sontarans storm the control room of the TARDIS... and are shocked to hear that this child is the Gareth Jenkins.

Yes, apparently, Gareth Jenkins will foil a Sontaran plot to take over the Earth in the distant future of 2001, and they decide to kill him now to change that. Of course, they don't, as Gareth springs the trap— a steam jet that makes the Sontarans puke green blood and melt horrifically.

Host Jimmy Savile then shows up and awards Gareth a meson gun and a "Jim Fixed It For Me" badge while smashing the fourth wall into bits.

...well, that last sentence was what happened back during the mini-episode's original broadcast in 1985. The mini-episode was formerly included as a special feature on the DVD release of "The Two Doctors". However, at some point circa 2014, it was quietly removed from subsequent Region 2 copies and other DVD prints onwards in response to the issues with Savile being brought to light.

A George Lucas Altered Version of the mini-episode was released on the Season 22 Blu-Ray box set in 2022, replacing the ending scene featuring Savile with a new ending divorcing it from Jim'll Fix It entirely and keeping the fourth wall intact:

Yes, apparently, Gareth Jenkins will foil a Sontaran plot to take over the Earth in the distant future of 2001, and they decide to kill him now to change that. Of course, they don't, as Gareth springs the trap— a steam jet that makes the Sontarans puke green blood and melt horrifically.

A Sontaran fleet then shows up outside the TARDIS in retaliation. The Doctor muses that this battle is only the beginning...

This mini-episode provides examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Forget about the Sontarans; the most terrifying thing (well... second most terrifying thing in its original cut) in this episode is Janet Fielding's hair. It may be the Eightiest haircut in all of Doctor Who, and that's saying something.
  • Artifact Title: The name "A Fix With Sontarans" tied this episode into Jim'll Fix It, as it was originally produced as a segment for that show, complete with Jimmy Savile appearing at the end. The recut removes Savile entirely, but the name wasn't changed.
  • Ascended Fanboy: The whole point of this thing. Much like Jake Lloyd, Gareth would go on to become the object of scorn for hundreds of fanboys everywhere, making this one of the more infamous episodes of Doctor Who ever recorded (even before the Savile scandal broke).
    • Though it's worth mentioning that unlike the Jake Lloyd example, you'd be hard pressed to find anything negative regarding Gareth Jenkins (both the actor and the character) nowadays (because of the Savile scandal), and as this was only a non-canon charity minisode as opposed to a canon prequel, the ramifications for the Doctor Who series wasn't as severe (unlike Star Wars).
    • Additionally this was Gareth Jenkins' (the actor) only role, and he is now working as the head of campaigns for the charity Save the Children, meaning his career and personal life didn't go down the drain, unlike Jake Lloyd.
  • BFG: The meson gun.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The Blu-Ray George Lucas Altered Version ends with a Sontaran fleet about to invade the TARDIS. Of course, the fact that this is a 2022 edit of a 1985 episode of a television series still running in 2022 makes the fates of the Doctor and the TARDIS a tad less ambiguous. This being Gareth Jenkins's only appearance, on the other hand, leaves his survival in doubt...
  • Canon Discontinuity: Later writers of Doctor Who Expanded Universe novels for the franchise tried to pass the original Savile version of the episode as a nightmare suffered by the Doctor. Which again becomes extremely creepy in hindsight. The events were also evidently ignored when Tegan returned to the series in 2022, with no mention of her meeting with Six.
  • Faux Horrific: Saward's original intent in having The Doctor and Tegan be utterly horrified and disgusted when Jimmy Savile shows up.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: Received one in 2022 for the Season 22 Blu-ray box set, replacing Savile's appearance with a new ending done through a CGI shot and a newly recorded line from Colin Baker.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Jimmy Savile does this to Janet Fielding. Thanks to the revelations about Savile's sex crimes, the gesture seems a lot more creepy now. Colin even noticeably winces when this happens.
  • I'm Melting!: The fate of the Sontarans.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: The Sontarans' motive for trying to kill Jenkins.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Those are Sontarans.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Sixth Doctor drops all pretence of civility whenever he turns around to face Tegan. One wonders why she didn't snap back as much as with Five... Although, upon her arrival in the TARDIS, Tegan chews him out royally, and Six actually seems frightened of a companion for once.
  • Temporary Substitute: Nicola Bryant was on holiday at the time, so they got Janet Fielding to reprise her role as Tegan instead.
  • Tuckerization: The Sontaran leader is Group Marshal Nathan. His subordinate, who is not named on-camera, was referred to as "Turner" in the script.
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: The Sontaran leader tells Gareth that "in the year you would call 2001" he will lead the Earth's defence against a Sontaran invasion.
  • Unperson: The revised version eliminates every trace of Jimmy Savile, for very understandable reasons.
  • Wish Fulfilment: Gareth Jenkins gets to realise his dream of meeting The Doctor in the TARDIS.