Loose Cannon Production 16
The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve
"At dawn tomorrow, this city will weep tears of blood."

BBC Production Details
Production Code: W
Original Transmission (UK): Saturday 5th February 1966 -
Saturday 26th February 1966
Season: 3
Number of Episodes: 4
Writer: John Lucarotti and
Donald Tosh
Producer: John Wiles
Director: Paddy Russell

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as designed by Jay Williams

Loose Cannon Production Details
Production Release Date: November 2001
Episode(s) Reconstructed: Episodes 1,2,3,4
Source Material: No telesnaps exist for this story
Audio recorded by Graham Strong and Richard Landen
  There are no surviving clips for this story
Other authentic pictures
  Composite pictures
  Pictures from other stories / sources
Tape length required: UK / Australia: E180
USA / Canada: T160

Bonus Material

As well as the reconstruction we are able to bring you the following goodies…


Celebrity Introduction

Special introduction by David Weston (Nicholas Muss). David also gives a brief account of the factual historical side of this story. Learn more about David's work in our Hall of Fame...


Celebrity Interview

Donald Tosh (co-writer of The Massacre and script-editor from The Time Meddler to The Massacre) has been kind enough to share some of his memories with us. Learn more about Donald's work in our Hall of Fame...


Special Note:  

No episodes of this serial are known to survive. If any should resurface and be released at a later date, please purchase such an official BBC video release to complement our reconstruction.

Support The BBC Video Releases.


Request a copy here
Please note recons are ONLY available on VHS quality.


Loose Cannon Says:

The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve was a mammoth undertaking in terms of a reconstruction. In fact, I don't think we realised that this project would take well over two years to complete when we first decided to tackle it. Generally, there is an extremely limited quantity of authentic photographic material available for this story but we have managed to unearth many rare set photographs for almost all of the main settings. These have been used in, literally, hundreds of composites which more than make up for the lack of telesnaps. One of the goals for this reconstruction was to try and obtain the correct likenesses for each of the main credited guest cast which we are pleased to say we have managed to achieve by going to quite extreme lengths to obtain a visual reference for each actor. Several original sound recording sources have been used and the audio has been remastered to provide the best possible soundtrack.

Actor David Weston (Nicholas Muss) kindly took some time to record a special introduction to the tape for us and as a bonus to the tape co-writer Donald Tosh spent some time with Loose Cannon to reminisce about The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve and his time as script editor for Dr Who.

We have paid a great deal of attention to detail for this reconstruction and hope you enjoy the Loose Cannon interpretation of this lost historical classic.


The TARDIS lands in Paris on 19th August 1572 and the Doctor, driven by scientific curiosity, leaves Steven in order to meet and exchange views with the apothecary Charles Preslin. Before he disappears, he warns Steven to stay out of 'mischief, religion and politics'.

Ignoring the Doctor's warning to stay out of trouble, Steven finds himself caught up with a group of Huguenots. The Protestant minority of France is being threatened by the Catholic hierachy and danger stalks the streets of Paris.

As Steven tries to find his way back to the TARDIS, he is horrified to find that the greatest persecuter of the Huguenots is actually none other than the Doctor himself.


Review by John Peel

Well, the Loose Cannon team have done it again - another superb reconstruction, this time of a story I'd never seen. I have to confess, John Lucarotti is one of my favorite writers for the show (can't wait for the team to get to "Marco Polo"!), and he always delivers literate, thoughtful stories. This one fairly barrels along, and even makes Steven (never my favorite companion) seem likeable.

The team have produced some stunning composite photos (I managed to detect a couple, but no doubt missed a few hundred!) and visually this is certainly a gem. It even managed to seem short at a mere four episodes!

My only complaint - a small one - is that I have problems with the whole Anne issue. The Doctor, claiming he can't change history, leaves her to (possibly) die. But he has no qualms about taking along Dodo later in the episode! (And how contrived is it that she just happens to be Anne's great-great whatever?) You can tell Donald Tosh wrote that bit!

Overall, a wonderful addition to the recon library. Get it and enjoy!


Review by David Markfield

Not always one for historicals I found the Massacre to be very enjoyable. In fact, I would put this down as one of my favorite recons. As John Peel stated the story moves along nicely.

As for the quality of the recon. Exceptional. The pictures are clear and nicely convey not only the story but a sense of action. Audio is fairly crisp.

All in all another gem from Loose Cannon.


Review by Rob Moore

The only previous attempt to reconstruct The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve had been Paul Cryer's Materialising TARDIS version. Although a valiant attempt at the time it suffered from a chronic lack of authentic material. It is only now with the skills developed by the team that this 'Political Thriller' can finally be seen in (virtually) all it's former glory.

It's taken over two years to produce and all the skill, dedication and care taken really shows on screen. The soundtrack is very clear and the composites produced are first class.

The story itself is interesting, the subject matter itself being quite gruesome! Peter Purves gets quite a lot to do, as does the supporting cast, who turn in some good performances. In particular, Steven's reaction to finding the dead Abbot (believing it to be the Doctor) must have been very effective at the time.

The only disappointment is the ending. The Doctor and Steven just sneak off as things get interesting, which I found a bit of an anti-climax. This is followed by a lengthy (and padded) scene with Dodo, it's amazing how quickly she disregards the accident she's just witnessed so that she can go off in the TARDIS.

The story lends itself well to reconstruction. There are few 'action' scenes, concentrating on lots of set pieces and speeches. Of the action scenes, the assassination attempt works very well as does the final massacre. The only scene where the action doesn't quite come across is the confrontation between Steven and Gaston in episode two.

Overall this is an excellent reconstruction, the team set new standards with every release.


Review by Emma Thompson
- yes THE Emma Thompson (her father Eric played Gaston Leran).

How exceptionally kind of you to send me the tape of Dad's Dr Who appearance. I was thrilled to receive it and will show my mother and sister who will, I am sure, also be delighted. We are very grateful and amazed at all your hard work. What a job! And isn't it TRAGIC that we don't still have it - it sounds so interesting.

Again - our heartfelt thanks - from me and all the family, Emma Thompson.

Click here to see the original letter.


Review by Mark Kvam

I just viewed the newest recon, The Massacre, and was in awe of the amount of work that you and your team has put in to it. Please pass along my appreciation to all the members for all their hard work (and to their very patient family members) for undertaking such a task. Thank you.

My review of the Massacre recon:

The recon itself deserves a 10/10. The amount of pictures and their quality is amazing. The only gripe I have (a small one) is that I had to turn up the volume on my tv louder than normal to hear everything that was said. Otherwise, a superb effort.

The story. I had high expectations for this story and I have to admit I was disappointed. The story did seem to drag in spots, the highlight being Hartnell's performance as the Abbott. Not the best historical (that honor goes to the Crusade) 6/10.


Review by Steve Worek

Well, staying up last night I patiently watched the last two episodes of "The Massacre" recon. Despite the lack of clips (only one moving portion) this was an exilherating story, and a wonderfully pieced-together recon. I would give it a ten out of ten in my book, and I recommend it to any Doctor Who fan (even those like me who don't like the historical stories)! Episode 4 is a marvellously horrifing piece of television: Hammering on the admiral's door, while the TARDIS takes off, and leaving paintings to illustrate the massacre itself. Brilliant. Only complaint is that sometimes the audio skipped and the visuals kept cutting out, but these weren't consistent. All in all, a wonderful video.


Review by Massacre designer Michael Young!

Firstly thank you for having sent me a tape of the reconstructed "Massacre" story. I have seen it all now and although my name is on it I can only say "it's a jolly good show".

There are many more action photographs than I expected and the photo composites all work excellently. All in all, I am most impressed and your modest remarks in your letter belie the finished film . It is most polished and the story really grips the viewer.

Well done to all the technical team. Please assure them it is a very recognisable memory to me. I was glad your benchwork didn't dwell on any of the artistic but none the less unfortunate bumps and cracks which epitomised BBC set work at the time and of course it cropped the set photos avoiding the "shoot offs" which always haunted me. I just wanted to nudge the camera left or right once or twice as I remembered a favourite bit of set behind the actor.

A most enjoyable tape and a splendid addition to the Dr Who Library second time around.

Click here to see the original letter.


Review by Ben Kirkham

Another brilliant reconstruction from Loose Cannon. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The composite photos work very well and I was impressed by the audio. The story itself is very downbeat and doom-laden, much like The Daleks' Master Plan before it, but it is very well performed by a polished cast. A sterling effort and a reconstruction that I shall treasure forever!


Review by Colin Nicol

Very little photographs and no telesnaps for Dr Who The Massacre,this statement can be total rubbish after watching the recon.
Some of the composite pictures look like telesnaps or publicity photographs and just slot right at home in this recon.

When The Massacre was released by BBC AUDIO Collection I never ever thought while listening to it at the time I would in the future be able to see what the story was like.

I can finally say I've Seen Bill Hartnell as the Abbot instead of just imaging it with the BBC Audio.

The time spent on this is sure appreciated by myself. I can now say I've viewed the three John Luccaroti, Hartnell historicals, first with the beeb vid of The Aztecs, the superb L-C Marco Polo and now The Massacre.


Review by Stuart Palmer

Not being able to see the majority of the historical stories was rather like listening to a song with the vocal removed; you get part of the picture but not the complete one, and the historicals were certainly important in the initial mix of Doctor Who. Now, thanks to you wonderful people, I can finally catch up on all those early tales set throughout Earth's history, and The Massacre is undoubtedly one of the best of the bunch. It has real characters, great dialogue, an intelligent plot, showcases the much underrated Steven Taylor to perfection and also gives Hartnell a chance to do something other than clutch his lapels and go "Mmh?" a lot.

The reconstruction is astonishing, more so given the limited materials you had to work with. The picture quality is excellent, the editing fluid, the soundtrack crisp and the sheer attention to detail amazing. You must have spent weeks trawling through hundreds of films just to capture the correct actors for this.

A first class effort. Thanks for putting the vocals back in the mix.


Review by Robert Stancu

I just watched the recon of The Massacre and I thought is was quite amazing. It is definitely a first class piece of work. When I found out that some of the images were just composites, I was astonished. Now I can safely say that I have seen The Massacre, probably not exactly as it was on BBC TV in the sixties, but maybe close enough. Thanks for the great entertainment, Rick Brindell and Loose Cannon!!!!


Review by Jeremy Morrow

Okay, first off, I haven't seen every Loose Cannon recon. I've seen a bunch, but not all of them. This one is easily my favorite. I'm not a huge Hartnell fan - I love Troughton stories, specifically monster stories. So a purely historical Hartnell story like this bores me to tears quite frankly. In fact, I'm still not a big fan of the story. The work on the reconstruction on it, however, is unbelievable.

Considering they had very little to work with, the work on this recon is the best work I've ever seen them do. They've gone to great lengths to get material. Their composite work is exceptional - much better than their usual level of work. I simply was knocked off my feet. The story translates very well and it was communicated excellently. I think it would be a cold day in hell before anybody could do a better job of reconstructing this story than Loose Cannon did.


Review by Nicholas Willis

I was really impressed with the Massacre recon. It was a really good historical story and William Hartnell did a really good job playing the parts of the Doctor and the Abbot of Amboise , the plot was based around the splitting of two friends and Steven was in a race against time to find the Doctor, I think that for Peter Purves this was probably one of his best stories . I really enjoyed Steven embroiling himself in the religious rivalry of the Catholics and Protestants and the fact he thought the Abbot was the Doctor and his shock when he finds him dead.

The team did a really good job in restoring this classic that has literally no surviving footage and few authentic photos, their composite work was amazing and to be highly congratulated. My favourite episode was episode 4 when Steven momentarily left the doctor and we are reminded of all the Doctor's past companions and how the Doctor is upset that they have all left him “Non of them could understand, not even my grand daughter Susan”. Of course the Doctor wasn’t alone for long as Dodo appears and finding out that Anne Chaplet survived, Steven forgives the Doctor for not intervening with history to save Anne . I loved the sets in Paris and I rate this recon as being 10/10 , and thanks to the the team for restoring this wonderful classic.

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