Monday, 21 September 2020

Radio Times Poll...

A poll has been published by Radio Times, wherein readers have voted for their all-time favourite Doctor - and what a bizarre set of results it has produced.
Only the 13 principal TV Doctors are counted, so no War Doctor or Dr Ruth.
The top spot is sort of what you might expect, with David Tennant coming first (with 10518 votes).
Thereafter it goes a bit crazy in my opinion. You have to wonder who actually took part in the vote.
Second place goes to the current incumbent of the TARDIS, Jodie Whittaker, on 10423 votes. We haven't seen her entire tenure yet, so it is hard to comprehend how you judge someone whose performance is incomplete. Younger people tend to vote for the current or more recent holder of a role, but that doesn't match the demographic of RT readership, which - if the letters pages are anything to go by - is resolutely older WASPs.
Third place goes to Peter Capaldi, which I'm glad about (8897 votes). 
You'll no doubt already be asking where Tom Baker has got to, and he isn't in fourth place either. That goes to Matt Smith, with 7637 votes.
Only now do we get to Tom Baker, in 5th position and with 3977 votes - a very long way back from Tennant as far as votes go.
William Hartnell, who sadly usually ends up near the bottom of these polls, comes in at number 6, on 1983 votes. Nice to see the original, often overlooked, Doctor do so well.
And then we get Paul McGann in 7th place (1427 votes). That means the person who only appeared in one story, generally disliked, plus one online-only anniversary prequel, has beaten the likes of Davison, Troughton and Pertwee. This really makes no sense at all, unless a lot of Big Finish listeners voted.
Christopher Eccleston comes in 8th, with 1144 votes.
Then we get Jon Pertwee in 9th, with 1038 votes, so only just pipped by Eccleston. 
Patrick Troughton is next, in 10th position, with 915 votes.
In 11th position we have Sylvester McCoy, on 462 votes.
Number 12 will please Colin Baker no end as, just for a change, he isn't bringing up the rear. He got 359 votes. 
That leaves Peter Davison in last place, which I'm sure a great many people simply won't be happy about, let alone believe. He is only just pipped by Baker, C, with 351 votes. 
All in all, a poll which fails to match just about any other one I've seen in recent years once you get beyond first place...

Thursday, 17 September 2020

What's Wrong With... The Tenth Planet

There were two major issues which affected this story - or rather the same issue, twice. Both (co)writer and star fell ill at a key stage in the production. These illnesses led to a few problems with the story as broadcast.
The Tenth Planet sees the final outing for William Hartnell as the Doctor, the first of what will be known as a regeneration, and the first appearance of the Cybermen, who will go on to dominate the tenure of the man who appears very briefly, and uncredited, at the conclusion of this story.
Although broadcast second in Season 4, the story was the first to be produced - The Smugglers having been made at the end of Season 3 and held over to launch the next season.
As such, Hartnell was no longer under a long term contract. He was contracted for these final four episodes in the same way the guest cast was, so you could argue he is a guest star in his own show on this occasion. During the break between seasons, he went to Cornwall for a few weeks and indulged in one of his passions - angling. The director, Derek Martinus, knew how fragile he as, so wrote some nice letters to him, including one letting him know that Robert Beatty was going to be guesting - knowing Hartnell had worked with him before and got on well with him.
Sadly he was to fall I'll and miss the third episode, and his final episode is famously lost, so our final sight of him, before his guest appearance in The Three Doctors, is in Part 2.
Kit Pedler had been offering story suggestions for a while, and one of his ideas concerned "space monks", from Earth's long lost sister world. His concerns about the ethics of spare part surgery lead to the creation of the Cybermen.
Keen to write himself, and not just be an ideas man, he entered into a collaboration with Story Editor Gerry Davis, at the insistence of Davis and the producer, Innes Lloyd. Pedler simply didn't have the writing experience to furnish the four scripts on his own.
Pedler became seriously ill towards the end of the writing process, ending up in hospital for an operation on his abdomen. Davis had to finish the story himself, with Pedler contributing some ideas only for the final instalment. This is why the Cybermen seem to suddenly change their scheme, out of the blue, in Part 4.
For the Doctor at least, this is a historical story. How else would he know what the new planet is - leaving a written description before anyone has been able to observe what it looks like. He also tells everyone at Snowcap base that they will be getting visitors from the planet shortly (though he doesn't seem to know they are emotionless Cybermen). He also knows that the humans should simply do nothing about this, only bide their time. He would have seen the calendar, and heard Ben speaking to the Sergeant, so knows exactly what is supposed to happen in December 1986. If this is not the case, then it is a serious plot problem. And if he does know so much about the return to the Solar System of Mondas, why does he know so little about the Cybermen ("Have you no emotions...")?
In Part 1 Ben sarcastically questions how anyone could just turn up at the South Pole, despite he, Polly and the Doctor having just done so themselves.
He also asks if it is Santa Claus who is bringing them, when he really ought to know that Santa resides at the North Pole...
Whilst we can just about imagine a 1965 comic book being in relatively pristine condition in 1966, it has fared remarkably well to have survived through to 1986, considering the number of people who must have read it over the decades. Not a lot you can do through the long Antarctic winter.
But this is December - so it's supposed to be the middle of the Antarctic summer. Why is there a blizzard in full swing?
The Cybermen state that Mondas travelled to "the edge of space" before returning to its sister. What does that mean? The edge of the Solar System? Of the Galaxy? Can't be the former if they have spaceships more advanced than ours - else they would have visited sooner. If the latter then we're around 25 million light years from Galactic Centre, and the diameter of the Milky Way is around 100 million light years, so Mondas has travelled 50 million light years if it has been to the edge of the galaxy.
How has it arrived back? Was it an elliptical course, so due to return anyway, or has it been deliberately piloted? The Cybermen seem to suggest they have piloted it, then state that they have no control over it.
They certainly can't control the power draining, but since when was that a natural planetary phenomenon? And what kind of power is it that they're draining, if it can affect the health of some astronauts. If the Cybermen are draining the Earth, why no OFF switch?
Why do they need Earth's energy in the first place if they can pilot planets and suck the energy from others?
When they first invade the base, one of the Cybermen starts asking for the personal details of the crew. 
Why do this, if they plan to convert everyone anyway? It will take a very long time indeed if they're going to personally interview everyone on Earth before transporting them to Mondas.
As mentioned, Davis had to step in and finish this story, so in Part 4 the Cybermen suddenly plan to destroy the Earth, and mass conversion is off the menu. They also seem to know all about the base's doomsday missiles, out of nowhere.
Hartnell's illness, and absence from Part 3, meant that lines had to redistributed. It's fine for scientist Barclay to know some of the material the Doctor was meant to say, as David Dodimead is one of the beneficiaries of the script rejig, but Ben also suddenly becomes very knowledgeable about nuclear reactors. Ben is forced to keep saying that the Doctor told him something earlier, to explain his sudden scientific knowledge, despite there never having been an occasion earlier when this could have happened.
The Doctor is left lying, face away from the camera (as it's Hartnell's double) for the episode. He's in the bunk room, which has a ventilation shaft leading straight to the Z-Bomb launch bay - which means anyone sleeping in a bunk at lift-off is burnt to a crisp.
Security at Snowcap is bad enough for the Doctor and his companions to be left pretty much free to wander about if this is just a space monitoring station, but the fact that this base also houses the Z-Bomb makes the lack of security many times worse.
This is the first of the base-under-siege stories in Doctor Who, the first of many more to come. Therefore we have a commanding officer who is entirely unsuited to command. Clearly there's no sort of psychological evaluation. If there was, why did they send General Cutler's son into space in the middle of a crisis which would be monitored from his mentally unstable dad's base?
No real fluffs this time, but we do have a couple of typos in the credits. Pedler's first name is given as Kitt instead of Kit, and we get Davies instead of Davis.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Inspirations - Trial of a Time Lord (5)


The final section of Trial of a Time Lord, comprising two episodes, is generally referred to as The Ultimate Foe. This plus the preceding four part Vervoid adventure were produced as a single block, under the same director.
Whilst Parts 9 - 12 had seen a number of writers approached, these last two episodes were always going to be written by Robert Holmes, who had set the whole story up with the opening four episodes. Sadly, this would be his final work on the programme, and he only completed rough notes for the 13th instalment before his death (from Hepatitis C complications, brought on by eating dodgy seafood). Eric Saward worked closely with him, so it made sense for him to complete the story in the manner which Holmes had intended. The title Holmes had in mind for this final instalment of the Trial was "Time Inc".
The relationship between Saward and his producer had been deteriorating for some time. Saward wasn't happy with the casting of Colin Baker, and disliked JNT's attitude towards the writing and the writers. He hated how JNT favoured his annual pantomime and convention attendances over production of the show. Saward had taken to working more and more at home, rarely venturing into the production office.
Holmes' illness added extra stress to the script editor.
Saward submitted the 13th episode, and got agreement from JNT for the 14th. This was to have ended on a cliffhanger, with the Doctor and the Valeyard tumbling into a time vent, potentially trapped forever. JNT had agreed to this, but then got cold feet. Knowing that the BBC had only grudgingly kept the programme going, placing it on trial, JNT fretted that the Corporation might take a cliffhanger ending as an excuse to end the series all together. He asked for the resolution to be changed. This went against Holmes' intentions. As this was his cherished mentor's final work, Saward felt honour-bound to protect his vision. After a short stalemate, Saward felt there was nothing he could do but to withdraw his 14th episode. he also delivered the hostile interview to Starburst Magazine, as mentioned last time, getting all his frustrations with the producer off his chest.

JNT was left, very late in the day, with no ending to the series. He met Pip and Jane Baker, who had contributed Parts 9 - 12, at the BBC, and asked them to come to his office. There he explained that he needed a final episode in double quick time. He knew that they could write quickly and competently, with little need for supervision. The script for episode 13 was taxied over to them to read, then they were invited into the BBC the next day. A lawyer was present, to ensure that JNT did not give them any details about the now withdrawn Part 14.
Most of the big developments take place in Part 13. It is here that we discover that the Valeyard is actually a future incarnation of the Doctor, originating between his 12th and final selves, and is an amalgamation of all the darker aspects of his personality. The secrets sought by Glitz and Dibber in The Mysterious Planet are really extracts from the Time Lord Matrix, stolen by agents from Andromeda.
The whole trial was established by a corrupt High Council of Time Lords to cover these thefts up. The Master knew about them, as he has been hiding in the Matrix the whole time - observing the trial. If he has to have a nemesis, he would much rather it was the soft Doctor than an evil version of him. If the Doctor loses his trial he will be executed, with his remaining regenerations given to the Valeyard, who seeks his own existence. His identity unmasked, the Valeyard flees into the Matrix - so the Doctor gives chase.
This is all Holmes so far. He first introduced the Matrix back in The Deadly Assassin, where the idea of the Time Lords having a propensity towards corruption and underhand behaviour also first arose. Holmes came up with the idea that the Matrix could be entered, and whoever controlled it could make it a surreal, nightmarish environment. The Deadly Assassin also had a basis in political conspiracy thrillers. There is some of that here as well, as we have agents stealing information, corrupt regimes, spying on people (the Time Lords monitor the Doctor surreptitiously via his own TARDIS) and manipulating people (messing about with the Matrix).

The Doctor finds himself in a nocturnal Victorian-themed place. This again goes back to Holmes' literary obsessions, most notably seen in The Talons of Weng-Chiang. Holmes had wanted a large, cylindrical building, like the interior of a cooling tower, but the director hit on the idea of the potteries of Stoke-on-Trent, with their distinctive bottle-shaped kilns. The cooling tower interior may have been inspired by the Terry Gilliam movie Brazil, which opened in February 1985.
Holmes' intended cliffhanger conclusion is obviously inspired by The Final Problem, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which saw Sherlock Holmes and arch-enemy Professor Moriarty plunge into the Reichenbach Falls.
In this Victorian realm, we come across an office clerk named Mr Popplewick, who derives from the sort of quirky characters created by Charles Dickens. His insistence on bureaucratic procedures are reminiscent of the Circumlocution Office, which features in Little Dorrit, where an inheritance case has been going round in circles for decades.
Dickens is also referenced when the Doctor is taken to his execution on a tumbril - it's Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. Mel specifically refers to Sidney Carton, the anti-hero of the book, and the Doctor goes on to quote his famous "It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done..." speech.
If JNT chickened out on the conclusion of the story, he also chickened out with the death of Peri - as we get a coda wherein the Doctor learns that she never died on Thoros Beta, but is now happily living with King Yrcanos. We also learn that the Valeyard has escaped death in the Matrix, though JNT ordered future writers never to include the character.
The story / series proved unpopular with fans (including future showrunner Chris Chibnall), but the BBC did decide that the show could continue. JNT was told to prepare for Season 24, despite him believing that he was going to be released to pursue other projects, and having no script editor or stories lined up, but first he had to let Colin Baker know that his services would no longer be required...

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Fury From The Deep (animated) - Review

Monday sees the release on DVD / Blu-ray of the lost Troughton story Fury From The Deep, in animated form.
It comes in both colour and B&W versions, and it was the B&W version, on Disc 1, which I opted to watch last night. This was partly for aesthetic reasons, as the story was made in B&W, and intended to be seen in B&W, but for practical reasons as well - as Disc 1 is also where you find all the surviving material from the story. The colour version is on Disc 2, whose extras relate to the animation only. Disc 3 sees the making-of documentary, archive interviews with writer and VFX personnel, and the radio drama The Slide, which was this story's ancestor. More on these shortly.
Fury From The Deep is a story which I have long hoped would be animated, as it is one of the story's I know least. For some reason, the audio soundtrack was always either unavailable on Amazon, or listed at an extortionate price, so I never bought it. I tried to watch a reconstruction on YouTube, but certain sections of some episodes were missing.
I have got the complete set of telesnaps, and have read detailed synopses, so it wasn't a complete unknown.
A couple of criticisms of the animation have to be made. I find it odd that people can take such great care over facial likenesses, and yet pay little attention to limbs. Most of the characters in this animation have bizarrely long arms. Character movement isn't terribly well done either. For some reason the Doctor likes to spend a lot of time with his arms crossed, or on his hips - something Troughton rarely did. The likeness of Frazer Hines is rather poor, and Van Lutyens reminds you constantly of the Frankenstein Monster, as played by Boris Karloff, with his flat head and elongated arms.
One likeness which is very good is Robson's, as anyone familiar with Victor Maddern's work will recognise.
We also have the return of the Delgado-Master 'Wanted' poster, which first featured as a background joke in the The Faceless Ones animation. Unfortunately here it is in a rather prominent position in the Impeller Room, and there's a scene at the end of Part Two with two characters talking, with the poster annoyingly distracting in between them.
If you want an animation which reflects closely what you would have seen on TV at the time, then you are okay up to the cliffhanger of Part Five. Huge liberties are then taken with the seaweed creatures in Part Six. Part Five, on screen, ended with the Doctor and Jamie confronting Robson, who is alone in a mass of foam. Here, he is surrounded by other characters who have been taken over, and he is covered in writhing seaweed tentacles, which sprout from his body. It looks great - but has nothing to do with the broadcast programme. When the helicopter escapes from the sea fort, massive seaweed tentacles try to capture it - tentacles 100 feet long. On screen, the Doctor simply flew around the fort trying to get the hang of the controls. One of the possessed in the cliffhanger is Van Lutyens, who never featured after Part Four in the broadcast version. He's there at the very end of the story as well in the animation.
Overall, it is actually well done for the most part. I'll give the colour version a go on my next viewing. This was Debbie Watling's final story, and Victoria's departure has only really been set up here. At least they provide a lengthy coda, after the weed has been defeated, to give her a proper send-off.
As mentioned, Disc 1 contains the surviving material. This is in three forms - censor clips, film trims, and behind the scenes material from the Ealing filming for the conclusion (which is in colour). The whole sequence of the defeat of the weed is recreated using these elements.
Disc 2 is the colour version, as mentioned, with featurettes on the animation's creation. I haven't got round to watching these yet, so can't comment.
Disc 3 has a very good documentary, filmed on location at Botany Bay, near Margate, where the beach scenes were originally filmed. There is also a trip out to Red Sands Sea Fort by Michael E Briant (PA on this, and future director of several classic Doctor Who stories), Frazer Hines, and the helicopter pilot "Mad" Mike Smith. Unfortunately Hines is unable to manage the ladder up to the fort, but the older Mike, who walks with a stick, does make it. Back on dry land we get Margot Hayhoe (AFM), and actors Jane Murphy (Maggie Harris) and her husband Brian Cullingford (Perkins). The latter pair met on the show. Documentaries are so much better these days than the old "talking heads" ones. Hopefully the Blu-ray box-sets will see new documentaries in this more visually interesting style.
There are archive interviews with the late Victor Pemberton (the writer), whose memory of the rewrites either escapes him, or he just didn't want to admit defeat, and with Peter Day, the VFX man on this production.
Last, but by no means least, we get all 7 episodes of the 1966 BBC radio drama The Slide, which was written by Pemberton. This was originally proposed for Doctor Who in 1964, but rejected. It stars two future Time Lords - Maurice Denham and Roger Delgado. The plot has some links with Fury From The Deep, with a malevolent substance bubbling up from the depths, with the power to take over people's minds, and the efforts of the scientist heroes hampered by an obnoxious authority figure.
This was repeated only a few weeks ago on BBC Radio 4X, but I'm glad it's here on this release as when I tried to record it earlier the endings to most of the episodes were cut off. Radio 4X have form in this area.
As things stand, we now have no future releases confirmed. I'm hoping that the next Complete Season Box-set will be announced very soon. We all need something  to look forward to.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Story 230 - The Power of Three

In which the Earth is invaded. Very slowly.
One morning Amy and Rory are woken early by his dad, Brian. They see that the street is covered in small black cubes, all identical. The Doctor has parked the TARDIS opposite, and is examining a cube. They appear to be featureless, and impossible to open. The Doctor is at a loss to explain what they are, where they have come from, or why they are here, as the TV news reports that this is a global phenomenon.
As the Doctor and Amy discuss the situation, and Rory prepares to go to work at a nearby hospital, a squad of UNIT soldiers bursts in. They are commanded by a woman named Kate Stewart - a scientist rather than a soldier. She informs the Doctor that UNIT has set up an alarm to identify Artron energy, to let them know if the TARDIS has landed. The Doctor tells her that he will remain at the house to observe the cubes. It only takes him a short time to become bored. Brian decides to set up a video camera and train it on a cube, and to keep a log of any developments.

Time passes, and people become used to the objects. The Doctor, Amy and Rory then continue to make occasional journeys in the TARDIS. The Ponds have been discussing their life with the Doctor and have been thinking of giving it up. They are aware of missing out on a lot of things whilst they are away. Rory is being encouraged to work full-time. They see these new travels as a sort of farewell to the lifestyle. Things do not always go to planned. A visit to the Savoy Hotel on its opening night in 1890 ends disastrously when it transpires that the hotel is run by Zygon duplicates. One evening, at their wedding anniversary party, Brian confronts the Doctor - wanting to know if they will always be safe with him.
A year or so after the cubes first appeared, everyone has become complacent about them. This concerns the Doctor, as people have them in their homes and workplaces. They have yet to show any sign of life.
Then, one day, they begin to activate. Brian sees his start to move by itself. One flies into the air and fires laser bolts at the Doctor. Another produces tiny razor sharp needles, which cut Amy's hand.
The Doctor goes with Amy to UNIT HQ, still located beneath the Tower of London, where Kate Stewart reports that all the cubes seem to be exhibiting totally different activities.
At Rory's hospital, a strange little girl observes what is going on, a blue light shining in her eyes at times. A pair of orderlies, who appear to be identical twins, start abducting patients. Beneath their surgical masks they have inhuman features. Brian has been helping out at the hospital, and he too is taken by them. Rory had followed the orderlies, only to find they had vanished in a closed lift.

The cubes then all start to co-ordinate their behaviour - showing the number 7. When this changes to a 6, the Doctor realises that a countdown has begun. When the countdown reaches zero, all the boxes open. Across the planet, people begin to collapse - victims of heart attacks. The Doctor realises that the cubes have been silently monitoring the human race for the last year, looking for its weaknesses. The Doctor also suffers cardiac arrest, though only affecting one of his hearts, and is rushed to the hospital where Rory works. He spots the little girl and discovers she is an android observer. After Amy uses a defibrillator to kick start the Doctor's heart, Rory takes them to the lift. The Doctor reveals that it contains a disguised multi-dimensional portal. They pass through and find themselves on an alien spaceship. Brian is here. In control is a being who the Doctor identifies as one of the Shakri, an ancient, almost mythical race. They see themselves as the custodians of order throughout the universe, and they have foreseen how the human race will bring disorder. They have therefore come to prevent this from happening - by wiping out all life on the planet. The Shakri informs the Doctor that a second wave of cubes are about to be sent, then vanishes, as he was only a remote hologram. The Doctor realises that the cubes absorbed electrical energy to trigger the heart attacks, and this can be reversed. All over the planet, the cubes jolt people's hearts back into action. The Doctor then sets the spaceship to self-destruct, closing the portals to Earth.
Kate thanks the Doctor for his help, and he reveals he knows that her full name is Kate Lethbridge-Stewart - daughter of the Brigadier. Brian gives his blessing for his son and Amy to continue their travels with the Doctor...

The Power of Three was written by Chris Chibnall, and was first broadcast on 22nd September, 2012.
The story title is a play on both the alien cubes, and to the trio of the Doctor, Amy and Rory.
A number squared, multiplied by itself just the once, geometrically, would give a two dimensional object (length and breadth), whilst a number multiplied by itself twice (cubed) would give a three dimensional object (length, breadth and depth).
Viewers were already aware that Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill would be leaving in the following story, so this episode provides their last hurrah, and very much focuses on them. We see a lot of their life without the Doctor, and what they have been missing whilst they have been away, and at the start they are contemplating giving up this lifestyle. They are now much older than their contemporaries, as they can be gone for months then returned a few minutes after they left. However, TARDIS travel is addictive, and it is clear that they will likely fail to make a clean break. This addiction to TARDIS travel will become a much deeper theme with the next companion. The ending is upbeat, but dark undertones have been introduced, and we the viewers know that ultimately an unhappy ending is looming.

UNIT plays a prominent role in proceedings. We revisit their HQ, hidden under the Tower of London as first revealed in The Christmas Invasion. The character of Kate Stewart is introduced. She is the Brigadier's daughter, who dropped the "Lethbridge" so that she could make her own mark on the organisation. Following his many experiences with the Doctor, her father had advised her that science should lead, rather than the military side of the equation, and she has fought to bring this about.
Kate is played by Jemma Redgrave.
As we wait for the mysterious cubes to actually do something, there is plenty of time to show various little incidents in the life of Amy and Rory, including some TARDIS trips. Most significant of these is the Savoy Hotel visit, which was meant to be a romantic event for the pair. We don't ever see one, but it is revealed that the hotel has been infiltrated by Zygons. We also briefly see them in the time of Henry VIII, where Amy is supposed to have accidentally married the monarch. We mentioned this last time, under A Town Called Mercy, when a trip to Henry's court was mentioned and mobile phone charger lost. In many ways, this section of the episode is a companion piece to the Pond Life prequels, by the same writer.
This week's variation for the series logo is to have it patterned with the black cubes.

As well as Redgrave, the main guest artist is actor and playwright Steven Berkoff, who portrays the Shakri. He only appears very briefly in the closing section of the story, but makes for a sinister presence, with effective make-up. Berkoff is best known for more experimental theatre work and movies, but does go mainstream as well. He was one of the principal villains in a Bond movie - Octopussy - as a Russian general, and played a similar role in the second Rambo film.
Brian Williams is once again played by Mark Williams, having been introduced by Chibnall in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship two stories previously. The identical twin orderlies are indeed played by identical twins, David and Daniel Beck, rather than realised through any split screen / CGI means.
There are also two appearances from TV personalities playing themselves - Alan Sugar and Brian Cox.
Lord Sugar appears in a clip from The Apprentice, where the would-be apprentices have been tasked with marketing the cubes, and Dr Cox appears as part of a BBC news segment. In 2013, Cox would present a special programme about the science of Doctor Who, as part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations.

Overall, a fairly enjoyable episode, with enough variety to keep your attention. The main threat has an extremely weak resolution, meaning the journey is more enjoyable than reaching the destination.
Things you might like to know:
  • The working title for this story was "Cubed".
  • Chibnall stated that one of his inspirations was the running aground of a cargo vessel on the coast of Devon. The contents of its containers washed up on shore and there was a frenzy amongst the locals to collect the items, even though they didn't necessarily need them, or even know what they were sometimes.
  • Back in 1971, the draft scripts for The Daemons gave the Brigadier a wife. She was to have been called Fiona. This was all cut before the final drafts, and Nicholas Courtney at the time was glad as he felt it a mistake to show the Brigadier's home life. The Daemons was directed by Christopher Barry, who also had a hand in the final drafts of the story, and he returned to direct a made-for-video spin-off in 1995 - "Downtime". Written by Marc Platt, it was a sequel to the two Yeti stories of the Troughton era. The Brigadier featured, and in this he had a daughter - Kate. She lived on a narrow boat and had a son, and the Brigadier had been estranged from them both. Kate was played by Beverley Crossman on this instance. This Kate also found her way into other spin-off material. There is little to connect her and the Kate we see here beyond the name. Kate Stewart of UNIT never mentions a son, and the Kate from "Downtime" showed no signs of joining, and taking over, UNIT.
  • The satellite shot of Rory's hospital is actually one of the BBC's White City complex in Hammersmith, though turned upside down.
  • Some of Brian's dialogue, where he wonders about what the cubes might be, is lifted from a computer game called "Surviving Mars".
  • Chibnall is the first writer since 2005 to have more than one story commissioned in the same season - normally something reserved for the showrunner only. He was due to contribute a third story, for the second half of the series, but his crime drama Broadchurch was commissioned and he was too busy on that.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

I is for... Ice Soldiers

A quartet of men who were dressed in the style of Teutonic knights, encountered by the Doctor's companions on the planet Marinus. This was at the location of the third key they had to find, to operate the Conscience Machine. The soldiers were frozen into immobility in a cavern in the mountains of a snowy region, standing guard over the key, which was embedded in a block of ice. Each was armed with a different weapon - sword, mace, battleaxe and lance.
When hot water from a thermal vent was used to melt the block, it raised the temperature in the cavern as well and brought the soldiers back to life. Charged with protecting it, they gave chase through the ice tunnels. One fell to his death down a ravine. The remaining three pursued the companions back to the hut of a sadistic fur trapper named Vasor, where the travel dials they needed to escape were to be found. They hurriedly left just before the soldiers broke in, though one of them had killed the trapper when he thrust his sword through the wooden door.

Played by: Michael Allaby, Alan James, Peter Stenson and Anthony Verner. Appearances: The Keys of Marinus (1964).
  • The exact nature of the Ice Soldiers is never explained. They appear to be human - we see a close-up of a very human eye under his helmet as one of them wakes up, and another screams when he falls into a ravine - and yet they survive being frozen for centuries. The 1979 Target non-fiction book The Adventures of K9 and other Mechanical Creatures, written by Terrance Dicks no less, lists them as robots.
  • The scripts referred to each of them by the particular weapon they wielded, to help identify who was who in studio.
  • Stenson appeared in three different roles in this story. As well as an Ice Soldier he also played a Voord and one of the judges in the city of Millennius.

I is for... Ice Governess

When the Great Intelligence first came to Earth it fell as a form of sentient snow. This was in the winter of 1842. It took over the mind of a small boy, named Walter Simeon. 50 years later, it needed to create a body for itself, and used a dead governess as a template for this. The woman, who was governess to the Latimer children, had fallen into a pond the previous Christmas and drowned. Her young charges had hated and feared her. At Christmas 1892, the creation of the template was complete and the governess was reborn as a creature of ice. She maintained some of the original governess' cruel personality. She attacked the Doctor and the Latimer household, which now included her replacement, Clara Oswin Oswald. The Doctor and Clara lured her onto the roof of the house, where the TARDIS was hidden hovering above. However, the Ice Governess followed them up to the ship and seized hold of Clara. Both fell to the ground. Clara was killed, and the Ice Governess shattered into fragments. The Intelligence believed that even these shards could be useful, as it was prepared to accept them from the Doctor, but it was a trick and the Doctor hadn't brought them to it at all. He would keep them in the TARDIS to prevent her from reconstituting herself.

Voiced by: Juliet Cadzow. Appearances: The Snowmen (2012).
  • Cadzow is probably best known for her appearances in cult children's TV show Balamory, as Edie McCredie - a show name-checked in Doctor Who itself (in Tooth and Claw).