Sunday, 10 December 2017

C is for... Creet

A young boy who helped out at the rocket silo on the planet Malcassairo. He was amongst the last members of the human race at the end of the universe, hoping to find continued survival in the place known as "Utopia". When the Doctor, Martha and Jack came into the compound with a man named Padra, Creet helped the latter find the rest of his family who were sheltering there. Later, Creet told Martha of his hopes for Utopia, claiming that his mother had told him that the skies were made of diamonds. Creet left the planet when the Doctor helped to launch the rocket.
Later, the Master arranged for the Toclafane to travel back through time to attack the Earth. Martha disabled one of the creatures and opened up its casing - discovering that it contained a cyborg human head. The creature mentioned Utopia's skies being made of diamonds - and she realised that the Toclafane were what those last humans on Malcassairo had become. They had a shared mind, which included that of Creet.

Played by: John Bell. Appearances: Utopia (2007).

  • Bell was nine years old when he won the part of Creet in a competition organised by Blue Peter.
  • He has gone on to great things - playing Bain in the second and third of The Hobbit movies, Perseus' son Helias in Wrath of the Titans, and the younger version of Ewen Bremner's character, Spud, in the Trainspotting sequel. He has recently joined the cast of Outlander.

C is for... Crayford, Guy

Guy Crayford was the chief astronaut with the British Space Defence Agency, which was based outside the village of Devesham. Sarah Jane Smith had reported on his disappearance, when contact with his ship had been lost near Jupiter. It was assumed it had been struck by an asteroid and destroyed. Crayford had actually been abducted by the alien Kraals. They brainwashed him into believing that they had saved his life, rebuilding his body save for one of his eyes, and repairing his vessel. Chief scientist Styggron then used his brain patterns to recreate Devesham, the Space Defence complex and its environs on their home planet of Oseidon. These were populated with android facsimiles of the real base personnel and villagers, including members of UNIT such as W.O. Benton and Harry Sullivan. Styggron claimed that the Kraals needed to evacuate their planet due to rising radiation levels, and they wanted to live peaceably with humans on the Earth, so Crayford co-operated fully. He did not know that the Kraals really meant to use the androids to deploy a lethal virus that would wipe out Earth's population within a few weeks.
The Doctor and Sarah met Crayford when the TARDIS materialised outside the fake village. Crayford knew of the Doctor, though they had never met, and took their belief that they were on Earth to prove the replica was a great success. Military chief Chedaki was concerned that the androids could prove dangerous to the Kraals, and so Styggron had Crayford's mind scanned once again - to create a hostile android. It could then be demonstrated that the androids were not immune to Kraal weapons.
Crayford had established contact with the Agency, claiming he had been adrift in space for the last two years, keeping alive by recycling his food and water. The androids would infiltrate the Earth when his ship returned home. The Doctor was able to convince Crayford that the Kraals had been lying to him - his eye was never lost - and that the aliens intended to wipe out the human race. Crayford turned on Styggron, but the Kraal scientist shot him dead.

Played by: Milton Johns. Appearances: The Android Invasion (1975).

  • Second of three appearances in the programme for Johns - the first being Benik in Enemy of the World, and the last being Castellan Kelner in The Invasion of Time
  • Crayford removing his eye-patch and finding he still has his left eye is often derided as one of the silliest things in all of Doctor Who. Why, in two years, has he never noticed? The only explanation is that he was mentally conditioned not to notice - to reinforce that the Kraals had saved him and were benign.

C is for... Cranleigh

The Cranleigh Family had comprised eldest son George, who was a noted botanist, his younger brother Charles, and their mother Lady Cranleigh, who was known as Madge to her friends. George embarked on a trek to South America to look for the fabled Black Orchid. He found it, but was captured by the local tribe, who tortured him, physically and mentally. He was rescued by Latoni, chief of a rival tribe. Latoni smuggled George back to England, where he stayed on to look after him in a locked-off wing of the family home. The family ensured that it became known that George had died on his expedition, and Charles inherited the title as Lord Cranleigh. He also took George's fiancee Ann Talbot for his own bride to be.

When the Doctor and his companions visited the area in 1926, it was discovered that Nyssa was the exact double of Ann. As a prank they decided to wear the same costume at a forthcoming masque-ball. George escaped and murdered one of his attendants. The Doctor discovered the corpse after becoming lost in the house's secret passageways. By the time he brought Lady Cranleigh to see the body, Latoni had removed it. George, meanwhile, had donned the Doctor's harlequin costume and gone downstairs, where he attacked Ann and killed the butler. George was recaptured and put back in his room, whilst the Doctor was accused of the attacks. George escaped once more, this time killing Latoni, who manged to put the key to the bedroom door out of reach before he died. George set fire to the door in order to break through it, and this set light to the house. He seized Nyssa, mistaking her for Ann, and they became trapped on the roof. Charles climbed up and convinced George to let Nyssa go. He then panicked and fell to his death. The Doctor and his companions stayed on for his funeral, and the Doctor was gifted a copy of George's book - Black Orchid.

Played by: Michael Cochrane (Charles), Barbara Murray (Lady Cranleigh), and Gareth Milne (George). Appearances: Black Orchid (1982).

  • Milne was one of the series' stunt-men. As the role of George (billed as "The Unknown" for the first episode) was non-speaking and involved some stunt work, he was given the part. 
  • He injured himself during the fall from the roof-top, his lower body missing the crash-mats.
  • Michael Cochrane returns to the show, as explorer Redvers Fenn-Cooper, in Ghost Light, the last story to be recorded before the programme was taken off the air in 1989.
  • The question has to be asked: when exactly did George write his book? It tells of his expedition to find the Black Orchid - the one where he was captured, mutilated and driven insane. Presumably Charles and Latoni ghosted it between themselves.

C is for... Crane, Nurse

Nurse Crane was employed to look after the scientist Professor Judson, who had been confined to a wheelchair for many years. She accompanied him to a military base on England's north east coast in 1943, where Judson was building his Ultima decoding machine. The fiercely independent Judson hated being looked after, but the stern nurse put up with his insults and hectoring ways. When the Ultima Machine decoded the ancient curse created by Fenric and freed him from his imprisonment, it was Judson's body that he first took over for himself. Retaining the professor's memories, he took great relish in setting the vampiric Haemovores on the nurse.

Played by: Anne Reid. Appearances: The Curse of Fenric (1989).

  • The novelisation fleshes out Nurse Crane's character, making her a Soviet agent who is part of the plot to steal the Ultima Machine.
  • Reid returned to the programme in 2007, to play the Plasmavore Florence in Smith and Jones.

C is for... Crane, Mr

Crane worked for industrialist John Lumic on the parallel world where a new race of Cybermen were created. Crane had the job of procuring homeless people around London who could be converted into Cybermen, so that Lumic would have a force that would enable him to launch his full-scale conversion plans. Victims would be lured into the back of an International Electromatics truck with the promise of free food. Crane would then supervise the conversions at the Battersea Power Plant complex, where he would listen to 1980's pop songs to drown out the screams. When Lumic triggered the signal that would bring everyone wearing his ear-pods under his control, Crane rebelled - pretending that his pods had failed. Rather than be converted, he attacked Lumic, wrecking his life support unit. Crane was killed with an electrical charge from a Cyberman.

Played by: Colin Spaull. Appearances: Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel (2006).

  • Director Graeme Harper had used Spaull before, casting him as Lilt in Revelation of the Daleks back in 1985.
  • One of his earliest roles as a child actor had been as Noddy, in the BBC's 1950's adaptation of the Enid Blyton children's stories.

C is for... Cowell, Emma-Louise

A young woman from the 1950's, who found herself in the Cardiff of 2007. The plane she was travelling on had passed through the Rift in time and space which was centred on the city. Emma had to get used to living in this modern world. She was befriended by Gwen Cooper, who pretended to her boyfriend Rhys that Emma was a cousin. He discovered from her mother that she had no such relative. Emma stayed at a hostel with her fellow time-travellers, and made friends with a couple of girls living there. Some drawings she had made of 1950's fashions chimed with current retro-fashion looks, and she found herself offered a job in London as a designer. Of the three people who had travelled through the Rift, Emma was the only one to embrace the new opportunities which this afforded and make a new life here.

Played by: Olivia Hallinan. Appearances: TW 1.10 Out of Time (2006).

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Inspirations - The Faceless Ones

This story finally sees Malcolm Hulke get his name in the opening credits of a Doctor Who, though he has to share them with David Ellis. Hulke's name featured frequently back when the series first started, as he had a proposal for something that might have been called "The Hidden Planet" under consideration for the first season. This same story idea may also be the one known as "Beyond the Sun", as it featured a planet identical to Earth, but with some things in reverse, and which had Barbara Wright's double as its leader.
That story never did make it to the screen, although it sounds a bit like Gerry Anderson's Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (aka Doppelganger).
One element that does seem to have found its way into The Faceless Ones is the idea of doubles. This story features a new race of aliens who are known as the Chameleons, who have lost their physical identities in what is described as a "galactic explosion". From their lumpy, unformed features, it looks as if they are the victims of some kind of radiation mutation. Their idea to get round this is to travel to Earth and abduct thousands of young humans, keeping them miniaturised and in suspended animation whilst they take on their physical appearances, as well as their personalities. The process requires the humans to be kept alive, otherwise the Chameleons end up a puddle on the floor.

The initial story idea was called "The Big Store", and the action took place in a large high street department store. This had been infiltrated by aliens who came in two factions. There were human-looking ones known by a number, and some cruder types known by a letter. During the day, the crude ones were disguised as shop window mannequins. Hulke may have told his lodger, Terrance Dicks about this storyline, and he later told Robert Holmes - though Holmes may have just come up with the Autons all on his lonesome. The idea of shifting the action to an airport may be a leftover from one of the early Troughton scripts which failed to make it to the screen - William Emms' "The Imps", which was set in a spaceport.
Presumably the aliens do not actually call themselves Chameleons all the time - otherwise it would be a mighty big coincidence. They certainly have an airline set up, which specialises in cheap flights for young people, and this is called Chameleon Tours. In an earlier draft, it was Pied Piper Tours - as in they lure young folk away.

When discussing the previous story, we looked at the holiday camp option for cheap, affordable family holidays. The first organised foreign tours had been organised by Thomas Cook back in the mid 19th Century, but in 1950, the Horizon Holiday Group arranged the first of what we now think of as package holidays - flying out of Gatwick to Corsica. These package deals meant that the flights and hotel booking were all handled and paid for together. Similar deals were then launched by the company to Palma in 1952, Lourdes in 1953, and to the Costa Brava and Sardinia in 1954. There's no mention here of Chameleon Tours offering any form of accommodation (they wouldn't need to, as no-one is going to be staying there), and all their destinations appear to be short-haul European city breaks, so they are more like the budget airlines we have today. Chameleon Tours also seem to be foreshadowing the Club 18 - 30 type holidays, as they are aimed primarily at young people.
The original plan had been to film at Heathrow Airport, but this was refused and eventually London's second international airport at Gatwick was agreed upon. This turned out to be a good move as it wasn't quite so busy as Heathrow. Back in 1967, airports were still mysterious, glamorous places, and the production team got their monies' worth with lots of shots of Jamie wandering around the Terminal building in the earlier episodes.
"The Big Store" had been an alien invasion story, but here the Chameleons only want to take people away and steal their likenesses. To do this they have infiltrated the airport, replacing key figures such as Nurse Pinto and the Air Traffic Controller, Meadows. Presumably they did not go to the bother of setting up their own airline from scratch, and the Tours personnel have also been doubled as a job lot. This infiltration scenario is not dissimilar to certain spy features, where the Russians replace people in an out of the way community and they have to learn how to speak and act like them in order to become sleeper agents. Take as an example the first of the Emma Peel Avengers episodes, The Town of No Return, or the Danger Man episode Colony Three - though in the case of the latter story, the town is a replica one behind the Iron Curtain.

This story sees a number of notable departures. Behind the scenes, it is the last story to be worked on by Shawcraft Models, who had been handling visual effects work since the TARDIS console in the very first episode. They provided the aircraft whose wings fold back so that it turns into a space-going vehicle, but problems arose with the massive space station model. This proved too heavy to be hung and broke its strings. The internal lights also failed, and Shawcraft were slow to replace them. The decision was made to bring the VFX in-house from the next story, now that the BBC VFX unit had more staff and facilities than they had when the series first launched.
On screen, we have the departure of Anneke Wills and Michael Craze. The decision was taken to write out Ben now that Jamie was proving popular and Frazer Hines was getting a lot of fan mail. He was due to leave after the first two episodes of the following story, but the departure was brought forward to this story instead. Wills was invited to stay on, but was unhappy at Craze's axing, and thought that she might be tempted to stay on too long and so face type-casting. She therefore decided to leave with Craze. Both were paid up until the episode when they were originally due to depart. Both actors only feature in the first half of the story, after which they get abducted by the Chameleons - with Wills playing her Chameleon double for her last full episode. Both reappear to make their farewells to the Doctor and Jamie at the conclusion, in a scene filmed before the studio recordings - so shown after they had already left.
The reason given for their departure is that they have discovered that this is the same day when they first entered the TARDIS back in Fitzroy Square - July 20th 1966. This mean that the events at Gatwick have taken place concurrently with the WOTAN / War Machines incident only a few miles away in London - yet nothing of this is ever mentioned. Assuming that it takes some time for Ben and Polly to be returned to Earth, we also have the possibility that the First and Second Doctors could have spent some time in close proximity to each other - and maybe even met.

The departure of Ben and Polly naturally leaves a vacancy in the TARDIS for a female companion. In this story we have Samantha Briggs. This character was originally given the name Cleopatra. She is played by Pauline Collins, and - according to Frazer Hines - he and Troughton approached the production team to enquire if she could be kept on. They replied that they had already had the same idea, but Collins was not interested in tying herself down for at least a year on a TV show. Collins uses her broad Liverpudlian accent as Sam, and it should be noted that less than a year ago Jackie Lane was being asked to tone down her Northern accent. We're also about to get two companions who both hail from before the 20th Century - something which the previous Producer / Script Editor had thought a bad idea.
Next time: the Daleks are back for the very, very last time ever (honest), and we finally get that new female companion. And hold on to your hats because they are about to start playing musical chairs behind the scenes.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Captain Jack Harkness - Torchwood 1.12

In which Jack and Tosh go to investigate reports of ghostly sounds coming from an abandoned dance hall. Neighbours have reported hearing music coming from the venue. As they look around, Jack and Tosh hear the music - playing tunes from the big band era. They suddenly experience a time slip and find themselves in the hall as it was in 1941. There is a dance on, and the room is full of RAF personnel and other military people. When one of the RAF men takes exception to Tosh, his commander steps in to calm the situation. He introduces himself as Captain Jack Harkness. Jack hurriedly renames himself "James Harper". He reveals to Tosh that this is the man whose name he took, as the mission he will fly tomorrow will be his final one. Realising that the others will come looking for them, they decide to leave a message that might survive to the 21st Century. They must work out a way of opening the Rift in order to get back to their own time. The dance hall manager, Bilis Manger, takes a photograph of them with an instamatic camera.

In the present day, Gwen goes to the dance hall in order to look for them as they cannot be contacted. She finds their vehicle parked outside. Within, she also catches faint hints of the wartime era music. When she calls out for them, Jack and Tosh can briefly hear her. Gwen meets the caretaker of the hall - Bilis Manger, looking exactly the same as he did back in 1941. Back at the Hub, Ianto and Owen try to operate the Rift Manipulator. Ianto has reservations, as failure to operate it properly could devastate the city. Owen wishes to push ahead regardless of the risks. However, they find that a vital component of the device is missing. They inform Gwen after she reports seeing the faded photograph of her friends, with the same man she has just met. Gwen suspects that he might be some kind of time-traveller, and may have stolen the component, so she starts to search for it.
Back in 1941, an air-raid begins and everyone seeks shelter in the cellars. Tosh writes down the equation needed to open the Rift and photographs it using Manger's camera. This is hidden in a tin which is placed in a cupboard, and a message is left on a card in an electrical junction box just outside the hall. Manger deliberately erases part of the equation.

Jack discovers that his namesake is attracted to him, and he seems to have worked out that he does not have long to live. Gwen finds the messages from Tosh and informs Owen and Ianto. She also finds the missing component hidden in an old clock. In the Hub, Ianto and Owen begin to fight over the opening of the Rift. Ianto holds a gun to Owen but he carries on working. Ianto shoots and wounds Owen, but his colleague goes and ahead and activates the Manipulator. In the dance hall, the assembly is shocked to see Jack and the real Captain dance together. As the Rift opens they kiss. Jack and Tosh pass through the Rift to return to the 21st Century.
Back at the Hub Jack agrees with Ianto that Owen may have caused all manner of problems in opening the Rift in the way he did. He and Tosh raise a glass to toast the real Captain Jack Harkness, who died on a training flight the day after the dance.

Captain Jack Harkness was written by Catherine Tregenna, and was first broadcast on 1st January, 2007.
The dance hall scenes are set on 21st January, 1941, making these some three and a half months before Jack appeared in London to meet the Doctor and Rose Tyler in The Empty Child. We get to meet the man whose name Jack adopted. In many ways this could be seen as the first half of a two-part story, as this episode and the next feature the enigmatic Bilis Manger, and events in the following story come about because of Owen's actions here. Owen's mental deterioration continues here as he recklessly opens the Rift without thinking of the consequences, is abusive towards Ianto, and eventually drives his colleague to shoot him.
It is one of the only episodes of the first series to really highlight Jack, as he enters into a brief and doomed romance with his namesake, as well as being a strong episode for Tosh. who - along with Ianto - is normally sidelined.

Playing Bilis Manger we have Murray Melvin. He began his acting career under Joan Littlewood, and came to the public's attention when he played Geoffrey in the play, and later film adaptation, of A Taste of Honey. Later film work saw him act in roles for Ken Russell and Stanley Kubrick. Matt Rippy plays the real Captain Jack Harkness. Playing George, the RAF crewman who almost starts a fight with Jack, we have Gavin Brocker, who appears in the Sarah Jane Adventures story Sky.

Overall, a lovely episode with a great performance from Melvin. There's something obviously bad about him, but he is not an out and out villain here. Everyone gets to do something in this episode, but at its heart there is that bittersweet romance between Jack and Jack.
Things you might like to know:

  • Searching for the operating instructions for the Rift Manipulator, we see Owen handle a couple of props from earlier stories - the Ghost Machine and the multi-bladed weapon known as the "Life Knife".
  • Screened several months before Series 3 of Doctor Who began, we see a "Vote Saxon" poster outside the dance hall. Inside, during the present day segments, we see "Bad Wolf" written across a poster, and there is also a letter P in a circle - the Preachers symbol from Rise of the Cybermen / Age of Steel.
  • It has to be asked - why do Jack and Tosh not just contact Torchwood, who are operating a couple of miles away in 1941? They ought to be used to time slippages, and Jack should have been able to get his earlier self not to ask too many questions and upset the time-line.
  • By the end of series two we will discover that there is a third Captain Jack in 1941 Cardiff, as he is also in stasis in the Hub morgue after being dug up in the Edwardian period. A fourth may well be a few hundred miles away in London, setting up the Chula spaceship con.
  • Whilst we can accept that something hidden inside the dance hall might still be around to be found 70 years later, it seems highly unlikely that in all that time no workman threw away the message that was placed outside in the junction box. Manger may have removed it, then replaced it just before Jack and Tosh arrived.
  • There's a lovely extra on the Series 1 DVD box set recorded during the making of this episode, as John Barrowman sings "Anything Goes" with the band, adding little Torchwood elements to the lyrics.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

C is for... Cotton

A senior security guard on Skybase One, which orbited the planet Solos. He and his partner Stubbs were playing chess one day when an alarm sounded indicating that a storage bay door had malfunctioned. This was the work of the Doctor, who had been sent to the Skybase by the Time Lords to deliver a message capsule to someone on the station. This proved to be the young Solonian rebel Ky. Cotton and his partner were unhappy at being away from Earth, and this dissatisfaction led them to co-operate with the Doctor against their commander - the Marshal. Unhappy that Solos was to be handed back to its native population, the Marshal had decided to seize control of it for himself, changing the toxic atmosphere to make it breathable for humans. He arranged for the Administrator sent to Solos to arrange the handover to be assassinated. Cotton and Stubbs joined the Doctor and Jo on Solos, where they took refuge in the thesium mines. The Marshal discovered their treachery and tried to seal them all in the tunnels, which were pumped full of poison gas. Cotton and the others took refuge in the home of Prof. Sondergaard. On returning to the Skybase, Stubbs was killed. Cotton and Jo were imprisoned with Ky and Sondergaard in the station's refuelling chamber. They were freed when Ky evolved into a super-being. Once the Marshal had been destroyed by Ky, Cotton was placed in charge of the Skybase - to begin preparations for the return to Earth.

Played by: Rick James. Appearances: The Mutants (1972).

C is for... Costello, Suzie

Captain Jack Harkness' second-in-command at Torchwood's Cardiff base. She became obsessed with her investigations into the Resurrection Glove - a metal gauntlet which could bring people back to life for a minute or so. This obsession led her to steal an alien weapon and use it to murder people, so that she could use the Glove on them. Torchwood was then called in to investigate these same crimes. WPC Gwen Cooper saw the alien bladed weapon when she visited Torchwood's Hub - being worked on by Suzie - but Jack Retconned her so that she would not remember the visit. The image stayed with her, however, and she realised who the killer was. On going to the Hub she met Suzie as she was about to flee. Suzie explained that it was impossible to walk away from Torchwood, and that her crimes were sure to be found out soon. She was going to shoot Gwen when Jack appeared. She shot him instead, then killed herself.
Her body was stored in the Hub's vaults. Some time later, the police called in the team to help investigate a number of murders where the victims' blood had been used to write "Torchwood" at the crime scene. A link between the victims was found - a support group which Suzie had attended. Jack decided to bring her back with the Glove to learn more. It was Gwen who successfully resurrected her, and bizarrely Suzie stayed alive for more than a minute or two. She had planned her resurrection well in advance, by overdosing one of the support group with Retcon to the extent that he had become psychotic. He was caught and locked up in the cells, where he recited a poem on hearing the word "Torchwood" which voice-activated a power failure and lock-down of the Hub. Suzie had worked on Gwen, convincing her that she only wanted to visit her terminally ill father who was in hospital, and that she posed no risk. Gwen smuggled her out of the Hub before the power failure. The Glove had created a link between the two women, however. Suzie was being kept alive by draining Gwen's life-force. She would live, whilst Gwen would die. At the hospital she murdered her father, whom she had always despised. Trying to flee the country at a ferry port, Torchwood caught up with her. She could not be killed until the Glove was destroyed. Her body was returned to the Hub.

Played by: Indira Varma. Appearances: TW 1.1 Everything Changes, TW 1.8 They Keep Killing Suzie (2006).
  • Suzie Costello was scheduled to reappear in the second series of Torchwood, being resurrected once again, but Indira Varma was pregnant at the time and so this never came to pass.

C is for... Cory, Marc

A member of Earth's Space Security Service, Cory was sent to the hostile jungle planet of Kembel in the year 3999 to investigate the inordinate amount of space traffic which had been reported around that inhospitable world. He travelled there in a spacecraft operated by astronaut Gordon Lowery and his co-pilot Jeff Garvey, keeping his identity and purpose concealed. The ship crash-landed, and Cory had to assist with repairs. One alien spaceship in particular had interested the authorities - one belonging to the Daleks. Cory found out that the Daleks were planning an attack on the rest of the cosmos, beginning with the Solar System. To achieve this aim, they had assembled an alliance composed of members from the outer galaxies. Garvey became infected with the venom from a Varga Plant, and Cory was forced to kill him. He told Lowery of his mission, and of how he was licenced to appropriate his spaceship and to kill without compunction if necessary. Later, Lowery was also infected, and Cory had to kill him as well. The Daleks found the ship and destroyed it. Cory recorded his findings, intending to fire the message into space using a rocket, but he was tracked down by a Dalek patrol and exterminated before he could do so.

Played by: Edward de Souza. Appearances: Mission to the Unknown (1965).
  • Terry Nation clearly had James Bond in mind when he created Cory, as he actually uses the phrase "licenced to kill" at one point. The plan was to spin the Daleks off into their own TV series, with a group of space secret agents as the new protagonists.
  • De Souza, whose name derives from Portuguese-Indian descent, has strong Hammer connections, having appeared in The Phantom of the Opera, and Kiss of the Vampire. He appears in one of the Bond movies - The Spy Who Loved Me - as an Arab sheikh who turns out to be an old university chum of Bond's.
  • The Doctor finds Cory's skeletal remains, and his message recording, in The Daleks' Master Plan. He plays it to Bret Vyon, Steven and Katarina, and it is different to the one which Cory has recorded in this episode, and not voiced by De Souza.
  • It should be noted that no images of Cory exist from this episode. The only official BBC pictures were of the Daleks and their alien allies (including Malpha chatting up outgoing producer Verity Lambert). No screencaps exist either, as the episode was junked, so the image above comes from one of the fan reconstructions which can be found on You Tube.

C is for... Corwyn, Gemma

Chief medical officer on Station W3 in Earth orbit in the late 21st Century. She was responsible for the psychological as well as the physical health of the crew. Gemma was a widow, her husband having died in an accident in the asteroid belt some years before. She took care of the Doctor when he and Jamie were found on the drifting Silver Carrier spaceship. She quickly sensed that Jamie was not being honest in his explanation of how they came to be there, and spotted immediately when he used a name off of a piece of medical equipment to give the Doctor a name. As strange events began to occur on the station - known simply as The Wheel - Gemma became increasingly alarmed that her friend, the station commander Jarvis Bennett, was becoming mentally unwell. He had always been rather obstinate in his ways, but his refusal to accept rational explanations for the occurrences alarmed her. The Doctor became firm friends with her, and she accepted his warnings that the Cybermen were infiltrating the station. She assisted with the Doctor's plan to prevent the crew being mentally subjugated by the Cybermen. She found out that the invaders were going to poison the station's oxygen supply and was able to warn the Doctor, but at the cost of her own life. Her death prompted Bennett to make a suicidal attack on the Cybermen. It was clear that he had deep feelings for her, beyond their professional relationship - feelings she may well have shared.

Played by: Anne Ridler. Appearances: The Wheel in Space (1968).

  • Ridler was wife to Emrys Jones, who played the Master of the Land of Fiction in The Mind Robber, which closely followed this story.
  • Corwyn dies at the end of Part Five, yet the plot depends upon Jamie and Zoe seeing her dead body and reporting this at the start of Part Six - prompting Bennett's suicidal confrontation with one of the Cybermen. As they wouldn't pay for Ridler to appear as a corpse for an episode, a still photograph of her lying lifeless on the floor is clearly used for when Jamie and Zoe come upon her body.

C is for... Cornish, Ralph

Head of Mission Control at the UK's Space Centre, responsible for its latest Mars mission. This flight - Mars Probe 7 - had run into problems. Communications had failed, but the craft had lifted off as scheduled on its return voyage. Cornish had sent up Recovery 7 to intercept it, only to lose contact with that ship as well. As the Brigadier was monitoring events at the Space Centre, the Doctor became involved. He identified a strange noise received at Mission Control as an alien message, and correctly predicted the expected response. The Doctor offered Cornish his help in solving the mystery. He convinced him that his three astronauts - two from the Probe ship and one from the Recovery vessel - were being held elsewhere, and the astronauts who had returned from Mars were not what they seemed. Cornish fought against the obstructions of his superior, Sir James Quinlan, and the head of space security, General Carrington, to allow the Doctor to make a solo space flight to search for the missing men. Carrington had engineered the abduction of the astronauts - really alien ambassadors - in order to turn world opinion against them as he was obsessively convinced they posed a threat to the Earth. He took over Cornish's control room in order to stage a public unmasking of the aliens to provoke a conflict with them. UNIT was able to prevent Carrington's planned TV broadcast, and the Doctor left his assistant Liz Shaw with Cornish to help arrange the peaceful swap of his astronauts for the ambassadors.

Played by: Ronald Allen. Appearances: The Ambassadors of Death (1970).

  • Allen had previously appeared as Chief Navigator Rago in The Dominators.
  • He was best known for his long-running role as David Hunter in shaky-walled soap Crossroads, but for many he will always be remembered as Uncle Quentin in The Comic Strip Presents... Five Go Mad in Dorset.

C is for... Cordo

Citizen of Megropolis One, on the planet Pluto. He was a lowly D-Grade worker, whose job was to help maintain one of the artificial suns. When his father died, he had to pay a Death Tax. The plan he had invested in had increased in price, and he suddenly found that he could not afford the additional taxes imposed by the Company. He was already working double shifts, and had no way of making up the deficit. In despair, he went to the roof of the Megropolis in order to throw himself off. He was stopped by the Doctor and Leela. Cordo took them down into the undercity where a rebel group was known to operate. His natural timidity was enhanced by the anxiety-inducing drug which the Company injected into the air supply. However, he decided to join the rebels, and when the Doctor was captured he alone agreed to go with Leela and K9 to assist them in rescuing him from the detention centre. He later helped the Doctor save Leela from public execution, and took part in the revolution which overthrew the Collector and Gatherer Hade.

Played by: Roy Macready. Appearances: The Sunmakers (1977).

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Inspirations - The Macra Terror

The monsters for Ian Stuart Black's third and final story for Doctor Who changed throughout the scripting process, as one early title called this "Doctor Who and the Spidermen", and another was "Doctor Who and the Insect-Men". This confusion seems to have seeped into the finished programme, as the Macra are referred to as insects and even bacteria at different points. On screen, however, when you can actually see them in all the gloom and the smoke, they are clearly massive crabs. The clearest view remains the 8mm footage of the Shawcraft Models workshops, which appears as an extra on The Chase DVD. Only one was ever built. It was massive, and cost the same as a family car. The size, and the lack of maneuverability, doomed them to be one-hit wonders, until the advent of CGI.
Giant insects or other mutated creatures remind us instantly of the Science Fiction movies of the 1950's. One in particular - Roger Corman's Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957) - is worth a look. Not only are the crabs of comparable size to the Macra, but they are also more than merely animals. They ingest the minds of their victims along with their bodies, and so gain great intelligence.
The name "Macra" may derive from the Latin name for the giant Japanese Spider Crab - Macrocheira Kaempferi. It has the biggest leg span of any arthropod.

The location for this adventure is known simply as the Colony. We had our first visit to an Earth colony only a couple of stories ago. This one is run along the lines of a holiday camp. After the Second World War a number of military camps around the coast of Britain were bought up by Billy Butlin, who had opened his first inexpensive holiday camp in 1936. People had more income and more leisure time, but cheap foreign travel had yet to take off. Rather than stay at a hotel in one of the big resorts like Blackpool you could have an all-inclusive holiday in simple chalet accommodation, in a camp with its own entertainment centre. There were strict rules - making some people compare them to POW camps. These days you would be arrested and reported to Social Services for leaving a small child alone in a chalet whilst you supped beer and danced, but it was the done thing in the early days of the holiday camps. A sign would be put up if a baby was heard to be crying in one of the huts. The entertainments ranged from the usual music and comedy acts to participatory activities - such as beauty pageants and knobbly-knees competitions.
In the Colony, music seems to be the big thing. There are endless jaunty jingles to encourage the workers, and we see a majorette troupe and preparations for a dance contest.
For many years the BBC banned jingles on the radio, as they were felt to be a form of brainwashing. The pirate stations used them a lot. Note the way Kenny Everett used them when he was given his "radio show" on TV.  During the Second World War and through into the 1960's, however, the BBC had broadcast Workers' Playtime, and Music While You Work, as it was felt that light music did aid productivity, as well as taking people's minds off their repetitive work. More on the subject of brainwashing below.
The people in charge are clearly the descendants of the crew of the spaceship which brought the colonists here from "the Earth planet" - having titles like the Pilot.

Like Corman's crab monsters, the Macra are parasites. Rather than feed on the humans, they have taken the Controller hostage and have mentally conditioned the colonists to work for them - mining a gas which they thrive on. It is never specified if the Macra were native to this world, or have infiltrated it along with other planets. Gridlock seems to say that they were established on a number of planets before they devolved. The 2007 story goes some way to exonerate the Doctor, who appears to gleefully commit genocide here.
The Macra condition their victims whilst they sleep, making them not only glad to work for them, but making them blot out the Macras' existence all together. There are no Macra here. The Macra do not exist. Brainwashing came to the fore in the 1950's, when people questioned how the Chinese seemed to be able to get people to admit to all sorts of things. People who had been opposed to the Maoist regime suddenly became loyal party members. During the Korean war, a number of POW's appeared to speak out against their own government. The phrase first saw print in a Miami newspaper in September 1950. Later, the phrase would come to be used to describe the techniques used by some religious cults to recruit and retain members.
The Manchurian Candidate - published in 1952 and made into a movie ten years later - features brainwashing of prisoners, being made to carry out an assassination. George Orwell's novel 1984 also features psychological torture techniques being used to make people conform. This book, and especially its critically acclaimed BBC adaptation, gives us the image of the Controller's face on large screens - like that of Big Brother.

In one scene here we see the Pilot and his Chief of Police, Ola, attempt to condition Medok, who has seen the Macra and is prepared to warn everyone about them. This fails, as his previous conditioning has obviously also failed. The Doctor prevents Jamie and Polly from being taken over, but is not so lucky with Ben, who is made into a loyal puppet of the regime and is prepared to denounce his friends to the authorities when they break the rules.
Ola seems to have been inspired by Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin's feared head of security, though he looks more like Georgy Malenkov, the man who succeeded Stalin. Coming between Stalin and Khrushchev, his two years in power are almost forgotten now.
Something else which might have been on Black's mind when he came to write this are the works of Franz Kafka. Bearing in mind that the Macra weren't always going to be specifically crab-like, we have Metamorphosis, where a man's psychological alienation leads him to transform into a beetle. Other works, such as The Castle and The Trial deal with the stultifying effects of bureaucracy. It is no mere coincidence that the man in charge of the mines is named Officia. The Colony has its rules, which are never to be broken, until the Doctor comes along and baldly states that bad rules were made to be broken.
Next time, we're off to the airport to wave goodbye to Ben and Polly. Everyone will be seeing double, as we find out that two different menaces have been operating in the London region at the same time. (And it will be three by the next story).

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Story 186 - Blink

In which a young woman named Sally Sparrow goes exploring around an old abandoned house - Wester Drumlins - to take some photographs. In one of the rooms she spots some writing under the peeling wallpaper. She starts to tear the rest away, and is shocked to find a message apparently written to herself, from someone called the Doctor, back in 1969. It warns her to beware the Weeping Angel and advises that she duck. As she does so, a rock is thrown through the window and narrowly misses her. She looks out into the garden, where she had earlier seen a statue of an angel with its face buried in its hands. Returning home, she finds a naked man in her house. She wakes up her friend, Kathy Nightingale, who reveals that the man is her brother Larry. He has been watching a DVD on TV, which shows a bespectacled man in a suit saying odd disjointed things.
The next morning, Sally takes Kathy to the house to show her the message on the wall. There is a knock at the door and Sally goes to answer it. Kathy remains behind, and fails to notice that the angel statue has moved closer to the house. It is suddenly right behind her...

Sally opens the door to a man who gives her an envelope. He was asked by his grandmother to come here on this date and at this specific time. Within the envelope is a message from Kathy which explains that the man is her grandson, and that by the time Sally reads this she will be long dead. The note goes on to say that one moment Kathy was in the house with Sally, and the next she was on the outskirts of Hull, in the 1920's. She met someone, got married and had a family. Sally goes looking for Kathy, suspecting this is all a joke, but there is no sign of her friend. She goes upstairs and finds three angel statues identical to the one in the garden. One of them has a key in its hand, which Sally removes.
She goes to the graveyard, and finds Kathy's grave. She fails to notice one of the statues nearby. She then goes to the DVD shop where Larry works, to inform him that his sister has gone away. She sees that he is watching the footage of the bespectacled man, and at one point he seems to answer one of her questions. Larry explains that these cryptic clips are Easter Eggs, found only on 12 specific DVDs. Larry and his friends have been trying to work out their meaning. He gives her a list of the DVD titles. Her next port of call is the local police station, where mention of the house leads her to officer Billy Shipton.

He has been investigating Wester Drumlins for some time, as a number of cars have been found abandoned there - as well as an old Police Call Box. Billy takes a shine to her, and asks her for her phone number. Sally gives it to him, leaving him in the car park. She returns a few moments later to find he has gone, along with the Police Box. She then gets a phone message from him, asking her to go to the local hospital. Here she finds Billy, but he is now an old man, close to death. He explains that he was suddenly transported back to 1969, where he met the Doctor and Martha. He got a job in publishing, and it was he who was responsible for putting the Easter Eggs - which feature the Doctor - on the DVDs. Sally stays with him until he passes away. Leaving the hospital, she looks at Larry's list and discovers something strange about it. She calls him and tells him that these are the DVDs that she owns. They go to Wester Drumlins where Larry has a full transcript of what the Doctor says. They play the DVDs and Sally finds that he is giving half of a conversation - with her, here on this night.

The Doctor tells them of the Weeping Angels, a mysterious ancient race also known as the Lonely Assassins. They cannot be killed themselves as they are made of stone. They feed on potential energy - sending people back in time and living off the life that they would have led. The creatures are quantum locked, meaning that they cannot move when being observed, even by their own kind. This is why they shield their faces - to prevent them seeing each other. The Doctor and Martha had been sent back to 1969 by them, cut off from the TARDIS which is still in the present day. The transcript runs out, and the Doctor states that there is no more - meaning that he suspects they are about to come under attack. He warns them not to take their eyes off the Angels, not even to blink. Larry and Sally are attacked by the four Angels and seek refuge in the cellar, where they find the TARDIS. She realises that the key she found will gain them access. Once inside, an automated message from the Doctor asks them to insert the DVD of the conversation into the console. This causes the TARDIS to dematerialise and make its way to 1969. However, it is leaving them behind, surrounded by the Angels. As the Police Box vanishes, however, the Angels are facing each other, and so become trapped in their own gazes.
Some time later, Sally and Larry have become a couple and are working at the DVD store. Sally suddenly sees the Doctor and Martha rush past. She stops them and gives the Doctor all of the material she had gathered about the Angels. For them, the trip back to 1969 has not happened yet, so the Doctor is forewarned to set things up just as Sally has already experienced them...

Blink was written by Steven Moffat, and was first broadcast on 9th June, 2007. Setting aside the 50th Anniversary special, it is far and away the most successful of all Moffat's scripts, introducing as it does his signature monster the Weeping Angels. A recent poll had them more popular than the Daleks. This story marks the first use of the phrase "timey-wimey".
When the third season was being planned, Moffat was approached to write the two-part Dalek story (which became Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks). Busy on other things, Moffat declined this commission and agreed to write a single part story for later in the run. By way of penance for upsetting Russel T Davies' plans, he accepted the Doctor-lite story. These had become a necessity since the annual Christmas Special had been added to production on 13 regular episodes.
Back in 2006 Moffat had written a story for the Doctor Who Annual, entitled "What I Did on My Christmas Holidays, by Sally Sparrow". In this, a young girl is staying with her aunt in Devon and finds a message for herself under the wallpaper from the Ninth Doctor, dating from 1985. An old photo from that year plus other messages lead her to a videotape, which has half of a conversation from the Doctor. He has become separated from the TARDIS and needs Sally's help in getting it back. He knows all of this as she will write it down afterwards as her school essay.
This formed the basis for Blink, as you can clearly see. This format allowed the Doctor and companion to feature only briefly, in the video / DVD footage, whilst the young woman became the story's chief protagonist.

Moffat liked to use things which scared children - such as something lurking under the bed (used twice), cracks in walls, and creatures which had skull-like faces, or no faces at all. He had always found statues a bit creepy, and had been struck by a particular angel monument in a graveyard next to a country house hotel which he and his family had stayed at. This gave him the inspiration for the story's monsters. The notion that they could not move when observed derived from the children's game known as Statues or Grandma's Footsteps, where a child has their back to their friends and they have to sneak up - freezing when the first child randomly turns round. Anyone caught moving is "out".
Playing Sally we have Carey Mulligan, who has since gone on to greater things in major Hollywood movies. She pretty much carries the whole episode. Joining her are Finlay Robertson as Larry, and Lucy Gaskill as Kathy. Billy Shipton is played as a young man by Michael Obiora, with Louis Mahoney as the older version. Mahoney had appeared in the series twice before - as the newsreader in Frontier in Space, and as the Morestran Ponti in Planet of Evil. Kathy's grandson Malcolm is Richard Cant - son of the legendary Brian Cant who had himself played two roles in the series back in the 1960's. Thomas Nelstrop plays Kathy's husband, Ben Wainwright.

Overall, an exceptionally good episode. Mulligan and Robertson are very good leads, replacing the Doctor and companion roles. The Angels are a wonderful addition to the roster of aliens and monsters, and won't be anywhere near as effective in later appearances as they are here. This story won a Hugo Award in 2008, and it was voted second favourite story of all time in both the DWM Mighty 200 and 50th Anniversary polls.
Things you might like to know:

  • The house playing Wester Drumlins is on Fields Park Road in Newport. A decade later, some of the scenes for Knock, Knock were filmed at the property. In both stories a character describes it as a "Scooby Doo" house.
  • Wester is the name for a wind that comes from the west. A drumlin is a glacial landscape feature - an elongated hill with a steep edge at one end, tapering gradually down at the other.
  • This episode is directed by Hettie MacDonald - the first woman to direct a story since the series was brought back. The last time a woman directed a Doctor Who it was Sarah Hellings, with The Mark of the Rani.
  • The prologue, when Sally encounters the Doctor and Martha in the street, takes place one year after the rest of the story. Viewers in the UK knew this, but the caption was omitted when the story was broadcast in the US.
  • Investigating the house together, Sally points out that she and Kathy have names which, together, sound a bit "ITV". This is a reference to a number of shows in which a pair of characters have complimentary surnames - the most obvious example being the amateur sleuths Rosemary and Thyme, who both just happen to be gardeners.
  • All the DVD titles in the shop are false ones, the names and poster images being devised by the production team.
  • Moffat will have a dig at his own catchphrase when the War Doctor is exasperated by "timey-wimey" in Day of the Doctor.
  • A number of the later Weeping Angels stories will contradict this one, as looking at the Angel in the crashed Byzantium actually creates problems for Amy Pond. Here, Sally also gives the Doctor some photos of the Angels, whereas it's later stated that the image of one becomes one.
  • Moffat had originally intended to use the Weeping Angels in a planned story about an abandoned library, but brought them into Blink instead as he was rushed for time. This meant he had to devise the Vashta Nerada for the library story when it finally arrived in Series 4.

Monday, 27 November 2017

C is for... Corakinus

King of the Shadow Kin, who originated on a planet of perpetual night in a domain known as the Underneath. The Shadow Kin could infiltrate a world as shadows, materialising in their solid form to attack. They invaded the planet Rhodia and wiped out its entire population - save for its prince and his Quill protector. The Doctor saved them and relocated them to Earth, the prince taking the name Charlie. He attended Coal Hill Academy, where Miss Quill took up a teaching post. Charlie had with him a device called the Cabinet of Souls, which Corakinus feared would be used as a weapon against his people. He launched an attack through the tears in the fabric of Space / Time centred on the area due to the TARDIS' frequent visits there. Corakinus killed Ram Singh's girlfriend, and severed the young man's leg before the Doctor appeared. He used light to banish the Shadow Kin back to their own domain. A freak shot from a displacement gun caused Corakinus' heart to merge with that of student April MacLean, however. They came to share the same heart, and this gave April a psychic link to the Shadow Kin ruler.

Corakinus employed his scientists to try to undo the link, killing them when they failed. This link grew stronger, and Corakinus then used it to try to break through to the school once again. April travelled to the Underneath and fought Corakinus in single combat. She won, and Corakinus was deposed. He managed to reassert his control and launched a further attack, targeting the family members of Charlie's friends. Charlie became infected with Shadow DNA. Corakinus was holding his boyfriend hostage but Charlie shot April through the heart at her instigation - killing her and Corakinus. He decided to use the Cabinet, even though it would mean killing himself. The Shadow Kin were destroyed in their entirety but Charlie survived. April appeared to have died, but she suddenly woke up in Corakinus' body.

Played by: Paul Marc Davies. Appearances: Class: For Tonight We Might Die, Co-owner of a Lonely Heart, Brave-ish Heart, The Lost.

  • Sadly poor April will be left in Corakinus' body, as the series is not going to be renewed for a second season. It would be nice if Chris Chibnall could find a way to wrap things up.
  • Davies had played the leader of the Futurekind in Utopia, and he was The Trickster in three appearances in The Sarah Jane Adventures.

C is for... Copper, Mr.

The resident historian on the SS Titanic spaceship which operated out of the planet Sto. He claimed to have a degree in Earthonomics, but the Doctor was bemused by his description of Christmas when he joined Copper and others on a trip down to the planet. For instance, Santa had fearsome claws, and the people of UK went to war with the Turkey people at Christmas, not long before boxing started.
Copper survived the impact of a trio of meteoroids which crippled the ship. He revealed to the Doctor that he was here under false pretences, as his degree had actually come from Mrs Golightly's travelling university and laundry service. He had been an itinerant salesman for a time, when he used to take shelter with cyborgs who were discriminated against on Sto. Passenger Bannakaffalatta revealed that he was a cyborg, whose electro-magnetic pulse emitter could disable the lethal Heavenly Host robots. Mr Copper took the pulse generator after Bannakaffalatta died and used it as a weapon against further attacks. Once Max Capricorn had been defeated Mr Copper attempted to help the Doctor save Astrid Peth, as she had been wearing a teleport bracelet when she was killed. This failed, and he convinced the Doctor to let her go.
A rescue mission was on its way from Sto, but Copper told the Doctor that he would end up in jail for his deception. The Doctor took him to Earth, where it was found that he had a credit card which would make him rich. He was advised to keep his head down and live a quiet life.
It later transpired that he had invested the money in setting up the Mr Copper Foundation. Its research led to the development of the Sub-Wave Network. Ex Prime Minister Harriet Jones used this to contact the Doctor and his associates when the Earth was moved across space to the Medusa cascade by the Daleks.

Played by: Clive Swift. Appearances: Voyage of the Damned (2007).

  • Swift had previously played the camp mortician Mr Jobel in Revelation of the Daleks (1985). Should you ever bump into him it's best not to mention his Doctor Who appearances, as he gave a rather ill-tempered telephone interview with DWM just after the 2007 Christmas Special had aired, clearly wanting to be recognised more for his other work.

C is for... Copley, Professor

Head of the powerful pharmaceutical company The Pharm, Prof. Aaron Copley had succeeded in obtaining a number of alien creatures which had come through the Cardiff Rift. He experimented on these in order to find new drugs. He had influential supporters who could shield his activities at government level. One of the drugs he was working on was called Reset. This was derived from a giant alien insect known as a Mayfly. Reset was found to treat incurable diseases. However, Mayfly larvae grew within the bodies of the trial patients and eventually killed them. Torchwood were alerted to the Pharm when a number of bodies began to turn up which had no apparent cause of death. Martha Jones of UNIT arrived in Cardiff to join Captain Jack and his team in investigating these. She and Owen Harper discovered the link between the victims - that they had all acted as guinea-pigs in drug trials, and that one of them had been cured of a disease that should have been untreatable. Copley had employed an assassin to eliminate the Reset trialists.
Martha went under cover to learn more, pretending to be a drug trialist at The Pharm. She broke into the secure area and saw the captured aliens. Torchwood raided the company when she was discovered. Copley pulled out a gun and fired at Martha, but Owen jumped into the path of the bullet. Jack shot and killed Copley, but they were unable to save Owen.

Played by: Alan Dale. Appearances: TW 2.6 Reset (2008).

  • New Zealander Dale first came to the attention of UK viewers thanks to his long-running role in the Australian soap Neighbours. He has since accrued a number of genre roles, appearing in Lost and The X-Files, as well as movie parts in Star Trek: Nemesis and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

C is for... Cooper, Gwen

A former Cardiff police officer who became a Torchwood agent. One evening WPC Cooper was attending a crime scene - the latest victim of a serial killer. The Torchwood team turned up and all the police were ordered to leave the area. Intrigued, Gwen ascended a multi-storey car park to watch them at work. She was shocked to see them apparently bring the victim back to life using a metal gauntlet. Captain Jack Harkness was aware that they were being spied upon. Gwen spotted Jack at the city hospital a day or two later and followed him to a section that was closed off. There she saw one of the savage Weevil creatures which attacked and killed one of the orderlies. Jack and his colleagues captured the creature and bundled it away. Gwen tried to follow them, but lost them at Roald Dahl Plas in the bay area. Back at the police station, Gwen discovered that no orderly had gone missing, and the only Captain Jack Harkness on record went missing back in 1941.

She returned to the bay that night and learned of regular pizza deliveries to Torchwood. She pretended to be a delivery person, and found herself in the Hub, built beneath the plaza. Jack was impressed with the way she had found them. He told her all about Torchwood, but later revealed that she would not recall any of this as he had given her the Retcon drug. However, in the police incident room she recognised the serial killer's weapon as one she had seen at Torchwood and returned to the bay, just in time to confront Suzie Costello - a Torchwood agent who was killing people in order to test the reanimating glove. Suzie killed herself after shooting Jack. Gwen was shocked to see him spring back to life a few moments later. Jack decided to recruit Gwen to his team. He insisted that she maintain her personal life - she had a long-term boyfriend named Rhys - and hoped that she could bring a little empathy and compassion to the organisation.
Torchwood tended to kill or imprison the alien threats it encountered, but Gwen insisted on understanding them and even allowing them to go free if they no longer posed a risk. This trust sometimes put her own life at risk, such as when she helped the reanimated Suzie Costello.
Gwen began a relationship with her colleague Owen Harper, as she found it frustrating that she could not discuss her work with Rhys. This began when Gwen and Owen had to hide in a morgue cabinet when the Hub was attacked by a Cyberwoman - when Gwen was almost converted - and was cemented when Owen saved her life after she was shot whilst investigating mysterious disappearances in the Brecon Beacons. After Owen had become infatuated with the pilot Diane Holmes, who had travelled through the Rift from the 1950's, the relationship ended. At one point Gwen told Rhys about the affair, only to then Retcon him.

Despite being the newest member of the team, Gwen took the lead when Jack disappeared soon after defeating the demonic Abaddon, which had been brought to Cardiff through the Rift by the enigmatic Bilis Manger. On his return Jack discovered that Gwen was engaged to be married.  Rhys finally discovered the truth about his fiancee when his haulage firm became involved in the transportation of alien meat, and he helped the team infiltrate the gang behind this. Once this was over, Jack expected Gwen to Retcon him, but she refused to do so. Rhys became an unofficial member of the team.
On the eve of her wedding, Gwen was bitten by an alien Nostrovite. She woke the next morning to find that she was pregnant with its young. The wedding took place, although the Nostrovite mother infiltrated the wedding party, impersonating her mother-in-law to be and Jack. Rhys used an alien device to destroy the Nostrovite foetus. Jack then arranged for the entire wedding party to be Retconned.

Gwen was later approached by her old colleague Andy, regarding a support group for missing persons. Gwen knew that they were people who had been snatched away by the Rift. She befriended a woman named Nikki Bevan, whose son Jonah had vanished. Jack warned Gwen not to investigate but she failed to take his advice, and followed him to an island out in the bay. This proved to be a hospital of sorts for those who had been returned from the Rift. Gwen reunited Nikki with her son, but he was now much older and horribly scarred - physically and mentally. Nikki told her she would rather not have known what had happened to him, and Gwen realised that Jack had been right.
Some time later, Gwen was heartbroken when Owen and Toshiko Sato were killed.
The Hub then came under attack by the Daleks when the Earth was removed to the Medusa Cascade, as part of Davros' scheme to create the Reality Bomb. Jack went to help the Doctor, whilst Gwen and Ianto Jones were trapped in the Hub. The Doctor and Rose recognised Gwen as looking very like the Cardiff servant girl Gwyneth whom they had met in Victorian times.

The Hub was destroyed by agents attempting to hush up the government's involvement with the aliens known as the 456. Gwen and Rhys had to go on the run and headed for London where the aliens had despatched an emissary. Ianto was killed, leaving only Jack and Gwen of the original team. Forced to sacrifice the life of his grandson to defeat them, Jack went away for a time, and on his return he found that Gwen was pregnant. She gave birth to a daughter - Anwen - and she and Rhys found a quiet cottage to live in on the Welsh coast. Their idyll was shattered when the cottage came under attack by more government agents, this time because of the "Miracle Day" event when people all over the world stopped dying. Gwen and Jack travelled to America, whilst Anwen went to Gwen's mother to be looked after. Rhys became involved in trying to keep her father, Geraint, out of the hands of the government as he had suffered a heart attack and was scheduled to be cremated alive.
technically, as an organisation, Torchwood no longer exists, but should they ever be needed again, Gwen Cooper is sure to return at Jack's side.

Played by: Eve Myles. Appearances: Torchwood Series 1 & 2, Children of Earth, Miracle Day (2006 - 2011), The Stolen Earth / Journey's End (2008).

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Inspirations - The Moonbase

It's 1967, and producer Innes Lloyd is keen to find a replacement for the Daleks. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that the public have been getting a little fed up with them. Another is that Terry Nation has to be paid every time the BBC wants to use them, whether he writes the story or not. It's unlikely he will be the writer anyway, as he is too busy on more lucrative work elsewhere. The last time they were seen it was David Whitaker who wrote the story, and the time before that Donald Tosh, Dennis Spooner and Douglas Camfield did all the writing, as Nation merely submitted some sketchy episode outlines. It is known that Nation also wants to take the Daleks away from Doctor Who to feature in their own series. He's prepared to put his own money into this, but is looking for a production partner. He's sounding out the Americans and will even go knocking at the door of BBC 2.
The Tenth Planet had been deemed a success, and its format was one that Lloyd and Script Editor Gerry Davis were happy with. What we now call the "base under siege" stories allow for tense, claustrophobic action and rely on just a few sets - one large main area plus a few side rooms. Putting the base in some inhospitable location adds to the drama. Rescuers can't get to it, and those within can't easily escape.
The Tenth Planet had been an alien invasion tale, so the base had to be terrestrial. It could have been under the sea, but they went with the South Pole. They rather messed things up by having the action take place in December, as that is the middle of summer in Antarctica.

The Cybermen were regarded as a successful new alien and potential successor to the Daleks, and so a return was commissioned quite quickly. They had worked well in their debut story, and so something similar was sought for the follow-up. We've already talked about the Space Race in these posts. A manned mission to the Moon was the target, and everyone assumed that a permanent presence there would be the next thing to aim for. It would have been inconceivable in the mid 1960's that we would have gone to the Moon only a handful of times, then simply abandoned it. We finally got a space station (disappointingly not toroidal in shape), but in 2017 there is still no Moonbase - even one that isn't permanently staffed. It's just being talked about again, however, as interest in the Moon has been rekindled. However, it is China and India who seem most interested, rather than the USA or Russia.

The Moonbase is set in 2070 and the base in question appears to be a European affair. Americans are conspicuous by their absence. In a few year's time, Barry Letts and Terence Dicks will devise a series set in a Moonbase - one of three which have been constructed along nationality lines. If that is the case here, it is never mentioned. Everything points to the Gravitron base being the only one on the Moon. At least it is an international set up, although - coming from the BBC - naturally the boss is an Englishman. We even have a black crew member. You'll recall that one of the astronauts in The Tenth Planet was West Indian. No female crew, however.
The notion that the weather can be controlled centrally is a neat one, but of course one that will never come to pass. It is never explained how the Gravitron can affect those parts of the Earth which are facing away from the Moon. Later on we will see each country having its own weather control systems (in The Seeds of Death) - an even dafter idea. The problem with the weather that it is a series of interconnecting barometric / thermal systems. You affect one thing, and it has a knock-on effect somewhere else. To give a quick analogy. Many parts of the North Sea coast of England are suffering extreme coastal erosion. Some places have been strengthening their sea defences - the popular places where tourists visit or where there is a larger urban settlement. These have simply channeled the destructive powers of the sea to hit other areas along the coastline more severely, hastening the erosion. People who bought a house half a mile from the shore 30 years ago are now seeing their back gardens fall into the sea. Weather control is one of those futuristic Science Fiction ideas that just would never work in practice. Were you to make rain fall in one area, you prevent it from falling somewhere else.

2017 saw the return of the Mondasian Cybermen. Back in 1966, they were deemed to be a bit crude in their realisation, so Innes Lloyd decided that some money should be spent on redesigning them. They were going to become a recurring enemy, and so something more streamlined was decided upon. The accordion-like chest unit is retained, though it's made smaller and more compact. The light fitting on the top of the head is now built into the helmet, but the handle bars are also kept, even though they are no longer necessary. They have silver body suits with no human hands showing, and the surgical stocking faces are now blank, skull-like masks. The voices are also more robotic.
Basically, the redesign is to make them sturdier for future re-use. The ironic thing is that, unlike the Daleks, the Cybermen will undergo a constant redesign process - this particular version only really being seen on one further occasion (and even then they changed the footwear and some of the cabling). The Cybermen are mostly confined to the third episode (sadly one of the ones we no longer have), though there is some action on the lunar surface in Part Four. We never hear of how there can still be Cybermen, as the last time we saw them their entire planet was destroyed. Some material about their new home on Telos was ditched from the finished production.

These Cybermen are sneaky, and one of them even appears to have a sense of sarcasm. The previous ones were a bit sneaky as well, donning the parka jackets of the soldiers they had killed to get themselves into Snowcap Base. Here they begin a fine tradition of elaborate scheming, which will hit ludicrous heights when we get to The Wheel in Space. They land on the Moon and dig a tunnel into the base storeroom. Here, they infect the sugar supply with a neurotropic virus. The base doctor is among the first to succumb to this "space plague". Did they know that their tunnel would hit the store where the sugar was kept? How did they manage to incapacitate the doctor on their first attempt? They don't want to kill these humans. They want the infected people for another purpose. They sneak into the sickbay and abduct the patients so that they can place them under their mental control and use them as slave workers. Why? So they can be used to operate the Gravitron on their behalf. The last lot of Cybermen had a weakness when it came to radiation, but here we are led to believe that gravity is bad for them. Only humans can operate the Gravitron. Again - why? The only problem with the Gravitron control room is the noise - hence the tea-cosy head sets people have to wear. There is nothing in the script about gravitational forces being any different in this area than anywhere else on the base. The only gravitational forces being generated are those being zapped off into space to control the weather on Earth. As with just about every future Cyberman story, there is simply little or no justification for their over-elaborate plans. The Cybermen should simply blast a few holes in the base dome (well above tea tray blocking height) and kill the humans, then operate the Gravitron themselves.

As mentioned last time, Jamie has only recently been written into the series as a regular companion, and the scripts haven't quite caught up with him. Here, he gets concussed in the first few minutes and remains in the sickbay until Part Three. The Doctor was actually aiming for Mars at the start of this story - as we seen in the closing moments of the previous story. It is Ben who spots that they have landed on the Moon, which is very perspicacious of him as decent images of the lunar surface weren't all that common in 1966. The Moon-based movies of the 1950's (such as Destination Moon) tended to go for craggy vistas, but at least here they go for a flatter moonscape. Interestingly, the TARDIS' magic chest not only has four spacesuits in it, but they just happen to be of the identical design which the Moonbase crew use, down to the built-in design flaw of the misting up helmets.

Lastly, a word about the Doctor's doctorate. Throughout the Hartnell era, the Doctor stated quite categorically that he was not a doctor of medicine. Here, the Doctor mentions having studied medicine though he is vague on the details - and he never states that he qualified. He claims to have studied under Lister at Glasgow in 1888. Joseph Lister worked at Glasgow's Royal Infirmary where he developed his thoughts about sterile conditions in surgery. He tutored at Glasgow University but left in 1869 to move to Edinburgh, and by 1881 he had gone to London - so the Doctor's memories don't match the facts of Lister's career. Either the Doctor has got his dates wrong, or his Scottish universities, as he does definitely think that it was Lister he studied under.
Even more lastly, a word about the new TARDIS scanner function. At the close of this story, the Doctor reveals the hitherto unknown fact that he has a device that can give him a glimpse of the future - at least the near future of their next landing site. The question is, of course, why haven't we seen this before - or since? Well, the Doctor does state that it isn't terribly reliable - though it gets an encounter with the Macra spot on here. Some fans have postulated that the Doctor has built the Time-Space Visualiser into the TARDIS (last seen in The Chase). That could only ever show things that had already happened, however, whereas this is clearly supposed to be showing their future.
At this stage in the programme, the Doctor is a happy wanderer, and he can't really control the TARDIS, so presumably he never uses it again just because it would take the fun out of working out where he arrives next.
Next time: I could crack some crude joke about everyone coming down with an attack of the crabs, but I won't. We're off to Space Butlins and Jamie does the Highland Fling whilst Ben is turned to the dark side.