Thursday 28 July 2016

A is for... Angelo, Fr.

Abbot of the monastery which lay in the Glen of St. Catherine, near Torchwood House in North East Scotland. The Brethren have turned their backs on Christianity, and for many centuries have worshiped a wolf-like alien life-form. Every couple of decades, the Brethren would kidnap a local child who become host for this life-form. When the time is right, a powerful personage would be infected, so that the wolf could take over the country, and ultimately the planet.
Father Angelo decided that the next host would be Queen Victoria, who regularly visited the area. He led his monks to Torchwood House with the current host, a young man. The monks were specially trained in martial arts. They took over the House, Angelo pretending to be a butler, whilst the other monks acted as servants and stationed themselves around the building to ensure no-one would escape. The owner, Sir Robert MacLeish, was forced to co-operate as his wife and servants were held hostage. To control the wolf, and protect themselves, they had conditioned the creature to have an aversion to mistletoe.
Angelo was shot dead by the Queen, as much for his disrespect towards her as the threat to transform her into an alien werewolf.

Played by: Ian Hanmore. Appearances: Tooth and Claw (2006).

  • Hanmore is probably best known for his appearance in the 2nd series of Game of Thrones - as the warlock Pyat Pree. He played another Father recently in Outlander.

A is for... Angela

Angela Whitaker was a passenger on the 200 bus to Victoria, London, on a fateful Easter Saturday evening. The Doctor was also on board, investigating rhondium particles. These emanated from a wormhole which opened in a road tunnel beneath the Thames - which the bus passed through. Angela and her fellow passengers found themselves stranded on the desert planet of San Helios.
Her only concern was to get back home to her daughter Suzanne and her husband Mike. Angela was put in charge of running the bus' engine. She blamed herself when the vehicle ran out of fuel.
The Doctor was able to get her back to London after salvaging anti-gravity clamps from a Tritovore spaceship to fly back through the wormhole.

Played by Victoria Alcock. Appearances: Planet of the Dead (2009).

A is for... Androvax

A member of the Veil species. After spending some time exploring the cosmos, Androvax returned to his homeworld to find it obliterated by its own sun. Grief and rage combined to make him decide that everything in the Universe existed merely to be destroyed - so he decided that he would speed up the process. He set out to destroy other worlds. He became the Most Wanted criminal sought by the Judoon, who finally captured him. However, the prison ship piloted by Judoon Captain Tybo crashed on Earth. Whilst the authorities headed for the main crash site, Sarah Jane Smith and her young friends spotted that an escape pod had landed elsewhere. Androvax was able to evade recapture by inhabiting other people's bodies, merging into them and taking them over. Apart from the change in character, a giveaway was his long snake-like tongue. Taking over Sarah's body, he learned of her recent visit to a technology company that was developing new nanoforms. He decided to use these to create a spaceship for himself - based on the one recovered at Roswell. However, the nanoforms would run riot and destroy the Earth. Sarah and her friends joined forces with the Judoon and Androvax was taken into custody once more.
Whilst held captive on a swamp planet, he learned that he was not the last of his kind after all. Now dying, he escaped and returned to Earth in order to break into a vault run by the robotic Men In Black. It held a spaceship which contained more of the Veil, held in suspended animation. Sarah decided to help Androvax free them, and they left to find a new home to colonise.
When the Doctor and Clara found themselves robbing the Bank of Karabraxos, accomplice Psi downloaded an image of Androvax, along with many other criminal masterminds.

Played by:Mark Goldthorp. Appearances: SJA 3.1 Prisoner of the Judoon (2009), SJA 4.2 The Vault of Secrets (2010), Time Heist (2014).

Monday 25 July 2016

Story 160 - Aliens of London / World War Three

In which the Doctor returns Rose to the Powell Estate some 24 hours after they left following the attempted Nestene invasion. The Doctor waits by the TARDIS, and his eye is drawn to a nearby poster. In her flat, Rose is shocked by her mother's reaction to her presence. The Doctor bursts in and tells her that it isn't a day since she left, but a whole year. Rose has been reported by Jackie as a missing person. Neither she nor the Doctor are happy with the Doctor's story, and at one point Jackie slaps the Doctor across the face. He retreats to the roof where Rose joins him. The Doctor states that he does not like to get involved in other peoples' lives. A spacecraft suddenly roars overhead. It turns over the City and strikes Big Ben before crash-landing into the river close to the Houses of Parliament. The Doctor wants to know more, but refuses to take the TARDIS close to the incident. He watches events on TV instead. Mickey arrives at Rose's flat, and reveals that Jackie had accused him of abducting her daughter. He has been studying the Doctor ever since - having taken over Clive's website. On learning that a body has been removed from the craft and taken to the Albion Hospital, the Doctor sneaks away and uses the TARDIS to travel there. The alien proves to be a pig-like being, which is being investigated by Dr Sato. It is not dead, however, and makes off through the hospital. Soldiers shoot it dead. The Doctor realises that it is a real pig that has been technologically augmented.

In Downing Street, the Prime Minister is nowhere to be found. Margaret Blaine tells General Asquith that the PM is stuck in traffic somewhere. The most senior politician present is a junior minister, Joseph Green, so he becomes de facto PM in the absence of anyone else. Asquith is appalled at his handling of the situation. He is taken aside to meet with Green, Blaine and a civil servant named Oliver Charles. They are unaware that the MP for Flydale North, Harriet Jones, is hiding in a cupboard, having sneaked in to leave a proposed Bill for the PM. She is horrified to see Green, Blaine and Charles unzip their bodies - to reveal hideous alien creatures beneath. Asquith is killed, and the alien who was masquerading as Charles takes on his hollowed-out body. Jackie discovers the secret of the TARDIS when she follows Rose inside. Shocked, she decides to call an emergency help-line that has been set up. When she uses certain key words - Doctor and TARDIS - it triggers an alarm at Downing Street, and armed forces are sent to fetch the Doctor. On learning this, the aliens send one of their number, disguised as a police officer to silence Jackie. As it unmasks she runs to Mickey's flat. Rose and Harriet discover that the PM has been murdered, and find themselves trapped by the Margaret Blaine alien in Downing Street. The Doctor deduces the alien scheme whilst attending a special meeting at which UNIT are present. Mickey had earlier asked why the aliens would draw attention to themselves if this was an invasion. The Doctor realises that the ship took off from Earth and swung round the Sun before returning to crash-land. This event would bring all the alien experts together - as Green has achieved. This is so that he can destroy them all - their ID badges being electrified...

Not being human, the Doctor survives the attack, but finds himself accused of killing all the other delegates. He, Rose and Harriet are trapped in Downing Street as more of the aliens arrive. They give themselves away by all being fuller framed, and have a tendency to fart uncontrollably. This is because the neck-worn converter that allows them to fit into the flesh-suits isn't very efficient. The Doctor, Rose and Harriet seek shelter in the Cabinet Room, which is heavily fortified with metal shielding. The Doctor is able to make contact with Mickey and Jackie using Rose's boosted mobile. They are still under attack from the alien sent to kill her. The Doctor succeeds in working out where the aliens come from - the planet Raxacoricofallapatorious - and so comes up with a means of destroying them. He orders Mickey and Jackie to gather all the vinegar based products they can find, and use it against the alien. The mixture causes it to explode. The aliens are calcium-based, which is susceptible to vinegar. Margaret Blaine comes to the door, and from her they learn that the aliens are the Slitheen. This is a clan name. With control over Downing Street they are going to get the UN to release the launch codes of Britain's nuclear weapons - pretending that the planet is about to be attacked. They will really use the missiles to destroy the Earth - reducing it to a radioactive mass that can be sold off to fuel space-fleets. The Doctor has Mickey hack the UNIT IT system so that he can launch a missile at Downing Street from a submarine in the English Channel. They hope that the reinforced walls of the Cabinet Room will save them. The Slitheen are destroyed just before they get the missile codes, and Harriet emerges from the ruins of Downing Street to take charge. The Doctor recalls that she will become PM herself. Rose decides to continue travelling with the Doctor. He gives Mickey a virus that will remove all mention of him from computer systems across the planet.

This two-part adventure was written by Russell T Davies, and was broadcast between 16th and 23rd April, 2005. It is the 700th individual episode of Doctor Who to be transmitted.
As the first two-parter of the revived series, it is the first to feature a cliffhanger ending since Part Two of Survival back in 1989. It is the first of the new stories to feature UNIT. Though we do not know it yet, it also introduces some recurring characters. The Slitheen will be back in the parent programme, before finding their natural home in The Sarah Jane Adventures. Harriet Jones will make two further reappearances. Dr Sato will return as a member of the Torchwood team.
We also get the first of the TV montage sequences as the Doctor channel hops in Jackie's flat. This includes one of two celebrity cameos - here Blue Peter presenter Matt Baker, and later we see BBC chief political correspondent Andrew Marr. Plus we get our first sighting of AMNN's news anchor Trinity Wells, who will have something to say about all the alien incursions throughout RTD's tenure.
Between now and The Eleventh Hour, all contemporary Earth stories will be set one year after transmission date, to account for Rose's missing year.
For the first time, we get to see what the effect is on a companion's family and friends of their decision to travel with the Doctor. Jackie has been traumatised, and Mickey vilified, following Rose's disappearance.
The tone of the story is mixed, to say the least. We have extreme body horror - the aliens using hollowed-out human skins - alongside fart gags and a comedy double act in Green and Asquith.
After the burping Auton wheelie bin in Rose, we won't get this more blatantly childish humour level again in the series.

The Slitheen are a wonderful design, their nastiness accentuated by their baby-like faces. They are mostly realised with physical costumes, but there is one chase sequence where they are realised using CGI. The contrast is jarring, but the production team will spot this and learn from it.
This was the first story to be recorded, alongside Rose. and they are obviously still learning the ropes as they go along. It was probably during this initial, stressful, filming block that Eccleston decided he would only do the one series.
Guest artists include Annette Badland as Margaret, David Verrey as Green, Rupert Vansittart as Gen. Asquith, Navin Chowdry as civil servant Indra Ganesh, Steve Spiers as Strickland (the policeman Slitheen) and, last but not least, Penelope Wilton as Harriet Jones.

The cliffhanger: A triple one, as Mickey and Jackie are threatened in his flat by one of the Slitheen, whilst Rose and Harriet are trapped in a Downing Street room by Margaret Slitheen. Meanwhile, at the conference, the Doctor is being electrocuted after Asquith Slitheen has revealed his true form...
Story Arc Items: A young boy paints the slogan "Bad Wolf" on the side of the TARDIS. Plus the soon to be recurring characters mentioned above.

Overall, not a bad story. The use of the spaceship crash in the series trailers would have helped bring people back to the series who only remembered it for poor special effects. It is a wonderful sequence. The monsters are interesting - a family rather than a race, and a bunch of con-men rather than invaders. As mentioned, the realisation doesn't always work. Great performances from the guest cast.
Things you might like to know:

  • The very first sequence filmed for the new series was the one between Dr Sato and General Asquith.
  • Christopher Eccleston's very first scene filmed was the chase of the "space pig" through the hospital corridors.
  • Was RTD recalling The Dominators when he came up with the motive for the Slitheen's actions?
  • And Robot, for all the world's nuclear launch codes being held by a "neutral" party?
  • The use of a motor launch on the Thames close to Parliament almost sparked a real security alert.
  • As with any Doctor Who story, there are elements of the plot that don't quite make sense. These might be production issues - such as the days being too long for London in March, but this story suffers particularly badly when looked at in hindsight. For example, why is a Torchwood agent from Cardiff present, when we know there is a whole building full of them just along the river? We'll look at Torchwood irregularities more fully at a later date.
  • At this stage Trinity Wells (Lachele Carl) isn't named. On Mickey's website she gets the name Mal Loup - Bad French for Bad Wolf.
  • The model shot of the destruction of the Big Ben clock tower was reversed to be in keeping with the shots either side of it - meaning that the roman numerals are clearly back to front.
  • The cliffhanger was somewhat ruined by being followed immediately by the "Next Time" sequence - which showed that everyone was okay. Of course, we knew they would be, but the production team noted the criticism and for future two-parters moved the "Next Time" to after the end credits, or omitted it altogether for some series finales.
  • The cliffhanger, as far as the Doctor is concerned, is actually resolved in the pre-credit recap sequence. When the story was shown in Canada, the recap was omitted - so the resolution was also not shown, naturally confusing the viewers.
  • The picture of Rose on the Missing poster is one of Billie Piper herself pre-dating her casting as Rose, rather than one specially taken for the show. The poster states that she went missing on 6th March, rather than the date of Rose's transmission (25th March).
  • It was only after he had the boy scrawl "Bad Wolf" on the TARDIS that RTD went back and inserted this phrase elsewhere in the scripts.
  • Green talks about Massive Weapons of Destruction. This is, of course, a reference to the WMD that Bush Jnr and Blair claimed Iraq possessed, as justification for their entirely unjustified war.
  • The dead PM was supposed to be Tony Blair, but the look-a-like provided did not look very a-likey - so specific mention that it was supposed to be him was dropped from the scripts.

Monday 18 July 2016

A is for... Androids

The words "android" and "robot" are often used interchangeably in Sci-Fi, and Doctor Who is no exception. Both refer to mechanical beings. Androids are often used to describe facsimiles of real humanoid beings, whilst not all robots are shaped like people with arms and legs. The following is a list of androids encountered by the Doctor over the years. Either they have been specifically described as "androids" on screen, or they fit the mechanical copy of a human definition.

Android First Doctor - The Chase (1965).
The Dalek execution squad sent to hunt the Doctor and his companions through Space and Time decided to create a mechanical replica of the Doctor to infiltrate and kill the time-travellers.
It was only when it misidentified Vicki as Susan that the travellers realised which Doctor was the fake one. The Doctor tore out its circuits. In order to fool the Daleks, the Doctor pretended to be the android, but they knew it had already been destroyed.

Kraal Androids - The Android Invasion (1975).
Exact replicas of the inhabitants of the English village of Devesham, where the UK Space Defence Station was based. They were copied from the brain scans of the human astronaut Guy Crayford. As well as the villagers, he had also provided details of the Station personnel - including members of UNIT such as Lt. Harry Sullivan and RSM Benton.
The Kraal plan was to replace the real population with their android copies, and these would be used to spread a virulent plague that would wipe out the human race and so allow for an unchallenged invasion. The Doctor realised something was wrong when he and Sarah saw a UNIT soldier throw himself to his death in the countryside near the village - only to turn up unharmed a short time later.
The Kraals also created copies of the Doctor and Sarah. The Doctor used the Station's transmitter dish to broadcast a signal that deactivated the androids.

Taran Androids - The Androids of Tara (1978).
The planet Tara had suffered a terrible plague that decimated the population. Androids were created to carry out menial work. The ruthless political machinations of the ruling families also led to the creation of replicas. The Crown Prince, Reynart, had one android created of himself. This was intended to deflect assassination attempts. When Reynart was captured by Count Grendel, the Doctor fixed up the android to take his place at the appointed hour and so not miss out on his coronation. Grendel had a copy of the Princess Strella made - to kill Reynart at the ceremony. The Doctor spotted that it was a fake when he heard something short inside it. Strella just happened to look like Romana, and Grendel had another android made of her to lure the Doctor into a lethal trap. It was destroyed by K9.

Movellans - Destiny of the Daleks (1979).
I would class the Movellans as androids rather than robots, as they are all physically unique. Robots would have a more uniform appearance.
The Movellans went to war against the Daleks and both races hit a stalemate. They tried to enlist first Davros, then the Doctor to help break this stalemate, but eventually developed a virus that attacked the Daleks and so gained the upper hand.
Movellans could be easily deactivated by removing a power pack from their belts. They could be reprogrammed to attack each other. They could also be confused by ultrasonic sound.
See also "M is for... Movellans".

Urbankan Androids - Four to Doomsday (1982).
The Urbankans themselves were androids. This is how the Ministers Enlightenment and Persuasion could appear exactly as the drawings Tegan had made to show typical Western Earth fashions.
Monarch's ship contained a number of people who had been taken from Earth during his previous visits - prehistoric Aboriginals, Athenian Greeks, Imperial Chinese and Mayans. These were all android copies of the originals. Many were only basic models, designed to carry out menial tasks, whilst others maintained the personalities of the original person.
To prevent revolt, Monarch had programmed the androids so they could never act in unison - something which the Doctor used against him. After Monarch's death, the androids decided to set off and create a new home on some alien planet.

Terileptil Android - The Visitation (1982).
The Terileptils were lovers of art and beauty, despite being a belligerent, war-like race. Their androids were designed to look ornate and beautiful, as well as being hard-working and walking weapons. They had a powerful laser weapon built into their hands.
Once stranded in 1666 England, the Terileptil escaped convicts disguised their android as Death - the Grim Reaper - to scare the locals away from interfering in their activities. The Terileptil leader sent the android to capture the TARDIS. Nyssa created a device which shook it to pieces.

Cyberman Sentinels - Earthshock (1982).
Quite basic machines, with featureless faces, these androids were programmed to prevent anyone from tampering with the bomb which the Cybermen had planted to destroy a forthcoming conference. Their weapons totally disintegrated their victims. The Doctor knew that if Commander Scott's men were to attack the hatch protecting the bomb then this would cause conflict in their programming. They had to protect the hatch, but equally had to protect themselves in order to carry out their orders.
Concentrated firing destroyed both sentinels.

Kamelion - The King's Demons (1983), Planet of Fire (1984).
Created by a race who had invaded the planet Xeriphas, it had been left behind and was found by the Master. He found that it could take on the appearance of anyone willed upon it by himself. Seeing the opportunities it presented, he first tried to use it to mimic King John in order to sabotage the Magna Carta, and so change world history for his own ends. The Doctor could equally impose his will on Kamelion, and was able to take control. It joined the TARDIS crew for a time, until the Master once more imposed his will upon it. Knowing that it would always be susceptible to malign influence, it asked the Doctor to destroy it, which he did - shooting it with the Master's Tissue Compression Eliminator.
See also "K is for... Kamelion".

Sharaz Jek's Androids - The Caves of Androzani (1984).
Most of Jek's androids were basic, featureless models, which he used to handle the deadly raw Spectrox plants, or to act as his own private army. They were programmed to kill anyone not protected by a special belt plate. They were also programmed only to target human beings - so failed to see the two-hearted Doctor as human when they scanned him in X-Ray vision.
Jek also created some exact replicas of real people. His copy of Lt. Salateen was able to fool General Chellak for many months, after he abducted the real soldier and placed his android copy in his HQ. He also made copies of the Doctor and Peri, which replaced them in front of Chellak's firing squad.

Karfelon Androids - Timelash (1985).
Ornate blue faced androids with sing-song voices, these androids were presumably created by the Borad on the planet Karfel. As well as acting as servants, they could also be used to attack people.

The Kandy Man - The Happiness Patrol (1987).
Created by Gilbert M, the Kandy Man was designed to look like the boiled sweets that he enjoyed making. Quite sadistic, he used these to kill people - the enemies of Helen A, who ruled the Earth colony on Terra Alpha. It was susceptible to heat, and the Doctor was able to stick its feet to the floor with lemonade so that he could make his escape. When Helen A's rule began to crumble, the Kandy Man tried to flee through the sugar tunnels beneath the colony. The Pipe People, original inhabitants of this planet, activated the machinery to flood the pipes with molten sugar - destroying the Kandy Man.
See also "K is for... Kandy Man".

Trin-E and Zu-Zana - Bad Wolf (2005).
Androids which hosted a lethal version of What Not To Wear on the Game Station in the year 200, 100 AD. They were based on the TV show's original presenters in the early 21st Century - Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine. Captain Jack Harkness came up against them. After redesigning his wardrobe, they moved onto what they called the "face off" - quite literally in this sense. Jack destroyed them with a compact laser he had somehow hidden about his naked person.

Anne-Droid - Bad Wolf and Parting of the Ways (2005).
Host of the lethal version of The Weakest Link on the Game Station. It was based on that programme's original presenter - Anne Robinson. Losing contestants were vapourised by a beam emitted from the droid's mouth, but the Doctor later discovered that this was actually a form of teleport. People were being sent to the Dalek fleet - to be turned into new Daleks. Captain Jack reprogrammed the Anne-Droid to attack the Daleks when they invaded the Game Station, but it was then exterminated.

Clockwork Droids - The Girl in the Fireplace (2006) and Deep Breath (2014).
Ornately designed clockwork androids designed to carry out maintenance on spaceships from Earth in the 51st Century. When the spaceship SS Madame de Pompadour was wrecked in an ion storm, the droids began to repair it using anything that came to hand. This included parts of the human crew. They worked out that to repair the controlling computer they would need the brain of the real Mme de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV of France. They created time windows and were able to visit her at different points in her life, scanning her brain each time. Her brain would be harvested when she reached the same age as the ship. The Doctor cut off the droids from the time windows and they deactivated, no longer able to complete their work.

The Twelfth Doctor and Clara met another batch of clockwork droids in Victorian London - this time from the SS Marie Antoinette. Led by the Half-Face Man, they had been stranded on Earth for thousands of years, and stole genetic material to make themselves into human beings. Much of this came from the patrons of a restaurant they ran, built around their escape pod. Over the centuries they had developed a purpose - to become human so that they might find the Promised Land. The Half-Face Man believed himself to be human. He was almost certainly pushed to his death from the escape pod - being impaled on the top of the tower popularly known as Big Ben, after the Doctor failed to get him to commit suicide.
See also "C is for... Clockwork Droids".

Professor Edwin Bracewell - Victory of the Daleks and The Pandorica Opens (2010).
A brilliant scientist working with Winston Churchill on weapons that would win Britain the Second World War. He claimed that ideas just came to him. His greatest achievement were the Ironsides - mobile war machines - which the Doctor instantly recognised as Daleks.
It transpired that he had not created the Ironsides, but they him. He was an android with full memories of a life lived in Paisley, Scotland. He helped the Doctor and Winston battle the Daleks once the truth was revealed - fitting out a squad of Spitfires that could travel in space to attack the Dalek saucer. However, he had been fitted with a powerful bomb that could destroy the entire planet, and had no way of shutting this down. Amy Pond appealed to what humanity the Daleks had given him to stop the countdown. He fully expected to be destroyed by the Doctor after the Daleks had departed, but he was allowed to go free. Some months later, he was still working alongside the Prime Minister when a strange painting was found in France - a Van Gogh image of an exploding TARDIS.
See also "B is for... Bracewell, Prof".

Shakri Android - The Power of Three (2012).
Android facsimile of a little girl that was placed on Earth to monitor the population's response to the mysterious small black cubes that appeared everywhere one night. She based herself in the hospital where Rory Williams worked, which was also where the Shakri had a portal to their extra-dimensional spacecraft. Patients were abducted from here so that the human anatomy could be studied for weaknesses. The girl acted as a conduit for the signal that activated the cubes after months on Earth.

Tricky Van Baalen - Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (2013).
Poor Tricky only thinks he is an android - a cruel joke played by his bored siblings on their long space voyages seeking salvage. He had been injured in an accident, losing his memory, and had been given cybernetic implants to save his life. Jealous that he was their father's favourite, his brothers convinced him that he was actually an android. The Doctor forced them to admit the truth.

Invisible Android Assassins - The Witch's Familiar (2015).
Invisible androids which assassinate. Not a lot more you can say about these - except that they feature in a story told to Clara by Missy, and she isn't sure which Doctor it was who encountered them. The story may be entirely apocryphal, so they might not even exist at all - simply made up by the Master to illustrate a point.

Sunday 17 July 2016

A is for... Androgums

An alien race encountered by both the Second and Sixth Doctors. Humanoid, but incredibly strong, Androgums were employed in a range of menial capacities on the Camera Space Station in the Third Zone. In particular, they were reknowned cooks. They have bushy orange eyebrows, and their faces are covered in warts.
Chief Scientist Dastari had taken one of the Androgums - Chessene - and embarked upon a series of biological enhancements to increase her intelligence and intellect. The Second Doctor was horrified by this - as Androgums are notoriously devious. Chessene helped devise a scheme to enable her to have mastery over Time - by kidnapping a Time Lord and finding the genetic material that allows them to travel safely through the Fourth Dimension. She was aided by another Androgum - the sadistic Shockeye. Androgums belong to clans named Grigs, and Shockeye's Grig (the Quancing) was fiercely loyal to Chessene's (the Franzine).
Once on Earth, Shockeye became preoccupied with cooking and tasting a human being. Both Jamie and Peri almost fell victim to him. At one point the Second Doctor was turned into an Androgum, as an alternative to dissecting him. Dastari soon began to regret his augmentations, as he saw Chessene's bloodthirsty true nature begin to break through. She was killed when the Doctor sabotaged Dastari's time capsule, and the Sixth Doctor despatched Shockeye with poison.

Played by: Jacqueline Pearce (Chessene), and John Stratton (Shockeye). Appearances: The Two Doctors (1985).

  • The Androgums were originally going to be called Kraalons. 
  • Androgum is, of course, an anagram of gourmand - in keeping with their culinary obsessions.

A is for... Andrews, Lt.

Young First Officer on the merchant ship SS Bernice, during its crossing of the Indian Ocean in the summer of 1926. He took a shine to the daughter of passenger Major Daly - Clare. When the Doctor and Jo arrived on the ship they were surprised to see time repeat itself, with the passengers and crew seemingly unaware of anything being wrong. The ship is also seen to encounter an extinct Plesiosaur. The Doctor recalled that the ship had gone missing, presumably sunk by a tidal wave, four days out from Bombay. It transpires that the ship has been captured within a Miniscope, which is currently on the planet Inter Minor. People can pay to see examples of alien life. The machine's owner, Vorg, can make things more interesting by increasing the specimens' aggression levels - and the Doctor finds himself challenged to a boxing match with the young lieutenant.
The Doctor was able to send all the specimens back to their own place and time - so Andrews finally reached his destination.

Played by Ian Marter. Appearances: Carnival of Monsters (1973).

  • Marter had previously been offered the role of Captain Mike Yates, back in 1970. He pulled out when he realised it would be a recurring role. He would return in two season's time in a recurring part - that of companion Harry Sullivan, another Naval Lieutenant.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

July's Figurines

This month we have just the two regular figurines - and both hail from the 1960's.
First of all we get the Second Doctor as he appeared in The War Games. With this release, all of the Doctors to date have now been issued. It is a very good likeness of Troughton.
Beside him is the "Flamethrower" Dalek, from the epic The Daleks' Master Plan. This variant can be seen in the extant episode two - Day of Armageddon.
Silver, with darker blue spheres than the very earliest Daleks, it has a long flamethrower attachment in place of the usual sucker arm. And that's about all you can say about it really.
Next month we are back to the more recent seasons, with one of the Whisper Men from The Name of the Doctor.

Monday 11 July 2016

Story 159 - The Unquiet Dead

In which the Doctor takes Rose on a visit to the past. They are supposed to be going to Naples in 1860, but instead arrive in Cardiff in 1869, on Christmas Eve. Elsewhere in the city, the late Mrs Peace has just got up and walked out of Mr Sneed's funeral parlour, after first killing her grandson. Sneed and his maid Gwyneth, who has clairvoyant gifts, set off to locate her. This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. They make for a local theatre, as Mrs Peace had been looking forward to the visit of author Charles Dickens, traveling the country on a reading tour. The old lady is indeed there and suddenly begins to emit a gaseous blue luminescent material from her mouth. As the audience panics, this attracts the attention of the Doctor and Rose. She tries to stop Sneed and Gwyneth from bundling the corpse into their hearse. She is chloroformed and bundled into the vehicle as well. The Doctor meets Dickens, who suspects the Doctor of being behind this trick. The Doctor then requisitions the great writer's coach to pursue the hearse, and Dickens insists on accompanying him.

Rose wakes in the funeral parlour and finds herself threatened by the risen yet again Mrs Peace and her grandson - Mr Redpath. They have been animated after the gaseous blue substance has emerged from the gas lamps and entered their corpses. The Doctor and Dickens arrive in time to save her. The blue gas beings retreat back into the lamps. Sneed explains how this has happened before. he got the building cheap as it had a haunted reputation. Gwyneth reveals her psychic abilities when she appears to read Rose's mind. The Doctor decides that a seance is called for - to contact the gaseous lifeforms. Gwyneth is convinced they are angels. Dickens refuses to believe in any supernatural explanation, to the Doctor's annoyance. At the seance, one of the lifeforms materialises. It explains that it is one of the alien Gelth, a race who are dying out as a result of the war which the Doctor's people had fought.
They need new corporeal forms and want to inhabit the dead of this planet in order to survive. Rose is appalled at the idea, but the Doctor believes it is the right thing to do to save an alien species from extinction.

The Doctor suspects that the building sits on a rift in space / time. Gwyneth identifies the area of the house where this is strongest - in the morgue. She will act as a focus to allow the Gelth to come through. When they start to appear, it quickly becomes apparent that there are many more than they claimed. They are intent on taking over the planet. The corpses in the morgue are reanimated, and Sneed is killed - before also coming back to life inhabited by a Gelth. Dickens flees, whilst the Doctor and Rose remain trapped. He realises that he has been duped. Dickens notices that the Gelth can't go far from the gas supply, and realises that an abundance of gas might actually trap them. He rushes back into the building and sets about turning on all the gas to flood the place. The Doctor agrees with him and breaks a pipe, drawing out the Gelth from the human bodies. Gwyneth elects to strike a match to destroy them. The Doctor cannot save her, as she has been dead since she first allowed the aliens to come through. The funeral parlour is destroyed, along with the Gelth. Dickens' view of the world has changed and he has a new lease of life. He may add "blue elementals" to his story about Edwin Drood. He heads back to London to spend Christmas with his family. Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor tells Rose that he never will finish The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Dickens will die in the following year.

The Unquiet Dead was written by Mark Gatiss, and was broadcast on Saturday 9th April 2005.
It is the first story of the BBC Wales series to be written by someone other than the showrunner Russell T Davies. Gatiss will go on to write many more stories, as well as to appear in the programme in a number of acting roles. A lifelong fan, he had been one of the writers for the Virgin New Adventures and BBC Books ranges. Doctor Who references had been apparent in his work with the League of Gentlemen on BBC radio and TV.
This is the first story to feature the Cardiff Time Rift, which will go on to play a major role in the new series mythology, as well as its spin-offs. Torchwood starts here in many ways.
It is the first story since Timelash to feature a real historical figure, and sees the return of what is popularly termed the "pseudo-historical" stories.
The series so far had begun in the present day, then gone off into the far future, so now it was time to have a story set in the past. RTD also wanted to reintroduce what would become known as "celebrity historicals" - featuring genuine figures from the past in a Sci-Fi situation - much in the same way that young HG Wells had gotten involved in the war of the worlds on Karfel.
Gatiss was offered this slot. He had a passion for Gothic Horror and the Victorian setting. The aliens were always going to be ghost-like beings, but his initial ideas were about fake spiritualists, with a boarding house setting. Many drafts followed until he and Davies settled on the Dickens / Ghosts at Christmas scenario that was the finished product.

Dickens is played by Simon Callow - the first big guest artist of the revived series, at least seen on screen. He is a bit of an expert on Dickens, having played him on stage in a one man show prior to this, as well as presenting a documentary about the writer. Sneed is played by popular Welsh actor Alan David. Soon to become a regular on Torchwood, Gwyneth is played by Eve Myles. She had been a regular on the long-running Welsh soap Pobol Y Cwm. The Gelth are voiced by Zoe Thorne, who will return to the programme to voice other characters.
Story arc watch:

  • Gwyneth sees the "Bad Wolf" when she is reading Rose's mind.
  • The Time War is said to have caused the Gelth to lose their physical forms.
  • A rift in space and time is established as running through Cardiff.
  • The audience are reminded that Rose's father is dead.

Overall, a cracking story. Lovely period feel, ghosts and zombies, plus Simon Callow as Charles Dickens. A creditable 86th, out of 241, in the 50th Anniversary DWM poll.
Things you might like to know:

  • The bulk of the location filming actually took place in Swansea, as that city has more Victorian architecture than Cardiff.
  • Charles Dickens embarked upon many tours, reading passages from his works. However, he was certainly nowhere near Cardiff at Christmas 1869. Ill health had caused him to stop touring in April of that year. He resumed touring only in January 1870.
  • He wrote many works with a supernatural theme, and he is synonymous with ghosts at Christmas thanks to A Christmas Carol. He is reading from this when Mrs Peace begins to exude the Gelth. A later Christmas connection between Dickens, ghosts and Christmas comes from the BBC adaptation of The Signalman, starring Denholm Elliott. This went out as part of the "Ghost Stories at Christmas" strand that was a feature of the BBC festive output in the 1970's - usually work by MR James. Mark Gatiss would have known these well. The Doctor tells Dickens that The Signalman is his favourite story by him.
  • There is a reference to the death of Little Nell (The Old Curiosity Shop) being hilarious. This isn't just a Dickens reference but an Oscar Wilde one as well. He said "One must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing".
  • Sneed's horse is called Samson - a reference to Galton & Simpson sitcom Steptoe and Son.
  • There is a once popular exclamation of surprise that goes "What the Dickens!". Naturally Dickens wouldn't have said such a thing himself - so he says "What the Shakespeare!" at one point. Shakespeare gets a few mentions in this story - not least the "More things in Heaven and Earth..." bit from Hamlet
  • Gatiss came in for some criticism at the time for having a story where refugees turn out to be evil tricksters. It should be remembered that there was a General Election coming up just a couple of weeks after this was broadcast, and the Conservatives, UKIP and the lesser xenophobic parties were all trotting out their usual anti-immigration spiels at this time.
  • When Dickens first sees the Gelth he asks "What phantasmagoria is this...?". Gatiss had earlier written a Big Finish play called - Phantasmagoria.
  • This is one of the very rare occasions in the new series when the TARDIS fails to get the Doctor to where he was planning to go.
  • If Series One had gone to its original plan, the Ninth Doctor and Rose would have finally got to Naples - or its environs - as it was intended that Episode 11 would have featured the eruption of Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii. That would have to wait until the Fourth Series, when they had the time and money to film in Italy.
  • Gatiss originally wrote Sneed as a younger man - and had in mind for the part his friend David Tennant. This was when the drafts were still based around fake mediums.

Sunday 3 July 2016

A is for... Andred

The commander of the Chancellery Guards when the Fourth Doctor arrived on Gallifrey to claim the Presidency of the High Council. When it appeared that the Doctor had betrayed the Time Lords to the invading Vardans, Andred decided he had to assassinate him. He particularly hated having to exile some of the venerable older Time Lords from the Capitol into the wastes of Outer Gallifrey. After he was stunned by K9, the Doctor was able to convince him that he was really working against the Vardans. When the Vardans had been defeated, a force of Sontarans arrived in their place. Andred joined the Doctor and Leela in their flight to the heart of the TARDIS to protect Borusa and to give the Doctor time to build the fearsome Demat Gun. Andred was wounded by a Sontaran weapon.
Andred had initially been exasperated by Leela, as she refused to accept any of their ancient customs, but by the time the Doctor had recovered from the effects of using the Gun, Andred and Leela had fallen in love. She elected to remain on Gallifrey and marry him.

Played by Christopher Tranchell. Appearances: The Invasion of Time (1978).

A is for... Ancient Lights

A powerful alien intelligence which attempted to take over the Earth and plunge it back into an age of superstition. It made a link to Earth through a crooked astrologer named Martin Trueman, giving him genuine powers. He arranged a global TV link-up to his astrology show in Ealing, West London. During this the population was taken over - zodiac sign by zodiac sign. The only person not affected was Luke Smith, as he had never been born. He had been created by the alien Bane. Luke broke Trueman's zodiac wheel and the Ancient Lights were cast back out into deep space.

  • The Ancient Lights is the Mandragora Helix in all but name. Russell T Davies was going to make this story about the return of the Mandragora Helix until late in the day, but thought the reference too obscure.
Appearances: Sarah Jane Adventures 2.3: Secrets of the Stars (2008).

A is for... Ancelyn

A Knight from an alternative universe where magic lives side by side with technology. In this domain, he knew the Doctor as the wizard Merlin. When Queen Morgaine travelled to our universe to seek King Arthur, Ancelyn followed to stop her from obtaining the sword Excalibur. Ancelyn joined forces with the Doctor and UNIT Brigadier Bambera to fight Morgaine and her son Mordred. After they had been defeated, Ancelyn stayed on in this universe, as he had taken a shine to Bambera.

  • Ancelyn's name derives from Lancelot, the Arthurian Knight.
Played by Marcus Gilbert. Appearances: Battlefield (1989).