Friday 30 June 2017

Inspirations - The Chase

The third Dalek story. First time, the Doctor and his companions went to them. Second time, the Daleks came to us. For the third outing, Terry Nation devises an episodic pursuit through Time and Space - allowing him to not really have to concentrate too much on strong plotting.
This is one of those occasions when naming a story after its first episode title actually works rather well - The Executioners - because this is all about the Daleks sending a Death Squad after the TARDIS in their own dimensionally transcendental time machine.
The idea of a story made up of smaller incidents was last used by Nation in his second script for the series - The Keys of Marinus.
Before we get to the pursuit, there is the small matter of the extraordinary gadget which the Doctor salvaged from the Morok Space Museum. This proves to be the Time Space Visualiser - a sort of time-telly. There's some nonsense about all light emissions floating around forever, and this machine can capture and show them on a screen - with added sound and camera moves.
To demonstrate the device, Ian is asked to select a moment from history. He picks President Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address, on Thursday 19th November, 1863. This speech was made at the inauguration of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at the site of the famous Civil War battle in Pennsylvania. The address ran to only around 250 words.
Barbara gets to go next, and she picks the court of Queen Elizabeth. She is in an audience with William Shakespeare, and Sir Francis Bacon is in attendance. ER wants Shakespeare to write a play about Falstaff in love (which he will do - The Merry Wives of Windsor). Bacon then suggests that he write a play on Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Will thinks not - not really his style - but then starts to have second thoughts...
It has been claimed that Elizabeth did ask for the Falstaff play to be written. The Queen is about to scold Shakespeare for basing Falstaff on Sir John Oldcastle. He was a friend of Henry V, and harboured what were regarded as heretical religious views. He was a supporter of Lollardy. His friendship with Henry saved him from prosecution, but eventually enough evidence was brought forward and he was sent to the Tower. He escaped, and started plotting open rebellion. He was captured in 1417 and hanged and burnt at St Giles's Fields in London.
Francis Bacon is one of those who is alleged to have been the true author of Shakespeare's plays. Of course, you and I know that Christopher Marlowe's death was faked, and it was he who wrote them.

Vicki goes next, and she picks a TV appearance by the Beatles. She seems disappointed, claiming she didn't know they played classical music. This is obviously a topical joke as they were at their height at this point. We had Dalekmania at the same time as Beatlemania. Vicki claims to have visited their memorial theatre in Liverpool, which begs the question as to how she could not have heard any of their music before now. Last story, she claimed to know all about the Daleks, yet hadn't seen what one looked like. Her education appears to be from text books with no pictures, and You Tube must have been scrapped sometime before the 25th Century.
Despite joining the TARDIS in 1963, Ian seems to know Ticket to Ride, and does some embarrassing dad dancing to the piece. Manager Brian Epstein had vetoed the group being specially filmed as old men, celebrating their 50th Anniversary. This is mainly due to them being pushed to finish the album Help!. A clip from Top of the Pops was then requested, only for the Doctor Who team to learn that the BBC did not keep these - each episode was taped over almost immediately. This is why BBC 4 only show stuff from Marc Bolan onwards on a Friday night. It was finally arranged for a performance at Riverside Studios to be taped and used.
Unfortunately, the Doctor doesn't select anything to view, so we don't get to see what he would most liked to have seen. Knowing Hartnell, it would probably have been the 3.30 from Lingfield.
Finally, after all these diversions, the Dalek story actually gets underway.

The TARDIS lands on the desert planet Aridius, which is scorched by twin suns. Very prescient of the amphibious natives to name their water world this, as if they knew that it would become a desert planet in a few million year's time. This is one of those Terry Nation conventions - naming planets after some aspect of their geography or nature. Skaro was scarred by nuclear war, Marinus had its acid ocean. Later, Desperus will be full of desperate criminals, and Mira will be covered in swamps.
Conveniently, the TSV picks up the Daleks on Skaro setting off to exterminate them.
The Daleks adopt their old Nazi-like behaviour - using the natives as slave labour, exterminating them once their usefulness is at an end, and issuing ultimata left, right and centre.
Ian decides to build a sand trap to ensnare a Dalek. He asks Barbara for her cardigan. Her "Not again..." refers to his having used the wool from her last one to guide them round the labyrinth of the Space Museum. Ian also uses the Doctor's coat - prompting Hartnell's wonderful "We're trying to defeat the Daleks, not start a jumble sale!" comment.

The TARDIS crew flee to the top of the Empire State Building in New York, in 1966. Completed in 1931, and named after a nickname for New York State, it was the tallest building in the world until the World Trade Centre was built. Present to see the arrivals and departures of both the TARDIS and the Daleks is tourist Morton Dill, who hails from Alabama, though his accent could hail from a number of states. He mentions being a fan of Cheyenne Bodie, and likens the time travellers emerging from small boxes to the Keystone Kops. Bodie was played by Clint Walker in the fifties Western TV series Cheyenne. In the Keystone Kops movies, their elongated car would often emerge from a tiny shed too small to have contained it.
It will later emerge that the Daleks themselves were instrumental in the construction of the Empire State Building.
Dill is played by Peter Purves, and he will get invited back to play another character later in this same story - new companion Steven Taylor.

The New York stopover is a brief one. The Daleks are starting to catch up when the TARDIS lands on the deck of a Victorian sailing ship. It is close to the Azores. The arrival of the Daleks prompts the crew to jump overboard. Turns out, this is the Mary Celeste... A contemporary newspaper report called it the Marie Celeste, and this misreporting has stuck. It was found adrift and abandoned on 5th December, 1872, off the Azores. All the evidence pointed towards the crew abandoning ship in a hurry. It remains one of the world's greatest mysteries. A recent theory points to the alcohol which it was carrying as cargo. The crew may have feared an explosion from the highly flammable fumes, and so disembarked, only to find themselves unable to get back on board. Mutiny, piracy, or insurance fraud have also been proposed - as well as attack by a giant squid, as you would. Now you know it was really the Daleks.
In 1885, the ship was deliberately run aground off Haiti as part of a failed insurance scam. No Daleks were involved this time.

If you think it's all been a bit bizarre up till now, just wait for the next bit, because the Doctor & Co are about to meet Count Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster. The TARDIS has arrived in a stereotypical haunted castle. There's bats in the rafters, skeletons dropping from the ceiling, and a ghostly grey lady. The Doctor and Ian find the Monster on the slab in a laboratory, and the Count appears to say hello to Barbara and Vicki.
It is to the Universal run of classic horror movies that Terry Nation and director Richard Martin look, rather than the more recent Hammer cycles. Despite being heavily copyrighted by Universal, the Baron's creation has the flat head and bolts through the neck, whilst Dracula dresses more like Lugosi than Lee (though Lugosi never once flashed any fangs).
The Doctor thinks that they have materialised within some dark corner of the human psyche. It's really all a bit more prosaic. They are in a funfair, and these are automatons. It is supposed to be the Festival of Ghana, in 1996 - an event which has been closed down by intervention from the Chinese.
This might seem odd, but China did have some influence in Africa in the 1960's, as some political leaders wanted to avoid favouring the US or the Soviet Union.
What is odd, however, is that robots designed to entertain tourists are so homicidal. Perhaps it's a good job China closed the Fair down when it did.

The Doctor, Ian and Barbara rush off, and then discover that they have left Vicki behind. She has stowed away on the Dalek vessel, where she witnesses them create an android copy of the Doctor. It will infiltrate and kill. Infiltrate and kill. Played by someone who once body-doubled for Hartnell, seen only from the back for a few seconds, the likeness is dreadful. As such, Hartnell has to occasionally play it as well as the Doctor for close-ups. This is the first of many doubles in the series. Sometimes they will be doubles of the Doctor, sometimes of his companions. Sometimes robots, and sometimes real people who just happen to look like them. Get used to it - it's going to happen a lot in future.
The TARDIS lands on the planet Mechanus. This isn't a world of metal. It's all jungle. But it is home to the Mechonoids, which is highly convenient for them. It is also home to mobile mushroom creatures, which Nation dubs "Fungoids". He likes the sound of that word, so will naturally use it again, come the 1970's. In his original scripts, these plant-forms were designated Gubbage Cones. Shame he changed the name. He will have an unhealthy obsession with hostile plant life from this point on.
I should mention at this point that some other locations were considered for the stop-off points in The Chase. One of these was ancient Egypt. This will not be forgotten, as it will be used in the next Dalek story.

The killer robot Doctor gives itself away by calling Vicki Susan. Considering the number of times Hartnell fluffs his lines, it is amazing that Ian and Barbara accept this faux pas as proof of which Who is Who.
The Mechonoids were designed with a view to generating even more merchandising income for Nation. They're based on geodesic dome designs, such as those by architect Buckminster Fuller. The props were far too big and so were never brought back into the series, though they did get an extended life in the Dalek comic strips of the period. On screen they are pretty much mindless drones - sent to prepare the planet for a colonisation that never too place, but in the comics they have a robotic empire which challenges the Daleks.
They capture the time travellers, and put them in a cell, which just happens to have an occupant already - astronaut Steven Taylor, who crashed here a couple of years ago. Which is where Peter Purves rejoins us.
Daleks and Mechonoids do battle with each other, and in the confusion the TARDIS crew escape. Steven goes missing in the jungle, after re-entering the burning city to fetch his panda toy mascot, which he never mentions again after the opening sequences of the following episode.
Here the series' first ever story arc comes to an end. Basically, since An Unearthly Child, the Doctor has been trying to get the two school teachers back home to London. The Dalek time machine is left intact, and Ian and Barbara realise they can use it to get home.
In a mirror to real life events, the Doctor is furious that they will risk their lives to leave him. Hartnell couldn't understand why William Russell and Jacqueline Hill would want to walk away from a successful series. He was also very insecure and hated change. He already knew that his producer, Verity Lambert, was also taking steps to leave the programme. Under the circumstances, we should forgive him what is one of his most famous fluffs - that Ian and Barbara will end up "floating like cinders in Spain! (Corrects himself)... in Space!".
The time-telly, which is never referred to again after this story, has one more role to play. We see Ian and Barbara safely back in London - though it is two years after they left it.
Next time, we find out what happened to Mr Purves, there's a right carry on with a monk, and we learn that the Doctor isn't the only one...

Tuesday 27 June 2017

B is for... Buzzer

One of the crew of a 22nd Century acid mining operation run by Morpeth Jetsan. This was located in a ruinous medieval monastery on an island off the British coast. As the work was extremely hazardous, a substance known as the Flesh was used to create doppelgangers of the crew. They had all the memories and characteristics of the originals whilst they survived. They could only come into being when the humans linked themselves up to the substance. A massive solar event disrupted the process, giving the Flesh "Gangers" independent life of their own. A conflict then arose between the originals and their copies, which the Doctor tried to resolve. The Flesh Buzzer was killed by the crew's boss Cleave, who electrocuted him. The original Buzzer was then killed by the Flesh Jennifer, who wanted to lead the other Gangers on a revolt against those that had enslaved them.

Played by: Marshall Lancaster. Appearances: The Rebel Flesh / The Almost People (2011).

  • These two episodes were written by Matthew Graham, creator of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. Lancaster featured in both of these as policeman Chris Skelton.

B is for... Butler

Assistant to Professor Whitaker and member of the Operation Golden Age group. Butler helped the professor with his experiments to roll back time. Prehistoric creatures were brought forward to 20th Century London in order to force the evacuation of the city. This would allow the group to proceed with their plans unhindered. A number of people had been duped into thinking they were going to travel through space to a new planet, free of pollution, when in fact they would be emerging onto an Earth sent back to a pre-industrial age. Butler also posed as chauffeur to the politician Sir Charles Grover, supposedly remaining in London to co-ordinate with the government in exile but really the mastermind behind the whole scheme. They were operating out of a bunker constructed beneath the city. Butler was arrested by UNIT when they stormed the complex.

Played by: Martin Jarvis. Appearances: Invasion of the Dinosaurs (1974).

  • Middle of three appearances in the programme for Jarvis, having previously played the Menoptra Hilio in The Web Planet. He would later play the Governor in Vengeance on Varos. It's about time they had him in the current series.
  • In the Target novelisation, Malcolm Hulke fleshes out the character of Butler. He has a scar on his face, which he got when saving a child when he used to be a fireman.

B is for... Bush, Mel

Companion to the Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Melanie Bush was a computer programmer, from the Sussex village of Pease Pottage. When the Time Lords brought the Doctor to a space station to face an inquiry into his actions, he elected to use a Matrix segment depicting events from his own future by way of defence. In this, he was already travelling with Mel. She had embarked upon a fitness regime for him, involving an exercise bike and plenty of carrot juice. Receiving an emergency transmission was a blessed release for him. The call took the TARDIS to the Hyperion III space liner, which had just left orbit around Mogar for a journey to Earth. Mel eagerly joined the Doctor in his investigations, and seemed to enjoy snooping into the activities of the passengers and crew, despite the knowledge that there was a murderer aboard. At one point Mel was knocked unconscious, and almost ended up in the waste pulveriser. Once the segment had been relayed to the Time Lord court, Mel was seen to depart with the Doctor in the TARDIS.

When the Doctor found that the inquiry was now a trial, and his life was at stake, the Master arranged for Mel and Sabalom Glitz to be transported to the space station to act as his defence witnesses. This meant that in his time stream, this was their first encounter - though she had already met him.
Mel, who claimed to be honest and boring, helped the Doctor by going into the Matrix to save him from sacrificing himself. he was annoyed at her help, as he was only pretending to go to his doom in order to flush out the Valeyard.
Once the Valeyard had been defeated, Mel left with the Doctor. At some point after this, the Doctor must have had his first meeting with her by her time stream - presumably when her later self wasn't with him.
When next seen, Mel and the Doctor were being attacked in the TARDIS by the Rani. The assault caused the Doctor to regenerate. The Rani removed him from the ship before Mel woke up, so that when she later met him she did not recognise him and thought him an ally of the amoral Time Lord. The Rani capitalised on the Doctor's post regeneration confusion to dress as Mel and pretend to be her - encouraging him to assist her in her work. Mel was captured by the Lakertyan rebel Ikona, but the became friends after she saved his life.

Later, on a visit to Paradise Towers - supposedly a luxury apartment block - Mel was keen to try the roof-top swimming pool. She nearly ended up as dinner for a couple of cannibalistic old ladies. She was rescued by Pex, a young man who decided to be her self-appointed protector.
When the TARDIS arrived at Space Toll Port G-715, Mel found that they had won a prize for being the billionth customers. This was a trip with Nostalgia Tours to Disneyland in the 1950's. The Doctor elected not to trust the tour bus spaceship, to follow on in the TARDIS. Mel befriended the mysterious Delta, who came on the tour at the last minute. They shared a chalet at the Shangri-La holiday camp, where Mel witnessed the hatching of the Chimeron egg which Delta was carrying.

Mel was later reunited with Glitz when the TARDIS arrived at the Iceworld shopping complex on the planet Svartos. Making friends everywhere she went, this time Mel befriended the moody young waitress Ace after she lost her job. Ace revealed to her that she was really from 20th Century Earth.
Mel suddenly decided that she was going to leave the Doctor, and travel instead with Glitz - the new owner of Iceworld (which was revealed to be a massive spaceship). She was going to go off with him and try to keep him out of trouble. Ace took her place in the TARDIS.

Played by: Bonnie Langford. Appearances: The Trial of a Time Lord (Parts 9 - 12 AKA Terror of the Vervoids) (1986) to Dragonfire (1987).

  • There was much criticism from fans when Langford's casting was announced. She was thought of as merely a light entertainment song & dance performer, with the shadow of Violet Elizabeth Bott following her (from the Just William TV series she had made as a child). The critics failed to note all the dramatic stage roles she had also performed, and as Mel she was actually very good. Unfortunately the role was not developed well by the writers or script editors, and she was mainly called upon to scream. She never went near a computer in the whole year she was in the show. Langford has since reprised the role - to great acclaim - in the Big Finish audio range.
  • On screen it was never explained how Mel first came to meet the Doctor, when her later self was already travelling with him.

B is for... Bus Conductor

One of the robots created by Bellboy for the Psychic Circus, on the planet Segonax. It was used to guard the tour bus which the Circus had used to travel to this world. Hidden inside was an amulet which posed a danger to the Gods of Ragnarok, who had taken over the Circus. The Bus Conductor could fire laser bolts from its ticket-machine. The Doctor used this against it, but Bellboy was later forced to repair it, and it was placed back on the bus. It had a self-destruct "Stop" button hidden under its hat. When pressed by Ace, the robot exploded.

Played by: Dean Hollingsworth. Appearances: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (1988).

B is for... Burton

Burton was the manager of the Shangri-La holiday camp in Wales, in 1959. He welcomed a party of alien Navarino into the camp after their spaceship (which was disguised as a period coach) crashed outside the gates. The aliens were also in disguise, as humans dressed in Fifties fashions. With them were the Doctor's companion Mel, and Delta, a member of the Chimeron race. Burton was an ex-army man, who had fought in the First World War, and who had hunted in Africa. His staff called him "Major". When the camp was threatened by the Bannermen mercenary force, Burton evacuated his staff and the campers, but insisted on staying behind himself, arming himself with his old army sword.
Burton was extremely cheery, even in the face of adversity, and took most things in his stride. When he learned of what was really going on his response was: ""You are not the Happy Hearts Club from Bolton, but instead are spacemen in fear of attack from some other spacemen?".
After the Bannermen had been defeated, Burton had to single-handedly welcome the Skegness Glee Club, as his staff had yet to return.

Played by: Richard Davies. Appearances: Delta and the Bannermen (1987).

  • Davies is probably best known for his role as teacher Mr Price in the ITV comedy series Please Sir!, and its spin-off The Fenn Street Gang. He was in the "Kipper and the Corpse" episode of Fawlty Towers, played Trace Unionist Joe Morgan in an episode of Yes, Minister, and was the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Whoops Apocalypse, amongst many other roles.

Sunday 25 June 2017

World Enough And Time - Review

Let's get that pre-credits regeneration scene out of the way. Mr Capaldi had a particularly bouffant head of hair in comparison to the subsequent episode, so I suspect that what we were seeing was actually a throw forward to the Christmas episode - the Twelfth Doctor's last hurrah. Note the wintry setting. There has been a rumour kicking around that David Bradley might be playing the First Doctor at Christmas - rather than the actor who played him. The Doctor is absent from the third episode of The Tenth Planet. Could he have sneaked off and had an adventure with his later self?
Our thoughts are obviously with that first Cyberman story from 1966, as World Enough And Time sees the return of the Mondasian Cybermen.
Lately, the Doctor has been attempting to rehabilitate Missy, and this story opens with him allowing her to play his role. She is "Doctor Who". Back when The Tenth Planet was made, Gerry Davis was story editor on the show (as well as co-creator of the Cybermen). During his tenure, it is frequently implied that this is the Doctor's real name. The computer WOTAN states that "Dr Who is required...". The Doctor then calls himself Dr Von Wer in The Highlanders, and signs a note to Professor Zaroff as "Dr W" in the subsequent story. This only happens during Davis' tenure, and is never revisited by any of his successors. Presumably Steven Moffat included these scenes as an homage to the Davis era.

As soon as blue-skinned alien Jorj appears brandishing a gun, the Doctor can no longer sit back and observe. Nine minutes in, and Bill has a hole in her chest where her heart should be. This, naturally, came as a great shock. It is one thing to build towards a life threatening situation for a companion - but this just comes out of nowhere.
Her "death" allows her to go off to take the lead in the main part of the episode. The creepy patients come and take her away, claiming that they can repair her, but she won't be able to come back. We know, from the voices and from the bandaged heads, that these are proto-Cybermen - and this is the fate in store for Bill.
The Doctor, Missy and Nardole are sidetracked - stuck at the front of the spaceship where time is going much slower than the lower levels, thanks to the gravity well of the nearby Black Hole. They only set off to find Bill towards the end of the episode. It's only been a couple of minutes for them, but for Bill, trapped in the hospital, many, many months have passed. She has a cybernetic heart now, and has been befriended by Mr Razor, the caretaker. I'm afraid that, despite a wonderful make-up job and vaguely Eastern European accent, I could tell that this was John Simm.
The only real frustration I had with this episode was the foreknowledge that the Mondasian Cybermen, and John Simm's Master, were to return. Such a pity that both things were spoilered by the production team themselves.
It meant that we weren't waiting to see what would happen - only when it would happen. At least Bill's shooting, and subsequent conversion in to a full Cyberman, weren't flagged up in advance - though publicity materials did state that the Doctor would lose someone he was pledged to protect.

Who would have thought that the images of the Doctor with the Cyberman were really images of the Doctor and his companion?
This story pushes the boundary when it comes to body-horror. We have always known that the Cybermen were once human - their bodies replaced with plastic and metal, and their emotions removed. Only the Colin Baker story Attack of the Cybermen dared to give us a glimpse of what this actually looked like. The scenes in the hospital of the bandaged patients in pain and longing for death were disturbing to say the least.
Two big questions - beyond that regeneration scene.
First of all, how does this fit in with what we already know of the Genesis of the Cybermen? The planet Mondas was Earth's twin, and at some point in the ancient past it left its orbit and went travelling through space. The humanoid inhabitants had to adapt to this peripatetic lifestyle and so gradually, over time, replaced limbs and organs with artificial ones. They then started removing those other weaknesses that we call emotions. The implication was that this was born out of necessity, and the Cybermen went through the process willingly. Only later did they forcibly convert others to join their ranks.
In this episode, the spaceship has been constructed to take colonists from Mondas - humanoid ones. Mondas can't be run by the Cybermen at this point, as the ship clearly has cultivated zones, and a city designed for flesh and blood people. These Cybermen are the descendants of the 20 crew members who went down to the lower levels - so seem to have evolved on their own, irrespective of what will eventually happen on Mondas. We don't know what will happen next week, but these Cybermen might survive to reach Mondas and be the impetus to start the planet's conversion. Then  again, the Doctor might simply crash the ship into the Black Hole. A complicating factor is the appearance of those more advanced Cybermen. How can they evolve if they come from a higher level, where time is going more slowly? They have to come from lower down. All slightly confusing for now.
And talking of confusion, my other big question?

What on Earth is the Master up to, and how is he even there? Having him in disguise for no discernible reason is clearly an homage to the sort of thing the Anthony Ainley version got up to. No-one on the ship knows who he is. They won't know who Harold Saxon was, as in Earth terms this has to be before 1986 - when Mondas returned to the Solar System. Why spend years impersonating Mr Razor? If he wants to take over the Cybermen, then why not push their development along and adopt a position of authority?
He doesn't recognise Missy, but does work it out after a while - or so he tells her. How, though, if all he has to go on is very slow moving images on his TV set? There's no mention that Bill has told him about her, though you would think that she would tell her new friend who these three people she arrived with are.
The last time we saw this incarnation of the Master, he was being dragged back into the Time War in David Tennant's last episode. There never was any explanation of how and when he regenerated into Missy. There might even have been an incarnation or two in between them. How did the Simm Master end up here? Why does Missy not remember any of this? Hopefully events next week will answer some of these questions.
It was a bit of a swizz, the BBC releasing images we thought were from this episode, when they're actually from the next - namely the different Cybermen in the streets. The trailer for next week doesn't show us anything of substance, being composed mostly of battle sequences.
The beginning of the end for Moffat, Capaldi and Gomez. Is it also the end for Mackie? Can't wait to see how this is all resolved next week, and leads into the Christmas episode.

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Inspirations - The Space Museum

This story has never been known as anything other than The Space Museum. That's because it is set in a museum, which is in space. Or at least on another planet. Which is in space.
The fact that the travellers have arrived in a museum seems relevant in the first episode, but matters less as the story progresses.
It is really a conventional revolution / alien invasion plot. A planet - in this case Xeros - has been invaded by aliens - the Moroks - and the Xerons rise up and win their world back.
Now if you've listened to the DVD commentary you'll know that story editor Dennis Spooner rewrote large chunks of this script, which the credited writer - Glyn Jones - was not happy about. Unusually, Spooner actually removed some of the humour. He tended to add jokes.
Talking of jokes, there is an old one amongst fans regarding this story - namely that The Space Museum has three things wrong with it: episodes two, three and four...

The first episode is intriguing, and is certainly the better of the four. For the first time in the series, time travel plays a crucial part. For a series about a time machine, the mechanics of time travel are rarely used dramatically throughout the classic era of the show.
The TARDIS crew, at the end of the previous story, still dressed in their Crusading clothes, suddenly become frozen where they stand as the ship's lights dim. As this story opens, they wake to find themselves standing in their modern outfits. The historical gear is stowed away in the closet. Time has jumped forward. The Doctor shrugs this off - it's what happens when you travel through time - but the companions are obviously baffled. Vicki drops a glass of water, and it suddenly reconstitutes itself and jumps back into her hand. The ship then lands on the planet Xeros, where they see the museum on the scanner. Venturing outside they find it to be a dry, dusty world. The planet name derives from the Greek word for "dry". The travellers find that they are not making any footprints in the dust.
They go to the museum and find that the Morok guards, and later some of the young Xerons, cannot see or hear them. Nor can they hear what the Moroks or Xerons say. Vicki then finds that she can pass her hand through a solid museum display. Eventually the crew find a room in which they see themselves on show as exhibits - along with the TARDIS.
The Doctor realises that they have jumped a time track. They have arrived too early in their own time stream. They must wait for time to catch up with them, and when it does they will be seen and heard - leading to them ultimately being turned into exhibits.

That's all just the first episode, and it's wonderful stuff. We then get the boring and bored Moroks, led by Governor Lobos. Jones got the names from "morons" and "lobotomy". These guys are supposed to be stupid hulking brutes. The Xerons, meanwhile, are all trendy jazz-age teenage boys, dressed in cool black. There's a battle of the generations behind the battle to win back the planet. The hipsters want to kick out the boring trad old dads.
The concept of the teenager was a post-war phenomenon. Before the war, children went to bed one night and woke up the next day as young adults. The war led to a fracturing of family life, with many children growing up without an adult role model - mainly boys not having seen their fathers for many years, assuming they made it back at all. Youngsters had more disposable income once we got into the 1950's, and so lots of people wanted them to spend it on them. Venues opened that catered for younger people - such as the coffee bars - and new music was developed that was geared towards them. Young people themselves began to make the music.
Adults did not know how to react to this new phenomenon, and so there was much social conflict between them and the older generation. Church and State, and the Sunday papers, predicted the breakdown of society. Every time the oldies pushed, the teenagers just pushed back.
Observing the zombies today staring at their mobile phones, the oldies might have had a point...

One of the museum exhibits is a Dalek, of the type seen in their very first story. This gives Hartnell the chance to impersonate one, when he hides in the empty casing. Ian thinks it unlikely they will encounter them again - a production in-joke as the next story will see them return, and the closing sequence trails this.
If there is one Greek legend that Doctor Who has touched upon more than any other over the decades, it is that of the Minotaur. Ian decides to dismantle Barbara's cardigan and use the wool to guide them through the labyrinth of the museum.
The word "Museum" derives from a place sacred to the Muses. They were the nine daughters of Zeus. A couple of their names will be familiar to Doctor Who fans, as they were used for characters - e.g. Erato and Thalia (a big green blob and a Member of the High Council of Time Lords). They represented various artistic forms - different forms of poetry, dance, and so forth. A Macedonian king had nine daughters and decided to name them after the Muses. He thought them more gifted than the goddesses, and they were all turned into magpies. Fickle lot, the Greek pantheon.
There was a museum in Alexandria in the 3rd Century BC, but the modern concept of a museum begins with the Ashmolean in Oxford, which opened its doors in 1683. It was designed to house the bequest to the university from Elias Ashmole. Rome's Capitoline Museum was the first art collection to be owned by the public (1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection).

Back to the time mechanics. the idea of people coming across alternative versions of themselves is an old one. There's a 1963 Twilight Zone episode starring Jack Klugman called "Death Ship", where a group of astronauts arrive on a planet and find a crashed spaceship identical to their own - containing their own dead bodies. Space: 1999 did something similar much later.
Much of this Doctor Who story is taken up with the Doctor and friends debating predestination and free will. What do they have to do to stop themselves ending up as exhibits? Each action they take is debated - is it taking them closer to the glass cases, or away from them? The Doctor is sure that what they have seen is one possible future, and need not come to pass. Their interactions with the Xerons and the Moroks will have had an impact - throwing many variables into the mix. As it is, it is Vicki - the one who doesn't see the point in worrying about consequences - who helps with the rebellion, breaking into the armoury, and so leading to the downfall of Lobos and his men.
The explanation for the time track jump turns out to be a prosaic one. Jones had it that it was the Morok equipment which caused the problem, whereas Spooner makes it yet another TARDIS fault - another stuck switch (as with Edge of Destruction the year before).
Next time - a works outing for the Daleks. Ian dad-dances, Barbara loses another cardigan, Vicki discovers that the Beatles played classical music, and the Doctor beats himself up...

Tuesday 20 June 2017

World Enough And Time Images

The BBC have released a number of photographs for this week's forthcoming episode. Three different lots of Cybermen, and our first proper look at John Simm as the Master.

I believe "Squeeee!!!" would be an apposite epithet.

Sunday 18 June 2017

June's Figurines

Three figurines this month, as we have the latest of the larger Special Editions released. Now before you wonder why Azal the Daemon is sporting a blue bracelet and finger ring, my figurine arrived in a damaged state. The right hand was off, and two of the fingers. I have had to make a temporary running repair with a bit of blu-tac, pending the purchase tomorrow of some super-glue. (Sending it back for a new one is just more hassle than it's worth). I have had other damaged figurines in the past - usually Daleks minus an eye-stalk or utility arm.
The two regular releases this month include the Roger Delgado Master, as seen in Terror of the Autons. The resemblance is a bit more caricature than realistic. He is posed brandishing his TCE weapon.
With him is a Tetrap, from Sylvester McCoy's debut Time and the Rani.

I'm not at all sure I like the Azal figure. The hair seems all wrong. I think they've used as a source an image of him where the hair has been cropped. The face should be rounder, with the hair shaggier. I dislike the colour difference between the chest / arms and the legs as well. Again, the source photographs may be to blame for this.
Next time - one of the alien Voord.

Eaters of Light - Review

Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudenim faciunt, pacem appellant.
So Tacitus claimed that a Caledonian chieftain - Calgacus - said of the Romans, but writer Rona Munro gave part of this quote to young Pict Kar in Eaters of Light. Roughly it means: to ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert they call it peace.
For those not in the know, Munro wrote the last ever story of the classic period of Doctor Who - 1989's Survival. This makes her the only person to have written for both eras of the show - and 12 years in, it's unlikely anyone else will be invited to do so, unless Chris Chibnall is busy trying to coax Terrance Dicks out of retirement.
The inspiration for this story is the mystery of the Roman 9th Legion - IX Hispana - which disappeared. The last record of them was in York in 108 AD, and it is believed that they met their doom fighting local tribes in Northern Scotland. Bill mentions reading "the book" - presumably Rosemary Sutcliff's 1954 novel The Eagle of the Ninth. It was adapted as a movie in 2011 - The Eagle.

Like her other story, Munro makes a group of young people her protagonists - in this case two rival bands. First we have the mostly young Picts, led by Gatekeeper Kar and her brother; then we have the young deserters from the 9th Legion, led by Lucius. Being Rona Munro, she has strong female characters - in Survival all of the stronger characters were the female ones, whilst the male characters included the easily manipulated Midge, the evil Master, and the bullying Paterson. I'm going to assume that the similarity in names with Kar and Kara (the principal Cheetah person in Survival) is just coincidence, to tie in with the crow motif. That was a nice touch - that the crows talked and were remembering these events.
In case you hadn't worked it out from her name, Munro is Scottish, so it was only natural that she might look to her homeland for a story idea. It allowed for a number of jokes at the expense of my native land - mainly weather-related. Of all the places a light-eating creature could have turned up. The Doctor only had to wait for the August Bank Holiday and the monster would have been done for. (The chief jokers about the Scottish weather are the Scots themselves).
Talking of the monster, it did look like it was a bit of a bolt on, like the series has to have a monster of the week. Munro clearly wanted the story to be about the two groups of young people coming together. I couldn't quite get the monster's MO. It fed on light, yet seemed to be most active at night.

The young cast acquitted themselves admirably - especially Rebecca Benson (Kar) and Brian Vernel (Lucius). Vernel is no stranger to Sci-Fi, having had a role in the last Star Wars movie. The regulars were all well served. I enjoyed the banter between the Doctor and Nardole. I'm glad that we've been getting to see a bit more of the latter, him having to take a back seat whilst Bill was being established. Now, just before the series began, it was stated that Bill was going to be an out and proud lesbian. Pearl Mackie and Steven Moffat were at great pains to say that this was no big deal. Indeed, it shouldn't be. So why is it being made such a big deal of? It's nice to see that the average Roman teenager was quite open minded about sexual mores, but did the story have to stop dead whilst Bill reminded us yet again that she prefers girls?
And so we come to one other strong female character - yet another appearance by Missy. There she was sitting in the TARDIS, which she now seems to have the run of. She's even been doing a bit of engine maintenance. The Doctor clearly feels that the time is coming to trust her, that they might actually become friends once more as they once were as children. From the trailer for the next episode - the first half of the series finale - we see the Doctor is sitting it out in the ship whilst Missy gets to be him, at least for a bit. Interesting that the Doctor calls them Mondasian Cybermen, rather than just Cybermen. All Cybermen originated on Mondas, apart from the parallel Earth ones. It will be interesting to see how they explain two Masters. From the latest issue of DWM we know that the spaceship is 400 miles long and is on the edge of a Black Hole, and that time runs differently at one end from the other. Might this temporal differential be the answer?
Expectations for the next two weeks are running high.

Wednesday 14 June 2017

B is for... Buckingham, Lady Jennifer

An aristocratic woman who joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in 1917. She went to France where she worked as an ambulance driver. She was one of thousands who were abducted from Earth and set down on an alien world, mentally conditioned to believe that she was still in the midst of the First World War. Finding herself in No Man's Land, she gave a lift to the Doctor and his companions - Jamie and Zoe. The ambulance was captured by German troops, then liberated by British soldiers under the command of Lt. Carstairs. At the British HQ, in a requisitioned chateau, Lady Buckingham was called upon to act as a witness at the court martial of the time travellers, who had been accused of being German spies. She and Carstairs were concerned at the way the tribunal was conducted, as their conditioning was starting to break down. Together they helped the Doctor and his friends escape and made off in the ambulance. They passed through a strange mist and found themselves confronted by Roman soldiers. Back at the chateau, Lady Buckingham and Carstairs learned the truth of where they were. They moved on to the American Civil War zone, where Lady Buckingham was captured first by Union soldiers, and then by a rebel group. She stayed on to help tend to the wounded.
She would have been returned to Earth after the Doctor had called upon the Time Lords for assistance. Carstairs was last seen hoping to find her again.

Played by: Jane Sherwin. Appearances: The War Games (1969).

  • Sherwin was the wife of the then current producer of Doctor Who, Derrick Sherwin.
  • It would be nice to think that Lady Buckingham and Lt Carstairs found each other and lived happily ever after. However, the Time Lords would certainly have wiped their memories when they sent them home. Then again - both had an aptitude for overcoming mental conditioning.

B is for... Bucket, Lorna

A young woman who was a Cleric in the army of the Papal Mainframe. She came from the Gamma Forests, and had met the Doctor when she was a child. Her colleagues were convinced she only joined the army in order to meet him again. Stationed on the asteroid Demons Run, she tried to be friendly to Amy Pond, who was held captive there after giving birth to her daughter Melody. Lorna gave Amy a prayer leaf - a piece of cloth embroidered with the baby's name. When the Doctor and his friends turned up to rescue Amy, Lorna elected to join them. She was able to warn the Doctor that a trap had been set for him. She was fatally wounded in the subsequent battle. The Doctor told her he remembered her, but then admitted this was not the case after she had passed away. River Song's true identity was revealed when the TARDIS tried to translate the name on the prayer leaf.

Played by: Christina Chong. Appearances: A Good Man Goes To War (2011).

B is for... Buchanan, Joe

When the TARDIS materialised in what appeared to be a hotel, circa 1980's, the Doctor, Amy and Rory encountered a party of people who were trapped there. Behind each door in the complex lay someone's darkest fear. Joe Buchanan had already encountered his - ventriloquist dummies. The Doctor found him in the dining room, which was full of dummies. He had been tied up by his friends for his own protection. He was in a manic, euphoric state. The Doctor noted from his tie-pin and cuff-links that he was a gambler. At first the Doctor thought that the Minotaur creature that was stalking them was feeding on their fear, but he later realised that it was their faith on which it fed. In Joe's case, his faith was in luck. Joe was killed by the Minotaur.

Played by: Daniel Pirrie. Appearances: The God Complex (2011).

B is for... Bruchner

A member of Professor Lasky's team who joined the Hyperion III on its voyage from the planet Mogar to Earth. Bruchner had helped Lasky develop a new plant-based lifeform - the Vervoids. They planned to exploit these creatures as a source of slave labour back on Earth. However, it was known that Vervoid pollen was incredibly dangerous - a single speck being enough to infect a human being. His conscience troubling him, Bruchner started to rebel against his colleagues. He became increasingly unhinged and decided to crash the spaceship into a nearby Black Hole, to stop the Vervoids reaching Earth. He seized the bridge and sealed himself in. The Vervoids could emit a toxic gas. Hidden in the ventilation system, they used the gas to kill Bruchner. The crew were able to retake the bridge with the help of the Mogarian passengers, who had their own breathing apparatus.

Played by: David Allister. Appearances: The Trial of a Time Lord (Parts 9 - 12) - AKA Terror of the Vervoids (1986).

B is for... Bruce, Donald

Donald Bruce was the Head of Security for the World Zones Authority in the early part of the 21st Century. His role meant that he worked closely with Salamander, who was building a power base for himself - blackmailing or disposing of his political rivals. Bruce came across the Doctor in the office of Giles Kent, after he investigated a number of deaths at Astrid Ferrier's home. She was a known associate of Kent's. The Doctor looked like the would-be dictator, and managed to fool him. He inadvertently allowed Salamander to realise that he might have a doppelganger. A bluff, no nonsense man, Bruce saw himself as impartial, and so was open to at least listening to the allegations that the Doctor and Kent made about Salamander's methods. His suspicions aroused, he discovered the full extent of Salamander's crimes. He gave Jamie and Victoria safe passage and then arrested Salamander's personal security chief, Benik. Salamander fled, only to die when he was sucked out of the TARDIS after trying to impersonate the Doctor.

Played by: Colin Douglas. Appearances: The Enemy of the World (1967 / 8).

  • Douglas announced to his co-stars that he felt acting in Doctor Who was beneath him, and he would never appear in the programme again...
  • Douglas played lighthouse keeper Reuben in Horror of Fang Rock, in which he also voiced the alien Rutan.

Monday 12 June 2017

Inspirations - The Crusade

Often referred to as "The Crusaders", after the novelisation, or "The Lionheart", after its opening episode.
This is writer David Whitaker's first story where he wasn't being called upon to help with some structural aspect of the series. Up to now, he has written a pair of two-parters - one to bring the series up to 13 episodes, in case the programme was going to be cancelled, and to help bridge a gap until Marco Polo was ready to go before the cameras once the series knew it had a future; and the other to introduce the new companion. Here, he gets to write what he wants to write, and he chooses to go for a historical plot, based around an episode of the Third Crusade.
It's also the first full directing credit for the military-minded Douglas Camfield. He has been working on the series since the first story, where he got to direct the film sequences at Ealing. His first directing job on the series was the final, fourth, episode of Planet of Giants. Parts three and four ended up being edited together - but Camfield was allowed to get the on screen credit as most of the composite episode was his.
Time for the latest history lesson. In 1187, the city of Jerusalem fell to Saladin - Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub - who had unified the Saracen forces under his command. King Henry II of England buried the hatchet with old rival King Philip II of France, and together they planned a new Crusade with Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor - specifically to retake the Holy City.
Henry died, and so the English forces came under the command of his son, the new King Richard - Coeur de Lion. On the way to Palestine, Richard collected his sister - Joan - who was the widow of the King of Sicily, and who had been treated badly by the new monarch, Tancred. Richard sacked Messina, and forced a treaty with Tancred. The old Holy Roman Emperor died on his way to the Crusade - drowning whilst crossing a river in what is now Turkey. Many German troops decided to head for home, and those who remained came under the command of the new Emperor - Leopold V.

The Crusade got off to a good start, as the cities of Acre and Jaffa fell - bloodily - to the Europeans. The Doctor Who story joins the narrative at this point. It is late in 1191, and Richard is stuck in Jaffa. He goes hunting one day, and the time travellers arrive in the forest just as the Saracen forces, under the command of the fictional Emir El Akir, attempt to ambush and abduct the King. The ambush was based on a real incident, from November of 1191. It is companion Barbara who ends up kidnapped - threatened with being committed to the Emir's harem. All of the El Akir stuff is based on cliche about nasty Arab potentates - from movies like The Thief of Baghdad or the Sinbad films.
The story treats Saladin much more sympathetically. Parallels are drawn between him and Richard - two warriors who are stuck in an impasse. They are sick of bloodshed, and struggle for a peaceable resolution which protects their reputations.
This leads to the plot point of Richard considering a marriage of his sister to Saladin's brother - Saphadin (Sayf ad-Din). Again this is based on historical fact, but it actually preceded the ambush by a month or so. Joan - or Joanna here - did indeed rebel against this idea and invoked support from the Pope against it.
Whilst the two leaders are presented sympathetically, the English side has a villain to match El Akir - the Earl of Leicester. He isn't an out and out villain - he just thinks that soldiers should fight and not mess about with diplomacy. The Doctor is angered by his single-mindedness and lust for military glory, and so makes an enemy of him. Ian exits the historical aspects of the story to pursue Barbara in the fictional part of the story. On his way, he encounters Tutte Lemkow's devious bandit - another cliched character. He is balanced out by the Arab character whom Barbara has encountered - the honourable Haroun, who opposes El Akir as he killed his wife and son, and abducted his eldest daughter.

Ian and Haroun turn up at the Emir's palace in time to rescue Barbara, and El Akir is killed by Haroun who gets his daughter back. The Doctor has been accused by King Richard of giving away the marriage plot to Joanna, but the King later admits he knows it was Leicester. He suggests that the Doctor and Vicki get out of town, but on their way back to the TARDIS they get caught by the Earl and his men, accused of witchcraft. Ian turns up just in time and claims the right to execute them - having been made a Knight of Jaffa by the King before he set off to rescue Barbara. The Earl agrees - only for Ian to bundle his friends into the ship and so escape off to the next adventure. The Doctor has told Vicki that Richard will see Jerusalem, but never manage to take the city. Again this is based on fact. Richard believed that he might take the city, but would never be able to hold it. In 1192 he left Palestine, after signing a treaty with Saladin that permitted pilgrims and merchants to visit Jerusalem, provided they were unarmed.
David Whitaker was obviously inspired by Shakespeare in his writing of this story, and uses iambic pentameter for some of the dialogue - primarily for some of the guest artists such as Julian Glover's King Richard, Jean Marsh's Joanna, Bernard Kay's Saladin, and John Bay's Earl of Leicester. Simply put, iambic pentameter involves the stress that is made on syllables of speech - where the first syllable is unstressed, but the second one is, and there are five of these in a line. Whitaker also indulges in blank verse - where the lines sound like poetry but don't necessarily rhyme.
Had Julian Glover proved unavailable, Douglas Camfield had another young actor in mind - Nicholas Courtney. He would reuse Jean Marsh, who had been briefly married to future Doctor Jon Pertwee, in his forthcoming epic 12 part Dalek story. Courtney would get a role in this - as Marsh's brother. The Crusade almost saw the first pairing of Courtney and Marsh as brother and sister, and significantly Marsh's third and final appearance would also be alongside Courtney, as the Brigadier was brought back for the Sylvester McCoy story Battlefield. This was based on Arthurian legend. Marsh was Morgaine - based on Morgana Le Fey, who is supposed to have had an incestuous relationship with her brother.
Interestingly, Richard was reputedly incestuously involved with his sister - and this featured in Whitaker's original scripts. William Hartnell objected and this was cut. Glover and Marsh attempted to slip some of this back in during rehearsals. Producer Verity Lambert put her foot down - telling the actors: "Don't think I don't know what you're doing...".
Next time - Morons from Outer Space...

Sunday 11 June 2017

Empress of Mars - Review

I always worry going into a new Mark Gatiss Doctor Who episode. After writing one of the best stories for the very first series - the spooky The Unquiet Dead - he followed up with a number of very weak entries. Just looking at the DWM 50th Anniversary poll, three of his stories lie in the bottom quarter - The Idiot's Lantern, Victory of the DaleksNight Terrors. Cold War, which brought the Ice Warriors back, fared a little better. Since then we have had Robot of Sherwood, which is very badly structured, and Sleep No More, which gained the bottom place in last season's polls. Victory was particularly awful, and it's significant that the Daleks themselves couldn't be bothered waiting for it to end - clearing off fifteen minutes before the finish.
I'm very pleased to say that his reputation has improved somewhat with Empress of Mars. It is a good old-fashioned sort of story, one that could have fitted into any previous era. Gatiss is known to be a big fan of the Pertwee era, and this had a certain Pertwee vibe. We even had a cameo appearance from Alpha Centauri from the 1970's Peladon stories, which proved to be the swan song for the Ice Warriors in the classic series. Centauri was even voiced by its original actor - Ysanne Churchman, still going strong at nearly 92 years of age.

The episode was littered with movie references - some explicit, as Bill suggested viewing ideas for the Doctor. The original of one of these - The Thing - was itself an inspiration for the original Ice Warriors story. A mention of Disney's Frozen was inevitable. It's clear that Gatiss is a big fan of 1964's Zulu. We have a beleaguered squad of pith-helmeted red jackets on foreign soil, fighting against the superior numbers of the native population. It's significant that Ice Warrior "Friday" was found in South Africa. Much could have been made of Imperialism and colonialism - turning the Red Planet pink - and overt messaging could have killed the episode dead. The soldiers are more mercenary - more interested in promised mineral wealth than imposing Victorian values. Fortunately Gatiss decides to make the story one of trying to get two races to get along with each other, as the Doctor has previously tried to do with the humans and the Silurians / Sea Devils. The Pertwee era again.
I'm going to hazard a guess that Gatiss is also a fan of The First Men in the Moon - another 1964 movie, derived from the H G Wells story, which opens with present day space explorers discovering that the Victorians had got there first.

The soldiers were well served by the script, with some of the minor characters given some depth. Special mention must be made of Anthony Calf as the commander - Godsacre. He is looking for a fresh start after being almost executed for cowardice many years ago. His secret is known by Captain Catchlove - a splendidly villainous turn by Ferdinand Kingsley - son of Ben. Godsacre gets his moment of redemption, and it was only right that he was the one to plug Catchlove.
Nice to see more than a single Ice Warrior, and Iraxxa - the Ice Queen - is a great addition to the Ice Warrior race. Gatiss could have gone for a new Ice Lord, like Izlyr or Azaxyr. One slight quibble was the Ice Warrior method of despatch. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. The compression effect in this episode was supposed to look gruesome, but tended to appear slightly comical. Back in the day, deaths by Ice Warrior sonic disruptor were achieved by filming the victim in a flexible mirror substance - Mirrorlon - which was manipulated from behind by a stage-hand, so that the victim's body seemed to warp and buckle. It was actually more effective than the new effect.
Set in the late 19th Century, this is the earliest Ice Warrior story, chronologically speaking. They head off to a new home at the conclusion - explaining away some very old continuity problems where the creatures were noticeably absent from their own home planet. The humans are going with them, but aren't likely to last long if there aren't any women with them. I'd like to think that they get settled on Peladon - where we know the biology is compatible.
Finally, the story arc. There was no explanation as to why the TARDIS returned to Earth, or why Nardole couldn't get it to return to Mars. I am going to guess that this was the work of Missy, who is plotting to get her hands on the ship. Since the Master was brought back, it has been clear that he / she does not have a TARDIS, and presumably she no longer has her Vortex Manipulator, so if the character is to escape back into the cosmos she will have to obtain some wheels at some point. The latest issue of DWM declares that Michelle Gomez is leaving the series along with Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat, but I'm sure the character in a new incarnation will be left available for Chris Chibnall to bring back.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

B is for... Brown, Peri

Young American botany student who was companion to the Fifth and Sixth Doctors. Peri - short for Perpugilliam - was on holiday with her step-father Howard when she first met the Time Lord. Howard was engaged on an archaeological dive off the coast of Lanzarote. Peri was bored, and had an offer to go travelling with friends. Her step-father tricked her into getting stranded on his boat so that she would miss the flight. She attempted to swim ashore but got into difficulties, and had to be rescued by the Doctor's companion Turlough. He put her to bed in the TARDIS, but soon afterwards the android Kamelion fell under the malign influence of the Master, and took the ship to the planet Sarn. Peri saw the robot appear in the likeness of Howard, and then as the Master, as well as an intermediate stage where it looked like her step-father but with metallic skin. Peri helped the Doctor and Turlough fight against the Master and Kamelion. It was she who discovered that the evil Time Lord had been shrunk in height, which was why he had taken over Kamelion and brought them here.
Once the Master had been defeated, and Kamelion destroyed, Peri informed the Doctor that she was not in any rush to get back home. As Turlough was leaving to return to his own people, the Doctor agreed to let her travel with him.
At their first new destination, however, she was to see the Doctor sacrifice himself for her and be forced to regenerate. They had arrived on the planet Androzani Minor, where both became infected with a terminal disease - Spectrox Toxaemia. Peri came close to being killed by a firing squad, accused of being a gun-runner, but she was saved by Sharaz Jek and his androids. Jek was determined that Peri would remain with him. The Doctor was able to secure an antidote but there was only enough for Peri. She woke in the TARDIS in time to see him regenerate.

Whilst she liked the Fifth Doctor, she found his new incarnation to be vain, pompous and arrogant. His regeneration proved unstable, and at one point he tried to throttle her - suspecting she was an alien spy. He then decided that she must live with him as his acolyte on an uninhabited planetoid. Fortunately there was an alien presence nearby, and the Doctor decided to investigate. After defeating the Gastropod Mestor, Peri travelled with the Doctor to present day Earth, where they encountered the Cybermen, hiding in the London sewer network. The Cyber-Leader used Peri to force the Doctor to take them to Telos, where Peri met the indigenous Cryons.
Soon afterwards, the TARDIS broke down in space. The Doctor was prepared to sit out eternity, but Peri decided to dig out the ship's manual and insist that something could be done to repair it. This took them to the planet Varos. Here Peri met the slug-like Mentor Sil, who found her appearance revolting. Peri found herself being experimented upon, as a transmogrification beam started to transform her into the animal that she most identified with subconsciously - in her case a bird.

Luckily the process was reversible, but she soon found herself about to be killed by a cellular disintegrator when held captive with the Governor of the colony. Both were saved by one of the guards. During a visit to England during the Industrial Revolution, Peri got to use her botanical skills - helping find plants to prepare a drug to calm the workers who had been left in an agitated state by the Rani's experiments. On her plant-finding expedition, she was almost turned into a plant herself but was saved by Luke Ward, who had been turned into a tree.
Her next journey took her eventually to present day Spain, and an encounter with the Second Doctor and his companion Jamie. The sadistic Androgum, Shockeye, at one point intended to eat her.
The TARDIS found itself on the planet Karfelon after coming into contact with a time tunnel. Peri was left behind whilst the Doctor set off to rescue a young Karfelon who had fallen into the tunnel with an important piece of equipment. As soon as the Doctor had gone, Peri found herself threatened by the guards. She sought refuge in a cave system where she encountered a group of rebels. They spared her as she was able to identify a photograph of Jo Grant in a locket - Jo and the Third Doctor having previously visited the planet. The Borad, mutated leader of the planet, decided that Peri would become his consort - after first being subjected to the same mutation. She was chained up with a cannister of mutagenic gas, about to be savaged by a Morlox reptile. The Doctor rescued her, and her revulsion at the Borad's appearance later caused him to be overcome and thrown into the time tunnel.

On the planet Necros, Peri met the DJ who played music and news to the people in hibernation in the funeral complex. She had heard his American accent but was disappointed to learn that it was faked. Peri was then captured by Davros and the Daleks.
Determined to go somewhere fun for a change, the Doctor was going to take her to Blackpool, but they next visited the planet Ravolox, which intrigued the Doctor. Peri realised that it was really the Earth, blasted by a fireball and then moved across space millions of years in her future. This was when she saw that a tunnel was really part of Marble Arch Underground station. Peri found herself welcome to join the Tribe of the Free, on the understanding that she would take on multiple husbands. Much of Peri's time on the TARDIS seemed to involve someone wanting to mate with her.
Her final journey led to another encounter with the alien Sil, this time on his home planet. The Doctor had his mind scrambled, which caused him to treat Peri in a cruel fashion - at one point chaining her to rocks as the tide came in. The Krontep King Yrcanos found himself enamoured of Peri, due to her bravery and ability to stand up to his bluster.
Scientist Crozier, needing to save the life of the Mentor ruler Kiv, decided to transplant his mind rather than his brain, and Peri was chosen as the host. As the Doctor raced to save her, the Time Lords removed him in order that he could face his trial. Yrcanos was going to be used as an assassin to destroy Crozier and his work. In the trial room, the Doctor saw Peri killed on the Matrix screen. Her head had been shaved, and her mind was gone - replaced with that of Kiv.

Later, it transpired that the Matrix had been tampered with, as the Doctor had suspected. The Inquisitor revealed that Peri had survived, and was living with Yrcanos as his queen.

Played by: Nicola Bryant. Appearances: Planet of Fire (1984) to Trial of a Time Lord (1986).

  • Bryant did not know that her character had been saved until later on. When she came to do the commentaries for the DVD box set of the Trial season she saw the new end sequence for the first time. She hated the idea, preferring that the character had been killed off.
  • The novelisation of her final story has a postscript in which Peri is acting as manager to Yrcanos, who is a celebrated WWF-style wrestler.
  • Bryant, who is from Guildford, got her accent from an American room-mate, and during the early part of her tenure on the programme had to keep up a pretence of being American for the press.