Tuesday 31 October 2017

Random Shoes - Torchwood 1.9

In which a young man who has been obsessed with Torchwood for a number of years gets the opportunity to join the team as they investigate a death. Unfortunately, it is his death they are investigating... Eugene Jones finds himself lying in the middle of the road, with no memory of how he got there. He spots the Torchwood team, and when he goes to speak to them he finds that they don't seem to notice his presence. He then sees his own corpse, victim of a road traffic accident. Only Gwen seems to have any feelings about his death. The others reveal that they always found him a bit of a nuisance. Jack thinks there is nothing to investigate here, but Gwen decides to delve deeper. Eugene decides to tag along. At his home, his mother is very upset. In his bedroom they find a number of items which he had collected which were supposed to be of extra-terrestrial origin. These prove to be fakes, but one of the items is missing and Eugene realises that it is his supposed alien eye.

Eugene recalls the circumstances surrounding his acquisition of it. He had taken part in a school maths quiz but had blanked on the final question. His father was deeply disappointed, and walked out on his family soon after. Eugene was given the eye by way of consolation by his teacher, who had claimed that it was alien. Eugene accompanies Gwen to the Hub, but faints when she begins his autopsy. She senses movement momentarily. The next day, Gwen discovers that Owen took a rented DVD from Eugene's room. She takes it to the shop, hoping to learn more about the young man. As the shop is closed, she goes to a cafe, with Eugene in tow. He automatically orders his usual breakfast, and Gwen finds herself ordering the same. Looking through Eugene's phone, she calls one of his frequent contacts - a man named Gary. She also comes across some photos of random shoes.

At the DVD shop, the young man behind the counter - Josh - tells Gwen that he knew Eugene, and that he was one of life's losers. She then meets Gary, who proves to be a work colleague. Another colleague named Linda agrees to speak with Gwen, and tells her of the alien eye. Eugene had been convinced that if he advertised it on-line then its owner might come forward to retrieve it. The price had shot up just before Eugene's death. Gwen later learns that Eugene's father did not start a new life in America as his family claimed. He works in a petrol station only a few miles away. Gwen discovers that Josh, Gary and Linda had been playing a trick on Eugene. He had gone to a motorway service station to meet the alien buyer - only to find that it was a set-up by his friends. This was when he took the photos of their shoes. Eugene had swallowed the eye to stop his friends taking it, then run off - which is when he was struck by the car.
Eugene's father attends the funeral, where the mortician hands Gwen the eye in a paper bag - having removed it from the body after it was cremated. Jack recognises it as a Dogon sixth eye - capable of allowing someone to see their past and re-evaluate their life. Eugene has been kept on Earth by its presence in his body, and is surprised that he is still here now that it has been removed. Distracted, Gwen is almost run down by a car, and Eugene pushes her out of the way. Suddenly everyone can see him. He had stayed on in order to save her. Eugene then finds himself hurtling into the air and off into space...

Random Shoes was written by Jacquetta May, and was first broadcast on 10th December, 2006. May was relatively new to writing, but had been an actor for a number of years. She had played the regular character of Rachel in Eastenders between 1991 - 93.
It is an unusual episode in that it focuses on its guest artist, with only Gwen investigating. Jack hardly features at all. There is no enemy / threat involved.
The reason for the relative absence of the others is that this episode was double-banked with another - Captain Jack Harkness - in which Gwen did not feature heavily. The use of flashback narrative and voice-over by the guest artist is reminiscent of Love & Monsters, another double-banked episode of the parent show.
The guest actor is Paul Chequer. His mother, Bronwen, is played by Nicola Duffett. Josh is Steven Meo - the only Welsh actor not to have appeared in Doctor Who, it seems, though he provided a voice on "The Infinite Quest" animated adventure. Gary is Celyn Jones, and Linda is Robyn Isaac. The teacher - Mr Garret - is Roger Ashton-Griffiths, who featured in Robots of Sherwood.

Overall, you either love this one or loathe it. Some dislike the fact that it is a character piece with no alien threat. It is certainly a touching episode. In fact, it appears to have been given the entire emotion-allocation for the whole first series. The emotion is laid on a bit thick with the funeral section, however.
Things you might like to know:

  • Everyone was a bit confused when the title came up on screen, as that week's Radio Times said that this episode was to be called "Invisible Eugene". The story title was only changed a couple of weeks before transmission.
  • The producer, Richard Stokes, saw the classic Christmas movie It's A Wonderful Life as an inspiration for this episode.
  • The DVD which Owen "borrows" is the BBC Sci-Fi serial A for Andromeda.
  • The Doctor Who franchise usually uses fake websites, but Eugene sells his alien eye on eBay.
  • The Dogon are a tribe from Mali. Not to be confused with Dagon - one of HP Lovecraft's ancient gods.
  • Strangely, the Irish Film Classification Board gave this episode an 18 certificate. The UK board, on the other hand, gave it the lowest rating of the season.
  • Paul Chequer played DI Dimmock in the Sherlock episode The Blind Banker in 2010, and returned to the role for The Six Thatchers in 2017.

Sunday 29 October 2017

C is for... Clowns

For figures who represent fun, clowns have often been seen as creepy, scary characters. Many of the clowns encountered by the Doctor and his companions over the years have been threatening figures.
When trapped in the Celestial Toyroom, Steven and Dodo were forced to play a number of games in order to win back the TARDIS. The first of these was a version of Blind Man's Bluff against a pair of clowns - a male one named Joey, and a female named Clara. Joey never spoke, using a horn to communicate, but Clara could talk. They attempted to win the game by cheating, but the Doctor's companions won, and Joey and Clara were turned into lifeless dolls.

The Doctor's next encounter with clowns was, appropriately enough, at a circus. This belonged to a man named Luigi Rossini (real name Hugh Ross), but it had been taken over by the Master. Through Rossini, he turned the circus performers against the Doctor and Jo - prompting them to attack them. They were rescued by the appearance of the police - though these turned out to be disguised Autons.

On both of his encounters with the Mara, the Fifth Doctor came across more benign trickster / jester characters, whose humour was designed to counteract the evil of the Mara. A jester was also present at the castle of Sir Ranulf Fitzwilliam when he hosted King John.

When the TARDIS passed close to the planet Segonax, it was infiltrated by an advertising robot which was promoting the Psychic Circus. Ace revealed that she had a phobia about clowns, but the Doctor encouraged her to confront her fear. The clowns of the Psychic Circus were actually androids, built and maintained by a man named Bellboy. They were controlled by the human Chief Clown, who was a sadistic individual who had fallen under the malign influence of the Gods of Ragnarok, who demanded constant entertainment. Bellboy programmed the clown robots to kill himself. The Chief Clown was killed by another of Bellboy's robots, which also destroyed a number of the robot clowns.

When the Doctor, Amy and Rory became trapped in a spacecraft which was disguised as a 1970's hotel, they found that within each room was something which someone feared. This prompted the victim to fall back on their faith, upon which a Minotaur creature fed. One of the rooms contained a sad-faced clown, though it wasn't intended for any of the Doctor's party.

Sarah Jane Smith also had a phobia about clowns. A psychic entity contained in a meteorite fragment could manifest itself as something people feared. It took on several human likenesses - including a clown named Bob. Bob began to abduct pupils from the school which Luke, Clyde and Rani attended. He was traced to a clown museum in the area. Sarah had to confront her fear. Clyde was able to combat Bob with humour, as the entity could only feed on fear. Sarah then sealed the meteorite fragment in a box from which even thoughts could not escape.

Played by: Campbell Singer (Joey), Carmen Silvera (Clara), Bradley Walsh (Bob), Ian Reddington (Chief Clown), Lee Cornes (Kinda trickster).
Appearances: The Celestial Toymaker (1966), Terror of the Autons (1971), Kinda (1982), Snakedance (1983), The King's Demons (1983), The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (1988), The God Complex (2011), SJA 2.2 Day of the Clown (2008).

  • Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns. 
  • Bizarrely, Sarah found a photo of Clara from The Celestial Toymaker when searching the internet. Then again, UNIT had a photograph of her that was apparently taken on Peladon.
  • There has been a recent epidemic of "killer clown" sightings across Europe and the US in the last year. This was expected to peak again with the cinema release of Stephen King's It.

C is for... Clovis, Frau

Personal Secretary to the Duke of Manhattan, on the planet New Earth. She accompanied him to the Hospital when he was struck down with Petrifold Regression, an ailment which was turning him to stone. She was very protective of her employer, prepared to take legal action if anyone was deemed to be threatening him. She clearly came from a legalistic background. When the hospital came under attack by the new humans who had been bred by the Sisters of Plenitude, and who carried a mass of infections, Frau Clovis helped to barricade Ward 26. She helped the Doctor gather the various cures so he could concoct a remedy for the illnesses. She survived the events at the hospital, but may well have perished from the Bliss mood-patch contagion a few years later.

Played by: Lucy Robinson. Appearances: New Earth (2006).

C is for... Cloister Wraiths

Ghostly Time Lord figures which haunt the ancient Cloisters deep beneath the Capitol on Gallifrey. From the way they moved, they were sometimes called Sliders. They were dead Time Lords who had been uploaded to the Matrix, and they guarded one of the access points to it. Anyone who tried to break in was captured by the Wraiths and "filed". This included Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels. When the Doctor returned to Gallifrey after being trapped for centuries in a Confession Dial, it was reported that the Wraiths were becoming more active, and they began to sound all the Cloister Bells in warning. It was said that once a young student had found his way into the Cloisters - the only person to emerge unscathed. This was the young Doctor.

Played by: Jamie Reid-Quarrell, Nick Ash and Ross Mullan. Appearances: Hell Bent (2015).

C is for... Clockwork Droids

Repair androids used on spaceships in the 51st Century. The SS Madame de Pompadeur was hit by an ion storm and became disabled. The Droids carried out their programming to repair the vessel, and turned to the human survivors for spare parts. The ship's computer needed a replacement part, and they decided to get it from the real Madame De Pompadeur. They opened time windows from the ship to the 18th Century, positioned at various points throughout the woman's life. They would visit her and scan her, waiting for her brain to match the age of the ship, and therefore be compatible with the computer. The Doctor, Rose and Mickey arrived on the ship and found the time windows. The Droids could be disabled by freezing, but recovered quickly and teleported away to safety. They adopted period costumes, with masks, in order to infiltrate the 18th Century. Beneath the masks, their heads were glass globes with clockwork mechanisms within.

Various tools could be extended from their arms, which could also be used as weapons. After identifying the time when Madame de Pompadeur's brain matched the age they wanted, the Doctor cut off their link to 18th Century France. No longer able to complete their task, the Droids deactivated themselves.

The sister ship to the SS Madame de Pompadeur - the SS Marie Antoinette - became disabled after crashing back through time to the prehistoric era on Earth. The Droids of this vessel wanted to become human, so that they could reach a place they called the Promised Land. Their spaceship became buried deep beneath London. They would emerge from the ship to kill people for spare parts. In the Victorian era, they set up a restaurant above the ship, in order to more easily find victims. They were led by a unit which only had half a face. He killed a dinosaur accidentally brought to London by the Doctor, in order to use its optic nerve. The Doctor and Clara found their way to the restaurant and confronted the Half-Face Man. The Droids could be fooled if people held their breath. The ship was attacked by the Paternoster Gang, whilst the police raided the restaurant.

The Half-Face Man tried to flee in an escape capsule - a chamber of the restaurant which was tethered to a balloon made of human skin. The Doctor was also on board. He tried to reason with the Droid, encouraging him to destroy himself. He fell - or was pushed - onto the spire on top of Big Ben. His destruction caused all the other Droids to deactivate. The Half-Face Man suddenly found himself in the Promised Land - really a Gallifreyan Matrix Data-slice controlled by Missy.

Played by: Peter Ferdinando (the Half-Face Man), Graham Duff (the Waiter), Paul Kasey (Clockwork Man), Ellen Thomas (Clockwork Woman). Appearances: The Girl in the Fireplace (2006), Breath (2014).

C is for... Cline

A young soldier encountered by the Doctor, Donna and Martha on the planet Messaline. A group of humans was engaged in a long-running war against the piscine Hath, replenishing their numbers using genetic duplication generators. When the Doctor was forced by Cline to put his arm into one of these devices, a young woman was created. Donna called her Jenny - as she was a child of the generator. Cline found himself quite enamoured of her. His liking for her brought him into conflict with his commander, General Cobb. Donna discovered that the war had only been raging for a number of days, rather than years, as there had been hundreds of generations of warriors. The Doctor found the Source, which both sides were seeking. This proved to be a terraforming device. he operated it, and then brought the humans and Hath together, though Jenny was killed by Cobb. Cline was left to look after Jenny's body, and was shocked when she suddenly came back to life.

Played by: Joe Dempsie. Appearances: The Doctor's Daughter (2008).

  • At the time, Dempsie was best known for the E4 series Skins, but he is probably better known these days for his appearance in Game of Thrones.

Thursday 26 October 2017

Inspirations - The Tenth Planet

Gerry Davis has been story editor for some months, which has involved heavily re-writing scripts credited to other people, but this is the first time he gets to have his name at the beginning of each episode instead of at the end. (Pity they spell it wrong on one episode). His writing credit is shared, however, with Kit Pedler, who came on board last season as the programme's scientific consultant. (Pity they get his name wrong on an episode as well).
As it happens, Pedler fell ill and ended up in hospital, and Davis pretty much wrote Part Four on his own. His job wasn't made any easier by William Hartnell also falling ill, and having to be written out of Part Three. Luckily he recovered in time to feature in the final episode, as something very important was scheduled to take place in that one.
As you will know, Hartnell never saw eye to eye with John Wiles when he replaced Verity Lambert as producer, and Wiles was determined to get rid of him. Things did not improve when Innes Lloyd took over, as Hartnell was ill (and ill-tempered) due to the arteriosclerosis that would eventually take his life in 1975. There had been an idea to replace him in The Celestial Toymaker. Having been made mute and invisible, the Toymaker could have brought him back with a new appearance. Another opportunity might have been in The Savages, had they cast the actor selected for the next Doctor in the role of Jano. He could have taken on the Doctor's memories and characteristics, whilst the old body died.

Davis, in consultation with Lloyd and the programme's instigator - Sydney Newman - come up with a new idea. The Doctor is an alien. We've known this since the very first episode. Why can't it be part of his physiology that he rejuvenates himself when he grows too old? In the story after this one, the process is described as a renewal, and for many years fans thought of the first transformation as a rejuvenation, rather than a regeneration. This idea does not bear too close a scrutiny, however, as it was always intended that the new Doctor would have quite a different personality from his predecessor.
Why the process takes place here and now is never explicitly stated, but it is generally assumed to be due in part to the energy draining attack by Mondas. There's no real hint of illness at the start of Part One. We may find out a little more come Christmas 2017, as this story will be heavily referenced in Twice Upon A Time.
This is the very first of what will come to be known as "base under siege" stories. We have a global event taking place - an invasion by the Cybermen who have turned up with a whole planet. Trouble is, the budget only stretches to a small guest cast and a few sets. The only way to do it is to have conflict in a small-scale, claustrophobic, setting, which can mirror what might be going on elsewhere in the wider world. Having the base located in a hostile environment means the Doctor and company can't just run away. Using a scientific-military complex as a backdrop provides us with the right ingredients for a Sci-Fi adventure serial - scientists to do the Sci-Fi stuff and soldiers to do the shooting.

The Tenth Planet is set in 1986, and features an established space programme. The Zeus IV is carrying out a regular atmospheric probe. When it gets into trouble, there is a Zeus V ready to blast-off very quickly indeed. It is mentioned that men have already walked on the Moon. 1966, when this story was produced, saw one of the busiest years for space exploration. Luna 9 was the first vehicle to make a soft landing on the Moon, whilst Luna 10 achieved the first Moon orbit. The Americans were firing off Atlas and Jupiter rockets every month, and the Gemini programme was at its peak (missions IX to XII).
One of the places monitoring the Zeus missions is the Snowcap Base, which is situated at the South Pole, and this is where the TARDIS lands. In command is an American General, and most of the scientists seem to be British. Two soldiers have speaking roles - one American and one Italian. General Cutler answers to a chief in Geneva - so presumably this is a United Nations effort. There are no Russians on view, and no mention of their space programme. Assuming that the Cold War is still on, the South Pole seems an odd place to situate your weapons of mass destruction. Another oddity is that the said WMD can blow up an entire planet, which is taking Mutually Assured Destruction a shade too far. The Z-Bomb obviously gets its name from the fact that they already had A- and H-Bombs in 1966, so "Z" just made it sound like the ultimate.

The Cybermen evolved from a discussion that Kit Pedler had with his wife one day. A medical man himself, he was concerned about what would happen if people replaced more and more of their limbs and organs with artificial transplants. At what point could they still be called "human"? The first human heart transplant was still a year away - Dr Christiaan Barnard performing the operation in South Africa in December 1967 - but the science behind it would have been known by Pedler. The first transplant of an animal heart into a human had been in 1964, and the first lung transplant in 1963. Prosthetic limbs had been around for centuries. Advances in design and effectiveness had been pushed forward following the First World War, when thousands of men returned maimed and disfigured from the trenches of Europe.
Pedler had already looked at computers when devising the backstory to The War Machines, so the idea of people having machine-minds along with their machine-bodies was an inevitable natural step.
One stroke of genius Pedler had was that these machine-men would not be stereotypical alien invaders. They did want something from the Earth, but they weren't out to kill the population. They wanted to convert us into people like them. They were so used to being free of sadness and pain that they couldn't see why anyone could find the concept horrifying.

A quick word about "cybernetics". The true meaning has become rather lost thanks to the Cybermen and the Six Million Dollar Man. The word comes from kybernetes (or kubernetes) - the Greek word for steersman or helmsman. It doesn't refer to bionic implants. Instead it refers to communication and control systems in plants and animals. Sweating when you are hot is a cybernetic process, for instance.
I mentioned above that the final episode is pretty much the work of Gerry Davis alone, as Pedler was hospitalised. This may be why the Cybermen suddenly seem to change. They stop talking about conversion, and become more straightforward invaders, determined to destroy the Earth. Interestingly, the first draft has no regeneration at the end, so neither author knew straight away that this was going to be Hartnell's swan-song.
Last week I mentioned that Hartnell became a guest star in his own show with this story. This is because his contract had run out at the end of the third season (of which the final story to be produced was The Smugglers, though it was held back to open the fourth season). For The Tenth Planet, Hartnell was contracted for the four episodes alone, just as the guest artists were.
Hartnell's illness in Part Three was covered by the Doctor collapsing and being left huddled under blankets in the bunk room, his lines being given to the scientist Barclay and to Ben. You'll notice that Ben states that the Doctor has told him things, which we never see or hear on screen. It may be whilst he is incapacitated that the First Doctor wanders outside unseen and bumps into the Twelfth.
Finally, Mondas. From the Latin word for "world" - mundus. The planet Venus is often called Earth's twin, due to its similar size, mass and composition. However, there is another ancient twin planet hypothesised - Theia. It is theorised that this collided with a body known as Gaia about 4.5 billion years ago. Rather than being knocked out of orbit to go travelling to the edge of space, our planet is made up of the combined remains of the two worlds.
Next time: A milestone story. That's right, we have our first visit to a human space colony!!!

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Story 184 - 42

In which the TARDIS materialises on board the SS Pentallian after picking up a distress signal. On leaving the ship, the compartment in which it has landed suffers a massive rise in temperature. The Doctor and Martha discover that the Pentallian has lost its engines, and in 42 minutes it will plunge into the sun around which it is orbiting. The crew comprises the captain, Kath McDonnell, and her husband Korwen, plus engineers Orin Scannell and Dev Ashton. Abi Lerner is the vessel's medic, and there are two younger crew members - Riley Vashtee and Erina Lessak. Korwen is taken ill, and it is found that his body temperature is rising. The Doctor believes he has been infected in some way, and that he can no longer be human. He starts helping Scannell repair the engines. It is necessary for the crew to reach the bridge at the front of the ship, but to get there they need to get through dozens of doors which have been locked down. Each door is individually protected by a password based on a quiz question, which the crew devised months ago.

Some of the questions are personal to the crew - such as favourite colours - but others are more general knowledge. When faced with a question about the most sales between Elvis and the Beatles, Martha decides to call her mother, Francine. Korwen, meanwhile, has woken up and he kills Lerner. When the others rush to the medical bay, they find that she has been incinerated. Korwen dons a welding mask to hide his face, as his eyes can blast out searing heat. Erina is next to be killed. When he reaches Ashton, however, Korwen transfers some of the infection into him, making him a killer also. The Doctor is curious about the ship's engines. They are of a design which enables vessels to scoop up energy directly from a sun. They should be banned, and Kath explains that they are due to be refitted after this trip. Francine has been worried about Martha, as she has heard one of Korwen's victims screaming over the tannoy system in the background to her call. She tries to warn her daughter about the Doctor, after being given information about him from someone working for Harold Saxon. Martha and Riley are attacked by Ashton, and take refuge in a life-pod. Ashton activates the launching sequence, which will send the capsule into the sun.

Kath kills Ashton by using the stasis chamber in the medical bay to freeze him to death. The Doctor dons a spacesuit and opens the airlock in order to re-magnetise the hull and draw the pod back to the Pentallian. He succeeds, but makes a shocking discovery about the star. This sun is a sentient lifeform, and the spaceship crew have scooped part of it into their engines. It has deliberately infected Korwen, and through him Ashton, in order that this energy can be returned to it. The Doctor is also infected. It has been found that the infected men can be temporarily disabled when subjected to freezing temperatures, so the Doctor has Martha place him in the stasis chamber to lower his body temperature. Korwen sabotages power to the chamber before the Doctor can be freed of the infection. Kath apologises to her crew for getting them into this, then lures her husband into an airlock. She opens the door and both are sucked out. Martha, Riley and Scannell finally reach the bridge and the Doctor orders them to vent the fuel. Once this is done, the sun releases its grip on the ship and it can start to break free. The Doctor is freed of the infection. Martha calls her mother back, to reassure her she is alright and will be home soon. Francine points out that it is election day. Francine has not been alone at her home. A young woman has been listening in to the calls. She works for Harold Saxon...

42 was written by Chris Chibnall, and was first broadcast on 19th May 2007, following a one week break for the Eurovision Song Contest. The director is Graeme Harper. This was Chibnall's first Doctor Who story, after acting as show-runner on the first series of Torchwood. Active on the fan front when he was younger, Chibnall had appeared on the BBC viewers' opinion show Open Air back in 1986, representing the DWAS on a panel which was highly critical of the Trial of a Time Lord season. After the success of the ITV series Broadchurch, he will be taking over from Steven Moffat in 2018, and has already cast the first female Doctor.
This story holds the current record for the shortest title, and the only one not to include any letters. It was inspired by the US TV series 24, starring Kiefer Sutherland, in which the action in each episode takes place over a 24 hour period. 42 minutes is roughly the length of a Doctor Who episode, once you skip the opening and closing titles. We do not get an on screen clock here, however, but the ship's computer gives regular countdowns to the ship's destruction.
Chibnall has also said that the title was a reference to Douglas Adams' answer to Life, the Universe, Everything.

The principal guest artist is Michelle Collins as Kath. She was famous for a long-running role in Eastenders. Riley is William Ash, Scannell is Anthony Flanagan (Shameless and Life on Mars), Korwen is Matthew Chambers. As Ashton we have Gary Powell, whilst Abi Lerner is Vinette Robinson, and Erina is Rebecca Oldfield. A couple of the cast (Robinson and Ash) had appeared in Children's Ward, for which Russell T Davies had written a number of episodes. It had been intended that Bertie Carvel would have played the agent of Harold Saxon after his appearance in The Lazarus Experiment, but he was unavailable and so we have the "Sinister Woman" introduced instead - played by Hollyoaks' Elize du Toit.

Story Arc: It is the day of the General Election when Martha calls her mother - an election prompted by the Doctor's undermining of Harriet Jones at the end of The Christmas Invasion.
The Sinister Woman works for Harold Saxon.
Martha's phone has the Archangel Network on it.

Overall, a good first effort from Chibnall. Director Harper gives the episode the pace and energy it needs to rattle along - fans of Doctor Who Confidential will know that he always asked for more of these two things. A good cast, and some impressive special effects, though the science is a bit rubbish - especially the re-magnetising of the escape pod.
Things you might like to know:

  • The spaceship was originally going to be called the Icarus - as in the man who flew too near the sun. However, the production team got wind that Danny Boyle was going to have a ship named Icarus in his forthcoming Sci-Fi movie Sunshine, so the name was changed to Pentallian. Icarus can be glimpsed written on a computer screen, as the change came after filming.
  • The name "Pentallian" came from Revenge of the Cybermen. The Pentallian Drive was a vital component of Nerva Beacon's transmat system.
  • Fans of reused props will recognise the stasis chamber as the redressed MRI scanner from Smith and Jones. The Doctor's spacesuit is reused from The Impossible Planet / Satan Pit story, though coloured red to match the "heat" theme of this episode.
  • The Sinister Woman is never named on screen, but Elize du Toit has stated that she was called Miss Dexter.
  • When released as part of the DVD Files part-work, the accompanying magazine claimed that the spaceship was to have had Ood aboard.
  • A couple of possible Hartnell era references - the Doctor survived extreme freezing in The Space Museum, and the Beatles are described as playing classical music - as Vicki had also described them in The Chase.
  • It may be purely coincidental, but the Torajii sun only infects men, and only kills female crew members. Unless the 13th Doctor has to be rescued by Bradley Walsh every 5 minutes, I think we can safely assume this does not reflect any willful sexism on Mr Chibnall's part.

Monday 23 October 2017

Another overcrowded TARDIS?

After months of rumours that Bradley Walsh was gong to be a new companion, today comes confirmation. He's not the only one, however, as also joining Jodie Whitaker will be Mandip Gill, and Tosin Cole.
Now, the term "companion" can be a loose one. There have in recent years been characters who are best described as "recurring". The mothers of Rose, Martha and Donna cold never be described as companions, and Wilf Mott only really got that status in his final episodes. Danny Pink only ever really featured in the scenes back on Earth at Coal Hill School.
Therefore, I think it would be wrong to call all of these three "companions" until we see exactly what their roles are going to be.

Sunday 22 October 2017

C is for... Clerics

By the 51st Century, the Catholic Church had a military branch known as the Clerics. Their badge was an inverted Greek letter Omega, and they came under the command of the Papal Mainframe.
The Doctor first encountered them on the planet Alfava Metraxis, when they were brought in by River Song. She had been released from the Stormcage prison facility so that she could recruit the Doctor to help capture a Weeping Angel. In command was Father Octavian. The Angel was on a spaceship called the Byzantium which crashed on the planet. The Clerics joined the Doctor, River and Amy in penetrating a Maze of the Dead, housing the remains of the native Aplan people who had died out centuries ago. However, it transpired that the statues covering the Maze were really other Angels, in a decrepit state but being re-energised by the radiation from the crashed ship. One of the Clerics - Bob - was killed and his vocal chords were used by the Angels to communicate with the Doctor. Once in the ship's artificial oxygen-producing forest, other Clerics tasked with guarding Amy were lured away by the appearance of the mysterious crack in time which had first been seen in Amy's bedroom. They were removed from time, as though they had never existed. Father Octavian was later killed by an Angel. Once the mission was over, the Clerics returned River to Stormcage.

A breakaway group from the Church, under the leadership of Madam Kovarian, abducted the pregnant Amy and held her captive on the asteroid Demons Run, which had been hollowed out to form a military base. The Clerics were commanded by Colonel Manton. They were working with the Headless Monks, and some of the Clerics were recruited to the join the Monks. They trained themselves to be resistant to Psychic Paper. The Doctor and Rory formed a band of friends to come and rescue Amy. The Doctor sowed dissent between the Clerics and the Monks so that they started to fight amongst themselves, allowing him and his friends to start their attack. Manton was discredited, and the Clerics were captured by Silurian and Judoon forces and thrown off the asteroid. One of them - a young woman named Lorna Bucket - joined forces with the Doctor and his friends, but was killed when the Monks sprang a counter-attack.

The Doctor visited the planet of Trenzalore for the second time, after a signal started to be beamed from there across the entire universe. This attracted the attention of numerous alien races and soon a massive collection of spaceships was in orbit. One of these housed the Papal Mainframe. The Doctor and Clara visited it and met its leader - Tasha Lem. On board was an army of Clerics. Appearing uniformed, they were actually naked - as everyone had to be on the craft - though they did employ holographic clothing. The Church placed a forcefield around the planet to prevent any of the aliens getting down to the town of Christmas where the Doctor had based himself, and from where the signal originated. The Daleks finally defeated all the other races and invaded the Mainframe, turning everyone into their drones.

Played by: Iain Glen (Octavian), Danny Sapani (Manton), Christina Chong (Lorna), David Atkins (Bob), Mark Springer, Troy Glasgow, Darren Morfitt, Charlie Baker, Dan Johnston, Joshua Hayes, Damian Kell. Appearances: Time of the Angels / Flesh and Stone (2010), A Good Man Goes to War (2011), The Time of the Doctor (2103).

C is for... Clent

Leader Clent was in command of the Brittanicus Base, which housed an ioniser designed to help stem the flow of the glaciers during an Ice Age of the year 5000 AD. Ionisers had been set up on every continent, and most were reporting success whilst Clent's team were slipping behind. This was partly due to his having fallen out with his chief scientist Penley, who had stormed out. Penley felt that Clent was over-reliant on the base's computer and lacked the courage to take risks or act on his own initiative. Clent was primarily a bureaucrat, who panicked when faced with conflict.
His assistant, Miss Garrett, idolised him, but he did not seem to notice this.
The Doctor arrived just as the ioniser was about to explode. When he resolved the problem, Clent offered him the role Penley had abandoned.
When another scientist named Arden found what appeared to be a prehistoric man frozen in the ice, Clent permitted him to dig it out and bring it back to the base, even though this would delay the project. The figure proved to be an alien - an Ice Warrior who had crashed into the glacier in ancient times.
Clent was faced with a problem. If the alien's ship was still intact in the glacier, the ioniser might cause its engines to explode. He sent Arden and Jamie after the Ice Warrior, Varga, after he had returned to life and abducted Victoria. Clent later found his base invaded by Ice Warriors. Penley decided to rejoin the base, insisting that Clent use the ioniser at full power to halt the advance of the ice. Clent turned to the computer, but it could give no answer as its programming did not allow it to sanction something which might destroy it. Penley pressed ahead, and the ioniser not only stopped the ice but blew up the Ice Warrior spaceship without causing a nuclear explosion.
Clent welcomed his scientist back onto the team and set about writing his report. He was very proud that he wrote all his own reports.

Played by: Peter Barkworth. Appearances: The Ice Warriors (1967).

  • Barkworth was famous at the time for appearing in The Power Game. He claimed to have taken the role of Clent to please his children who were big Doctor Who fans.
  • He went off to film Where Eagles Dare soon after, and sent the Doctor Who production team a postcard from Austria pointing out that he was now working in real snow.

C is for... Cleaves

Miranda Cleaves was the team leader of an acid mining operation on 22nd Century Earth. The team were employed by the Morpeth Jetsan company, and were based in an old monastery building on an island. Owing to the hazardous nature of their work, Cleaves and her colleagues used avatars of themselves composed of a material known as the Flesh. These copies were known as Gangers, and they held the same memories and personal characteristics as their human originals. Shortly after the Doctor, Amy and Rory arrived on the island, a solar storm caused the Gangers to break their link to their originals, becoming independent beings. Horrified at the prospect of another version of herself existing, Cleaves wanted the Gangers destroyed. They were only copies after all. The Doctor tried to argue that they deserved existence of their own. The Doctor tried to bring the two groups together but Cleaves killed the Ganger version of colleague Buzzer with an electric shock.
The two groups went to war against each other, the Gangers spurred on by Jennifer, who wanted to start a Flesh revolution. Cleaves was hampered in her efforts to get her people off the island as her Ganger knew exactly how she would think and act. She eventually decided to heed what the Doctor had been saying, as the other Gangers deserted Jennifer. Cleaves was secretly harbouring an illness, an incurable blood clot to the brain.
The Ganger Cleaves sacrificed herself, alongside the Flesh version of the Doctor, to destroy Jennifer and to allow her human counterpart to escape in the TARDIS. The Doctor provided her with a cure for her condition, then dropped her off at the headquarters of Morpeth Jetsan to argue for Ganger rights.

Played by: Raquel Cassidy. Appearances: The Rebel Flesh / The Almost People (2011).

  • Cassidy had previously worked alongside Matt Smith in the drama series Party Animals. She has featured a number of times in Big Finish productions, including a recurring role in the Jago & Litefoot series.

C is for... Cleaners

Robots which patrolled the walkways of the Paradise Towers residential complex. Their official designation was Robotic Self-Activating Megapodic Mark 7Z Cleaners. To make them more pleasing to the human eye, they were given stylised faces.
Their function was to work alongside the Caretaker staff in keeping the Towers clean and tidy. However, they were really under the control of the Great Architect, Kroagnon, whose disembodied intelligence was stored in the basement. Determined to create a new body for himself, he programmed the Cleaners to start killing the residents, bringing their corpses to him. Once Kroagnon had obtained a new body - that of the Chief Caretaker - he used the Cleaners to kill everyone, as he did not want humans spoiling his great work. As well as the robots, he utilised the automated waste disposal system to kill residents. Mel also discovered that the famous swimming pool at the top of the Towers had its own sub-aquatic cleaner - a yellow crab-like machine which tried to drown her. She destroyed it with Pex's gun. Some of the Cleaners were destroyed by the Kangs, shot by crossbow bolts.

Appearances: Paradise Towers (1987).

  • The Cleaners were added to Stephen Wyatt's scripts by producer JNT as he wanted the story to have a monster.

C is for... Clanton Family

A family of criminals who tried to take control of the town of Tombstone, Arizona. When the notorious gunfighter Doc Holliday set up a new dentist practice in the town, the Clanton brothers - Ike, Phineas and Billy - decided to get revenge on him, as he had shot dead their brother Reuben. They enlisted the help of another gunfighter - Seth "Snake-eyes" Harper. Whilst hanging out at the Last Chance Saloon, the Clantons saw Steven and Dodo arrive and book rooms for themselves and the Doctor, and they assumed this referred to Holliday. Holliday and his friend Marshal Wyatt Earp decided to allow the Clantons to believe that the Doctor was their target. The Doctor was taken into protective custody. When the Clantons tried to lynch Steven to force Earp to hand over their prisoner, Phineas was captured. Held in jail by Earp's brother Warren, the other brothers forced their way in - killing Warren and freeing Phineas. The Clanton's father backed his sons, but was horrified to learn that they were going to face Wyatt, his other brother Virgil, and Holliday in a gunfight at the town's OK Corral, as they didn't know Holliday had returned to Tombstone. All three brothers, as well as their partner Johnny Ringo, were shot dead.

Played by: William Hurndall (Ike), Maurice Good (Phineas), David Cole (Billy) and Reed de Rouen (Pa Clanton). Appearances: The Gunfighters (1966).

  • Reed de Rouen, who wrote a number of science fiction novels, co-wrote a Doctor Who story with Jon Pertwee - "The Spare-Part People". It wasn't commissioned.
  • Maurice Good introduced Phineas' stammer in rehearsals.
  • For the historical Clanton gang, I refer you to my recent "Inspirations" post for this story.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Inspirations - The Smugglers

The Smugglers is the penultimate historical story of the 1960's phase of the programme - and the penultimate story for William Hartnell as the Doctor. It is the opening adventure of the fourth season, though filmed at the end of the previous production block. The writer is Brian Hayles.
A word now about the early seasons. It needs to be remembered that Doctor Who ran for almost the whole year, with only a short summer break. These days we have story arcs, and expect crowd pleasers for opening stories to grab new viewers (often introducing a new companion), and for the finale there has to be a big, spectacular conclusion that pays off elements from throughout the season.
The season openers so far have been An Unearthly Child, then Planet of Giants, then Galaxy 4. The last stories of each season have been The Reign of Terror, The Time Meddler, and The War Machines. So, companions have been introduced at the end of a season, rather than at the start, and the Daleks are nowhere to be seen. Setting aside the first story, for obvious reasons, only The Time Meddler has been in any way a game-changer, introducing another time-traveller with a TARDIS.

The Smugglers sees us back in historical times, but this is genre-history. There are no famous personages, or historical events. The year isn't even specified, but we can work it out from the dialogue - there is a king on the throne - and from the references to the pirate Avery. Henry Avery - also known as Every, and also sometimes called John - died some time between 1696 and 1699.
Script editor Gerry Davis is looking to historical fiction for his sources when commissioning stories. Brian Hayles really wanted to write something called "Doctor Who and the Nazis", but it was felt that the Second World War was still too fresh in people's minds to be sent-up in any way. Note the resistance Croft and Perry faced when trying to get Dad's Army off the ground.
Hayles and Davis have gone instead to the works of writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, and Daniel Defoe. In their works, historical figures sometimes make the odd cameo, but generally they simply use a historical era as a backdrop for a good adventure yarn.
Often, the hero of these is a boy, often taken under the wing of a brave older male figure. Here Ben and Polly are the innocents, forced to cope with being taken out of time, with the Doctor as the wiser, more mature character.

As far as the titular smugglers themselves are concerned, there are two clear sources. One is Moonfleet, the 1898 novel by J. Meade Falkner, and the other is the series of Dr. Syn books by Russell Thorndike. The former deals with a pirate's treasure hidden in the crypt of the local church, as Avery's gold is here. Moonfleet also features Excisemen prominently.
Thorndike wrote seven Dr Syn novels. There have been three cinema interpretations. The best known is the 1962 Hammer film with Peter Cushing as Captain Clegg - its UK title. In the US it was The Night Creatures, though it has been shown as the latter recently on British TV, on the Talking Pictures channel. Disney produced a version the following year, with Patrick McGoohan as Syn.
In these books / films, Clegg is a feared pirate who has faked his own death and settled down in a Kent village posing as the local vicar - Dr Syn. Not content with the quiet life of a country parson, he heads a notorious smuggling ring. He is known as "the Scarecrow", and disguises himself as a scarecrow to keep watch over the area. The smugglers employ tricks to keep the locals from observing their activities - such as disguising themselves and their horses as skeletons when they ride across the marshes at night.
The smugglers we get in the Doctor Who story are nowhere near as inventive. They're a rather wet bunch actually, their leader being the local squire, who even comes to repent his wicked ways by the conclusion. If anything, this story should really be called "The Pirates", as they are the real villains, and the more interesting characters.

Captain Pike has a spike where his left hand used to be. The obvious reference here is to Captain Hook from Peter Pan. Hook first appeared in 1904. As with Captain Pike, Hook was once first mate to a famous pirate - in this case Blackbeard - before getting a command of his own. J M Barrie admitted that Hook's obsession with finding the crocodile that took his hand was based on Captain Ahab and Moby Dick. Barrie also threw in a reference to that other great fictional pirate, Long John Silver, in his play.
Whilst Pike is all surface charm, seeking to be recognised as a gentleman, his henchman Cherub is pure murderous brute. There's nothing cherubic about him at all. The pirates are in the area for a reason - seeking Avery's gold as we've mentioned. Why here in particular is because one of their ex-shipmates is now living the life of a church warden in the village where the Doctor and his companions have pitched up. Joe Longfoot has found god, but he is also part of the smuggling ring. Somehow knowing that he is not long for this world, he gives the Doctor a cryptic message - really the names on epitaphs in the crypt which point to the treasure's hiding place. Famously, Terence de Marney fluffs the message, whilst Hartnell gets it right.

Instead of abducting Longfoot, and reducing this to a two-parter, Cherub murders him and so has to go after the Doctor instead. One of the companions goes topless, and the other cross-dresses, whilst the Doctor tricks one of the pirates with some Tarot cards. He's from the Caribbean, so has to be called "Jamaica". Pike spikes him.
Ben meets a man named Josiah Blake, and he turns out to be the leader of the Excisemen. The pirates double-cross the smugglers - prompting Squire Edwards' conversion to the side of light. Blake and his men turn up like the 7th Cavalry, and the pirates are defeated.
As we've said, boys' own adventure stuff.
The final historical story, later this season, will touch on some of the same source materials - including as it does another piratical captain who has taken control of his boss' ship.
Next time: Hartnell guest stars in his own series. The Doctor's old body starts to wear a bit thin, and a bunch of aliens turn up who want to give him a new one. He declines, but gets a new one anyway...

Tuesday 17 October 2017

They Keep Killing Suzie - Torchwood 1.8

In which the Torchwood team are called to a crime scene by Detective Kathy Swanson. A young couple have been murdered in their home - and the killer has written "TORCHWOOD" on the wall in their blood. When the victims' blood is tested, it is found to be full of Compound B67 - the Retcon drug Torchwood uses to wipe people's memories. Only someone connected to the team could have carried out these killings. There have been other killings prior to this one. Gwen suggests that they use the Resurrection Glove on the victims to learn more about the killer. Jack is initially reluctant, as it was her obsession with the gauntlet that had led Suzie Costello to commit murder before ultimately killing herself. The glove is used, and one of the dead men identifies the killer as a man named Max, who is part of something called "Pilgrim", and that Max is known to Suzie. Searching through her belongings in storage, the team learn that Pilgrim is a support group - and Suzie had been a member.

Jack decides that they must use the glove on Suzie, whose body has been in cold storage in the Hub since her suicide. At first Gwen finds the glove does not work - mainly because Suzie had threatened to kill her all those months ago. They decide to use the knife which Suzie had used in her murders. On being stabbed by Gwen in the chest, Suzie immediately awakes. However, she is not just alive again for a minute or two - she is back for good. Jack questions her about the killings, and Suzie admits she gave Max an overdose of Retcon every week over a long period of time. She would use the group to talk about her experiences with Torchwood, then make everyone forget what she had said. This overdosing has induced a psychotic state in Max. She tells Jack that there is still one more member of the support group still alive, Lucie, and Max is sure to go after her. Whilst Jack and the rest of the team rush to the bar where Lucie works, Suzie and Gwen talk. Suzie reveals that her father is dying, and she had wanted to use the glove on him. Max is captured and locked up in the Hub vaults.

Owen makes a shocking discovery. Suzie is stealing Gwen's life-force in order to remain alive. Eventually, Gwen will die and Suzie will be restored to complete heath. When they go to warn Gwen, they discover that she and Suzie have gone. Gwen has decided to take Suzie to see her father in hospital. In the vaults, Max starts to recite a poem by Emily Dickinson, and the Hub suffers a total power loss. Suzie had set up this verbal command before she died to over-ride the systems. Jack must call upon Detective Swanson for help in finding the code words that will restore power, whilst Suzie and Gwen travel to the hospital. Gwen is starting to weaken, a bullet hole slowly forming in her head, as Suzie's heals. Gwen is shocked when Suzie, instead of curing her father, kills him, as she always really hated him. Jack and the others are released when they work out the code to disable the power loss, and give chase. Suzie tries to flee on a ferry but is shot down. She doesn't die however. Jack then orders Tosh to destroy the glove, as it still connects the two women. As soon as it is destroyed, Suzie dies - first warning that something is coming out of the dark, and Ianto points out to Jack that gloves usually come in pairs...

They Keep Killing Suzie was written by Paul Tomalin and Dan McCulloch, and was first broadcast on 3rd December, 2006. Tomalin is best known for contributing to Shameless, whilst McCulloch has exec-produced Inspector Morse sequel series Endeavour, and the Jenna Coleman vehicle Victoria. This is their only Doctor Who-related work.
Whilst Cyberwoman had been a sequel of sorts to a Doctor Who story, this episode marks the rare occasion when a Torchwood episode gets a sequel - namely the opening episode Everything Changes. In that, Suzie had become obsessed with investigating how the Resurrection Glove worked, to the point that she would create new victims for her to test it upon. Once unmasked, she knew that she could never escape from Torchwood, and so killed herself with a gunshot to the head. She, and the glove, make a come-back here. She seems to have foreseen what was going to happen to her, setting up Max over a couple of years and preparing the voice activated power loss.
It had always been a surprise when Suzie had died at the end of the first episode, as Indira Varma was  - after John Barrowman - the biggest name in the cast for the new series, and she featured prominently in the pre-publicity.

As well as its links to a previous episode, this story also attempts to get a story arc going. Suzie's dying words talk of something coming out of the dark, and Ianto flags up that there could well be a second glove somewhere. These hints won't come to fruition until the second series, though some thought that the former was a reference to Abaddon from the first series finale.
Indira Varma is obviously the main guest for this episode, but playing Detective Swanson is Yasmin Bannerman, who had been Jabe in The End of the World.
Overall, a strong episode, which finally shows the series starting to build a mythology of its own (it has been incredibly piecemeal up to this point).
Things you might like to know:

  • The code to stop the power outage in the Hub proves to be the ISBN of the Collected Works of Emily Dickinson - whose poem "The Chariot" has started it. However, the ISBN Jack actually quotes is from another work entirely - The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
  • This episode was originally written as an extra commission, in case another story fell through. Russell T Davies liked it so much he promoted it to form part of the series. It was he who asked for the suggestion of a second glove to be added - so that it could be called upon later if needed.
  • The episode title is usually taken as a reference to South Park, in which they keep killing Kenny. There is also an episode of The Avengers called "They Keep Killing Steed". The title was initially just "They Keep Killing" prior to the start of the series, as they did not want to give away Suzie's death in the opening episode.
  • The second glove will turn up in Dead Man Walking - the third of the Martha Jones trilogy of episodes in Series 2, as will the thing in the darkness. This is Duroc, an embodiment of Death.
  • It had been planned that Suzie would make further reappearances in the programme, but Varma was pregnant during the making of the second series, and the character did not fit with the third and fourth series - even though the latter (Miracle Day) is all about people being unable to die.

Monday 16 October 2017

C is for... Clancey, Milo

An argonite miner, president of his own company based on the planet Lobos. He had once been a partner to Dom Issigri, working on the planet Ta, but the two had fallen out. Issigri had gone missing, presumed dead, and his daughter Madeleine always assumed that Clancey was somehow responsible. She took over operations on Ta, and despite the planet supposedly being mined out, made it a profitable venture. In reality, she was in league with pirates who were stealing argonite from other miners like Clancey, as well as breaking up government-owned navigation beacons made from the substance.
Clancey was one of the old-timers who had first explored the outer reaches of space, at a time when there was no law and order. As such he liked to do things his own way, and objected to having to conform to new procedures which the authorities tried to impose on him.
His ship was the LIZ 79, an antiquated craft in much need of repair.
General Hermack of the Space Corps suspected Clancey of being the leader of the pirates when he found the LIZ in the region of space where a beacon had just been destroyed. Clancey had been trying to track down the people who had stolen a shipment of argonite ore from him. He discovered a piece of beacon adrift, and on locking onto it found the Doctor and his companions aboard.
When it became clear that Hermack wanted to arrest him, he fled with the time travellers to hide on Ta, where he learned about Madeleine's involvement with the pirates, who were led by the sadistic Caven. He discovered that Dom was still alive, a captive of Caven.
The pirate tried to kill the pair by stranding them on a sabotaged LIZ, but the Doctor was able to talk Clancey through repairs over the ship's radio. Clancey and Dom were reconciled.

Played by: Gordon Gostelow. Appearances: The Space Pirates (1969).

  • Gostelow was born in New Zealand in 1925, dying in London in 2007, aged 82. One of his signature roles on stage and TV was that of Bardolph - Falstaff's fiery-faced friend in Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, and who is executed for theft from a church in Henry V. He also played Perks in a 1968 BBC version of The Railway Children. The BBC filmed this four times, and this is the only version that wasn't wiped.

Sunday 15 October 2017

C is for... Churchill, Winston

Prime Minister of Great Britain during the Second World War. He was an old acquaintance of the Doctor's, and when his chief scientist Prof. Edwin Bracewell came up with a new weapon that would help win the conflict - armoured war machines called Ironsides - Churchill contacted the Doctor to seek his advice. He had the telephone number for the TARDIS, and the call was answered by Amy Pond. However, the ship landed in London some weeks after the call had been made, and Bracewell had pressed ahead with his Ironsides programme. The Doctor discovered that the Ironsides were actually Daleks, which had been given khaki livery. Churchill refused to heed the Doctor's warnings about the Daleks, as he was determined to defeat the Nazis at any cost. What he really wanted from the Doctor was control over the TARDIS, going so far as to try to pocket the ship's key.
He later discovered that Bracewell was really an android, created by the Daleks, but he kept him on as his chief scientist.
Later, Bracewell brought him a painting that had been found in France - a Vincent Van Gogh which depicted an exploding TARDIS. Churchill again rang the Doctor, but the call was diverted by the ship to River Song at the Stormcage prison facility.

When River failed to assassinate the Doctor - breaking a fixed point in time - history began to collapse. The Doctor found himself a prisoner of Churchill who was now Holy Roman Emperor, presiding over a senate based at Buckingham Palace. He was tended by a Silurian doctor, and had a coach pulled by mammoths. He knew the Doctor only as a soothsayer, who told stories of how the universe was supposed to be. He and the Doctor came under attack from Silents, but were rescued by Amy.

Played by: Ian McNeice. Appearances: Victory of the Daleks, The Pandorica Opens (2010), The Wedding of River Song (2011).

  • McNeice first came to prominence in the BBC thriller serial Edge of Darkness. He has been a regular on the popular ITV show Doc Martin for a number of years. He was offered a role in Game of Thrones (as Illyrio in the first season), but the part was then recast with Roger Allam.
  • He has played Churchill a number of times on stage, and has recently reprised the Doctor Who version for Big Finish.