Wednesday 30 May 2018

Story 193 - The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky

In which the Doctor is giving Donna some lessons in piloting the TARDIS when he receives a phone call. It is from Martha Jones, and she is summoning him back to Earth. The TARDIS materialises in the grounds of the ATMOS factory near London. The Doctor introduces Donna to her predecessor. Martha then calls in UNIT to raid the factory. She now works for them as a medical officer, thanks to the Doctor's influence. Martha introduces the Doctor and Donna to Colonel Mace, who is in charge of the operation. They explain that ATMOS is a device which is used in most vehicles these days. It reduces pollution, as well as providing a Sat-Nav function. A journalist who had been investigating the device and its creator, Luke Rattigan, died recently when her car drove into a river. Now, a number of people across the world are reported to have died in their cars at exactly the same moment. All the vehicles had ATMOS. Rattigan is described as a "boy-genius", who made his fortune inventing an internet search engine whilst still a teenager. UNIT shuts down the factory, but they can find little suspicious evidence. Donna then points out the employee files. No-one in the company has taken a single sick day. Examining one of the workers, Martha finds he seems to be in some kind of hypnotic state. The Doctor decides to go and visit Rattigan, and is driven to his mansion by a UNIT Private named Ross Jenkins. Jenkins explains that Rattigan runs his home as an academy for young people whom he regards as almost as gifted as himself. The Doctor is surprised to see an alien transmat booth in the house. He uses it to transport himself to a spaceship which is in hidden orbit above the Earth. It is crewed by Sontarans.

A couple of UNIT soldiers have found a basement laboratory containing a vat of liquid, in which a half-formed humanoid figure reclines. They are captured by a Sontaran - General Staal. They are placed under his mental control and are sent to lure Martha to the lab. She is captured and strapped to a framework, her memories downloaded into the thing in the vat. The creature - a clone - takes on her appearance. It will be used to infiltrate UNIT and aid the Sontaran stratagem. Staal transports himself to Rattigan's home and confronts the Doctor and Jenkins. A well-aimed tennis ball dazes the Sontaran as it strikes his probic vent, allowing the Doctor and Jenkins to flee. Their vehicle has ATMOS, however, and Staal uses this to try to kill them - driving the vehicle towards a river. The Doctor fools the device into stopping short. They head for Donna's house, where she has been reunited with her grandfather, Wilf, and her mother, Sylvia. Realising that the Doctor could thwart their plans, Staal informs Rattigan that they are advancing their plans. A squad of Sontarans led by Commander Skorr are sent to seize the factory and protect the Martha clone. Millions of vehicles already have ATMOS across the globe. The devices are activated, emitting toxic fumes. It is impossible to turn them off.

The Doctor and Donna return to the factory as people try to seal themselves in their homes. Colonel Mace ignores the Doctor's advice and plans a nuclear strike on the spaceship. The Martha clone diverts the command signal to her phone so that she can over-ride it. UNIT troops are powerless against Skorr's squad as the Sontarans are using a signal wave which jams the bullets in their guns. Jenkins is amongst those killed.  Donna is sent to the TARDIS for safety but Staal has it transported up to his spaceship. The Doctor is able to communicate with her by phone, and instructs her in unlocking the transmat devices. The Martha clone continues to stop the missile strike from launching. Mace then calls in the UNIT vessel Valiant - the flying aircraft carrier previously designed and used by the Master. It uses its powerful engines to clear the air around the factory. UNIT then deploys weaponry which is unaffected by the bullet-jamming signal. They soon retake the factory, killing Skorr and his men. Donna succeeds in reopening the transmat terminals and the Doctor has the TARDIS returned to Earth. He has guessed that Martha is not who she claims to be, and goes with the clone to the basement lab. Here he breaks the link, killing the clone and freeing the real Martha.

Rattigan informs his students that he has been working on a plan for them to travel to a new planet, to begin their own perfect society under his supervision. He discovers that they do not share his vision, worrying more about their families as the planet is choked by the toxic gases. He travels to the Sontaran spaceship to inform Staal, only to learn that the aliens were never going to take him to his new world. They only needed him for ATMOS, and now his usefulness is ended. The gases which are being produced will change the atmosphere of Earth to make it suitable for mass cloning. The Doctor, Martha and Donna arrive at the mansion, where the Doctor had earlier seen a device for terraforming a planet's atmosphere. He adjust the settings then uses it to burn off the toxic gases, igniting the upper atmosphere. The stratagem thwarted, Staal decides to attack the planet with missiles. The Doctor elects to take the terraforming device to the spaceship - offering the Sontarans a chance to surrender, otherwise he will use it to destroy the ship. He will die in the process, however. The Doctor had managed to get through to Rattigan to do the right thing for once, and so he uses the transmat to swap places with the Doctor at the last moment. The Sontarans and their vessel are destroyed. Later, Wilf encourages Donna to continue her travels with the Doctor, no matter the risk. Martha enters the TARDIS to say her goodbyes. Suddenly, the doors lock shut and the ship dematerialises - hurtling out of control...

The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky was written by Helen Raynor, and was first broadcast on 26th April and 3rd May, 2008. Raynor, one time script editor on the series, had previously written the Daleks in New York two-parter for Series 3, as well as single episodes for each of the first two seasons of Torchwood.
The story sees the return of the Sontarans after a 23 year absence. They had featured in the classic series four times, equaling the Ice Warriors. They were deemed successful and popular enough to become this season's big returning villains from that earlier era, following the Daleks, Cybermen and the Master. The new design was faithful to their previous appearances, though their uniforms became blue rather than black - partly to differentiate them from the Judoon of the year before. When last seen, in The Two Doctors, the supposedly cloned race had been of different heights, with Commander Stike being particularly tall. The costumes had not been very good, with the headpieces often coming loose from the collars. This time, uniformly small actors were chosen to play all of the Sontarans.
The story is also significant for the return of Martha Jones. Freema Agyeman had reprised the role with a secondment to Torchwood Three earlier in the year in a trilogy of stories. She now works for UNIT. They had featured in the background of the new series since Aliens of London, but this is their first full story since Battlefield back in 1989. In the interim, the United Nations had taken exception to its name being taken in vain, concerned that people might think UNIT was a real affiliate, and so the production team found itself - under threat of legal action - having to rename them. They are now the UNified Intelligence Taskforce. The light blue berets have gone - replaced with red ones, and only the officers wear uniforms similar to regular army ones. The troops now wear black combat fatigues.

The word "clone" had never actually been used in any of the previous Sontaran stories, but it was always implied that they were cloned due to their mode of reproduction, and supposed identical appearance (though they do not look the same in any of their four outings. Only Styre and his Marshal look and sound identical, thanks to the same actor playing both roles within the same story).
For tools they tended towards robot servants in their first two stories. Raynor chose to pick up on the cloning references. They clone Martha, and plan to turn the Earth into a planet suitable for cloning billions of warriors.
The Doctor quite rightly questions Staal's use of stealth to attack the Earth using ATMOS. Raynor had originally intended that the toxic gases - clone-feed- would be generated by factory chimneys, but Russell T Davies liked to have everyday objects turn potentially nasty. The use of Sat-Nav in cars had grown considerably in recent years, and most children would be familiar with them.
After the verbal sparring which went on when Rose met Sarah Jane Smith, it was decided that Martha and Donna would hit it off straight away, reflecting Martha's new maturity.

Playing the lead Sontarans are Christopher Ryan, as Staal, and Dan Starkey as Skorr. Ryan had featured in Doctor Who once before - playing the Mentor ruler Kiv in the Mindwarp section of Trial of a Time Lord. Starkey had been a fan of the show since childhood, and had particularly loved the Sontarans - producing a picture he had drawn of them as a child when interviewed about the role.
Colonel Mace is played by Rupert Holliday-Evans, who had recently gained fame with comedian Harry Enfield as one half of the Double-Take Brothers. His second-in-command, Captain Price, is played by Bridget Hodson. Luke Rattigan is Ryan Sampson. He plays Luke as an American, though the actor is really from Yorkshire. Ross Jenkins is played by Christian Cooke. He recently stepped in to play a role in the BBC's  Agatha Christie adaptation of Ordeal by Innocence, when the original actor cast became caught up in allegations of sexual misconduct. All of the character's scenes had to be reshot with Cooke, causing the show to be deferred from a Christmas screening to an Easter one. In 2009 he had starred in ITV's Demons - one of their failed attempts to rival Doctor Who.
The Cliffhangers:
  1. Wilf becomes trapped in the family car as the engine pumps out toxic gas, threatening to choke him. The Doctor looks on helpessly as all the vehicles around him produce the deadly smoke...
  2. The TARDIS doors slam shut and lock. Martha insists that the Doctor let her out, but he cannot control the ship as it hurtles out of control...
Story Arc:
  • The Medusa Cascade is mentioned again.
  • A taxi in Partners in Crime had featured an ATMOS sticker on its windscreen.
  • The Doctor remembers meeting Wilf as the newspaper vendor from Voyage of the Damned.
  • His absence from Donna's wedding is explained by him having been ill with Spanish Flu that day.

Overall, it is a fairly successful two-parter, with plenty of action. The Sontarans look good and come across as a credible threat en masse, though we could have done without some of Skorr's infantile comments.
Things you might like to know:
  • Interviewed on The Graham Norton Show, Catherine Tate claimed that she did not realise that the Sontarans were played by actors, and was freaked out when one of them took off his helmet to reveal his maskless face. She thought they "ran on electricity".
  • The Doctor dodges the UNIT dating controversy when he tells Donna he used to work for the organisation "back in the 1970's - or was it the 1980's...?".
  • Mace wishes the Brigadier was there to help, then tells the Doctor that Lethbridge-Stewart is stuck in Peru. He'll still be there in later stories.
  • One of the two UNIT soldiers who abduct Martha - Private Harris - returns in Turn Left, though this is in an alternative time-line.
  • Jenkins was named for the UNIT soldier in The Daemons, whom the Brigadier famously ordered to deal Bok "five rounds rapid".
  • The Doctor uses the "intruder" joke - in-tru-der window - which Henry Van Statten had previously used in Dalek.
  • Wearing gas masks, the Doctor asks Mace "Are you my mummy?" - referencing the Empty Child.
  • Raynor had initially refused to write another Doctor Who story, after seeing the on-line negative reaction from fans to her Dalek story, and Davies had to talk her into doing this one.
  • The ATMOS voice is provided by actress Elizabeth Rider. She will return to the programme, on screen this time, as Linda, who shared an eventful Christmas dinner with Clara and her father and grandmother in The Time of the Doctor.

Monday 28 May 2018

D is for... Dymond

Pilot of the spaceship Hecate, which collided with the starliner Empress whilst in orbit around the planet Azure. The two vessels became fused together. Dymond travelled to the space cruiser to complain to its captain, Rigg, as it was the Empress which had been off course. In trying to free the two vessels, the Doctor discovered that someone on the cruiser was smuggling the highly addictive and lethal drug Vraxoin. When the ships separated, the Doctor became trapped on the Hecate and learned that Dymond was involved in the smuggling operation. A passenger on the Empress, a scientist named Tryst, was his co-conspirator. He had a machine which captured examples of flora and fauna from a number of planets, stored on crystals. Amongst the creatures the machine held were the Mandrels. When they died, their bodies broke down into a grey powder - Vraxoin. When Tryst and Dymond attempted to flee, the Doctor trapped them in the scientist's own machine - allowing them to be taken into custody by the Azure customs officers Fisk and Costa.

Played by: Geoffrey Bateman. Appearances: Nightmare of Eden (1979).

D is for... Duroc

A legend claimed that in medieval times, a personification of Death had visited a small Welsh village after the local priest had used a metal gauntlet to restore life to a dead child - a girl named Faith. The creature - Duroc - claimed 12 lives before being stopped by the girl, as she could no longer be killed.
Centuries later, the same gauntlet was used by Captain Jack Harkness to bring Torchwood team member Owen Harper back to life. Martha Jones, on secondment to Torchwood from UNIT, identified that Owen's body was changing. He was slowly being taken over by something which he had brought back from the black void where he had gone when he died. He began speaking in a strange language, his eyes turning black, and he found he had influence over the normally savage Weevil creatures. When the process was completed, Duroc emerged - appearing as a skeletal figure shrouded in black smoke. The creature headed for the nearest hospital, sensing people near death, and began to harvest new victims. If it claimed 13 people, its power would be complete and it would be impossible to destroy. Remembering the legend, Owen confronted it. Like Faith, he could no longer be killed as he was already dead. He stopped it claiming its 13th victim, and it was sent back to the void.
Earlier, Suzie Costello informed Jack that she had also been to the void, and had sensed Duroc and said it would be coming for him. Owen translated the name Duroc as "Hunger".

Appearances: TW 2.7 Dead Man Walking.

D is for... Dunbar

An official with the World Ecology Bureau based in London. He was party to the discovery at the South Pole of a strange plant pod. Dunbar's boss, Sir Colin Thackerey called in UNIT, and they sent their scientific adviser and his companion Sarah Jane Smith to the Bureau. The Doctor agreed to travel to Antarctica to investigate the find. Unhappy at his status in the Bureau and in need of money, Dunbar decided to sell information about the pod to the plant-obsessed millionaire Harrison Chase. He sent two men to the Pole to steal it, a scientist named Keeler and his henchman, Scorby. Dunbar was horrified to learn that the scientific base had been destroyed, and its occupants killed. He later tried to make amends by going into Chase's mansion alone to confront him. However, Keeler had become infected by a second pod and had mutated into a Krynoid. The creature attacked and killed Dunbar.

Played by: Kenneth Gilbert. Appearances: The Seeds of Doom (1976).

  • Gilbert fell ill during the making of the story, necessitating director Douglas Camfield to heavily rearrange his studio days to hold Dunbar's scenes back for after he had recuperated.

D is for... Dulcians

A peace-loving race from the planet Dulkis. They appeared humanoid, but had two hearts. The Dulcians had renounced violence after experimenting with nuclear weapons. The island used for atomic testing was left an irradiated wasteland. Parties of students would visit the "Island of Death" each year to study the effects of the tests on the local environment. The Dulcians were ruled by a council of elders, led by a man named Senex. His son, Cully, liked to rebel against the staid lifestyle of his people. He set up various ventures - including trips to the vicinity of the island. Radiation meters were supposed to warn when they got too close, but an alien spaceship had recently landed and absorbed all the radiation as fuel. Cully's party ran aground. His passengers were killed by the Dominators and their robot Quarks. Cully sought sanctuary at the survey unit where the latest students had arrived with their tutor Balan. He also encountered the Doctor and his companions Jamie and Zoe. The Doctor had previously visited the planet and thought it the perfect place to have a holiday. Cully took Zoe to the capital by rocket to try and warn the council, but they were not believed. Senex ruled that if there were aliens on the island, they would let them take whatever they wanted. After the Doctor and Jamie had visited with the same warnings, and they had seen one of the Quarks on a video monitor, the chairman of the emergency committee, Tensa, was called in to offer advice. He suggested fight, flee or yield to the invaders. The Dominator Rago later arrived in the capital, and he killed Tensa. He told the council that their people would be enslaved. Tests were carried out on the captured students back on the island to see if the Dulcians would make good slave labour. When it was found that they would not, the Dominators decided to destroy the planet - turning it into a nuclear fuel dump for their fleet. The Doctor destroyed the Dominators with their own atomic seed capsule, whilst the island was turned into a volcano.

Played by: Walter Fitzgerald (Senex), Arthur Cox (Cully), Johnson Bayley (Balan), Brian Cant (Tensa). Appearances: The Dominators (1968).

D is for... Duke of Manhattan

A nobleman from the city of New New York, on the planet of New Earth. He was hospitalised after contracting Petrifold Regression, which was slowly turning his body to stone. The condition was thought incurable, but the Sisters of Plenitude who ran the hospital claimed they could heal him. He was accompanied by his litigious personal assistant, Frau Clovis. The Sisters did cure him, much to the Doctor's surprise. Presumably he would have later perished when the "Bliss" mood patch mutated, wiping out all life in the upper levels of the city.

Played by: Michael Fitzgerald. Appearances: New Earth (2006).

Thursday 24 May 2018

Inspirations - The Claws of Axos

The first story to be written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin, and the last to be directed by Michael Ferguson, who has been involved with the programme since the very first Dalek story. Just to remind, it was Ferguson's hand that tapped Carole Ann Ford on the shoulder, and waved a sink plunger at Jacqueline Hill in the first episode then, dressed in a joke shop claw, later emerged from under Alydon's cloak.
The Claws of Axos has one of the least likely starting points for any Doctor Who story - a biographical comedy drama about a soldier who would later become a famous TV chef.
Dave Martin once worked in advertising. In 1968 he began a writing collaboration with Bob Baker, who was an animator. He was working in a shop at the time, and used to sell Martin his tobacco.
One of their efforts was that comedy drama based on the exploits of a friend of their's - Keith Floyd. Floyd had joined the army in 1963, leaving three years later as he found he could never fit in. One of his schemes was to try to get the NAAFI to produce gourmet cooking. He set up a restaurant in Bristol, the area where Baker and Martin lived, and this is how they came to know him and hear about his exploits. (Baker and Martin would later be nicknamed "The Bristol Boys").
The script they produced about Floyd was sent to the BBC, where it was passed around various producers. It eventually found its way onto the desk of Barry Letts, who asked Terrance Dicks to take a look at it. Whilst nothing remotely to do with science fiction, Dicks saw some merit in the work and the Bristol Boys were invited up to London to meet Letts and Dicks. After a boozy lunch, they were invited to submit a script for Doctor Who.

One of the initial inspirations for what became The Claws of Axos was Martin's previous life in advertising. Aliens would arrive on Earth and offer a fabulous gift in exchange for refuge. The aliens would appear to be a perfect family unit - like the ones favoured by advertisers. Mum, dad and two kids, preferably one boy and one girl. Martin described them as a "Coca Cola" family. This sort of ideal family was the one used by many advertising campaigns in the UK and in the USA, especially from the 1950's onwards thanks to the rising growth and popularity of commercial television.
Michael Ferguson would take this image and translate them into a literal golden family.
The aliens, of course, would prove to be all surface, and beneath lay monstrous beings with evil intent. The gift they were offering - anything you desired - would be a Trojan Horse, a means of destroying the planet (allowing us to have Homer as another inspiration).
The initial story title was "The Gift", and they later toyed with "The Friendly Invasion".
The first draft caused Dicks considerable headaches. The alien spaceship would be shaped like a skull, and would land in the middle of Hyde Park. The aliens' true nature would be akin to vegetable people - like giant carrots. The writers thought that the BBC could achieve almost anything with special effects, and Dicks had to coach them closely to make the script more workable. He continually reminded them that this was the BBC, not MGM. The story also began life as a six-parter, before being trimmed down to four.

After a misjudged opening scene, where the reveal of the monsters is spoiled for the audience, the story proper begins with a sequence very reminiscent of the opening to Spearhead from Space. A couple of UNIT officers are tracking something approaching the Earth. We then find the Brigadier hosting a party of civil servants, led by the blundering Chinn (first name Horatio, according to the Target novelisation). Doctor Who fans knew more about the civil service than most children in the 1970's, as the programme featured them frequently throughout the Third Doctor's era. They were generally seen as pompous, opinionated, stubborn, and hawk-like in their attitudes, proving an obstacle to the Doctor's plans and making situations worse when they claimed to be capable of fixing things.
Chinn wants to blow up the UFO straight away, which naturally appalls and infuriates the Doctor. As it happens, he was right to do so - it's the Doctor who will have been proved wrong.
The spaceship, which we will later hear identifies itself as Axos, uses time travel to avoid Chinn's missiles, and lands just outside a nuclear power station on the south coast.
The power station setting was inspired by the one which the writers could see when they looked out their windows - Oldbury Nuclear Power Station by the River Severn in Gloucestershire. This would be the location for another power station-set story - The Hand of Fear - also written by the Bristol Boys. Had the original London-set draft been used, it would have been Battersea Power Station which would have come under attack by the Axons.

To complicate matters, Axos hasn't travelled here alone. The Master had been devised as a Professor Moriarty to the Doctor's Sherlock Holmes. For those who knew the Great Detective from the Basil Rathbone movies, Moriarty was a recurring villain, appearing in three of the films. (Each time he is played by a different actor - George Zucco, Lionel Atwill and Henry Daniell. Confusingly, all three appear in other films in the series, but in other roles). Anyone who has actually read the stories will know that Moriarty only features in a single short story - The Final Problem. (When Granada came to adapt this story for the Jeremy Brett series, they lifted a plot from City of Death to pad it out).
Letts and Dicks had decided to feature the Master in every story of the 8th Season - which they later admitted was a mistake. The Master here is a captive of Axos. He has promised it time travel in return for it destroying the Earth, and thus killing the Doctor. After he has been freed, he determines to steal the Doctor's TARDIS in order to flee the doomed planet, as his own craft is held by Axos. We see it in its natural form - a tall white box. He is captured by UNIT and forced to work with them to stop Axos draining the power station's output - energy needed to achieve time travel capability. In Terror of the Autons, his decision to help fight against the alien invader he has brought to Earth in the first place came as an unsatisfying volte-face. This time his motives are more sound - he was a prisoner of Axos, and doesn't want to be trapped on a planet about to be destroyed. He will later join forces with the good guys again, when he and the Doctor collaborate to get the TARDIS operational - for the same motives.
They say that playing villains is much more satisfying than playing heroes, and this is certainly evident here. The Master definitely begins to mellow as a character from this story onwards, having a lot more fun.

This is the first time we have seen the TARDIS interior since Episode 10 of The War Games.
As well as Chinn and his fellow inspectors, UNIT has been visited by someone else on the day Axos decides to arrive. He's Bill Filer - from the "American Office". There has been some debate about who exactly Bill works for. One theory is that he is CIA, whilst the other is that he comes from the Washington branch of UNIT. His lack of military rank implies the former. If CIA, then UNIT obviously shares some highly confidential material with certain foreign agencies, whilst the Brigadier clearly hasn't told his own government about the Doctor. Presumably the reports Bill has seen have been heavily redacted, to obscure any mention of the Doctor.
Up until the last minute, this story went by another name. As it was being recorded, as you can see from film trims of the studio clock, the story went by the title "The Vampire from Space". This ties in with the idea of Axonite - the miracle substance being offered as a gift. When activated, it will consume all energy. The title was changed towards the end of production. The new title came from a piece of the Doctor's dialogue, where he states "the claws of Axos are already deeply embedded in the Earth's carcass...".

One other inspiration that must be mentioned is a 1966 episode of Lost In Space - "The Golden Man". In this, a handsome man (golden) arrives on the planet and meets the Jupiter 2 crew. He is at war with a frog-headed creature. It's a don't-be-fooled-by-appearances story. Dr Smith sides with the Golden Man as he is friendly and good looking, whilst the frog man is ugly and aggressive. However, the Golden Man is really a hideous monster underneath.
Before we go, a word about Pigbin Josh. Now that the Doctor is exiled to Earth, we will be seeing a number of rather stereotyped regional characters. It's one of the criticisms of this era. Country dwellers in particular are landed with "Mummerset" accents and are portrayed as ever so slightly thick. People from the same tiny village can have far-ranging accents, depending upon what the actor learned at drama school. We'll have more of this when we get to The Time Monster and The Green Death.
Next time: it's another outer space western. The Doctor gets to travel to an alien planet for the first time in ages - but guess who's also there?

Tuesday 22 May 2018

A Day in the Death - Torchwood 2.8

In which Owen Harper struggles to come to terms with his new condition. Walking home one night he spots a young woman sitting on the ledge of a building - evidently contemplating throwing herself off. He goes up to the roof and joins her. Her name is Maggie. He starts to tell her of his problems.
He is being studied by Martha Jones of UNIT, who has stayed on as new medical officer for Torchwood. He cuts his hand on a scalpel and she stitches the wound, and explains to him that he will have to do this every week from now on, as the wound will never heal. Back at his flat he begins to throw out things he no longer needs - food, as he can no longer eat, shaving foam, as his hair no longer grows. He is visited by Tosh and tries to force her to reject him, as he can no longer love her back. He runs out and throws himself into the bay. Half an hour later, he accepts that he cannot drown, as he does not breathe. He emerges from the water to find Jack waiting for him.

Back at the Hub, the team have a case. They have been keeping an eye on a reclusive millionaire named Henry Parker, who has not left his home for decades. He is known to be a collector of alien artifacts, having the largest private collection of items which have come through the Rift. Strange energy readings have been registered coming from his home, and the team is worried that one of the alien devices is going to self-destruct. Someone needs to break into the house and remove this, but Parker has security guards and the building is protected by heat sensors. Owen points out that his present condition means that he no longer generates any body heat, so he will be invisible to the sensors. He breaks in and makes his way to the bedroom, where he finds Parker in bed, connected to life support machines.

He is clutching the alien device, which glows with a strange light. He calls this the Pulse, and is convinced that it is keeping him alive. He and Owen talk for a long time about life and death, and Owen scans the Pulse. He manages to convince Parker that the device has nothing to do with him staying alive. It is his own will to live which is doing this. Parker relinquishes the device to Owen, but then suffers a heart attack. Owen tries to save him, but cannot administer the kiss of life as he has no breath. The old man dies. The Pulse continues to generate energy and Owen takes it - shielding it from his colleagues before it can explode...
Back on the roof, Maggie has been listening to his story. She has revealed that the reason she is feeling suicidal is that her husband was killed in a car crash on the day they got married. Owen produces the Pulse and it begins to emit beautiful tendrils of light. He explains that it is really a form of message, sent to Earth in response to probes which we have sent out to contact alien life. Maggie and Owen are both given a fresh perspective on life. We are not alone in the universe, and there are still wonders to see.
Jack accepts Owen back onto the team as medical officer, and Martha leaves to return to UNIT.

A Day in the Death was written by Joseph Lidster, and was first broadcast on 27th February, 2008.
Lidster will be familiar to viewers of Doctor Who DVD extras, though he has never been called upon to write for the programme. This is his only Torchwood contribution, but he has written three stories for The Sarah Jane Adventures. However, he has written many peripheral works relating to Doctor Who, including short stories, website content and audio dramas.
The story marks the third and final part of the Martha Jones trilogy. She returns to UNIT once Owen is taken back into the Torchwood team - just in time to call upon the Doctor for help in Series 4.
As mentioned last time, this shows the darker side to Owen's new existence, as he is forced to come to terms with everything that he is losing, badly at first. He becomes suicidal, but fails to drown himself. Even something mundane like shaving is lost to him now. He and Tosh get an opportunity to discuss her feelings for him, but of course he is unwilling to reciprocate, deliberately pushing her away.

The episode is all about Owen's relationship with Maggie, and with Henry Parker - the two guest artists for the story. Maggie is played by Christine Bottomley. Parker is Richard Briers, who had previously appeared in Doctor Who as the Chief Caretaker in Paradise Towers. Mercifully, this is a much more nuanced performance. Briers had moved on from the more comedic sitcom roles by this stage and was well established as a fine Shakespearean actor. He passed away in 2013, and his widow is the actress Ann Davies, a great friend of Jacqueline Hill and who played Jenny in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

Overall, it is, at first glance, a fairly inconsequential story, with no real threat. But look beyond that and it is a lovely character piece, comprising the conversations shared between Owen and the two people contemplating death - one wanting it, the other fighting against it. As a whole, the trilogy hasn't been terribly strong for Martha - only really having a significant role to play in Reset. The other two stories have been very firmly focused on Owen, pushing Martha to the background.
Things you might like to know:

  • Amongst Parker's alien artifacts is a Dogon Eye - one of which featured prominently in the Series 1 story Random Shoes.
  • Ianto describes Parker as being classified by Torchwood as "Mostly Harmless" - a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy reference. 
  • The episode title may well be a reference to the Beatles song "A Day in the Life", though it had already featured as part of the title of the 1967 play by Peter Nichols: A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.
  • Dialogue reveals that this story takes place the very next day after the events of Dead Man Walking - Owen telling Maggie he was shot three days ago, and resurrected two days ago.
  • The sequence with Owen and Parker talking was cut for timing, but also, it is claimed, to remove some mentions of Christianity - the old man being derogatory about it. The latter seems unlikely, as there have been a number of mentions over both seasons of nothing existing beyond death.
  • Another cut scene may be inferred from the credit for Kai Owen (Rhys), as he does not appear in this episode.

Sunday 20 May 2018

D is for... Duggan

A private detective employed by an influential group of art lovers to investigate the collector Count Scarlioni. He had recently begun selling off a number of valuable art treasures, and Duggan was to check that they were the genuine article. Blunt, and to the point, he liked to let his fists do the talking. Seeing the Doctor and Romana taking an interest in Countess Scarlioni at the Louvre, he decided to follow them - believing they were mixed up with the Count. At a nearby cafe, all three of them were captured by Scarlioni's men and taken to his mansion. Here, Duggan had to come to terms with the fact that he was really dealing with aliens and time travel. Scarlioni had six original Mona Lisa's in his cellar. Duggan and Romana attempted to stop the Count from stealing the one at the Louvre - so that he could sell all seven - but they were too late.
Scarlioni was really Scaroth, last of the warlike alien Jagaroth. He was intending to go back in time to stop the spaceship explosion which had splintered his self through history. However, the blast had helped to create life on Earth in the first place. Duggan travelled back into prehistory in the TARDIS with the Doctor and Romana. Scaroth materialised, but was prevented from warning his ship when Duggan punched him and knocked him out.
Back in 1979, Duggan informed the Doctor and Romana that one of the paintings survived the fire which destroyed Scaroth and his home - one which the Doctor had inscribed as a fake under the paint.

Played by: Tom Chadbon. Appearances: City of Death (1979).
  •  Chadbon returned to Doctor Who in 1986, playing Merdeen in the first four episodes of Trial of a Time Lord.
  • The character of Duggan originated in David Fisher's original version of this story, a detective nicknamed Pug. He was based on the adventure hero Bulldog Drummond, created by H C "Sapper" McNeile - hence the name "Pug".

D is for... Dudman, Kathleen

One of the WRENs stationed at a military base on the north east coast of England during World War II. The base was home to the Ultima Machine - a decryption device created by Professor Judson. Kathleen had her baby with her, a girl named Audrey. The base commander, Millington, wanted her to get rid of it but she explained to the Doctor and Ace that she had no-one she could send the child to. Her husband was in the navy. She was offended when Ace implied that she was an unmarried mother. She and Ace became good friends, and Ace doted on the baby - although she disliked the name. It was the same as her hated mother's. Kathleen received a telegram stating that her husband was missing, presumed dead, at sea. When the base came under attack by Haemovores, Ace helped Kathleen and the baby escape - sending her to her grandmother's house in South London. Later, however, Fenric revealed that the baby would grow up to be Ace's mother, and so Kathleen was her real grandmother. By sending them to Streatham, she had created her own future.

Played by: Cory Pulman. Appearances: The Curse of Fenric (1989).

D is for... Ducat, Amelia

A somewhat eccentric artist, famed for her studies of flowers and plants. When the Doctor and Sarah returned from the South Pole they were the victims of an attempted abduction by an employee of the millionaire Harrison Chase. They found one of her paintings in the boot of his car. This led them to Miss Ducat, who identified the person she had sold it to. She recalled that he had never paid for it. Later, this gave her the excuse to go to Chase's home, but she was really there to get information for Sir Colin Thackeray of the World Ecology Bureau. It was he who had sent the Doctor and Sarah to the Antarctic to research the alien Krynoid seed pod discovered there. She was able to see Sarah and learn that she and the Doctor were trapped in the house. Miss Ducat wanted to do more to help, citing her previous experience manning an ack-ack gun during the last war, but Sir Colin sent her home.

Played by: Sylvia Coleridge. Appearances: The Seeds of Doom (1976).
  • Tom Baker was so taken with Coleridge, he suggested that she become the new companion when Lis Sladen left.

D is for... Dryads

Giant insects with an affinity for wood, they infested an old house which Bill Potts and her student friends rented. Many years before, a boy living at the property had found a handful of them in the garden and taken them to show his dying mother. The creatures were able to keep her alive, but only by turning her into wood herself. The boy grew up and rented out the house every 20 years or so, usually to young people. The Dryads would attack them and absorb them into the house. Now an old man, the landlord could control the creatures using sound waves. His mother - Eliza - also had control over them. One by one Bill's friends were attacked and absorbed by the Dryads. She and the Doctor met Eliza and convinced her that what her son was doing was wrong, and that she led no real existence at all, hidden away in a tower room in the house. She decided that it was time to bring things to an end, and the Dryads consumed her and her son. The house began to collapse, releasing all of Bill's friends as they had not been fully absorbed into the structure.
The Doctor was unsure if the Dryads, which he named after the mythic wood sprites, were terrestrial in origin or if they had come from another world.

Appearances: Knock Knock (2017).

D is for... Drummond, Esther

Esther Drummond was a CIA analyst who uncovered information about the defunct Torchwood group when 'Miracle Day' occurred - the day when people across the globe stopped dying. She informed her colleague Rex Matheson about what she had discovered, prompting him to travel to Wales to seek out the surviving members of Torchwood. Captain Jack Harkness was already in America, however, and he saved Esther from a suicide bomber. He then attempted to erase her memory of him, but this failed. She and Rex then found that they had been discredited by their own agency and were forced to go on the run. They joined forces with Jack and Gwen Cooper to investigate who was behind the miracle. Esther almost compromised the team when she attempted to save her mentally ill sister, but later killed the doctor who had murdered her colleague Dr. Vera Juarez. When the team relocated to Scotland to hide out, Esther helped nurse Jack who had been shot. Unlike the rest of the world, he could die.
Esther helped bring the miracle to an end, but some time later she and Rex were both shot dead by members of the Three Families, who had been behind the miracle. Now immortal like Jack, Rex came back to life, but Esther could not be brought back.

Played by: Alexa Havins. Appearances: TW S4 Miracle Day (2011).

D is for... Dream Lord

A cruel and manipulative figure who hijacked the TARDIS crew. He could change his appearance at will - appearing initially dressed like the Doctor. He never stated his origins, and took the title Dream Lord as he could manipulate the dreams of the Doctor, Amy and Rory. He presented them with a challenge - to determine which of two scenarios was real and which was a dream. One involved the TARDIS helpless in space, in orbit around a freezing cold star, whilst the other was based in the village of Leadworth, some time after Amy and Rory had left the TARDIS. In this Rory was a doctor, and Amy was pregnant. The village came under attack by aliens called Eknodines, who inhabited the bodies of the elderly, giving them great strength. The creatures could reduce their victims to a pile of dust in seconds. The trio were shunted back and forth between the two scenarios.
When the Eknodines killed Rory, Amy insisted that Leadworth was the dream, and the frozen TARDIS was real, but the Doctor had worked out who the Dream Lord was. Both scenarios were dreams, as the Dream Lord had no power over reality. Defeated, he vanished. The Doctor then revealed that the Dream Lord was created from his own psyche - the product of a grain of psychic pollen which had got into the ship.

Played by: Toby Jones. Appearances: Amy's Choice (2010).

D is for... Drax

A renegade Time Lord, who had known the Doctor during their time together at the Academy on Gallifrey. He called him by his nickname Thete (for Theta Sigma). Failing to graduate, he stole a TARDIS and went traveling through the universe, selling his technical skills to the highest bidder. After a brief spell in a London prison, where he picked up his cockney accent, his expertise brought him to the attention of the Shadow, who was an agent for the Black Guardian. He was commissioned to build the computer Mentalis on the planet Zeos, and this machine ran the war against neighbouring Atrios for many years. Once the work was done, he found himself incarcerated in the dungeons of the Shadow's artificial planet. He created a network of tunnels which allowed him to roam the complex. He was rescued by the Doctor, who had him construct a device from his TARDIS's relative dimensional stabiliser, which shrank them so that they could hide within K9. Later, Drax helped deactivate Mentalis and stop it from self-destructing. He then planned to go into business with the Atrian Marshal, dealing in salvage from the war.

Played by: Barry Jackson. Appearances: The Armageddon Factor (1979).
  • Jackson had previously played the mute assassin Ascaris in The Romans, and the doomed astronaut Garvey in Mission to the Unknown.
  • As scripted, Drax was to have had a mop of red hair.

Thursday 17 May 2018

Inspirations - The Mind of Evil

The Mind of Evil is the second, and final, story to be written by Don Houghton. His first - Inferno - has gone on to find a place in the top 20 greatest ever Doctor Who stories (according to the 50th Anniversary poll in DWM. The Mind of Evil registers a creditable 76th place). Houghton was given the task of writing another story featuring the Master, as he had been left stranded on Earth at the conclusion of the previous story. This he achieves - though, of course, the Master wasn't in this story as originally drafted.
The villain of the piece was to be a scientist named Keller - an idea that survives into the televised version as an alias which the Master has used. Keller has created a device called the Pandora Machine (one of the working titles for the story), which is used in prisons to absorb evil intent from convicts. Keller also wants to trigger a war between the USA and China, and he has his Chinese assistant kill her own ambassador, leaving the US ambassador's ID at the scene of the crime to incriminate him. Houghton's wife, actress Pim-Sem Lim, read the scripts and suggested that the build-up of evil in the device might be used to attack a peace conference. In other drafts of the script, the professor's device is called the Malusyphus Machine, rather than the Pandora Machine.

One of Houghton's inspirations was a previous script of his own but for another show - Ace of Wands. This was screened on ITV between 1970 - 72, as a rival to Doctor Who. The second season story Nightmare Gas featured a villain named Thalia and her brother Dalbiac who steal a gas called H23. This puts people into a deep sleep in which they suffer terrible nightmares featuring their worst phobias, which prove fatal exactly 23 minutes later. The Keller Machine in the Doctor Who story starts off by killing people using their phobias - drowning for a scientist and rats for a journalist. For the Doctor it is fire - linking to Houghton's first story for the series. The Doctor tells Jo about seeing a planet destroyed by fire - the parallel Earth. He will later see a collection of some of his old alien foes, as he tries to subdue the creature which lives within the machine with an electrical cable. Charmingly, some of these creatures are hardly terror-inducing. We see a Zarbi, for instance, and Koquillion. The latter might be explained away by his previous visit to Dido, rather than the one we saw in The Rescue. Ice Warriors, a Cyberman and a Dalek also feature.
Most interesting is when we see what it is that the Master fears the most. He sees a massive image of the Doctor looming over him - and laughing at him.
The phobia-inducing element is quickly forgotten in the second half of the story, as convicts and prison officers simply drop dead when the machine attacks them.

One of the things which Houghton wanted to explore in both his draft version and the finished programme is the ethics behind capital punishment. Is it okay to do a bad thing for a good reason, basically. Capital punishment ended in the UK in 1965, with the last hangings taking place the year before. (It remained a legal option in Northern Ireland until 1973). Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged - in 1955. Since its abolition, there have been numerous attempts to reintroduce it, generally from the right wing of the political divide, albeit in a more targeted form - e.g. only for those who murder children, or police officers in the course of their duties. A number of high profile miscarriages of justice (such as Timothy Evans) and the Derek Bentley case have ensured that efforts to bring back hanging have failed. There have been a number of people sentenced to long prison sentences since the law changed who would have been hanged, but who have subsequently been found to have been innocent.
After abolition in 1965, a number of offences did remain on the statute books which were punishable by death. These included treason (until 1998), espionage (until 1981), piracy with violence (until 1998), and arson in a naval dockyard, ship or warehouse (until 1971). The army retained the right to execute soldiers for offences such as mutiny until 1998. A working set of gallows were maintained at Wandsworth Prison in South London until 1994.
Prison reform has been a major campaigning issue since the late 18th Century in Britain. Two important figures were John Howard - who is remembered by the Howard League for Penal Reform - and the Quaker Elizabeth Fry. The latter is one of only two women to have featured on British bank notes, apart from the Queen (the other being Jane Austen).

Pandora will be back much, much later as an inspiration for a Doctor Who story, her tale being a favourite of the young Amy Pond. She was the first human woman created by the Greek gods. Women were created as a punishment for humanity, thanks to Prometheus stealing the secret of fire for us. Zeus was so angry that he ordered Pandora to be created from the earth so that she and her descendants could bring strife to men. She is responsible for all the evil in the world, according to a legend first written down by Hesiod some time around 700 BC. Her curiosity led her to open a jar (later mistranslated as a box) which contained hunger, disease, reality TV etc. The only thing remaining was hope.
Houghton's chief villain in the Nightmare Gas storyline for Ace of Wands was a woman, but there is no indication that the Doctor Who character (pre-Master) would have been one.
The Mind of Evil does have a female villain - at least until it is discovered that she is an unwitting pawn of the Master, enslaved by his hypnotic powers and a link to the mind parasite in the machine. She is Chin Lee - and she is played by the author's aforementioned wife. Director Tim Coombes was looking for an actress to play this character but without much luck, until the obvious candidate was pointed out to him.

UNIT also gets a female member of the team - the short-lived Corporal Bell. Contrary to popular belief, she was not married to William Marlowe, who plays the criminal Harry Mailer in this story. He was married to Catherine Schell when this story was made.
The Brigadier gets another new recruit in Major Cosworth. He was only ever intended for this one story, as Captain Yates had already explained the odd organisational set-up within UNIT in the previous adventure.
If it seems odd that Sergeant Benton should be expected to go under cover in his civvies, tailing Chin Lee through Mayfair, then that's because John Levene wasn't supposed to be in these scenes. Another actor was supposed to play the undercover man, but he fell ill and withdrew at the last minute. This is a case of serendipity, as we later see Benton wanting to make amends for this previous failing.
Later, the Brigadier has a go at disguise - playing a delivery driver. There is something just so wrong about seeing the Brigadier saying the word "nosh".

This would be the last story to be written by Houghton. He was exhausted with having to perform rewrites, and had lots of other work lined up anyway. He would go on to create the Scottish lunchtime soap Take the High Road, write a Sapphire & Steel storyline, and contribute to the Hammer Films legacy by bringing Count Dracula into the London of the 1970's, as well as temporarily relocating him to China in The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires.
Sadly, this would also be Tim Coombes' final contribution to the show. He had worked behind the scenes on a number of Doctor Who stories, before getting to direct The Silurians. Producer Barry Letts had been unhappy with the material he had filmed at the Dover Castle location, as it didn't feature any close-ups - necessitating expensive reshooting which led to budget problems. You'll spot Coombes in the reshoots - being killed more than once by UNIT troops as he wears glasses in some shots, and no glasses in others, to bulk out the numbers.

Before we go, we should mention the fan debate about the chronology of this story. Some like to think that a whole year has elapsed since Terror of the Autons, giving the Master time to set himself up as Keller and drain the badness out of all those criminals in Switzerland. Can we cope with the Doctor, Jo, et al  having no adventures worth broadcasting for an entire year, however - and the Master putting up with the Doctor holding his dematerialisation circuit all that time? Another school of thought is that the Master was setting up the whole Keller thing before the events of Autons, and this happens only shortly after the Nestene defeat. Okay - yet Autons implies the Master has only just come to Earth.
A third notion is that this does happen just after Autons, and all the Swiss stuff is actually a lie - the Master hypnotising people into believing it happened.
We also have the question of how the Master got hold of the mind parasite in the first place. Surely it would have gone the way of M. Creosote on eating a waffer thin mint on first encountering the Master - an embodiment of evil. Remember his TARDIS is grounded, so he hasn't popped off to another planet to fetch it - it must have been with him throughout the whole Nestene gambit.
Switzerland? Might be famous for yodeling, thigh slapping dances and intricate engineering, but not so much for the sort of minds which the parasite might find appetizing. Actually, it makes sense. Where better to take the creature if you want to keep it weak and docile through starvation?
Next time: the Master has got his TARDIS working again, but guess what? Two new names arrive behind the scenes, who will prove to have quite an impact on the programme...

Tuesday 15 May 2018

Dead Man Walking - Torchwood 2.7

In which Captain Jack decides to bring Owen Harper back from the dead. As the rest of the team, including temporary member Martha Jones, mourn, Jack makes his way to a basement cafe full of strange characters. One of these is a young girl who plays with Tarot cards. Jack owes her a favour, and so she points him towards St Mary's, a derelict and deconsecrated church. She is left holding the Death card from the pack as he departs. Inside the church, Jack finds it full of sleeping Weevils, surrounded by items they have scavenged over the years. He makes his way to the altar area where he carefully removes an old casket. Back at the Hub, everyone is shocked to discover that the casket contains a metal gauntlet - the partner to the one which had brought Suzie Costello back to life. Jack is warned about what happened on that occasion. He intends to bring Owen back, but just for a couple of minutes so that everyone can say their goodbyes. When Owen wakes, Tosh tells him she loves him - whereas Jack is only interested in the code to a safe which Owen knows. When the two minutes have elapsed, however, Owen is still alive.

There is no evidence that he is drawing energy from Jack, but it must be coming from somewhere. Martha runs tests on him and finds that his body is changing at the cellular level. Something is taking him over. He suddenly finds himself in a black void, and his eyes turn black. He begins to speak a strange language. He sneaks out of the Hub and goes on a pub crawl, but finds that he can no longer get drunk, or to make love. He may be alive, but all of his bodily functions have shut down. Jack finds him and the two fight, ending up in police custody. The only way he can get rid of the beer he has drunk is to stand on his head and let it flow back out. He makes his peace with Jack. Once released, Jack and Owen are on their way back to the Hub when they are attacked by a horde of Weevils. They find themselves cornered, but the creatures then bow down to Owen. Again his eyes turn black and he utters the strange language. The team discover that a girl was brought back to life by a priest in the parish of St Mary's back in the 14th Century - at the time of the Black Death. Death Incarnate then appeared. It claimed 12 people before it was stopped by faith. Legend has it that had it gained 13 souls it would have been released onto the Earth forever. To prevent this from happening again Owen insists that he be embalmed. Before she can begin the procedure, the glove attacks Martha, sucking the life-force from her. Owen destroys the glove, but Martha is left an old woman.

Death then materialises as a cloud of darkness, within which can be seen a skeletal figure. It attacks and kills Jack before leaving the Hub. Martha is rushed to the nearest hospital, but Death - really an entity named Duroc - has also come here - tempted by the number of people close to death. A large number of Weevils are drawn to the building, waiting outside. Duroc claims 12 victims and pursues the thirteenth - a young cancer patient named Jamie. Owen saves him then locks his colleagues outside, so he can face Duroc alone. Ianto had worked out that it wasn't religious faith which had stopped the entity before - but a girl named Faith, the one who had been resurrected. Owen is the only person who can fight Duroc, as he is already dead and can't be hurt by it. He starves it of its energy, banishing it back to its black void. Martha is returned to normal.
Back at the Hub, Owen finds that the energy keeping him alive is slowly dissipating, but it could take years before he dies. He asks Jack if he can return to work, feeling that he owes something to the 12 people who died because of him.

Dead Man Walking was written by Matt Jones, and was first broadcast on 20th February, 2008. Jones had previously written the Series 2 Doctor Who story The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit.
This episode forms part of the Martha Jones Trilogy, though the three stories are as much about Owen and his death and resurrection. Martha only stays on with Torchwood to carry out Owen's autopsy, and then to study him once he comes back.
One of the problems with the series is the lack of resolution to mysteries which are set up. This is mainly down to the format being totally revised for the third and fourth seasons, then the show's seeming cancellation (at least on TV). For instance we never got to find out about Jack's missing years - stolen from him by the Time Agency. Here we get to meet the strange young girl who, despite looking about 12 years of age, is obviously far older, and has some history with Jack. We never do learn much more about her or the others who frequent the cafe where she holds court.
At least the odd behaviour of the Weevil in the cell from Combat is explained, as it foreshadows the power Owen has over the creatures when he is being possessed by Duroc. It must have already latched onto him back then. The black void which Owen finds himself in was first mentioned by Suzie Costello.

The two-hander between Jack and Owen, when they argue in the bar then end up locked in a cell together, makes some light of Owen's new predicament. He was always sex-mad, but now his equipment doesn't work, and he can no longer get drunk. The scene where he has to vomit out copious amounts of beer, standing on his head, is quite funny. Have to admit his wrestling with the CGI Duroc is also quite silly. Next time, we will concentrate more on the bleakness and horror of his situation.
No guest star this week - but we should mention Skye Bennett as the girl, and Ben Walker as Jamie.

Overall, a strange episode, which only works as part of the trilogy. Some lovely dark imagery - such as the Weevil nest in the abandoned church and the Tarot playing child.
Things you might like to know:

  • Last week Jack mentioned meeting writer Christopher Isherwood. This week, he has met Marcel Proust (1871 - 1922).
  • The title of this story had previously been used for the making-of documentary for Series 1 story Random Shoes.
  • The language that the possessed Owen speaks is not made up gibberish. It is actually derived from the Thomas Covenant books, by Stephen R Donaldson.
  • Could the Tarot girl be the Faith who was resurrected hundreds of years ago?

Monday 14 May 2018

D is for... Drashigs

Huge reptilian creatures with snake-like bodies, from one of the satellites of the planet Grundle. They lived and hunted in the marshes. They were of voracious appetite and were omnivorous. When a battle-cruiser crash-landed on the moon, it was said that the creatures killed all 50 crew and ate their spaceship, save for a few engine parts. The Doctor and Jo Grant encountered a colony of the beasts whilst trapped inside a Miniscope device. This was a form of intergalactic peep-show, which had been taken to the planet Inter Minor by a couple of entertainers - Vorg and Shirna. The Doctor and Jo broke out of one exhibit and found themselves inside the machine's workings. They then broke into the Drashig exhibit. The Doctor used his sonic screwdriver to ignite marsh gas, allowing them to escape. However, once they get a scent the Drashigs never relent in their pursuit of their prey. They broke out of their exhibit into the workings, and then invaded the other exhibit which the Doctor and Jo had visited - the ship SS Bernice. The crew killed a couple of them, but soon the Drashigs managed to get outside the device, with the assistance of a devious Inter Minoran Official - growing to their full size. Vorg used a laser cannon to despatch them.
Jo was particularly traumatised by the creatures. When subjected to the Master's hypnotic fear-inducing machine she saw an Ogron as a Drashig, and later the Master himself appeared to her as one of them.
Later, the Doctor gave the stage magician Professor Clegg his sonic screwdriver, to see what images it brought to his mind. He saw the Doctor use the device against the Drashigs in the Miniscope.
Memories of the creatures were used by the Shansheeth to make Jo help materialise a replacement TARDIS key.

Appearances: Carnival of Monsters (1973).
Cameos in Frontier in Space (1973), Planet of the Spiders (1974), SJA 4.3 Death of the Doctor (2010).

  • Drashig is an anagram of dish-rag, as writer Robert Holmes feared his creatures might be realised by such.

D is for... Drahvins

A warlike female race encountered by the Doctor on a dying planet. Their spaceship had been shot down by another vessel, belonging to the Rills. Leader Maaga claimed that the Rills had opened fire first, but this proved not to be the case. Maaga was the only true Drahvin on the mission. Her soldiers were all cloned warriors, of limited intelligence. Maaga claimed that there were some male members of her race - only enough to ensure breeding. The others were killed as they used up scarce resources. Maaga also claimed that one of her soldiers had been murdered by the Rills, but this was another lie. She had executed her after she had become wounded. The Rills actually wanted to help the Drahvins get off the planet before it exploded, but Maaga refused to accept their help - telling her soldiers that the aliens wanted to lure them into a trap. She wanted to seize the Rill ship, but it was guarded by the Rills' robot servants (nicknamed Chumblies by Vicki). Drahvin weapons were useless against the robots, though a metal mesh could incapacitate them temporarily. When the Doctor helped the Rills take off, Maaga led her troops to try to seize the TARDIS but they were too late. They perished when the planet was destroyed.

Played by: Stephanie Bidmead (Maaga), Marina Martin, Susanna Caroll and Lyn Ashley (soldiers). Appearances: Galaxy 4 (1965).

  • The Drahvins were originally going to be all male. Producer Verity Lambert decided to make them female.
  • They are mentioned as being one of the races which form part of the Pandorica Alliance, though they do not appear on screen.
  • Their weapons were reused on a number of occasions - most notably by the Thal soldiers in Genesis of the Daleks.

D is for... Dragon

A legendary creature known as the Dragon was said to dwell in the caverns beneath the Iceworld trading post on the planet Svartos. It guarded a great treasure. The intergalactic conman Sabalom Glitz sold his crew to purchase a map that would take him to this treasure. Intrigued, the Doctor decided to accompany him on his quest. It was his companion Mel, and her new friend Ace, who worked in the complex, who encountered it first when they elected to follow them. It was a tall bipedal creature, capable of firing laser bolts from its eyes. The Doctor later identified it as a biomechanoid - an organic creature enhanced with cybernetic parts. It revealed the hiding place of the treasure when it opened up its cranium. Within was a powerful energy crystal. Glitz's map contained a listening device, planted there by Kane, who ran  Iceworld. He was really a criminal from the planet Proamon, exiled here centuries ago by his people. The crystal was the power source for his ship - Iceworld itself. Unable to leave the freezing confines of his inner sanctum, Kane sent guards out to track down and destroy the Dragon. They succeeded, and removed its head, though it was able to kill them as it died.

Played by: Leslie Meadows. Appearances: Dragonfire (1987).