Tuesday 30 April 2019

G is for... Greel, Magnus

A notorious war criminal from the 51st Century, Greel was Minister for Justice at the time of the Fifth World War, when he earned the nickname of the Butcher of Brisbane. He was a scientist who conducted experiments on life-force extraction on prisoners, killing thousands, but his main focus was on the Zigma Experiment - an attempt to devise a form of time travel. As his allies faced defeat he used a Time Cabinet to flee into the past, taking a murderous cyborg creature known as the Peking Humunculus with him. The Experiment was only a partial success, however, and he arrived in 19th Century China horribly disfigured. he was found by a peasant named Li H'sen Chang, who hid him from Imperial forces. They captured the Cabinet and gave it to the Emperor, who in turn gifted it to the mother of future London pathologist Professor Litefoot. Chang believed Greel to be the god Weng-Chiang. The scientist helped him develop powers of hypnotism, then the pair set off to locate the Cabinet. Chang became a renowned stage magician, which allowed him to travel around Europe in search of the machine. The Peking Humunculus was disguised as his ventriloquist dummy - Mr Sin. The Time Cabinet was finally traced to London, where Litefoot now lived. He thought it merely a decorative piece, as no-one had ever been able to open it - Greel possessing the only key.
Greel established a base in the cellars beneath the Palace Theatre.

The effects of the Zigma beam on his genetic make-up meant that he was forced to extract the life force from a number of people in order to survive, so Chang was frequently sent out to abduct young women for him. Greel believed that if he were to use the Cabinet again his body would be repaired. However, the Doctor knew that the machine was unstable and could destroy London if operated again. As the Doctor, Litefoot, and theatre owner Henry Gordon Jago closed in on him, Greel abandoned Chang due to his failures to kill the Doctor. He was able to retrieve the Cabinet from Litefoot's home and move it to his new base in the Limehouse district of the city. He discovered that Mr Sin's murderous instincts were becoming too strong for even him to control, as the creature was prepared to kill him as well as the Doctor and his friends. Greel perished when he fell into his own life essence extraction machine, and the Doctor smashed the Cabinet's key to prevent it from ever being used again.

Played by: Michael Spice. Appearances: The Talons of Weng-Chiang (1977).
  • Spice had previously given voice to The Brain of Morbius.

G is for... Great Intelligence

A malevolent, disembodied being which drifted through space until it came across the Earth. In the form of ice crystals, it arrived on the planet in the winter of 1842. It created for itself the form of a snowman, which could communicate telepathically with a lonely young boy named Walter Simeon. It manipulated his life so that by the year 1892 he had become a rich and powerful scientist, head of the Great Intelligence Institute. The Intelligence required a body for itself on Earth. A children's governess had drowned in a pond full of Intelligence ice crystals, and it was able to study her form before the body was removed. A crystal version of her form began to grow in the pond. Simeon's activities were being investigated by the Paternoster Gang - the Silurian Madam Vastra, her maid Jenny Flint and their Sontaran butler Strax. The Doctor was in London at this time, but had retired following the loss of companions Amy and Rory. He became involved through the intervention of Clara Oswin Oswald, who was the children's new governess. Clara appeared to be the same person whom the Doctor had met in the far future when he visited the Dalek Asylum.

The Intelligence was contained in a huge globe of ice crystals in Simeon's Institute. He employed vicious snowmen to dispose of his enemies. Once the Ice Governess was fully formed, the Intelligence would use it as a template to create more bodies for itself, and take over the planet as it plunged the Earth into a permanent winter. Clara's death prompted salt-laced rain to destroy the snowmen, whilst the Ice Governess was smashed to pieces in a fall. The Doctor took the remains to Simeon in a tin decorated with a map of the London Underground. The Intelligence had now taken over his body fully. However, the tin really contained a Memory Worm which bit Simeon - causing him to forget. The psychic link to the Intelligence was broken, and it was ejected back into space.

The Intelligence had earlier managed to forge a link with the master of Det-Sen, a Tibetan monastery - Padmasambhava. he had encountered the Doctor in the 17th Century, when the Time Lord had saved the monks from bandit raids. The Great Intelligence gave the master prolonged life. He was compelled to construct robot versions of the Yeti creatures which lived in the mountains above Det-Sen. These would be used to keep people away from the area whilst the Intelligence prepared its invasion plans. Its essence was contained in a pyramid of silver spheres, hidden in a cave in the mountains and guarded by a Yeti.

Its plan reached fruition in 1935, but coincided with the return of the Doctor to Det-Sen. The Intelligence used the Yeti to attack the monastery and force the monks to retreat, whilst the pyramid of spheres in the mountain cave burst open and began to disgorge vast quantities of glowing material - the host for the entity which would expand to cover the planet. The Doctor fought a mental duel with the possessed Padmasambhava, which distracted him whilst Jamie and a young warrior monk destroyed a similar pyramid of spheres hidden in the inner sanctum. The Intelligence was once again ejected back into space, and the ancient master of Det-Sen was finally able to die.

30 or so years later, the Intelligence was ready to attempt another conquest of the planet. To prevent the Doctor from interfering, it ensnared the TARDIS in a web-like substance - its new host form - and tried to force it to land in its lair, which was in part of the London Underground system. It had remembered the map on the tin and realised that this could be a strategic weakness. Professor Travers, who had earlier assisted the Doctor in Tibet, had managed to reactivate a Yeti control sphere, which made its way to a host body in a small private museum. The creature had come back to life, and soon afterwards the web substance had begun to appear in the Underground, whilst central London was smothered in a dense fog. More Yeti patrolled this, killing people with suffocating web-guns. The Doctor joined forces with Travers and his daughter, and was to encounter someone who would become a life-long friend - Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart. At one point Travers was taken over by the Intelligence, but its main puppet was an army Staff Sergeant named Arnold. The Intelligence intended to capture the Doctor and absorb his mind. The Doctor sabotaged the equipment so that it would absorb the Intelligence instead - but his friends smashed the device to rescue him - sending the Intelligence back out into space once again.

However, around this time it took over the body of a young girl named Kizlet. It manipulated her in the same way it had Walter Simeon, so that by 2013 it could take over control of the Wi-Fi network to absorb the consciousness of people who operated a particular link on their computers. One of its targets was Clara Oswald, who was to become the Doctor's new travelling companion. She looked exactly like the Clara whom he had met when he last encountered the Intelligence, as well as that spaceship crew member on the Dalek asylum planet - something which intrigued him. The Intelligence remained hidden within the internet, but used the appearance of Simeon to interact with Miss Kizlet. This time the Intelligence employed robotic "Spoonheads" - mobile computer interfaces - as its tools. The Doctor reprogrammed one of these to mimic himself and used it to attack Kizlet's base in London's Shard Tower. He forced her to release those more recently trapped, such as Clara, and the Intelligence elected to retreat - resetting those whom it had taken over. Miss Kizlet reverted to having the mind of the child she had been when first possessed.

The Intelligence then decided to attack the Doctor directly. Assuming Simeon's likeness once again, it laid a trap for him, using its latest weapons -the faceless Whisper Men - to send a message to the Paternoster Gang via a criminal whom Vastra had helped capture. Vastra contacted Clara and River Song to warn the Doctor that the Intelligence had discovered the whereabouts of the Doctor's final resting place. This was on the planet Trenzalore, where the Doctor would in future die after a great battle, and be buried in his TARDIS. The Doctor, Clara and the Paternoster Gang travelled to the planet, where they found the Intelligence and its Whisper Men waiting for them. River joined them, though she only existed as a psychic link. The Doctor discovered that his past lives were beginning to unravel, as the Intelligence planned to enter his time stream and undo all the good he had ever down throughout his existence. This would destroy the entity, but it was prepared to kill itself to wipe out the Doctor's work. It was ultimately unsuccessful, as Clara followed it into the Doctor's time stream - causing facets of her to appear throughout the Doctor's life who were there to help him.

Played by: Wolfe Morris (Padmasambhava), Jack Woolgar (Staff Sgt. Arnold), Richard E Grant (Walter Simeon) and Sir Ian McKellen (voice of the Intelligence). Appearances: The Abominable Snowmen (1967), The Web of Fear (1968), The Snowmen (2012), The Bells of Saint John (2013), The Name of the Doctor (2013).
  • The Great Intelligence also appears in the unofficial spin-off production Downtime, where it once again possesses Professor Travers (Jack Watling). Directed in 1995 by Christopher Barry, it features Lis Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, Deborah Watling as Victoria Waterfield, and Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier, and it is the first production to feature a daughter for the Brigadier named Kate. Prefiguring The Bells of Saint John, it has the Intelligence using the internet as a weapon.

Thursday 25 April 2019

Inspirations - The Invasion of Time

The Invasion of Time was the first of two Doctor Who stories to be written by David Agnew. Quite a feat for someone who doesn't exist. Movie buffs will be aware of the name Alan Smithee, attached as the director credit for a number of films. It was a name used when the real director decided to take their name off the movie for various reasons (mainly thanks to tampering of their work by studio executives). 1997 saw the release of a movie called An Alan Smithee Film, which was so bad that its director actually opted for the Smithee credit himself. The BBC used the name David Agnew as a pseudonym for when a writer wanted to take their name off a production, or - as in this case - some breach of the Writers Guild guidelines was being made. The Guild was basically a writers' trade union, and fought to uphold the rights of its members. It frowned upon producers and script editors commissioning stories by themselves, as this denied its members work.
Doctor Who's script editor Anthony Read had managed to secure the writing services of an old colleague of his - David Weir. He would be given the six part season finale to author. Graham Williams loved the Time Lords and wanted to explore their society further, so a return trip to Gallifrey was asked for. Weir had worked with Read a number of times, especially on a series called The Lotus Eaters, set in Greece.
Weir's story revealed that the Time Lords didn't actually come from Gallifrey - they just lived there. The planet was really the home of a race of cat people, who allowed the Time Lords to set up their citadel there. By way of paying the rent, as it were, the Time Lords gave the cat people some technology so that they could bring aliens to the planet to fight in gladiatorial games. The story has been referred to as "Killers of the Dark" or "Killer Cats of Geng Singh".
Read and Williams quickly saw that Weir's story was totally unworkable. There would have been a huge amount of expensive night filming required, plus scenes set in a stadium the size of Wembley filled with hundreds of extras in cat costume. Read was quite upset that his old friend had let him down so badly. The decision was made to scrap the story, but there was little time for another writer to come up with a new six part story.

Robert Holmes was approached, but he had no wish to return to the series so soon after leaving it, and was busy on a Blake's 7 script anyway. He did at least offer some advice around the structuring of the longer six part stories - splitting them into four and two part sections to give the story some fresh impetus when it might begin to flag. The Seeds of Doom, for instance, had an almost self-contained two episodes set in Antarctica, before relocating for the remainder of the story to an English country house.
With time running out, Williams and Read decided to write the story themselves, with the script writer doing the bulk of the work and the producer throwing various ideas into the mix. This is why they selected the name of David Agnew to be the on-screen writer's credit.
Both men rewatched Holmes' The Deadly Assassin and decided to make a sequel of sorts. Inflation was still running high and to keep costs to a minimum it was realised that they could reuse sets and costumes from that story. The Deadly Assassin had seen the Doctor put himself forward as a candidate for the Presidency of the High Council of Time Lords, as a means to buy time and get himself off a capital treason charge by finding out who really assassinated the outgoing President. This turned out to be the only other contender - Chancellor Goth - who was later killed. The story therefore ended with the President role vacant. Read and Williams picked up on this and had the Doctor return to Gallifrey and take up the position, after first making a secretive rendezvous with an alien spaceship.
The audience would be led to believe that the Doctor had gone rogue and had allied with these aliens - the Vardans - to allow them to invade his homeworld. Even Leela would be made to suspect his motives.
To make things interesting, following Holmes' advice, it would be revealed after four episodes that the Vardans were really just the front for another set of alien invaders who would turn up for the last two episodes.

Williams and Read both liked the Sontarans, and Holmes gave his blessing for them to be used. Thinking about cost again, there were existing costumes to be used.
Another huge problem was looming for what was already a troubled production. Last time, we mentioned how Williams was asked to contemplate scrapping Underworld and adding its budget to the season finale. It soon became apparent during the making of the fifth story that industrial action would hit the series whilst The Invasion of Time would be in production. Williams was also asked by his boss Graeme McDonald to consider scrapping the finale instead and using the money to finish Underworld with decent sets. As we have said before, Williams was insistent that his first season as producer would be completed as originally planned, with a full run of six stories covering 26 episodes. Anything less he would take as a personal failure.
The decision was therefore taken that Invasion would have only a single three day studio recording block - quite unheard of for a two and a half hour story. Everything else would be filmed on location, and this would include the extensive TARDIS interior scenes planned for the last two episodes. A hospital was found in Surrey which had a mental health wing which had been decommissioned. Some of its rooms and corridors would appear as parts of the TARDIS, whilst some of the studio sets which they were unable to film on at Television Centre would be shipped down and set up on location.
The studio recording concentrated on Gallifreyan scenes, especially the large Panopticon set, which had been built for The Deadly Assassin and which would be too large to relocate. The second large chamber where the TARDIS materialises is just the Panopticon set redressed. Kelner's office was also in studio, but when you see the same set redressed as Rodan's workplace, it is being filmed at the hospital site.

Sontaran Commander Stor's make-up changes drastically throughout the last two episodes. At times, when he is wearing his helmet, it is apparent that actor Derek Deadman isn't wearing any mask at all underneath. In other scenes he has distinct black make-up around the eyes and mouth, which vanishes in other sequences as the make-up was refined on location.
This unusual production schedule led to another problem. Usually, scenes which were to be shown as inserts on video screens would naturally be filmed first, and dropped in by the production gallery as needed. On this occasion this wasn't always possible - which is why the Vardans always seem to be seeing weird geometric designs on the view screen even when they are commenting upon what the Doctor is up to. The footage simply wasn't available to be inserted.
The Deadly Assassin had featured a number of relics from the time of Rassilon. To these we add here the Coronet and the Great Key.

One notable inspiration we cannot fail to mention is the opening sequence of the story where a huge spaceship appears at the top of the screen and we see the underside glide over us. This was a wholesale steal (or homage as they would have insisted on putting it) from the opening moments of Star Wars, which most of the audience would have seen by this point, it having hit UK cinemas in December 1977. (This story started broadcast on February 4th of the following year).
Just to add to Graham Williams' headaches during the making of this story, Louise Jameson had already informed him that she was intending to leave at the end of the season. She had told him of her plans right back when The Sun Makers was in production. Williams hoped to make her change her mind up to the very last minute, but she had already accepted theatre work - which is why Leela's departure is so unsatisfying. She basically announces that she is staying on boring old Gallifrey to marry a man she has barely said two sentences to. (Had she said she was going to marry Nesbin and hunt with him in the wastelands of Outer Gallifrey we might just have accepted it). Williams had been so convinced that he would get Jameson to change her mind that her departure was never properly set up.
K9 also decides to leave, intent on staying with Leela. However, in the closing seconds it is revealed that the Doctor already has K9 Mark II waiting in the wings. This was because the VFX team had created a new prop which worked a lot better than the one introduced during The Invisible Enemy.
Next time: Graham Williams finally gets to make the series he originally wanted to do, with an overarching story arc. The Doctor is a man on a mission, and he gets an ice maiden for a new assistant - which is appropriate for the wintry setting of Ribos...

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Torchwood: Children of Earth

In which children across the globe are momentarily paralysed - staring into the sky. They all speak in unison. Their message is revealed one word at a time - "We are coming back tomorrow". At the same time, Captain Jack Harkness is approached by Dr Rupesh Patanjali, who has seen a strange pattern of illness amongst the local South East Asian community. In London, a scientist named Dekker announces to the government that he has picked up a message from an alien race which last made contact in the 1950's. They are known only as the 456, as this was the frequency they broadcast on. A civil servant named Frobisher is ordered to eliminate everyone who was involved in the earlier incident with the aliens - and this includes Jack. Dr Patanjali is really working for a government agent named Johnson. He drugs Jack at the hospital, and Johnson has a bomb implanted in his stomach. She then kills the doctor. Jack is unaware of this until he returns to the Hub. He has his friends evacuate before the bomb goes off - completely destroying the Hub.

Gwen, Ianto and Rhys go on the run, and make for London. Johnson has Jack's remains collected up, knowing that he will regenerate. His body is encased in concrete. The team trace where he was taken and rescue him. One adult has been affected along with the children - a man named Clement McDonald, who resides in a mental hospital. Gwen goes to interview him. She learns that back in the 1950's a number of children from a care home were taken out into the countryside one night by Jack, where they were given to the 456. Clement managed to run away. Jack reveals that the aliens gave the British government the cure for a lethal flu strain, and the children were demanded in payment. It is to cover this up that the current government has employed Johnson. Frobisher is tasked with preparing an environment tank at Thames House, to accept one of the aliens. A junior civil servant named Lois Habiba is on Frobisher's team, and  she is approached by Torchwood to help them. She agrees to wear the special contact lenses which Martha Jones once wore to allow the team to spy on events inside the Pharm research centre. One of the 456 materialises inside the tank, and Frobisher goes inside to communicate with it. He discovers that the aliens have kept the original children alive so as to feed off their body chemicals. They have returned because they have become addicted to these chemicals, and now want more children - many more.

They want 10% of the world's children, otherwise they will destroy the planet. Across the globe, the children begin chanting a number equal to 10% of their country's child population. Jack and his team make their presence known to Frobisher and tell him that they will reveal what is going on to the general public if they are prevented from trying to stop the 456. Jack and Ianto go to Thames House to confront the alien. Its response is to flood the building with toxic gas. Dekker survives by donning a hazmat suit, but Ianto and everyone else is killed. The British government, led by Prime Minister Brian Green, comes under pressure from the United Nations once it is known that the UK knew about the 456 but kept it secret. Plans are made up to hand over all the children - with some in government wanting to target children from poorer areas. It will be announced that there will be a random selection for special inoculations. Frobisher is told that his daughters will be part of this selection, as it would look bad to the public if they weren't. He goes home and kills his children, before turning the gun on his wife and then himself.

When some parents refuse to hand their children over, Green calls in the military to remove them forcibly. Gwen and Rhys return to Cardiff to rescue Ianto's niece and other local children. Jack, meanwhile, works with Dekker and Johnson to find a way to defeat the 456. They realise that the frequency they use is a potential weakness. If a signal could be sent along it, it could stop the aliens. In order to do this, one child would have to act as a transmitter - and Dekker warns that this would be fatal. Jack elects to sacrifice his own grandson, Steven. The signal damages the 456 and causes them to retreat, but Steven is killed. Jack's daughter Alice refuses to have anything more to do with him. Lois has informed Frobisher's assistant Bridget Spears about the Torchwood contact lenses. She uses them to get evidence of Green planning to blame the crisis on the United States. Angered about her boss's death, she forces Green to resign otherwise she will release the evidence. Jack goes into hiding. Six months later he contacts Gwen and she and Rhys meet up with him. She is now pregnant. Jack tells them that he still cannot face up to what he has done in killing his grandson. Gwen gives him his Vortex manipulator, salvaged from the ruins of the Hub. Jack uses it to leave the Earth, unsure if he will ever return...

Children of Earth was written by Russell T Davies, John Fay and James Moran, and was first broadcast over five consecutive evenings on BBC 1 from Monday 6th July, 2009. Davies wrote the first and last sections, co-writing the middle episode with Moran. Fay covered the second and fourth installments.
The story comprises the whole of the third season of Torchwood. Each episode is subtitled as Day One, Day Two etc. Fans don't use these subtitles as the episode titles, as the series already had a story in its first season called Day One - the episode about the sex-gas alien.
The story arose from budget cuts at the BBC, when the government refused to allow a licence fee rise. Another 13 episode run was out of the question, so Davies decided to tell a single story over the shorter series length. At the time John Barrowman was angered by this reduction of episodes. The BBC had broadcast a highly successful police drama called Five Days, which covered a criminal investigation in real time over - you guessed it - five consecutive days. Davies decided to use this format. Torchwood had fared reasonably well on BBC 3 for its first series - earning it a promotion to BBC 2 for the second run. It would now feature in prime time on BBC 1, but many thought that it would not be popular due to a summer evening broadcast slot. They were to be proven wrong, as it got very good ratings and great reviews.
The most unpopular aspect of the production was the decision to kill off fan favourite Ianto Jones. The story allows some character background, as we learn about his relationship with his father and meet his sister and her family. The writers were bombarded with pleas and demands for his return, as well as a few death threats. A shrine to Ianto soon appeared on the Cardiff Bay boardwalk close to one of the Hub's secret entrances...

I used to pay my respects every time I went to Cardiff to visit the Doctor Who Experience.
The guest cast is headed by future Doctor and one-time Pompeian marble merchant Peter Capaldi, who plays Frobisher. Fans may have been expecting Emmerdale's Rik Makarem (Dr Patanjali) to have been Owen Harper's replacement on the Torchwood team, but he doesn't make it past the first episode. Someone else who looked like they were being set up for a regular role was Cush Jumbo, who played Lois Habiba.
Other guest artists include Ian Gelder as the creepy Dekker (who you expect to get bumped off but doesn't), Peter Copley who is excellent as Clement McDonald and Nicholas Farrell as dodgy PM Brian Green. Liz May Brice is Johnson (another one you expect to get their comeuppance and doesn't), whilst Bridget Spears is played by Susan Brown. Jack's daughter Alice is Lucy Cohu, and grandson Steven is Bear McCausland. In a small role as a government adviser is Nick (voice of the Daleks) Briggs. Tom Price also makes an appearance in the Cardiff set scenes, playing his regular role of PC Andy Davidson.

Two people who were supposed to have prominent roles in Children of Earth were Freema Agyeman and Noel Clarke. Their joining of the Torchwood team was set up at the end of Journey's End. Agyeman had been offered a starring role in Law & Order: UK. This was a guaranteed 13 episodes, against Torchwood's five, so she naturally went with the legal drama. Much of her role went to the new character of Lois. Martha's presence was retained as a short cameo, but this was also cut when she became totally unavailable.  Clarke was only supposed to be in the last two episodes, but he also had to pull out due to film work.
At the time, everyone pretty much believed that this was the end of Torchwood - but there would be one further series, so far at least, which again opted to tell a single story over its entire run.

Friday 19 April 2019

Inspirations - Underworld

Underworld is the first story for many years not to have any input from Robert Holmes. He had stepped won as Script Editor with his own story, The Sun Makers, and now his replacement, Anthony Read had fully taken over. he had been offered a producership by the BBC, but had turned this down as he had already carried out that role. Graeme McDonald then offered him the Script Editor post with Doctor Who - and Read jumped at the chance, though he only intended to stay for a year. he had been trailing Holmes for some time. If you look at that cast and crew photograph from Image of the Fendahl, you'll see Read at the front left.
The inspiration for this story is fairly straightforward, as Read wanted to concentrate on stories which derived from literature rather than from the movies. Writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin were pointed towards the Greek myths, and selected the story of Jason and the Argonauts. If you've never actually read this tale, then I'm sure you are familiar with the Ray Harryhausen film adaptation from 1963. The main source for the story is the Argonautica, a 3rd Century BC epic poem by Apollonius of Rhodes.
Jason is the rightful heir to the throne of Iolcos, and is related to Hermes - messenger of the gods - on his mother's side. His father's half-brother Pelias stages a coup when Jason is a baby, and he is saved by being sent off to be reared by a Centaur named Chiron. Pelias later learns that he will be overthrown by a man wearing one sandal. Jason returns to Iolcos to reclaim his birthright, and saves Pelias from drowning - losing one of his sandals in the process. Realising who this newcomer is, Pelias sends him on a quest - to retrieve the golden fleece, which hangs on a tree at the end of the world. If he brings the fleece back, Pelias will give him the throne. Of course, he only offers this as he believes the quest to be impossible. There are many dangers to be faced, including six-armed giants, harpies and clashing rocks which smash passing ships to pieces. The fleece itself is guarded by a dragon. Jason manages to succeed in his quest, helped by the sorceress Medea once he gets to Colchis where the fleece is to be found.

Jason's ship is called the Argo. Amongst his crew are Heracles, Orpheus and Atalanta.
Underworld sees the Doctor, Leela and K9 arrive on a spaceship called the R1C, which is piloted by a crew from the planet Minyos. They are on a centuries-long quest to discover the whereabouts of a lost Minyan ship called the P7E, which contains their people's race banks.
R1C derives from "Argosy". P7E comes from Persephone - who was the queen of the Underworld in Greek myth. The ship's captain is named Jackson, from Jason, whilst his crew comprises Herrick (Heracles), Orfe (Orpheus) and Tala (Atalanta).
Like the Argonauts of myth, they are on a quest.
The Minyans of Minyos derive from Minyas, the founder of the Greek city of Orchomenus. He claimed descent from the Minyan people, who were a prehistoric peoples who settled around the Aegean.
The Minyah crew have some of the attributes of their inspirations. Orfe uses a pacifying ray to subdue Herrick and Leela, as Orpheus could play music which soothed wild beasts. Herrick is brave, strong and prone to anger.
The P7E is found in a region of space where new planets are forming, and the vessel is at the heart of one of these. The R1C starts to be smothered by rocks as it exerts a gravitational pull on them - which derives from the clashing rocks episode in the Argonautica.

The R1C escapes this fate thanks to a power boost supplied by K9, only to crashland on the P7E planet, sinking down into a network of tunnels - the Underworld of the title. The P7E's computer now rules this society. It is called Oracle, and is served by a pair of cyborgs called Seers. This derives from the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, where seers like the high priestess Pythia were said to be able to foretell the future, or otherwise offer advice to people who came seeking answers to their questions. A team of priests would interpret the Oracle's cryptic utterances. It is now known that the Oracle's temple was built over volcanic fissures, which emitted hallucinogenic gases. In Underworld, the computer Oracle is deranged. Many of the Minyan descendants are enslaved, forced to mine the tunnels. They are known as Trogs - from Troglodytae, a race of cave dwellers from the Red Sea region.
The Doctor and Leela befriend a young Trog named Idmon, whose father Idas has been captured by the Seers and their soldiers. In the Argonautica, Idmon is also a seer and a member of Jason's crew. Idmon means the knowledgeable one. Idas was another of the Argonauts.
At one point the Doctor and Leela break into the P7E to rescue Idas by hiding in a truck full of rocks - an allusion to that other famous Greek myth of the Trojan Horse (which was actually the Doctor's idea in the first place - see The Myth Makers). Idas is to be sacrificed by Oracle and the Seers, by being tied down under a sword which will fall on him when the cords suspending it burn through. This is an allusion to the Sword of Damocles. Damocles was an official at the court of King Dionysius II of Syracuse, a city state in Sicily. He thought he could rule better than the king and so Dionysius offered to swap places with him for a day so he could see what it was really like. Damocles felt his life to be constantly under threat from people who might want to usurp him - as though he had a sword hanging over his head the whole time. He urged the king to take back his throne, now realising what pressure monarchs lived under.
The way to the P7E is found when K9 creates a map of the tunnels, and this looks like a tree - inspired by the location for the golden fleece. The route is said by Idmon to be guarded by an invisible dragon, as with the fleece, but here really automated laser defences.

Underworld is significant for Doctor Who mythology in that the Minyan backstory gives some insight into the history of the Time Lords. In their earlier days the Time Lords had used their powers to help other races, and one of these was the Minyans, who believed the Gallifreyans to be gods. The Time Lords helped them advance scientifically, but this just led to them ejecting the Time Lords after they had developed weapons which they used to almost destroy themselves in a civil war. Minyos was rendered uninhabitable, and the survivors had to settle on a new homeworld. The P7E was one of the refugee ships. It was their experience with the Minyans which led to the Time Lords adopting their policy of non-intervention - something which would ultimately lead to one Gallifreyan and his granddaughter stealing a TARDIS and running off to explore the universe...

Underworld very nearly never got made, which some people think might have been a good thing. It has never been very popular, thanks to some very poor production values and some woeful performances by its guest cast.
The problem was that it was made at a time of very high inflation - coupled with the fact that the series' budget had been cut following Philip Hinchcliffe's reckless decision to massively overspend on his final story. The story has some great VFX when it comes to the spaceships. This was the first story that would be broadcast after people would have had the chance to see Star Wars, and producer Graham Williams was worried that audience expectations would now be much higher when it came to VFX.
Williams had taken a short holiday and on his return had discovered that there was not enough money to build the sets for Underworld. Money had been spent on the R1C spaceship set, but there was nothing left for the cave scenes, which took up much of episodes 2 - 4. One economy was to redress the R1C set to also portray the P7E one, as Minyan spaceships would be of similar design.
Williams was told by Graeme McDonald that he ought to consider scrapping Underworld, and using the money on the series finale - The Invasion of Time - instead. With the annual round of industrial action looming, an alternative was to scrap the final story and use the money to complete Underworld. Williams, however, was determined that his first season in charge should be completed in its entirety.
Earlier in the season The Invisible Enemy had made extensive use of model sets, with actors superimposed using CSO, for scenes set inside the Doctor's body. It was decided that models could be made of the caves for Underworld, with CSO used to place the actors in them. The Production Assistant on Enemy had been Norman Stewart, so he was given the chance to direct Underworld due to his experience with handling this sort of work. CSO work generally yielded about one minute of screen time per hour, but for Underworld Stewart manged to get around ten minutes worth per hour.
Next time: not one but two invasions of Gallifrey, after a close shave with Killer Cats. The interior of the TARDIS turns out to be, quite literally, a madhouse...

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Season 10 on Blu-ray

I recently read that the next two Blu-ray box sets to be released after Season 18 would be numbers 10 & 26. This seems to have been spot on, as Season 10 has now been confirmed for release in the UK on Monday 8th July, which is the day after the centenary of Jon Pertwee's birth. So hopefully they'll actually manage to get this one out when they said they would, and not be moved back at least twice as with the last three releases. I frequently pre-order DVDs and Blu-rays, and I have found that the BBC are the only people who never manage to get the things out on time.
This time, the story to be given new CGI visual effects is Planet of the Daleks - just as I suggested when I posted recently on what stories might get this treatment. There's a glimpse of the Dalek arsenal in the trailer for this release, but I have to admit that it did not look all that impressive. There was also a shot of the TARDIS in space, which looked worse than the model.
"Behind the Sofa" this time will be Katy Manning, Richard Franklin and John Levene. I had hoped for Terrance Dicks. Levene only appears in two stories in this season, and Franklin only showed up half way through the last story, so it will be interesting to hear what they have to say about material they never worked on. The other sofa-based panel comprises RTD era producer Phil Collinson, and Series 11 writers Pete McTighe and Joy Wilkinson. As much as I like Janet Fielding, I am glad she is sitting this one out as she does tend to dominate.
As you are no doubt fully aware, the stories in Season 10 are The Three Doctors, Carnival of Monsters, Frontier in Space, Planet of the Daleks and The Green Death. Three of the five have already had Special Edition releases, so for me this will be the fifth time that I have bought The Three Doctors - twice on VHS, twice on DVD and now a Blu-ray.
Jo Grant's last appearance to date - SJA's Death of the Doctor - is also included in the set. There's also a documentary about director Lennie Mayne, and Katy and Stewart Bevan revisit Llanfairfach locations.
Presumably Season 26 will be following sometime in the Autumn. I have also read that Season 17 might be coming along soon as well - though I'd prefer it if they gave us a Hartnell or Troughton set next.

Thursday 11 April 2019

Inspirations - The Sun Makers

Since he took over as Script Editor, Robert Holmes has written half a dozen stories himself. Half are in his own name, and the other half bear pseudonyms. One is credited to someone else, whose original script was virtually rewritten by Holmes. Of the remainder, many will have been heavily revised by Holmes.
It is no wonder, then, that this led to problems with the Tax Man. During Season 14 Holmes had written two stories (one third of the series) himself, whilst drawing his Script Editor salary, and this double income led to the Inland Revenue looking into his accounts.
By the mid-point of Season 15, which is what we have now reached, Holmes was ready to leave Doctor Who. He had intended to leave with Philip Hinchcliffe, but had been persuaded by Graham Williams to stay on for 6 months to ease the transition. Anthony Read had been shadowing him for some time. Ironically, Holmes' final story as Script Editor is one that he also wrote - and it is inspired by the tax problems arising from this very set-up.
What Williams wanted Holmes to write was a story about colonialism, but the taxation satire took over. On the face of it, The Sun Makers should be a bleak, dystopian serial, but it is full of black humour. Holmes was in a bit of an end-of-term mood, and he was urged to add more satire by the director, Pennant Roberts.

Holmes decided to set his story on the planet (as it still was then) Pluto. This is because he envisaged the society as being a plutocracy - a society ruled by a wealthy elite. The inhabitants of Pluto are people who originally came from Earth. They dwell in vast cities called a Megropolis, of which there are six. Being so far from the Sun, artificial satellites are required, and each Megropolis maintains its own - hence the story title. Holmes had just read Adrian Berry's 1977 book The Iron Sun: Crossing the Universe Through Black Holes, which was about artificial suns.
The planet is under the control of an individual called the Collector, who works for some faceless intergalactic corporation known only as The Company. The Collector derives his title from the fact that his chief function is to collect taxation, and to increase the Company's profits. Under the Collector is an official known as the Gatherer, because he is the one who actually gathers the tax. The Collector's personal guard is known as the Internal Retinue - a play on Inland Revenue. One of the corridors in Megropolis One is designated the P45 route. A P45 is a tax summary document people receive on leaving a job. Another corridor is called TP1. This is another UK government tax document, relating to transfer of property.
Everything on Pluto is taxed - even death. It is his inability to keep up with the tax increases which lead a lowly D-Grade work unit named Cordo to contemplate suicide when he can't afford his father's death duties - by throwing himself off the roof of the city. He is saved by the arrival of the Doctor and Leela.
Cordo takes them to the undercity, where they fall into the clutches of a criminal gang led by a man named Mandrel.

The naming of the Plutonian cities as Megropoleis, where a wealthy elite live in the upper levels and everyone else toils beneath them, naturally makes us think of that classic silent Sci-Fi movie Metropolis. Directed by Fritz lang, it was released in 1927. In the film, the rich live in skyscrapers, whilst the mass of the poor live in an undercity. The work they must undertake is repetitive and monotonous and soul-destroying. The son of the city's leader discovers this world which is kept hidden from the elite, and falls in love with a young woman named Maria who is campaigning for a better life for the workers. Her crusade is corrupted when a mad scientist named Rotwang creates a robot duplicate of her and uses it to foment rebellion. Star Wars' C-3PO was directly inspired by the Maria robot. The Sun Makers's plot has little to do with Metropolis - but some of the imagery certainly derives from it, as well as the basic set up of the Megropolis society.
Holmes originally intended the Collector's race to be called Usurers, but Williams objected that this was a little too blatant an inspiration - so they became Usurians instead. Usury is the practice of lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest. The Romans were the first to introduce limits on what could be charged for loans, and later the early Church banned it outright for clergymen - later extending this to everyone. Jews were unable to practice many occupations and so were forced into work which others shunned - and this included moneylending. In Medieval England there were massacres of Jews in York and London - mainly means by which those who owed money no longer had to pay it back. A number of monarchs got out of debt by borrowing money, then promptly launching pogroms against the lenders.

Gatherer Hade's language is based on the sort of terminology you get in letters from the Inland Revenue. His costume was based on a humbug - a striped sweet whose name is also synonymous with hypocrisy and sycophancy. The Collector was given a pin-striped kaftan - inspired jointly by City of London bankers and rich Arab oil sheikhs. The Collector's defeat sees him revert to his natural form and slide down the plug-hole in the base of his mobile throne - suggesting liquidation (the selling off of a company's assets to pay off debts when it goes out of business). I'm no economist, but someone else has written that the Doctor's growth tax would not have had the effect it has here.
The designer had originally intended to base the Megropolis on Aztec themes, but only the Sun symbol remains of these initial ideas.
Pennant Roberts decided to change the gender of two male characters - something he regularly did on his Doctor Who stories. The Gatherer's assistant Marn, and the rebel Veet were scripted as male.
Louise Jameson was desperate to leave the show by this point, and it was seriously contemplated that Leela would be killed off in this story - apparently in the scene where she walks into the booby-trap guarding the Collector's vault.

With scenes set on the roof of the Megropolis to film, Roberts looked at a number of locations in London - but the horizon was always difficult to obscure. Roberts then realised that it wasn't necessarily a high roof he needed, but a very large one. This is why they went to the Wills tobacco factory in Bristol. The building also had a massive, featureless corridor linking two halves of the site, which became the P45 route.
Other location work included the Camden deep shelter, where the crew got locked in one night.
As Holmes was one of the first to know that K9 was going to be retained after The Invisible Enemy, The Sun Makers is the first story where the character is fully integrated into the plot.
Next time: Anthony Read is well named, if his tenure on the programme is any indication. He starts with a story inspired by Greek myth. It's written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin, so there's sure to be a catchphrase...

Tuesday 9 April 2019

The Gift - SJA 3.6

In which Sarah Jane Smith and her friends pursue a juvenile Slitheen - only to learn that they have been lured into a trap. In an old factory building they are captured by a number of adult Slitheen, who are about to activate a matter condensing device. The entire planet will be crushed, to create a vast diamond. The plan is foiled by the sudden arrival of two orange-skinned Slitheen, who teleport the others away to their spaceship. The new arrivals introduce themselves as members of the Blathereen family of Raxacoricofallapatorius - Leaf and Tree. They explain that the reputation of their planet was ruined when the Slitheen family took control, as they were only interested in profit and could never be trusted. The Blathereen managed to take back control and the Slitheen were expelled. Leaf and Tree now travel through space capturing Slitheen criminals. They claim that they wish to give Earth a gift, and they would like Sarah to be their ambassador in order that humans will accept it. The pair then invite themselves to Rani's home that evening for dinner, where they will explain the gift they offer. Sarah agrees, but does not entirely trust them.

That evening they teleport into Rani's home. The gift they have brought is a small plant, which they call Rakweed. It can grow anywhere, and is highly nutritious. It could eliminate famine on Earth. The Blathereen themselves love to eat it. Later, Sarah reminds her friends that they have a biology test in the morning - which Clyde has totally forgotten about. She asks Mr Smith to analyse the Rakweed, but he can find nothing suspicious about it. The following morning Luke goes to the attic to fetch his tie and the Rakweed suddenly produces spores. He breathes them in and rapidly falls ill. This alarms Sarah as he is never unwell, due to the way that he was created. She decides to keep him at home and has Mr Smith analyse him. More spores are emitted, but Mr Smith sucks them out of the room.
Clyde and Rani go to school as normal, and Rani is shocked to discover that Clyde has brought K9 with him - intending to keep him hidden and feed him the answers to the test. They notice that there is Rakweed growing on the window ledge. Their teacher inhales spores from it and collapses. Soon there is news of a mysterious illness breaking out all over West London. Mr Smith identifies the Rakweed spores as the cause. The plant is growing all over the area and spreading further afield. Luke will die when the amount of toxin in his body reaches 100% saturation.

Sarah has Mr Smith trace the Blathereen to their spaceship, which is parked in Antarctica. She has the computer teleport her to the ship, but he only has enough power for a one-way trip. She goes armed with a gun loaded with vinegar. The Blathereen reveal that they are actually of the Slitheen-Blathereen family, and just as deadly and duplicitous as their cousins. They succeed in capturing Sarah. She learns that Leaf and Tree are addicted to Rakweed and can't stop eating it. They intend to ensure that it covers the Earth so that they can harvest and sell it. At the school, Clyde and Rani discover that the Rakweed spores are neutralised by the ringing of the bell. This particular frequency of sound can destroy the plants. Sarah manages to escape and get back to the attic. Clyde contacts Mr Smith and has him broadcast the frequency throughout the stricken area, using mobile phones, radio, TV and even car alarms. The weed is destroyed, and the infected people begin to recover. Infuriated, Leaf and Tree teleport to the attic to kill Sarah. She gives them one last chance to leave but they refuse, so she has Mr Smith activate the frequency in the attic. The undigested Rakweed in the stomachs of the Blathereen causes the pair to explode - showering everyone in orange goo. K9 informs Sarah that Clyde took him to school for the exam, so he is forced to clean up the mess as recompense for trying to cheat.

The Gift was written by Rupert Laight, and was first broadcast on 19th and 20th November, 2009. It was the final story of the third series of The Sarah Jane Adventures. It sees the return of the Slitheen to the programme after a break for the second season, though the main villains here are actually a pair of their orange-skinned cousins.
The Slitheen plan to turn the planet into a huge diamond is reminiscent of the villain's plot in the animated Tenth Doctor adventure The Infinite Quest, but there the plan was to turn all carbon-based lifeforms into diamonds.
Tree is voiced by Simon Callow (who has played Charles Dickens on two occasions in Doctor Who), and Leaf is voiced by Miriam Margolyes. Inside the costume are regular monster performers Paul Kasey and Ruari Mears, with Jimmy Vee as the child Slitheen.
Things you might like to know:
  • An early draft featured UNIT as well as Mickey Smith. Noel Clarke was unavailable, so this story element was removed.
  • The Blathereen had been mentioned in the first story of Series 1 - Revenge of the Slitheen.
  • There has been one story each season in which one or more of the characters has been covered in gunge from an exploding alien (it always happens to Clyde).

Sunday 7 April 2019

G is for... Grayling

Emma Grayling was a noted empathic psychic who, in 1974, was assisting Professor Alec Palmer at Caliburn House. He had bought the property in order to investigate the ghost which was said to haunt the building. Palmer wished Emma to make contact with the apparition and learn who she was and why she haunted the house. The pair's investigations were interrupted by the arrival of the Doctor and Clara. The Doctor had come here to see if Emma could tell him something about Clara, whose existence he was suspicious of - having encountered her, or someone like her, in a number of different time zones. She was unable to tell him anything about her. The Doctor used the TARDIS to take photographs of the house throughout history, and the ghost's image appeared in them all - even in prehistory and in the far future. The Doctor realised that the apparition was a time-traveller, trapped in some pocket dimension and breaking through into this one at the house. Emma was fitted with a crystal from Metebelis III so that she could create a bridge to the trapped person, in order that the Doctor could cross over and rescue her. He succeeded, and brought back a young woman named Hila Tacorien. She was a test pilot for a time machine from Earth's future. The Doctor suspected that there was some link between Palmer, Emma and Hila which had brought them together, and deduced that Hila was a descendant of Palmer and Grayling. They were in love with each other, but neither had felt confident to say how they really felt about each other.

Played by: Jessica Raine. Appearances: Hide (2013).
  • Raine would later play Verity Lambert, Doctor Who's first producer, in the 50th Anniversary drama about the creation of the programme - An Adventure in Space and Time.

G is for... Grayle

Julius Grayle was a New York crime boss who used his ill-gotten wealth to collect works of art. He was particularly interested in statuary, and had managed to obtain a Weeping Angel, as well as a number of cherub-like versions of the creatures. He kept the latter in his cellar, and used them to dispose of his enemies. Grayle lived in fear of the other Angels which infested the city in 1938. He employed a Private Detective named Sam Garner to find out more about the Angels - sending him to a building called Winter Quay. Garner never returned, as the building was being used by the Angels to trap people and feed off their temporal potential. Grayle then had Professor River Song and Rory Williams abducted, as he had heard that she knew something about the creatures. Rory was given over to the cherubs, which sent him to Winter Quay, whilst River was seized by the captive Angel. It had been tortured by Grayle and was too weak to send her back in time. She was forced to break her own wrist in order to get free. The Doctor and Amy had traveled back in time to ancient China and placed a message for River on one of Grayle's antique vases. The mobster was knocked out by the arrival of the TARDIS. When he awoke, it was to find River gone and his Angel free - and the front doors were wide open to allow the other Angels to come inside and take their revenge on him.

Played by: Mike McShane. Appearances: The Angels Take Manhattan (2012).

G is for... Gray

Younger brother of Captain Jack Harkness. They grew up in a colony on the Boeshane Peninsula The community came under frequent attacks by unseen creatures, which swept down from the skies and carried people off. Gray was taken during one of these raids, and Jack spent the rest of his life blaming himself as he was supposed to look after him.
Whilst leading Torchwood Three in Cardiff, Jack encountered an old Time Agent colleague named Captain John Hart, who revealed that he had found Gray.
Some weeks later, the team were lured into a trap - sent to investigate a building which had been mined with explosives. The culprit appeared to be Hart, and he sent a hologram to Jack showing Gray with him. A number of bombs them went off around the city, and Jack was attacked and shot by Hart. He was then taken back in time to the period before the city had been founded, where he would be forced to dig his own grave before being buried alive. Jack discovered that this was the work of Gray, who had been driven insane by his experiences in captivity and now sought revenge on the brother who had abandoned him. Gray was forcing Hart to work for him. Gray's attack on the city led to the final death of Dr Owen Harper - trapped in a nuclear power station control room which was about to flood with disintegrating radiation. Gray also fatally wounded Toshiko Sato back at the Torchwood Hub. Hart had managed to hide a transmitter in Jack's grave, so that the Victorian era Torchwood team would locate him and disinter him. He had them put his body in cryogenic suspension in the Hub morgue - programmed to reawaken automatically on the day of Gray's attack. Jack overpowered Gray using chloroform and - unable to kill him even after all the deaths he had caused - had him frozen in the morgue. Presumably he would have been killed when the Hub was later totally destroyed in a bomb blast.

Played by: Lachlan Neiboer, Ethan Brook (young Gray). Appearances: TW 2.5 Adam, TW 2.13 Exit Wounds (2008).
  • Nieboer was also seen fleetingly as a hologram of Gray at the conclusion of TW 2.12 Fragments, although he wasn't credited.

G is for... Graske

Natives of the planet Griffoth, the Graske are diminutive reptilian creatures which are more mischievous than evil. One of them invaded the TARDIS whilst the Doctor was trying to write a piece of music - later becoming transported to the Royal Albert Hall in the middle of a Proms concert. Previously, they had attempted to take over the Earth by stealth - replacing humans beings with changelings. They had attempted this strategy on other planets.
A Graske named Krislok was saved from his crashing spaceship by the Trickster, who promised him continued life so long as he acted as his servant. The Trickster had Sarah Jane Smith removed from history when he offered her to swap her friend's life for hers back in 1964. Andrea Yates was to have died - but it was Sarah who perished in an accident. The only person who knew that time had been tampered with was Sarah's friend Maria, so Krislok was sent to use a time snare to remove her from time as well.

Maria's father Alan was also immune from the temporal change, and he captured Krislok and forced him to return Maria.
Some time later, the Trickster laid another trap for Sarah. Krislok visited London in 2009 posing as a 1950's schoolboy named Oscar. He pretended to come from the village where Sarah had been born - at the time when her parents had died in a car accident. Clyde and Rani were transported to an alternative 2009 which was ruled over by the Trickster - a world in which Sarah had failed to stop him from breaking through from his own dimension. Krislok was here, acting as a slave worker overseer. He told Clyde and Rani of how the Trickster had forced him into servitude, and agreed to help them return to the correct time line if they gave him the box which protected them from the temporal changes. They accepted the trade, and Krislok was freed as time reasserted itself.

A Graske (possibly Krislok) was present at the bar where the Doctor went in search of Captain Jack Harkness at the end of his tenth incarnation, when he hooked Jack up with Midshipman Frame, late of the spaceship Titanic.
Griffoth had been one of the planets stolen by the Daleks in order to power Davros' Reality Bomb. The Groske are cousins to the Graske, physically identical apart from having blue skin.

Played by: Jimmy Vee. Appearances: Attack of the Graske (2005), SJA 1.4 Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane Smith? (2007), Music of the Spheres (2008), SJA 2.5 The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith (2008), The End of Time Part 2 (2009).
  • Attack of the Graske was an interactive game, written by Gareth Roberts, shown on the BBC's Red Button service immediately following the broadcast of The Christmas Invasion on 25th December 2005. Music of the Spheres was a specially written 7 minute piece made to be screened during the Doctor Who Prom in July 2008.
  • The Graske design is based on a jester's hood - indicating their mischievous nature.

G is for... Grantham

Mark Grantham was the manager of a live role-play gaming centre named Combat 3000, in which contestants fought laser battles against each other as they negotiated a maze of tunnels. A number of young people had disappeared in the area, last seen at Combat 3000 centres around the country. Sarah Jane Smith decided to investigate the local branch after it was noted that there were strange weather patterns immediately over the building at the time of the latest disappearance. Luke and Clyde had taken part in the games - only to find themselves transported to a spaceship in Earth orbit when they successfully reached the higher level. Sarah and Maria visited the centre and broke into Grantham's office, where they discovered that he had an alien ally - General Kudlak of the Uvodni race. The Uvodni were involved in a long-running war, and were abducting youngsters who showed the best fighting skills - sending them off through space to fight for real. Sarah and Maria escaped but Grantham followed them to Sarah's home, where Maria overpowered him with an electrical shock. They then forced him into sending them into space so that they could rescue Luke, Clyde and the other captive youngsters. On their return, they found that Grantham had fled.

Played by: Chook Sibtain. Appearances: SJA 1.3: Warriors of Kudlak (2007).
  • Sibtain later played Bowie Base One team member Tarak Ital - one of the first victims of the Flood in The Waters of Mars.

Friday 5 April 2019

Inspirations - Image of the Fendahl

Chris Boucher had written two very popular stories for Season 14 - The Face of Evil and Robots of Death -  and so Robert Holmes had invited him to submit another script for Season 15. The Gothic Horror feel of the Hinchcliffe-Holmes production team inspired him to try his hand at a ghost story, although changes in that team were already afoot. Hinchcliffe had already moved on to produce the crime drama Target, and Robert Holmes was about to leave as well and return to freelance writing. He had stayed on Doctor Who for four years - twice as long as he had intended to stay. Holmes was asked to take over as Script Editor on Blake's 7, but he declined as it would be too similar to the job he was leaving. As it was, it would be Boucher who would be offered the Blake's 7 gig - so Image of the Fendahl would prove to be his final contribution to televised Doctor Who.
Boucher's initial inspiration for this story came from a Sci-Fi story he had read in which an alien intelligence influenced the development of the human race in order that it might continue to exist through them.
The background to the Fendahl is that it evolved on the fifth planet of our solar system. It was a creature which fed on death, and so consumed the rest of its kind until only one remained. Fearing that it would ultimately destroy every living thing in the universe, the Time Lords intervened and attempted to kill it by blowing up the planet and trapping the remains within a time loop - hiding it from the rest of the cosmos. However, the Fendahl managed to transport itself through space to the third planet - Earth - where it was destroyed in a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. Its power merely remained dormant, however, in a neural relay in its skull, and this is what was able to influence mankind's development to the point where the creature could be reborn.
The neural relay is shaped like a pentagram - which is why this symbol has taken on occult significance. It comes from a race memory implanted by the Fendahl.

All this talk of ancient aliens influencing the human race, and of race memories resurfacing, naturally reminds us of our old friend Professor Quatermass. The influence of the three Quatermass serials has been mentioned quite a few times in these "Inspirations posts", since we looked at Spearhead From Space. Events in this story are triggered by the finding of an ancient human skull - and this is also the starting point for Quatermass and the Pit, which was broadcast by the BBC in December 1958 - January 1959, before getting the Hammer treatment in 1967. Workmen digging a tube line extension in Knightsbridge unearth some skulls which paleontologist Matthew Roney believes belong to one of our earliest ancestors. Things are complicated when what appears to be a German bomb turns up next to the skulls. However, this proves to be a spaceship which must have crashed millions of years ago. Inside are three-legged insect creatures. The authorities think it some sort of Nazi propaganda hoax, but Quatermass and Roney realise the true implications. The insects are all that remain of the Martian race, and they were coming to Earth in prehistoric times to genetically modify our primitive forebears as the only means to preserve their own dying civilisation. Once the activity around the dig reactivates the ship, which has some form of psychic power, the Martian influence is triggered in those people who are descended from the modified ancestors. They are compelled to reenact the ancient racial culls, which kept the Martian gene pool pure. Nigel Kneale makes clear the link between the Martian influence and racial pogroms over the centuries. (There had been race riots in West London as this was written).

As well as his use of the pentagram in the story, Boucher used other superstitions. The Fendahleen can be destroyed by salt, and old Martha Tyler has previously given her grandson a talisman containing salt as a defence against evil forces. The Fendahleen are slug-like in appearance, and salt is used to kill slugs and snails as it basically desiccates them. We also have the old tradition of throwing a pinch of salt over your left shoulder should you spill some - as the Devil looks over that shoulder and salt is anathema to him as well.
The unlucky number 13 also features, as the Fendahl is a gestalt creature - many parts making up the whole. There is a human core and 12 of the Fendahleen which form its feeding parts - so it has 13 components, and is weakened when incomplete.
The country house where Dr Fendleman carries out his researches is called Fetch priory, and the nearby village is called Fetchborough. A Fetch is a particular kind of supernatural entity which is a doppelganger. Some people are said to have come to face with one of these and it presaged their demise. Other stories tell of people seeing the apparition of a friend or relative who is known to be many miles away - only to later learn that that person died just at the time when they saw the doppelganger.
Mrs Tyler mentions it being Lammas Eve, which dates this story to 30th / 31st July. Lammas falls on August 1st and marks a harvest festival, when people used to donate a loaf of bread to the church made from the first crop. Lammas is a corruption of Loaf-Mass.
The Doctor mentions that most haunted places are usually associated with time rifts, and gives this as a reason for Mrs Tyler's supernatural gifts. This foreshadows the Cardiff Rift, where the maid Gwyneth also has supernatural powers thanks to growing up close to it. One popular theory for ghost sightings is that they are actually time slippages, and we are seeing a glimpse of someone going about their day to day business from the past. This explains them passing through walls - there used to be a door there - and their being seen to float (the floor surface has changed). Note that the famous case of the Roman soldiers which passed through a cellar in York were only seen from the knees upwards. When the floor was dug up, the Roman road surface was found a foot or so beneath.
Boucher wrote a number of night time scenes in his script, and these are usually amended by the Script Editor as night shoots were so expensive. However, Holmes decided to retain these as he felt they would add to the atmospheric look of the show. I am reminded of a relatively low budget British Sci-Fi film when I watch the sequences when first a hiker and then the Doctor are menaced by some unseen creature in the woods. Fiend Without A Face (1958) is a highly effective little horror movie in which people living near a USAF base in Canada are stalked by some invisible force which kills by sucking out their brains and spinal columns. They have been created accidentally by a local scientist who has been experimenting with mind control. The victims of the Fendahleen are said to have a tiny blister-like wound, and have their life force sucked out, and the creatures are only heard when they hunt through the woods - just like the brain creatures in Fiend.

The skull of the Fendahl is said to have been found in central Africa. The uninitiated might think that the dog which finds the dead hiker is named Leakey because it was never properly house-trained, but the reference is actually to the Leakey family (Louis, Mary and son Richard), the Kenyan paleontologists who discovered what was, at the time, the earliest fossilised remains of Homo Sapiens. Adam Colby, who found the Fendahl skull, is at one point congratulated on his excellent potassium-argon test, which helped to date it. Also known as a K-Ar test, this dates rock samples by comparing the ratio of decay of isotopes of potassium 40 and argon 40. It is most effective with the dating of very ancient rocks - over 100,000 years old - as newer rocks won't contain enough argon.
The story originally had scientist Max Stael, who is leader of a local coven which wants to resurrect the Fendahl, putting a gun in his mouth just before he is heard to shoot himself. As new producer Graham Williams had been tasked with removing the horror from the programme, and so avoiding any more complaints from Mrs Whitehouse, this scene had to be toned down.
This was Robert Holmes' final story as Script Editor. Shadowing him was his replacement - the late Anthony Read. he had been invited back to the BBC as a producer, but declined as he had already produced for a number of years. When Williams' boss - Graeme McDonald - offered him the Script Editor role on Doctor Who he is said to have jumped at the opportunity. One of his first acts with this story was to rewrite the opening and closing TARDIS scenes to include K9. It hadn't been part of Boucher's story as it was only decided to retain it late in the day - which is why for its first adventure in the TARDIS it is under repair and so unable to play any part in the proceedings.
The reason why Leela wears her hair up in a bun was because she had a haircut just before production - and too much was cut off.
Wanda Ventham, who plays Thea Ransome / the Fendahl, had previously appeared in the show during Patrick Troughton's time - as Jean Rock in The Faceless Ones. Image of the Fendahl was her first acting job after giving birth to her son - Benedict Cumberpatch.
It should be noted that the production order for Season 15 was The Invisible Enemy, then Horror of Fang Rock, then The Sunmakers and then Image of the Fendahl. Fang Rock was made second because of Terrence Dicks' vampire story having to be totally rewritten, and Fendahl was moved to third broadcast slot to split two futuristic stories.
Next time: Everyone runs from the taxman. All those stories Robert Holmes wrote when he was also being paid to be Script Editor come back to haunt him, as a hefty tax bill lands on his doormat...