Saturday, 26 November 2022

Monster Spin-Offs?


File under "Rumour" for now, as a UK tabloid is reporting that Doctor Who's most famous monsters might be getting their own spin-off series. This has come from the Mirror, and a reporter who is generally more often right than wrong. It is all part of the Disney+ streaming deal. Something which might lend credence is the fact that Russell T Davies has spoken before about creating a "Doctor Who Universe" akin to the Marvel and Star Wars franchises. Aliens mentioned include Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans and Weeping Angels. These episodes would not feature the Doctor at all, but would be designed to show what these creatures get up to when the TARDIS isn't around.
If this does prove to be more than rumour, it might also open the door for past Doctors to get an outing. There has always been a demand to see more of Paul McGann's incarnation, for instance. Some old companions might also get another outing.
Not sure if there would necessarily be room on BBC 1 for too many spin-offs, so if this does come off then some of it at least might be exclusive to Disney+.

William Russell - World Record Holder

                             

Hot on the heels of his 98th birthday, William Russell has just made it into the Guiness Book of World Records. So reports the Radio Times. He has the distinction of having the longest span of appearances as the same character in a TV series. This had previously gone to a Coronation Street actor whose first and last appearances were 43 years apart. Russell (real name Russell Enoch) first featured in Doctor Who in November 1963, and his latest appearance was in October 2022 - a record-breaking span of 57 years.
The empty chair at the support group was not a tribute to the absent Lis Sladen, as some fans thought, but a place for Anneke Wills, who was due to appear as Polly. Unfortunately, she dropped out at the last minute. Had she featured, her span would have been 1966 - 2022, which would also have beaten that Corrie actor. Katy Manning's run is now 51 years (1971 - 2022). If the Guiness Record were to be divided into male and female categories, she would also be a record-breaker.

Friday, 25 November 2022

Inspirations: 42


As with last week's episode, the inspiration for this story can be seen the title.
In November 2001, the Fox network launched the thriller series 24, whose gimmick was that each instalment would cover one hour in real time - so the overall season of 24 episodes would combine to show 24 hours in the lives of the various protagonists.
This format meant that there was a built-in deadline to events, making it much more exciting for the viewers. The heroes, led by Kiefer Sutherland as counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer, had to defeat the villains within a strictly limited timescale.
It was decided for Series 3 of Doctor Who to attempt something similar - in the hope that it would capture the same sort of excitement. 
When you removed the opening and closing credits, the average episode of Doctor Who at the time comprised 42 minutes of drama - which just happens to be 24 reversed.
This provided the story with its title.
As it was, the episode was not played in real-time. There is a jump of a couple of minutes at one point.

Writer Chris Chibnall was working on the first series of Torchwood when he was asked if he wanted to write his first Doctor Who episode. Elements including an intelligent sun, glowing eyes and a spacewalk were handed to him by Russell T Davies. 
An early version had a space station setting, in orbit around the star and studying it for generations, but this was changed to a passing ship only recently arrived, to save on a more complicated backstory.
Chibnall was pleased to note that '42' also had great significance for Douglas Adams fans, being the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.

The spaceship was going to be called the S.S. Icarus - after the mythological figure who was the son of Daedalus, architect of the Labyrinth on Crete. In order to escape the island they decided to make wings for themselves. Daedalus cautioned his son not to fly too close to the Sun as the heat would melt the wax holding the feathers on. Icarus failed to heed dad's advice, and plunged to his death.
A problem arose when the Danny Boyle sci-fi movie Sunshine was released in 2007. 
This had used the intended spaceship name (an Icarus I and an Icarus II), so it had to changed. It became the S.S. Pentallian - a name derived from Revenge of the Cybermen, where a "Pentallian drive" had been an essential component of the transmat.

Sunshine sees a space mission to reignite the dying Sun. (Considering the derivation of the name, it is pushing luck somewhat to name the ship after a failure - especially when the first ship was lost several years before). One of the inspirations for his film cited by Boyle was the Russian movie Solaris (1972) which featured a sentient planet. Ridley Scott's Alien was another influence. Both have elements which can be seen in 42 - a crew trapped on a spaceship with an alien killer in both, and the sentient celestial body in the former. Like 42, Sunshine has a major action set-piece revolving around the ship's airlock.
There is also a hint of the 1997 film Event Horizon, in terms of a spaceship encountering a natural phenomenon (in this case another dimension) which proves to be sentient and which affects a crewman, turning him into a killer.

The masks worn by the infected crew were inspired by Cyclops of X-Men. His eyes fire beams of energy, which he controls behind a dark visor.
The Doctor upgrades Martha's phone so it has universal roaming. He had earlier offered this to Rose in The End of the World.
We see that Francine Jones is allowing people to monitor her daughter's calls. They are employees of Harold Saxon - this series' story arc - and we saw in the previous week's episode Francine falling under their corrupting influence. Then, it had been a man played by Bertie Carvel, but his career suddenly took off and he was unavailable for later episodes and so his place was taken by a blonde female character, played by Elize Du Toit.

The story was going to be set at the same time as The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit, and at one point was going to have Ood amongst the crew.
Riley's surname was going to be Kinkade, but that name had already been used as middle name for Brannigan in Gridlock.
The star system was going to be called the Peony System, but was changed as it sounded like people were saying "penis".

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Countdown to 60: Inside the Spaceship...


Today is Doctor Who's 59th birthday, so it's an apposite date on which to begin a countdown to next year's Diamond Anniversary. I did something similar for the 50th, selecting my personal fifty most significant stories from the series' history up to that point.
This time round I will be selecting sixty specific scenes - or, as the Valeyard might say, I intend to adumbrate sixty momentous instances from separate epistopic interfaces of the spectrum...
The first is an obvious one - the moment in the very first episode (An Unearthly Child) when school teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright push their way through the doors of a battered old Police Box which they've come across in a junkyard, and find themselves inside the TARDIS' amazing console room.
We've spent the first half of the episode getting to know them, but Susan and the Doctor have been presented as mysterious figures, clearly sharing some great secret. Here we first get an inkling of just who or what they might be. The two Earth people begin their journey into the unknown - taking all of us along with them...

L is for... Light


Light was a powerful alien entity, capable of taking on any form. It set out to catalogue every single lifeform in the cosmos. On arriving on a planet, it would capture examples of the dominant native species - such as a Neanderthal man on prehistoric Earth. Two crew members accompanied Light. One would set out and survey the region, whilst the other would remain in Light's ship to act as an experimental control. The Survey unit would interact with the environment and other creatures and so change and adapt - and the changes could then be measured against the Control.
After its arrival on Earth, Light went into hibernation in central Africa - being glimpsed only occasionally by natives and explorers. One such was the Victorian adventurer Redvers Fenn-Cooper. 
The spaceship could travel at the speed of thought and was transferred to the basement of a house in Perivale, to the west of London. The Survey unit killed the owner and assumed the identity of a Victorian gentleman named Josiah Smith. In order to evolve fully, he planned to use Fenn-Cooper to assassinate the Queen and assume power over the Empire. He kept Control locked up in the ship.
She escaped and freed Light. It took the form of a man in silvery robes. He began to investigate the inhabitants of the house - killing them in his experiments to understand how they worked. 
He soon discovered that life had not only evolved, but it was continuing to evolve, even as he observed it. This began to drive him insane. The Doctor gave the process a push by telling him about fictitious creatures such as dragons, basilisks, 'bandersnatches' and 'slithy toves' which he had failed to catalogue. Light threatened to wipe out all life on Earth with a fire storm to put a stop to evolution, but self-destructed and dissipated before he could do so.

Played by: John Hallam. Appearances: Ghost Light (1989).
  • Hallam's time on the production was extremely limited as he was making The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Trader for the BBC at the same time.
  • He had many genre performances, including King Vultan's lieutenant in Flash Gordon and roles in Lifeforce and Dragonslayer.
  • Light's costume was based on artwork by the visionary poet and artist William Blake. The back of the robes looked like an insect carapace, to tie in with the evolutionary theme. Writer Marc Platt had hoped that the character would have wings.

L is for... Li H'sen Chang


As a young peasant in his native China, Li H'sen Chang had witnessed the arrival of a scientist named Magnus Greel, who had travelled back in time from the 51st Century. Badly injured and disfigured by the process, Chang looked after him and shielded him from the troops of the Emperor. They seized his time cabinet and gave it to their master. The young man believed Greel to be the god of abundance - Weng-Chiang.
Greel was able to bestow on Chang special mental abilities, such as formidable hypnotic powers. After the Emperor had gifted the cabinet to a foreign diplomat who had taken it away with him, Greel had Chang use his powers to set himself up as a magician and illusionist. By embarking on a European tour, they could track down and retrieve the cabinet.
Chang headlined the Palace Theatre in London when the cabinet was traced to the home of pathologist Edward Litefoot. He was compelled to seek out young women from the neighbourhood, who had their life-force drained by Greel to keep him alive.
When he abducted a young woman who had featured in his act one night, it brought attention to the theatre, which angered Greel. Chang hypnotised the theatre manager - Henry Gordon Jago - but the Doctor discovered this.
Chang met the Doctor at the local police station where he had one of his men kill himself with scorpion poison, after the man had been arrested. Greel and Chang made use of the Tong of the Black Scorpion. He also used the Peking Homunculus - a lethal cyborg creature from Greel's time - as his ventriloquist dummy, Mr Sin.
Greel ordered Chang to kill the Doctor, but he failed. His god then abandoned him - disgracing him in front of an audience when he murdered a stagehand and left the corpse in Chang's trick cabinet.
Chang fled from the theatre via the sewer system, but this was guarded by rats grown to enormous size by Greel to guard his lair. 
Chang was badly injured by them, losing a leg. He managed to get to a nearby opium den and gave the Doctor a clue as to Greel's new hideout before dying from his injuries.

Played by: John Bennett. Appearances: The Talons of Weng-Chiang (1976).
  • Bennett had earlier featured as General Finch in Invasion of the Dinosaurs.
  • He had earlier starred opposite Jon Pertwee in the film The House That Dripped Blood, as the detective who encounters Pertwee's vampire.

L is for... Lexa


Lexa was High Priestess of the Deons - a religious sect from the planet Tigella. Tigellan society was split between the Deons and the science-rationalist Savants, with a neutral elder named Zastor acting as mediator and leader. Many years before, a strange object had fallen into the jungles of the planet - a 12-sided power source known as the Dodecahedron. The Deons believed that this had been sent by their god Ti, whilst the Savants suspected a more secular origin. The Dodecahedron was harnessed, and its energy powered their subterranean city.
When the Dodecahedron began to fail, putting the city at risk, Zastor called upon the Doctor to come and help. He had visited the planet in the past. Lexa was angry at this, and only agreed if the Doctor swore allegiance to Ti before he would be permitted to enter the inner sanctum where the object was housed.
The Doctor became trapped in a time loop with Romana and K9, and his place was taken by the alien Meglos - last of the Zolfa-Thuran race who were the original owners of the Dodecahedron. It powered a vast energy weapon, and he wanted it back. Meglos stole it by shrinking it, and when the Doctor finally arrived he found himself arrested by Lexa and her people, who sentenced him to be sacrificed to Ti.
When she discovered the truth, Lexa decided to help. She sacrificed herself to save Romana when she was fired upon by Gaztak mercenaries.

Played by: Jacqueline Hill. Appearances: Meglos (1981).
  • Hill had previously portrayed Barbara Wright, companion to the First Doctor in Seasons 1 and 2.
  • She had given up work to concentrate on raising a family and had only recently returned to acting.
  • Oddly, when director Graeme Harper wished to cast Michael Craze (who had played companion Ben) in The Caves of Androzani he was told by John Nathan Turner that companion actors could not be brought back as different characters.

L is for... Lewis, Dan


Companion to the Thirteenth Doctor. Dan Lewis was a Liverpudlian who volunteered at a local food-bank. He was trying to start a relationship with a woman named Diane, who worked at the city's museum. Dan would sometimes turn up and lead unofficial tour parties.
One Hallowe'en evening his house was broken into by a massive dog-like figure - an alien named Karvanista. He was being hunted by the Doctor and her companion Yaz. At first Dan thought Karvanista, a member of the Lupari race, was simply wearing a very good costume. However, he was then knocked out and woke to find himself abducted and caged on a Lupari spaceship.
The Doctor and Yaz traced Karvanista to Dan's house, at 37 Granger Street, but found a trap had been set. Dan's house was miniaturised.
Dan was traced to the spaceship where he was freed by Yaz. It transpired that the Lupari were pair-bonded to individual humans. Should they be threatened, they were honour-bound to save them. 
Karvanista had to rescue Dan - though he didn't necessarily like him.
The reason for his intervention was that the entire universe was under threat from a phenomenon known as the Flux.
Taking advantage of this were a pair of powerful creatures called Swarm and Azure. They knew the Doctor from her life in the Division, so she had no memories of them. Azure abducted Diane.
Dan next found himself in 19th Century Crimea, where the Doctor discovered that the Sontarans had altered history to conquer the Russian Empire.
Dan was removed from time and deposited back in 21st Century Liverpool, where the Sontarans had also changed history to rule the city. He was reunited with his parents, Neville and Irene, who had discovered the aliens' weakness - the probic vent. Armed with a wok, Dan broke into a Sontaran spaceship. Captured by Sontaran troopers, he was rescued by Karvanista, who sabotaged the Sontaran fleet by crashing one of their ships into the others. Time was reset, and Dan was reunited with the Doctor and Yaz in the Temple of Atropos, on the planet Time. Here he learned of Diane's abduction. She was trapped within a living prison, known as Passenger.
To save them from Swarm and Azure, the Doctor had to hide Dan and Yaz inside their own time streams.
Later, the TARDIS was infiltrated by a Weeping Angel, and diverted to a village named Medderton, in 1967. Another Angel caused Dan and Yaz to be sent back in time to the village as it had been in 1901, where they were joined by a 1960's scientist named Professor Jericho. 


With the Doctor captured by Angels and returned to Division, Dan, Yaz and Jericho had to live through the Edwardian era, searching for clues as to future events of the Flux which might allow them to reunite with the Doctor. 
The perceptive Dan spotted immediately that Yaz was in love with the Doctor, and he encouraged her to make her feelings known. Their quest took them to the Himalayas and to the Great Wall of China, where they attempted to contact Karvanista for help.
Dan and Yaz had repeatedly found themselves encountering a Victorian gentleman. This proved to the famous Liverpudlian tunnel builder Joseph Williamson. Dan knew of these tunnels. When they went there they found dozens of portals to different time zones, worlds and dimensions.
One of these took them back to the 21st Century and they were soon joined by Kate Stewart of UNIT and the Doctor, who was actually split over different time zones.
The Sontarans had attempted to benefit from the Flux - really anti-matter released into the universe by the Division - by wiping out the Daleks and Cybermen, but Dan and the rest of the Doctor's allies defeated them.
Dan hoped to have a date with Diane after she had escaped from Passenger, but she was too upset by recent events.
He therefore joined the TARDIS for a time. Their first landing site was a Manchester storage unit on New Year's Eve. Dan was exterminated by a Dalek - repeatedly. The Flux-damaged TARDIS had generated a time loop.


Dan then found himself visiting China in 1807. Here he was encouraged to dress in appropriate costume, but Yaz tricked him into wearing a pirate costume, complete with eye-patch. It turned out that this was quite apt, as they then encountered the infamous Chinese pirate Madam Ching. Whilst searching for a precious treasure she inadvertently resurrected a Sea Devil warrior named Marsissus. Dan became concerned about a young villager named Ying-Ki, who was determined to get revenge on Ching as he thought she had killed his father. Dan even swam out to Ching's ship to stop him. He and Ying-Ki then found themselves pressganged into acting as Madam Ching's crew.
After the Sea Devils had been defeated, Dan managed to get in touch with Diane, and she agreed to them meeting up.
Before then, he joined the Doctor and Yaz in a mission to save an interstellar bullet train which had come under attack by Cybermen and Cybermasters. Dan was almost killed during this mission, when his space helmet was broken.
He decided to leave the TARDIS because of this. With no house, he would have to move back in with his parents.
He later met up with Graham O'Brien and helped set up a support group for people who had travelled with the Doctor, and who wanted to share their experiences.


Played by: John Bishop. Appearances: Flux: The Hallowe'en Apocalypse (2021) to The Power of the Doctor (2022).
  • Bishop is best known as a stand-up comedian, but prior to this he was a professional footballer for a number of years (playing midfield for several lower league clubs).
  • Dan Lewis was first introduced in a brief post-credits scene at the end of Revolution of the Daleks.

L is for... Lethbridge-Stewart, Captain


When the Twelfth and First Doctors encountered each other at the South Pole in December 1986, they were joined by a British Army officer who had been taken out of time. In 1914 he had been trapped in a fox-hole with a German soldier with whom he was unable to communicate. Their stand-off was ended when time seemed to stand still, and he then found himself in Antarctica.
An alien group named Testimony were responsible. The two Doctors set out to find out who they were and why they had tried to abduct the Captain. It transpired that Testimony were benevolent. They took people out of time in the instant before their deaths in order to archive their memories, before replacing them back into history.
The Captain was returned to 1914, but the Twelfth Doctor pushed time along slightly so that he survived. There then followed the Christmas Truce, when British and German soldiers temporarily suspended hostilities to play football and share food and drink.
It turned out that the Captain was named Archibald Hamish Lethbridge-Stewart, and he was the grandfather of the Brigadier. The Doctor promised to keep an eye on his family.

Played by: Mark Gatiss. Appearances: Twice Upon A Time (2017).
  • Third on-screen appearance by Gatiss in the series, after Professor Lazarus (The Lazarus Experiment) and Gantok (The Wedding of River Song). For the latter, he used the name Rondo Haxton - a tribute to the actor Rondo Hatton who had played the "Hoxton Creeper" in Sherlock Holmes and the Pearl of Death, House of Horrors and Brute Man. Gatiss also voiced the spitfire pilot in Victory of the Daleks.
  • Gatiss has acted opposite 9 different Doctor actors, though not necessarily in Doctor Who itself - and he has also written for nine different Doctors, counting novels and audios as well as on TV.

Happy Doctor Who Day!


To celebrate the 59th anniversary of the very first episode of Doctor Who, the BBC have released an image of all the television Doctors. The latest, number 14, gets pride of place, and his lookalike number 10 is also there - so David Tennant gets to appear twice. The Fugitive and War Doctors are also included.
As well as this image, a special "diamond" version of the new logo has been issued, which will cover the 60th Anniversary. 

Monday, 21 November 2022

Story 264: The Husbands of River Song


In which the Doctor is visiting the Earth colony on the planet Mendorax Dellora. It is Christmas Day, 5343. He is annoyed at the TARDIS trying to cheer him up, as well as being disturbed by someone knocking on the TARDIS door - a man named Nardole. He has been sent to fetch a medical doctor from this street, and mistakes the Doctor for him. He in turn thinks that Nardole knows who he is and it is him he is looking for.
After they have left, an old man with a surgical bag wanders past, somewhat lost.
They walk to the edge of the village and come across a saucer-like spacecraft half buried in the snow. Nardole's employer descends a ramp, and the Doctor is pleased to see that it is River Song. However, she is unfamiliar with this incarnation and fails to recognise him - also believing him to be a medic who she has contracted.


Inside the spacecraft he discovers that Nardole is actually River's husband - or rather one of them. Another is the bloodthirsty King Hydroflax, Butcher of the Bone Meadows who is said to eat the bodies of his enemies, who is here onboard. It is he who needs the medical assistance. Over the years he has been injured in battle so often that only his head remains of him - housed in a large red robotic body. This has its own artificial intelligence and can function independently. River shows the Doctor a scan of Hydroflax's head, which reveals a gemstone buried within it. This got there when Hydroflax was caught in a blast whilst trying to seize it. It is the Halassi Androvar - the most valuable diamond in the universe.
It transpires that River cares nothing for this particular husband - it is the diamond she is after. Should he die, all the better actually. The Doctor is alarmed at how murderous River can be away from his influence.
However, Nardole reveals that the King's millions of followers will be observing the operation.


As River attempts to explain her plan to the Doctor, they are unaware that the King is standing close by and has heard everything she has proposed. River reveals that she has been employed by the owners of the diamond to return it to them. She contacts another husband - a man named Ramone - and asks him to teleport them both to safety as Hydroflax bears down on them. They steal his head and make off with it.
The robot sets out to find its head and does so by decapitating Nardole to use his - learning the location of the TARDIS landing site. At the TARDIS, the Doctor discovers that River has been borrowing it behind his back. He has to pretend that he has never been inside before and feigns amazement at the greater size inside than out. River finds that the TARDIS will not dematerialise. She hears Ramone at the door and lets him in - only to find that he too has fallen victim to the robot body, and his head has joined its collection. The reason the TARDIS would not dematerialise was that it was registering someone as being both inside and outside the ship at the same time - Hydroflax's head and body - so a safety measure kicked in.
Once both parts are inside, the ship travels to a massive luxury space-liner - the Harmony and Redemption. They lock the robot in a vault, whilst River goes to meet the people she has arranged to give the diamond to, taking the King's head with her.


The blue-skinned insectoid Maitre'D, Flemming, takes them to the dining room. River explains that the passengers on this ship have two things in common. They are all fabulously rich, and they are all responsible for millions of deaths, being dictators, war criminals and arms dealers.
River's contact is a man named Scratch, who has a livid scar running across his face. He is a member of a group known as the Shoal of the Winter Harmony. 
Just as River is about to hand over the head, Scratch reveals that his group worship King Hydroflax as a god, and they want the diamond to please him. Not only that - all of the other diners in the room turn out to have the same scar on their faces. They are able to open their heads up and conceal objects within - such as the credits they are going to pay to River for the diamond.
Flemming, meanwhile, has been forced to open the vault and release the robot. When it threatens to take his head, he offers it the Doctor's instead. He is unaware that he is already on board, but knows that River can summon him.
The Doctor and River attempt to flee but are stopped by Flemming and the robot. It scans the King's head and notes that it is medically no longer viable, and so reduces it to dust.


With no-one realising yet who he really is, Flemming suggests threatening the Doctor in order to make River call on the Time Lord to come - so that his head can grace the robot. It is only now that River finally realises that she has been with the Doctor all along. They manage to escape the room and make for the bridge. They are passing the planet of Darillium. River selected this day for the transaction as she knows that this is the date when this spaceship will be struck by meteoroids - just in case anything went wrong. 
The crashing spaceship heads for the planet, and the Doctor gets River into the TARDIS just before it hits. They are both knocked down, with River rendered unconscious. The Doctor goes outside to see the famous Singing Towers - a pair of rock formations which make sounds as the wind blows over them. Everyone on the ship perished and the Doctor meets one of the local rescue crew. He gives him the Halassi Androvar, and suggests that this might be a good location for an exclusive restaurant. The Doctor then travels forward a few years to find it up and running - but with a lengthy waiting list for a table. He makes the booking and travels forward to the date in question, as River wakes up in the TARDIS.
The robot survived the crash and is working here now, still containing the heads of Nardole and Ramone.
The Doctor has always known that this would be the last time he sees River before her death in the Library, and she is aware of this. They have one more night together - but the Doctor points out that a night on Darillium lasts 24 years...


The Husbands of River Song was written by Steven Moffat, and was first broadcast on 25th December, 2015 - making it that year's Christmas Special. It marks the final time that River Song has featured in the series (to date), and introduces the character of Nardole, who will go on to become a series regular. That would have to wait, however, as it had been announced that there would be no new series in 2016. The next Doctor Who episode would be the following year's Christmas Special.
Allegedly, this was mainly due to the heavy work commitments Moffat had on Sherlock - despite it only comprising three episodes every couple of years and had a co-writer in Mark Gatiss. The BBC were also undergoing one of their periodic shortages of money at the time.
As it was, the 52 week gap would be partially filled by a new spin-off series set in and around Coal Hill School - Class.


Husbands is basically a crime caper with screwball comedy trappings, of the sort Hollywood produced in the 1930's onwards. These invariably threw two characters together who were initially antagonistic towards each other, usually in a situation over which they have little or no control, but by the end of the piece the pair are romantically involved.
Moffat could have simply had the Doctor and River knowing each other as before, but he mixes things up by having her not know who he is, and he goes along with this just to see where it will lead.
We discover that River often takes the TARDIS when he isn't looking, and has even made adjustments to it behind his back (such as the addition of a drinks cabinet behind one of the roundels).
This provides one of the highlights of the episode, as the Doctor has to pretend that he is amazed by the TARDIS interior dimensions.
The conclusion also allows for a bit of timey-wimey-ness as the Doctor shifts the TARDIS forward a few years at a time to set up the restaurant, book a table once it's built, then arrive on the night of the booking, all within a few minutes.
It's all played for comedy. The only people who get killed are the ones who all deserve it anyway. Both Nardole and Ramone may lose their heads, but get to live on as part of the robot.


The guest cast is led, naturally enough, by Alex Kingston as River. Chris Chibnall obviously missed a trick by not having her encounter the Thirteenth Doctor. That would have made for an interesting meeting.
Joining her as Nardole is Matt Lucas, famous for Little Britain and other comedy series. His Little Britain partner David Walliams had already guested in The God Complex as Gibbis.
The other husband, Ramone, is played by Phillip Rhys. He has appeared in a number of US series such as NCIS, Bones and 24.
The main guest star, playing King Hydroflax, is another comic actor - Greg Davies. Star of the sitcoms Cuckoo and Man Down, he has recently been chairing the popular Taskmaster. He has to spend all of the episode either encased in the robot costume, or sitting under things with his head poking through, including a fake TARDIS console panel.
The villainous Flemming is Rowan Polonski, in a make-up reminiscent of Chantho in Utopia.
Scratch is Robert Curtis. We will be seeing more of his kind in the next festive special.
He had previously appeared in The Sarah Jane Adventures as a security guard in Prisoner of the Judoon.
Scratch is Robert Curtis. We will be seeing more of his kind in the next festive special.
The rescue worker who is given the diamond is a character named Alphonse, and he's played by Chris Lew Kum Hoi. He featured in Russell T Davies' adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Finally, the robot has its own voice - that of actor Nonso Anozie. You may have seen him playing Oberon in that RTD adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, opposite Matt Lucas and the late great Bernard Cribbins amongst many others.


Overall, a perfect festive adventure. A bit of excitement and a lot of humour, as well as providing a nice coda to the story of River Song. Maybe this was the right place to end it.
Things you might like to know:
  • The street where Nardole encounters the TARDIS is rather too obviously the Trap Street set from Face the Raven, redressed.
  • In this story we finally get to see the Singing Towers of Darillium, and the Doctor gives River her sonic screwdriver, knowing she will be heading for the Library after this.
  • River is aware that her life may be ending soon as her diary is almost full - and she knows that the Doctor would have known how many pages she would need.
  • She has a wallet containing images of all the previous 12 Doctors, hinting that she has met the earlier ones as well as the ones we've seen on screen. There are 12 images as the list includes the War Doctor. In Time of the Angels she had claimed to have pictures of all his faces.
  • First Night / Last Night - the mini episodes contained on the Series 6 DVD / Blu-ray box sets - are referenced, when River talks about meeting two different versions of the Eleventh Doctor, and he had cancelled a visit to the Singing Towers.
  • This is the eleventh Christmas Special - but the first not to feature any action on Earth.

Sunday, 20 November 2022

Episode 46: World's End

 
Synopsis:
A man dressed in ragged clothing, with a futuristic helmet clamped to his head, stumbles into a river to deliberately drown himself...
The TARDIS materialises at the location, which sits beneath a bridge. The travellers emerge and the teachers are delighted to see that they appear to be back in London.
The Doctor is concerned about the derelict condition of the bridge and the rusting machinery round about. He points out to Ian that they have not seen or heard anyone. Even on a Sunday morning there should be some noise on the river - even if it is just the chimes of Big Ben.
Susan climbs up a steep slope to have a look around but slips and tumbles to the ground - spraining her ankle. Her fall also dislodges some building materials which in turn strike the bridge - causing a huge metal girder to fall and block the TARDIS doors.
The Doctor and Ian find it impossible to move, so they decide to head into a nearby warehouse in search of tools. Barbara bathes Susan's ankle and spots the body of the ragged man floating in the river.
When she returns to where she left Susan she is shocked to find the girl gone.
A man appears and beckons her to follow him.
Inside the warehouse the Doctor finds a calendar for the year 2164. They investigate a noise from upstairs and find a dead body, only recently killed. This is another of the men with the futuristic helmets. He was armed with a whip. The Doctor deduces that the helmet acts as an electronic receiver. They are unaware that they are being watched by a young man.
On hearing gunfire they head back to the river bank. On the way, they witness the passage overhead of a huge flying saucer.
Barbara has been led through the derelict surroundings to an Underground station entrance. Here she finds Susan in the arms of a man named Tyler. He is joined by an older man in a wheelchair - a scientist named Dortmun. A secret panel opens and the young man from the warehouse appears. He is David Campbell. He mentions seeing the Doctor and Ian but did not know if he could trust them. Barbara urges him to go and find them.
Ian is annoyed to find the women gone. Looking around, he discovers a poster behind the TARDIS, which forbids the dumping of bodies in the river - suggestive of plague.
As David watches from a warehouse window he sees the Doctor and Ian surrounded by a number of the figures with the strange helmets. When they try to communicate with them the men simply raise their whips. They find that all of their escape routes are cut off - apart from the Thames. They will have to dive in and swim to safety.
As they turn towards the river, they are shocked to see the sinisterly familiar shape of a Dalek rising from the polluted waters...
Next episode: The Daleks


Data:
Written by: Terry Nation
Recorded: Friday 18th September 1964 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:40pm, Saturday 21st November 1964
Ratings: 11.4 million / AI 63
Designer: Spencer Chapman
Director: Richard Martin
Guest Cast: Bernard Kay (Tyler), Peter Fraser (David Campbell), Alan Judd (Dortmun)


Critique:
Terry Nation had written The Daleks (AKA "The Mutants") as a 'hack job' - six episodes of adventure for kids whilst he looked for more satisfying work. He had only taken it on after being sacked by Tony Hancock and so was in urgent need of the money.
He was later asked to extend it to seven weeks, padding out the expedition to the city, but once submitted he claims to have forgotten all about it. He only realised it had been broadcast - according to him - when friends started phoning him up at the end of the first episode to ask what the plunger thing was. By the time he realised what a winner he had on his hands, he was regretting having wiped the Daleks out. 
A sequel was requested, and fortunately he remembered that Doctor Who was a series about a time traveller. He could simply show the Daleks at a time before they were destroyed on Skaro.
There wasn't much scope for a new story back on their home planet, so instead of us going to them, they would come to us. The series hadn't done an invasion of Earth story - despite these being prominent in science fiction films and novels. For every Forbidden Planet, there were ten Earth v. the Flying Saucers.
This becomes the first ever alien invasion of Earth story in Doctor Who.
With the reappearance of the Daleks, it also becomes the first ever sequel - though strictly speaking it is only the first instance of a recurring villain, as the story has nothing to do with the events of The Daleks beyond their inclusion.
Another first would be seen at the conclusion of the story - the first departure of a regular cast member.

In writing his new story, Nation had to take into account some significant changes which were planned, both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes.
Carole Ann Ford had already signalled her desire to leave the series during the making of the French Revolution story. Her agent had actually attempted to get her out of the series before her contract was up for renewal. (Her agent was her husband). 
In order to cover budgeted costs per episode, should Williams Hartnell and Russell both demand significant pay rises, a plan was in place to have Jacqueline Hill leave the series as well. A single female companion would replace the two originals - preferably a more junior actress who would not command a high fee. As it was, the pay rises agreed for the two male stars were not too high, and so the character of Barbara was saved.
The production team had a great many discussions as to who would replace Ford, as it was felt a young companion was essential for target audience identification.

Favourite to replace Susan was a young Anglo-Indian orphan named Saida. An actress was even earmarked for the role - Pamela Franklin. She had been acting from an early age - one performance of note being Flora in The Innocents (1961).
It was planned that she would feature throughout the story but disappear towards the end - only to turn up as a stowaway in the TARDIS after it had dematerialised.
Eventually the decision was made to wait until the following story to introduce the new companion, and so the character of Jenny was created to fulfil Saida's role in the earlier drafts.
Behind the scenes, David Whitaker was stepping down as Story Editor, to be replaced by Dennis Spooner. As the pair would be writing the next two stories, this is the last story to feature a Story Editor credit for six weeks.

To direct the story, someone with experience of handling the Daleks was chosen. It had been planned that Richard Martin would become one of the main directors on the series, and he had been trialled on The Daleks and on The Edge of Destruction. Verity Lambert liked his imagination and enthusiasm, though Sydney Newman had doubted some of his more far-out ideas when he had been involved in helping to set up the series (such as the TARDIS being a frame of mind rather than a physical space, and you had to believe in it in order to enter, otherwise you just stepped into an empty police box. This prompted Newman to scribble "Nuts!" next to his notes about this).

From this episode onwards the programme found a new home - one which would be its main base for the remainder of the Hartnell era. This was Riverside, which comprised two studios. (Studio 3 was a nickname for the local pub). Donald Baverstock, head of BBC1, was still proving non-committal regarding the series' long-term future. Newman decided to force the issue by threatening to cancel the programme rather than see it being poorly served at Lime Grove. 
The studios at Riverside were actually smaller than those at Lime Grove, but the facilities were much better.
As well as a new base of operations, this story contained a significant increase in location filming, thanks to the London setting. The city appears to have altered very little from 1964, despite being set two centuries in the future. We see a modern power plant attached to the side of Battersea Power Station, and later episodes will mention bases on the Moon, an Astronaut Fair and moving pavements - but had we not been told any of this we might have just assumed events to be taking place in the present day.
The Doctor and Ian find a calendar in the abandoned warehouse, which has a date of 2164 printed on it.
Nation originally intended the story to be set in 2042 - tying it in with an anniversary of the WWII Blitz. He envisaged the invasion having begun in the 1970's, which is why the city would not have looked so different.
There is some dispute about the dating of this story, not helped by the on-screen calendar. It will later be said that the invasion began with a plague some 10 years before events depicted here, and it is unlikely people would be producing calendars following an invasion and during an alien occupation. The warehouse has been abandoned, so the year must be around 2174. In a later story, the invasion will have been said to begin in 2157, and in another story these events take place in 2000 AD (which is what the Daily Mail also said at the time).

In studio, no Daleks props had been required - their only appearance this week being on film. The Robomen actors went uncredited. Originally, they were to have appeared dressed all in black, with only small metal discs attached to their foreheads to indicate Dalek mind control.
The collapsing bridge section took a lot of time to rehearse and had only been performed once during the afternoon. When it came time to record the effect in the evening a number of reshoots were required.
The Dalek saucer was not pre-filmed. A model was suspended in front of photographic blow-ups and recorded in studio on the night - and unfortunately it shows.

In the run-up to broadcast there was a huge publicity drive. As well as a trailer and a Radio Times cover, a couple of Daleks were taken to the Planetarium and Madame Tussauds in London. Lambert, Nation and Ray Cusick were in attendance, photographed posing with the Daleks. Daleks were also pictured in the street outside
It wasn't apparent in the broadcast episode that the Daleks had undergone a slight modification, as the base and rear of the casing aren't visible. Viewers were therefore unaware of the new energy-drawing disc and the bigger fender.
Publicity was also aided by the publication the week before of David Whitaker's novelisation of the first Dalek story - Doctor Who in an exciting adventure with the Daleks.


Viewers, especially the younger ones, were extremely disappointed with the episode, as they only got to see a Dalek in the closing moments.
The episode title is a play on the fact that there is a district of Chelsea known as 'World's End', after a famous pub which is located near there (at 459 King's Road), whilst also hinting at the fate which has befallen the city.

Trivia:
  • A draft title for the story overall was "The Invaders". Other titles considered were "The Daleks" and "Return of the Daleks".
  • At one point it was planned that Terry Nation would become the series' lead writer on futuristic stories - being given three stories per season to himself.
  • To set the scene of a ruined, abandoned London, Nation suggested using clips from Seven Days To Noon - a 1950 movie about a scientist who threatens to blow up London with a nuclear device if the government doesn't disarm.
  • David originally had the surname Sonheim, and later Archer.
  • From this episode, the series moved to a later start time of 5:40pm, immediately following Juke Box Jury.
  • Location filming for this instalment took place around West London on Tuesday 25th and Thursday 27th August. The bridge which the TARDIS lands under is Hammersmith Bridge. A taxi was on stand-by to take cast or crew to the nearby Charing Cross Hospital, should anyone become ill from the polluted Thames waters. 
  • Inside the Dalek was operator Robert Jewell, wearing a wetsuit. He had difficulty manoeuvring the casing up out of the river, and so a cable had to be attached to pull it up towards the bank.
  • Some scenes were also filmed further east on the Tuesday, featuring the warehouses of St Katherine's Dock. Barbara's pursuit of the resistance fighter (an uncredited Robert Aldous) takes place around the disused Wood Lane Underground Station, close to Television Centre. It had been built for the 1908 London Olympics and Franco-English Exhibition and had been closed since 1959.
  • It's actually impossible to view Battersea Power Station at that angle from Hammersmith Bridge. It must have been photographed from the Pimlico district.
  • The return of the Daleks had generated so much excitement that the viewing figures leapt to more than 11 million, with a high appreciation figure of 63.
  • In the run-up to broadcast, the story was previewed in Ariel - the BBC's in-house staff magazine - with an image from the filming on Westminster Bridge.
  • The BBC ran a trailer for the story which featured scenes from the third instalment where the Daleks are seen visiting a number of London landmarks.
  • The actor we see playing the Roboman who walks into the Thames in the opening scene is Kenton Moore who would later play Noah in The Ark in Space. When we see his body face down in the river it is actor / stuntman / fight arranger Peter Diamond.
  • The TARDIS landing site was recreated for the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff (below). This had also been seen in the 50th Anniversary drama An Adventure In Space And Time.
  • The return of the Daleks was a big enough event for the serial to win another Radio Times cover. Inside was an article which mentioned some of the planned merchandise, due that Christmas, accompanied by the same image as used by Ariel - other than having another Dalek crudely superimposed at the bottom.

Saturday, 19 November 2022

Happy Birthday Mr Chesterton

 
Wishing William Russell a very happy 98th birthday today. His cameo appearance in The Power of the Doctor was a highlight for me.

Friday, 18 November 2022

No symbol for "ruby" on Instagram...


So, the red diamond was actually supposed to be a ruby. That's the name of the Doctor's next full-time companion - Ruby Sunday. She's played by 18-year-old Mancunian Millie Gibson, who hails from Coronation Street apparently.

What's Wrong With... Death to the Daleks

 
The title for this story came from the new Script Editor, Robert Holmes. He hated the Daleks - finding them terribly dull - and wished death upon them. This was a view shared by the person playing the Doctor in this story, as well as his successor. Even Terry Nation was realising their deficiencies by now - which is why he introduced Davros in the very next story he wrote.
As the writer is Nation, we have yet another militaristic expedition having a bad time on a hostile planet, which is named after a plot point (before it became a mineral, the expedition had come to the planet Exxilon in search of an elixir). The expedition members squabble amongst themselves over what to do next - one urging caution and the other hot-headed. A mysterious figure stalks the companion - only to turn out to be a friend. A pyramid full of death traps. The Daleks turn up at the end of the first episode, to no-one's surprise.
All that's missing is a jungle setting... Oh look - it was set in a jungle, but the director and script editor had it moved to a quarry planet.

The TARDIS interior is supposed to exist in a totally different dimension, so how can the Exxilon beacon possibly affect it? Also, this is the era when the TARDIS was supposed to be of infinite size, so surely the beacon could never have drained all the power without overloading itself. Terry Nation always treats the ship as if it were a conventional spacecraft.
The last time the Doctor had to open the main doors during a power loss, he used his ring and a device in the ship (The Web Planet) - but here we see that he has to use an old-fashioned, very low-tech hand crank to manually open and close them.

Once again Nation comes up with a number which he thinks is really, really big - but isn't at all when you think about it. 10 million people will die on some planets. That's not very many in planetary terms.
If parrinium is so vital, why did Earth send such a small mission?
With a beacon capable of draining every bit of energy from a TARDIS, how did the Earth people find out about the mineral in the first place?
In normal circumstances we can understand why the commander might not want Galloway to take over - but, in their current dire straits, surely he would make for a more effective commander than the wet Hamilton?
Saying that, Galloway attacks the Doctor long after he already knows what Exxilons look like. Did any previous ones have velvet jackets, frilly shirts and bouffant hairstyles?

A couple of very poor cliff-hangers, one due to some drastic reordering of scenes, and another due to the editor not cutting in time.
The latter is the end of Part One. We know that the Dalek guns don't work as we see one firing away far too long with nothing happening.
The third episode ending is regarded by fans as one of the Top 10 worst - "the floor tiles of doom". The Doctor stops Bellal stepping on a patterned bit of flooring for no discernible reason - thanks to this scene being shunted out of sequence and the real cliff-hanger being moved into the body of an episode.
You have to ask why the Exxilons made this bit of floor different in the first place - thus drawing attention to it.
Things aren't helped by the fact that the Doctor's description of the tiles doesn't match what we see. Bellal clearly steps out of the tiles the Doctor tells him to step on, and he doesn't copy the Doctor's steps (no doubt because Bellal actor Arnold Yarrow couldn't see a thing).

The Exxilon city has its ways of stopping people accessing it. We see that to get inside in the first place, you have to touch the wall to light up the hidden symbols. In the first chamber are a load of skeletons. To have got there they must have worked out the technique of touching the wall etc. How then did they fail to find and solve the much simpler maze puzzle?
There are automated defences in the cave system, and in a pool of water - but there don't seem to be any similar defences around the city itself. Anyone can just walk right up to it.
And who was it that lit all the candles in that underground tunnel which is guarded by a lethal defence mechanism?
What's worst about the city defences is that you can simply climb up the exterior and plant a bomb, encountering zero defences.
Inside the city we see an Exxilon who appears to be observing events but turns out to be long dead. It is implied that the Exxilons look like they do because they degenerated - yet this one looks the same.
The Doctor attacks the city via its electronics. The city responds by producing "anti-bodies" - but instead of attacking the person doing the actual damage, they just go after the Daleks.

How have the Daleks ever managed to conquer galaxies and gain the reputation they have when they self-destruct every time they do something wrong? They are always being beaten by the Doctor, so there shouldn't be all that many left by now. And in committing suicide, the Dalek guard actually makes matters far worse, as it allows Sarah and Jill more time to steal back all that parrinium.
The Daleks decide to launch a plague bomb to stop later humans landing on the planet - despite the fact that, with the beacon now destroyed, they could just land robot miners to do the work, or people in biohazard suits.
Not something wrong - just an annoyance. All the Daleks look the same apart from one which has orange dome lights instead of clear ones - yet they don't make something of this like making him the leader.

New Companion Reveal Tonight


It has been announced that the new companion, who will accompany Ncuti Gatwa's 15th Doctor, will be unveiled at some point tonight during the annual Children in Need programming. Presumably this will be some time in the first half of the evening, pre-9pm.
As a clue, RTD put out his usual two hearts image on Instagram (the Doctor), with a red diamond (the companion). 
Some have taken the colour to be significant - suggesting possibly another ginger-haired person - whilst others think the shape is the significant thing.
Whoever it may turn out to be, they would have been spotted in December anyway, as that's when Series 14 filming gets underway.

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Inspirations: The Lazarus Experiment

 
The main inspiration for this story is apparent in the title... 
A man begins to mutate following a big scientific experiment and goes on a killing spree, leaving his victims drained of their life-force. He is finally tracked down to a major London church where he is killed.
The scientific experiment in 1953's The Quatermass Experiment (later filmed by Hammer in 1955 as The Quatermass Xperiment, to tap into the new X-rating which had replaced "H" for Horror) was the first manned mission into space. The sole surviving astronaut - Victor Caroon - starts to turn into a bloodthirsty vegetable monster, which is finally tracked down to Westminster Abbey. As it sits on some metal scaffolding, electrical cables are attached and it is fried.
Here, Professor Lazarus' great experiment is a rejuvenation process. Unfortunately, it reactivates long dormant genes which cause him to mutate into a monster which sucks the life-force from his victims. He seeks sanctuary in Southwark Cathedral where the Doctor uses acoustics to cause him to fall to his death.
Writer Stephen Greenhorn took the basic structure of the earlier BBC serial for his Doctor Who story, referencing it in the title.
He did have some other inspirations in mind - namely certain Marvel villains. He was thinking of the Green Goblin and Dr Octopus from the Spider-Man comics, and who had featured in the first two Sam Raimi / Toby Maguire movies. Both were well-meaning scientists who experimented on themselves, only to be transformed into evil villains. When it comes to any scientist changing personality after self-experimentation, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde obviously comes to mind.
Another influence was The Fly - first filmed in 1958, then remade in 1986. In this a scientist enters a pod-like device and ends up monstrously altered.

To guest star in this story as Professor Lazarus we have Mark Gatiss. He was best known for being one third of the on-screen talent of the League of Gentlemen comedy group. Before this, he had been one of the first batch of writers to be approached by Virgin Publishing to write for their new range of Doctor Who 'New Adventures' novels.
Target had begun the range back in 1973 with the reprint of three Hartnell stories. The releases had quickly caught up with the televised stories, coinciding with the final season on TV. (In 1990 only Planet of Giants and The Space Pirates remained to be published of the older stories - not counting those where permissions hadn't been granted such as the works of Douglas Adams, Eric Saward and David Whitaker's Dalek stories). The Target imprint was taken over by Virgin, who discovered that they had little else to do with it but reprints. As fans had been asking for new material for a while, the BBC and Virgin finally agreed this.
Mark Gatiss' first contribution was Nightshade - which just happened to be inspired by the Quatermass serials of the 1950's. One of the guest characters was an actor who had portrayed "Professor Nightshade" on television - a figure based on Quatermass.
Gatiss would later write an audio for Big Finish which had amongst its cast his friend David Tennant. The two were acting together in a live remake of the first Quatermass story when Tennant found out about his casting as the Tenth Doctor.
Gatiss had already written for Series 1 in 2005 (The Unquiet Dead) so his appearance in this story made him the second person to have both written and acted in a Doctor Who story - the other being Glyn Jones (writer of The Space Museum and Krans, in The Sontaran Experiment).

Doctor Who references had been included within the League of Gentlemen's repertoire - not least the potholing tour guide who mentions that the programme had been recorded in his cave system back in the 1970's, when they were full of Cybermen. This is a reference to the Wookey Hole filming of Revenge of the Cybermen.
One of Gatiss' regular characters was the hapless vet, who accidentally killed his animals in various horrible ways. He was based on Peter Davison's Tristan Farnon character from All Creatures Great and Small.
For this Gatiss wore a blond wig, and when it came to playing the younger version of Prof. Lazarus Gatiss suggested bringing this bit of costume in from home, rather than have another specially made up. He was paid for the use of it.
The script was changed to have Lazarus growing up above a butcher's shop rather than a bookshop - a nod to his Hilary Briss butcher character in The League of Gentlemen.

The biblical character of Lazarus appears in John 11 - 12. He was the brother of Martha (no relation) and Mary and is the man who was brought back from the dead by Jesus. This has led to his name being used in other contexts - such as the Lazarus Effect describing the recovery of a terminally ill person. The Lazarus Sign is some physical movement in a person believed to be brain-dead.
More relevant to this story is the Lazarus Species or Taxon - one believed to have become extinct but is subsequently found to be still living (such as with the Coelacanth). The Professor's body mutates when a mix of long-dormant genes are activated - showing as various animal life-forms which the human race might have evolved into but didn't.
In 2006 scientists discovered a desert-dwelling microbe which can resurrect itself after it dies, thanks to a genetic repair mechanism. It is known as the Lazarus Microbe.

Sharp eyed viewers will have recognised the Genetic Manipulation Device capsule as a reused prop - the lift from The Impossible Planet.
The Doctor turning the organ's volume up to 11 is a reference to This is Spinal Tap, the mockumentary about an English heavy metal band.
It had been hoped that the ending might have been filmed in St Paul's Cathedral, but there had been a recent suicide from the Whispering Gallery and the cathedral authorities declined their assistance.
The Doctor mentions reversing the polarity of the Genetic Manipulation Device - paraphrasing Jon Pertwee's famous phrase (which he actually only ever used once during his tenure as the Doctor, in The Sea Devils).
As far as the season story arc goes, Lazarus and Lady Thaw mention Harold Saxon funding his work, and we also see a mysterious man sowing seeds of suspicion about the Doctor to Martha's mother.
Next time: a story inspired by 24, called 42...

Monday, 14 November 2022

L is for... Lethbridge-Stewart, Brigadier Alistair Gordon

 
The Doctor first encountered Lethbridge-Stewart when he was a Colonel in the Scots Guards. He had been sent to take over command of the Goodge Street underground fortress following the death of its previous commander. This was during an invasion attempt by the Great Intelligence which had paralysed central London with a dense fog, under cover of which robot Yeti were operating. The Intelligence manifested itself as a thick web-like substance which moved around the Underground network, but had also taken over the corpse of an army Staff Sergeant named Arnold. The Colonel had been travelling to Goodge Street in a convoy which had been attacked and destroyed by Yeti. He had found himself alone in the tunnels, where he encountered the Doctor who was himself wandering lost following a meeting with the robots.
At the time no-one knew about Arnold and so everyone was suspicious as to who the human agent of the Intelligence might be. Being the sole survivor of the convoy, some suspected Lethbridge-Stewart.
After leading an expedition to the surface in search of supplies at Covent Garden, the Colonel witnessed another massacre of his men by the Yeti - an event which almost broke him. He later seriously considered handing over the Doctor to the Intelligence if it would depart. He was also open to the idea of the Doctor having a time machine, capable of fitting inside a Tube station, and was happy to lead a mission to find it.


Following this incident, Lethbridge-Stewart was instrumental in setting up a specialist force designed to tackle similar events. Military-led, it would have a scientific foundation. The resultant organisation came under the auspices of the United Nations, with its command based in Geneva. Lethbridge-Stewart was promoted to Brigadier and placed in command of the British section of UNIT - the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. The Brigadier based himself in a converted cargo aircraft for mobility purposes. Under him he had a Captain - Jimmy Turner - and a Sergeant named Walters. Another member of the team was a Corporal named Benton. 
Soon after its formation UNIT was called upon to investigate a series of UFO sightings clustered around the factory compound belonging to International Electromatics, owned by Tobias Vaughn. IE made electronic components which were used in equipment all over the world. A number of people seen entering IE's headquarters were later found to be changed in terms of personality, whilst others disappeared altogether. Of concern to Lethbridge-Stewart was that his immediate superior - Major General Rutlidge - was one of those who had changed. Initially supportive of the Brigadier's investigations into Vaughn, he suddenly turned against them shortly after a visit to IE's London offices.
The Brigadier was extremely pleased to be reunited with the Doctor, who had come to Earth to repair some TARDIS circuits. He helped to reveal that Vaughn was in league with the Cybermen. 
Following the death of Vaughn and the destruction of the Cyberman invasion attempt, the Brigadier decided to recruit a scientific adviser of his own, who could replace the absentee Doctor.
A small fall of meteorites in Essex was followed six months later by a larger fall. The Brigadier sought out an expert in the field and had Dr Liz Shaw come and meet him at UNIT's London HQ, built beneath St Pancras Station.
As he was interviewing Cambridge-based Liz, word came in that the TARDIS had turned up in the same location as the most recent fall. He and Liz went to see the Doctor in the local hospital, but he was disappointed to find a stranger. However, the man recognised him. It soon transpired that this was the Doctor after all, but a regenerated one with a new face and personality. 
The Brigadier once again had to deal with an antagonistic superior - this time an Auton duplicate.
Once the Nestene attack had been repelled, the Brigadier offered the Doctor a full-time role with UNIT as scientific adviser - knowing that he was now unable to leave Earth in the TARDIS. Liz agreed to stay on as his assistant. The Brigadier made him his own personal responsibility.


Great friends for the most part, the relationship between the Brigadier and the Doctor could often be a stormy one. The Doctor deeply resented his exile to Earth and longed to get back into Time and Space to explore. He disliked having to be part of a military organisation, but felt trapped. This frustration would often be taken out on the Brigadier, but he would good humouredly shoulder the Doctor's insults.
He would always defend the Brigadier when he in turn had to deal with civil servants and other officials. The two trusted each other implicitly. A good example of the bond between the two was when the Brigadier was ordered to destroy the Silurian shelter in Derbyshire, which the Doctor hoped to exploit for its scientific secrets. Some would have walked away from UNIT, but the Doctor accepted that his friend was bound by his orders.
On an authoritarian parallel Earth the Doctor encountered a version of the Brigadier - the Brigade Leader of the Republican Security Force - who was a coward and a bully, lacking any of the Brigadier's attributes.
When Liz Shaw returned to Cambridge, the Brigadier had no need to replace her. After a run of captains on secondment from the Regular Army the Brigadier obtained a full time captain named Mike Yates. Corporal Benton was promoted to Sergeant. At the same time the Brigadier had an eager new recruit foisted upon him, thanks to an influential uncle. He decided to give Jo Grant to the Doctor as a new assistant. When the Doctor rejected her, the Brigadier ensured that his scientific adviser should be the one to tell her - knowing that the Doctor would relent.
The arrival of Mike Yates and Jo Grant coincided with the first appearance of the Master on Earth, an evil rogue Time Lord. He brought a number of alien menaces to the planet, which the Brigadier and UNIT had to combat with the Doctor's help.
One threat was an ancient one that came from the Earth itself - a long-dormant Daemon, which took over the village of Devil's End. The Brigadier had been attending a regimental dinner and awoke to find that his helicopter had been taken by Yates and Benton. By the time he followed, a heat barrier had sealed off the village. He witnessed the destruction of the helicopter when it crashed into this, after being stolen by one of the Master's followers.
A living stone gargoyle posed no danger to the Brigadier, who simply asked one of his men to shoot it.


Throughout their time together, the Brigadier had never set foot in the TARDIS, and often doubted many of the stories told by the Doctor. One day UNIT HQ came under attack and the Brigadier was forced to take refuge in the TARDIS. He was also confronted by the Doctor in the form he had first encountered back in the London Underground, and again fighting against the Cybermen.
This combination of events almost broke the Brigadier, who thought the TARDIS an illusion, and he explained away the Doctor's change of appearance as him having reverted to his earlier incarnation - rather than accept there might be two Doctors. He then had to confront the idea of a third.
When the entire HQ building was transported through a Black Hole to an alien world, the Brigadier was convinced they had only moved to another country, though it was more likely they had only moved as far as Cromer in Norfolk.
Once he accepted he was on another planet, the Brigadier made the most of available resources - co-opting game warden Mr Ollis into his two man army.
Following the lifting of the Doctor's exile by the Time Lords, he tended to spend less time on Earth.
When UNIT came to investigate the activities of Global Chemicals, the Brigadier found himself caught in a conflict of interests. He was compelled to provide security to the company, despite the Doctor and Jo allying against it. He got round this by placing Mike Yates inside the company as a mole.
Jo left soon after, and then the Brigadier was confronted by a conspiracy which involved his Regular Army superior General Finch and the Government official Sir Charles Grover.  Worse - Mike was also involved. The Brigadier was prepared to commit mutiny to stand up to Finch, such was his trust in the Doctor.
It was towards the end of the Third Doctor's incarnation that some of the Brigadier's personal life slipped out. A clairvoyant named "Professor" Clegg had been given his wrist-watch, and was able to identify that it had been given to him in Brighton by a young woman named Doris by way of a thank-you...
During an encounter with a huge robot, the Brigadier thought that he had a means to destroy it without the Doctor's help. He used a powerful energy weapon on it. However, it absorbed the energy and grew to enormous size, making things much worse. The newly regenerated Doctor had to sort things out after all.


With this new regeneration, the Doctor decided to distance himself from Earth and from UNIT. The Brigadier met him only one more time in this incarnation - at a village near Loch Ness in Scotland. The Brigadier had been left a device to summon the TARDIS back to Earth in the event of an emergency, and he used it when a number of North Sea oil rigs were attacked and destroyed by an unseen force. For the occasion of revisiting his ancestral home, the Brigadier adopted a kilt of his Clan Stewart tartan.
Once the Zygons had been defeated, the Brigadier found himself increasingly spending time at UNIT central command in Geneva. He also held an office at the UK Space Defence Agency, but rarely used it.
Irritated by the amount of time spent at Geneva, away from front-line operations, the Brigadier elected to retire from UNIT in 1977.


He took up a teaching post at Brendon, a minor public school for boys. Here he taught mathematics, coached rugby, and ran the school regiment. Shortly after arriving he found his past catching up with him. The TARDIS arrived, and he met the Doctor's latest companions Tegan and Nyssa. With them was the regenerated Doctor, who was gravely ill. He joined them in the TARDIS when it travelled to a spaceship in temporal orbit above Earth. 


The Doctor, meanwhile, had arrived at the school in 1983 using a transmat pod from the spaceship, and he met the Brigadier from that year - a man who had suffered some nervous breakdown, his memories of the Doctor missing. The Doctor helped him regain his memories, then the two travelled to the spaceship by pod. The Brigadier erroneously assured the Doctor that he had not gone with Tegan and Nyssa. When the two versions of the Brigadier encountered each other it shorted the temporal differential and triggered his nervous breakdown - but also resolved the issue of Mawdryn and his fellow mutants.
Soon after, the Brigadier attended a UNIT reunion at his old HQ, hosted by Colonel Crichton, his replacement as UK section commander. He met the Doctor in his second incarnation, who had read about the event in the next day's newspaper. As the two reminisced in the grounds they came under attack by a time scoop, which carried them both to the Death Zone on Gallifrey. He met all five incarnations of the Doctor, plus the latest incarnation of the Master, as well as a number of the Doctor's companions - of whom he already knew Sarah and Tegan. He also had to confront the Cybermen again, plus a rogue Yeti. When the Master attempted to capitalise on the situation, it was the Brigadier who knocked him out with a well-aimed punch.


On leaving teaching, the Brigadier married Doris and settled down to a life of quiet retirement in the country. He remained on reserve with UNIT, however, and so was recalled to duty when it was discovered that the Doctor had been seen at the site of an incident involving a UNIT missile convoy.
Despite two regenerations, the Brigadier recognised his old friend immediately - just because of the bizarre situation he found him in.
The Brigadier was happy to act as the representative of the human race against the witch-queen Morgaine and her demonic ally the Destroyer.
When it appeared that the Brigadier had sacrificed himself to kill the Destroyer the Doctor revealed that he was aware of his old friend's fate - that he was due to die in bed of old age. The Brigadier had survived however, but decided that he was now too old to support the Doctor.


Knighted, he refused to settle down completely. He became a noted ambassador, and it was in this role that he found himself stranded in Peru during an invasion attempt by the Sontarans and a later attack by the Daleks.
When Sarah Jane Smith needed to gain access to UNIT's Black Archive, it was to the Brigadier that she turned. He was annoyed at the way the organisation he helped to found was now run, so was happy to assist her - smuggling her and her companion Rani into the Archive compound.
He helped capture an alien Bane which had been impersonating the Archive's commander.
In what he thought to be his final incarnation, facing his own mortality, the Doctor tried to contact the Brigadier for advice. He was now living in a care home, where he would keep a glass of whisky by his bedside should the Doctor ever call in for a visit. The Doctor was saddened to hear that he had just missed his old friend, who had died peacefully in bed as he had foreseen.
UNIT was to rebrand itself as the Unified Intelligence Taskforce, and came under the command of the Brigadier's daughter Kate. She only used the surname Stewart, not wishing to ride on her father's coat-tails. She was a scientist rather than a soldier, and her father had told her that science should lead for the organisation to be successful.
When the female incarnation of the Master - Missy - resurrected the dead to become an army of Cybermen, Kate Stewart was saved by one of them. The Doctor suspected that this might have been the Brigadier. The Cyberman saluted him then flew off into space.

Played by: Nicholas Courtney. Appearances: The Web of Fear (1967), The Invasion (1968), Spearhead From Space (1970) to Terror of the Zygons (1975), Mawdryn Undead (1983), The Five Doctors (1983), Battlefield (1989), SJA 2.6 Enemy of the Bane (2008).
  • Nicholas Courtney was back-up choice to play King Richard in The Crusade. Director Douglas Camfield, who frequently employed him, thought that Julian Glover would turn the role down.
  • Camfield later cast him as Bret Vyon in The Daleks' Master Plan. William Hartnell convinced him to change agent (to his son-in-law) but Courtney then found himself out of work for a year.
  • When not acting he worked in a model soldier shop in Kensington.
  • Courtney was due to play Captain Knight in The Web of Fear (Camfield again) - a character who dies. However, the actor due to play Lethbridge-Stewart (David Langton) pulled out late in the day, and Courtney was promoted, in more ways than one.
  • When it came to The Invasion, Courtney's was the easiest and cheapest character from Web to be brought back, as any replacement officer would be too close to the Colonel anyway. Prof. Travers and his daughter Anne were replaced. 
  • Courtney was asked about becoming a regular for Season 7 during the making of the Cyberman story.
  • He and Pertwee did not hit it off immediately. Pertwee accused him of drinking too much on their first story together. Courtney did like a lunchtime drink, which helped settle his nerves. He also suffered from depression.
  • During the making of Terror of the Autons he had a minor breakdown, and is replaced by a double in some of the location scenes.
  • Many of the Brigadier's best known lines were Courtney's own, ad libs, or ones that he fought to retain when Terrance Dicks threatened to cut them (including his iconic "Chap with wings... five rounds rapid").
  • The Brigadier was almost killed off on a couple of occasions - including the original draft version of The Hand of Fear and then again in Battlefield. Courtney was okay with this, so long as it was a brave death.
  • With the Brigadier featuring less and less in the series, Courtney embarked on stage work which prevented him from featuring in The Android Invasion and The Seeds of Doom. He and John Levene had foreseen this situation during the making of Robot.
  • The Brigadier was actually third choice to appear in Mawdryn Undead, after Ian Chesterton and Harry Sullivan. Neither William Russell nor Ian Marter was available.
  • The Five Doctors saw the first real moustache for the Brigadier.
  • Ill health prevented him from featuring opposite David Tennant's Doctor in The Sontaran Stratagem and The Stolen Earth two-parters.
  • He and Lis Sladen died within a couple of months of each other in 2011. Reference to the Brigadier's death was added to The Name of the Doctor by way of a tribute. Steven Moffat then screwed things up by having him resurrected as a Cyberman. Moffat was very good at undermining his own work.