Thursday 31 March 2022

On This Day... 31st March

Frontier in Space Day couldn't make it to the end of the story (the day when only an episode of Frontier has made its debut but no other story or spin-off). Part Six went out today in 1973, but a significant episode of the new series also made its debut today.
It wasn't Freema Agyeman's introduction on this date in 2007, but it was that of Martha Jones. Smith and Jones got Series 3 underway with a platoon of Judoon upon the Moon.
As well as playing Adiola in Army of Ghosts in Series 2, Freeman had also been introduced as the new companion at the Doctor Who Concert in Cardiff just before Christmas.

Wednesday 30 March 2022

On This Day... 30th March

Fury From The Deep reached its mid point today in 1968 with its third episode.
In 1974 The Monster of Peladon moved onto its second instalment.
Season 19 concluded with the fourth part of Time-Flight in 1982; Season 21 concluded with the fourth part of The Twin Dilemma in 1984: and Season 22 concluded with Part Two of Revelation of the Daleks in 1985.
Meanwhile, in 2013, the second half of Series 7 got underway with The Bells of Saint John. This was the episode which introduced Clara (the 21st Century companion one).
In yesterday's "Inspirations" post I mentioned that there had been a Weakest Link Doctor Who Special in 2007. Well, today is its anniversary.

Today we remember Kate O'Mara, who portrayed the Rani in two stories - Mark of the Rani and Time and the Rani. She passed away on this day in 2014 aged 74. Not so much an evil Time Lord as an amoral one, the Rani was the creation of writers Pip and Jane Baker. O'Mara found international fame thanks to the US soap Dynasty, in which she played Joan Collins' sister. After her first appearance in Doctor Who, she wrote to producer JNT and asked him if he had any work going back in cold and wet England as she was fed up with Californian sunshine. She bagged a quarry, and a Bonnie Langford impression.
She had been earmarked for the series much earlier - in 1970 to be exact. Douglas Camfield wanted her for the part of Petra Williams in Inferno. O'Mara went with a Hammer film instead (The Vampire Lovers), and the Inferno role went to Camfield's wife.
O'Mara's first love was theatre work, especially Shakespeare.

We also lost Dave Martin on this day, in 2007 aged 72. With his writing partner Bob Baker he was responsible for the creation of K-9. Known collectively as "the Bristol Boys" they wrote The Claws of Axos, The Mutants, The Three Doctors, The Sontaran Experiment, The Hand of Fear, The Invisible Enemy, Underworld and The Armageddon Factor. The partnership ended when Martin decided he wanted to concentrate on novels rather than TV scripts.

Tuesday 29 March 2022

Inspirations - Bad Wolf

The first half of 2005's Series 1 finale is very much inspired by contemporary TV shows - which were highly popular in 2005. 
The episode opens with the Doctor waking up to find himself in the Big Brother House.
This reality TV series was created by John De Mol in 1997, and within a year or two there were national versions all over the globe. The UK version was screened on Channel 4 from 2000 to 2010. It was relaunched by Channel 5 in 2011. As well as the version for "ordinary" folks there is also a "celebrity" version - both finally came to an end in 2018.
The basic premise was that a disparate group of fame-hungry people would be forced to live together for a number of weeks, watched constantly by cameras. The viewers would vote out their least favourite housemates each week - with the last person winning the prize. Some winners went on to become TV presenters and / or to feature in a string of other increasingly desperate reality shows.
The original C4 version was presented by Davina McColl, who features here as the voice of the Davina-Droid. The House is based on the one seen in the series, and a new, but recognisable, arrangement of the theme music has been used.
The Doctor sits in a big red chair, of the sort usually seen in the diary room on the show.

Rose finds herself in a deadly version of The Weakest Link. This early evening quiz was hugely popular on the BBC, and in 2007 there was a Doctor Who special - which sadly did not include Billie Piper.
The presenter is former journalist and TV critic Anne Robinson. This also began in 2000, and ended in 2017. Robinson features as the voice of the Anne-Droid, which is based on her appearance - red hair and dressed in black.

Captain Jack, meanwhile, is trapped in a version of the fashion series What Not To Wear. Another BBC show, it was launched in 2001. The presenters were Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine, who appear here as androids Trin-E and Zu-zanna. They left after the fifth season, and it ended in 2007.
The premise of this show was that people would get a complete fashion make-over. As with both series above, there was the occasional celebrity version.

Two other series mentioned, but not seen, are Stars In Their Eyes and Groundforce.
In the first, members of the public got to portray their favourite pop stars, singing one of their songs whilst dressed like them. This was an ITV series, which ran from 1990 to 2006. This has just been revamped as Starstruck. Once again there was the odd celebrity special, and one for children.
Groundforce was a BBC gardening show, in which people's gardens were given a surprise makeover.

As far as Doctor Who itself is concerned, there are a couple of references to the series' past. 
When the Controller is first seen, she is linked up to various pipe or tubes, and we see that these make a hexagonal pattern after she is teleported away. These are visual references to the Dalek Emperor from The Evil of the Daleks - a hint as to its reappearance the following week.
Even before we see the reflection of a Dalek move towards the Controller, fans of the classic series know where she is just from the sound effects. We hear the "Dalek Heartbeat" sound. This has been used for Dalek control room backgrounds ever since 1963.
Bringing things up to date, the action takes place in the same location as The Long Game, and we find out that the current situation on Earth came about because of the Doctor's actions in that story.
Satellite 5 is now known as The Game Station, and it is being run by the Bad Wolf Corporation. This gives the episode its title, but it won't be until next week that we discover just who or what this is...

Legend of the Sea Devils build up

It is less than three weeks away, and only now is the BBC starting to really plug the forthcoming Easter Special, Legend of the Sea Devils. Everyone expected something in last week's Comic Relief, like a trailer, but we got Doctor In Distress instead... 
We then got a trio of photographs last week - a Sea Devil shot (below), the Doctor with Yaz, and one of the Chinese Pirate Queen.

Today we have a new image depicting a Sea Devil skull and crossbones flag, confirming reports that these Sea Devils act like pirates. Further confirmation comes with the next issue of DWM which is out in two days' time. It's one of those which will be coming in a bag as it contains extra items such as a "52 page supplement" (apparently one of those old "Doctor Who Discovers..." about pirates), and a double-sided poster.
Below are the bag cover, and the actual magazine cover (subscriber version, without the text).

On This Day... 29th March

In 1969 the penultimate Patrick Troughton story (and therefore the penultimate B&W story) arrived at its fourth episode. This was The Space Pirates. There have been pirate related stories both before and since (The Smugglers, The Curse of the Black Spot to name but two) and we are about to go down that road again as the new Sea Devil story supposedly has them acting like pirates.
Another Part Four was that of Genesis of the Daleks, today in 1975.
Time-Flight touched down on its third episode in 1982, and The Twin Dilemma did the same in 1984.

Monday 28 March 2022

On This Day... 28th March

Marco Polo finally brought the Doctor and his companions to meet the Mighty Kublai Khan today in 1964 - the penultimate episode of this story.
In 1970, The Ambassadors of Death moved on to its second episode.

Today we remember the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton. He passed away on this date in 1987. 
He had been attending a convention in the USA, just a couple of days after his 67th birthday, when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was found in his hotel room still wearing his Doctor costume.
Initially reluctant to take over from William Hartnell, he was working on a Hammer film in Ireland when the BBC began courting him. He featured in several films for the horror studio.
A complicated home life, involving more than one family, led him to accept the role as Second Doctor due to the financial security it would bring.
His first story was The Power of the Daleks in 1966, early in Season 4.
He tended to shun publicity, only really getting involved with this aspect of the role long after he left. 
His final story was The War Games, in 1969. He had been unhappy for a while as the programme offered little time off, and he was starting to dislike the scripts. He agreed to return to the show in 1973 for the 10th Anniversary season story The Three Doctors. He was back again in 1983 for the 20th Anniversary and The Five Doctors. Peter Davison's departure from the role came about partly because Troughton had advised him to only do three years as he had done. Troughton enjoyed this last story so much, during which he was briefly reunited with Frazer Hines as Jamie, that he spoke to producer JNT about a further comeback. This saw light as The Two Doctors, in 1985.
A consummate character actor, Troughton never suffered from any of the typecasting which befell other stars of the show. He went straight into a production of The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and later appeared in TV series and films as diverse as Inspector Morse (the first ever episode) and The Omen. As well as a number of Hammer films, he featured in a couple of Ray Harryhausen movies - Jason and the Argonauts and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.
One of his last big roles was in the family drama The Box of Delights.
Two of his sons - David and Michael - have appeared in Doctor Who.

A couple of birthdays of note today:
Morris Perry, who played Captain Dent in Colony In Space, is 97.
Gareth David-Lloyd - Torchwood's Ianto Jones - turns 41. 
Recent guest artists Orla Brady (Time of the Doctor) is 61, and Nick Frost (Last Christmas) is 50.

Sunday 27 March 2022

Episode 12: The Edge of Destruction

The TARDIS has just left the planet Skaro when something goes wrong. There is a flash of light then the console room is plunged into darkness. The travellers are thrown to the floor, knocked unconscious...
A short time later they begin to wake up. Barbara is the first to come to, and she is initially confused as to where she is or who the others are. She then recognises Ian as her fellow teacher, and Susan as a pupil. Susan is alarmed to find that her grandfather has been injured and is suffering from a head wound. She puts a bandage around it after Barbara and Ian inform her that they don't think it too serious. Susan notices that the food machine registers empty for water, despite issuing some.
Once the Doctor has come to, their memories begin to clear. They must attempt to find out what happened. The Doctor is convinced that they cannot have crashed, and the fault locator shows no issues.
Any attempt to approach the console results in a severe pain at the back of the neck, however, unless it is that part of the console which includes the scanner controls.
They try to find out what is outside but the scanner throws up seemingly random images of a jungle planet, a quiet country scene, then a sequence of a planet, a solar system and then a galaxy. When the country scene appears, the doors open by themselves, but they cannot see anything beyond save for a bright light. Susan explains that the jungle scene is an image of the planet Quinnis in the Fourth Universe, where they almost lost the TARDIS not long before it came to London, 1963.
Susan becomes paranoid and suspects the two teachers after hearing them speak about the possibility of something having gotten aboard the ship, whilst the Doctor suspects that they have sabotaged the TARDIS to force him to return them home.
As tensions build, Susan thinks that suspected intruder might be hiding inside one of them, and even threatens to attack Ian with a pair of scissors.
The teachers insist that they have not touched the controls. Barbara angrily reminds the Doctor that they have recently saved his life, and that of Susan, so would never sabotage the ship. Suddenly she notices that the face on the Doctor's ornate clock has melted. She is horrified to find that the same thing has happened to her watch.
With hysteria mounting, the Doctor calls for calm, and to help he suggests that everyone get some sleep. They can examine their problem with fresh eyes in the morning. He produces cocoa for everyone. A short time later, he goes round and checks that Susan, Ian and Barbara are all asleep as he had put a sleeping draught in their drinks, then returns alone to the console room.
As he examines the console someone steals up behind him. Turning round, he is suddenly seized by the throat...
Next episode: The Brink of Disaster.

Written by: David Whitaker
Recorded: Friday 17th January, 1964 - Lime Grove Studio D
First broadcast: 5:15pm, Saturday 8th February, 1964.
Ratings: 10.4 million / AI 61
Designer: Raymond P Cusick
Director: Richard Martin

For many years there was a myth that the reason this story was devised was that the the scripts or sets (or both) for the epic seven part Marco Polo weren't ready. A two week gap needed to be filled and there wasn't any money budgeted for guest artists, sets or costumes - hence this story which featured only the Doctor and his companions in the TARDIS.
The truth was far more alarming - the series was itself on the edge of destruction.
After initial enthusiasm, there were some in the senior ranks of the BBC who lost confidence in this new Saturday evening sci-fi series before it had even aired. This was one of the reasons why the first episode never got that Radio Times cover.
One concern in particular was cost. Head of Programmes for the BBC - Donald Baverstock - would only commit to a 13 week run, despite the initial intention for the series to run weekly for a full year, as had even been stated in all the press releases.
Even though other stories like Marco Polo were already commissioned, it was decided that Terry Nation's The Daleks would be expanded from six to seven episodes, and a final two part story written to bring the total up to 13 weeks, in case the plug was pulled. The obvious candidate to write this was the Story Editor David Whitaker, who knew the series best.
Had Baverstock not been encouraged to change his mind and commit to a longer run, no doubt Whitaker would have used these two episodes to get the school teachers back home. As it was, Baverstock agreed to a further 13 weeks, taking the series up to a six month block. (Foreign TV companies liked to have series in blocks of 13, 26 or 52 weeks for planning purposes). Baverstock would extend the series again, after the success of the Daleks had become apparent.
One issue that had been of particular concern for Baverstock was that the TARDIS set had been very expensive to create. Verity Lambert was able to point out to him that its cost had been planned to be spread over 52 weeks, so the longer the run of the series, the more economical the set became.

Even though the initial reasons for its creation no longer applied, Lambert and Whitaker agreed that a short money-saving story at this point would be a good idea. This would be used to help solidify the characters of the Doctor and his companions, as they would be forced to interact with each other in the claustrophobic confines of their ship. The TARDIS itself would be seen to be a fifth character in the second episode.
Whitaker's main inspirations were ghost stories and haunted house tales. Following an unexplained incident, the travellers would be left suspecting that an invisible presence might have managed to get into the ship - and possibly even into one of them. A mystery would be established, which they would need to solve. This would force them to confront certain negative characteristics, both of themselves and of their companions, which they would also have to resolve before they could move on, far more certain of each other. The story allowed Lambert and Whitaker to make any character tweaks necessary for the continuance of the series, based on what they had observed so far.
The cast generally did not like the script initially, as they didn't understand why they were behaving as they did. Carole Ann Ford thought that Susan was going mad for no reason. Jacqueline Hill, on the other hand liked it, thinking it gave insight into their characters.
Another inspiration which has been identified for this first instalment is the play Six Characters in Search of an Author, an absurdist piece by playwright Luigi Pirandello.

Right from the very start, the Children's Department at the BBC thought that Doctor Who should have fallen under their remit. It was often described as a children's show, but it had been created specifically by the general Drama Department, with the whole family its intended target audience. The Children's Department started to launch frequent attacks on the programme whenever they thought that it was being irresponsibly produced. According to Lambert, this was an attempt by them to have the series taken away from her and moved under their control. 
One example where Lambert came under attack was in this episode - the scene where Susan threatens Ian with the scissors. They look like dressmaking shears - so have long, prominent blades. After waving them at Ian, she then attacks her bed, wildly stabbing at it several times.
The use of scissors as a weapon fell into the realm of violence that could be copied by a child at home. Fantasy violence was okay, but not this. Lambert accepted the criticism and ensured that there would be no further instances of violence involving everyday household items which a child could replicate.

  • This is the first episode of a story generally known overall as The Edge of Destruction. This was the title used for the novelisation and for the VHS and DVD releases. However, there are those who prefer the title "Inside the Spaceship". The Complete History partwork, from the makers of Doctor Who Magazine, recently elected to use this title.
  • Still the only story to feature just the Doctor and companions in a single setting - that of the TARDIS. No guest artists, no monsters, no alien planets, spaceships or any other change of location. The revived series has attempted 'chamber pieces' (Heaven Sent, Midnight, Listen etc.), but has never achieved anything as minimalist as this.
  • The Doctor suggests that there are multiple universes - stating that Quinnis lies in the fourth. This confusion around the definition of "universes" and "galaxies" will persist for most of the Hartnell years, especially when David Whitaker is involved (though Terry Nation can make a hash of them as well).
  • It is confirmed that the TARDIS has visited alien planets prior to the teachers joining the Doctor and Susan - so before the series started. Previously, earlier trips all seemed to have occurred on Earth. Susan indicated that she had some personal experience of the French Revolution, enough to quickly spot an error in a text book, and she then mentioned the various forms which the TARDIS had copied - all Earth objects.
  • This story meant that Ray Cusick had designed nine consecutive episodes. However, as it was set entirely in the TARDIS he had little to do, save for designing the sleeping areas and a new fault locator bay.
  • William Hartnell jokingly referred to the fault locator as "the fornicator" in rehearsals.

On This Day... 27th March

The opening instalment of The Crusade - The Lion - was first broadcast today in 1965.
Its star was Julian Glover, portraying King Richard I - and today also marks his 87th birthday. 
Glover returned to the programme to play Count Scarlioni / Scaroth in City of Death in 1979. 
In 1983 his wife Isla Blair featured in The King's Demons (a story which just happened to revolve around King Richard's brother John) as Lady Fitzwilliam. 
Their son Jamie Glover played William Russell in An Adventure in Space and Time, and has since played Ian Chesterton on audio.
The only other episode to make its debut today was the third part of The Claws of Axos, in 1971.

Today we remember actor and fight arranger Peter Diamond. He arranged stunts on a number of stories throughout the 1960's and '70's, but also had two substantial roles to perform. The first was as Delos, Ian's friend in The Romans, and the second was as the principal Morok soldier in The Space Museum.
In The Dalek Invasion of Earth he was the Roboman who walks into the Thames at the very start of the first episode, and later in the same instalment performed the stunt where Ian almost falls to his death when he barges through a door. Much later, he's the Morris Dancer who attacks Benton and Miss Hawthorne in the pub in The Daemons.
Outside of Doctor Who, Diamond worked on the Star Wars movies amongst many other high profile movies. He's the Tusken Raider who attacks Luke Skywalker just before the entrance of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He also featured in Raiders of the Lost Ark, a number of Hammer horror and Bond movies and two of the Christopher Reeve Superman sequels.
Diamond passed away today in 2004, aged 74.
He played opposite comic actor Derek Francis in The Romans, and Francis, who featured in a few of the Carry On... films, also passed away on this date - in 1984, aged 60.
Two other figures who we lost on this date were actor Richard Beale (Bat Masterson in The Gunfighters, and the Ecology Minister in The Green Death, and who also provided voices for The Macra Terror and The Ark). He died in 2017, aged 96. 
The other figure of note is director Derek Martinus. He helmed a number of hugely significant stories: Galaxy 4, Mission to the Unknown, The Tenth Planet, The Evil of the Daleks, The Ice Warriors and Spearhead From Space. He passed away in 2014, aged 82.

Saturday 26 March 2022

On This Day... 26th March

Sixteen years after the series ended, and nine years after a failed attempt at a relaunch, Doctor Who finally made a triumphant return to TV screens on this day in 2005. The episode was Rose - the name of the new companion (Billie Piper), indicating that show-runner Russell T Davies was going to focus more on seeing the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) through the eyes of his human associates. This new series would deliberately go out of its way to remain within the confines of Earth (or its near orbit).
The revived series is now seventeen years old, though only on its thirteenth season, and on its fifth Doctor.
Seventeen years in, the classic series was on its seventeenth season, and its fourth Doctor. A big shake up was on the horizon back then as well...
Meanwhile, back in the good old days, The Ark gave us its final episode - The Bomb - today in 1966.
And The Talons of Weng-Chiang arrived at its fifth instalment in 1976.

Friday 25 March 2022

Story 247 - Time Heist

In which the Doctor and Clara find themselves involved in a bank robbery. They are part of a four strong gang - the others being a young man named Psi, who has electronic implants in his skull, and a woman named Saibra, who has the ability to take on the appearance of anyone whom she comes into physical contact with.
They have no clear memory of how they came together, only that they have a mission to perform for an unknown agency. The last that the Doctor remembers was answering the TARDIS phone, but after that they all used memory worms to forget the immediate past.
The bank they have to break into is that of Karabraxos - the most secure in the galaxy. There are many measures in place to stop thieves, including DNA checks, and anyone trying to get round these is incinerated. The most fearsome security measure is a living one - a creature known as the Teller. This is kept locked up in an environmental chamber adjoining the office of Ms Delphox - the bank's manager. The Teller has the power to read people's minds and identify guilt of any kind. Should it use its powers on anyone harbouring criminal intent, it can melt their brains and reduce them to a vegetative state.

It is to get round this that the Doctor and his gang have used the memory worms.
They must still try to clear their minds of their intentions to rob this complex. Saibra uses her abilities to transform herself into a facsimile of a genuine customer, even down to the DNA traces. Psi will utilise his skills to get round the computerised defences as he can directly interface with them.
Each has something stored in the bank that they desperately want. For Psi it is the memories of his friends and families which he gave up to protect them, should he ever be arrested and interrogated. For Saibra it is a gene suppressant for her condition, as she has never been able to touch anyone without turning into a copy of them. 
Each of them has been given a device which they can operate in the event that they are captured - to prevent them from being turned into mindless zombies by the Teller. Known as a 'Shredder', it will disintegrate their bodies instantly.

As the gang works its way deeper and deeper into the bank, they are hunted by armed guards, and Ms Delphox lets loose the Teller to seek them out. Saibra is the first to be cornered and she uses the Shredder rather than face capture by the creature. When it homes in on Clara, Psi downloads information about hundreds of known criminals into his own mind, and so diverts it away from her towards himself. He too uses the Shredder to avoid capture.
The Doctor and Clara are aided at the last minute by a powerful solar flare which threatens the entire planet. Most staff and clients flee, and the flare also disrupts the security systems. The Doctor realises that the person who gave them their mission must be a time-traveller - to have known about this solar flare, which was impossible to forecast.
Ms Delphox finally captures them, but the Teller's guards turn out to be Psi and Saibra in disguise. The Shredders were actually teleport devices, which transported them to an orbiting spaceship.
They finally reach the main vault and find that it houses a residence, filled with treasure. This is home to Madame Karabraxos, the bank's founder and richest woman in the cosmos.

She is identical in appearance to Ms Delphox, and explains that she always employs clones of herself to manage the bank, being the only people she could ever trust. She has Delphox killed for failing to prevent them reaching her inner sanctum. The Doctor discovers that she has a second Teller creature incarcerated here - the mate of the one which is used by the bank, and the means by which she forces it to work for her. These are the last of their kind, and the Doctor realises that this is what he and Clara were sent to find. They must free them to save the species. The Doctor gives Karabraxos his contact details, should she ever change her greedy ways and need his help. Saibra and Psi have found what they were seeking, and the Doctor and Clara take the Tellers to an uninhabited planet where they can settle.
The Doctor realises that it was he himself who had sent them on this mission, after receiving a request from an elderly Karabraxos, who late in life had come to regret the actions of her younger self. He had hid his identity from himself so as not to leave anything for the Teller to latch on to.

Time Heist was written by Steve Thompson and Steven Moffat, and was first broadcast on Saturday 20th September, 2014.
Thompson had previously written two stories, neither of which were particularly well regarded - The Curse of the Black Spot and Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.
The main inspiration was the whole subgenre of crime stories involving bank robberies or similar. This included movies such as The Italian Job, The Lavender Hill Gang, Oceans Eleven, The Thomas Crown Affair, The League of Gentlemen and The Killing.
Another crime subgenre being tapped was the Con Man story. The biggest influence on this story is probably the BBC TV series Hustle. This ran from 2004 to 2012, and revolved around a gang of confidence tricksters who, each week, would pull off an incredibly complicated theft against some unpleasant character who deserved to be robbed.
The team was led by Adrian Lester, and included the veteran grifter (Robert Vaughn) and the headstrong youngster (initially played by Marc Warren). The technical expert was Robert Glenister, and they hung out at a City of London wine bar run by Rob Jarvis (seemingly his only customers). The token female was Jaime Murray initially. The series moved to the USA for one season, and some of the cast came and went over the years. Viewers were left trying to puzzle out how the team had managed to play their con, though it was always explained by way of a flashback before the end of the episode.
The series shared a lot of cast and crew with Doctor Who.

The main guest cast are Jonathan Bailey as Psi, Pippa Bennett-Warner as Saibra and Keeley Hawes as Mme Karabraxos / Ms Delphox. 
Hawes came to fame in the series Tipping The Velvet. She later featured regularly in Spooks, Ashes to Ashes, Line of Duty and The Durrells.
Bailey is currently starring in the Regency-set drama Bridgerton and had previously appeared in Broadchurch as Olly, the journalist. 
Bennett-Warner has done a lot of Big Finish Doctor Who audios.
Saibra appears as a middle aged man for part of the story - Mr Porrima. He is played by Trevor Sellers.
Junior Laniyan plays the bank customer who falls foul of the Teller (which is played by Ross Mullan).

A number of Doctor Who characters make cameo appearances, in the scene where Psi downloads information about infamous criminals. One of these is a character who has only ever existed in the comic strips - Absalom Daak, "Dalek Killer" - who appears in drawn, comic form.
Other images are of a Sensorite, Kahler-Tek, a Terileptil, an Ice Warrior, the Slitheen, plus Captain John Hart and a Weevil from Torchwood, and Androvax and the Trickster from The Sarah Jane Adventures.
As far as the season's arc is concerned, the Doctor once again thinks about the woman in a shop who first gave Clara the TARDIS phone number, after he gets rung by the telephone in the door. This person was first mentioned back in The Bells of Saint John, but their identity won't be revealed until the end of the season. Clara is about to go on a date with Danny Pink when she and the Doctor become involved in the bank heist.

Overall, an enjoyable story - certainly the best of the Thompson trio. How much you enjoy it probably depends on how much you like the genres it borrows from. I always loved Hustle, so am happy with it. My only complaint- voiced in my review at the time - was the unnecessarily horrific attack on Junior Laniyan's character, which I felt was too much for younger viewers. This was the start of a period in which the series moved away from family viewing, to the detriment of the audience figures.
Things you might like to know:
  • The idea of a weapon which disintegrates people, only to be revealed as being a teleporter, has been seen in the series before - in Bad Wolf.
  • A bank staffed by clones of its owner was an idea already used in a spin-off audio, one of the Bernice Summerfield ones (Glory Days, 2009).
  • Both the script and a rough cut of this episode were leaked on-line in advance of broadcast.
  • Psi was inspired by the movie Johnny Mnemonic, which starred Keanu Reeves as a similarly technically augmented human.
  • Saibra on the other hand is inspired by a couple of the X-Men characters - Mystique / Raven and Rogue - especially the latter who can take on someone's appearance by touching them.
  • The part of Madame Karabraxos / Ms Delphox was originally offered to Michelle Gomez - but then Steven Moffat had something more interesting for her to play...

On This Day... 25th March

In 1967 the third episode of The Macra Terror made its debut. It was the 47th birthday of its star, Patrick Troughton.
This was the story's penultimate episode, as was Part Five of The Sea Devils, which was screened today in 1972.

Thursday 24 March 2022

On This Day... 24th March

It's Frontier In Space Day again today. In 1973 its fifth instalment became the only episode ever to debut on this day. As many of the new series launched at the end of March or early in April, this is the last time we will see this.

Today we wish actor Stephen Yardley a very happy 80th birthday. He made two appearances in the series. The first was as Sarah's Muto friend Sevrin in Genesis of the Daleks. He returned ten years later to play Arak in Vengeance on Varos.
Amongst those he shares a birthday with is Finn Jones, best known for Game of Thrones, who played Jo's grandson Santiago in Death of the Doctor. He turns 34.

Wednesday 23 March 2022

What's Wrong With... The Silurians

The writer of this story, Malcolm Hulke, thought it a big mistake to have the Doctor exiled on Earth.
He foresaw a limited number of scenarios - mainly alien invasions and mad scientists. As it was, Terrance Dicks proved him wrong by suggesting a storyline in which the monsters are already on Earth in the first place, and it is the human race who are the interlopers.
Unfortunately, the Doctor actually refers to the Silurians in Part Seven as an "alien species" despite everything he knows about their origins, and the scientist in charge of the Wenley Moor research complex - Dr Lawrence - goes mad, so Hulke ends up writing the very thing he was complaining about.

Thanks to a misunderstanding with the people who wrote the title captions, this story is officially called "Doctor Who and the Silurians". 
Behind the scenes nearly every story was referred to as "Dr Who and...", and the caption at the end of The Gunfighters states that the following week would be broadcast "Doctor Who and the Savages". As it was, the title which appeared was just The Savages, without the "Doctor Who and...".
The other big mistake with this story is the name of its monsters. The Silurians were named for the geological era in which they are supposed to have originated. (Creationists, please look away now...).

The Silurian Era was the third period (of six) of the Paleozoic Era. The first two were the Cambrian and the Ordovician, and the last three were the Devonian, Carboniferous and the Permian.
The Silurian Era began 443.8 million years ago, and lasted until 419.2 million years ago. In appearance, the Earth was mostly seas covering the northern hemisphere, with all of the land masses joined together in the south. Much of the wildlife lived in the seas, with very little happening on land - certainly no dinosaurs or any large reptiles. No reptiles at all, in fact.
On the land we had things like arachnids and hexapods. Trilobites were common. The first boney fish evolved, as well as those with teeth.
Larger reptiles didn't appear until the Permian era, but if the Silurians come from any era it is probably the Mesozoic, as they say they overlapped with mammals. At no point did you have dinosaurs and apes coexisting, however.

A related problem with this story is the whole idea that it was the arrival of the Moon which prompted the Silurians to go into hibernation - thinking that this small planetoid that had wandered into the Solar System might trash the surface of the Earth as it passed by.
Latest thoughts are that the Moon is 4.5 billion years old, and that it formed not long after the Earth. It grew out of the collision debris when the Earth was struck by a Mars-sized planet (Theia).

The whole idea of plate tectonics and continental drift was very new at the time this story was written, and not widely accepted. Even so, the notion of Deep Time was known since Victorian times. It is therefore odd that Hulke believes that the Silurian shelter could remain intact, seemingly at the same depth it was built at, after millions of years.
Hulke is also confused about the Van Allen Belt, mistaking it for the Ozone Layer.

The Silurians tap into mankind's ancestral memories - and a glimpse of one causes a technician to revert to a primitive state, drawing on the walls of his room like a cave person. A farmer's wife is reduced to a similar state. However, when everyone sees the Silurians later on, they fail to have the same effect.
How big are these caverns, that a 30 foot dinosaur can run about in them?  
The Doctor states that the Silurian footprints they find are not the dinosaur's - being from a biped instead. 'Biped' means two footed - which the dinosaur also is. 
Why does Dr Quinn tell the Doctor all about the incident which befell the two pot-holing technicians? It simply serves to get the Doctor intrigued and start investigating - the very thing Quinn wants to avoid. Hulke will make the exact same mistake in the next story to feature Homo Reptilia, when Trenchard blabs about the sinkings.
In fact, Quinn does just about everything in such a suspicious way that he might as well get a badge or have a T-shirt printed announcing that he's in league with the Silurians.
What is the relevance of the missing pages in the log? If it's to conceal a pattern to the power failures, then everyone knows when they happened, so the information is out there anyway.

Dr Lawrence is the latest in the long line of people in charge of hugely expensive projects who simply should never have been considered in the first place. No matter what evidence he is presented with, he just won't accept it. Even when he's dying of the plague disease he just won't believe it.
Masters of the Ministry decides to go back to London despite feeling unwell - knowing of the threat that the illness poses. 
According to a map, the illness can leap to Paris, but is hardly present anywhere between Derbyshire and London.
Why does the Doctor waste time having drugs and equipment brought to Wenley Moor to combat the illness, when the main focus of the plague has shifted to London, and the research centre could come under attack by the Silurians at any moment?

Believing the Cyclotron is about to explode, the Silurians run back to their shelter, intending to wake up again in 50 years after the radioactive fall-out has diminished. Wasn't it their alarm clock that got them into this mess in the first place?
The biggest problem of all - why does the Doctor continue to work for UNIT after the conclusion of this story? The suggestion is that the Brigadier has blown up the shelter - killing every Silurian known to exist - so potentially an act of genocide. Even if he does need facilities to repair the TARDIS, the Doctor really ought to have walked away from UNIT after this.

On This Day... 23rd March

Yesterday we highlighted Colin Baker's first story as the Doctor - and it is one of his worst. Today we highlight the first episode of Revelation of the Daleks, first broadcast today in 1985 - which is one of his best.
The second part of that not-so-good story - The Twin Dilemma - went out today in 1984.
Further back in time, Fury From The Deep moved on to its second episode in 1968.
The Monster of Peladon - one of only a couple of true sequels in the classic era - got underway with its first instalment in 1974.
Time-Flight continued with its second episode in 1982.

Also on this day, in 1989, the Terrance Dicks Third Doctor stage play The Ultimate Adventure had its debut performance at the Wimbledon Theatre in South London. Later in the run, Pertwee stepped aside and Colin Baker took over. On the occasion that Pertwee was too ill to appear, Cyber-Leader actor David Banks stepped into the breach as a hitherto unknown incarnation of the Doctor.

Today we remember the actor David Collings, who passed away on this date in 2020, aged 79. He appeared in the series on three occasions, the first of which was under a latex mask as Vorus, leader of the Vogan Militia in Revenge of the Cybermen. He was back not long after, unmasked this time, as Chief Mover Poul in The Robots of Death. He would later reprise this role in audio spin-offs.
His final appearance was as the mutated alien scientist Mawdryn in Mawdryn Undead.

Tuesday 22 March 2022

On This Day... 22nd March

The Space Pirates arrived at its mid-point today in 1969, with Episode Three, as did Genesis of the Daleks in 1975.
Time-Flight lifted off in 1982 with its first instalment.
Meanwhile, in 1984, The Twin Dilemma was showcasing an erratic, unlikeable Sixth Doctor. 
It was a brave decision to launch the new Doctor in this way, in an extremely cheap end-of-season production, and one which was quickly deemed a failure.

Monday 21 March 2022

K is for... Karlton

Karlton was the shaven-headed deputy to Mavic Chen, Master of the Solar System in the year 4000. Karlton was fully aware of his boss' treasonous alliance with the Daleks, and their plans to employ the awesome Time Destructor weapon to conquer the whole galaxy. His main role was as head of Earth's Space Security Service. Whilst always appearing to support Chen, he had secret designs on taking over from him were the situation to arise.
Following Chen's demise there was no-one left who could implicate him in the Dalek scheme, so he may well have achieved his goal.

Played by: Maurice Browning. Appearances: The Daleks' Master Plan (1966/7).

K is for... Karl (2)

Karl Wright was a young man who worked as a crane operator in Sheffield. He suffered from low self-esteem and liked to read self-help books.
One night whilst he was travelling home by train he came under attack by a large energy creature which resembled a mass of coiled electrical cables. This attack coincided with the fall of the newly regenerated Thirteenth Doctor onto the train, having just fallen out of the crashing TARDIS. She detected that Karl seemed to be the main focus for the attack, but could not work out why.
She later discovered that the young man was being targeted by an alien Stenza named Tzim-Sha. The Stenza were hunters, and Karl had been selected at random to be Tzim-Sha's prey. The alien was cheating however, using the gathering coil which had attacked him on the train.
Once the Doctor worked out that Karl was the intended prey, she was able to go to his place of work and confront Tzim-Sha. The Stenza fell victim to his own weaponry and the young man was saved.
A couple of years later, whilst in Manchester for New Year's Eve, he was witness to the explosion of a self-storage facility which housed a large number of fireworks. He was unaware that this was the work of the Doctor again, defeating a Dalek execution squad.

Played by: Jonny Dixon. Appearances: The Woman Who Fell To Earth (2018), Eve of the Daleks (2022).

K is for... Karl (1)

Karl was a young Neo-Nazi who was employed by a man named De Flores. He was a war criminal living in South America, who intended to seize a powerful artefact that might help establish a Fourth Reich. This was the Nemesis statue, which was composed of a substance of Gallifreyan origin.
Karl hired a squad of mercenaries and they travelled to England in 1988 to await the arrival of the statue, which was in a space capsule on a decaying orbit, and due to crashland in the Windsor area from where it had first been launched by the Doctor back in 1638.
However, also seeking the statue were the Cybermen and the Lady Peinforte, who had originally fashioned the statue as a likeness of herself in the guise of Nemesis back in the 17th Century. The Doctor had to stop all three parties from seizing the statue.
The Cybermen wiped out De Flores' mercenaries, apart from Karl. He and De Flores attempted to make an alliance with the Cybermen but failed. Karl was killed by them.

Played by: Metin Yenal. Appearances: Silver Nemesis (1988).

K is for... Karim, Colonel

Colonel Tia Karim was a UNIT officer, who was tasked with notifying Sarah Jane Smith of the death of the Doctor. The funeral was to take place at a UNIT base built beneath Mount Snowden in Wales. The only other former companion of the Doctor's in attendance was Jo Grant (now Jo Jones).
The Doctor's body had been retrieved by a race of giant vulture-like creatures known as the Shansheeth, who acted like intergalactic funeral directors.
It transpired that Karim was in league with the Shansheeth to steal the TARDIS. The Doctor had actually been marooned on an obscure alien planet and the TARDIS was hidden at the base. The key was needed, however, and Karim did not have it. The Shansheeth would be able to create a new one from the memories of Sarah and Jo using a dream-weave device.
The Doctor was able to transport himself back to Earth with the help of Clyde Langer, who had previously become infected with artron energy by the Tenth Doctor. 
Sarah and Jo overloaded the dream-weave with their memories of the Doctor and it exploded - killing Karim and the Shansheeth.

Played by: Laila Rouass. Appearances: SJA 4.3: Death of the Doctor (2010).
  • Rouass, who also featured in Spooks and Primeval, first came to prominence as a regular on Footballer's Wives.

K is for... Kari

Kari was a space pirate, who worked under the infamous Colonel Pereira. She and her colleague Olvir broke onto what they thought was a luxury passenger liner, only to discover that it was actually a plague ship - carrying people suffering from Lazar Disease to a place called Terminus. Their spaceship rushed off without them, leaving them trapped.
It transpired that Pereira would sometimes sell his crew to Terminus, to were then forced to become members of the Vanir who ran the complex.
Kari assisted the Fifth Doctor in stopping Terminus' engines from exploding, after they had worked out that an earlier explosion had resulted in the creation of the universe, Terminus having time travel capabilities.

Played by: Liza Goddard. Appearances: Terminus (1983).
  • Goddard used to be Mrs Colin Baker. Another husband was pop star Alvin Stardust.

K is for... Karela

The cruel and sadistic Madam Karela was deputy to Lady Adrasta, one of the rulers of the planet Chloris.
Adrasta had gained her status through ownership of a monopoly of metals. These were in short supply on Chloris, and Adrasta had imprisoned an ambassador from the planet Tythonus to preserve her monopoly. The ambassador - Erato - had hoped to trade metals for supplies of chlorophyll, of which the jungle planet had an abundance.
Karela was fiercely loyal to Adrasta, and would offer to kill anyone who threatened her. However, after her mistress' death, Karela attempted to seize power for herself. She killed the leader of a band of metal thieves to obtain control over their stash, and to prevent Erato from completing his mission she stole a control component from his spaceship.
The Doctor had K9 disintegrate the thieves' metal stockpile to force Karela to return the component. Presumably the new regime on Chloris will have locked her up, as she could never have been trusted not to try and seize power again.

Played by: Eileen Way. Appearances: The Creature from the Pit (1979).
  • Way appeared in the very first story of the series as the "Old Mother". On that occasion she bet William Hartnell that the series would not last a year. The two never saw each other again, so Hartnell never did get his winnings.
  • Way also featured in the second of the Peter Cushing / Dalek films - Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150AD. She was the older of the two women living near the mine workings who betray Tyler and Susan to the Daleks.

K is for... Karabraxos

Madame Karabraxos was the wealthiest woman in the universe at one time. She had founded a bank which had the most complex security systems in place - chief of which was an alien creature known as the Teller, which could psychically probe people and identify even the slightest guilty thought. In day to day charge of the bank was Ms Delphox - really a series of clones of Karabraxos, as she could trust no-one else to take on this important role.
The Doctor and Clara were tasked by a mysterious stranger with robbing the main vault of the bank. They were assisted by a young man named Psi, who had electronic implants in his brain that enabled him to interact with the bank's technology, and a woman named Saibra, who could take on the appearance of anyone whom she made physical contact with.
On breaking into the main vault, they discovered Madame Karabraxos herself. She had a second Teller creature imprisoned there along with all her accumulated treasures, the mate of the one in the bank. She was using it as a hostage to force the Teller to work for her. 
The Doctor freed both and took them to a new home, as they were the last of their kind.
It transpired that the stranger who had sent them on their mission was the Doctor himself, from their immediate future. He had then had his memory of doing this wiped, so that there would be nothing for the Teller to latch on to. 
He had been asked to arrange all this by the elderly Karabraxos, who in her final days had come to regret having enslaved the creatures.

Played by: Keeley Hawes. Appearances: Time Heist (2014).
  • As she was a clone, Hawes played Ms Delphox as well as Madame Karabraxos.
  • She recently played the mother of Richie Tozer in RTD's It's A Sin.
  • She's about to be seen in a new TV adaptation of The Midwich Cuckoos, the John Wyndham novel previously filmed as Village of the Damned.

On This Day... 21st March

39 years ago today, Tom Baker stopped being the Doctor. True - but only to a small extent - as strictly speaking Tom Baker has never stopped being the Doctor.
Logopolis Part Four saw the Doctor plummet from a radio-telescope after saving the entire universe from an entropy field. A bit like the Flux, only better.
Back in 1964, Marco Polo encountered the Rider From Shang-Tu. This was the story's fifth instalment.
In 1970 The Ambassadors of Death came a-calling in their first episode. This was the final story credited to David Whitaker, the series' original story editor, but unfortunately it was entirely rewritten by Trevor Ray (this episode) and the remainder by Malcolm Hulke.
Finally, in 2008, Torchwood's second series approached its conclusion with Fragments, in which we saw flashbacks to how Jack, Tosh and Owen had come to join the organisation.

Today we wish Timothy Dalton a happy 76th birthday. The former James Bond appeared as Time Lord President Rassilon in The End of Time Parts 1 & 2. He was too busy working on the final season of Penny Dreadful when they required the character to return for Hell Bent.
He shares his birthday with outgoing show-runner Chris Chibnall (52), as well as Bruno Langley, who played short-lived companion Adam Mitchell in 2005 (he turns 39).
Also born on this date, but sadly no longer with us, are the writer Ian Stuart Black (The Savages, The War Machines and The Macra Terror), Roger Hammond (Francis Bacon in The Chase and Dr Runciman in Mawdryn Undead), Tom Watson (Ramo in The Underwater Menace) and Peter Pratt (the Master in The Deadly Assassin).

Sunday 20 March 2022

Episode 11: The Rescue

Antodus has fallen down a ravine, suspended above a sheer drop only by the rope attaching him to Ian who is on the ledge above - being dragged inexorably towards the edge...
Realising that he is placing Ian at risk, the young Thal elects to cut the rope and plunges into the darkness below. Ganatus is grief-stricken at the loss of his brother, but their priority is to continue their mission to access the Dalek city. They are shocked to find that the next stretch of tunnel appears to be a dead-end. They will have to go back and try to find another route.
In the city, the Doctor and Susan are held prisoner next to the control room. They learn that the Daleks are about to release radioactive gases from their reactors, which will kill the Thals and their companions. The Doctor tries to reason with them, even offering to tell them about the TARDIS and offering them time travel technology. When they scoff at his claims, he mentions the Fluid Link as an example of his technology which he can offer them if they suspend the release of radiation. 
In the caverns, the expedition members find that there is light coming into the tunnel. They find an opening and see beyond the power generating chamber of the city.
Alydon leads the rest of the Thals into the city at this time, but without the Doctor to guide them they do not know what to look for. They succeed in meeting up with Ian's party, and work out where the control room is. As the countdown to the release of the radiation approaches zero the Daleks start to close off the intersections to seal off their control area, but the Thals break through. 
After a brief battle, one of the Thals pushes a Dalek against a piece of equipment, wrecking it. Suddenly all of the Daleks begin to lose power. Without the static electricity generated through the floor, they perish. Freed, the Doctor makes sure that there is no risk of radiation being leaked.
Later, back at the campsite by the TARDIS, the Thals offer gifts to the time travellers. Alydon asks the Doctor to stay and teach them, but he declines - saying that he was once a pioneer with his own people, but now his future lies elsewhere. He claims that he might revisit the planet and live with their descendants. He has retrieved the Fluid Link and refilled it with mercury.
Ganatus would also like Barbara to stay, having fallen in love with her. She is touched, but she and Ian want to get back home. After saying their farewells and with everyone on board, the TARDIS dematerialises.
In the console room everything is going smoothly until there is a bright flash and the room is plunged into darkness, the travellers thrown unconscious to the floor...
Next episode: The Edge of Destruction.

Written by: Terry Nation
Recorded: Friday 10th January, 1964 - Lime Grove Studio D
First broadcast: 5:15pm, Saturday 1st February, 1964.
Ratings: 10.4 million / AI 65
Designer: Raymond P Cusick
Director: Richard Martin

The conclusion of this story was almost entirely different, in such a way that the Daleks would have been highly unlikely to have ever returned to the series, and certainly would never have gained their reputation as personifications of evil.
The first drafts of the story had a third party arriving at the conclusion, inhabitants of a neighbouring planet. They had been the ones who started the neutronic war - Daleks and Thal each blaming the other for their sneak attack. This new race had moved on from their old warlike ways and felt sorry for what they had done to Skaro, and had now come to make reparations. The story would have ended with the Daleks and Thals being reconciled, and living in peace together.
Nation didn't go for this conclusion in the end, but he painted himself into a corner just as much by having the Daleks apparently killed off. Everything in the story suggests that these are the only Daleks in existence. There can't be others elsewhere, as they can't leave the confines of their city.
As with the previous episode, the action is very much focussed on Ian and Barbara and their expedition. The Doctor and Susan are seen only briefly before the final battle, secured to the wall in a cell area adjoining the control room.
Does the Doctor really offer the Daleks use of the TARDIS, or a time machine of their own? It may be that he is simply finding a way to make the Daleks show him where the Fluid Link is, to save him hunting for it later. 
A new piece of information about the Doctor's past is that he regards himself as having been a pioneer among them.
Because of the addition of a seventh episode to this story, much of the extra material being a lot of padding of the expedition sequences, the main action in this episode concludes rather early. Already the shortest instalment (see below), the closing sequences at the Thal camp had to be greatly expanded,

We haven't mentioned the music or sound effects so far. The composer selected by Christopher Barry, who was helming the opening chapters, was Tristram Cary. He was a significant catch, having written the music for the classic Ealing comedy The Ladykillers. His soundtrack for this story would be reused for The Rescue, The Daleks' Master Plan, The Ark, and The Power of the Daleks. Two of these would also be directed by Barry. Cary composed for three further stories - Marco Polo, The Gunfighters, and The Mutants (the latter again by Barry).
Special sounds were the responsibility of Brian Hodgson, of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. This was a role he held right through to the end of the ninth season, when colleague Dick Mills of the Workshop took over.
Many of the sound effects heard here were reused in later stories (especially ones directed by Christopher Barry) but certain Dalek related sounds have continued to be used right up to the present day. These include the "heartbeat" sound which is heard in the background of the Dalek control room, and is still used for current Dalek control rooms and spaceship interiors. Another effect is the Dalek doors which is also still in use today. An effect known as "Thal Wind" - used for the petrified forest as well as the city corridors - is also much reused later, not just in Dalek stories.

  • The concluding episode of the story generally known as The Daleks.
  • This story was the first to be novelised, and was also adapted into a cinema screenplay. It would be released in 1965 as Dr Who and the Daleks, and featured Peter Cushing as a human Doctor.
  • This is the shortest of the seven episodes, at 22' 24" - almost two minutes shorter than the previous instalment.
  • The audience viewing figure remain the same as the previous week, but we get the highest Audience Appreciation Index figure to date of 65.
  • William Hartnell celebrated his 56th birthday during the rehearsals for this episode.
  • The novelisation, by David Whitaker, features a leader Dalek at the conclusion which is made of glass - the mutant visible within.
  • Only a minimal TARDIS console room set was used, as it only had to feature briefly at the cliff-hanger ending. This comprised the console and two walls, with very little floor space visible.
  • We see the TARDIS dematerialise for the first time using a photo-caption rather than the roll back and mix technique. The latter involved the camera having to be locked off whilst a person or object was removed from the set, but with this technique all you needed were two photographs - one with the TARDIS on the set, and one without it.
  • One week after broadcast a Dalek operated by Kevin Manser featured in the children's variety show Crackerjack, in which Peter Glaze played an eccentric old professor based on the Doctor. In a few months' time, Glaze would be appearing in the series itself.