Friday 30 September 2022

Power of the Doctor Update

Increasingly likely that The Power of the Doctor will be shown on the weekend of 22/23 October (23rd if they are sticking with Sundays). This is based on gaps in BBC America schedules that weekend, as well as the fact that that closes the week which sees the actual 100th anniversary of the BBC (18th Oct).
Two bits of synopsis have slipped out: "Who is attacking a bullet train on the edge of a distant galaxy?" and "Why is a Dalek trying to contact the Doctor?". The first question is likely connected to the photograph above, which clearly shows Cybermen on a passenger craft of some kind.
Empire Magazine have given us a new picture of the Doctor on some quarry-like planet (or just in a quarry).

Looks very like Metebelis III to me - very blue. The magazine also confirms what we have known for a while - the return of Bradley Walsh's Graham. He was seen with John Bishop last summer in Cardiff.
Still no new trailer, but less than four weeks to wait.

L is for... Lazarus

The elderly Professor Lazarus was a scientist who was working on a genetic manipulation device which was designed to rejuvenate people. He had a number of wealthy backers, such as Lady Thaw and the politician Harold Saxon. His personal assistant was Tish Jones - sister of the Doctor's companion Martha. Through her the Doctor and Martha got an invite to Lazarus' unveiling of his machine. He elected to test it on himself. The process went awry and the Doctor had to step in and stop it. When he emerged, Lazarus was now a young man.

Suspicious, the Doctor obtained a sample of his DNA. It transpired that Lazarus had activated long-dormant genes which would cause him to mutate. The scientist attempted to woo Tish, but he started to transform into a huge, scorpion-like creature, exhibiting several discarded genetic traits. He killed Lady Thaw and some of the other guests - sucking the life-force from them and leaving their bodies as desiccated husks.
When he trapped the Doctor and Martha in the machine, the former sabotaged it and Lazarus appeared to perish. However, he recovered and escaped. Tish pointed out nearby Southwark Cathedral, where Lazarus had said he sheltered from the Blitz during the Second World War. He was traced there. Unable to control the mutation, he transformed and chased Martha and Tish up to the bell tower. The Doctor boosted the organ, which reverberated in the bell tower and caused Lazarus to fall to his death.
He reverted to being an old man again.
Later, Saxon - really the Master - used Lazarus' genetic manipulation technology to create a weapon that was able to greatly age the Doctor.

Played by: Mark Gatiss. Appearances: The Lazarus Experiment (2007).
  • With this episode, Gatiss became only the second person to have both written and appeared in Doctor Who stories - the first being Glyn Jones (writer of The Space Museum, who played Krans in The Sontaran Experiment).
  • Gatiss would appear in the series on three further occasions - voicing a Spitfire pilot in Victory of the Daleks (which he also wrote), playing the Viking-like Gavrok in The Wedding of River Song, and also the Captain (who turns out to be the grandfather of the Brigadier) in Twice Upon A Time.
  • To play the younger Lazarus, Gatiss supplied his own blond wig. It was the one he used to play the accident-prone vet in The League of Gentlemen - a character physically modelled on Peter Davison's Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small. He got a fee for loaning the wig to the production.

L is for... Lawrence, Dr.

Scientist and administrator who was placed in charge of the Wenley Moor cyclotron energy production project. This experimental device was built under the Derbyshire moors, next to an extensive cave system.
When the project ran into trouble - with high rates of staff illness, unexplained power losses and then a death in the caves of an off-duty scientist, Lawrence found himself having to deal with UNIT, who were called in by the Government to investigate. The Brigadier in turn brought in the Doctor and Liz Shaw.
The cause of the incidents proved to be the Silurians, original reptile masters of Earth who had a hibernation chamber in the caves. They were drawing away power to resurrect more of their kind. 
Lawrence was an overly bureaucratic and unimaginative man, who could not accept what was happening. The senior civil servant who oversaw the project - Masters - was an old friend of Lawrence, but he sided with UNIT and the Doctor, suggesting the project be closed down. The Silurians attempted to spread a lethal plague. Lawrence refused to believe this as well, and declined antibiotics. He caught the plague and died.

Played by: Peter Miles. Appearances: The Silurians (1970).
  • The first of three appearances by Miles in the series. He returned to play Prof. Whitaker in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, and his best known role was as Nyder in Genesis of the Daleks.
  • He also performed opposite Jon Pertwee, Nicholas Courtney and Lis Sladen in the audio adventure The Paradise of Death, which was written by Barry Letts.

L is for... Lavinia, Aunt

Lavinia Smith was a scientist - author of the paper The Teleological Response of the Virus
In 1951 she lost her brother Eddie in a car accident. He was killed on a country road near his home in the village of Foxgrove, along with his wife Barbara.
They left behind their infant daughter Sarah Jane, and so Lavinia took her in and raised her. She would grow up to become a journalist.
Sarah posed as her aunt in order to infiltrate a scientific research centre in search of a story of missing scientists. The Doctor spotted the ruse straight away due to her age.
When Sarah went travelling with him in the TARDIS, Aunt Lavinia looked after her South Croydon home. She helped clear it when Sarah moved abroad for a time, and offered her a home with her in Moreton Harwood on her return. She was partner in a market garden venture with a Commander Pollock there.
At Christmas 1981, Lavinia embarked on a lecture tour of the United States - leaving Sarah to look after her ward Brendan Richards. She had recently upset the superstitious locals with an article critical of their local pagan traditions and belief in witchcraft. 
The local post-mistress Lily Gregson failed to inform Sarah of her aunt's whereabouts - leading her to suspect she had been abducted. Gregson was, with Pollock, leaders of the Cult of Hecate, who wanted to sacrifice Brendan to aid their crops. Sarah was helped in defeating them by K9 Mark III, which had been transported to Moreton Harwood from Croydon by Lavinia.
Lavinia was able to call Sarah on Christmas Day.

Played by: Mary Wimbush. Appearances: K9 and Company - A Girl's Best Friend (1981).
  • Lavinia Smith is first mentioned in Sarah's debut story, The Time Warrior. The events which led to her being adopted by her aunt were shown in SJA: The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith.
  • The trailer for Sherlock's fourth series featured a glimpse of a book written by one Lavinia Smith, along with other Easter Eggs.
  • Mary Wimbush, who died in 2005, featured in Century Falls - Russell T Davies' pre-Doctor Who series.
  • She was a regular on the BBC radio soap The Archers from 1992 to her death.

L is for... Latimer, Timothy

Tim Latimer was a pupil at Farringham School for Boys in 1913. He tended to be bullied by older boys, who were unaware that he possessed psychic abilities. He could tell what people were thinking, knew the contents of unopened letters, and had premonitions of the future. He was fag to an older boy named Hutchinson.
When his work seemed to be declining he was summoned to see teacher John Smith, who was lending him a book about the Battle of Waterloo. Tim was compelled to steal Smith's fob watch, which seemed to be communicating with him. The watch proved to be part of a Chameleon Arch, which could hold a Time Lord's complete identity. The school came under attack by the alien Family of Blood, who were searching for the Doctor. It was the watch which they homed in on and Tim had to protect it from them. He eventually returned it to Smith when it became clear that that the Doctor had to return and stop the Family. He had experienced visions of the Doctor's life.
Once restored, and the Family defeated, the Doctor gave Tim the watch as a souvenir.
A couple of years later Tim was an officer in the British army in Flanders. He had foreseen these events and the watch helped him avoid a German shell that would have killed him and Hutchinson, who he now commanded.
In 2008, Tim was attending a Remembrance Day parade in his village and saw the Doctor and Martha Jones once again.

Played by: Thomas Sangster, Huw Rees (older Tim). Appearances: Human Nature / The Family of Blood (2007).
  • Sangster, who is also known under the surname Brodie-Sangster, first came to fame playing Sam in Love Actually (2003).
  • Genre roles include Game of Thrones, the Maze Runner franchise and a cameo as a First Order officer in Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.
  • Real figures he has portrayed range from Paul McCartney to Malcolm McLaren, via a young Adolf Hitler.

L is for... Latimer, Captain

Captain Latimer R.N. was a widower who had two children - his son Digby and daughter Francesca. To look after them he employed a governess named Miss Montague. She was really Clara Oswald, who worked as a barmaid at the Rose and Crown pub. A previous governess had died in a freak accident - drowning in a pond at the front of Latimer's home. This woman had been greatly disliked by the children - especially Francesca. Latimer grew fond of Clara, but found it hard to express his feelings.
In the winter of 1892 Latimer was approached by Walter Simeon, head of the GI Institute, who demanded the contents of the frozen pond. A creature was growing within the ice which would be used as host for the alien Great Intelligence, which was manipulating Simeon.
The ice governess was the cause of Clara's death, but the grief of the Latimer family in turn destroyed the psychic power of the Intelligence.

Played by: Tom Ward. Appearances: The Snowmen (2012).
  • Ward is best known for his long running role as Harry in the BBC crime drama Silent Witness.
  • Other genre roles include The Frankenstein Chronicles, The Infinite Worlds of H G Wells, and The Lost World (2001 TV movie version).

L is for... Latep

Latep was a young Thal who was a member of their second mission to the planet Spiridon. It had been sent to intercept the first mission and warn them of new information they had learned about the Dalek forces on the planet. Instead of a small scientific unit experimenting with invisibility techniques, the planet was really concealing a vast arsenal of 10,000 Daleks, frozen in suspended animation pending the conclusion of a war between Earth and Draconia. This had been engineered by the Master on their behalf.
Latep became enamoured of the Doctor's companion Jo Grant after the two of them were forced to help each other survive the dangers of the planet. One the Daleks had been defeated, Latep asked Jo to travel back to Skaro with him. She declined, preferring to return to her own home on Earth.

Played by: Alan Tucker. Appearances: Planet of the Daleks (1973).
  • Latep was originally called Petal in Terry Nation's scripts. The name wasn't changed because that was a stupid name, but because it was too close to Patel - a character from Frontier in Space.
  • A lot of Tucker's TV work was in Shakespeare roles. He was Prince Edward in The Wars of the Roses (his first big TV role), Malcolm in Macbeth, Stephano in The Merchant of Venice, and the First Gentleman in Measure for Measure (his final TV role).
  • Another genre role came with three instalments of Gerry Anderson's UFO.

L is for... Laszlo

Laszlo was the handsome young boyfriend of off-Broadway star Tallulah - a singer-dancer at the Majestic Theatre in Manhattan. One evening he went to investigate strange sounds back stage and was abducted by a human-pig hybrid. These creatures were the work of the Cult of Skaro - the elite Dalek unit which the Doctor had defeated at the Battle of Canary Wharf. They had fled the 21st Century using an emergency temporal shift, ending up in the New York of 1931.
A number of people had been abducted by the Daleks. A small number were turned into the human-pig hybrids, whilst many more had their minds wiped as part of an experiment to create human-Dalek hybrids. Laszlo was turned into a pig-man, but the process was not completed and he retained his original mind and personality. He remained in love with Tallulah, and would leave a flower for her in her dressing room every night, even though he could never be with her again.
He elected to join forces with the Doctor and Martha Jones, and was reunited with Tallulah, who accepted him as he was. His condition led to him having a shortened life-span, and after helping defeat the Daleks he was dying. The Doctor used Dalek technology to stabilise his condition. He could not undo the process, but he and Tallulah would find shelter in the Hooverville homeless camp in Central Park.

Played by: Ryan Carnes. Appearances: Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks (2007).
  • Unfortunately, in being chosen to be turned into a pig-man, Laszlo is identified as being of low intelligence.
  • It is very odd that the Doctor could not take Laszlo to a planet where he could be fully restored, or where he could live in peace with other animal-humanoids. New Earth if full of them, for instance. Hooverville would have been closed down only a few years after the events of this story, so it is hardly providing any long-term shelter for him.
  • Ryan Carnes was well known at the time for his role as Justin in Desperate Housewives. He later became a regular on General Hospital.

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Inspirations: The Shakespeare Code

The Shakespeare Code is this year's Celebrity Historical. Its writer - Gareth Roberts - is a fan of Shakespeare and his contemporaries like Christopher Marlowe and Robert Greene, and had featured Greene in a Ninth Doctor DWM comic strip - A Groatsworth of Wit. (This was named after a tract written by Greene, published posthumously in 1592. It contains lines which are taken to be critical of Shakespeare - implying he is riding on the coat-tails of his elders and betters in the theatre business: "an upstart crow beautified with our feathers...").
The villains of this comic strip were the Shadeys, who were similar in appearance to the Carrionites, and one of whom was named Uncle Bloodfinger. The TV episode has a Mother Doomfinger and Mother Bloodtide.

It was only a matter of time before the Doctor met the Bard of Avon on screen. He had been telling us about meetings since his Fourth incarnation - proclaiming him a terrible actor (Planet of Evil), and physically writing out the first draft of Hamlet as the poet had sprained his wrist writing sonnets (City of Death).
These meetings must have happened with an older Shakespeare, as he clearly doesn't know the Doctor here.
Shakespeare had been seen once before - on the Time Space Visualiser in The Chase. The Doctor and companions had witnessed him speaking with Queen Elizabeth (who also makes her second on screen appearance here) about the character of Falstaff, then getting inspiration from Sir Francis Bacon to write Hamlet. In this instance it was History teacher Barbara who had shown interest in the poet rather than the Doctor himself.

The series' first Celebrity Historical had been The Unquiet Dead, in which the Doctor had met Charles Dickens. This episode had featured references to Dickens' work. The villains of the piece are the ghost-like Gelth, and Dickens was known for his ghost stories - most famously A Christmas Carol and The Signal Man, which are both specifically mentioned in dialogue.
The Shakespeare Code takes the same tack with its main subject. The villains this time are witch-like creatures - Carrionites - and Shakespeare wrote about witches in Macbeth (1606) and in The Tempest (1611).
The story is set in 1599, so neither of these plays has been written yet. Rather than the writer encounter creatures he is already familiar with, that spring from his own works, he is getting his initial inspiration to include them here.

In reality witches were included in Macbeth to please King James, who had a big thing about them - as a much later story will also cover. There are three "wyrd women" in the play - and there are three Carrionites in this episode.
The name "Carrionite" obviously derives from 'carrion' - the decaying flesh of dead animals. Scavengers feed on this, among them the Carrion Crow, and the Carrionites are given a black bird-like appearance in their natural form.
Shakespeare is presented as an Elizabethan rock star - Dean Lennox Kelly's performance based on Robbie Williams and Liam Gallagher.
When the Doctor and Martha first meet him he mentions that they can't be sketched with him - a joke about people getting 'selfies' with the famous.
Martha is described as coming from Freedonia - the fictitious country which features in the 1933 Marx Brothers comedy Duck Soup.

The script is full of Shakespeare play titles and lines - some already written, which the Bard recognises, and some he hasn't written yet - so is remembering these events later. There is also the odd line from a completely different poet - such as "Rage against the dying of the light..." which comes from Dylan Thomas' 1947 poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night; and the use of "Expelliarmus!" from the Harry Potter books. The Doctor mentions the seventh book of this series - but not its title, as it hadn't been published yet.
The episode begins on the night of a performance of Love's Labours Lost (first performed in 1597). Of course, Shakespeare's Globe plays were never performed at night - always in the afternoons.

Shakespeare then announces his next work to be a sequel - Love's Labours Won (a working title for this episode, which was also known as "Theatre of Doom" at one point - probably a nod towards the Vincent Price classic Theatre of Blood, which revolves around bizarre Shakespearean deaths).
Love's Labours Won is the famous 'lost' play, mentioned in a list of Shakespeare's comedies by his contemporary Francis Meres in 1598. It is mentioned again in a printer's list of 1603 as having been published.
One popular theory is that it is simply one of his known plays under a discarded title - The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It or Much Ado About Nothing. It is known that the latter went under a different name for a time - "Benedick and Beatrice".

On finding a horse skull among the props, the Doctor says it reminds him of a Sycorax - as encountered in The Christmas Invasion. Shakespeare remembers this word and uses it for the witch who was Caliban's mother in The Tempest.
Shakespeare thinks "To be, or not to be..." rather pretentious. He will use it in Hamlet, of course, which was inspired in part by the death of his son Hamnet - the incident which lies behind the Carrionite influence over him.
The Sonnets have as their subject more than one person. The first 126 seem to be addressed to a young man ("Fair Youth") and it has long been thought that Shakespeare was either gay or bisexual. At different times he flirts with both Martha and the Doctor, prompting the Doctor to comment on these theories ("57 academics just punched the air...").
Martha is likened to the "Dark Lady" - another subject of the Sonnets (numbers 127 - 152).
He specifically quotes Sonnet 18 to her - "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day..." - which is actually addressed to the "Fair Youth".
The Doctor advises the poet not to rub his head too much - referring to the fact that images of Shakespeare depict him as bald.
He also gives him a ruff to act as a support collar for his sore neck - another distinctive part of the Shakespeare image.

The young man Wiggins wooing Lilith reminds us of Romeo and Juliet.
Shakespeare recognises the Doctor's cry of "Once more unto the breach..." from his own Henry V.
The Elephant Inn which appears here was mentioned in Twelfth Night as being in the southern suburbs - which would fit with the Southwark location of the Globe theatre.
William Kempe (c.1560 - c.1603) played comic parts in a number of Shakespeare's plays, such as Costard and Dogberry. He is said to have left the company in early 1599, for reasons unknown. One theory is that he was angry at being told to cut down on his improvisational comedy antics. He later danced all the way from London to Norfolk. That didn't kill him - but the plague did.
Richard Burbage (c.1567 - 1613) played the serious leading parts.
Peter Street (1553 - 1609) was a carpenter and builder involved in the building of several theatres, including the Globe. However, he died 10 years after the events depicted in this episode.
It should be remembered that the Globe was not a special build, as depicted here. The theatre was originally built in the north of the City. When the rent was greatly increased the owners dismantled it and moved it to Southwark - outwith the City's jurisdiction - and reassembled it, practically overnight.
The Master of Revels in 1599 was actually Edmund Tylney - who also survived into the next century (dying in 1610).

Lilith is named after a Mesopotamian demon. She mentions the Eternals - from 1983's Enlightenment.
There are two references to Silver Nemesis - the Doctor advising Martha to "walk as though you own the place" mirrors what he advised Ace to do at Windsor Castle, plus the TARDIS dematerialising with an arrow stuck in it.
The final lines of the lost play mention "Dravidian shores". Dravidians were an ethnic group who originated in Southern Asia (South India and Sri Lanka). The name was used for an unseen race mentioned in The Brain of Morbius. Solon's servant Condo had been rescued from a crashed Dravidian spaceship.
Burbage has the line: "The eye should have contentment where it rests...". This is actually a line from The Crusades, as spoken by Princess Joanna in reference to Vicki.

Sunday 25 September 2022

Episode 38: Guests of Madame Guillotine

The Doctor has been left lying unconscious in an upstairs room of the burning farmhouse, whilst Ian, Barbara and Susan have been captured by Revolutionary soldiers...
He is dragged to safety by Jean-Pierre, the boy who they had earlier encountered in the forest. He explains that his father was arrested some time ago, and the Doctor's friends will have been taken to prison in Paris - some 16km away.
In the city, his companions have been brought to the Conciergerie Prison, on the Ile de la Cite. Ian is locked in one cell, and the two women together in another. Ian finds he has a cellmate - an Englishman named Webster who is seriously ill.
The Jailer is visited by an Official named Lemaitre, who tasks him with keeping an eye on Ian and his fellow inmate. Barbara and Susan decide to try and dig a hole at the foot of their external wall, but find a void with rats beyond.
Webster tells Ian that he must seek out a man named Jules Renan, who may be found by the sign of Le Chien Gris. The Englishman then dies.
Lemaitre enters the cell and questions Ian about the dead man, wanting to know if he said anything, but Ian claims he said nothing. Outside, the Jailer confirms that he did hear the two men talking. Lemaitre has Ian's name struck off the execution list.
The Doctor comes across a work party repairing the road. They are tax-dodgers, forced to work under a brutish Overseer. Unable to furnish identity papers, the Doctor is compelled to join them.
On seeing how greedy the man is, he devises a ruse to escape. He steals some gold coins from him then plants them in the dirt they are digging through, having distracted the Overseer by claiming a solar eclipse is about to take place. When he then claims to have struck treasure, the Overseer insists that only he should dig the hole - and the Doctor promptly hits him over the head with a shovel. The work party scatter, and the Doctor continues on his way.
In the prison, Ian hears sounds coming from the courtyard and looks out of the window.
He is horrified to see Barbara and Susan being taken away for execution in a tumbril...
Next episode: A Change of Identity

Written by: Dennis Spooner
Recorded: Friday 17th July 1964 - Lime Grove Studio G
First broadcast: 5:15pm, Saturday 15th August 1964
Ratings: 6.9 million / AI 54
Designer: Roderick Laing
Director: Henric Hirsch
Additional cast: James Cairncross (Lemaitre), Jack Cunningham (Jailer), Jeffry Wickham (Webster), Dallas Cavell (Road Works Overseer)

This episode is notable for the first ever location filming in the series. Up until this point the only filming which had taken place was conducted at the BBC's studios at Ealing, of scenes which required substantial editing or which would not have been practical in a cramped TV studio - fight sequences or those involving fire effects for instance. Carole Ann Ford had been filmed during the making of The Keys of Marinus, to allow her to have a two week holiday and yet still feature in The Aztecs, and William Russell was doing the same for this episode and the next.
To give this story a sense of scale it was decided to film a couple of short sequences of the Doctor's walk towards Paris. Hartnell was only featuring in two main scenes in this episode - his encounter with Jean-Pierre, and the road-digging business with the Overseer, and showing his journey to Paris in the confines of the tiny Lime Grove G would have looked less than impressive. Production Assistant Tim Combe was tasked with location scouting for rural venues which would look suitably French - especially a poplar-lined lane. He eventually found what he was after in the vicinity of Denham Green in Buckinghamshire.

Hartnell was far too busy to go out and film these scenes himself. He would only be seen from the back, at distance and without dialogue, so a body double was proposed. Chosen for this was actor Brian Proudfoot.
In order to get the walk and other physical mannerisms right, he attended rehearsals for Hidden Danger, the third instalment of The Sensorites. This initially upset Hartnell, who did not like being scrutinised in this way and regarded Proudfoot as a pest and a distraction. However, he soon realised that Proudfoot was representing him and wanted to make him look good, and so threw himself into the process - showing him how he walked and moved his arms. The filming then took place on Monday 15th June.

As mentioned, William Russell was on holiday this week, touring around France with his family. As with Ford during the making of The Aztecs, it was decided that his character should still feature as important plot points had to be set up which involved him.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, 16th and 17th June, he left rehearsals for the fourth instalment of The Sensorites (the one where Ian has been poisoned and spends much of his time lying down, so isn't heavily involved) to film his material at Ealing Film Studios. It is really noticeable that he is standing on his own elsewhere in the scene where the companions face the judge at the start of the episode. The rest of his scenes were all filmed on the prison set, comprising his cell, a section of corridor outside his door, and the external wall with barred window which he looks through at the cliff-hanger.
Only James Cairncross and Jeffry Wickham were required for this pre-filming. The scenes with the Jailer are cuts to the studio recording.
According to the DVD commentary, Wickham met up with a friend at a pub near Ealing for lunch, thinking his work done for the day. However, one scene had been left unrecorded - when Lemaitre pulls the blanket back from his dead body. It was necessary that his face be seen, so he had to be called back for this. Lying on the bunk under the hot studio lights, after a few lunchtime drinks, he fell asleep and was only woken up as everyone was packing up to leave.

Most of the action takes place in the Conciergerie Prison. Now a museum, it began life as a Roman fortress protecting the city of Lutetia. It became a palace in medieval times, and only became a prison and courthouse when the monarchy moved across the Seine to the Louvre during the reign of Charles V (1364 - 80). Placed in command was the person who had been the concierge of the old royal palace - hence its name.
Marie Antoinette was held in the prison prior to her trial and execution in 1793. The following year it housed Danton and Desmoulins. Ironically, when Robespierre was taken to the prison it was in Marie Antoinette's old cell he was briefly confined.
At the time of the events depicted in The Reign of Terror, the prison held some 600 men, women and children at any one time. Four fifths of them were under sentence of death.
It remained a prison until 1934.

This was one of Carole Ann Ford's favourite stories, although it appears that this was more to do with the costumes she got to wear. It is a terrible story for Susan, who spends most of it locked up in various cells feeling ill. She has very little to do, and it comes as no surprise that it was during the making of The Reign of Terror that she decided to leave the programme. This led to a huge row with William Hartnell, who had always treated the actress as though she were Susan's age. He couldn't understand why she would wish to give up a successful series, with steady work and income. They made up the very next day.
In particular, Ford didn't get on with Henric Hirsch. He accused her of acting "maudlin" all the time - and she argued that this is exactly how Susan would behave if separated from her grandfather and stuck in a rat-infested 18th Century prison, destined for the guillotine. Hirsch failed to give actors very much direction - but would then criticise them when they didn't give him what he was after.
Her decision to leave had already been anticipated by the production team. They had been considering a change anyway, and both her and Jacqueline Hill were in the firing line. The two stars of the series were Hartnell and Russell, so they were safe. With the second production year looming, contracts were up for renewal. The stars would be looking for a raise, but there was no significant increase in budget per episode. Reducing the main cast would reduce costs.

As mentioned last week, Dennis Spooner had come from a comedy background. His writing would  always have a considerable amount of humour in it. This is obvious from the character of the Jailer - a drunkard who is easily manipulated by everyone - and the Overseer sequence, which is played pretty much just for laughs. Hartnell is clearly in his element in these scenes, having himself been a minor comedy star in his earliest film career - before the villains and gruff sergeant majors took over.

  • The episode title is shown over a shot of a guillotine. This was taken from the 1958 BBC adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities, which had starred Peter Wyngarde as Sydney Carton.
  • This was preceded by a period engraving of Paris - depicting the Ile de la Cite and Notre Dame Cathedral to set the scene - and followed by another period engraving depicting the Conciergerie Prison.
  • Brian Proudfoot also played a soldier in the fourth and sixth episodes. He would later be seen in the more substantial role of Tigilinus in The Romans.
  • Despite being broadcast in the middle of summer, audience figures were holding up - they have been consistent at 6.9 million for a number of weeks. However, the appreciation index figure dropped from 58 to 54 for this instalment.
  • The Doctor rests at a marker stating "PARIS 5km". This is an anachronism as the kilometre wasn't adopted in the Paris region until Napoleon's time.
  • The script then had the Doctor peer through some bushes and see the city in the distance - a model shot. Carole Ann Ford claimed that she was given this model - but I suspect that what she is talking about is the set model, created by the director and PA to plan camera moves. A full city model, built to a scale where individual tumbrils were visible, would be ridiculously big - too big to fit on top of her wardrobe as she described.

Friday 23 September 2022

Story 260: Sleep No More

In which the Doctor and Clara arrive on the Le Verrier space station, in orbit around the planet Neptune in the 38th Century.
The station is also being visited by a military squad from a settlement on Neptune's moon Triton - come to investigate why communications have suddenly been cut off. In command is a woman named Nagata, and her squad includes Deep-Ando, Chopra and 474, a genetically engineered "grunt" trooper. They find the station seemingly deserted, with the emergency lighting operating. They then locate the Doctor and Clara. He uses his psychic paper to assure the soldiers that they are engineers who are here legitimately.
As they all explore they come across two strange creatures which attack them.
Deep-Ando gets separated from the others, who are surprised to find that the creatures appear to be made of a dust-like substance.

Deep-Ando is killed by them. The Doctor, Clara and the other soldiers find themselves in a laboratory containing some Morpheus pods. These units allow their user to have compressed sleep - getting all the physical and mental benefits of a good night's sleep in a matter of minutes. These were introduced to increase productivity and not everyone agrees with them. Chopra, for instance, refuses to use them. When operated, small holographic singers appear singing the 1950's song Mr Sandman
One of the pods is found to be in use, and when it is opened they discover a man named Gagan Rassmussen hiding within.
He is the station's senior scientist, and was the inventor of the Morpheus system.

The Doctor has worked out what the creatures are, and Rassmussen is to blame. They are composed of microscopic parts shed from the human body - skin cells, hair and mucus, specifically eye mucus. They are made of "sleep" - the discharge found in the eye on waking. Somehow the Morpheus process has rapidly evolved them into carnivorous creatures which have consumed the rest of the crew. Nagata tells the Doctor that the pods are used on Triton and nothing like this has ever been encountered, and the Doctor advises that Rassmussen has adapted Morpheus in some way.
The creatures attack once again and they all flee. They seek refuge in a kitchen but Chopra and 474 are separated from the rest. 
Suddenly the station lurches and the Doctor realises that it must be moving out of orbit - sabotaged by the rapidly evolving creatures. Meanwhile, a Morpheus pod is being transported automatically through the corridors towards the docking bay and Nagata's ship.

Rassmussen is next to be killed, and 474 is left fatally wounded when a fire breaks out. They sacrifice themself to help Chopra escape, but he runs into the creatures and is also killed.
The Doctor discovers that the CCTV images they have been seeing cannot be coming from the cameras of the soldiers - as they don't have any. The pods reprogramme their user's brain to turn them into the eyes and ears of the otherwise blind creatures, which Clara has dubbed "Sandmen".
The pod has been transported to the spaceship. On seeing some recorded messages from Rassmussen, the Doctor realises that his death has been faked. The scientist reappears and tells them that he was allowed to live if he helped the Sandmen travel down to Triton to feed on its population. The pod which has ben brought to the ship contains the original Sandman - their "king".
It is destroyed when the Doctor sabotages the gravity field - causing it and the rest of its kind to crumble to dust. He and Clara then take Nagata to the TARDIS as the station will break up as it enters Neptune's atmosphere. Rassmussen is revealed to have been a Sandman impersonating the scientist. Anyone watching his recordings will have become infected with their spores...

Sleep No More was written by Mark Gatiss, and was first broadcast on Saturday 14th November, 2015.
He claimed it owed its origins to a bout of insomnia. He developed a story which was to be a two-parter, as Steven Moffat was looking for these for this series. There would be conflict between two factions - one which used sleep technology ("Wideys" - for Wide Awakes) and one which didn't ("Rips" - for Rip Van Winkles).
Moffat decided that the "found footage" format simply couldn't be sustained over two episodes. (It had been unsustainable in all of its cinema outings, as people simply wouldn't be filming the events they are confronted with in these films).
Doctor Who had never used the "found footage" technique before - mainly because it was already regarded as old-fashioned and unoriginal many years previously, and tended to be used nowadays only for the cheapest of productions.
Gatiss had originally intended The Idiot's Lantern to revolve around a Rock 'n' Roll song, rather than TV pictures, and this image stuck with him and finally emerged here with the catchy song Mr Sandman being indirectly connected with the creation of the creatures which Clara names after the title. The song had been popularised by The Chordettes in 1954.
As well as the outdated "found footage" format, it was decided to play around with the normal episode structure. It is the only story which does not have an opening titles sequence - the letters making up Doctor Who appearing within an alpha-numerical code which flashed across the screen following Rassmussen's opening address to camera. This code also contains the names of all the episode's characters, including Clara.
The episode might not have been so bad if it had featured a more satisfying ending. It isn't terribly clear what is going on - even the Doctor is confused - and the trick ending is even less original that the "found footage" style. Having the Doctor's final line of an episode "None of this makes any sense..." is probably asking for trouble.

The guest cast is led by the last of the League of Gentlemen performers to feature in the series - Reece Shearsmith. Gatiss had been involved ever since the revival in 2005, and Steve Pemberton had appeared in Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead in 2008. The part of Rassmussen was written especially for Shearsmith.
Nagata is played by Elaine Tan, who had recently broken into US TV series, such as Hawaii 5-0, Person of Interest and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Deep-Ando is Paul Courtney Hyu, and Chopra is Neet Mohan, who later became a regular on Casualty.
Bethany Black, who has the thankless task of performing the monosyllabic 474 is the first openly transgender actor to have appeared in the series. She also appeared in Russell T Davies' Cucumber / Banana.
The diversity of the cast is explained in the story as there having been some great cataclysm on Earth, and India and Japan have been pushed tectonically together and have become a major power bloc. Gatiss had visited both countries whilst he was putting this story together.


Overall, a pretty dreadful story. Doctor Who embraces the "found footage" gimmick 16 years after it was popularised in The Blair Witch Project. In the interim it had become infamous for its use by lazy, unimaginative film-makers. Having an incomprehensible plot doesn't help, and the ending is a joke - just not a funny one.
Things you might like to know:
  • A working title for the story was 'The Arms of Morpheus' - from the phrase "to be deep in the arms of Morpheus" meaning to be fast asleep. Morpheus was the god of sleep, according to Ovid's Metamorphoses.
  • This episode was recorded in between Heaven Sent and Hell Bent.
  • The title derives from Macbeth Act II, Scene 2 - "Macbeth shall sleep no more...". Both Shakespeare and the Scottish Play are mentioned in dialogue.
  • Urbain Le Verrier (1811 - 1877) was a French astronomer and mathematician who in 1845 predicted the existence of the planet Neptune purely by calculation. It was not visually confirmed until the following year by an observatory in Berlin.
  • Gatiss had hoped to write a sequel to this, but went for Ice warriors instead - no doubt following the universally negative reviews for this story. 
  • At one point the Doctor and company hide in a cold storage room. This was something Gatiss had intended for a Sherlock episode, but couldn't fit in in. He recalled filming in such a unit when he played polar explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard in a TV adaptation of his book The Worst Journey in the World. (He was no doubt aware that Cherry-Garrard had previously been played by Doctor Who producer Barry Letts in the 1948 Ealing production of Scott of the Antarctic).
  • The 'Great Cataclysm' which joins India to Japan was inspired by an event mentioned by Turlough in Frontios.
  • The Doctor objects to people putting the word "space" in front of things to make them sound futuristic. Doctor Who itself is often guilty of this - some writers worse than others. Planet of the Daleks alone mentions "space garbage" and "space medicine".
  • The Doctor also objects to Clara naming the creatures as 'Sandmen', referencing the Silurian misnomer debate (See What's Wrong With... The Silurians elsewhere on this blog).

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Centenary Images

Some images including the poster above released today - but nothing you haven't seen before if you bought DWM last week. Some nice shots featuring Tegan and Ace, plus that spoilery one featuring the Master holding what looks like a tissue-compressed Yaz.

The fact that Ashad is in this episode, and he was previously shrunk, leads me to suspect that the TCE is now reversible - which is a really stupid idea if true.
The most interesting photo is the one of the Cybermen below, showing the Cybermasters and their fancy new armour (note the engraving everywhere). There are also different ranks, as not all have the Time Lord collar shape. In that DWM, the costume designer (Ray Holman) mentioned that one had a gold collar, and another silver, and one was supposed to be black but he didn't think they'd made that one.
Still no sign of a new trailer or any further information on the Special, though they might be holding out until the next DWM, though that'll only be 10 days before the expected broadcast date.

Tuesday 20 September 2022

What's Wrong With... Planet of the Daleks

The story opens with the Doctor asking the Time Lords to send him after the Daleks, following the reveal in Frontier in Space that they are the power behind the Master's efforts to provoke a war between Earth and Draconia. As with all his previous missions from the Time Lords, they don't do anything to make things easy for him. He's dumped in the middle of a hostile jungle environment, and has to spend half the story just working out what the Daleks are up to, before he can start defeating them.
Terry Nation likes his "Unusual Dalek Surprise Cliff-Hanger Appearance" - be it coming out of the Thames or pushing its way up from a sand dune. Here, despite the fact that the story has "...of the Daleks" in the title, and the Doctor had asked to be sent after them, he is apparently shocked to see one revealed by black paint, and we're all supposed to be surprised as well.
What was the invisible Dalek doing wandering about the jungle by itself anyway? If part of an experiment, shouldn't it have been better supervised?

There are 10,000 Daleks somewhere on Spiridon. It is made out to be an impossibly big number, but it's not that many when you think about it. If the Earth and Draconian empires combined covered, say, 100 planets, that would mean only 100 Daleks available to conquer and then hold each world. On Earth alone that wouldn't be enough to allow one Dalek per country - they would need twice as many just for us. As universe conquering armies go, it's actually a pretty feeble force.
Mind you, the Daleks don't appear to have even conquered half of their own home planet. It is clearly stated that the Thals still live on Skaro, right next door to the Daleks.
If extreme cold kills Daleks, then why is the whole Dalek scheme based on freezing them? Why do they need to be kept inactive - by any means - in the first place?

Terry Nation has never grasped what the TARDIS really is. He has always assumed that it operates just like a conventional spaceship. He certainly never gets the infinite dimensions of the interior, as he thinks that the ship can run out of oxygen in a very short space of time. Back in The Chase he had the Doctor talk about them being unable to hang around in space as they would suffocate - as though the ship draws its air supply from the outside - and that's exactly what he's suggesting here as well. The fungus forms a shell around the exterior of the TARDIS and the Doctor starts to suffocate because of it.
(And surely the TARDIS doors, which open inwards, would be strong enough to overcome the fungus substance).
The TARDIS is huge inside (later stories will deny it is infinite, but it is certainly vast), yet the air runs out after an hour or two. The Doctor then produces air tanks, which we've never seen before. These are supposed to be an emergency supply - but they are practically empty. 
Despite his predicament, the Doctor changes his clothes. Surely even a small amount of physical exertion would deplete the scarce oxygen even faster?

The MFI-style bed and wardrobe suite in the TARDIS console room isn't wrong as such - just very, very stupid. If the Doctor does live in the console room all the time, and never uses any other area of the ship, why does he put up with a Black & White TV?
A problem with spaceships in Doctor Who ever since the very first one - Captain Maitland's in The Sensorites - the Thal craft has lots of loose items lying about, ideal for injuring the crew every time there is the slightest bit of turbulence. Having the main entrance / exit positioned right between the two engines is probably a bit of a design flaw. Did the Thals never consider burying their dead commander?
Thal pilots seem to have learned to fly at the Ice Warrior space-pilot school - they are forever crashing.

The Doctor claims it will take a thousand years to dig out the Dalek army. But the ice on Spiridon remains liquid - so it should take considerably shorter time to simply pull them out and warm them up again.
The Plain of Stones is where everyone goes at night for heat. Why have the Spiridons and Daleks not worked out that this is the most likely place to find their enemies after dark, and so plan an ambush?
Jo has the bombs well hidden - behind a tuft of grass right in front of where everyone is standing.
Marat had hardly hidden them anywhere less visible - sitting on a rock shelf where any passing Dalek might spot them. As it is, they find the bombs by using his map after he has been killed - but how do they know it leads to explosives? We can see that it is just an "X" on the map. It could be where they've stashed their sandwiches for all the Daleks know.

Not visible on screen - luckily - but the Dalek base houses a sauna, laundry, lobby, kitchen and study, as well as a couple of bedrooms. A servants' bell pull panel was used as set dressing on a control panel. (See the photo on page 45 of Volume 20 of Doctor Who: The Complete History if you don't believe it).
There are some very obvious Louis Marx toy Daleks on show - not just in the Dalek arsenal.

Sunday 18 September 2022

Episode 37: A Land Of Fear

In the TARDIS the Doctor is determined to have the schoolteachers leave at their next destination... 
The ship lands and the scanner shows a seemingly tranquil country scene at dusk. When Barbara mentions that it reminds her of a holiday in Somerset, the Doctor suggests that is exactly where they are. Ian points out they thought they were home once before - and met Marco Polo. He suggests that the Doctor ascertain where and when they are before leaving. The offer of a farewell drink seals the deal.
The Doctor tells Susan that they will escort Ian and Barbara to confirm they are home. 
They move through the woods and Barbara notes that there is no sign of life. In such an area as this they ought to see the lights of a farmhouse or two.
They hear a noise in the bushes and Ian grabs hold of a boy who has been watching them.
He is dressed in ragged fashion. He tells them his name is Jean-Pierre, and from him they learn that they are not in England but in France. Before he can tell them any more he breaks free and flees into the forest.
They shortly come to a farmhouse, but it appears abandoned.
Inside, the Doctor ventures upstairs to explore whilst the others investigate the contents of a huge chest. Within are clothes of 18th Century fashion and supplies of bread and wine. There are also a number of documents which prove to be travel passes, signed by Maximilien Robespierre. Ian and Barbara are horrified to learn that they have landed in the middle of the "Reign of Terror" - one of the bloodiest episodes of the French Revolution. Susan comments that this is a period of great interest to her grandfather. Ian suspects that the farmhouse may be part of some escape route.
Upstairs, the Doctor is knocked unconscious by an unseen assailant.
Ian, Barbara and Susan are then confronted by two men - Rouvray and D'Argenson. It was they who had been hiding upstairs, and who were responsible for assaulting the Doctor.
Satisfied that the TARDIS crew are nothing to do with the government forces, they explain that they are fleeing Paris as they are considered enemies of the Revolution. 
A rabble of soldiers approach the building, and Rouvray advises that they may pass if they all keep quiet. His companion's nerve breaks, however, and he rushes outside. The soldiers torment him and he is killed trying to flee.
The commanding officer orders his men to search the house. They refuse at first, until mention of a potential reward is made. Rouvray appears and almost manages to divert command away from the officer, but his sergeant shoots him dead.
Ian, Barbara and Susan are all captured, but are saved from summary execution by that promise of a reward.
The sergeant decides to burn the building to the ground. In the upper room, the Doctor lies unconscious.
As they are marched away, Ian, Barbara and Susan turn and see the farmhouse ablaze...
Next episode: Guests of Madame Guillotine

Written by: Dennis Spooner
Recorded: Friday 10th July 1964 - Lime Grove Studio G
First broadcast: 5:15pm, Saturday 8th August 1964
Ratings: 6.9 million / AI 58
Designer: Roderick Laing
Director: Henric Hirsch
Guest cast: Laidlaw Dalling (Rouvray), Neville Smith (D'Argenson), Peter Walker (Jean-Pierre), Ken Lawrence (Officer), Robert Hunter (Sergeant).

After helping get the series off the ground, story editor David Whitaker decided that he would leave at the end of the first year. He was no doubt worn out by having to commission every story from scratch, deal with the problems of Anthony Coburn's second story (and other unused adventures such as the one involving Alexander the Great and Malcolm Hulke's "Hidden Planet" scripts), and write the two-part The Edge of Destruction himself when it looked like the series might only last 13 weeks. We don't know how much work he had to do on the stories which were screened, but every one of his successors had to work very hard to fashion theirs into a broadcast-ready state - and it's highly unlikely he had an easier ride.
The person considered to replace him after the first year of production was Dennis Spooner. 
He was, like Terry Nation, a member of Associated London Scripts - the agency set up by Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes, whose secretary was Beryl Vertue (future mother-in-law of Steven Moffat). Also like Nation, he had attempted a career in stand-up comedy which led to writing material instead of performing it as he wasn't all that good. Spooner also contributed to The Avengers and to Gerry Anderson serials, and it was the latter which led to him being approached by Whitaker for Doctor Who. He was initially thinking of getting a sci-fi script from him, rather than an historical one. Given a choice of four subjects, Spooner decided on the French Revolution.

In Episode 1: An Unearthly Child, Susan had borrowed a book about the French Revolution from Barbara. Once on her own she started to leaf through it - and immediately spotted an error. The implication was clearly that she knew differently from personal experience.
In this episode she tells the teachers that the Reign of Terror is one of the Doctor's "favourite" periods of Earth's history. It cannot be that he actually likes the epoch, as it was characterised by mass executions, more that he finds it particularly interesting. Coming from the stuffy cloisters of Gallifrey, as we will later discover, a time of revolution - liberty, equality and fraternity - would have fascinated him.
The story is set in July 1794 - or Thermidor, Year II, of the Revolutionary calendar.
The Reign of Terror had its origins in the summer of 1793 when a number of provincial cities rebelled against the Parisian Revolutionaries, who were particularly radical. Lawyer Maximilien Robespierre was elected onto the Committee of Public Safety, a powerful body which helped "police" the revolution and determine its philosophy. He had come to prominence following in-fighting between the Jacobins - his faction - and the more moderate Girondins within the governing assembly itself.
He quickly became President of the National Convention. The political in-fighting continued, but Robespierre's faction proved the stronger and so began the mass executions of his opponents, like Danton, and anyone accused of having Girondin and Royalist sympathies. The prisons of Paris began to overflow with suspects - anyone could denounce anyone they simply did not like, and others were imprisoned on the flimsiest of suspicions - and so the guillotine was kept extremely busy. Hundreds were executed every day. This had the knock-on effect of overflowing cemeteries, and two new ones had to be created just to accommodate the Terror's victims.
The TARDIS has arrived in France towards the end of Robespierre's leadership, as we will see as events unfold. We'll look at those particular historical events when we get to the appropriate episode.

As well as its inspirations in historical fact, The Reign of Terror also has literary inspirations. The fact that the TARDIS crew discover a safe house, part of an escape route, automatically reminds us of The Scarlet Pimpernel - the 1905 novel by Baroness Orczy. It had started life as a play, also written by her and staged in 1903. 
It tells of the foppish English aristocrat Sir Percy Blakeney who has a secret double life, as he travels to France to help enemies of the Revolution escape to England. There, he is known only as the mysterious "Scarlet Pimpernel". This mirrors both the spy James Stirling / Le Maitre, who arrives in the next episode, as well as Jules Renan, who runs an escape route. Radio Times actually called it a "spy" story, and referred to a "Pimpernel type operation".
The general public would have been very familiar with the story. If they hadn't read the book they might have seen the 1934 movie adaptation, starring Leslie Howard, or ITV's The Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel, starring Marius Goring, which ran from 1955 - 56.
The most famous story of the French Revolution would be Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, first published in 1859. It had also been adapted for the cinema - in 1935, starring Ronald Coleman, and again in 1958, starring Dirk Bogarde. Peter Wyngarde had been the star of a BBC TV dramatisation in 1957.
For research, Spooner would almost certainly have read Thomas Carlyle's The French Revolution: A History (1837) - the definitive work on the period at the time.

For three of the production team, this was to be their only contribution to the programme.
We have a new designer for this story - Roderick Laing. Up until now Ray Cusick has been handling the futuristic episodes, alternating with Barry Newbery on the historical ones. Laing was tasked with working in the restrictive environs of Lime Grove G - the long, narrow studio previously used for one instalment of The Sensorites.
This episode didn't tax him in too many other ways, as he only had to supply three small sections of forest, two farmhouse rooms (one empty) with connected farmyard, plus the TARDIS interior.
We also have a new director - Henric Hirsch. He had fled the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. His English was not great, but he had been selected by Verity Lambert after directing a piece for the BBC's "Bloomsday" - the 60th anniversary celebration of James Joyce's Ulysses on the day on which it is set (16th June - though Hirsch's item was actually broadcast on the 10th).
He was very unhappy throughout the assignment, as we'll see especially with the third episode, but one ray of light for him was that Dennis Spooner was a bridge player. 
William Hartnell took a dislike to the director when he realised he hadn't a lot of experience (and was a foreigner), and tended to bully him. Hirsch was assisted greatly by his Production Assistant - future director Tim Combe (The Silurians, The Mind of Evil). He helped suggest a number of the cast.
Lastly, the composer is Stanley Myers. He makes great use of La Marseillaise in his score. It became the French national anthem the year after this story is set.

Last week we mentioned the TARDIS scanner. Here it can clearly see beyond the immediate vicinity of the ship's landing site as the Doctor can make it view through the trees.
The opening scene is played for its humour, quickly undermining any fears that the Doctor's character development of Episode 13: The Brink of Disaster had been reversed. Ian and Barbara now know how to gently manipulate him.

  • This story was for a long time known as "The French Revolution". This is how it was referred to in Radio Times (see below) and was the title used by fans in the 1970's. The camera scripts of the time state the title as The Reign of Terror. This is the more accurate title, as "the French Revolution" might have suggested the early days of the event, such as the storming of the Bastille and the March to Versailles in 1789.
  • Following the recording of this episode, it was finally William Russell's turn to have a holiday - eleven months after the series had started its weekly schedule. He and his family headed for - appropriately enough - France.
  • The idea of doing a French Revolution story originated with Russell, as he suggested it to Whitaker.
  • In Episode 2: The Cave of Skulls, Susan mentioned that the TARDIS had once assumed the form of a sedan chair. This mode of covered personal transport was common in the 18th Century, and perhaps it may have been during its earlier visit to the era of the French Revolution that it adopted this disguise.
  • Spooner almost never worked on the show. On the day he was due to visit the BBC and meet with Whitaker, a commissionaire refused to let him use the car park and he angrily drove home again. Luckily Whitaker was able to sort things out and invite him back.
  • The shots of the flaming torches being thrown and the model farmhouse ablaze were filmed at Ealing on Thursday 18th June.
  • The TARDIS materialisation was achieved by simply fading between two photographs - one of the empty forest set and one with the Police Box in place.
  • Neville Smith (D'Argenson) went on to become a noted writer, collaborating with directors Ken Loach and Stephen Frears.
  • Young Peter Walker was a big fan of the series.
  • One of the soldiers is played by Gerry Wain, who would later appear as Blackbeard in The Mind Robber.
  • Radio Times featured the opening instalment, accompanied by a photograph of a scene which doesn't actually feature in the episode - or anywhere else in the story. It depicts the Doctor fighting with a soldier. It was specially posed on the farmyard set for the magazine photographer.


A lot of people commenting on the hirsute version of the Master seen in the trailer, now that a proper photograph has been made available. He seems to be mirroring a pose adopted by Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin - the "Mad Monk" of Tsarist Russia. It is being suggested that it will be revealed in The Power of the Doctor that Rasputin was the Master. It might explain why it was so difficult to kill him (supposedly he survived poisoning and had to be shot several times before succumbing to a final bullet in the head).
The Cultbox site have taken this theory further and are claiming that it might have been whilst the Master was trapped on Earth in the 20th Century during Spyfall Part II that he adopted this role... 
Er... slight problem. The Master was trapped on Earth, without TARDIS, from the Second World War onwards - so how exactly could he have been Rasputin, who was born in 1869 and was dead by 1916?
If he was Rasputin at one time, it has absolutely nothing to do with the time he was stuck on Earth in Spyfall.
If he is playing the Master posing as Rasputin, then Sacha Dhawan follows in the illustrious footsteps of Tom Baker and Christopher Lee. It's one of only two roles they shared, as far as I'm aware - the other being Sherlock Holmes.
Baker was recommended for the role in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) by Sir Laurence Olivier. (The resemblance is remarkable, as was Michael Jayston's Tsar Alexander II).
Lee only agreed to reprise the Count in Dracula, Prince of Darkness on the condition that he got to play the title role in Hammer's Rasputin The Mad Monk (1966) - which he always maintained was one of his favourite roles.