Monday 30 January 2023

Three Doctors...

Just not the ones I usually write about. Actually I feel as if I've seen about ten doctors today. Afraid to say I'm back in the hospital (reoccurrance of the earlier issue). Instead of the week long antibiotic regime they're just going to replace the line, so hopefully only 3 or 4 day stay this time. As always, will comment on any big news but otherwise should be back at the weekend.

Sunday 29 January 2023

Episode 55: All Roads Lead To Rome

The mute assassin Ascaris sneaks into the chamber where the Doctor and Vicki are staying...
He is spotted before he can attack and a fight ensues, which ultimately sees him leap out of the window and flee into the night. The Doctor proudly informs Vicki that he is no stranger to unarmed combat.
The next morning, they find that their Centurion escort has vanished, and so they set off alone on the last few miles to Rome.
Ian has been sold as a galley slave, and with his new friend Delos is planning a means of escape. An attempt to snatch the keys to their chains fails, but the vessel they are powering soon runs into a terrible storm. It is wrecked, but Ian is saved by Delos who drags him to the shore. Delos wishes to head for his home but Ian explains that he must go to Rome to find Barbara. Delos elects to accompany him. They remove their chains and make for the city.
Barbara is brought to a slave compound where a man named Tavius attempts to purchase her after seeing her kindness towards a fellow slave. Sevcheria insists that he must wait for the public auction.
The Doctor and Vicki arrive in the city and only narrowly miss Barbara being put on display.
Tavius outbids everyone else and buys her anyway, for 10,000 sestertia. She discovers that he is little more than a slave himself - a member of the Imperial household. He has bought her to act as a servant to the Empress Poppaea.
The Doctor and Vicki arrive at the palace. Tavius greets them, and seems to know all about Maximus Pettulian. They are then presented to the Emperor Nero, who arrives with his entourage. He claims to have been looking forward to meeting Pettulian and immediately orders him to play. The Doctor cannot play a note of music, however, and manages to bluff his way out of this by appealing to the Emperor's vanity. However, he realises he will have to perform for the Emperor sooner or later.
Tavius later tells the Doctor that the Centurion they had met on the road is now in the apodyterium. When they go there, they find the soldier's dead body. The Doctor had suspected that the elderly lyre player was involved in some form of intrigue, and this confirms it.
Ian and Delos arrive in the city, but are quickly captured. They are handed over to Sevcheria, who informs them that they will now be trained to fight in the arena. On hearing Ian's name, the slave woman who was earlier helped by Barbara is able to tell him that she has been sold on.
Ian and Delos wonder who or what they are to fight, and discover that it will be wild animals...
Next episode: Conspiracy

Written by: Dennis Spooner
Recorded: Friday 1st January, 1965 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:40pm, Saturday 23rd January 1965
Ratings: 11.5 million / AI 51
Designer: Raymond P Cusick
Director: Christopher Barry
Additional cast: Derek Francis (Nero), Kay Francis (Poppaea), Peter Diamond (Delos), Michael Peake (Tavius), Gertan Klauber (Galley Master), Brian Proudfoot (Tigilinus), Dorothy Rose-Gribble (Slave Woman)

Last week we mentioned some bad history - and there is a lot more of it to come in this story. This week, we have the representation of the Emperor Nero.
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was the final Emperor of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty, coming to power on the death of step-father Claudius in 54AD. In 64AD, the year in which this story is set, he was only 27 years old.
He and his mother, Agrippina the Younger, were alleged to have poisoned Claudius so that he would inherit the throne. He was also thought to have murdered Claudius' natural son Britannicus and his first wife - the latter so that he could marry Poppaea Sabina. His mother hoped to rule through him, but he quickly grew tired of her influence over him and so he engineered her death - sending her home from a feast in a ship which was designed to fall apart once out at sea. She survived this and swan to shore - only to be killed by his soldiers a short time later.
Poppaea was born in Pompeii in 30AD, and married Nero in 62AD - her third husband. It is claimed she encouraged him to kill his mother, intent on being the only woman in his life.

The actor chosen to play Nero - Derek Francis - was 41 at the time of production, so far too old to match the historical figure.
Francis was one of the first actors to approach the series requesting a role. He was an old friend of Jacqueline Hill and her husband, director Alvin Rakoff, and had also enjoyed working with William Hartnell in the past.
Francis and his wife ran a puppet theatre at their home, and during production they invited the cast and crew to parties each week.
It is a myth that Francis was selected for this role as he was a well-known comic character actor, suitable for a more comedic story. It was only later that he featured in a few of the Carry On... films - Doctor, Abroad, Camping, Loving, Henry and Matron - and appeared in TV sitcoms Oh Brother! and All Gas and Gaiters
Up until now he had mostly played policemen and other authority figures.

Notable performances as Nero in other productions include Christopher Biggins in I, Claudius (BBC 1976); Anthony Andrews in Anno Domini (1985); Klaus Maria Brandauer in a TV version of Quo Vadis? (1985); Peter Ustinov in the 1951 Hollywood film version; and Andrew Lee-Potts in Boudica (2003) - in which Alex Kingston played the title character.

Some unusual background to the Doctor is revealed as he enthuses to Vicki about the gentle art of fisticuffs - or unarmed combat. He mentions having trained with the "Mountain Mauler of Montana". This sounds very much like a wrestler. He mentions sparring with John L Sullivan whilst in his third incarnation, so perhaps the "Mauler" might also be a bare-knuckle-boxer.
William Hartnell injured his hand in this opening fight sequence.

The galley set consisted of only a small section of oarsmen either side of Russell and Diamond, who all later appeared as citizens, soldiers or members of Nero's entourage. Buckets of water were thrown over them to simulate the storm, coupled with lighting effects and erratic camera moves. The camera noticeably knocks into part of the set at one point. Footage of a Roman type ship was provided by the Rank Organisation.

  • The latest historical story is not proving very popular. Ratings drop by one and a half million, and the AI falls to 51 - the lowest score to date. 
  • Critics, on the other hand, are really enjoying it. There are some very positive reviews in the press, who like the educational aspects of the story.
  • Owing to the Christmas break, there is now only a three week gap between recording and broadcast.
  • To set the scene for the move to Rome, the word "ROMA" was shown on screen, superimposed over a model of the city from the Museo della Civilta Romana. This model actually depicts the city as it was during the time of Constantine - centuries after Nero's reign.
  • Brian Proudfoot had portrayed the Doctor for the location filming on The Reign of Terror.
  • To save employing Dennis Edwards to play the corpse of the Centurion, the legs of an extra are seen in the apodyterium. Edwards would make a return to the series, but not until 1978 when he played the Time Lord physician Gomer in The Invasion of Time.
  • Gertan Kaluber had just played a slave trader in Carry On Cleo (Marcus of Marcus and Spencius...). He would return to the series sooner - as security chief Ola in The Macra Terror.
  • Kay Patrick was another friend of the director, and he had been promising her a decent role for some time. He would later use her again in The Savages.
  • An apodyterium was a changing room associated with bath houses.
  • The sestertius was a brass coin, equivalent to 5 pence today.
  • "Second Man in Market" is played, appropriately for this story, by extra John Caesar... Caesar was a background actor in a number of stories from The Dalek Invasion of Earth (as a Roboman) to Invasion of the Dinosaurs (as RT operator / soldier).

Saturday 28 January 2023

Countdown to 60: Jamie's Awa' In The TARDIS

Now into its fourth season, Doctor Who has given us a very mixed bag of companions. Susan was there right from the beginning - a member of the Doctor's own family. The character was poorly served by the writers, however, and the actor elected to leave after just one year.
Left behind in the TARDIS were teachers Ian and Barbara, who were the real audience identification figures. In the early days, the Doctor was an unknown quantity, sometimes an unpleasant one, and it was Ian who was the traditional hero figure. He was also there to help us understand the science, whilst Barbara helped with the history - a subject she tended to get overly involved with. Vicki and Steven provided a good pairing, but the production team of John Wiles and Donald Tosh really messed things up by pushing Maureen O'Brien out as early as they did. They replaced her with Katarina, who proved to be an outright failure. The excuse was that a companion from history wouldn't work as they would need everyday 20th Century things explained to them.
Dodo - an attempt to create a new Susan - proved to be another misfire. Wiles and Tosh left, to be replaced by Innes Lloyd and Gerry Davis. Lloyd wanted more mature companions, from contemporary London (which was internationally trendy at the time). The result was Ben and Polly.
Any chance of stability in the TARDIS was upset first by the arrival of a new incarnation of the Doctor, and then by the arrival of James Robert McCrimmon - Jamie.
It is obvious from his first appearance - The Highlanders - that he was never intended as a companion. He plays no significant role in the story. It seems Lloyd had grown bored with Ben and Polly (though there are unsubstantiated claims he was unhappy with demanding behaviour - which makes little sense if he also asked Wills to stay on with Hines as she claims). 
According to very recent interviews, Frazer Hines continues to believe that Jamie's retention was down to positive public response, but this simply isn't true. As I've said, he makes no impact at all in his first story, and his entry into the TARDIS was already filmed before the public got to see him properly. Much more likely was that it was a case of 'jobs for the boys'. Lloyd and his boss Shaun Sutton knew Hines, as did Troughton, and so he benefited from favouritism.
The idea of a historical companion posing problems was simply ignored - as it would be when Victoria arrived, to accompany the Doctor concurrently with Jamie.
For several stories, lines have to be shared between Ben and Jamie, or Jamie simply gets concussed and left out of the story for a few episodes. Ben and Polly had to be written out as soon as possible, and get a poor deal in their final story when they go missing for four episodes, only featuring in a quick pre-filmed departure scene. So keen was Lloyd to get rid of them, hoping to secure Pauline Collins, that they were paid off early.
The circumstances of his arrival might have been questionable, but Jamie did go on to become one of the most popular and long running companions, appearing in all but one of the Troughton stories. He almost featured in The Three Doctors, managed a cameo in The Five Doctors, and made a proper return in The Two Doctors.
Jamie has also been the inspiration for a whole hugely popular non-Doctor Who fantasy series.
For me, the Second Doctor-Jamie pairing is second only to the Fourth Doctor-Sarah one.

Friday 27 January 2023

What's Wrong With: The Sontaran Experiment

I always feel a bit cheated these days when watching The Ark in Space, knowing the events of this following two-part story. We have been led to believe that the people on the Ark are the last surviving members of the human race - so the stakes have never been higher as the Doctor battles to protect them from the Wirrn.
In this story, however, we discover that the Ark contains just one group of survivors - a particularly stuck-up, elitist bunch - and there are loads of other humans all over the Galaxy, getting on perfectly well without them. One is reminded of the Golgafrincham 'B' Ark from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - and maybe this is where Adams got the idea from.

We pointed out last time that the Ark is plainly seen to be in close Earth orbit - yet the Galsec astronauts fail to spot it when they come in search of their missing spaceship.
What was the missing ship doing in this part of space anyway? It is stated that Earth and its neighbourhood have long been abandoned. The ship containing the astronauts we see here shouldn't have been anywhere close by either, to have responded to the distress call.
Was there ever a missing ship? We are only told that the astronauts responded to a distress call - but this could have been faked by Styre.

Sarah sees Styre and mistakes him for Linx - yet he looks quite different to the Sontaran she met in Medieval times. The skin is paler, the features cruder, and he has extra fingers. Even the uniform is different with a darker helmet.
You meet a human who clearly knows your species - but met them thousands of years ago. Wouldn't someone on a fact-finding mission want to investigate this further?
And if Sontarans have been coming into contact with human beings since Medieval times, wouldn't they already know all the things which Styre is testing for here?
Simple common sense should tell the Sontaran High Command what happens to people if you starve or drown or crush them.

The big one. Why is Styre conducting experiments on humans on a planet on which there are no humans, haven't been any humans for a very long time, and might not see any humans for a very long time to come (he can't know about the Ark either)?
Is Sontaran High Command so hidebound by rules that an entire galactic invasion would be put on hold until a few unnecessary tests have been completed - then abandoned purely on hearsay from an alien?
Might not the Sontarans send a fleet to investigate and confirm the Doctor's claims - arriving just as all those people come down from the Ark?

All Sontarans are supposed to look the same - so why does Styre need a communications device with a TV monitor attached?

We all know that Tom Baker slipped and broke his collar bone during the filming of this story - and unfortunately it shows. We can easily spot Terry Walsh doing all the action stuff - he moves differently to Baker and the wig isn't right. All the shots of Baker are in close-up, with his coat and scarf tight around the neck to hide the sling he's wearing.

Thursday 26 January 2023

Season 9 Box Set (update)

The trailer was released this afternoon and, as expected, it featured Katy Manning as Jo. A couple of girls exploring a seaside cave are attacked by a Sea Devil, which is chased off by Jo. The creature was protecting some eggs, so we get some ecological preaching about climate change (as expected from writer Pete McTighe). One nice aspect is the recognition that Cliff Jones is now dead, allowing for a lovely tribute to Stewart Bevan.
As far as extras go, there is a "Making of" for The Time Monster, and a feature on director Michael E Briant. He and Manning share a sofa, with Sophie Aldred and Wendy Padbury on another, and Peter Davison with Sutton and Fielding on the third.
Other previews in the trailer include a locations piece on the season with Manning, and a feature about stunt performer Stuart Fell. There's also convention footage of Nicholas Courtney and Richard Franklin. 
Day of the Daleks comes in three versions - the original, the Special Edition, and the compilation. The Sea Devils also gets an omnibus version.
Amazon list it at £49.99, with a placeholder date of 31st December 2024. 
(Update: Now giving 20th March 2023 as release date).

These are the final Katy Manning episodes. All that remains of Pertwee's tenure are his first and last seasons, which have picture quality issues.
With only a single set to his name, I strongly suspect that the next set later this year will be a Davison one (the 20th Anniversary being the most obvious choice in an anniversary year).

Season 9 coming soon to Blu-Ray

Jon Pertwee's middle season - the Ninth - will be the next release in The Collection. Regarded as a "Monster Season", it features Daleks, Ice Warriors and Sea Devils, along with the Master, Ogrons, Mutants, Kronos and all the varied Peladon creatures.
A trailer is due later today, with more information to follow.

Wednesday 25 January 2023

L is for... Lupton

Lupton was an embittered man. He had once been a successful salesman, but had been overtaken by younger employees and forced out of his company. By way of sorting out his life he enrolled at a Tibetan meditation centre in rural Berkshire. A small group formed around him of like-minded people, who intended to abuse the teachings of the centre to benefit themselves, due to their shared greed for wealth and influence. Meeting secretly in the cellars, the group chanted over a mandala as they focussed their minds on what they desired. This provided a portal for a race of mutant spiders, native to the planet Metebelis III in the far future. Their ruler - the Great One - sought to collect all of the special blue crystals from the planet, but one was missing. It had been removed by the Doctor on an earlier visit to the planet. He had then given it away as a wedding gift to assistant Jo Grant. A spider transported itself through the portal and attached itself to Lupton - physically and psychically. Through him it would retrieve the Doctor's crystal, which had been returned to UNIT HQ by Jo after it had disturbed the porters on her Amazonian expedition.
Lupton obtained the crystal and made off in the Doctor's new high-tech vehicle, and a lengthy chase ensued. The spider helped Lupton teleport to safety. 
At the centre, the crystal was stolen just as Lupton and his spider were recalled to Metebelis III. They decided to bluff things out. Lupton's spider had designs on taking over from the spider queen.
Over time, Lupton was able to affect the spider in the same way that it controlled him, and they began to work as equals. When his spider deferred to the Great One, Lupton was furious and rebelled, fearing he would lose the power she had promised him. The spider council combined their powers against him.

Played by: John Dearth. Appearances: Planet of the Spiders (1974).
  • Dearth had previously voiced the Global Chemicals computer BOSS in The Green Death.

L is for... Lunn

Tim Lunn was a member of the crew of the Drum - an oil exploration complex built on the floor of a flooded Scottish valley. The crew discovered an alien spacecraft sitting beside a drowned village and brought it onto the Drum. Everyone took the opportunity to look inside - apart from Lunn, who was forbidden to do so by colleague Cass. She was deaf, and relied on Lunn to sign for her.
Soon after the craft was brought on board, the commander was killed in a freak accident. His ghost then began to appear, along with that of an alien undertaker. Other crew were killed, and all returned as phantoms. When Lunn was caught in a corridor by the ghosts, he was relieved to find that they ignored him. For some reason only he seemed immune to them. The Doctor later worked out that this was because he was the only person not to enter the craft and read some alien graffiti scratched on its wall. This left people open to transformation into psychic transmitters - a distress beacon for an alien creature called the Fisher King.
It transpired that the creature had actually been killed decades ago when the valley first flooded, and the Doctor found a way to neutralise the ghosts by confining them to a Faraday Cage. Lunn then discovered that Cass loved him as much as he had secretly loved her.

Played by: Zaqi Ismail. Appearances: Under the Lake / Before the Flood (2015).

L is for... Lundvik

Captain Lundvik was a veteran astronaut who was placed in command of a space shuttle mission to the Moon in 2049. Earth's satellite had greatly increased its gravitational pull on the planet, with disastrous consequences. Lundvik's task was to blow up the Moon with a number of thermonuclear devices. The mission became a suicide one as the shuttle - a museum piece - crash-landed and then fell into a ravine. The Doctor discovered that the cause of the Moon's changes was that it was really an ancient egg, and the gigantic creature within was about to be born. Despite this knowledge, Lundvik was determined to carry out her mission. Clara Oswald disagreed and together they decided to canvas opinion from the people on Earth, after the Doctor had withdrawn - claiming this was a choice that only human beings could make.
The creature was born, and laid an egg which became a new Moon, after the Doctor had used the TARDIS to take Lundvik back to Earth.

Played by: Hermione Norris. Appearances: Kill The Moon (2014).
  • Norris' best known role to date is as MI5 operative Ros Myers in Spooks.

L is for... Lumic, John

A powerful industrialist from a parallel Earth, head of the Cybus group of companies. 
Lumic fell victim to a degenerative illness, confining him to a wheelchair. He became obsessed with preserving intelligence and experience beyond death, realising that only the brain was needed to further a person's existence. He began experimenting on creating artificial bodies into which the brain could be transplanted, carrying out the development work in third world countries with fewer legal protections and regulations.
Once a prototype had been perfected, he decided to return to his home in the United Kingdom to seek government approval for his ideas. The British President disapproved of his scheme, so he decided to proceed with his own plan to forcibly convert the population into cyborg beings which he called Cybermen. A number of homeless people had been abducted off the streets to begin the programme.
Knowing that the President was going to attend a party at the home of Pete and Jackie Tyler, he hacked into her ear-pod personal communication system to learn the security details, then sent a squad of Cybermen to the house. The President and most of the guests were killed, whilst others were taken away for forced conversion at Lumic's main factory at Battersea Power Station. He was able to carry out a similar hack of everyone's ear-pods to hypnotise the whole of London, so they would blindly comply with the Cybermen.
Lumic intended to allow himself to be converted when the time was right. His henchman Mr Crane rebelled against him, damaging his life support unit. The Cybermen took him away and turned him into their Controller. In this form he was destroyed when he fell into the exploding conversion factory.

Played by: Roger Lloyd-Pack. Appearances: Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel (2006).
  • Lloyd-Pack also featured alongside David Tennant in the Harry Potter film The Goblet of Fire.
  • He was best known for his comedy work, as a regular in series such as Only Fools And Horses and The Vicar of Dibley.

L is for... Lukoser

The Lukoser was a half-man, half wolf, used to guard a tunnel complex on the planet Thoros Beta, home of the Mentors. Here was the laboratory of the discredited Earth scientist Crozier, who had created the Lukoser in one of his experiments. When King Yrcanos of Thoros Alpha encountered the creature, he was shocked to recognise it as having once been his equerry Dorf of Kanval. Dorf assisted his king until killed by a guard.

Played by: Thomas Branch. Appearances: Trial of a Time Lord (Parts 5 - 8) aka Mindwarp (1986).

L is for... Lucy

The Doctor encountered journalist Lucy Lombard (nee Fletcher) when both were investigating the Harmony Shoal Institute in New York. Lucy had a child named Jennifer, and employed an old school friend named Grant to act as her nanny. Grant felt responsible for Lucy being on her own as he had introduced her to her ex-husband. He was secretly madly in love with her himself.
The Doctor knew that the Institute was a front for an alien race of parasites - and also that Grant had superhuman powers thanks to an incident in his childhood when he had swallowed an alien crystal. Because of these powers, he had adopted a superhero persona - the Ghost - and fought crime and assisted emergency services.
When Lucy got home from an incident at the Institute, she was surprised to find the Doctor there. He had been visiting Grant. Attempts to find out who he was failed, despite her tormenting an annoying squeaky toy to irritate him. Whilst failing to spot how Grant felt about her, Lucy held a torch for the Ghost. A dinner was arranged, in which Grant had to appear in his disguise and nanny the baby at the same time. This coincided with the Harmony Shoal aliens attacking, intent on taking the Ghost's body as a host for one of their kind - and a crashing spaceship containing the Doctor and his assistant Nardole. Lucy did eventually discover that Grant and the Ghost were one and the same person.

Played by: Charity Wakefield. Appearances: The Return of Doctor Mysterio (2016).
  • The 2016 Christmas Special was inspired by DC comic books. Lucy Lombard is very loosely based on Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane from the Superman comics - hence the alliterative name.

L is for... Lucius Petrus Dextrus

Lucius Petrus Dextrus was the official auger of the city of Pompeii. He held a psychic link with the alien Pyroviles which had been slowly establishing themselves within the volcano Mount Vesuvius following a crash. With their planet now lost, they intended to alter Earth to suit their needs, making it their new home. As part of this plan, Lucius was instructed to commission control circuits carved in marble for their device which would trigger the volcano. When he encountered the Doctor and Donna, his psychic abilities enabled him to identify them as a Time Lord and as someone from the future - including foresight of something which would only happen to Donna in an alternative timeline.
As well as psychic abilities, the Pyroviles also caused a physical change to take place with those mentally in tune with them. They slowly began to turn to stone. Lucius had a stone right arm, which the Doctor broke off when attempting to escape from him.
Lucius delivered the circuits to the Pyroviles, but was killed inside the volcano when the Doctor caused it to erupt - sacrificing Pompeii to prevent the alien scheme from destroying the whole planet.

Played by: Phil Davis. Appearances: The Fires of Pompeii (2008).
  • Davis tends to play policemen or villains in contemporary crime dramas, such as the Whitechapel series. He first came to prominence in Quadrophenia, before playing King John in Robin of Sherwood.
  • Petrus is Latin for stone or rock. Dextrus comes from dexter - on the right side - therefore Lucius' unique physical condition was signposted from the outset.

Monday 23 January 2023

Class 04: Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart

In which the consequences of the Shadow Kin attack at the school prom begin to make themselves felt...
The displacement gun which Charlie had used on Corakinus had caused he and April to become temporarily merged. On separating, however, it was found that they now shared the same heart - existing in both our dimension and the Underneath - realm of the Shadow Kin. The death of one would lead to the death of the other.
Corakinus instructs his people to find a way to safely separate him from the Earth girl. Their efforts, however, have a negative effect on her. She begins to demonstrate anger management issues, arguing with teachers and fellow pupils at school. Things come to a head when her estranged father Huw turns up unannounced, recently freed from prison. He had attempted to kill himself by crashing his car - with April and her mother on board.
In her fury at him she manifests a Shadow Kin sword and threatens him with it.
Charlie, meanwhile, decides to inform Matteusz about the Cabinet of Souls which he brought from his home planet. The Rhodian souls within could be brought back to life, but only by taking over the bodies of others. Miss Quill overhears this, and is angry that Charlie holds a potential weapon that could destroy the Shadow Kin. Matteusz is worried that his boyfriend could even contemplate genocide.

At the same time April is suffering her difficulties, a mass of seemingly harmless pink flowers begin to appear around the district. They reproduce at an alarming rate, however, and what is worse is that they feed on flesh and blood and begin to kill people. They are alien in origin, having come through one of the space / time rifts.
Miss Quill is informed about this threat by Dorothea Ames, the new Head of Coal Hill School. She reveals that she knows all about her and Charlie, and has been specially selected by the Governors to run the school. She also reveals that she may have the power to remove the implant which enslaves Quill to Charlie and prevents her from using weapons
At the Shadow Palace, a Shadow Kin named Rannus comes up with a plan to help Corakinus - an anchor which will tie the heart exclusively to him. This plan fails, and Corakinus has Rannus executed.
Another adviser, Kharrus, came up with a variation on Rannus' anchor plan. This would entail anchoring Corakinus to a whole person, not just via the heart. Corakinus elects to proceed with this plan - but he will travel back to Earth and slay April and take the heart for himself.
When the plan appears to fail, Corakinus had Kharrus executed as well, despite her being his lover. 
It transpires that he had acted too soon, and the plan has actually succeeded.
As Corakinus rages against Kharrus for her failure, April is once again furious with her father who has arrived at her home. This triggers a switch, as Corakinus is transported to Earth, and April is sent to the Underneath. Ram leaps through the portal after her just before it closes...

Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart was written by Patrick Ness, and first broadcast on 5th November 2016. It is the opening instalment of the series' first proper two-parter, ending on a cliff-hanger. April and Ram have been transported to the Underneath, whilst Coal Hill is threatened by carnivorous flowers.
The Shadow Kin return from the opening episode, led once again by Paul Marc Davis as Corakinus. We get to see their home planet and meet some more of their kind. The two advisers - Rannus and Kharrus - are actually portrayed by the same actor - Kelly Gough.
Headmaster Mr Armitage had been killed off in the second episode, and this instalment introduces his replacement - Dorothea Ames. Whilst he had clearly been none the wiser about the odd things going on around his school - until one of them ate him - she is a much more sinister figure. She knows all about the background of Miss Quill and Charlie, in some detail, and is familiar with the space / time rents. 
She is working for the mysterious Governors, who had employed an android to spy on Miss Quill in the dragon episode.
Ames is played by Pooky Quesnel. Also joining the cast this week, as April's father Huw, is Con O'Neill.

Overall, we have a lot of character development and it is nice to get away from Coal Hill School and the monster-of-the-week format which the series was in danger of falling into.
Things you might like to know:
  • Pooky Quesnel had previously featured in the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas Special A Christmas Carol, as the captain of the crashing spaceship.
  • The episode title was inspired by the 1983 Yes song Owner of a Lonely Heart.
  • Though Kelly Gough plays two different Shadow Kin, Rannus is voiced by another actor - Neil McCaul - to help differentiate them.
  • Mr Armitage's name has been a added to the school memorial board, which already lists Clara Oswald and Danny Pink.
  • Miss Quill shows a physics video to her class. We don't see it, but the voice shows that it is one of Brian Cox's programmes. He had cameoed in The Power of Three, as well as presenting The Science of Doctor Who as part of the 50th Anniversary build-up.

Sunday 22 January 2023

Episode 54: The Slave Traders

The TARDIS materialises on a narrow ledge, then tumbles down into a ravine...
A few weeks later, the travellers have appropriated a nearby villa where they are living a life of relative luxury. The owner is away, campaigning in Gaul. They are close to the heart of the Roman Empire, in the year 64 AD. The TARDIS is unharmed, and they can return to it anytime they wish.
One day Barbara and Vicki visit the market in the local town and come to the attention of a man named Sevcheria and his assistant Didius. They are slave traders. From a stall holder they learn that the women are from Britannia, as they mentioned Londinium. They are disappointed at the quality of the slaves they have procured so far and would like a few more before reaching Rome - and the people from the villa would suit them perfectly...
That afternoon, the Doctor announces that he is going alone to visit Rome, but Vicki talks him into letting her go with him. He rejects the suggestion by Ian and Barbara that they should also accompany him in case of trouble.
A few hours later, the Doctor and Vicki come upon the corpse of an old man, hidden in the bushes by the side of the road. She recognises him as a musician who had played his lyre at the market that morning. The Doctor picks up this instrument as they notice a lone Centurion approach, seemingly searching the undergrowth. When he sees them he takes note of the lyre and assumes the Doctor to be the dead man - the famous Corinthian musician Maximus Pettulian, who is reported to be coming to Rome to play at the court of the Emperor. He offers to escort them to the nearby mansio where they can spend the night. The Doctor is happy to allow the mistaken identity to stand. He suspects that the soldier was expecting to find a dead body, and has been surprised to find "Maximus" still alive.
At the villa, Sevcheria and Didius break in. In the confusion, Barbara accidentally knocks Ian out and both are captured. They find themselves chained up and taken away for sale in Rome. A merchant happens to come across the traders and buys Ian as a galley slave. Sevcheria refuses to sell Barbara, as he knows she will fetch a better price in the city.
At the mansio, the Centurion confronts Ascaris - the mute assassin who had earlier murdered Maximus Pettulian. He accuses him of having failed and gives him one last chance to kill the musician.
Ascaris creeps into the room where the Doctor and Vicki are staying...
Next episode: All Roads Lead to Rome

Written by: Dennis Spooner
Recorded: Friday 18th December, 1964 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:40pm, Saturday 16th January 1965
Ratings: 13 million / AI 53
Designer: Raymond P Cusick
Director: Christopher Barry
Additional cast: Derek Sydney (Sevcheria), Nick Evans (Didius), Dennis Edwards (Centurion), Barry Jackson (Ascaris), Edward Kelsey (Slave Buyer), Margot Thomas (Stall Holder), Bart Allison (Maximus Pettulian)

Ancient Rome had been one of the intended backdrops to a Doctor Who story almost from the outset. 
More than one writer had contemplated a story revolving around either the departure of the Romans from Britain around 410 AD, or Julius Caesar's first landing in the country in 55 BC - thus tying the story to home shores.

Now that the series was established, Verity Lambert insisted that it should still experiment and push boundaries. New story editor Dennis Spooner was known for comedic writing (like his friend Terry Nation he was also a failed stand-up comedian), and together they decided on a story which had a higher comedy element. This runs through the whole story, but is seen at its most extreme in the farce elements of the third instalment.
William Hartnell welcomed this development as he was a great lover of comedy. Before being typecast as gangsters and tough army types, he had maintained a steady career in low budget comedy movies before WWII.

The British angle was dropped as the big Hollywood blockbuster Quo Vadis became the main inspiration. This 1951 movie had starred Peter Ustinov as the Emperor Nero, with Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr as, respectively, a Roman soldier a Christian woman who he falls in love with, at the time when the Emperor was persecuting this troublesome sect. Patricia Laffan had played Poppaea, famously walking around with a cheetah on a leash.
The film was based on an 1896 novel by Polish Nobel Laureate Henryk Sienkiewicz.
At the time Spooner was planning his episodes, Quo Vadis was also providing the inspiration for another cinematic masterpiece. A near neighbour of his was actor Jim Dale, who was currently filming Carry On Cleo at Pinewood Studios. Dale invited him along to the studio to watch some of the filming, which provided him with more inspiration owing in part to the episodic nature of the Carry On... movie.
The same researcher would work on both the Carry On... and the Doctor Who story.
In terms of similarities, we have the main characters coming from Britain but being turned into slaves in Rome, plus an assassination plot against the Emperor ("Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me..!"), as well as a lot of farcical goings-on in palace corridors.
The Carry On... film simply wanted to cash in on the big biblical epic movies such as Quo Vadis in general, but ignored that actual storyline. If anything it was the 1963 Burton / Taylor movie Cleopatra which it really aimed to mock.
The stage musical A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum also provided some inspiration, which we will look at under a later episode.

In these early years of the series, attempts are still being made to educate as well as entertain. The Doctor discusses the efficiency of Roman water transportation methods, and we see the domestic life of wealthy Romans reflected in the dinner which the TARDIS crew enjoy. We are told about Londinium being the capital of the province of Britannia.
Ian quotes from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar - "Friends, Romans, countrymen...", from Act 3 Scene 2. He also quotes Cicero with "O tempora! O mores!", which translates as "Oh the times! Oh the customs!".
There is some bad history as well. Outside of a city, a Roman villa wasn't just a big house. It was an entire agricultural estate, which functioned all year round whether the owners were on site or not. There is no way the TARDIS crew would have found a whole empty property like this, devoid of servants and slaves.
It is also claimed that the owner is away campaigning in Gaul. There had been no campaigns in that region for many years. The owner's name - Flavius Guiscard - isn't right for the period. Spooner took the surname from an 11th Century Norman adventurer.
There will be more bad history to come...

In rehearsals, Hartnell told O'Brien "This will be your first exploitation" instead of "exploration".
It was quite late in the day that the fight in the villa was rewritten to have Barbara accidentally knock out Ian. Originally it was to have been Sevcheria who struck the blow. The script for Part Four had to be amended to accommodate this change.

Following the recording of this episode, the cast and crew embarked on a one week holiday for Christmas, to reconvene for rehearsals on 28th December.

  • The strong viewing figures continue, though the AI score drops to only 53.
  • For the first time in the series, the title of story editor is changed to script editor. This was on documentation only, as this story did not have a named story / script editor thanks to Dennis Spooner also being the writer.
  • The model work of the falling TARDIS was filmed at Ealing on Tuesday 17th November 1964.
  • A mansio was an official government way station, designed as a resting place for officials who were travelling across the Empire. With their Centurion escort, the Doctor and Vicki would have used such an establishment rather than a conventional inn.
  • Nick Evans had previously operated Daleks in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, in which he had also been the Slyther.
  • Edward Kelsey would become well known for portraying Joe Grundy in The Archers radio soap. An old friend of the director, Barry used him in two of his later Doctor Who stories - The Power of the Daleks and The Creature from the Pit.
  • Barry Jackson, who would return to the series as Time Lord Drax, under the alternative name of Jack Barry was also a fight arranger who performed a theatrical gladiator routine with a partner. During one of their shows he was accidentally stabbed for real.
  • Richard Martin was originally slated to direct this story, before it was added to The Rescue as a single 6 week production block.
  • This was the only non-science fiction story which Ray Cusick got to design for - and his least favourite. As a continuation of the recording block which began with The Powerful Enemy, a lot of money had already been spent. He does provide a very effective villa setting (although some of the busts are anachronistic - featuring later Emperors or even Victorians).
  • The Radio Times feature on the opening episode of The Romans:

Saturday 21 January 2023

Countdown to 60: Renewal

Number 10, and I'm only just coming out of the Hartnell era. Hartnell's departure is such a significant moment, however. We don't have him retire, or die, or walk off into the sunset, to be replaced by a new character who will fulfil his role in the series.
After complaining of increasing weakness - "This old body of mine is wearing a bit thin" - he hurries back to the TARDIS, leaving Ben and Polly behind. It's as if he knew something monumental was about to happen and needed to be prepared for it. Inside the TARDIS, he operates the controls - though some seem to be working independently of him. He collapses and is found by his companions lying on the floor. 
They then see his face blur and change, and in a few moments a younger, darker haired man lies in his place.
To get some idea of what the heck has just happened, we have to move into the next episode - the first instalment of The Power of the Daleks. Most of this story is spent with Ben refusing to believe this dark-haired bloke is the Doctor - despite both he and Polly seeing the change. (Did David Whitaker / Dennis Spooner not check to see where they were when the change took place?).
These days we call it "Regeneration" but that wasn't coined until the final episode of Planet of the Spiders. Here, it is very clearly called "Renewal". "That's it. I've been renewed". It's also claimed to be intrinsically linked to the TARDIS - the Doctor states it couldn't have happened without it.
If you read old copies of Doctor Who Weekly / Monthly, they subscribe to the notion that the Troughton Doctor is a younger version of the Hartnell one. It is only much later that the series confirms he is another incarnation of the Doctor - one of 13 according to a rule set down by Robert Holmes, but since thrown out the window. (Though the draft scripts stated clearly that the Doctor had changed more than once before - "I fight it every time" / "...the last time I changed...").
Film and TV franchises have changed lead actors many times - sometimes having them a whole new character (such as the steady stream of prissy British detectives who get sent out to the Caribbean to solve all those Death(s) in Paradise) or they are supposed to be the same character (like Supermen, Spidermen, or James Bonds).
Lead actors change for various reasons - push and pull. In the case of Hartnell, his increasing ill health left the production team no choice but to replace him. Innes Lloyd and Gerry Davis hit upon the incredibly clever - genius - idea of having the Doctor, as an unknown alien, have the ability to change his body into an entirely new persona - physically and mentally / behaviourally.
The series could continue with a brand new actor, playing the exact same heroic explorer - just with a quirky new personality and fewer fluffs...

Friday 20 January 2023

Inspirations: The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords

It's the series finale, so its main job is to tie up the recent story arc. This time round, we've been given a sort of finale-prequel episode - Utopia - which has already done much of the hard work. We know that Prof Yana is the Master, his identity hidden by a Chameleon Arch, and so this explains the Face of Boe's last words - "You Are Not Alone".
As the two-part finale begins, we see that the Doctor, Martha and Jack escaped from imminent attack by the Futurekind by fixing Jack's Vortex Manipulator. They arrive in London to find that the General Election has taken place and Mr Saxon has won - and Martha identifies the new PM's voice as that of the person who just stole the TARDIS. Thus, the Harold Saxon story arc - begun back in Series 2 - is explained.
Russell T Davies had always planned on bringing the Daleks back in the first series, and the Cybermen in the second. The third was earmarked for the Master from the outset.

The Master had last featured in the 1996 movie, played by Eric Roberts, in which he had been dragged into the Eye of Harmony. Here, it is explained that he was saved from this state by the Time Lords in order to fight in the Time War. He quickly ran away from this and hid himself via the Chameleon Arch, taking on the Yana persona.
Ever since he had first appeared back in 1971, in Terror of the Autons, the Master had been involved in some very odd schemes - ranging from the badly thought-out to the downright crazy. Initially, he seemed to ally himself with alien powers and it had to be pointed out to him time and again that they would turn on him as soon as they got what they wanted from him.
Once into his Anthony Ainley incarnation, he seemed to get crazier with each appearance.
RTD had to provide the character with some sort of motivation, and hit upon the idea that he didn't just act crazy - he actually was crazy. This would explain some of his more bizarre schemes.
He hit upon the notion of the constant noise in the Master's head - a never-ending drumming. This would prove to form part of a later story arc.
Fans believed the four beat drumming was based on the Doctor Who theme music, but RTD claimed it was based on his alarm clock.

The Master had often targeted Earth, purely because the Doctor was trapped there, and later just because he knew that this was the Doctor's favourite planet - so it made sense that the new incarnation would also set his sights on Earth and the human race.
Stealing and adapting the Doctor's TARDIS allows him to create a Paradox Engine - enabling the future humans (now Toclafane) to wipe themselves out in their own past.
The Toclafane derive from the planning stages of Series 1. At one point the BBC had angered the Terry Nation estate by assuming that they could use the Daleks without gaining permission and organising payments. The estate therefore decided to withhold agreement to use them.
Robert Shearman had to adapt his episode to feature an alternative villain - something known as the "Sphere". A single one would feature in the sixth episode, with a whole army of them in the finale.
As it was, the situation surrounding use of the Daleks was resolved, and the Spheres were held back for potential later use. That turned out to be the finale of Series 3.

With a younger Doctor in the TARDIS, RTD decided on a younger Master to contrast with him.
In the same way that the Doctor has always had a companion, it was decided that the Master should also have one - in his case a wife. This couldn't be the same kind of friendly mentoring relationship, however. The Master is clearly abusing his spouse.
The Master was an expert hypnotist, at least in the Delgado days, and so a form of mass hypnosis plays a role here. He is using a satellite network to boost his subliminal messaging to the entire planet.
UNIT feature - his old foes - and here they have a new toy: the Valiant.
This has all too obviously been inspired by the SPECTRUM Cloudbase from Gerry Anderson's Captain Scarlet.
Just before he flies out to join it, we see the Master at an airfield. He is wearing a black coat which has a bright red lining - hinting at Count Dracula's cape, but also one of Jon Pertwee's.
The scene with the Master watching the Teletubbies was inspired by a sequence in The Sea Devils where he was seen watching The Clangers.
Other references to the Pertwee / Delgado era include the phone conversation between the two Time Lords, where they discuss the old days and mention Axons and the like.

With the Time Lords all gone, and Gallifrey destroyed, fans never expected to see the Doctor's homeworld in the new series. However, here the Doctor reminisces about it and we get a flashback sequence in which we see the Citadel (based on the version which was first used by Doctor Who Monthly's news page). We also see some Time Lords clad in the robes and collars first designed for them by James Acheson in The Deadly Assassin. The sky appears to be an orange colour - taking us back to the description Susan gave in The Sensorites - though there it was supposed to be the night sky which looked that colour.
The same flashback shows us the young Master approaching the Untempered Schism - and he is dressed in the plainer black and white robes of the tribunal from The War Games Part Ten.
In Planet of Fire, the production team had contemplated confirming that the Master was the Doctor's brother - something which the original 1970's team had never planned. They had thought of making him another aspect of the Doctor - his darker side, not unlike the Valeyard.
A joke is made of the brothers idea, with the Doctor laughing at the notion.

Journalist Vivien Rook was named after real journalist Jean Rook, who had once written a critical piece about Robert Holmes' more horrific stories for the series.
The Master's speech to the country at the beginning of the first instalment opens with "Britain, Britain, Britain...", which is how Tom Baker usually began his Little Britain narrations.
He also starts another speech with "Peoples of the Earth, please attend carefully...", which was almost what the Ainley incarnation included in his blackmail message in Logopolis.
RTD did toy with giving the Master a new Tissue Compression Eliminator weapon, but thought that it would be one gadget too many, having already got the Laser Screwdriver and the Toclafane.
It is suggested that Jack becomes the Face of Boe. We had seen his home in the Boeshane Peninsula in the Torchwood episode Adam. It's never been confirmed but it would explain his great longevity and how he knew that the Doctor wasn't the last Time Lord and about Yana.

There is an unbroken run of episodes, should you choose to create a smaller story arc, comprising TW; Captain Jack Harkness, TW: End of Days, Utopia, The Sound of Drums, Last of the Time Lords, Time Crash and Voyage of the Damned.
Next time: Neighbours Meets The Poseidon Adventure...

Wednesday 18 January 2023

Countdown to 60: Cybermen In The Snow

Number 9 - the first appearance in the programme of the Cybermen. They're called "Cybermen", and explain why, but they bear very little resemblance to what we think of as Cybermen. This lot are the originals - the inhabitants of Earth's long lost twin world of Mondas. They look unique - with cloth-like skin and cumbersome attachments on the chest and on top of the head. We see that they have human hands at the end of their mechanical arms. 
There's nothing sleek and slim-lined about them. They look like they have been crudely put together, perhaps due to time and resource pressures. The voice is a weird sing-song sound - suggestive of a tape-loop running on a low battery, or a race who have picked up only snatches of English and spliced them together.
Mondas has returned to near Earth orbit, and though a later story will suggest this was intentional, here it is implied that the Cybermen have no control over the planet. They certainly can't stop it draining energy from its twin. They and all their equipment is bound to the planet - so when Mondas perishes, they collapse and die. Interestingly, despite being the most organic of all the Cybermen, it is only their metal and plastic bodies which remain. The organic material seems to have dissolved.
All other Cybermen will be far more robotic, and will hail from their second home planet Telos, or claim to have left Mondas before its destruction. As such this type of early Cyberman was never seen again - until Steven Moffat brought them back as a gift to the departing Peter Capaldi, who was a big fan. This was in a new origins story, and so their presence was explained away by them being the earliest form of the Cyberman, which would evolve eventually into the more robotic variations.
The Tenth Planet may have featured creatures called Cybermen - but it wasn't until The Moonbase that the Cybermen as we know them really arrived...

Wednesday 11 January 2023

Short break

Have to take a little break for the next week or so. In hospital on a 7 day antibiotic regime. Unless there is some big breaking news, I'll be back end of next week.

Monday 9 January 2023

Season 14 Guests

It has been announced that actor Aneurin Barnard will be featuring in an episode of Series 14. Jemma Redgrave is also confirmed as returning as Kate Stewart. Not sure if they are in the same instalment, or if two episodes are being filmed as part of one block. Barnard plays a political candidate running for the Albion Party, who look a bit fascist. His character is called Roger ap Gwilliam.
Parts of Newport have been redressed as London shops and businesses. Last week a huge slug-like creature was filmed at Swansea University - at the same time Barnard was filming election scenes. It looked vaguely like a Tractator, but only from the rear. Again, might be from another episode of the block. Millie Gibson was seen filming with Redgrave and people in UNIT gear, but no sign of Gatwa.

Sunday 8 January 2023

Episode 53: Desperate Measures

Looking for a way out of the mountain caverns, the Doctor and Ian are moving along a narrow ledge when they accidentally trigger a hidden trap. Sharp blades emerge from the tunnel wall and push Ian towards a ravine, in which a savage-looking creature lurks...
Ian uses his jacket to protect himself from the blades as the Doctor manages to reverse the mechanism. They continue their journey and spot daylight ahead. The creature is moving in the same direction, slightly ahead of them.
At the spaceship, Vicki has gone to fetch water while Barbara helps prepare a meal. She notices a flare pistol in a cabinet. As the Doctor and Ian near the mouth of the cavern, the creature is already out in the open, moving towards Vicki. Barbara sees this and grabs the flare pistol, shooting the creature dead.
Vicki is left distraught. She explains that "Sandy" was a pet, a herbivore which she had trained to come for food. The Doctor and Ian arrive to find Vicki in tears, shunning Barbara.
Koquillion emerges from a door in the tunnel and sees the footprints of the Doctor and Ian.
After they have eaten, the Doctor speaks with Vicki and assures her that Barbara had acted in her best interests, thinking she was going to be attacked, and had not meant to upset her. He announces that he is going to go and speak with Bennett.
He enters the bedroom to find it empty, yet it had been locked from the inside. He finds a tape recorder with Bennett's pre-recorded messages, and an intercom which allows him to listen to what is going on in the crew room.
He listens in as Vicki explains her story to the two teachers - of how her father and she were travelling to make a new life on the planet Astra after her mother died. They left Earth in 2493. The ship crashed on Dido. The locals invited the survivors to a great feast one night which she was unable to attend due to illness. A massive explosion occurred which killed all the spaceship survivors - including her father - as well as the natives. Only an injured Bennett survived the blast. Since then Koquillion has been protecting them from the rest of his people. Vicki is amazed to learn that the two teachers come from the 20th Century, and that the Doctor is a time-travelling alien.
The Doctor finds a hidden trap door which leads to the door in the caverns. Beyond is a great chamber which he recalls was the Hall of Judgement. He waits here for Koquillion. When the creature arrives, he announces that he knows that he is Bennett in disguise. The people of Dido are humanoid, and only wear insect-like masks like his during their ceremonies.
Bennett reveals that he committed a murder on the spaceship. He then engineered the explosion at the feast to cover this up. Vicki has been kept alive to provide him with an alibi.
He attacks the Doctor but is stopped by the sudden appearance of two Dido people. Terrified, he tries to flee into the caverns but plunges into the ravine to his death.
The Doctor passes out, and wakes to find himself by the TARDIS.
Ian and Barbara ask him if they can take Vicki with them. He has had the same idea and so puts it to her to decide. She accepts and enters the TARDIS - astonished by its massive internal dimensions.
After the ship has departed, the two Dido people enter the spaceship and destroy the radio, so that the rescue ship will never arrive...
Soon after, the TARDIS materialises and the Doctor confirms a perfect landing - but Ian and the others notice definite movement. The ship has landed on a narrow ledge. It rocks back and forth for a few moments then tumbles down the slope...
Next episode: The Slave Traders

Written by: David Whitaker
Recorded: Friday 11th December 1964 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:40pm, Saturday 9th January 1965
Ratings: 13 million / AI 60
Designer: Raymond P Cusick
Director: Christopher Barry
Additional cast: John Stuart & Colin Hughes (Dido People)

This episode sees the first occasion in which someone has entered the TARDIS for the first time since An Unearthly Child - so we get the first proper "it's bigger on the inside" show of amazement. When Ian and Barbara first entered the ship, we - the audience - were too busy being amazed ourselves to fully appreciate their reactions. Vicki is also the first person to be invited into the TARDIS by the Doctor, whereas Susan was already travelling with him, and the teachers forced their way in.
This first sight of the console room will become a sort of rite of passage for all new companions from this point on.

Despite only being two episodes in length, Whitaker has left a few plot holes - or apparent inconsistencies.
The backstory to the crash is left unclear. It is not known if Bennett engineered the crash, or if it was simply coincidental and he capitalised on it. If the crime had been discovered before the crash as he claims, you have to question how he was then allowed the freedom to go about setting up the explosion which killed all of the other survivors, save for Vicki, and the Dido people.
It is also odd that Vicki's father should leave his sick daughter all alone on a potentially dangerous planet to attend a feast.
The exact nature of the two Dido people is left up in the air as well. Where have they been all this time? Are they ghosts - as Bennett seems to think, judging by his reaction? If they are real, and the last of their kind, then what possible future can they have? Are there other survivors hidden somewhere?
Technically, the TARDIS crew didn't need to take Vicki with them. The Doctor already knows that the Dido people are benign - they didn't harm him after killing Bennett - and the rescue ship is now less than 72 hours away. Vicki could simply have stayed with the Doctor and his companions until it arrived.
One of Whitaker's main failings was his science. (It will reach its nadir with The Wheel in Space). Here he has a spaceship less than three days away from a planet, unable to locate that planet without some sort of radio beacon. 
Would the rescue ship simply turn round and go home again once the signal was lost, or would it check out the local planets anyway since it had come all this way?
If it found evidence of the crash site but no Vicki and a dead Bennett, wouldn't that make things worse for the Dido people? With no-one to explain what really happened, the Earth people might take reprisals against the Dido survivors - blaming them for the murders of the Astra ship crew.
By running off with Vicki before the ship arrived, the Doctor might have left the Dido people in a real mess.

The use of the Dido construction tool in the fight between the Doctor and Bennett in the Hall of Judgement was unscripted, but added late in rehearsals.
Cusick's design for the Hall made great use of dry ice and low lighting to hide the fact that it comprised mostly pillars and black drapes.
During the studio rehearsals, Jacqueline Hill was slightly injured by the flare pistol. The charge was more powerful than she thought when it went off in her face. On the recording, you can see the charge simply fall off the end of the prop.
William Russell's description of Koquillion as "cockylickin" was an ad-lib.

Christopher Barry elected to reuse some of the sound effects from The Daleks, which he had also directed. He also re-employed some of Tristram Cary's music  from that story.
The dying Sandbeast noise was an adaptation of a dying Dalek sound effect.

  • This episode saw a one million rise in viewing figures - beating the previous Dalek story - as well as a three point increase in the audience appreciation figure. It remains one of the highest rated episodes ever, and was the first to enter the Top 10 TV programmes of the week.
  • Many guidebooks call the natives of Dido "Didonians", but on screen they are only ever referred to as "the Dido People".
  • Having voiced the spaceship captain and played the Sandbeast in the first instalment, Tom Sheridan had hoped to play one of the Dido People as well, but this was rejected.
  • The TARDIS tumbling off the ledge was the first thing filmed for this story - on Monday 16th November at Ealing Film Studios.
  • When the Sandbeast emerges from the cave, just before Barbara spots it, you can see someone moving around in the background - presumably William Russell or Hartnell.

Friday 6 January 2023

The Art of... The Rescue

The novelisation of Doctor Who: The Rescue was the final work by Ian Marter. Best known for playing Harry Sullivan in Seasons 12/13 he had met representatives from Target at a BBC party, where he expressed an interest in attempting a novelisation. His first was The Ark in Space, as it was a story which featured his character prominently. The book was characterised by some graphic body horror, and by rewriting the means by which the Doctor and companions leave the station at the end (he has them leave in the TARDIS). His next novel was the next story as broadcast - The Sontaran Experiment - which entailed extending a two-part story to the range's then 126 page limit. He also had to work around his own changed ending to the previous book.
He wrote a number of other stories, including two Cyberman ones, despite hating them. He also contributed a spin-off book for the short-lived "Companions of Doctor Who" range - a conventional spy caper involving Harry. He was planning another of these - one that possibly killed off his character - when he died from diabetes complications on his 42nd birthday.
The predominantly green cover is by artist Tony Clark. We have a portrait image of Koquillion, and a full image of the Sand Beast. Unusually, the Doctor is caught in the act of turning - either towards us or away - and the final element is the wall sculpture from the tunnel which triggers the spike trap at the end of the first episode. I believe the Hartnell image comes from Marco Polo - he's opening the TARDIS door as he glances back.
The green colouring, Hartnell's Doctor, and the insect-like face of Koquillion (it was based on microscope images of a fly) often confuses this with the cover for Planet of Giants in my mind.

When BBC Video began releasing Doctor Who on VHS, fans were unhappy that stories were being edited together, or shown in condensed form (The Brain of Morbius was the 60 minute compilation version). When they stopped editing the stories, fans then complained about six part stories being split over two tapes, which you had to buy separately (so double the cost). Arguments then ensued over what to do with the two-parters. Some wanted them grouped together on a tape of their own (The Edge of Destruction sharing with The Rescue for instance). Others suggested adding it on to a reissue of The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Instead, the BBC released The Rescue coupled with The Romans, which immediately follows it, and has a cliff-hanger connection - despite the BBC cutting this).
Released in September 1994, the artist is Andrew Skilleter. A side-on image of Koquillion and a portrait of Vicki  represent this story. The US VHS followed in March 1996.

The Rescue and The Romans remained linked for the DVD releases. The Region 2 disc arrived as part of a "Vicki Tales" box set in February 2009, with a cover design by Clayton Hickman.

The Region 1 DVD also coupled the story with The Romans. Unlike the UK release, however, the individual stories did not have their own artwork as this was a double DVD in a single slipcase. It was released in July 2009.

The audiobook of Ian Marter's novel was issued in April 2013, read by Maureen O'Brien. The cover makes use of the larger area available by placing the main image in a circle, surrounded by darkness - a clever way of using the same image but in a more interesting way.
The story was released on Blu-ray in December 2022. Koquillion featured on Lee Binding's cover.