Wednesday 28 June 2023


Thanks to that global pandemic and my own recent health concerns, now thankfully resolved, I haven't had a proper holiday for quite some time. I'm therefore taking myself off for the next week. Unless there is some big news item, I won't be posting again until Friday 7th July. There might be something this Sunday / Monday - to be confirmed.
The regular Sunday "Episodes" post will be put back a week, so Episode 75: Journey Into Terror will arrive on the 9th, followed soon after by The Art of The Chase.
The A-Z will continue covering the lives and times of the Master; I'll be looking at the inspiration behind Turn Left; working out what (if anything) went wrong with The Deadly Assassin; and the next story overview will be Extremis. (I'll be counting the trio of Monk episodes as two separate stories, as the second and third instalments are clearly two halves of a single storyline, whilst Extremis acts more as a prequel).

What's Wrong With... The Hand of Fear

As mentioned before, we have to allow a certain amount of coincidence for the sake of drama, but it will be pointed out as something wrong when it stretches credulity too far. 
Like here...
  • The Kastrians send Eldrad millions of miles into space, presumably in a direction where they know there aren't any inhabited planets, 
  • then blow him up so that not a single fragment will survive,
  • yet a significant chunk of him manages to end up, intact, on an inhabited world, 
  • which is advanced enough to have restorative nuclear power,
  • and the bit which has survived just happens to hold the ring which he needs to regenerate himself,
  • and the person who finds the bit with the ring just happens to be accompanying the only person on the planet who has a space / time machine that can get him home...
Sarah's position after the explosion, safe under a huge big block, is also a bit hard to swallow.
On hearing the warning siren, Sarah fails to recognise it as an alarm - despite it sounding for a while as they stroll along. 
Why do they run in the direction they do, it they don't know what's going on? Wouldn't it have made more sense to run back to the TARDIS? We later see that the TARDIS was quite untouched by the explosion.
The hand of Eldrad which Sarah finds in the blast looks slight and feminine - despite the fact that in his natural form, when he was executed, he was a big burly male character.

How could Eldrad have programmed his ring to mentally take over people when he died 150 million years ago - when there weren't any human beings?
Eldrad has Sarah take his hand to the nuclear power station - all the way into the outer reactor chamber. It even has Dr Carter possessed so that he can protect her and ensure she fulfils her mission. But once in the chamber, Sarah just sits down and Eldrad is content to have his regenerated hand wriggle around for a bit - allowing the authorities to remove her, and take the hand away from where it wants to be. It is only later that it takes over someone else to be taken inside the reactor proper.
Why did it wait?

Since when would bombing a nuclear power station ever make things better than if it was going to go critical on its own?
The RAF missiles should have still destroyed the station's structure. There ought to be a great big hole in the roof at the very least. It appears here that Eldrad consumes the energy of an explosion which never happens in the first place.

The dome on the surface of Kastria appears to be quite unscathed despite 150 million years of blizzard passing across it. Its power planet even comes on again after all those millions of years. If they had this sort of technology, why did they meekly submit and allow themselves to die out?
Could no-one in 150 million years do anything to improve their situation?
They sent Eldrad off into space to be executed - so if they had spaceships why did they not use them to leave Kastria and set up home somewhere else?
A number of lethal traps are left - just in case Eldrad ever returned. If these things are fatal to Kastrians, why go to all the trouble of sending him millions of miles into space, with all its attendant risks of failure to obliterate properly, when they could have just executed him on site?

Why do they do so many things which anticipate Eldrad's return, when the whole point of their execution method is that he should never be in any position to do so?
It's as if they knew they were doomed to fail, which makes their failure to abandon the planet, or use a more certain means of execution, all the more odd.
Eldrad seems to think his homeworld will be just like it was yesterday, even still under King Rokon's rule, despite 150 million years having elapsed. He's angry to learn everyone is dead. But he sabotaged the planet's protective barriers. What did he think would happen?
You name it - Eldrad invented it. On Kastria he claims he was responsible for everything. Why did the Kastrians turn against him, after he had given them so much - even their physical forms? For once, he's a super-villain who might well be justified in his actions.

The very worst thing about The Hand of Fear - Lis Sladen leaves the show as a regular. Doesn't come much worse than that.

Tuesday 27 June 2023

M is for... Master (5)

Following the events of the Last Great Time War, the Doctor believed that he was the sole surviving member of his people. However, the dying Face of Boe had once told him "You are not alone".
During an encounter with the ruthless Family of Blood, his companion Martha Jones had seen the Doctor conceal both his personality and biological identity using a Chameleon Arch. This Time Lord technology was present in every TARDIS, and it rewrote the biology to make its user appear to be human. A whole new personality, complete with artificial memories, was generated.
The Time Lord's true identity was stored within an ornate fob watch, protected by a low level perception filter. Once opened, the fob watch restored the user to their normal state.
After stopping off briefly at Cardiff Bay to refuel from its space-time rift, the TARDIS had been thrown forward to the very end of the universe by the arrival of Captain Jack Harkness. The ship took them all to the planet of Malcassairo in a failed attempt to shake him off.
Here, they encountered one of the last groups of human refugees, who were planning to travel to a place known only as "Utopia", where humanity was gathering. An elderly scientist named Professor Yana was responsible for completing the rocket which would transport everyone, assisted by one of the last surviving natives - the insectoid Chantho.

The old man was troubled by a constant drumming in his head. He claimed to have lost his memory - having been found as a "naked child" in a region known as the Silver Devastation. His only possession? An old fob watch... 
Martha saw this and recalled her earlier experience with the Doctor. Talk of TARDISes and time travel had already stirred some distant memory in him, and now she had drawn his attention to the watch - overcoming the perception filter. Opening it, he released his original identity - that of the Master.
He had been resurrected by the Time Lords to fight in the Time War but had run away after witnessing the Dalek Emperor's seizure of the Gallifreyan Cruciform. He had used a Chameleon Arch to conceal his true self, and thus become the human Professor Yana.
The Face of Boe had cryptically referred to him in his prophesy - You Are Not Alone. 
Once he had regained his memories and personality he turned against Chantho, electrocuting her. He then set about sabotaging the rocket compound from which the refugees had now departed for Utopia, allowing the cannibalistic Futurekind to enter. He was planning to steal the Doctor's TARDIS, but was shot by the dying Chantho. Locking himself in the TARDIS, he realised he was going to regenerate. If the Doctor could have a younger body, then so could he...

Played by: Derek Jacobi. Appearances: Utopia (2007).
  • Following an already successful stage career, Jacobi gained wider public acclaim by playing the titular Roman Emperor in I, Claudius (BBC 1976).
  • He claimed that his TV career ambitions were to appear in Coronation Street and Doctor Who.
  • He had already portrayed a version of the Master in the animated serial "Scream of the Shalka". This had been an android version, created by the TARDIS following the events of the 1996 TV movie.
  • When Jacobi's I, Claudius co-star John Hurt passed away, Big Finish avariciously switched from "War Doctor" stories to "War Master" ones. These take it that he was already in his older body before using the Chameleon Arch. However, if you don't follow the audios, then his entire life as a human was post-Chameleon Arch and he really was found as a child. The BF scenario does not stand up to close scrutiny - why would the "War Master" run away from the conflict after fighting in it so long? It is much more likely that the self-serving Master ran away early on. Russell T Davies himself suggested this.
  • Utopia saw the first ever on-screen regeneration that wasn't the Doctor's.

Monday 26 June 2023

Countdown to 60: Earthshocked!

The Peter Davison story Earthshock was well titled, as it contained two very big surprises for those of us lucky enough to see it at the time, when we went into it knowing absolutely nothing about it.
For, once upon a time, there was no internet, and the tabloids were mainly concerned with spoiling only soap operas (which they still do, but are now also determined to spoil even arts and antiques shows).
The Davison TARDIS started off an overcrowded place, with three companions. Adric was already there from the middle of Season 18, and attempts to lure Lis Sladen and Louise Jameson back had failed, so new companion Tegan Jovanka was created - an Australian air hostess. (The BBC had informed JNT that they were attempting to arrange for some episodes to be filmed Down Under).
Despite the fact that two companions were already set up, JNT then decided that he liked the character of Nyssa and elected to retain her as a regular as well.
There simply wasn't enough plot to maintain the Doctor and three companions, plus story-specific guest characters like Bigon, Todd and Richard Mace, who acted pretty much as fourth companions.
Plots for Season 19 had been forced to remove companions from the narrative. Nyssa falls ill at the conclusion of Four to Doomsday and sits out Kinda. She is confined to the TARDIS in this story. And whilst Sarah Sutton got a double role in Black Orchid, Adric was entirely side-lined, stuffing his face on the patio.
Something - or someone - had to give.

JNT had considered getting rid of Nyssa, partly because she cost extra for every individual episode she appeared in - having been created by Johnny Byrne for a specific story and thus his property, rather than a creation of the production team as was the usual case with regular characters. Peter Davison argued strongly against this move, feeling she was the companion which was most compatible with his Doctor. He cared little for Tegan as he couldn't understand why she travelled in the TARDIS when she complained all the time. Either she would have left, or the Doctor would have gotten rid of her. Her continuation as a companion made no sense, dramatically. 
The character of Adric had never worked out as planned. He was supposed to be an "Artful Dodger" type, but this was never developed beyond him stealing a component in Full Circle. The actor's inexperience had also rubbed some people up the wrong way, and writers clearly didn't know what to do with him. He was frequently portrayed as gullible, siding with people who were very obviously villains.
The decision was therefore made to exit Adric, and the opportunity was there to do something different with his departure - something shocking.

The Daleks' Masterplan had seen two companion figures leave the series by being killed off - Katarina and Sara Kingdom. No companion had been killed off since. In order to contrast Davison with his predecessor, his new Doctor was to be a more vulnerable character, someone who could fail.
What better way to demonstrate this by having him fail to save the life of one of his companions?
Davison was told of the plan quite early on, but Matthew Waterhouse only discovered it when he got a glimpse of Davison's script. He was upset to leave, despite being unhappy in the role himself for some time. He was most upset at being killed off, as he claimed it would mean he could never be brought back later.
As it was, he was back in the very next episode after his death, but only as a ghostly image and because it was necessary to have him feature in the credits of Radio Times to hide the fact he had left.

The other big shock in Earthshock was, of course, the cliff-hanger for the first instalment.
The Cybermen had not appeared in the programme since Revenge of the Cybermen early in Tom Baker's tenure - a seven year gap. That in turn had followed another seven year gap, when the Cybermen had skipped the Jon Pertwee era entirely, save for a couple of cameos. There had been a plan to have them feature in Frontier in Space, but they were replaced with the Ogrons.
JNT decided to make sure that both the return of the Cybermen and the death of Adric would not be spoiled by tabloids or by fanzines.
He turned down a Radio Times cover which would have heralded the return of the Cybermen, and also had visitors banned from the studio sessions and viewing gallery, as well as shutting down the public monitors. (All over Television Centre were TV screens which showed what was going on in the various studios).

Nowadays we are constantly spoiled - sometimes by the production team itself - but I was there, back in March 1982, blissfully ignorant as to what was in store. 
Part One was broadcast four days after my 18th birthday, and I can remember vividly the moment that the camera switched from a close-up of the Doctor's face to the medium long shot of the Cybermen standing around their console, and there was a mighty metallic clang on the soundtrack. They had been redesigned, but the basic shape was still there, and you could see that they were Cybermen at a glance. 
I literally jumped around the room.
You had to be there... 
We had only just bought a VHS recorder, and I owned a single tape to keep stuff of my own on - mainly music items from The Old Grey Whistle Test. I wasn't recording Doctor Who to keep - simply because I couldn't afford the tapes - so I was overjoyed when the BBC broadcast the Did You See...? feature on the programme that weekend. This included that cliff-hanger, along with lots of archive clips, and I recorded that and played it to death for months ever after.
March 16th saw the final episode of the story, and we were in for a surprise of a different kind. It had been reported that Waterhouse was leaving, and this would be his final episode, but that was all. It slowly dawned on me what was planned. There was a definite moment part way through when you just knew that he was going to be killed. It just felt like it was going to happen. 
You had to be there...

Whilst it's exciting to learn in advance about forthcoming events in the series, it's still better to be surprised. As much as we think we know a lot about a couple of the 60th Anniversary Specials, we know next to nothing about the middle one - and what we think we know about the others may not be 100% right.
You have to be there...

Sunday 25 June 2023

Episode 74: Flight Through Eternity

The TARDIS has left Aridius but the Doctor has detected that there is another time machine on the same course. The Daleks are pursuing them, intent on their extermination...
The Doctor has calculated that they have a lead of only some twelve minutes.
New York City, 1966, and the TARDIS materialises on the uppermost viewing platform of the Empire State Building. A tour group has just passed round to the opposite side of the building, leaving only young Morton Dill of Alabama to witness the arrival of the Doctor and his companions.
He assumes that they are actors making a Hollywood movie, using special effects. Vicki recognises the city as "ancient" New York, which was destroyed in the Dalek invasion of the 22nd Century. 
The travellers return to the ship and depart, but Morton is then confronted by another strange object which has materialised on the same spot. A Dalek emerges and questions him about the TARDIS.
He attempts to take a photograph but the Dalek retreats and the other time machine vanishes. When the rest of his tour group return, they are convinced that the young tourist has gone mad as he manically seeks the panel he thinks must be hidden in the floor...
The Doctor begins to build a device which can be used against the Daleks.
The TARDIS next materialises on a sailing ship at sea. This is the Atlantic Ocean in 1872, in the vicinity of the Azores.
Barbara and Vicki emerge and look around, but the History teacher is spotted by Richardson, one of the senior crew. He suspects her to be a stowaway. Vicki knocks the man out. Ian approaches, heard but not seen by Vicki and, thinking it is another crewman, she hits him over the head as well - stunning him. They help him back into the TARDIS and the ship moves on.
Richardson informs Captain Briggs of what has happened, and a search is ordered. The Dalek craft arrives and they emerge and begin searching the vessel. The superstitious crew panic when they see them and leap overboard. One Dalek is destroyed attempting to stop them, tumbling into the sea after them. The rest return to their ship and dematerialise - leaving the vessel deserted.
In the TARDIS, Ian tells Barbara that he spotted the ship's name - the Mary Celeste.
The Doctor informs his companions that they have a lead over their pursuers of only eight minutes now, and this will be reduced even further after their next landing...
Next episode: Journey Into Terror

Written by: Terry Nation
Recorded: Friday 14th May, 1965 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:45pm, Saturday 5th June 1965
Ratings: 9 million / AI 55
Designers: Raymond P Cusick and John Wood
Director: Richard Martin
Additional cast: Peter Purves (Morton Dill), Arne Gordon (Tour Guide), Dennis Chinnery (Richardson), David Blake Kelly (Capt. Briggs), Jack Pitt (Ship's Steward)

The inside of the Dalek time machine makes its first full appearance in this episode, after the exterior had been seen in The Executioners.
There is a central console as with the TARDIS, and large circular panels on the walls, with a geometric pattern, spin when the ship is in flight. These also act as scanner screens.
There is at least one other level (a lower one) as an elevator is seen rising at the rear of the control room.
Dalek numbers are swelled in two ways - photographic blow-ups, as previously seen in their first two stories, and a trio of props from the new Dalek movie - Dr Who and the Daleks, starring Peter Cushing and Roy Castle - which was about to be released to cinemas.
Producer Milton Subotsky offered Richard Martin 8 of his props. However, the cinema Daleks were of a different size and design to their TV cousins. Much larger, with higher bases, they also had the horizontal bands around the central section instead of the new vertical slats. Even in B&W, the different colour scheme is noticeable, due to them having a darker dome.
Martin realised immediately that he couldn't use them, other than to adapt them to act as background "extras". The base was removed entirely to reduce their height, and the cinema props were relegated to the background of a few shots only.
Publicity for the film was gearing up during the second half of The Chase's broadcast, and each was used to help promote the other.
The photographic blow-up features on the time machine's elevator. The monochrome image was taken during the recording of The Executioners.

Peter Purves had been a dancer at the London Palladium, amongst some small TV roles, when he auditioned to play a Menoptra (apparently Hilio) in The Web Planet. Martin had rejected him for the part - but suggested that he might be considered for a more suitable role later on. He was then cast as the comedic Alabama tourist Morton Dill in Flight Through Eternity.
William Russell and Jacqueline Hill had announced their decision to leave the series at the end of the third Dalek story, and a single male character was being prepared to replace them. This would be another figure from the future - a space pilot initially named Roger Bruck. This was amended to Michael Taylor.
The cast found Purves a pleasure to work with, especially getting on well with the often volatile William Hartnell. During the day, Maureen O'Brien and Hartnell mentioned their happiness with the young actor to Verity Lambert. She and Dennis Spooner took him to the nearby pub (nicknamed "Studio 3") after recording that night and asked if he would be interested in a regular role on the programme. He accepted, knowing he would be brought back within the same story as a different character. He decided to grow a beard in the interim.
On Monday 17th May, Purves had a meeting with Spooner to discuss the new character, during which the name was changed to Steven Taylor and the idea of him having a toy panda mascot was introduced.

This episode marks the debut of a different form of story-telling which would become a regular feature of Doctor Who - the "pseudo-historical". The Mary Celeste segment sees the Daleks visit a genuine historical event - the mysterious abandonment of the sailing ship, found drifting near Santa Maria in the Atlantic in December 1872. It is the sudden arrival of the aliens which prompts the superstitious crew to leap overboard - thinking it is an attack by the "White Terror of Barbary".
Other historical events will later be put down to alien intervention, and whole stories will be built around this concept, but this is where it all starts.
Too much is made of the fact that the ship is the famous mystery one. We see the name plate long before the camera moves in to view it in close-up - and then we have Ian tell Barbara about it after this. One or the other would have sufficed, not both.

Lambert was unhappy with the quality of one of the sets, and lodged a complaint with the design department. This was the observation deck of the Empire State Building. The head of department had seen the episode on broadcast and felt that the set looked fine. Martin had actually been forced to reposition the TARDIS prop due to the poor workmanship of the set wall.
A Dalek is seen on an upper deck of the Mary Celeste, implying that they are able to conquer stairs after all, though this is never actually witnessed on screen.
Richard Martin was unhappy with the filming of the model ship as the scale looked wrong.

  • The ratings see another half million drop on the previous week, and a one point decrease in the appreciation figure.
  • The episode aired 5 minutes later than usual due to an extended Grandstand, which included golf, tennis and athletics.
  • The action was supposed to have moved on to the "Haunted House" within this episode, with the cliff-hanger falling when Barbara is caught up in a revolving wall panel.
  • Some of the Mary Celeste scenes were filmed at Ealing on Tuesday 13th April, making use of the studio's huge water tank - its first use in the series.
  • Arne Gordon had previously appeared as Hrostar in The Web Planet. His tour guide character had a name in the draft scripts - Henry de Voort.
  • Dennis Chinnery would face the Daleks again, in the more prominent role of Gharman in Genesis of the Daleks. He also appeared in the first episode of The Twin Dilemma as Professor Sylvest.
  • David Blake Kelly returned to the series to play inn-keeper Jacob Kewper in The Smugglers.
  • Morton Dill refers to the Keystone Kops as well as Cheyenne Bodie. The latter was the main character of the US Western series Cheyenne, starring Clint Walker, which had been broadcast on ITV between 1958 - 1964.
  • Morton also confirms on screen that the Dalek skirt hemispheres are indeed blue within the narrative of the series (unlike, say, the TARDIS console which is light green in real life but white in the narrative).
  • The TARDIS crew are seen to eat guava flavoured food bars. These were simply Mars Bars.
  • Below, a rare rehearsal shot, colourised, of the Dalek time machine. The adapted cinema Daleks are noticeable in the background due to their colour scheme as well as the lack of base and vertical slats:
  • William Hartnell and his wife Heather were featured in this week's Reveille magazine, shown enjoying their country cottage home:

Saturday 24 June 2023

M is for... Master (4)

At some point, in a new incarnation, the Doctor was captured and put on trial by the Daleks. Still humanoid in form, he had adopted certain reptilian characteristics - presumably the results of some other attempt to prolong his life or take on a new form. Some reptiles have restorative abilities, and he may have experimented with reptilian DNA.
The exact circumstances of his capture are unknown, but may have gone back as far as his failure to provoke the war between the empires of Earth and Draconia, which the Daleks had employed him to achieve.
Equally, the whole incident may well have been arranged by the Master in collusion with the Daleks, for they permitted the Master to make a last request. This was that the Doctor take his mortal remains back to Gallifrey. For the Daleks to conduct a formal legal process involving an alien, and to allow the Doctor free passage, the suspicion is that this was all planned from the start.
Once the TARDIS had left Skaro, the Master proved to be still very much alive - but in a gelatinous serpentine form. This broke free of its casket and infiltrated the console, sabotaging it and forcing a crash-landing on Earth - in San Francisco, December 1999.

The Doctor was mortally wounded by gunfire when he was caught up in a gang fight, and before passing out he witnessed the Master's form emerge from the TARDIS lock. It entered the coat of an ambulance driver named Bruce. That night, it entered his body and possessed him. In the morning, he murdered Bruce's wife, then set out to locate the Doctor. His plan was to take possession of a Time Lord's body. At the hospital he discovered that the Doctor had "died" and his body had disappeared from the morgue. 
His temporary host body was already beginning to disintegrate, and he could not conceal his serpent-like eyes so was forced to don a pair of dark glasses. On learning that a young gang member named Chang Lee had come in with the Doctor, and had possession of his belongings, the Master waited at the TARDIS in the expectation that he would turn up there out of curiosity. Chang Lee opened the TARDIS, and the Master slipped in behind him. He claimed that the Doctor was an evil alien who had stolen his intended new body, and the gullible young man agreed to help him. He used Chang Lee to open the Eye of Harmony on the ship to locate the Doctor in his regenerated form.

The form possessing Bruce's body had the power to possess others, as well as kill by smothering them in a toxic venom.
His plan was to use the Eye to power a transfer of his lifeforce into the Doctor's body. When the Doctor was collected by an ambulance, he recognised the Master from his reptile eyes. He spat out some venom which caught Grace Holloway - a doctor who had been assisting the Doctor after encountering him on the operating table prior to his regeneration. When the time was right, he would exert his mental influence over her and use her against the Doctor. Chang Lee was already under his influence without the need of toxins or hypnotism as he was easily manipulated - seeking wealth and power which the Master promised to him.
The Doctor was overpowered by Grace in the TARDIS, and the Master began his attempt to steal his body. When Grace and Chang Lee turned against him, at the Doctor's urging, he killed them both.
The process failed due to Grace's earlier efforts at the console, and the two Time Lords fought. The Master fell into the open Eye and was seemingly torn apart by the forces which he had himself unleashed.

Played by: Eric Roberts. Appearances: Doctor Who (The Movie) (1996).
  • The casting of Roberts came about as part of the bargaining between the UK and US bodies involved in the making of the film. With a relatively unknown British Doctor, it was agreed that the Master could be played by a better known American.
  • Roberts lived for a time in London and was familiar with Doctor Who, and with Roger Delgado's version of the Master.
  • He was nominated for an Oscar for the 1985 film Runaway Train.
  • He's one of the most prolific actors in film and TV, with more than 700 credits since he began his career in 1974.
  • For many years, copyright issues prevented the reuse of any character from Doctor Who save for the Doctor, but recently Roberts has been able to return to the role on audio.
  • The "Reptilian Master" executed by the Daleks was played by Canadian actor Gordon Tipple, who appeared in four different roles in The X-Files as well as other sci-fi TV series filmed in Canada, such as the Stargate franchise.

DWM 60th Anniversary Poll (4)

The latest issue of DWM includes the poll results for the Seventh to Ninth Doctors. 
Technically, it's just the Seventh and Ninth, because the odd way they've chosen to run the voting this time means that "The Movie" is automatically the top Eighth Doctor story purely because it's the only Eighth Doctor story.
Once again, we have predictable results for the two Doctors featured, and once again - due to their relatively limited output - there is very little change over time.
The top Sylvester McCoy story is Remembrance of the Daleks, whilst the other two making up his top three hail from his final season - The Curse of Fenric (2nd) and Survival (3rd).
The top two stories have always held their positions since 1998, whilst Survival has moved up just the one place over that period.
The other two Season 26 stories are in the top half, with Ghost Light 4th and Battlefield 6th. The latter has always held that position, but Ghost Light once held 3rd place, so has dropped a little over time.

There's a definite dislike for McCoy's first season - with all four stories in the bottom five.
In 10th place is Paradise Towers, 11th is Delta and the Bannermen, and bringing up the rear - as it always has done since 1998 - is Time and the Rani. It was bottom of its season poll in 1987 as well.
The lowest placed Season 25 story is Silver Nemesis (no surprises there) which is in 9th place. It has slowly dropped from 7th, to 8th, to 9th.
In all, 8 of the 12 McCoy stories have held their same position over the last 25 years.

For the Eccleston stories, we can't compare over the same time period as we can with his predecessors. The poll goes back to 2005 for his series, so presumably refers to the magazine's season poll.
Top of the tree is The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances, which has been his top ranked from the outset. (8 of the 10 Eccleston stories have never changed position).
In 2nd place we have the series finale, Bad Wolf / Parting of the Ways, and in third place we have Dalek.
Bottom of the heap - where it has always lain - is The Long Game.
8th and 9th places are the only ones which have changed over time. The more low key Boom Town now leads over its big two-part cousin Aliens of London / World War Three.

Voting is now open for the remaining two Doctors on the DWM website, having now closed for the Tennant and Smith stories. Their results will be out next issue. FYI, Flux is counted as a single story, as the production team claimed it to be. A breakdown of individual episode scores for it would have been interesting.
Once this initial batch of polling ends, and individual Doctors have had their stories ranked, the next stage will be to have the top three for each compete against each other.

Friday 23 June 2023

Story 270: Oxygen

In which the Doctor lectures his students about the dangers of outer space. 
On a remote space station, a man named Ivan and a woman named Ellie are making their way across the structure's hull, clad in spacesuits. They are being pursued by other members of their crew, some of whom aren't wearing their helmets. They are walking corpses, and one of them grabs Ellie - killing her with a powerful electric shock...
A short time later, the Doctor decides to make another trip in the TARDIS with Bill, and deep space is where he wishes to go. Nardole enters the ship to remind him about his vow to remain on Earth and guard the vault. He has removed one of the fluid links to disable the ship - only to find that the Doctor has bypassed this. The TARDIS dematerialises, and picks up a distress signal.
It arrives on the space station, which is named Chasm Forge and which is built into an asteroid. It is a mining complex, stripping the asteroid of its copper ore.
It has recently suffered some sort of disaster. The Doctor and his companions come across a space-suited figure - a man who is obviously long dead. His suit is holding him upright.

The computer reveals that the station is on shut-down, due to most of the crew being dead. It is no longer financially viable. They discover that the station does not have its own separate oxygen supply. This is provided only by the spacesuits, which the Doctor recognises as computer-controlled Smartsuits. The computer detects the air supply brought by the TARDIS and seals it off from them. They must obtain their oxygen from the suits, and find three of them in a maintenance area. The oxygen supply from each suit is limited, and its wearer has to pay for more.
They are attacked by more of the dead crew in their Smartsuits.
They then meet the surviving crew members - Ivan, Abby, Tasker and a blue-skinned humanoid named Dahh-Ren. From them they learn of recent events. The suits killed their occupiers with an electric charge - a process triggered by the company which runs Chasm Forge as a way of cutting costs.

Some sections of the station are not in the computer's schematics, and the survivors have found that they can hide here from the suits. Before they can reach a safe zone, one of the suits kills Tasker.
Whilst using an airlock to move to another area via the external superstructure of the station, Bill discovers that her suit is faulty. The helmet switches itself off. The Doctor saves her by giving her his own helmet, arguing that he can survive the environment of space better than a human.
However, Bill is horrified to discover that the Doctor's act of self-sacrifice has left him blind.
The pursuing suits discover their location and attack once more, this time killing Dahh-Ren.
The Doctor has Ivan lead them to a more heavily protected area - the station's power supply room. On her way there, however, Bill finds her suit malfunctioning further. It activates the magnetic boots, immobilising her in the corridor. The Doctor is powerless to help her. She is electrocuted and apparently killed.

The Doctor carries out some work in the power room, supposedly creating an independent oxygen supply, but he is really connecting up the life support registers of their suits to the power supply systems. If they die, their suits will trigger a coolant shut-down and the station will be destroyed. The Doctor then allows the pursuing suits to enter the room.
They do not attack them. The Doctor has deduced that the company behind Chasm Forge, whilst open to reducing its workforce if unprofitable, would draw the line at losing an expensive mining station. The suits give them their oxygen supplies - now ordered to keep them alive at all costs. Bill proves to have been only stunned by her suit. The Doctor had rightly guessed that it was low in power and could not deliver a fatal charge.
Back in the TARDIS, Nardole tells Bill that he has healed the Doctor's eyesight. Ivan and Abby will go to the headquarters of the mining company to raise a complaint. At St Luke's, the Doctor tells Bill that their action would prove successful. Nardole is later furious with the Doctor for having put their duty to the vault at risk. The Doctor reveals that his eyesight has not been repaired - he is still blind...

Oxygen was written by Jamie Mathieson, and was first broadcast on Saturday 13th May, 2017.
Mathieson had provided three scripts for Capaldi's Doctor, two of which had proven to amongst the most popular episodes of Series 8 - Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline. For Series 9 he had provided the less successful The Girl Who Died.
The idea of a story set in space came from Steven Moffat. Some earlier episodes had reduced the threat of outer space - such as when River Song flies through space from the Byzantium to the TARDIS. Taking their cue from the 2013 film Gravity, Moffat and Mathieson wanted to make space dangerous again.
Settling on capitalism as the "enemy" led to the notion of the deadly suits - "Suits" being the generic term used to describe bankers and business people.
Unfortunately, a huge opportunity to build on an earlier story is missed. Mathieson had previously included the rather sadistic computer GUS in Mummy on the Orient Express - an operative for a ruthless, faceless capitalist organisation. It would have been so easy to have brought GUS back here, as this story is all about the deadly workings of a computer system belonging to a capitalist outfit. 
The suits are actually made by a company called 'Ganymede Systems', so only needed a word beginning with "U" between to confirm the link - e.g. 'Ganymede Universal Systems'.
The irony is that Mathieson intended all this - but then changed his mind.
By not making this link, it actually makes Mathieson's new story look less original, since we've seen this similar set-up before.
They could have looked even further back, and had the company turn out to be the Company - the Usurian-run organisation seen in The Sun Makers.

Another major quibble with this episode is the pre-credit segment. The character Ellie (played by Katie Brayben) is space-walking across the hull of the station, in a suit which has a rapidly depleting oxygen supply, and with a radio that doesn't work - yet she stops to have this big heart to heart conversation with partner Ivan. Maybe if she just shut up she might have survived a bit longer.
People in genuine life and death situations simply do not behave this way, and this sort of writing really annoys. As a viewer you are taken out of the drama whilst you shout at the character.
The guest cast is headed by Kieran Bew, who plays Ivan. He had been a regular in the fantasy series Da Vinci's Demons. He was nursing a back injury during filming, sustained whilst surfing in California.
Dahh-Ren is Peter Caulfield, who had featured in the Russell T Davies linked series Cucumber and Banana. He and Pearl Mackie had appeared on stage together in 2014.
Playing Tasker is Justin Salinger. Abby is played by Mimi Ndiweni. 
A new story arc is introduced, as the Doctor's blindness proves to be more than a temporary affliction. This may impact his ability to protect the vault, whose occupant is still unknown.

Overall, another very strong script from Mathieson, if hardly original. As mentioned above, nasty faceless capitalist companies caring little for their workers had been done before. What makes this a very good story are the performances (especially Capaldi and Mackie) and the creepy zombie space-suited dead.
Things you might like to know:
  • The Doctor describes Space as "the final frontier" in his lecture - employing the well known opening phrase from the Star Trek franchise.
  • Disabling a fluid link had previously been seen to halt the TARDIS dematerialising in The Daleks, when the fault locator had identified component K7. In this episode, it is K57 which Nardole has removed.
  • Missy was going to be seen for the first time, playing the piano in the vault, but the reveal was held back until the following episode.
  • DWM had previously published a comic strip in which people inhabited computerised spacesuits which continued to function after death - though in that case they were soldiers rather than workers.
  • The ending of the main storyline copies that of The Rebel Flesh, as the survivors of corporate greed are taken in the TARDIS to their company HQ to register their grievances.
  • An initial story idea had the setting of a "spaceship graveyard", with alien monsters scavenging from ship to ship and the Doctor and companions, with human survivors, having to stay one step ahead of them. One of the humans was a disguised alien.
  • The name Chasm Forge was inspired by the Valley Forge - the spacecraft in the 1972 ecological sci-fi film Silent Running, which also deals with the consequences of capitalism in space. (That in turn was named because the movie was filmed on a US Navy aircraft carrier called USS Valley Forge, which was named after a battle in the American War of Independence).
  • On set, Peter Caulfield was referred to as "Blue Peter" throughout filming.
  • Dahh-Ren was named for a friend of Mathieson's named Darren, who had a son called Ivan.
  • Despite having worked on the series since 2005, movement coach Ailsa Berk was credited as "Ailsa Burke" on this episode.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Inspirations: Midnight

Midnight is a Companion-Lite story, as opposed to a Doctor-Lite one. 
As we've mentioned before, the production team were getting better at disguising these episodes, where one of the regulars was less available due to filming another episode elsewhere. This one, however, elects not to try to hide things.
The Doctor is specifically taking a trip on his own across a hostile landscape, whilst Donna relaxes in a nearby spa resort.
Catherine Tate was given a substantial role to play in Forest of the Dead - and was going to be almost single-handedly carrying Turn Left. This story was therefore left for David Tennant to fully dominate.
The idea of doing such a "chamber piece" earlier in the series' return would have been unthinkable - potentially off-putting for the casual viewer. However, the programme was now well into its fourth popular series, and Tennant was an established star. There was little risk doing a story at this point with limited cast, confined to a single claustrophobic location. There isn't even a monster as such - something which RTD had insisted upon since 2005.
The production team also wanted to push the boundaries of what sound design could achieve.

According to RTD, Midnight was a response to Voyage of the Damned. As a "disaster movie in space", it had sought to show how people came together and co-operated in the face of adversity. This new episode would show the darker side of human nature - where people turned against each other under stress. Paranoia, violence and fear prevail here.
The story that was to have filled this slot was a Most Haunted POV spoof by Tom McRae, which was originally to have appeared in Series 3. "Century House" was put back to 2008. It would have featured the Doctor with a minimal role for new companion Penny. Realising that McRae's story would need more location filming than at first thought, it was deferred again, and would eventually be dropped all together.
RTD then had to come up with a smaller scale replacement, and he looked to the annoying children's habit of repeating a question whilst ignoring any answer given to them - a bit like "Are we there yet?". This was built upon by having the child copy everything the other person says.
He tested this out on producer Phil Collinson, who quickly found it very irritating. However, he saw how it could form the basis of a scary story if an entity stole your voice - and then your whole identity.
The Doctor could often be very arrogant, always placing himself in charge, and it would make for an interesting story to see him lose this ability.

One inspiration cited by Davies was the Star Trek: TNG episode "Darmok", in which an isolated Captain Picard has to communicate with an alien commander in order that both survive. This was pretty much lifted in its entirety from the movie Hell in the Pacific (1968) which saw lone US and Japanese soldiers stuck on a desert island together in the middle of WWII. That in turn formed the basis of Enemy Mine (1985) - which simply transplanted the action to an alien planet with a crashed human space pilot and one of his adversaries.
The tour bus setting was inspired by the third instalment of the Jeepers Creepers horror franchise, which saw a coach carrying a high school sports team break down in hostile territory. Initially, the monster is mostly heard rather than seen, prowling around the stranded vehicle.
The vehicle was called the Crusader 50, after DWM journalist Benjamin Cook pointed out to RTD that Midnight would be the 50th new story since the return of the series under his watch.
The design was inspired by the SHADO Mobiles from Gerry Anderson's UFO.

As far as the series story arc goes, Hobbes' student Dee Dee has written a paper on the Lost Moon of Poosh. 
Rose Tyler also pops up briefly on the Crusader 50's TV screens, as she had previously on the TARDIS scanner in the earlier Sontaran story.

Professor Hobbes was supposed to have been played by actor Sam Kelly, who was best known as one of the regulars on BBC sitcom 'Allo, 'Allo!. However, he broke his leg just before filming and was replaced late in the day by David Troughton, son of the Second Doctor Patrick Troughton. David had been an extra on The Enemy of the World before gaining the role of Private Moor in The War Games. He had then played the young king in The Curse of Peladon, at a time when he was sharing a flat with future Sixth Doctor Colin Baker.

Dee Dee quotes a poem by Christina Rosetti, wife of the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rosetti. Goblin Market was written in 1959, and published three years later.
The "in-flight" entertainment system includes cartoon antics of Betty Boop (created by Max Fleischer in 1930) and a music performance by Italian pop star Rafaella Cara (singing Do It, Do It Again, which was a UK hit for her in 1978).

Tuesday 20 June 2023

Latest missing episodes rumour

Apparently Apple TV in the US is listing the following episodes as being available on Britbox - but just not yet:
The Myth Makers 2 & 4
The Smugglers 2 & 4
The Highlanders 2
The Space Pirates 4,5 & 6

This comes a couple of weeks after Philip Morris claimed, at a convention, that the number of missing episodes was "likely" to go down soon, and he had identified a number either abroad or in private hands. Mr Morris is the person who brought The Enemy of the World and most of The Web of Fear back to us in 2013 - which just happened to be the last big anniversary year.
We have also had a rumour from the beginning of the year concerning new animations - though these were supposed to be The Smugglers (in the new list) and The Underwater Menace (absent from the new list).
What are we to make of this? Well, nothing for now as it's all pure rumour or even downright lies.
The new list might well be down to someone pulling Apple TV's leg.
I'm suspicious at the number of second episodes in the list - a bit of a coincidence for three of them to be found, and two fourth instalments.
If Mr Morris is behind this, and missing episodes have been found, has he been sitting on them just to get extra publicity from the 60th anniversary, or has it really taken 10 years exactly to sort this out?
Is this just another coincidence which is too big to swallow?
Only time, as they always say, will tell.

Monday 19 June 2023

M is for... Master (3)

The Master used the energies he had gained from his brief access to the bioelectric Source to steal the body of Consul Tremas of Traken, and his first goal in his new form was to pursue and destroy the Doctor.
He materialised his TARDIS within that of the Doctor in order to keep track of him, whilst he formulated his plans. On learning that the Doctor was going to materialise his ship around a real Police Public Call Box on Earth, in order to repair the damaged Chameleon Circuit, the Master jumped ahead and set up a temporal trap by arriving on the exact spot first. The Doctor and Adric were able to escape the trap, only to learn of his escape from Traken as they were confronted with the shrunken bodies of a woman and a police constable - victims of his matter condensing weapon. The Doctor and Adric fled, and attempted to flush the Master out of hiding by materialising at the bottom of the Thames and opening the doors. They were unaware that an Australian air hostess named Tegan had wandered aboard the TARDIS - niece of the murdered woman.
After an encounter with the Watcher - a projection of his next incarnation - the Doctor elected to travel on to the planet of Logopolis where the Monitor and his people would be able to repair the Chameleon Circuit, allowing it once again to disguise itself wherever it landed. 
The Master knew of this world, and that it held a great secret. He decided to force the Monitor to reveal this by suspending time in the Logopolitan city. 
Unfortunately, his tampering brought about the potential destruction of the universe. Logopolis maintained this by allowing energy to flow in via portals to pocket dimensions such as E-Space. A computer program had been developed to carry on this function, and the Doctor was forced to ally himself with the Master to travel to Earth and run this on a compatible system there. The Master attempted to benefit from events by blackmailing the universe into accepting his rule. The Doctor stopped him - but at the cost of his life as he fell from the radio telescope beaming out the program. He regenerated for the fourth time.

The Master abducted Adric, who had impressive mathematical skills, with the intention of using these along with the Block Transfer Computations developed by the Logopolitans. These allowed mathematical formulae to create and manipulate matter. A copy of Adric was used to programme the TARDIS to travel to the "Big Bang", to be destroyed in the greatest explosion in history. Witnessing the Doctor's destruction from afar was not ideal for the Master, and he had devised a more complex trap which he had hoped to initiate, which also used Block Transfer Computations. The TARDIS was saved when the Doctor had Tegan and Nyssa - Tremas' daughter, who had been brought to Logopolis by the Watcher - to jettison a quarter of the ship's mass to provide enough escape thrust.
The Master then got to make use of his more complex trap. The TARDIS was guided to a planet on which there was a settlement known as Castrovalva, which was entirely devoid of industrial technology. The newly regenerated Doctor needed such an environment in which to heal. This whole settlement had been created by Adric using the Computations. The Master was present, posing as the elderly Portreeve - a kindly figure who governed the realm. 
In his earlier incarnation he had often used physical disguises to hide his own features, or to disguise others as a decoy. Now, he had developed a new form of disguise using a form of holographic projection. The Castrovalva trap was sprung as the domain began to fold in on itself, but the Doctor had been able to free Adric who could guide them all to an exit point. The Master found his Castrovalvan creations to be capable of free will, and they caused him to be caught in his own trap.

Since gaining his new body, the Master had disguised his TARDIS as a column, a large plant, and an ornate fireplace. Having escaped his trap on Castrovalva he visited Earth in prehistoric times, where his ship suffered a disastrous systems failure. Fearing he would be stranded, he was fortunate to find evidence of previous alien visitors from the planet Xeriphas. They had fled their world as refugees after it had been caught in the crossfire of an intergalactic war. The beings had merged themselves into a single biological entity which was slowly regenerating in a sarcophagus-like structure within a great pyramid. The Master realised that he could harness this entity to replace his faulty TARDIS systems. He needed help, however, and so used a time contour to bring a Concorde aircraft back through time from the late 20th Century. The Doctor learned of this disappearance when his TARDIS landed at Heathrow Airport in order that Tegan to take up her new job. He used his UNIT connections to commandeer a second Concorde in order to replicate the flight path and so follow the first aircraft. Back in prehistory, he encountered the Master, who had disguised himself as a bloated wizard-like being called Kalid. In this instance, he resorted to physical disguise. He was able to purloin components from the Doctor's TARDIS for his own ship. The Xeraphin manifested itself as an evil half, and a benevolent half, and the Master naturally attempted to ally himself with the former - whilst the latter helped the Doctor and his companions.
A trade was arranged, allowing the Doctor to get his parts back and the Concorde crew and passengers would be freed if the Master could maintain his own link to the Xeriphan sarcophagus. The Doctor had programmed a limiter, however, which allowed him to get to Heathrow first and occupy the time-space co-ordinates which the Master was aiming for, on route to Xeriphas. This caused the Master's TARDIS to be deflected on to to Xeriphas itself, where the regenerated aliens would have the chance to free themselves from him.

The Master was eventually able to flee from Xeriphas with a repaired TARDIS, but he took the opportunity whilst there to pick up a piece of technology left behind by an earlier invader. This was an anthropomorphic android known as Kamelion. This robot could take on the appearance of anyone willed upon it by its controller. 
He brought Kamelion to mediaeval England where he caused it to take on the appearance of King John. This was part of a plan to undermine Magna Carta, by having the King deliberately antagonise his barons. This was a test as he planned to use Kamelion to undermine other civilisations.
The Doctor and his companions arrived at the castle of Sir Ranulf Fitzwilliam, where the Master was posing as the false King's French bodyguard Sir Gilles Estram. Once again he was using his holographic disguise to alter his features.
Other than when he pretended to be the Portreeve, as he expected the arrival of the Doctor, it is unknown why the Master elected to change his appearance on most occasions. It would appear simply to be some sort of affectation of this particular incarnation.
The Doctor was able to defeat the Master in a sword fight - having previously beaten him with rapiers whilst he was being held in prison on Fortress Island. When the King ordered him thrown into an Iron Maiden, it proved to be his disguised TARDIS.
The Doctor also defeated the Master in a battle of wills for mental control over Kamelion, allowing him to steal the android. He also sabotaged the Master's TARDIS using his matter condensing weapon, which he now called the Tissue Compression Eliminator (TCE). This would scramble the TARDIS's guidance systems.

When the Doctor in his first five incarnations were taken out of time and placed in the Death Zone on Gallifrey, the Master was brought in by the Inner Council of the Time Lords to help rescue him. In return he was offered a new regeneration cycle. The Master claimed that he would miss fighting the Doctor - wishing to destroy him himself - and so agreed to enter the Zone by transmat. He was given a copy of the Seal of the High Council to prove to the Doctor his good intentions for once. Recognised by the Third Doctor, though not immediately, the First Doctor failed to recall his one time school friend.
His assistance shunned, the Master decided to ally himself with the Cybermen in the Death Zone, whilst he considered how best to capitalise on the situation for his own ends. He happily lured the Cybermen into a deadly trap once they were of no further use to him. When he learned that President Borusa was behind these events, intent on gaining the secret immortality from Rassilon, the Master tried to steal it for himself. A well-placed punch from the Brigadier knocked him out, and Rassilon transported him away from Gallifrey.

The Master was able to re-establish mental contact with Kamelion following an accident involving his TCE. He had been attempting to make it more powerful. However, it had backfired on him in some way and caused him to be reduced to only a few inches in height. Knowing of a gas called Numismaton which was emitted by one of the volcanoes on the planet Sarn, he manipulated the android to divert the Doctor's TARDIS to that planet. Numismaton burned with a flame which had powerful restorative properties. He was already there, trapped within his own ship, and needed Kamelion to move around and act on his behalf. The plan was to place him in the flame during one of its eruptions, so that he would be restored to his normal state. Previous colonisers from the planet Triton, who had turned Sarn into a penal colony, had installed control equipment within the volcano to regulate the gas.
The Master was inadvertently aided in his scheme when he momentarily lost control over Kamelion, causing him to appear in his form but with silver skin. This coincided with the image of the deity Logar whom the people of Sarn worshipped. As such, he was able to manipulate them to act against the Doctor and his companions.
The Doctor destroyed Kamelion at its own behest, as it knew it would always be open to abuse by the Master. The volcano proved to be unstable, about to destroy the planet, so the Tritons evacuated it. The Doctor sabotaged the gas supply controls so that the Master was consumed by normal fire - apparently perishing in the process.

Somehow, he had survived. He next encountered the Doctor when he was attempting further meddling in the history of Earth. This time he positioned himself in the North East of England at the time of the early Industrial Revolution. His plan was to change history in order to reshape it for his own ends. He planned to assassinate a number of noted scientists and engineers who were due to gather there for a conference. However, his visit coincided with that of another rogue Time Lord - the Rani. She was using social unrest to disguise her experiments to harvest chemicals from the local workers - needed to placate the inhabitants of the planet Miasma Goria which she ruled. She had removed their need to sleep in order to maximise their workload - only to make them uncontrollable. The presence of two TARDISes caused the Doctor's to be diverted to the area, and his arrival was observed by the Master when disguised as a scarecrow.
He forced the Rani to join forces with him by stealing her supply of brain chemical. The Doctor sabotaged the Rani's TARDIS then engineered a rockfall to force them to use it to escape a collapsing mine shaft. Her ship began to hurtle forward in time, out of control, with dinosaur embryos rapidly maturing in the console room.
The Master next turned his attentions back to Gallifrey. He found a means of entering the Matrix unnoticed, where he stole many of the Time Lords' secrets in order to sell them to the highest bidder. He made use of a criminal named Sabalom Glitz to help him in this. He then discovered a plot by the High Council to eliminate the Doctor by giving his remaining regenerations to a mysterious legal figure called the Valeyard, who was to act as prosecutor in a new trial for the Doctor. The Valeyard, he found out, was really an amalgam of all the Doctor's negative aspects, originating from a point between his twelfth and final incarnations.
Faced with a ruthless, evil version of the Doctor, the Master realised that the original would be a better opponent as far as he was concerned - and once again he wanted the Doctor's demise to be at his own hands. He had Glitz and the Doctor's future companion Mel transferred to the trial location - a vast space station - in order to help him. Once again, the Master could not help but try to gain advantage of the situation for his own ends. He wanted to take over the High Council once the present corrupt one had been deposed.
When it looked like the Doctor was doomed, he tried to flee with all the Matrix secrets he had stolen - only to find that the Valeyard had tricked him. He and Glitz were frozen in time within his TARDIS by a Limbo Atrophier.
Once the Valeyard had been defeated, the Doctor asked the Time Lord Inquisitor to free them both once order was restored on Gallifrey.

The Master's final confrontation with the Doctor, in this incarnation, took place on the obscure planet of the Cheetah People. These creatures had a symbiotic relationship with their ancient world, which was close to destruction. Anyone spending any length of time on the planet was infected by it, slowly transformed into a Cheetah Person themself. The Master had become trapped here, cut off from his own TARDIS after being transported there by the small black feline Kitlings, which had the power to transport people across space - an ability shared with the Cheetah People. He had managed to use his hypnotic powers to control them to an extent, and had them ensnare the Doctor and his companion Ace.
Despite the fact that he was transforming into a Cheetah Person, with yellow eyes and fangs, he wanted to harness a human captive to transport him away from here. Those infected by the planet developed an innate homing ability, which allowed them to travel instantly to the place they regarded as "home".
The Master used a young human named Midge to take him to West London, where he took over the local self-defence class to act as his private army. The Doctor used a transforming Ace to follow him. Midge was killed trying to kill the Doctor, whilst the Master murdered Karra - a Cheetah who had befriended Ace. He then physically fought the Doctor, causing them both to be transported back to the now disintegrating Cheetah planet. The Doctor was able to return himself to Earth - leaving the Master behind on the dying world...

Played by: Anthony Ainley. Appearances: The Keeper of Traken, Logopolis (1981), Castrovalva, Time-Flight (1982), The King's Demons, The Five Doctors (1983), Planet of Fire (1984), Mark of the Rani (1985), Trial of a Time Lord (Parts 13 - 14) (1986), Survival (1989).
  • Anthony Ainley was the illegitimate son of the great Edwardian stage actor Henry Ainley, who had been Jon Pertwee's godfather. The resemblance to his father is remarkable.
  • He knew producer JNT from having worked on the drama series The Pallisers, in which Ainley had played the villainous clergyman Rev. Emilius and JNT had been production unit manager.
  • He had previously been lead in his own TV series - Spyder's Web.
  • Fantasy film roles included Blood on Satan's Claw (which also featured Wendy Padbury) and The Land That Time Forgot.
  • Of independent means, Ainley could afford to pick and choose when he wished to work, and acted as his own agent.
  • DWM editor Gary Russell tells of how he would sometimes allow his photo to be used almost for free one month, then charge an exorbitant fee the next. At one point he fell out with the magazine and refused to permit his image to be used at all.
  • He also fell out with JNT and the producer was determined to write him out of the series, only to bring him back - though less frequently.
  • Terrance Dicks was going to have him as the main villain in The Five Doctors, but Eric Saward pointed out that this would be too obvious.
  • After playing Tremas, attempts to conceal Ainley's / the Master's involvement in a story tended towards other anagrams such as Leon Ny Taiy (Time-Flight) or James Stoker (i.e. "Master's Joke") on The King's Demons.
  • His first love, even greater than acting, was cricket - both watching and playing.
  • His final performance as the Master was in the often bizarre links on the Doctor Who computer game - "Destiny of the Doctors".
  • He provided commentary on the DVD of The Keeper of Traken not long before he passed away.
  • Anthony Ainley died on 3rd May 2004, aged 71.

Sunday 18 June 2023

Episode 73: The Death of Time

The TARDIS has vanished, and the Doctor and Barbara are shocked to see a Dalek struggle up from beneath a sand dune only a few feet away from them...
It joins some more of its kind and they move off, searching for the TARDIS. As the Doctor and Barbara prepare to go and look for Ian and Vicki, they are confronted by a pair of amphibious humanoid beings. They are native Aridians.
The Daleks utilise a seismic locator device to trace the TARDIS. 
The Aridians - Malsan and Rynian - inform the Doctor that their planet was once covered in oceans, but their suns have moved steadily closer and the seas dried up. Now they have been forced to live in a subterranean city beneath the dunes. They are being hunted by savage Mire Beasts, the octopoid creatures earlier encountered by Ian and Vicki in the tunnels. These once lived in the mud on the sea bed, but have now invaded sections of the city. The Aridians are forced to destroy parts to seal them in and protect the inhabited areas. One of their airlocks is about to be blown up by an Aridian miner named Prondyn - the one which Ian and Vicki entered. 
They set off to locate them before the explosives are detonated, but are just too late.
In the tunnels, the blast knocks Ian unconscious, but kills the Mire Beast which had been threatening them. Vicki goes to find help.
The Daleks find the location of the TARDIS, buried under a new dune. They force a number of Aridians to free it. Once their work is done, they are ruthlessly exterminated. The Daleks find that their weaponry is useless against the ship.
In the city, the Doctor and Barbara are informed that the Daleks have issued an ultimatum. The Aridians must hand them over by noon or face destruction. They are now prisoners.
Vicki arrives and tells them that there is an exit not far away. A recovered Ian is there, and he has discovered that the TARDIS is just outside - guarded by a single Dalek.
Another Aridian informs Malsan and Rynian that it is time to hand their captives over to the Daleks. Barbara notices a bricked-up doorway which is starting to crumble. It suddenly bursts open and a Mire Beast emerges, engulfing one of the Aridians. Barbara wants to stay and help but she is dragged away by the Doctor as they need to make their escape. 
In the tunnel by the TARDIS, Ian organises the building of a sand trap - using a framework of sticks and Barbara's cardigan and the Doctor's coat, covered in sand. They then lure the lone Dalek guard onto the trap and it plunges into the tunnel below.
The Doctor and his companions rush for the TARDIS as the remaining Daleks converge on them. The ship dematerialises.
Studying his instruments, the Doctor discovers that they are being followed. The Daleks have vowed to pursue and exterminate them...
Next episode: Flight Through Eternity

Written by Terry Nation
Recorded: Friday, 7th May 1965 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:40pm, Saturday 29th May 1965
Ratings: 9.5 million / AI 56
Designers: Raymond P Cusick and John Wood
Director: Richard Martin
Additional cast: Ian Thompson (Malsan), Hywel Bennett (Rynian), Al Raymond (Prondyn)

The design for the Aridians differed greatly from the vision which Nation had for them. They had large hunched backs, that made it look like their faces were in the middle of their chests. Long black hair, a second pair of eyes in their foreheads, and arms dragging on the ground, with four fingers on each hand.
They dressed in skins made from Mire Beasts.
The description would have proven expensive and difficult to realise, so Costume Designer Daphne Dare opted to follow the script and make them amphibian in appearance. Their costumes were gold in colour. Unfortunately, the rubber cap and shell-like ears can sometimes be seen to be coming unstuck.
The Fungoids, which will appear later, were originally going to be native to Aridius.
There was also supposed to be a caged Mire Beast in the city, and it was this which escaped and caused panic which allowed the time travellers to escape - instead of the one which breaks through the bricked-up archway.
John Wood designed the Aridian city set, which uses a really impressive painted backdrop.

Whilst Aridius features mainly in studio, we do see some more of the Camber Sands location work, including an obviously lightweight Dalek gliding across the sand dunes. This included the shot of it falling into the trap. This was the one they attempted to bury and have rise up at the cliff-hanger of the previous episode.
We have our first glimpse of "Dalek stupidity" this week when the commander orders an underling to do something, only for it to just stand there - and the commander has to prompt it to get on with it.
This silliness will get worse later on.
Only three of the four Dalek props appear in this episode. Operator Gerald Taylor was not present in studio this week. One of the Daleks was given a special gimballed contraption in place of the usual sucker, to represent their seismic detector.

Rare these days, we see an example of apparent cruelty from the Doctor. Not only does he do nothing to save the Aridian attacked by the Mire Beast, and actively stops Barbara from doing so, but it looks like he pushed him under it in the first place.

In An Unearthly Child it was suggested that the TARDIS was built by the Doctor, as Susan says that she made up the name from the initials "Time And Relative Dimension In Space". This seems to be confirmed here as the Doctor talks about his time-path detector, which warns of another time machine following them on the same course, saying "It's been in the ship ever since I constructed it".
Of course, his "It" could apply equally to the device itself as to the TARDIS. It will take only one further story - seven more episodes - to show categorically that his TARDIS is not unique.

There is a neat throwback to The Space Museum when Ian asks for Barbara's cardigan and she groans "Not again!". He had destroyed her last one to use as a trail to escape the museum.
There's a nice line from Hartnell when he then asks for the Doctor's coat as well: "My dear boy, we're trying to beat the Daleks, not start a jumble sale!".
Ian calls Vicki "a little fool", and she counters by calling him "a nit".
There then follows a jokey scene as they talk about the Dalek being eaten by the Mire Beasts. 
It sounds like an ad lib when the Doctor tells them that he can always drop them back again to find out, to which Ian responds "Thank you very much" as though unscripted.

On Thursday 6th May, the day before recording, William Russell and Jaqueline Hill were photographed at various locations around central London for The Planet of Decision. Then, on Monday 10th May, Russell and Hill attended Ealing and filmed their scenes for the same episode, where they emerge from a garage near to an Underground station, as well as the sequence with stunt arranger Derek Ware playing a conductor on a London bus. All of these scenes were directed by Douglas Camfield who was beginning work on The Time Meddler.

  • Despite the fact that it is a new Dalek story, the ratings dip slightly (by half a million) and the AI falls, though only by a single point. It's the end of May, and the weather is improving.
  • The episode overran in studio due to problems with integrating the film footage. There was also no fast rewind tape machine available - essential for speedy retakes.
  • Hywel Bennett's first language was Welsh, only beginning to learn English aged four when his family moved to London. He began his acting career on stage in 1959, but The Chase was one of his very first TV roles.
  • Ian Thompson had previously played Hetra in The Web Planet for Richard Martin.
  • Al Raymond had featured as a soldier in The Reign of Terror.
  • An uncredited Aridian was Brian Proudfoot - Hartnell's location double in The Reign of Terror and Tigilinus in The Romans among other small roles. Presumably he is the lone Aridian who stumbles across the Daleks and is exterminated.
  • A photograph of the Kalahari Desert was used as an establishing shot for the Aridian surface, just before Prondyn detonates the explosives to blow up the Taltarian Lock.
  • One of the best known images from this story is a scene which never takes place in the actual narrative. The Doctor, Barbara, Vicki and Ardians Malsan and Rynian are grouped around a fallen Ian, with a Dalek in the background. This was simply one of a set of similar publicity photos taken during the afternoon rehearsal session: