Sunday 31 March 2024

Series 14 Titles & New Trailer

The BBC Twitter account has been releasing the titles of the stories for Series 14 today, one at a time over the space of a few hours. We were previously promised a new trailer today as well.

So RTD has written six of the eight episodes, with Rogue being the only story to come from an entirely new source.
The new trailer is about a minute longer than the previous one. Covers a lot of the same ground but we get some extras such as the Space Babies actually being a lot of humanoid babies, and we see more of the musical content for the second story.

Episode 111: The Celestial Toyroom

NB: This episode no longer exists in the archives, nor is there a full set of telesnaps. Representative images are therefore used to illustrate it.

On leaving the Ark, Steven and Dodo have changed their outfits and returned to the TARDIS console room where they are shocked to see the Doctor's body fade away. He is still present however - just rendered invisible - and announces that this is some form of attack...
This alarms him greatly as whoever is behind this must be extremely powerful to have infiltrated the ship.
The TARDIS has materialised in the middle of a large, white octagonal space.
Nearby is an office which is a mix of modern and antique, dominated by an ornate desk and a huge Victorian dollhouse. 
A man dressed in the manner of a Chinese Mandarin is here. He selects a pair of toy clowns from the dollhouse, telling them that they will be ideal for a game with the new arrivals.
The Doctor has been made visible again, and dismisses the idea that this is something to do with the Refusians. Steven spots a screen on which he sees images of himself on the planet Kemble, and then in medieval Paris. Dodo cannot see anything.
The Doctor warns them to ignore what they see, as he has realised that they are now in the domain of the Celestial Toymaker - a being of awesome potential for evil. He manipulates people and makes them his playthings.
Dodo now sees herself on the screen - images of her as a girl on the day of her mother's funeral. They next see the TARDIS, but there are hundreds of them on a conveyer belt.
The Toymaker appears briefly - the Mandarin figure - then vanishes again, taking the Doctor with him.
Two clowns then enter the room - Joey and Clara. They are the dolls from the dollhouse, life-size and brought to life. Only Clara speaks, Joey communicating with horn-like blasts.
The Toymaker announces that Steven and Dodo must compete with the clowns in a game of Blind Man's Buff, the prize being the return of the TARDIS. The Doctor is going to play a game of his own, and they must win before he does.
In the office, the Doctor is shown the complex Trilogic Game which comprises a triangular board with counters of graduated sizes at each corner - marked A, B and C. The Doctor deduces that he must move all the counters from position A to position C, one at a time and without placing a larger disc on a smaller one. The Toymaker explains that he must complete the task in 1023 moves.
It is clear that the Doctor has encountered this being before. He knows that all those who lose his twisted games are rendered his playthings for all time.
Steven and Dodo must traverse an obstacle course without touching the floor. They will play as a team, with one blindfolded to make the actual journey, whilst their partner guides them verbally from a glass booth.
They are unaware that Joey's blindfold is actually see-though.
The Doctor is able to communicate with his companions to warn them of their fate should they fail to win their game. Irritated, the Toymaker renders him invisible once more.
The two clowns cheat their way to victory, but Steven discovers the truth of Joey's blindfold. He insists they play again, but this time with a real blindfold. The clowns lose and collapse, and then the TARDIS suddenly reappears.
It proves to be a copy, however, containing only a door leading to a long corridor. They find a piece of paper on which is written a rhyme:
"Four legs, no feet, of arms no lack; 
It carries no burden on its back; 
Six deadly sisters, seven for choice; 
Call the servants without voice."
As they set off down the corridor, Dodo glances back and sees that Joey and Clara have been reduced to lifeless toys once more...
Next episode: The Hall of Dolls

Written by: Brian Hayles
Recorded: Friday 18th March, 1966 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:50pm, Saturday 2nd April 1966
Ratings: 8 million / AI 48
Designer: John Wood
Director: Bill Sellars
Guest cast: Michael Gough (Toymaker), Campbell Singer (Joey), Carmen Silvera (Clara)

Brian Hayles enjoyed a successful career, much of it writing for episodic television series or one-off plays. One particular programme he had sought to break into was Doctor Who, and he had submitted numerous ideas since 1965. These included a story about a living planet, a tale of shadow people, and a historical about the Nazis. 
A set of episodes with a surreal edge was eventually successfully commissioned - but the story was going to be put through so many rewrites and restructuring thanks, in part, to production personnel changes, that there was very little of Hayles' original work left to make it to the screen.
Hayles had worked with John Wiles previously, and the two got on well.
He came up with a figure called the Toymaker, for a story that would have an element of psychological horror to it. Producer and Story Editor were both keen to work on a story that hadn't been commissioned  by their predecessors, and one that took them into the realm of fantasy for a change.
It was Donald Tosh who decided that the character should be "Celestial" and possibly another member of the Doctor's own race like the Monk.

At an early stage, the story was being referred to as "The Trilogic Game" - indicating that this aspect of the story was there from the very beginning, tying in with the Toymaker figure.
Another element of the story was the inclusion of a pair of characters named George and Margaret. They derived from a play by Gerald Savory. Like Samuel Beckett's Godot, they are someone who is expected to arrive throughout the course of a play, only to never appear (the play ends just as we hear they have finally arrived).
Savory was by this time the Head of Drama (Serials) at the BBC - making him Wiles' boss. He was happy to have the characters included, and the production advanced to the stage that the pair were even cast - with Campbell Singer playing George and Carmen Silvera Margaret.
Tosh and Wiles between them carried out a number of significant rewrites to Hayles' scripts.
However, the pair then resigned in quick succession, to be replaced by Innes Lloyd and Gerry Davis.

This would be Lloyd's first credited production, whilst Davis had shadowed Tosh since The Massacre, and taken over from him for its final episode and the subsequent The Ark.
Lloyd's background had been in outside broadcast, producing big sporting events such as Wimbledon and the University Boat Race, as well as regional quiz shows and important one-off events such as the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. He had little experience of drama, and admitted that he had no interest in science fiction. It was always his intention to remain in this new post for a year only.
Davis was happy to work on a script from Hayles as the two knew each other well from the Midlands-based football soap United!. Hayles had devised this series, and Davis had been its script editor until his move to London.
Hayles' idea for George and Margaret had been that they would initially appear to be a pleasant couple, only to become more menacing as the story progressed.
After initially giving the Doctor Who team permission to use his characters, Savory had second thoughts and withdrew his consent, very much at the last minute. 
This coincided with Lloyd rejecting Hayles' scripts in their current form, having his own ideas about where he wanted to take the series.

Davis had to conduct extensive rewrites to remove George and Margaret, replacing them with another male / female pairing due to the casting that had already taken place. He also had to ensure that only John Wood's sets were used, as they had already been designed. Davis wrote an episode per day at his home in Cookham.
The idea of the Toymaker suggested to Davis games as well as dolls of different types - and so clowns Joey and Clara ended up replacing Savory's characters for its opening instalment. 
Having different games in different episodes allowed for the same two actors to portray different Toyroom characters.
As it happened, Savory was moved from his post to take over the Plays section midway through broadcast of this story, replaced at Serials by Shaun Sutton.

As The Ark had been an expensive production, The Celestial Toymaker was intended to be a cheap story to balance the budgets. It was to have a limited number of sets, and a small cast.
Whilst Bill Sellars had cast Singer and Silvera, Michael Gough was cast as the Toymaker by the producer. Lloyd wished to see the very best British actors in his series, inspired in his casting ideas by a number of his favourite TV dramas.
Filming began at Ealing on Monday 2nd March, when Singer and Silvera recorded the sequence wherein the toy clowns grow into their life-size counterparts. Singer was made up as a sad-faced Pierrot, whilst Silvera was a happy-faced Harlequin.
The next day saw model shots being filmed of the many TARDISes on the conveyor belt, as well as the automatic disc moves on the Trilogic Game board. The invisible Doctor's disembodied hands were actually those of Albert Ward, dressed in black and acting against a black background.
Jacki Lane also filmed her scene for the "Memory Window" screen, taking time out of rehearsals on The Ark.
This would be edited into the finished episode during studio recording, as were a pair of scenes from The Daleks' Master Plan (The Destruction of Time) and The Massacre (The Sea Beggar) - selected to represent Steven's recent past.
The Celestial Toyroom set was erected at Ealing, dominated by the massive Victorian dolls house - based on Queen Mary's at Windsor, designed by Sir Edward Lutyens. 
Michael Gough donned his mandarin costume for the first time. It had previously been worn by Mark Eden in the closing episode of Marco Polo. That story also provided photographic blow-ups of the TARDIS, which were used in this story.
Another significant feature of the set was the Toymaker's desk - made to look like it was a life-size 1950's tin-plate toy. It sparked as it moved across the floor.

One of Lloyd's first decisions on taking over from Wiles was to change the companions. He did not rate Peter Purves highly as an actor, and considered his character dull and limited. Lane was too obviously a lot older than the teenage character she was supposed to be portraying. Both would be removed from the series as soon as possible, to be replaced by trendier, contemporary characters. Purves was issued with only a twelve week new contract, whilst Lane would stay only a little longer, to overlap with the introduction of their replacements.
Gough would take note of how difficult William Hartnell could be in rehearsals, and would later warn his then wife Anneke Wills of what to expect, when she was soon-after cast as new companion Polly.

Only a small version of the TARDIS console room was used in the opening re-enactment of the previous week's cliff-hanger, making use of photographic blow-ups for the walls. Lane liked her outfit as she had bought it herself in Knightsbridge, but Purves disliked his pullover - now regarded as iconic for the character - because horizontal stripes made you look fatter. The stripey jumper has been seen gracing the TARDIS wardrobe several times since.
Both companions would cite this story as one of their favourites due to their characters being given so much more to do.
The octagonal Toyroom set had two pale walls upon which other images could be inlaid, to turn them into the "Memory Windows". The other walls featured arches, covered with a metallic blue material.
The set had a pattern of lines painted on the floor, radiating out from the centre, where the TARDIS prop was positioned.
The third set was the Toymaker's office - a smaller version of the Ealing set-up.
Two life-size tin-plate robots decorated the sets, one with a TV monitor in its chest on which output from other cameras could be shown - such as game tallies. These robots were based on a toy owned by John Wood's son.

Singer and Silvera appeared only as Joey and Clara in this episode, donning their costumes from Ealing. Joey communicated with horn-like sounds, activated when he pressed one of the buttons on his outfit.
The obstacle course comprised four different elements including stepping stones, a rope suspended over a number of pinnacles, a plank stretched between two ladders, and finally a large flexible tube to be crawled through. The floor was marked with arrows indicating the direction players should move, like a gameboard.
The lighting on this part of the Toyroom set was slowly taken down as the game progressed, to make events look more ominous.
The reversion of Joey and Clara to lifeless dolls was done off camera. Singer and Silvera were seen to collapse, but the action then cut to Purves and Lane finding the clue. The guest actors left the set, and the toy dolls placed where they had last been seen when the camera cut back.
The clue was shown on screen just before the closing credits, superimposed over an image of the Trilogic Game.
For such a complex episode, only three recording breaks were required.

After recording had finished, Hartnell then embarked on a two week holiday - little realising that this had come very close to being his final day in the role of the Doctor, as we'll see next week...

  • The ratings have continued to grow steadily back, though the appreciation figure falls to below the 50 mark. It will remain low for the entire serial.
  • Competition in the ITV regions included Lost in Space and Thunderbirds.
  • From this episode onwards, the series returns to its later time-slot of 5:50pm.
  • Carmen Silvera will return to the series to play Ruth in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, but she is best known for her portrayal of Rene's wife Edith in WWII comedy 'Allo 'Allo - a spoof of French Resistance drama Secret Army.
  • This story is blessed with a significantly larger number of photographs than most other stories of the time - both colour and monochrome. This is because three of the four episodes had Radio Times and BBC photographers present for their camera rehearsals.
  • The Trilogic Game was a pre-existing puzzle called the "Towers of Hanoi" - also known as the "Problem of the Benares Temple" or "Lucas' Tower". The French mathematician Edouard Lucas had devised it in 1883. He created the myth that it had ancient oriental origins. This legend changed over time. Priests in a temple (or monks in a monastery) moved a number of discs which would take 585 billion years to complete. The minimal number of moves required to complete the puzzle is 2 to the power "n" minus 1, where "n" is the number of discs.
  • Blind Man's Buff is believed to be over 2000 years old, with its origins in ancient Greece.
  • Radio Times published its usual piece to accompany the new story. Whilst Michael Gough got a nice portrait photograph, the accompanying text elected to concentrate on the Trilogic Game, including a diagram to help fans who might want to try it at home.

Thursday 28 March 2024

Cy Town (1931 - 2024)

It has been reported that the actor Cy Town has passed away. Not a familiar name to most people, but we Doctor Who fans know him as one of the principal Daleks operators, appearing in all of their stories from Frontier in Space in 1973 to Remembrance of the Daleks in 1988.
As well as this, he featured as a prominent extra in a number of other stories, beginning with the role of a reporter in Spearhead From Space. For instance, he was the hapless man smothered by fondant at the Forum auditions in The Happiness Patrol. Other monster roles included a Vogan in Revenge of the Cybermen and a Haemovore in The Curse of Fenric.

M is for... Mummies

The Mummies encountered by the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith at the home of noted Egyptologist Marcus Scarman were, in fact, Osiran Service Robots. Chemically-impregnated protective wrappings covered a sturdy metal skeleton and basic circuitry. Their operator used a special ring to control them via a triangular crystal relay at the base of the spine.
When the ancient Egyptians witnessed these robots in action, it inspired them to embalm their dead as they looked like reanimated corpses.
The Mummies at Scarman's home were servants of the Osiran Sutekh, obeying his human puppet - Scarman himself. Their task was to seal off and guard the immediate area, then construct a missile which Sutekh intended be fired at a pyramid on the planet Mars. This housed the source of a forcefield which was keeping him immobilised on Earth. A single Mummy could kill with a blow from its arm, or strangle its victim, whilst a pair of the robots could co-ordinate to crush a man to death between them - as happened to the local poacher Ernie Clements. 
One of the Mummies was destroyed by an electrical overload. The Doctor used the wrappings from it to disguise himself in order to plant explosives on the missile.
Sutekh's brother Horus had service robots of his own - distinguished by gold bands on their wrappings.
These were used to guard the pyramid and prevent Sutekh's escape.

Played by: Nick Burnell, Melvyn Bedford and Kevin Selway. Appearances: Pyramids of Mars (1975).

M is for... Muir, Sir Robert

In the summer of 1925, Sir Robert Muir was one of the guests at the cricketing weekend hosted by his friend Lady Cranleigh and her son Charles. Sir Robert was Chief Constable of the district.
The Doctor and his companions Tegan, Nyssa and Adric found themselves invited also, due to a case of mistaken identity.
The Cranleighs harboured a terrible secret. Charles' famous explorer brother George was widely believed to have died on an Amazonian expedition to discover the rare black orchid. However, he was being concealed in an attic wing of their home, having been horribly mutilated by native tribesmen which had driven him insane. A fancy dress party was held after the cricket match, in which Sir Robert enjoyed Tegan's company. During the event George murdered the servant helping to guard him, then stole downstairs disguised in the Doctor's harlequin costume. He attacked his fiancée Ann Talbot - killing a butler who came to her assistance.
The Doctor found himself accused of the killings, and was arrested by Sir Robert.
The Doctor took him and the local policemen to see the TARDIS in order to help prove his innocence. They were given a trip back to Cranleigh Hall in the ship to confront Lady Cranleigh and Charles.
George escaped again and mistook Nyssa for Ann, with whom she bore a striking similarity, attempting to abduct her.
Sir Robert was witness to George's death, when he fell from the roof of the Hall during a fire.

Played by: Moray Watson. Appearances: Black Orchid (1982).
  • Watson, who died in 2017, appeared in the very first Quatermass serial in 1953, playing the professor's assistant Peter Marsh.
  • He later appeared opposite Peter Davison, in another 1920's setting, in the detective series Campion.
  • Like a great many of the actors cast by JNT, he had appeared in period drama The Pallisers.

M is for... Mr Sweet

"Mr Sweet" was the name given by Mrs Winifred Gillyflower to a Red Leech - a venomous parasite which had survived into the Victorian era. She ran a factory in the north of England which was refining the creature's toxin. A select group of young people would be given immunity through contact with it, whilst the rest of the population of Earth would be killed by the substance. Those who reacted badly to the venom were disposed of - supposed victims of the "crimson horror".
Her ultimate aim was to create a brand new fascistic society.
The tiny creature attached itself to Mrs Gillyflower's chest, where she kept it hidden and fed it salt on which it thrived. She pretended that a "Mr Sweet" was her secretive business partner, to deflect questions about a woman running a factory in these times.
In developing the antidote, she had used her own daughter - Ada - in her experiments, making her think that she had been physically abused by her dead father.
The Red Leeches were known to Victorian detective Madam Vastra, as they had plagued the Silurians in prehistoric times. She and the rest of the Paternoster Gang helped defeat Mrs Gillyflower's scheme.
When she died, the creature attempted to slip away to find a new host, but it was killed by Ada.

Appearances: The Crimson Horror (2013).

M is for... Mr Smith

Sarah Jane Smith's super-computer, which is housed behind a false wall in her attic study. When summoned with "Mr. Smith - I need you", the machine would emerge, accompanied by a musical fanfare which Sarah used to find annoying.
Initially, its origins were unknown - other than it had been found in the vicinity of the volcano Krakatoa. Sarah had received a crystal anonymously in the mail, and whilst examining it she found that it could interact with her home computer, greatly improving it. It then showed her how to construct its full self.
Naming it "Mr. Smith", Sarah found it to be of invaluable help. Not only could it assist with any terrestrial matter, it held a vast databank on alien phenomena.
Little did she know that it was concealing a dreadful secret. It made contact with a group of Slitheen who sought revenge against Sarah for the death of some of their kin. First it faked a story about Sarah's adopted son Luke - making out that he was really an abducted Earth boy. With Sarah distracted by these events, the Slitheen then planned to drag the Moon into a collision course with the Earth.
The crystal at the core of Mr. Smith was really a ruthless alien Xylox, which had been trapped under the ground since prehistoric times. The collision would free more of its kind still hidden there.
Sarah's friend Clyde discovered that the computer was acting against them, and it had him converted into data trapped within itself. He was able to communicate via another computer with Maria Jackson and her father.
Luke helped foil the plot - along with the Slitheen, when they realised that they would be destroyed too. 
Sarah then had Mr. Smith's memory wiped with K-9's help.
The computer would later have a love-hate relationship with the robot dog.
On two occasions, whilst under malign alien influence, Sarah had Mr. Smith shut down to prevent it from interfering with their schemes.
When the planet was transported across space to the Medusa Cascade by the Daleks, Mr. Smith was used to boost the world's phone signals to contact the Doctor.

Voiced by: Alexander Armstrong. Appearances: The Sarah Jane Adventures (Series 1 - 5), The Stolen Earth / Journey's End (2009).
  • Armstrong would later feature in Doctor Who in person, playing bomber pilot Reg Arwell in The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.
  • For some time, viewers assumed that the fanfare which accompanied Mr. Smith's emergence was simply part of the incidental music - until Sarah mentioned that it was actually heard by those in the attic.

Tuesday 26 March 2024

The Collection: Season 15 - Review

Season 15 saw the arrival of Graham Williams as producer of Doctor Who, brought in to counter some of the excesses of predecessor Philip Hinchcliffe. Horror and violence were to be toned right down, and in their place there would be more humour. Script Editor Robert Holmes - responsible for much of that horror and violence - agreed to stay on for six months to help Williams settle in. His presence, and Williams' inability to produce a season with an umbrella theme due to time constraints, has led to Season 15 having a transitional feel. Williams and new Script Editor Anthony Read would favour classic literature over classic horror movies - and a little movie called Star Wars was beginning to have its presence felt across the globe - so we get a mix of space opera and stories which would not have looked out of place under the old regime.

First up is Horror of Fang Rock. This was a very late replacement when Terrance Dicks' planned tale of alien vampires had to be shelved since it might be seen as being disrespectful to a forthcoming adaptation of Dracula. It was seen as a low-key launch to the new season at the time, but its reputation has grown and grown over the years. It's gothic horror meets base-under-siege, and is famous for being the one in which every single guest character dies. With terribly cramped and oddly shaped sets, in unfamiliar studios, director Paddy Russell elects to frame Baker foreground throughout, with his back to the other characters. This allows him to dominate, whilst still letting us see the reactions of the others.
Apparently this story was going to get a Special Edition before they ditched these to go down the Blu-ray boxset route. Whether it would have seen new CGI VFX, I don't know - but it gets them here. I know lots of people don't like these, but I'd strongly recommend you watching with them switched on. The most obvious thing is the new Rutan - a CG enhanced physical prop - but the electronic effects from the initial shooting star to the Rutan mothership are greatly improved. Some nice replacements for the model work as well. The shipwreck and the TARDIS in the rocky landscape look so much better.

The Invisible Enemy is one of two stories on this set which already had the option to view with the CGI option switched on. It's a real mixed back though. Titan is given a murky yellow sky - more scientifically accurate, but dramatically and visually weaker. Things aren't helped by having failed to treat all the window shots in Titan Base.
Inspired in its third episode by Fantastic Voyage, it's best known for the introduction of K-9 - and for the very mixed success of the VFX. Some great model work courtesy of Ian Scoones, but a dodgy giant prawn for a monster, misaligned laser beams and obvious pre-cut damaged walls have given this story a poor reputation overall (though admittedly that was the fault of it being a hurried retake).
If Fang Rock could have sat comfortably within the Hinchcliffe-Holmes era, then so too could Image of the Fendahl. Borrowing from Quatermass and the Pit, its setting of an old dark house, skulls and devil worshippers, with monsters lurking in fog-shrouded woods, could equally have formed the basis of a Hammer Horror. The Gorgon springs to mid, as Sherlock's mum swans about the mansion killing with just a look.

The Sun Makers is Louise Jameson's favourite story, and we can see why. Robert Holmes uses the programme to vent his spleen against the Vatman, in a blackly humorous critique of the Great British tax system. No monsters as such, unless you count human(oid) ones. The juxtaposition of humour and drama doesn't always work - the death of the Gatherer leaving a bad taste. The tone is variable.
Underworld is based on the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, but that's about all you can say about it. No CGI enhancement here, unfortunately. Infamously, inflation of the day led to the production team being unable to complete the planned sets, so actors were recorded on blue-screen to be CSO'd onto model caverns. The spaceship set (reused for both Minyan ships) is good, and there is some excellent model work with those spaceships - but those cave sequences let the whole thing down, along with some poor performances.
The other story from Season 15 to already have a CGI option is the final one - The Invasion of Time. This had a complex genesis, what with the original David Weir story having to be torn up as unfilmable, and then industrial action hitting the production. Williams liked the Time Lords, and their history had already been alluded to twice in the series so far - including the reason for their non-interference stance. Robert Holmes suggested the four-parter / two-parter structure, and gave permission to use the Sontarans. They were Anthony Read's favourite of the established monsters.
It's nice to see one of the classic monsters, as they're rare in this period of the show, and their presence nicely tops and tails the season after their mention in Fang Rock, which debuted their old enemies.
The story - and the season - ends with K-9 Mark I being superseded by Mark II. Leela gets a truly dreadful send-off, thanks to Williams refusing to believe that Jameson was serious about leaving.
The final episode is a let-down overall.
Considering the nature of the visual material they have to work with, the picture quality is superb throughout.

On to the Extras and, whilst not as packed as Season 20, we get quite a few excellent items.
Fang Rock gets a really good, in-depth, "Making of...". Cast and crew are well represented, whilst the main component is a two-day stay at a real lighthouse near Beachy Head for Louise Jameson and Toby Hadoke.
The pair also form one of the Sofa panels, joined by Betsan Roberts - widow of director Pennant Roberts and long-time friend of Jameson. I'm afraid Hadoke doesn't really work as a panellist. He knows the episodes inside-out and simply spouts facts and trivia. It's far more entertaining to see people watching the episodes afresh.
This is also an issue with Matthew Waterhouse, who joins Katy Manning on the second panel. Waterhouse was a fan and also knew these stories very well, so pretending he doesn't won't wash. Someone needs to tell him that repeating everything people say on screen is neither amusing nor interesting - even when you do it in a funny voice.
The third panel comprises Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and - for a change - Colin Baker. Fielding isn't anywhere near as annoying this time, which just goes to show that she and Davison simply act up together. Baker is rather upset at the amount of violence on screen, including the Doctor wielding various weapons - his argument being that his era wasn't doing anything that hadn't already been shown before.
As it's her only full season, Jameson gets the Matthew Sweet interview, as well as a couple of convention appearances and a 2003 archive BBC interview. The fantastic Time War trailer piece is also included.
We also get two items from the 50th Anniversary celebrations - an interview with John Leeson and a companions panel, which includes Jameson.
The final disc contains an absolute gem of a new documentary - a biography of the producer Graham Williams. Clocking in at nearly 100 minutes, it's a thorough look at the man and his work - similar in style to the documentaries on Lis Sladen and JNT on other sets. His widow and children are interviewed along with friends and colleagues, revealing a deeply complex figure. 
Be prepared to be moved, as it doesn't shy away from the circumstances of his death.
I sincerely hope that we get similar productions for the other producers when it comes to one of their seasons.
All this plus the pre-existing DVD extras ported over, and a wealth of pdf material.
15 down, 11 to go... Here's hoping that we finally get Troughton's Season 6 for the next release.

Sunday 24 March 2024

Episode 110: The Bomb

Standing beside the smoking remains of the launcher which had brought them to Refusis, Dodo wonders if she and the Doctor will be stranded here forever...
They can only hope that the Monoids will send another launcher down to the planet, if only to learn what has happened to the first.
On the Ark, Monoid Four is becoming increasingly concerned at the actions of his leader. He thinks that One may be acting irresponsibly by insisting they relocate to Refusis when its dangers are still unknown. It will be reckless to destroy the Ark until they know that it is safe to leave it.
Monoid Three alerts their leader about this growing dissent.
The Refusian discusses the situation with the Doctor and Dodo, explaining why he destroyed the launcher. The Doctor tells him of the Monoid revolution, which he thinks was justified in many ways.
In the Security Kitchen, Steven and his new friends realise that they can exploit one of the subservient Guardians to escape. When Maharis next comes in, Dassuk will pretend to be asleep and slip out into the corridor. He can then open the door, which can only be unsealed from the outside.
They are aware of the increased activity by the Monoids and suspect that they are about to begin their exodus to Refusis.
The plan succeeds, and now they must locate the bomb which they know to be hidden onboard.
The Monoids take to their launchers. One confirms that the bomb will detonate automatically in twelve hours time.
Down on the planet the Monoids discover the wreckage of Two's launcher, and this convinces Four that they are being led into danger. The creatures locate the building and find the Doctor and Dodo there. They are able to truthfully claim that they haven't seen any native beings.
The Doctor is then able to contact Steven using the communications system in one of the launchers. He agrees to send some of the machines back to the Ark so that at least some of the humans might be able to escape. The Monoids are shocked to see one of the craft lift-off with no-one aboard, as it is being piloted by the Refusian.
Maharis insists on travelling down to Refusis, whilst the Refusian stays on the Ark to help there.
In the forest, Four openly challenges One and the Monoids split into two factions. They are soon at war with each other.
When the launcher lands, Maharis rushes out, desperate to be reunited with his master, but is shot down by a rebel Monoid.
Monoid One had let slip the location of the bomb in the Doctor's hearing, and he is able to warn the Ark. The humans are unable to move the statue before the device explodes, but the Refusian manoeuvres it into an airlock and it is jettisoned into space to detonate harmlessly.
Soon only a handful of Monoids survive. One and Three are dead, but Four still lives and throws down his weapon in disgust at the internecine carnage.
The Refusian will be happy to see the people of the Ark settle on his world - but only if the humans and Monoids reconcile and agree to live in peace with each other. The Doctor reminds Dassuk and Venussa of the way in which the Monoids had been exploited by their forebears.
The time-travellers depart.
Some time later, with the TARDIS in flight, Steven and Dodo are shocked to see the Doctor slowly fading away. They can still hear his voice, however. Thinking it might be something to do with the Refusians, the Doctor warns them that it is instead some form of attack...
Next episode: The Celestial Toyroom

Written by: Paul Erickson & Lesley Scott
Recorded: Friday 11th March - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:15pm, Saturday 26th March 1966
Ratings: 7.3 million / AI 50
Designer: Barry Newbery
Director: Michael Imison
Additional cast: John Caesar (Monoid 4)

Had this story been made in recent years, the treatment of the Monoids by the human Guardians would have formed the main thrust of the narrative. 
We see the second half attempting to mirror aspects of the first - with the Monoids acting like slave-owners whilst the Guardians had previously treated the Monoids as their servants. We also have Zentos' fear of the unknown mirrored in the Monoids' worries about what may lie in wait for them on Refusis.
As it is, the Doctor does mention this servant / slave mistreatment at the conclusion of the episode, but the story in its final stage seems more interested in presenting a straightforward "bad aliens / good humans" shoot 'em up tale.
What makes it a little special is the fact that the people doing the shooting are the aliens, and the people being shot at are the same aliens. We've seen discord amongst aliens in the past  - ever since the City Administrator worked to undermine the First and Second Elders in The Sensorites - but full blown civil war breaking out is something new.
Sadly, the Monoids have been reduced to villain status, and are fairly standard ranting monsters. The humans are supposed to be the good guys - but they are terribly weak (as written and in performance) and contribute little to the resolution of the story. The Monoids destroy themselves, and the Refusian disposes of the bomb threat.
It's all a bit rushed in the end, and you can't help feel that the promise of the first half has been squandered.

The battle between the Monoid factions was one of the first things recorded for this story, on 1st and 2nd February. Seven of the creatures were assembled at Ealing, and by swapping their numerical collars there could appear to be a great many more of them. As well as the four principal speaking Monoids, we also see numbers 6, 9, 21, 33, 45, 63 and 77. The actors also swapped sides in the battle, in different scenes, to help swell their ranks.
The model shots were filmed on 4th February. The movement of the statue was achieved very simply, without recourse to strings which might show up on screen. A VFX assistant raised the model manually by holding the base, their hand out of shot below the picture. When the statue was at a certain height, with the top now out of shot, the assistant took hold of the head and let go of the base, which could now move into picture.
For its destruction, the 2-foot high prop was simply pulled out of the Ark model and a bright light was superimposed to save on actually breaking the model.

On the evening of Friday 11th March, just as he was about to go into the gallery to direct the episode, Michael Imison was informed that his contract with the BBC was not going to be renewed. As previously mentioned, there was some animosity towards him from Drama Department head Gerald Savory, after he had directed a serial featuring Savory's wife. At the time, however, Imison thought the decision was due to his over-runs.
Up until this point, episodes of Doctor Who had, for the most part, been recorded in story order. Very occasionally - such as in The Brink of Disaster - certain shots had been recorded out of sequence and edited in later. Even the location filming was edited onto the episode at the point when those scenes would be seen by the audience. 
Imison decided to record this final instalment very much out of sequence, basing his work on the sets rather than the narrative.

The first scene recorded was the episode ending in the TARDIS, with Peter Purves and Jackie Lane wearing the outfits they would be wearing in the next story. Hartnell was filmed against a black backdrop for his disappearance into invisibility. 
The action then switched to the Refusian dwelling, and all scenes using this set were recorded. After the battle sequences and the model shots of launcher landings had been edited in, recording resumed on the kitchen set.
Scenes on the Ark then followed, with the final sequences of the evening being those set on Refusis, after the large launcher prop had been moved from the Ark.
This manner of recording meant six recording breaks were planned through the course of the evening. In the end, a total of eight were needed.
Unfortunately some of the inlay shots failed to work, such as when the tops of Guardians' heads disappeared when standing in front of the large command deck screen.

This was Paul Erickson's only contribution to Doctor Who. He continued to write for a great many episodic serials until his death in 1991. He also novelised this story for Target Books. He and Lesley Scott had long since gone their separate ways, and he tended to sidestep any talk about her involvement in the writing of the story.
With The Bomb, John Wiles, who passed away in 1999, departed from the BBC to return to freelance work. He had never felt comfortable as producer, much preferring writing and direction. His vision for Doctor Who had been for high-concept, hard science-fiction stories, but the imposition of a twelve-part Dalek story in the middle of his first season, and the realities of producing a complex show with the time and budget available, had quickly disillusioned him. 
He had actually resigned only a matter of weeks into his contract, with his Story Editor Donald Tosh - who very much shared his vision - opting to leave alongside him, though he in fact got to leave earlier, after the third instalment of The Massacre.
The Ark was the one story of his tenure which Wiles felt matched what he wanted to do with the series.
Further stories in the season would have seen their input, but both would very much disassociate themselves from the finished programmes - as we'll see next time.

  • The ratings see another upswing of more than a million viewers, whilst the appreciation figure remains stable. This episode made the top five children's TV for the month.
  • The statue was made by sculptor John Friedlander, who would go on to design and make many iconic Doctor Who aliens, including Draconians, Ogrons and Davros.
  • The critic of Television Today was one of those who claimed they would miss the Monoids, though they were less enamoured of the story overall, thinking it "jerky" and hard to follow.
  • This episode was one of those selected to represent the Hartnell era in 1983 at the National Film Theatre, when a season of archive episodes were shown under the banner of Doctor Who - The Developing Art.
  • When it came to overseas sales of the story, close-ups of the Monoids appear to have been a sticking point. Such images were cut for broadcast in both Australia and New Zealand. The closing TARDIS scene was cut for broadcast in the US when the story was sold there in the 1980's.
  • The Monoids never were marketed as toys or as comics characters, as Michael Imison hoped, though they did have a bizarre afterlife in 2013. One of the creatures appeared at Verity Lambert's leaving party in 50th Anniversary drama An Adventure in Space and Time, only to be cut from the finished programme. Its inclusion wouldn't have made any sense anyway, as Lambert had left long before The Ark was produced...
  • Then, just a few weeks later, a puppet Monoid appeared, Punch & Judy style, in The Time of the Doctor...
  • And finally, a wonderful retro-style poster by artist Oliver Arkinstall-Jones reimagines the story as a 1950's sci-fi movie - the alliterative "Rocket to Refusis":

Friday 22 March 2024

Story 287: Resolution

In which archaeologists discover a long buried threat, deep beneath the city of Sheffield. It is New Year's Day 2019, and Lin and Mitch have found the skeleton of a man dating back to pre-Norman times in an excavation below the Victorian City Hall. There is a leather satchel amongst his belongings. Ultra-violet light causes the contents of the bag to come to life and a large tentacled creature emerges and conceals itself in the darkened chamber.
At the same moment, across the globe, a number of people stationed in remote areas are shocked to find that a hidden object they have been guarding has suddenly vanished.
The TARDIS materialises beside the excavation and the Doctor and her friends learn of what has happened. Lin and Mitch describe the creature they glimpsed, but it has now disappeared.
The archaeologists depart, Lin declining any celebrations with Mitch. He secretly carries a torch for her.

The reason for her wishing to be alone becomes apparent once she gets back home - as the creature has attached itself to her back and is controlling her mind.
It is a Dalek - one of the special reconnaissance Daleks which paved the way for invasions of other worlds. This one had come to Earth in the 9th Century. After a fierce battle, a combined force eventually defeated it. Its casing was destroyed whilst it was hacked into pieces - each part buried separately in a remote location across the planet. Custodians were established to watch over the pieces over the generations, to ensure the creature remained dead and buried. The Custodian carrying the piece in Yorkshire had been murdered on his way to its burial site, so no protection was ever set up.
Exposure to UV light has reactivated the piece, and it had the power to teleport its other parts to it - reconstituting itself. It now plans to create a new casing for itself and complete its mission - to bring a Dalek invasion force to Earth.

As yet, the Doctor is unaware of all this until she identifies some DNA found at the excavation - and Mitch then gets in touch to warn that Lin has disappeared after acting strangely. 
Graham, Ryan have taken the opportunity to go home, and both are unsettled by the appearance of Ryan's estranged father, Aaron. He had failed to show up for Grace's funeral. He is in Sheffield trying to make money from a new microwave oven.
On learning of the Dalek and Lin's disappearance, the Doctor comes for her friends, and Aaron finds himself caught up in events.
He and Mitch and taken in the TARDIS to a remote farm after tracing Lin's movements. Under the Dalek's influence, she has raided a top security government compound where alien technology was stored - including Dalek components.

The creature intends to build its new casing at this remote site using whatever materials it can find.
The Doctor challenges it, but it escapes. It has, however, released Lin now that it has created its new shell.
The army attempt to  stop the creature, but it has considerable weaponry and quickly deals with them.
It becomes clear that the Dalek is making for CCHQ - the government's spy centre which has advanced communications technology. It is going to broadcast its presence into deep space to attract the attention of its invasion forces.
The TARDIS arrives, and the Doctor has a plan to stop it. This involves using Aaron's microwave device to destroy the new casing.
This works, but the creature escapes and latches onto Ryan's father. Having taken to the TARDIS with him, it is sucked out into space on the edge of a supernova. Ryan saves his father, and the pair later agree to try to reconcile - whilst Mitch and Lin will celebrate the New Year together after all.

Resolution was written by Chris Chibnall, and was first broadcast on January 1st 2020.
As well as a move away from Saturday evening broadcasts, Chibnall had also decided to bring the now traditional Christmas Special to an end - arguing that ratings for these had been falling, and it was impossible to come up with festive trappings for inclusion that hadn't already been used before.
This was Chibnall's first story to feature a returning monster, and he goes for the Daleks. 
However, he  tries to do something different with them and comes up with a new type of Dalek - the Reconnaissance Scout - which offers a greater level of threat. Deprived of its casing, it resorts to using scrap metal to come up with an interesting new design - though one which can only ever be a one-off due to the context. (He will use the basic design again, but this will grow naturally out of this story as it will be a sequel of sorts).
Ryan and Yaz have been woefully under-developed through Series 11, with Graham rightly dominating as the stronger character, but here we get some development for Ryan as his absentee father is introduced. Unfortunately, his inclusion tends to get in the way of what might be an exciting Special - especially the sequence when the action just stops whilst they have a heart-to-heart conversation.
Had this been worked differently into the narrative, it would have come across better.

It's a story that is not without its problems. We have a gay character introduced just to be quickly killed off - a nasty example of the "bury your gays" trope. He volunteers his sexuality in a quite unrealistic manner, and seems to have been included purely as a diversity tick-box exercise.
We're supposed to believe that after the upturn in alien invasions of recent years, UNIT has been suspended for budgetary reasons. Chibnall doesn't want them being used as a quick fix for the Dalek problem, but a cleverer way of keeping them out of the episode would have been more satisfying.
Something that really stood out for me on first viewing was the idea of archaeologists working on New Year's Day. Sorry - but real archaeologists would be in the pub like everyone else.
Three guest artists feature. As Lin we have Charlotte Ritchie. An extra on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, she has appeared in Siblings, Call the Midwife, Grantchester and the hugely popular Ghosts.
Mitch is Nikesh Patel. He is currently appearing in the BBC sitcom Starstruck.
Playing Ryan's dad Aaron is Daniel Adegboyega. Film roles for him include appearances in the Bond movie Skyfall and Transformers: The Last Knight.

Overall, a refreshing take on the Daleks, in Chibnall's best story up until this point. With the underwhelming series finale only a couple of weeks previously, this story is seen by most fans as the more satisfying series conclusion.
Things you might like to know:
  • This isn't the first time a Dalek story has been broadcast on New Year's Day. DMP 8: Volcano and the opening instalment of Day of the Daleks made their debut on 1st January.
  • This story marks the first use of a director from the Moffat era - Wayne Yip. As well as helming some Moffat episodes, he had also directed episodes of spin-off Class.
  • As well as her acting roles, Charlotte Ritchie was also a member of a pop-classical group called All Angels.
  • This Dalek was designed to be purely robotic - remote controlled with no human operator.
  • A thing which doesn't make sense (1): the corpse of the man carrying the Dalek piece is found in 2019 in exactly the same position as when he was murdered - despite the fact that he was left lying beside a road. In the unlikely event that the corpse would have been left unmolested beside this route, there would have been animal predation, or passers-by would have looked for valuables and disturbed it. Someone would at least have wanted to look in the satchel. Apparently it wasn't disturbed at all by the Victorian sewer builders. And who killed him, and why, anyway?
  • A thing which doesn't make sense (2): the notion that a creature hacked to bits 1100 years ago can come back to life thanks to a bit of UV light, and magically teleport its hidden bits across thousands of miles then put itself back together again, all without any form of technological assistance.
  • And what made the Custodians think that the hacked up mutant might have posed an on-going threat in the first place?
  • Lin wishes that it was the body of a king which they had excavated - mentioning Alfred the Great. This was inspired by the recent finding of the remains of King Richard III, found beneath a Leicester carpark. She ought to have known that Alfred was interred at Hyde Abbey in Winchester.
  • To conceal the inclusion of the Dalek, Nick Briggs was uncredited in Radio Times, and the Dalek itself was codenamed "Kevin" in documentation.
  • The real GCHQ jokingly posted that it was running as normal after this episode aired.

Wednesday 20 March 2024

Inspirations: A Good Man Goes To War

By splitting Series 6 in two, Steven Moffat was afforded the opportunity of having two season finales in the one year. A Good Man Goes To War marks the end of the first half, so it partially ties up some of the story arc strands, but also sets up a cliff-hanger to bring viewers back for the second half.
The mystery of the astronaut and the Doctor's apparent death on the shores of Lake Silencio will have to wait until later, but Moffat decides that it is finally time to reveal just who River Song is - something which has been left dangling since Series 4 when she was first introduced.
The episode also has to act as the resolution to the cliff-hanger from the previous story, when we learned that Amy had been abducted at some point and replaced with a Flesh avatar.
The Flesh carries on over to this story as we see that the baby is another copy.

The rapidity of Amy's pregnancy was originally going to be due to some form of temporal compression, but then Moffat hit on the idea of her having been kidnapped and replaced.
As the first married couple in the TARDIS, them having a child seemed the next logical step.
For villains, the mysterious "Eye-Patch Lady" had already been threaded through the season, and Moffat looked to his Series 5 episode Time of the Angels for the Headless Monks.
The museum in which the Byzantium's flight recorder had been found belonged to them.
Warrior Monks were inspired by the time of the Crusades, such as the Knights of St John and the Templars, and soldier-clerics had already been introduced in the same story.
The Monks would be like an elite force, above and beyond the Clerics.

To show that the stakes had been raised, and the Doctor would do anything to get Amy back, he would be seen to call in favours from a diverse range of friends.
Sadly, this group would comprise characters we had never seen the Doctor meet before. There had been some thoughts as to having Captain Jack feature, however.
Neve McIntosh had already played two Silurians in Series 5's The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood, so agreed to return as another of the same genetic clan.
Sontarans were single-minded soldiers, and the idea of one being a nurse was simply a jokey thing to do. Moffat claimed he always found them comical. Strax actually originated as another Sontaran - Skorm - in an unused Series 5 script by Gareth Roberts ("Death to the Doctor").
Dorium had already been seen briefly, with River Song, in The Pandorica Opens.
Giving each of the characters an introductory scene allowed for a bit of variety - with a fog-bound Victorian London and an alien battle zone.

The opening section also, memorably, features a cameo by the Cybermen. Their appearance shows that there are Cybus design Cybermen in our universe, as they do not have the "C" logo on their chests.
They are seen to have spaceships of the design first seen in The Invasion, as we also saw in The Pandorica Opens.
The Doctor's army features a lot of Silurians, though we don't know if they've been taken out of hibernation, come from prehistoric times, or originate from a future time when they co-exist with humans.
There is also a Platoon of Judoon - first seen in Smith and Jones.
Demon's Run comes under attack by a space-going spitfire - from Victory of the Daleks - and from earlier this series we have Captain Avery and his son Toby from Curse of the Black Spot.

In his script, Moffat described the interior of Demon's Run as being a combination of M*A*S*H and Battlestar Galactica.
Originally a 1970 movie by Robert Altman starring Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould, M*A*S*H was developed into a hugely popular and long-running TV series (1972 - 83). It revolved around a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War.
It was the 2004 reimagining of Battlestar Galactica which Moffat was thinking of, rather than the original 1978 TV series by Glen A Larson.
We get to see a bit more of the Maldovarium, which was inspired by Rick's Bar in Casablanca (1942).
Next time: a provocative title. No-one actually kills Hitler, but we do get to see Rory punch him in the face...

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Moffat Returns

It has been confirmed that former showrunner Steven Moffat is to return to Doctor Who as guest writer on a forthcoming story. This has been rumoured for a while, especially once RTD came back.
Last week it was being said that he had actually written the 2024 Christmas Special, but today he's quoted as currently writing an episode, whilst the next Christmas one is not only written but filmed already - unless he's lined up to contribute more than one story.
Let's just hope that, whatever it is, it's more Heaven Sent than Hell Bent...

Monday 18 March 2024

What's Wrong With... The Horns of Nimon

For many, it's the worst story of the worst season. In a number of polls, it has been the lowest rated story of the Tom Baker era.
Something has to hold that dubious distinction - so why The Horns of Nimon..?

Arriving just before Christmas, and looking like a pantomime (sets, costumes and performances) certainly didn't help.
The usually reliable Graham Crowden (the Fourth Doctor in an alternate universe - he turned the part down due to the publicity side of things) hams things up really badly. 
He later claimed that he didn't realise that his death scene was the take that was going to be used, thinking it would get a retake.
Another problem which isn't the story's fault is its placement as the series conclusion. It ought to have been the cheap and disposable filler story - the one where whatever money's left in the kitty has been reserved for the six-part one.
That was indeed the case - except that Shada then got cancelled due to industrial action.

The story itself is perfectly fine. It's simply the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur in an outer space setting after all.
After Robert Holmes' obsession with horror movies, Anthony Read had looked to literature for his inspirations, and he'd already commissioned a version of Jason and the Argonauts (another cheap penultimate story).
The realisation of the VFX is mixed. The explosion of the Power Complex is good, but the model spaceships are once again video-taped in the studio instead of being filmed properly on the model stage.
The ships are so flatly lit that the Classical Studies joke about painting Seth's white at the end fails to work.
According to Read, the Complex was supposed to look more like a huge circuit board from above, and the walls were supposed to move like switches. This couldn't be realised in the available time in studio - so we simply have stagehands moving flats about off-screen.

The young Anethan hostages somehow mange to pull off doing nothing at all, and overacting badly, simultaneously.
Like the Krotons before them the Nimon have fantastic voices, but naff costumes. Dancers were hired - but couldn't do very much thanks to their stacked platform-soled boots. It was made in the 1970's after all  - if only just.
The Co-Pilot (another usually reliable actor who thinks he's doing pre-school children's television this week) has the most famous wardrobe malfunction in the history of the programme. Not only does he split his trousers at the bum in Part Two, but we get to see him do it all over again in Part Three because it happens at the cliff-hanger.
The first episode provides us with the dreadfully unfunny "Bloodnok's Stomach" sound effects in the TARDIS - except it isn't actually the iconic Goons sound effect at all, just similar.
The whole cricket ball / asteroid business is just silly.

It's really obvious that Tom Baker is being indulged throughout, and Graham Williams has given up on trying to rein him in. His resignation is already accepted, and he's coasting towards his departure.
The biggest tragedy of all is that this was the final story of Williams' tenure to be broadcast, and it's the last time we got to enjoy a distinctive Dudley Simpson incidental score.
The final outing for the 1967 arrangement of Delia Derbyshire's theme, and the 1975 "tunnel" opening sequence. The diamond logo will be back, but not until 2023.

Sunday 17 March 2024

Episode 109: The Return

The Doctor and his companions have found themselves back on the Ark - but it is clear that they have travelled 700 years into the future as Dodo points out how the statue is now finished. Intended as an image of a human being, it now has the head of a Monoid...
The space vessel is now fully automated. Examining the controls the Doctor accesses the internal security cameras and they witness a human being working as a servant to a Monoid, with others labouring in a kitchen area.
A trio of the reptilian creatures approaches and they are taken to see their leader - Monoid One. The aliens are now able to talk, making use of artificial voice-boxes attached to numbered bands around their shoulders. They are also armed with lethal heat weapons, which can also be used to injure.
The Doctor is horrified to hear that, after they had left the Ark 700 years ago, the after-effects of Dodo's cold had a long-term impact. The Monoids became stronger, whilst the Guardians weakened.
Providing them with technological help to develop their speech devices, the humans were unaware that this was also being used to create the heat weapons.
The complacent Guardians were unprepared when the Monoids staged a revolt against what they saw as their oppressors, and took over.
The Ark is now entering the orbit of its final destination - Refusis II. 
The TARDIS crew are despatched to the kitchens, which are a maximum security area. They learn from Dassuk and Venussa that some despised humans have privileged positions as servants to the Monoids.
Monoid One and his deputies, Two and Three, discuss their plan to make Refusis a Monoid world only. The humans are to be wiped out.
Concerned about what may face them on the planet, they decide to send down a scout party, led by Monoid Two. This will comprise the Doctor and Dodo, and one of their subservient humans - a man named Yendom.
The group arrives on the surface of Refusis using one of the Ark's launcher pods. They discover the new world to be forested, and soon spot a large palatial building.
There is no other sign of life, however. Suspecting that the Refusians are hiding from them, the arrogant Monoid Two starts making threats. 
They then discover that the natives of this planet are really immensely powerful disembodied beings who have lost their physical forms.
Back on the Ark, Monoid One informs Three that a bomb has been planted, which will be detonated as soon as their people have evacuated to Refusis. This conversation is overheard by One's personal servant Maharis. He goes to the kitchen and informs Dassuk and Venussa. They and Steven begin plotting a means of escape.
The invisible Refusian does not like what he hears about the situation on the Ark, and of the aggression of the Monoids. The exodus must be halted, at least for the present.
When Yendom learns that no human is to be allowed to settle on the planet, he rebels and is killed by Two. The creature then enters the launcher to radio a report to his superior.
Before he can do so, the Refusian obliterates the craft, killing its occupant.
Observing the wreckage, Dodo fears that they may now be stranded on this planet, and the Doctor is forced to agree...
Next episode: The Bomb

Written by: Paul Erickson & Lesley Scott
Recorded: Friday 4th March 1966 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:15pm, Saturday 19th March 1966
Ratings: 6.2 million / AI 51
Designer: Barry Newbery
Director: Michael Imison
Additional cast: Brian Wright (Dassuk), Eileen Helsby (Venussa), Terence Woodfield (Maharis),  Terence Bayler (Yendom), Edmund Coulter (Monoid One), Ralph Carrigan (Monoid Two), Frank George (Monoid Three), Richard Beale (Refusian Voice), Roy Skelton, John Halstead (Monoid Voices)

The Ark can, if you wish, be viewed as a linked pair of two-part stories, utilising the same sets and costumes to tell two quite different stories. The narrative thread which hold these two stories together is simply that one of the events in the first half has inadvertently led to the set-up of the second.
It's better, however, to regard it in its four-part entirety - a story which spans hundreds of years and illustrates the consequences of the Doctor's travels through time.
It's something the series had never done before - and has rarely ever tried again since.
The best analogy from the modern iteration of the series would be Steven Moffat's decision to play about with the nature of two-parters in Series 9, such as The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived.

The filming for this episode took place at the beginning of production, with the Refusis surface scenes going before the cameras at Ealing between Monday 31st Jan - Wednesday 2nd February.
Barry Newbery opted to make the forest more open than the dense jungles seen recently in The Daleks' Master Plan, with a cyclorama showing the sky and a distant horizon, and strips of fibreglass were hung from the trees and bushes to make them look more exotic.
False perspective was used to show the launcher landing, using both a model and a full-scale prop.
This prop was open on one side to allow the cameras to show the interior. 
The heat prods were working props, emitting a puff of white powder when operated.
Naturally, the replacement of the flowers in the vase was achieved by simply running the film backwards after they had been pulled out using thin twine.

Joining the cast on this episode is the actor Roy Skelton - the beginning of a lengthy association with the programme that would continue until the 1999 Comic Relief adventure The Curse of Fatal Death.
Having developed many funny voices during his time in rep, Skelton had contributed to several children's TV series, often working alongside Peter Hawkins, who would recommend him to the Doctor Who team. Skelton would join Hawkins in providing Dalek vocals during the Troughton era before superseding him in the 1970's, as well as helping develop the very first Cyberman voice.
As well as vocal input on many occasions, Skelton would get to appear on screen and in person during the Pertwee era, in Colony in SpacePlanet of the Daleks and The Green Death.
Skelton voiced Monoid One, whilst John Halstead provided vocals for Two and Three.

Like Skelton, Richard Beale would also provide vocals as well as making in person appearances in the series. He also appears in The Green Death, as the Ecology Minister, and will be seen later in 1966 as Bat Masterson in The Gunfighters.
Terence Woodfield had only just been seen, under heavy make-up, as alien delegate Celation in the second half of The Daleks' Master Plan (as well as a guest appearance, in character as the alien, on Junior Points of View).
Michael Imison had worked with most of his cast before on the soap Compact.

On the day before recording, Jackie Lane was released from rehearsals to film a sequence for the forthcoming The Celestial Toyroom. This was the sequence of her attending her mother's funeral, as seen by her in the Toymaker's "Memory Window". 
The Commander's room had now been taken over by Monoid One. On the TV monitor a clip was seen from the previous episode, of the travellers' return to the TARDIS. (Oddly, the Monoids describe the TARDIS as a black box, and no-one challenges this).
The Monoid costumes had white sashes added with an identity numeral and the small voice box. The actor had to manually operate this, sliding a coloured disc to indicate that the device was in use.
The implication is that the Monoids have their mouth in the centre of their chests, which is where the voice box hangs. We also see Monoid One appear to remove an apple core from this area, though he has his back to us at the time.

The large screen on the command deck had been replaced with one covered in white co-ordinate lines, across which lights played. These were actually torches, wielded by stage hands.
A small corner of the Refusis forest set was seen in studio with the launcher prop. The inlay technique was employed to show characters in the launcher being shown on the command deck screen - very noticeable as their heads remain in exactly the same place between shots.
Newbery reused the gates of El Akir's palace from The Crusade for the Refusian dwelling.
There were four recording breaks - three for moving cast from one set to another, with the fourth used to replace the launcher with the heap of smoking wreckage.

There is little doubt that the second half of The Ark is the weaker one. The new set of human characters are a fairly colourless bunch, and don't actually contribute very much to any of the events of the final two episodes. The subservient men are the more interesting, but we never get any insight into their motivations. Once the invisible Refusian arrives, they come to dominate the action, with the humans simply tagging along in their wake.
The Monoids are simply presented now as a generic crowd of stereotypical villains. Monoid Two's bullying nature is particularly over-played. They develop an annoying habit of blurting out their plans to anyone who happens to be listening. There's something childlike about the way they behave, but this is never picked up on or developed.
The nature of their escape from servitude, to become enslavers themselves, is the more interesting story - but the writer fails to go into this.
Concepts such as a "Security Kitchen" really don't help the production. The idea of confining potentially hostile prisoners - mostly unsupervised - in an area containing sharp implements and sources of heat is, quite frankly, a stupid one.
The least said about how the Refusians came to lose their physical forms - "a galaxy accident" - the better...
Interestingly, Zentos had been concerned about the Refusians spying on them, but it would appear that they may have been doing just that - as they seem to know that the approaching spacecraft contains people who wish to settle on their planet, and that they are humanoid in form.

  • The audience falls by half a million on the previous episode, meaning half of the bounce-back of the previous instalment has been lost again. The appreciation figure drops by five points.
  • The Monoid costumes were the work of father and son freelance effects makers Jack and John Lovell. They worked to designs by BBC costume designer Daphne Dare, which included some input from the director.
  • We haven't mentioned the Guardian costumes so far. Dare wanted to use pastel colours and went down the 'blue for boys and pink for girls' route. The Commander in the first two instalments had worn a red version of the outfit. These were worn over bathing costumes.
  • Terence Bayler is well-known to comedy fans as 'Leggy' Mountbatten of The Rutles - the Pythonesque Beatles spoof - and for a notable role in The Life of Brian. He's the man who claims "I'm Brian - and so's my wife!". He also featured in the Harry Potter franchise as one of the Hogwarts ghosts. Born in New Zealand in 1930, he died in 2016.
  • Eileen Helsby was the sister of the director's assistant.
  • For several years this was thought to be the only surviving episode from this story, held as a 16mm film print in the BBC Film and Television Archives. In 1978, BBC Enterprises announced that they had copies of all four instalments.