Saturday 18 May 2024

Episode 117: Johnny Ringo

The Doctor looks on helplessly from the jailhouse as Steven is threatened with being lynched by the Clanton brothers...
He desperately wants to go outside but Earp and Masterson refuse to free him. As the sheriff talks to the Clantons, Earp quietly slips out of the jailhouse by the back door. He knocks Phineas Clanton out cold and frees Steven. The mob are forced to disperse.
Charlie, barman of the Last Chance Saloon, tells everyone that the Doctor is not Holliday - as he has just witnessed the gambling dentist gun down Seth Harper.
Phineas has been arrested, and Earp no longer has any reason to keep the Doctor locked up so lets him go. He wants to leave the town immediately, but discovers that Dodo is no longer at the hotel.
Charlie tells him that she left town with Holliday and Kate.
Ike and Billy head for home to consult their father. Pa Clanton decides to call on the services of the notorious Johnny Ringo, and despatches his sons to locate him.
Holliday, Kate and Dodo have booked into a boarding house in a neighbouring town.
Later that night, Johnny Ringo arrives at the saloon in Tombstone. He learns of recent events from Charlie - whom he then feels compelled to shoot dead since he recognised him and seemed keen to tell Earp that he was in town.
The following morning, Dodo attempts to force Holliday into taking her back to Tombstone by holding a gun on him. He tells her that he was planning on returning anyway. She faints when she realises that he came close to shooting her with a concealed gun.
The Doctor and Steven meet Ringo at the saloon. On learning that Steven wants to find Dodo, and that she is with Holliday, the gunfighter agrees that the Doctor's companion can ride out with him to find them.
At the jailhouse, Earp's younger brother Warren has arrived. The Doctor informs them and Masterson of Charlie's death, and tells them of Ringo's arrival, having recognised him from his 'Wanted' poster.
After Holliday and Dodo have ridden off, Ringo arrives and encounters Kate. It transpires that she used to be his girlfriend, until she hooked up with Holliday. His hatred for the dentist is personal.
Warren is left in charge of the jailhouse as Masterson and his brother leave to go with the Doctor and view Charlie's corpse.
Ike and Billy Clanton seize the opportunity to spring their sibling. Billy shoots Warren when he tries to stop them, leaving him dying on the floor as they escape...
Next episode: The O.K. Corral

Written by: Donald Cotton
Recorded: Friday 29th April 1966 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:55pm, Saturday 14th May 1966
Ratings: 6.2 million / AI 36
Designer: Barry Newbery
Director: Rex Tucker
Additional cast: Laurence Payne (Johnny Ringo), Reed de Rouen (Pa Clanton), Martyn Huntley (Warren Earp).

After glimpsing him on a poster last week, this episode introduces a new villain - even getting the title to himself. The ironic thing is that, whilst he is a genuine historical character, Johnny Ringo had nothing whatsoever to do with the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
John Peters Ringo was born in Indiana in May 1850, of Dutch ancestry. He committed his first murder during the Mason County War in Texas in 1875 / 6, and was later associated with the Cochise County Cowboys gang. This operated around Tombstone and included members of the Clanton family.
His involvement with them led to his contact with Holliday and Wyatt Earp. The latter suspected him of the attempted killing of his brother Virgil, and the murder of brother Morgan.
At one point, when the Earps were on the wrong side of the law (as they often were), Ringo was deputised and joined a posse to hunt Wyatt down.
On 4th of July 1882 Ringo was seen riding out of Tombstone heavily drunk. A few days later he was found dead from a single gunshot wound to the temple. He was seated in a grove of trees. It has always been assumed that he committed suicide, though there are rumours that Holliday or Wyatt Earp had tracked him down and executed him.

The Cochise County Cowboys were a rough association of outlaws who engaged in cattle rustling, stagecoach robbery and murder along the Mexican border. Pa's name was Newman Haynes Clanton. He had three sons involved in criminal activity - Phineas (b.1843), Ike (b.1847) and Billy (b.1862). The Reuben whom Holliday is said to have killed in The Gunfighters never existed. 
The gang also comprised the McLaury brothers, Tom and Frank, who were the Clantons' neighbours. They are omitted entirely by Donald Cotton. Other figures like Ringo and Billy Claiborne were temporary associates. Claiborne will also be left out of the Doctor Who script despite having more right to be there than Ringo.
The gang had free rein for several years, aided and abetted by corrupt lawmen, until the arrival of Virgil Earp as Sheriff of Tombstone, who was determined to put them out of business - which set everyone on the path to the infamous Gunfight.

Peter Purves and Jackie Lane missed the Wednesday and Thursday of rehearsals as they were attending Ealing to carry out pre-filming for The Savages.
The day before, Tuesday 26th April, saw a press release from the BBC announcing that both would be leaving Doctor Who over the next couple of stories, to be replaced by new characters named Ben and Polly. Purves had another five episodes to run under his contract, and Lane seven.
During recording, the usual "Written By..." caption was amended to simply say "By...".
Gunshots in the episodes so far had been achieved through sound effects only, with actual guns being fired only in the Ealing filming. For this episode, blank rounds were fired in studio off camera for when Ringo shoots Charlie, and Billy shoots Warren Earp. Sound effects were still used for Holliday's off-screen shooting of an unknown person at the boarding house.

After two weeks of humorous material, things definitely take a darker turn in the third instalment - coinciding with the arrival of the title character. The episode opens with a threatened lynching - something which was certainly not confined to the past in 1966.
We then have the sequence where Ringo shoots dead the friendly, though slightly annoying, Charlie, just because of a figure of speech, then Billy Clanton guns down the young Warren Earp, a relative innocent whom we've only just met.
The Clantons had been presented as somewhat inept criminals up to this point, but now we see the cold-hearted murderers that they really are - important for what will be happening in the final episode.

Contrast this with the killing of a complete unknown by Holliday at the boarding house, which is played very much for laughs. He tells Kate and Dodo that he has run into an old friend in the dining room - someone who has just lost his appetite...
There's other humour to be had still, such as Dodo's farcical attempt to get the dentist to take her back to Tombstone. 
Hartnell gets the line: "Now don't be ridiculous. Doc Holliday's a great friend of mine. He gave me a gun, he extracted my tooth. Good gracious me, what more do you want?".
The Ballad, which remains irritating, does have the odd funny verse, such as "So pick him up gentle / Pick him up slow / He's gone kind of mental / Under Earp's heavy blow".

  • The ratings continue to fall, but manage to stay above the 6 million mark. The appreciation figure, however, drops to a new low.
  • Johnny Ringo was broadcast 5 minutes later than usual due to live coverage of the FA Cup that afternoon.
  • One actor whom Innes Lloyd was keen to work with was Patrick Troughton, and he was approached by Rex Tucker for the role of Johnny Ringo in this story. Unavailable, the producer would have something else to offer him soon after...
  • Future guest artists John Carson (Snakedance) and Philip Madoc (The Krotons, The War Games, The Brain of Morbius and The Power of Kroll) were also under consideration.
  • Laurence Payne will return to the series to play Morix in The Leisure Hive, and Dastari in The Two Doctors.
  • A 1960 US TV series titled Johnny Ringo saw him give up his life of crime to become a sheriff, presenting him as a hero figure. Amongst the regular cast was Terence De Marney, who will be appearing in The Smugglers) and Lost In Space's Mark Goddard.
  • Reed de Rouen was also an author and script-writer. One of his science fiction stories - Split Image (1955), about a mirror Earth - proved very successful.
  • In 1970 de Rouen collaborated with his friend Jon Pertwee on a Doctor Who script - "The Spare Part People". It involved Cambridge University scientists being abducted to a city hidden beneath the Antarctic ice, with the Doctor posing as an academic in order to be taken himself. The culprits are a dying alien race who need spare parts from humans to survive. The Brigadier would have joined him. Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks opted not to commission it. The scale would have been hard to realise on a BBC budget, and it didn't fit their plans for the series at that time. Pertwee tried reworking the story to include the Master, but eventually dropped the idea.
  • Martyn Huntley had featured twice in the series before this - as one of the crazed Earth spacemen in The Sensorites, and as the Roboman encountered by Ian and Larry in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
  • Finally (courtesy of artist Oliver Arkinstall-Jones) - if The Gunfighters had been directed by Sergio Leone...

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