It’s somewhat bizarre to “watch” a serial in which all four episodes have been lost but miraculously, all the violence is intact as tiny snippets of film. Such is the case with the opening story of Season 4, The Smugglers. Always to the rescue in the event of missing episodes, Loose Cannon’s reconstruction is resplendent with John Cura’s famous telesnaps, authentic photos taken during production and snippets from an amateur film of the production. Most startling, however, are five short clips courtesy of Australia’s Commonwealth Film Censorship Board. Discovered in the National Archives of Australia in October 1996 by Doctor Who fans Damian Shanahan and Ellen Parry, the clips had been excised by the Film Censorship Board and retained as evidence of the edits. At some point they had been transferred to the National Archives, presumably in accordance with government agency retention policies.
Always broadcast during children’s television times in Australia, Classic Series Doctor Who was subject to government classification prior to airing. Segments deemed too terrifying or violent for children were routinely cut. It was for this reason that The Daleks’ Master Plan was never broadcast in Australia. Who’s most violent story to that date, the cuts required to The Dalek’s Master Plan were so extensive as to make it incomprehensible to the ordinary viewer. Thanks to Shanahan and Perry’s research, together with the Censorship Board’s hardline policy of the 1960s, a number of clips from otherwise totally lost episodes and stories have now been returned to the BBC’s archives. Perhaps the most iconic of these clips is from 1968 Second Doctor serial, Fury from the Deep. A full 54 seconds of a clip survives in which Quill and Oak suffocate Mrs Harris by breathing deadly gas from their mouths. Stayed tuned for my review of that Season 5 Serial 6 story to see the outstanding film clip.
A listing of The Smugglers clips recovered from Australia can be accessed from this page of Loose Cannon’s website – http://www.recons.com/clips/clips-lc30.htm Particularly valuable is Steve Phillips’ “The Doctor Who Clips List”. Here you will find photographs and a short description of all recovered snippets – http://dwclips.steve-p.org/ An interview with Damian Shanahan is included amongst the special features of Lost in Time. Linked below for your viewing pleasure are The Smugglers clips, together with extracts from the amateur video.
The Smugglers – Missing clips and amateur film
The Smugglers was William Hartnell’s last historical story, and the first Doctor Who serial requiring the cast and crew to embark on a journey to the seaside for location shooting. Filmed at Cornwell, the serial is sure to have looked superb. Without the visuals, however, it’s somewhat difficult to state much at all about the serial. Whilst perfectly enjoyable, The Smugglers is by no means extraordinary. The story of the Doctor and his new companions arriving on a late 17th Century Cornwell beach, and finding themselves immersed in the deadly games of piracy and smuggling, is profoundly simple. The story could’ve been taken from any Boys’ Own Adventure book. Save for the Doctor, Polly and Ben arriving and departing in the Tardis, there is no science fiction in the story. Nor is it based on a real, or even mythical, historical event.
As many clichés as possible were thrown into The Smugglers’ mix, such as an evil pirate captain with a hook for a hand; the drunken former pirate who becomes a drunken church warden; the local Squire who’s actually a small time crook; and the locals being insanely superstitious. For the first time ever a black actor has a speaking part, although Jamaica, the pirate crew member, is quickly dispatched by the evil Captain Pike for allowing prisoners to escape. The pirates are more interested in drinking the smugglers’ loot than retrieving it for their Captain, and most interestingly, the Doctor drinks some wine with Captain Pike. It was only in The Gunfighters that the Doctor repeatedly vowed that he was a teetotaller.
Ben and Polly’s first trip in the Tardis provides from some comic interludes in the serial’s first part. Unsurprisingly the new companions have difficulty accepting that the Tardis travels through time, although they are less puzzled by the Ship’s ability to transport them from London to Cornwell in a matter of minutes. Convinced that they are still in 1966, Ben and Polly immediately set off to find a train station. Ben’s principal concern is returning to his boat in time. This is despite him stating in The War Machines that he was on 6 months’ shore leave. Perhaps the Crew had been put in a state of suspended animation for six months because in The Faceless Ones, Ben and Polly’s last story, they are returned to London on the same day that they left. Needless to say, our new companions soon realize that it is not the 20th Century and quickly lose their sense of astonishment. That is, of course, until Polly is repeatedly mistaken for a “lad” because she’s wearing trousers. Even being locked up in a cell after being charged with the murder of the church warden, Ben and Polly are still decidedly calm.
The Doctor, who is referred to as “Saw Bones” by the sailors, admits to his new companions that he is unable to control where and when the Tardis materializes. He displays a skill for tarot reading and a strong need to assist the local villagers. When Ben seeks to quickly depart in the Tardis the Doctor advises Ben that he has a moral obligation to save the villagers from the rampaging pirates. The Doctor’s ethics have changed considerably from his first adventures with Barbara, Ian and Susan. In The Daleks he placed his Crew at risk to satisfy his desire to explore the Dalek city, and was just as quickly prepared to decamp from it without Ian and Barbara. No longer entirely egocentric, the Doctor is slowly developing into the universe saving character that we all know and love.
Our next serial, The Tenth Planet, is Hartnell’s last journey in the Tardis as the Doctor. Join me for my next review in which the Cybermen make their premiere appearance and Doctor Who’s first regeneration unfolds before our confused eyes.
©Vivien Fleming, 2013.