Category Archives: Polly

Day 50 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – The 10 Most Wanted Missing Episodes

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Today The Doctor Who Mind Robber commences its 50 Day Countdown to Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary. Today the author will also conclude the 1960s component of her Ultimate Doctor Who Marathon by viewing the final episodes of Patrick Troughton’s last serial, The War Games. What more appropriate era to concentrate our daily articles on than Sixties Doctor Who?

For the next 50 days we will publish a daily article on a 1960s related topic. Perhaps appropriately, given the ongoing Missing Episodes Hysteria, our first survey will be on the Ten Most Wanted Missing Episodes.

10.      THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMEN

Having just finished reading Terrance Dicks’ novelization of The Abominable Snowmen I’d love to see the five missing episodes returned to the BBC Archives.  Episode two has been released on Lost in Time.

The first of Doctor Who’s two Yeti stories, The Abominable Snowmen is set in the Himalayan Buddhist Monastery, Det-Sen in 1935. Together with introducing the Yeti to the world of Who, the story is also the first appearance of the Great Intelligence. Given the Intelligence’s reintroduction as the major protagonist of Series 7 (The Snowmen, The Bells of Saint John, and The Name of the Doctor), The Abominable Snowmen has obvious marketing potential to New Series fans.

Together with providing fans with another full adventure with the little seen companion Victoria, The Abominable Snowmen is also significant for including the father and daughter team of Deborah (Victoria) and Jack (Travers) Watling.  The story was one of the first to involve extensive location filming and features some splendid Welsh scenery as Snowdonia substituted for Tibet.  The Yeti, whilst menacing, are also adorably cute.

Patrick Troughton on the set of The Abominable Snowmen

Patrick Troughton on the set of The Abominable Snowmen

9.       THE FACELESS ONES

Ben and Polly’s farewell serial, The Faceless Ones is one of my personal favourites.  Episodes one and three are in the BBC Archives and have been released on the Lost in Time compilation.

Set in modern day London, The Faceless Ones was filmed at Gatwick Airport and features Pauline Collins as the would-be companion, Samantha Briggs.  Collins would appear in Doctor Who 39 years later as Queen Victoria in Tooth and Claw.  The serial has certain similarities with the Mark Gatiss penned Series 2 serial, The Idiot’s Lantern.

As one of the few “present day” serials of Doctor Who’s monochrome era, The Faceless Ones is a worthy companion to Ben and Polly’s first serial, The War Machines.  The pair departs on the same day as their arrival in the aforementioned story, which is unfortunately their only complete serial.  The most under-represented of all 1960’s companions in terms of extant episodes, it would be a delight to finally see Ben and Polly’s farewell to the Second Doctor in episode six.  As the companions who flawlessly provided the continuity between the First and Second Doctors, Ben and Polly justifiably deserve more screen time.

The four members of the Tardis Crew before they scatter at Gatwick Airport in The Faceless Ones

The four members of the Tardis Crew before they scatter at Gatwick Airport in The Faceless Ones

8.     THE MACRA TERROR

Another Patrick Troughton serial with a monster revived in New Series Doctor Who (Gridlock), The Macra Terror is entirely missing from the BBC Archives. Featuring Ben and Polly as the Second Doctor’s companions, The Macra Terror features the monster which put paid to model maker Shawcraft Models’ association with Doctor Who. The few off air clips available are just fabulous.  As previously mentioned, there are far too few Ben and Polly episodes so any finds will allow us to fully appreciate their significant contribution to this tumultuous period of Doctor Who’s history.

A publicity shot for The Macra Terror

A publicity shot for The Macra Terror

7.    THE DALEKS’ MASTER PLAN

The 12 part Hartnell era masterpiece, The Daleks’ Master Plan has nine of its episodes missing. Episodes two, five and ten have been released on Lost in Time.

The DMP is resplendent with firsts, including Nicholas Courtney’s premier appearance in Who as secret agent Bret Vyon, the first deaths of companions, and the first return of a humanoid villain, the Monk. The short-lived companion Katarina, played by Adrienne Hill, is killed in episode four, which also sees the death of Bret Vyon at the hands of his sister Sara Kingdom (played by Jean Marsh).  Sara Kingdom, who also subsequently becomes a companion, is killed in episode 12.

The DMP is perhaps the least likely of all serials to be recovered.  Although sold to Australia it was never broadcast as a consequence of censorship problems. The DMP is in fact the only Doctor Who serial to have never been screened in Australia.  Australia is the only country to have purchased all Who serials since the first serial, An Unearthly Child. Australia’s neighbour, New Zealand, has an equally prestigious record of long standing support, having purchased all serials save for the DMP.   The ABC has confirmed that it no longer holds the episodes.  The serial was sold to no other countries.

Magnificent flame throwing Daleks in The Daleks' Master Plan

Magnificent flame throwing Daleks in The Daleks’ Master Plan

6.    THE ENEMY OF THE WORLD

The only non-Monster story in Season 5, The Enemy of the World is one of the most sought after Troughton era serials.  Only episode three is held in the BBC Archives and has been released on the Lost in Time DVD.

Very much in the style of a James Bond movie, The Enemy of the World is unique in that Patrick Troughton plays two roles – the Doctor and also the evil would-be world dictator, Salamander.  Featuring Who’s first helicopter and hovercraft scenes, which will become all too familiar during Jon Pertwee’s tenure as the Third Doctor, The Enemy of the World is so unlike the “Base Under Siege” stories as to warrant an exulted position in the archives of Doctor Who. 

Patrick Troughton as Salamander in The Enemy of the World

Patrick Troughton as Salamander in The Enemy of the World

5.   THE WEB OF FEAR

The second and final Yeti story, The Web of Fear has only one episode in the BBC Archives.  Episode one has been released on Lost in Time.

The Web of Fear is set in the present day London Underground and introduces Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart.  Quickly promoted to Brigadier, Lethbridge-Stewart went on to have a distinguished career of more than 40 years with Doctor Who and its franchises.  Bringing monsters to London foreshadowed the Third Doctor’s earth-bound tenure and Jon Pertwee’s much quoted phrase, “Yeti on the Loo”.  It precipitated Doctor Who’s propensity to bring horror and science fiction to the mundane, everyday streetscapes of viewers.

The Doctor first met Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in less than perfect circumstances

The Doctor first met Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in less than perfect circumstances

4.   THE EVIL OF THE DALEKS

The second and final Dalek serial of the Troughton era, only episode two of the seven part serial is held in the BBC Archives.  It has been released on the Lost in Time DVD.

Coming in at 18 in the 2009 Doctor Who Magazine Mighty 200 poll, The Evil of the Daleks was the most highly placed Second Doctor story.  Set in Victorian England, it introduced the new companion Victoria who, having lost her father to the Daleks, was effectively adopted by the Doctor and Jamie.  The story featured the concept of the “human factor” in Daleks, something which would re-emerge in the first Dalek story of 21st Century Who, Dalek.  It also included some lovely scenes in which “baby” Daleks, who had been impregnated with the “human factor”, gleefully played trains with the Doctor.

The Evil of the Daleks was the first Doctor Who serial ever repeated and the first and only repeat to be scripted into serials

The Evil of the Daleks was the first Doctor Who serial ever repeated and the first and only repeat to be scripted into serials

3.     THE POWER OF THE DALEKS

The Power of the Daleks is Patrick Troughton’s first serial as the Second Doctor.  In what could only be described as criminal negligence, none of its six episodes are held in the BBC Archives.

Widely acclaimed as one of the better 1960s Dalek stories, Power of the Daleks introduces a Doctor not only wildly different from his predecessor, but also significantly divergent from Troughton’s later portrayal.  This is the first the viewer sees of a Doctor who will rapidly transform during the course of Season Four.  The recorder, stove-pipe hat and baggy trousers will soon be a thing of the past.  More importantly, however, the Doctor’s personality significantly evolves. The Power of the Daleks is also remarkable for the magnificent Dalek production line, which by luck rather than good management, is still available for our viewing pleasure as a short clip.

The Doctor, Polly and Ben are confronted by Daleks in The Power of the Daleks

The Doctor, Polly and Ben are confronted by Daleks in The Power of the Daleks

2.   THE TENTH PLANET – EPISODE 4

Although episodes one, two and three of The Tenth Planet exist in the BBC Archives, episode four has been lost in time.  Together with the recently animated lost episode, The Tenth Planet will be finally released on DVD in November 2013.

Often described as the proto-type for the Troughton era “Base Under Siege” stories, The Tenth Planet heralded the introduction of the Cybermen. It is perhaps best remembered, however, as William Hartnell’s final story as the Doctor. It is most unfortunate that of all episodes to be lost, it is the final episode with Doctor Who’s first regeneration that doesn’t grace the shelves of the BBC’s Archives. This loss is compounded by the complete absence of Patrick Troughton’s first serial, The Power of the Daleks, from the Archives as well.  Gone also was the opportunity to see the regeneration reprised in the first episode of the next serial.  As luck would have it, however, an amateur film taken off-screen during the broadcast of episode four exists and allows fans to witness this historic regeneration, albeit in a rather grainy form.

The Tenth Planet introduces the Cybermen to Doctor Who for the first time.  A Cyberman is pictured here with Polly and the Doctor

The Tenth Planet introduces the Cybermen to Doctor Who for the first time. A Cyberman is pictured here with Polly and the Doctor

1.   MARCO POLO

Undoubtedly the most highly sought after missing Doctor Who story is Marco Polo.  The fourth story of the series’ first season, this historical drama is the earliest missing story. Directed by Waris Hussein, who also directed Doctor Who’s first serial An Unearthly Child, all that remains visually of this story is a collection of beautiful colour photographs taken during the filming. On the basis of these photos alone, Marco Polo appears to have been an exceptionally cinematic production. As the most widely sold Hartnell era serial, it’s nothing short of bizarre that not a single episode has resurfaced.

A thirty minute reconstruction of Marco Polo was released with the three disc box set The Beginning, which also includes An Unearthly Child, The Edge of Destruction and The Daleks. 

The Doctor and his companions in Marco Polo

The Doctor and his companions in Marco Polo

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

1. Fury From the Deep

2. The Savages

3, The Massacre

4. The Myth Makers

5. Mission to the Unknown

6. The Crusade

7. The Smugglers

TOMORROW – DAY 49 – The 10 Least Remembered Monsters of the Sixties

For the latest developments in the Missing Episodes Hysteria please see our articles on recent Mirror and Radio Times articles.

Episode two of The Space Pirates has been released on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

Orphan episodes have been released on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

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The Hartnell Years – In Colour

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I was recently browsing YouTube and came upon this fabulous compilation of colourized clips from William Hartnell’s tenure as the First Doctor.  Here’s what the producer, who is known only by the alias of “It’s far from being all over”, says about his work:

“My Tribute to the man that started it all, William Hartnell.

I always felt many of his adventures deserved to be seen in colour, so I set to work. It’s taken about three months and I’ve colourised something in the region of 2,125 frames – one by one, frame by frame. 

Some clips work better than others – as I reached the end I found myself dropping shots I didn’t like and recreating new ones! It’s been a labour of love and I hope you enjoy seeing some classic 60’s Doctor Who – in Colour!

Big thanks to ‘Pelham Cort ‏aka @johnxgin3’ for his colour references and support throughout – I’ll do some Troughton soon! “

The Hartnell Years – In Colour

The Tenth Planet – DVD Contents and Cover Announced

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ImageThe DVD Contents and Cover of the forthcoming The Tenth Planet release have been announced.  Due for Australian and New Zealand release on 20 November 2013, the DVD includes a number of fascinating special features not the least of which is a television interview with the First Doctor, William Hartnell. Other features include a profile of Anneke Wills’ portrayal of the companion Polly, and Peter Purves, Frazer Hines and Mark Strickson reminiscing about their time as companions of the First, Second and Fifth Doctors.  Full details of the two Disc DVD contents can be found at Doctor Who.tv here.

Anneke Wills as Polly in The Underwater Menace

Anneke Wills as Polly in The Underwater Menace

While you eagerly await The Tenth Planet’s release enjoy this exclusive animation of the First Doctor’s regeneration. The missing episode four of The Tenth Planet has been fully animated and will be included in this release.

The First Doctor’s regeneration in The Tenth Planet. 

The Tenth Planet will be released in Australia and New Zealand on 20 November 2013

The Tenth Planet will be released in Australia and New Zealand on 20 November 2013

Vivien Fleming

The Faceless Ones – Loose Cannon Reconstructions

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ImageEpisodes one and three of The Faceless Ones are held in the BBC Archives and have been released on the triple DVD set Lost in Time.  Episodes two, four, five and six can be viewed as Loose Cannon reconstructions, links for which appear below.

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 2 part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 2 part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 4 part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 4 part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 5 part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 5 part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 6 part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 6 part 2

The Faceless Ones was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 April and 13 May 1967.  Episodes 1 and 3 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Faceless Ones was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 April and 13 May 1967. Episodes 1 and 3 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Faceless Ones

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If you’d tuned into Doctor Who in March or April 1967 you’d be excused for thinking that the programme’s production team had a real issue with holidaying Brits.  Firstly The Macra Terror compared  Butlins style Holiday Camps to a colony governed by giant mind-controlling crabs. Then the next serial, The Faceless Ones, took a shot at the bourgeoning package holiday market and groups of 18 to 25 year-olds jetting off  from Gatwick Airport to European destinations such as Rome, Dubrovnik and Athens.   Participating in such tours could find you miniaturized, shot 150 miles into the air in a aeroplane which transforms into a spaceship, and finally stored away indefinitely in a drawer after an alien has replicated and taken on your form. It’s enough to turn anyone off taking that next holiday!

The Tardis lands on the runway of Gatwick Airport

The Tardis lands on the runway of Gatwick Airport

Mind control and losing one’s identity were issues of great concern to the writers of Doctor Who in the late 1960s. Together with The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones, such themes were also addressed in a number of other stories.  In the Cybermen serials there was the ever present threat of being upgraded and becoming one of them.  In the Underwater Menace you were at risk of being turned into a Fish Person, and miniaturization and long time storage had been canvassed in The Ark.

The four members of the Tardis Crew before the scatter at Gatwick Airport

The four members of the Tardis Crew before they scatter at Gatwick Airport

The Faceless One marks the real beginning of the classic pairing of Jamie and the Second Doctor.  In his previous outings in the Tardis Jamie had been almost a tacked on afterthought.  Written hastily into the series after his first appearance in The Highlanders, Jamie paraded around in a black wet suit in The Underwater Menace, moaned in a half conscious state about the “Phantom Piper” in The Moonbase, and showed his resilience to mind washing in The Macra Terror.  Jamie’s amazement at the technology of the 20th Century is at last played upon in this serial.  Large passenger aircraft are “flying beasties”,  £28 is a fortune and Gatwick Airport is a world unlike any that he’s ever seen. The audience is left wondering if the Highlander from 1746 is literate as he hides behind The Times newspaper which he holds upside down. They must also wonder what sort of fools the people searching for Jamie are, that they don’t notice the hairy legs of a kilted lad beneath the paper.

Jamie is amazed by all the sights at Gatwick Airport

Jamie is amazed by all the sights at Gatwick Airport

Jamie gets a kiss from Samantha

Jamie gets a kiss from Samantha

It is not until this outing that Jamie is paired principally with the Doctor, although he does spend a fair amount of air time with the Liver Bird, Samantha Briggs. The Liverpudlian character, whose brother was lost on one of the Chameleon Tours, was played by Pauline Collins and would have become the new companion had Collins agreed to the offer. I have little doubt that there were no regrets as her career progressed to stellar heights. Collins was not to appear in Doctor Who again until the 2006 Series 2 story, Tooth and Claw, in which she played Queen Victoria.

Pauline Collins played a girl from Liverpool, Samantha Briggs, who is searching for her lost brother

Pauline Collins played a girl from Liverpool, Samantha Briggs, who was searching for her lost brother

Pauline Collin's next appearance in Doctor Who would be 39 years later as Queen Victoria in Tooth and Claw

Pauline Collins’ next appearance in Doctor Who would be 39 years later as Queen Victoria in Tooth and Claw

Jamie’s rapport with the Doctor is incredible but is only the beginning of a steadfast relationship which will mature during Seasons five and six.  This partnership, however, is at the expense of Ben and Polly who depart the Tardis Crew at the end of episode six.  Ben’s days were numbered from Jamie’s arrival in The Highlanders and it was unfortunate that the dynamic between the two modern day London companions was lost.  Anneke Wills chose to relinquish her role as Polly once Michael Craze’s departure became known.

Jamie's addition to the Tardis Crew eventually came at Ben's expense

Jamie’s addition to the Tardis Crew eventually came at Ben’s expense

Polly discovers a dead body in episode one of The Faceless Ones

Polly discovers a dead body in episode one of The Faceless Ones

Ben and Polly’s farewell was not much better than Dodo’s in The War Machines, which was incidentally Ben and Polly’s first adventure with the Doctor. Absent from episodes three, four and five, they only appeared in a pre-filmed segment at episode six’s close.  A ten month companionship spanning  two Doctors ended abruptly when the couple realized that it was 20 July 1966, the very day that they’d stumbled into the Tardis at the conclusion of The War Machines.  Although visibly upset, Polly was pleased to be able to get back to her own world.  The Doctor said how lucky they were because he never got to return to his.  Exhibiting a marked sexism the Doctor stated, “Now go on, Ben can catch his ship and become an Admiral, and you Polly, you can look after Ben”.  What a life.  You could tell it was 1967!  After Polly enquired as to whether the Doctor would be safe, Jamie assured her that “I’ll look after him”.

We bid Ben and Polly a sad farewell

We bid Ben and Polly a sad farewell

The Second Doctor’s first present day serial, The Faceless Ones,  is sure to have influenced Mark Gatiss when he wrote the Series 2 story The Idiot’s Lantern. In that 2006 Tenth Doctor story an evil entity, The Wire, existed only in the form of energy.  She transferred herself  between television sets and fed off humanity’s mental signals as people innocently watched the telly.  In stealing the humans’ energy The Wire hoped to one day  regain a corporeal form.  Her victims, however, were robbed of their faces and minds, although they still retained consciousness. Faceless the victims became, but nowhere near as grotesque as their predecessors in The Faceless Ones.

Rose Tyler becomes faceless in 2006's The Idiot's Lantern

Rose Tyler becomes faceless in 2006’s The Idiot’s Lantern

The Chameleon Faceless Ones of 1967 were altogether more frightening

The Chameleon Faceless Ones of 1967 were altogether more frightening

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Faceless Ones and am saddened that only two of the six episodes are held in the BBC Archives.  The Second Doctor serials are just such a delight and it’s appalling that there are only a handful of complete Troughton serials remaining.  As the Doctor and Jamie walked off at the story’s end, looking for the stolen Tardis, I contemplated how pleased I was that Doctor Who is a British and not an Australian programme.  Jamie would never have had his Scottish accent stolen, and replaced by a Received Pronunciation one in the Chameleon-Jamie, if the show was made in Australia.  Nor would the actor who played the Police Inspector Crossland experience such difficulties in gaining and retaining a Scots brogue. Most importantly, however, the humans who were replicated by the Chameleons would never have been left hidden in cars.  Residing in such a hot environment we’re all too schooled  in the “dogs die in hot cars” commercials to ever contemplate leaving a human in one!  Join me next time as Season four comes to an end with The Evil of the Daleks and Doctor Who gets its newest companion, Victoria.

Sam, Inspector Crossland and Jamie

Sam, Inspector Crossland and Jamie

The Doctor and Inspector Crossland

The Doctor and Inspector Crossland

The Faceless Ones was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 April and 13 May 1967.  Episodes 1 and 3 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Faceless Ones was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 April and 13 May 1967. Episodes 1 and 3 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Macra Terror – Loose Cannon Reconstructions

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ImageAll four episodes of The Macra Terror are missing from the BBC Archives.  All that remains of the serial is the audio soundtrack, telesnaps and several short clips excised by the Australian Censorship Board.  For the purposes of this marathon I viewed Loose Cannon’s excellent reconstructions, links for which appear below.

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 1 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 1 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 2 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 2 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 3 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 3 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 4 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 4 Part 2

The Macra Terror

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Science Fiction is the perfect genre for disguised social commentary. Subjects deemed too sensitive, or politically charged, to examine in mainstream drama can be critiqued in Science Fiction beneath the cloak of fantasy.  Doctor Who in the 21st Century has been the vehicle for political exploration, particularly in respect of same sex marriage.  Whilst the Eleventh Doctor’s companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, conformed to the Judeo-Christian tradition of being legally married (even if the Doctor, in his naivety, thought single bunk beds were fun), same sex marriage has been displayed between Madame Vastra, a warrior Silurian and her Victorian maid, and subsequent wife, Jenny Flint. Hence, whilst seemingly supporting the status quo for present day human companions, Doctor Who radically offers an alternate agenda in which same sex marriage is in itself uncontroversial when between an alien and a human.

New Series Doctor Who has broached the subject of same-sex marriage.  Madame Vastra and her wife, Jenny Flint, are seen here in the 2012 Christmas Special The Snowmen

New Series Doctor Who has broached the subject of same-sex marriage. Madame Vastra and her wife, Jenny Flint, are seen here in the 2012 Christmas Special The Snowmen

The Series Three story, Gridlock, features an elderly human same sex couple,  Alice and May Cassini, who have been trapped on the motorway for  23 years.   Their relationship, whilst millions of years away in the far future, is disguised under the humour of a cat, Thomas Kincade Brannigan, who is married to a human, Valerie.  Notwithstanding his own less than conventional marriage, Brannigan is nonetheless unable to wrap his mind around the concept of two women being married to each other.  He continues to refer to the couple as the “Cassini Sisters”.  More about Gridlock, and its relationship to The Macra Terror¸ later in this review.

In 2007's Gridlock Thomas Kincade Brannigan, a cat, is married to a human, Valerie, but finds same-sex marriage difficult to comprehend

In 2007’s Gridlock Thomas Kincade Brannigan, a cat, is married to a human, Valerie, but finds same-sex marriage difficult to comprehend

The "Cassini Sisters", Alice and May, are actually a married couple.

The “Cassini Sisters”, Alice and May, are actually a married couple.

Whilst seemingly a story about giant killer crabs, The Macra Terror, is actually a biting social commentary on British working class recreation and totalitarian regimes. The third and final Doctor Who script written by Ian Stuart Black, The Macra Terror is a continuation of Black’s concerns surrounding colonialism which were raised in his first Who penned serial, The Savages. Black’s second serial, The War Machines, examined amongst other things, mind control which is another of the concerns of The Macra Terror.

Ian Stuart Black, writer of The Macra Terror, The Savages and The War Machines

Ian Stuart Black, writer of The Macra Terror, The Savages and The War Machines

The Macra Terror is set on an unnamed planet far in the future.  Colonized by Earth at some time in the past, this planet is the natural home of the Macra, giant crabs that are reliant up gases toxic to humans for their survival. Perhaps because humans had changed the above ground atmosphere of the planet, the Macra now reside underground, except at night when they visit the planet’s surface.  The Macra have enslaved the human population  and compels them to work mines to produce the toxic gas so essential for their survival.  The human residents, however, are ignorant of the Macra’s control of their colony and blissfully unaware that they have become enslaved through mind control. Believing themselves to reside in a utopian society, the human colony bears an uncanny resemblance to mid 20th Century British Holiday Camps.  Life is regimented, happiness compulsory and dissent considered a mental illness requiring treatment.

The Macra kills the Colony's Controller

The Macra kills the Colony’s Controller

A publicity shot of the Controller and Macra taken prior to filming.  Note that the Controller's hair and make up is different from the Australian Censors saved film clip

A publicity shot of the Controller and Macra taken prior to filming. Note that the Controller’s hair and make up is different from the Australian Censors saved film clip

A reasonable familiarity of the British holiday camp culture is required to understand the biting commentary of The Macra Terror.  As an Australian I found the story’s references to holiday camps oblique and the holiday camp atmosphere more akin to a prison.  Whilst that was certainly one of Black’s messages, British residents would have been a great deal more conversant with commercialized leisure culture that holiday camps were a part of.  These holiday camps were usually in seaside areas and were an immensely popular annual holiday for working class families.  Having suffered from the restrictions and rationing of the Second World War, the British were keen to escape from their work day drudgery into a world of organized leisure for a week or two a year.  Suitably priced for low income earners, the holiday camps offered affordable accommodation in acceptable, but rudimentary, accommodation and communal meals.  Activities for all the family were offered with these centring upon the communal nature of the holiday experience.  Competitions would be run for the best “Knobbly Knees” or the most “Glamorous Grannies”, for example, and holidayers would be conscripted into performing on stage.  Swimming pools, ballrooms, tennis courts, bars and funfairs could be found at these establishments.  Crèches provided child care for children, thereby allowing their parents the opportunity for valuable down time together.

The Colony is run along the lines of a Holiday Camp.  Here Drum Majorettes perform

The Colony is run along the lines of a Holiday Camp. Here Drum Majorettes perform

Ben has a complimentary massage in the Refreshing Department

Ben has a complimentary massage in the Refreshing Department

These holiday camps, however, had an aura of regimentation around them.  Many of the camps had been resumed by the military during the war and still retained ghosts of soldiers’ past.  Public announcements were made through public address systems and some establishments, such as Butlins which was the UK’s largest holiday camp provider, awoke campers at the same time every morning with muzak.  Undoubtedly because of wartime austerity and regimentation, the average punter holidaying at these camps would have found such scheduling of their leisure unsurprising. An intriguing pictorial history of British Holiday camps can be accessed here.

Cinema release commercial for Butlins Holiday Camps

The music  you’d be woken up to each day at Butlins, together with postcards from the 1960s.

The Macra Terror opens with drum majorettes performing to a colony tune.  The Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie have found themselves on the planet and unwittingly captured an escaped patient of enforced conformity, Medok.  They are welcomed to the colony like honoured guests and afforded the services of the Refreshing Department.   A complete choice of all treatments is offered including steam baths, beauty treatments, massages, clothes cleaning, sunlight treatment, moonlight treatment, and sparkling and effervescent sprays.  Whilst Polly gleefully accepts a shampoo, the Doctor is put into a clothes reviver where both his body and his clothes are cleaned and he emerges immaculately groomed.  Although Polly thinks he looks gorgeous, the Doctor has other ideas.  Discovering the” rough and tumble machine” for the toning of muscles, the Doctor jumps in and emerges as his usual dishevelled self.  If only all four episodes of this serial weren’t lost, because this would be an incredible scene to see.

Paul Android, Colonial Dance, The Macra Terror.  The uploader describes himself as a hardcore Whovian who loves everything Doctor Who.  On his YouTube Channel he has over 100 piano arrangements of themes for Doctor Who.  Bless him!

The Doctor is quick to discover that all is not peachy in the colony.  The public address system announcements willing people to happiness have a sinister air about them. Whilst the humans are sleeping at night the Macra pump subliminal messages into their heads however the Doctor is able to awaken both Polly and Jamie before they come under its effects.  Ben is not so lucky and is successfully brainwashed.  This indoctrination ensures that all humans are compliant and are effectively in denial as to the Macra’s existence.  This indoctrination makes Ben turn against his friends and interestingly, loose his Cockney accent.   All is resolved at the end, however, when Ben saves the day by destroying the gas pumping equipment.  In doing so the Macra are killed and the colony again has its freedom.  Notwithstanding all the colony has been through, it appears to be happy to continue with its traditions of holiday camp style, enforced happiness.  When it’s suggested that the Doctor might become the Colony’s next Pilot (leader), the Tardis Crew is quick to decamp but not before Jamie does the Highland Fling as they exit through the door.  Now that’s another scene I’d love to have been able to see.

Jamie is a restless sleeper and cannot be indoctrinated.  Ben, however, is a victim of the mind control

Jamie is a restless sleeper and cannot be indoctrinated. Ben, however, is a victim of the mind control

The enforced happiness that is an essential element of the Macra controlled colony, is a theme that is taken up 21 years later in the Seventh Doctor story, The Happiness Patrol. Another biting political saga in disguise, The Happiness Patrol is scathingly critical of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The Macra, however, would not be seen in Doctor Who for another 40 years and currently hold the record for the second longest gap in appearances of any Who monster or character.  They made their return in the 2007 story, Gridlock, which bears some similarities with The Macra Terror. The character with the longest interval between appearances is The Great Intelligence, with 44 years between outings. In Gridlock the Macra have infiltrated the city of New New York in New Earth, whereas in The Macra Terror it is humans that have colonized the Macra’s planet. In both instances the Macra are reliant upon noxious gas, with the Gridlock variety thriving on the toxic fumes of motor vehicles.  The Tenth Doctor states that the Macra have devolved since last he met them, and again in Gridlock they appear to be doomed as the roof to the motorway opens, thereby allowing the gas on which they are reliant to escape.

Polly and Ben are confronted by the Macra

Polly and Ben are confronted by the Macra

The 2007 Macra of Gridlock are much smaller and less intelligent creatures

The 2007 Macra of Gridlock are much smaller and less intelligent creatures

The Macra Terror is unfortunately Ben and Polly’s penultimate Doctor Who serial.  Join me at Gatwick Airport for The Faceless Ones as we sadly bid them farewell.

The Doctor finds another funny hat to wear

The Doctor finds another funny hat to wear

The Macra Terror was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 March and 1 April 1967.  All four episodes are missing from the BBC Archives

The Macra Terror was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 March and 1 April 1967. All four episodes are missing from the BBC Archives

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.