Category Archives: Zoe Heriot

The War Games

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It was only at the close of Doctor Who’s monochrome era in 1969 that the world’s longest running science fiction series gave itself a back-story.  Already in its sixth season, and more than five years since An Unearthly Child was first broadcast, Doctor Who had hitherto avoided the continuity consciousness for which it is today so famous.  The Second Doctor would never have alluded to his body “wearing a bit thin” as John Hurt’s Doctor did of the First Doctor’s final words in The Day of the Doctor. To be sure, Doctor Who had a history but it was one that was only fleetingly referred to and then to those stories of recent memory only. Hence the Second Doctor famously misheard the word “jetty” for “Yeti” in The Enemy of the World however this allusion was only to a serial broadcast two stories previously, The Abominable Snowmen.

The War Games changed Who’s consciousness of its past forever.  Never before had a serial borrowed clips from previous serials save for the final episode of The Wheel in Space in which the Doctor projected his thought patterns onto a monitor and the reprise from episode two of The Evil of the Daleks was seen. On that occasion the clip had been shown as a lead-in for the first ever repeat of a serial, the aforementioned The Evil of the Daleks. In The War Games, however, stock footage was used as if it was new and previously unseen. Hence, in the Doctor and his companion’s escape from the Time Lords footage from Fury From the Deep was borrowed as the TARDIS spun to sea-level and from The Web of Fear when the ship was entangled in cobwebs.  It was fortunate that the Fury clip was borrowed because all of its episodes are missing from the archives.  The spinning TARDIS gives fans an all too brief glimpse at what the serial would have looked like.

Footage of the spinning TARDIS from Fury From the Deep only exists because it was reused in The War Games

Footage of the spinning TARDIS from Fury From the Deep only exists because it was reused in The War Games. All episodes of Fury From the Deep are missing from the BBC Archives

Who stock footage was also utilized in episode 10 of The War Games when, akin to Wheel, the Doctor again reflected his thought patterns to a wall.  In this instance it was the benefit of the Time Lords who were provided with details of the monsters the Doctor had recently fought, namely Daleks, Cybermen, Yeti, Ice Warriors and Quarks.

The show’s back-story, however, came with the arrival and naming of the Doctor’s race.  Since Doctor Who’s beginnings the Doctor had never been able to control the TARDIS’s steering.  It was for that reason that he was unable to return all of the kidnapped soldiers back to their own eras and had need to call in the Time Lords for assistance. Only once previously had the Doctor encountered one of his own and on that occasion his race was not named.  Rather than being dour and judgemental as the Time Lords were, The Monk of Season Three was somewhat of a hapless, albeit amusing, renegade.  It was in his renegade status that the Doctor had most in common with The Monk.

Prior to the arrival of the Time Lords in The War Games the Monk was the first and only member of the Doctor's race whom we meet

Prior to the arrival of the Time Lords in The War Games the Monk was the first and only member of the Doctor’s race we met

Jamie incorrectly assumed that the Doctor’s people would be both friendly and supportive of him.  Alas, this was not to be as the Doctor was compelled to admit to his companions that he was on the run from the Time Lords. Being bored with the existence of a Time Lord on their unnamed planet he stole a TARDIS and embarked on a life of adventure and inter-planetary interference.

Prior to meeting the three Time Lords who were in judgement of him, the Doctor encountered the evil renegade, the War Chief who was in alliance with the War Lords, a humanoid race of beings intent on conquering the galaxy.  It was with the War Chief’s expertise that the War Lords’ acquired the ability to time travel in the inferior technology crafts called SIDRATs (TARDIS backwards).

The War Chief was a renegade Time Lord who gave the the War Lords the secrets of time travel.  He also had the most fabulous beard!

The War Chief was a renegade Time Lord who gave the the War Lords the secrets of time travel. He also had the most fabulous beard!

Although The War Games is best remembered for its back-story invention, more significantly it is story on the futility of war.  The War Lords kill for killing’s sake in a quest to unearth the universe’s best fighting force of soldiers. It is with the best soldiers that the War Lords hope to conquer the galaxy.  The wars in each of the zones are as pointless as they are artificial. Victory would be of no effect as the wars are illusory.  There are no spoils for the victors to share but rather the (unknown) guarantee of further bloodshed when they are next compelled to battle for the War Lords. Transported from their own time zones to an unnamed world, the soldiers are lost to the society’s from which they came. This is sure to be an analogy for the millions lost to the bloodshed of history’s wars.

The simulated war zones of The War Games

The simulated war zones of The War Games

The War Games is also a tale on judicial injustice.  The serial begins and ends with trials in which the rule of law is disregarded. The Kangaroo Court before which the Doctor, Zoe and Jamie appear in the 1917 war zone is bereft of any semblance of truth or integrity. The monocle wearing War Lord Smyth hypnotises all to accept his distorted version of the “truth”.  Memories are lost and lies deposited in the minds of Smyth’s subordinates.  The Doctor is sentenced to death without the benefit of any defence. His imminent dawn execution in episode one is perhaps one of the best cliff hangers in Who’s history.

Smyth, the War Lord in command of the simulated 1917 WWI zone

General Smyth, the War Lord in command of the simulated 1917 WWI zone

The Time Lords’ trial of the Doctor at the serial’s conclusion is only slightly less abusive of the defendant’s inalienable right to a fair trial. In contrast to Smyth’s show trial, the Time Lord’s permit the Doctor to tender some evidence in support of his defence against breaching the most paramount of all his people’s laws – non- interference in dealings with the rest of the universe. Although the Doctor had indeed interfered in the affairs of the universe his defence was essentially one of mitigation.  The ends, the Doctor indirectly argued, justified the means. There were evils in the universe that needed to be fought. As the Doctor stated:

I not only admit them.  I am proud of them.  While you have been content merely to observe the evil in the galaxy, I have been fighting against it … All these evils I have fought while you have done nothing but observe.  True.  I am guilty of interference, just as you are guilty of failing to use your great powers to help those in need!

The Time Lords. The Time Lord in the Centre, Bernard Horsfall. played Gulliver in The Mind Robber

The Time Lords. The Time Lord in the centre, Bernard Horsfall. played Gulliver in The Mind Robber

Despite his spirited defence the Doctor was nonetheless convicted and his defence taken as a plea in mitigation. Whilst accepting that certain evil in the universe must be fought the Time Lords sentenced him to exile on Earth, a planet to which he had a particular interest.  The secret of the TARDIS was to be taken from him and he was to have his appearance changed.  The writers of Doctor Who had yet to invent the term “regeneration”. Although the opportunity was initially afforded to the Doctor to choose his appearance, the Time Lords quickly tired of his objections to each and every pencil sketched face offered to him.  Seeing this as a refusal to make a decision the Time Lords without further notice made it for the Doctor and propelled him into a circling vortex.  Interestingly, he was not charged and compelled to face court on a charge of stealing the TARDIS. Perhaps it was considered a minor offense that might warrant an on the spot fine?

That the head of the aliens is known as the “War Lord” exhibits that he and his race are authorities on war, whereas the “Time Lords” are specialists in the field of time. The use of the word “Lord” at the end of each title is suggestive of a royal or hereditary class structure. It was therefore surprising, and arguably anathema that John Hurt’s Doctor in the minisode The Night of the Doctor should be credited as the “War Doctor” in the closing titles. This was obviously an issue to which Steven Moffat gave great thought and was resolved in the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor. In the January 2014 edition of the Doctor Who Magazine Moffat discussed this issue in depth

The end credits card of The Night of the Doctor introducing John Hurt as the War Doctor

The end credits card of The Night of the Doctor introducing John Hurt as the War Doctor

“The Time War became a piece of back story that inevitably forced its way to the front cos you really have to contemplate – and the more you think about this seriously – that this lovely man who you’re watching week after week has committed genocide!”

The Doctor farewells Jamie

The Doctor farewells Jamie

It was extraordinarily sad to farewell both Jamie and Zoe in this serial.  Zoe quickly became my favourite female companion of the 1960s during my Second Doctor marathon.  You can read our 50th Anniversary Countdown piece on Zoe here.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet the lovely Wendy Padbury in person during a cigarette break at the Brisbane Lords of Time 2 in December.  She was every bit as charming and engaging as I’d imagined. In The War Games Zoe again endeared herself to me by knocking an officer unconscious with a vase and describing the horrendously sexist Mexican resistance leader as having “rather primitive ideas about women knowing their place”. In the end we learn that Donna Noble was not the first Who companion to have their memories of the Doctor wiped. Jamie’s exit was no less traumatic although it was with relief that his last words were his clan’s battle cry, “Creag an Tuire”!  Jamie was  again in battle mode as an armed redcoat fled.

Zoe and the Doctor in The War Games

Zoe and the Doctor in The War Games

So ends the Second Doctor’s era.  Join the Doctor Who Mind Robber as we continue our journey with the Third Doctor!

Donna Noble (Journey's End) was not the first companion to have her memories of the Doctor wiped

Donna Noble (Journey’s End) was not the first companion to have her memories of the Doctor wiped

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2014.

Day 29 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – The Top 5 Second Doctor Stories

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Even with the recent recovery of nine missing episodes from The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear, Patrick Troughton’s tenure as the Doctor still has 54 missing episodes, including four serials in which not a single episode is held – The Power of the Daleks, The Highlanders, The Macra Terror and Fury From the Deep. William Hartnell’s Doctor has 44 of his episodes missing, including six serials without a single episode – Marco Polo, Mission to the Unknown, The Myth Makers, The Massacre, The Savages and The Smugglers.

In the absence of so many stories, making an informed choice on the Top 5 serials for the First and the Second Doctors is both difficult and hypothetical.  A brilliant soundtrack could mask poor visual representations, whilst a boring audio may hide a visually stunning masterpiece.  Without seeing the moving pictures one can never be 100% certain that a story is as good as its reputation. All that being said, here’s the Doctor Who Mind Robber’s humble opinion of the Second Doctor’s Top 5 stories.

Is The Space Pirates really as bad as its reputation?  Only the moving pictures can show for sure

Is The Space Pirates really as bad as its reputation? Only the moving pictures can show for sure

5. The Enemy of the World

The recovery of five episodes and release of all six parts of The Enemy of the World on iTunes recently quickly lead to a reappraisal of this story’s worth. Previously only episode three had been held in the BBC Archives and released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time. That episode was somewhat unrepresentative of the other five and caused many to underestimate the serial’s true worth.

The Enemy of the World was the only Season 5 story without monsters and not of the “base under siege” genre.  Patrick Troughton’s dual role as the Doctor and the evil would-be world dictator, Salamander, allowed him to show another side of his acting skills, notwithstanding the rather dubious Mexican accent. Enemy was also Barry Letts’ Doctor Who debut and heralded the show’s first action scenes involving helicopters and hovercraft.  Such adventures would become second nature during the tenure of the Third Doctor.

Patrick Troughton plays the evil would-be world dictator, Salamader, in The Enemy of the World

Patrick Troughton plays the evil would-be world dictator, Salamader, in The Enemy of the World

4. The Faceless Ones

This will undoubtedly be a controversial choice however it’s one of my personal favourites. Only episodes one and three are held in the BBC Archives.  The last story of Ben and Polly’s tenure as companions, The Faceless Ones is set in the ‘present day’ and features excellent location filming at Gatwick Airport in London. Pauline Collins appears as Samantha Briggs, a young woman from Liverpool who is searching for her brother who did not return from a package holiday to Rome. A psychological thriller about identity loss, it was sure to have heavily influenced Mark Gatiss’ 2006 episode, The Idiot’s Lantern.

The Faceless Ones influenced the  2006 story  The Idiot's Lantern

The Faceless Ones influenced the 2006 story The Idiot’s Lantern

3. The Evil of the Daleks

One of the most highly regarded Sixties Dalek stories, The Evil of the Daleks was the first and only serial to be repeated in the UK during that decade.  The repeat was written into the script of the Season 5 finale, The Wheel in Space, and the Season 6 premiere, The Dominators. The new companion Zoe was to view the Doctor’s thought patterns, presumably during the season break, and decide whether she wished to join the TARDIS Crew.

Yet another missing story, only episode two of The Evil of the Daleks is currently held in the BBC Archives.  The story introduced the Dalek Emperor which was a direct spin off from the Whitaker penned Daleks cartoons in TV Century 21 magazine. The Dalek “human factor” is intriguing and like The Faceless Ones, undoubtedly influenced New Series Doctor Who. Robert Shearman’s Series 1 story, Dalek, has several nods to The Evil of the Daleks, whilst Gareth Roberts’ short novel, I Am a Dalek, revives the “human factor” in more than mere words.

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

2. The War Games

Patrick Troughton’s last serial as the Second Doctor, The War Games is a 10 part epic which forever changed the history of Doctor Who. Although the name of his home planet is not yet disclosed, the Doctor is revealed to be a Time Lord. A renegade Time Lord, the War Chief, has given the secrets of time travel to an alien race which seeks to conquer the galaxy.  In their quest to build the best fighting force, human soldiers have been transported from Earth to fight a number of simultaneous wars. These discrete battle zones see engagements from the First World War, the American Civil War, Russo-Japanese War, English Civil War, Boar War, Mexican Civil War, Crimean War, Thirty Year War, Peninsula War, and Roman and Greek war zones.

Being unable to return all the War Games participants to their own time and space, the Doctor reluctantly calls in the Time Lords. Having himself been a renegade since stealing a TARDIS and taking to the universe, the Doctor is at last compelled to face justice for breaching the Time Lords’ Non Interference Policy. Jamie and Zoe are returned to their own times, with all but the memories of their first adventure with the Doctor wiped, and the Doctor is sentenced to exile on Earth.  His knowledge of the TARDIS’s time travel functions is denied him, and he is forced to change his bodily form. The term “regeneration” has not yet been coined.  So ends the monochrome era of Doctor Who and Patrick Troughton’s three year tenure as the Doctor.

Only in the 1960s could you get something as trippy and psychedelic as this

Only in the 1960s could you get something as trippy and psychedelic as this

1. The Mind Robber

An almost psychedelic trip through the land of fiction, The Mind Robber is just about as good as Doctor Who gets. This five part serial sees the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe caught in the world of children’s fairytales. They encounter Lemuel Gulliver, brilliantly portrayed by Bernard Horsfall, Princess Repunzel, Medusa, a Unicorn and a cast of Who created characters.  Far from being what it seems, nothing is reality.  Zoe and Jamie are transformed into fictional characters after Jamie had earlier had his physical appearance altered. The TARDIS explodes for the first time and the Doctor and his crew find themselves drifting in space. Zoe shows that being small in stature is in no way detrimental to fighting a 21st Century cartoon superhero, and Repunzel’s hair really is the strongest and most effective way of quickly scaling rocky cliff faces.  It’s all brilliant stuff!

The Doctor, Zoe and the re-faced Jamie meet up with wind-up tin toy soldiers in The Mind Robber

The Doctor, Zoe and the re-faced Jamie meet up with wind-up tin toy soldiers in The Mind Robber

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Day 33 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – Top 3 Female Companions of the Sixties

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In the lead-up to Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary the Radio Times has been running an online poll on the Greatest Companion Ever.  Voting has now closed and the results will be announced on the anniversary date, 23 November 2013. Today and for the following two days the Doctor Who Mind Robber will be ruminating on our Top 3 Female and Male Companions of the Sixties, together with  the 3 companions who failed to live up to our expectations.  Your comments on our choices would be greatly appreciated.

3. Vicki

On 10 July we posted an article on Vicki, the First Doctor’s companion who was hastily shown the door at the conclusion of The Myth Makers. Here’s how we described her tenure:

I have to admit I really liked Vicki. Young, perhaps no more than 17, she had a vibrancy that had been missing in her predecessor, the Doctor’s grand-daughter, Susan.  As a former secondary school teacher I envied the way she was schooled. In The Web Planet Vicki incorrectly assumed that Barbara had taught at a nursery school because they “worked upwards from the three Rs.”  The curriculum of Coal Hill School in 1963 seemed like child’s play to her.  At the age of 10 she took a certificate of education in medicine,  physics and chemistry.  When asked by Barbara how long she spent in the classroom Vicki was totally perplexed.  She’d spent almost an hour a week with a machine.  Life in 2493 must have been a child’s dream existence!

Vicki, Steven and the Doctor in The Time Meddler

Vicki, Steven and the Doctor in The Time Meddler

Vicki was a member of the TARDIS Crew  in episodes which screened from 2 January 1965 until 6th November 1965.  In just under 12 months Vicki had gone from an orphaned girl stranded on the planet Dido to the love interest of Troilus, son of the King of Troy. During that time, however, there was little in the way of character development. Save for when we met Vicki in The Rescue and she was clearly suffering from the effects of Bennett/Koquillion’s abuse, she remains a vibrant and forthright young woman throughout. As I have previously lamented, it was a shame that the opportunity wasn’t taken to examine the long term effects of this abuse on Vicki, however my concern for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder plainly comes from a 21st century perspective.

Koquillion menaces Vicki in The Rescue

Koquillion menaces Vicki in The Rescue

This absence of character evolution says much about the 1960′s perception of women, particularly young ones.  In the 1960s the median age of first marriage for women was around 20 years of age.  Career opportunities  were limited and pay was not equal.  Although unable to locate figures for the United Kingdom, Australia as a Commonwealth country would have been reasonably similar. Until 1966 the Australian Public Service required single women  to resign from their positions on the eve of their marriage. Equal pay was not granted until 1972. Is it any surprise, therefore, that women were portrayed as either children or mothers?  With women having perhaps only five years between leaving school and marriage, this period between childhood and motherhood was marginalized and frequently forgotten.

Vicki - I hope that tasted nice!

Vicki – I hope that tasted nice!

When we first meet Vicki she is in a stereotypical role as carer for Bennett.  As Bennett is supposedly crippled and unable to work, Vicki is compelled to undertake all the chores including collecting water, cooking and cleaning.  She isn’t seen to complain about this notwithstanding the absence of any thanks from Bennett.   Once a member of the TARDIS Crew, Vicki  is somewhat of a companion for the Doctor – a faux grand-daughter, if you like.   The Doctor has someone to fuss around, care about and instruct.  She provides him with moral support  and most probably a sense of identity.  She is close by his side in The Romans and The Crusade and does not distance herself in any great manner until The Space Museum, where she becomes involved with the young Xeron rebels and seems to start a revolution for fun.  A potential love interest comes to nothing. Although coupled with Steven for much of The Time Meddler, Vicki is back at the Doctor’s side during Galaxy 4.  In her final serial, The Myth Makers, Vicki  is again separated from the Doctor but only because he’s compelled her to remain in the TARDIS because of a sprained ankle.  As was the case with both Susan and Barbara, female companions in Doctor Who are overly susceptible to wrenching their ankles.  They require time to recuperate from such injuries, unlike Ian who was frequently knocked unconscious and seemed able to get up, and shake it off, each time.

Vicki with the Doctor in The Crusade

Vicki with the Doctor in The Crusade

Quite phenomenally Vicki is capable of falling in love with Troilus in less than 24 hours, most of which time she was a prisoner in a dungeon.  This love affair was even quicker than Susan and David’s in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Having pleaded with the Doctor in The Crusade not to leave her as the TARDIS was her only home, Vicki was extraordinarily quick to leave its confines in The Myth Makers. The television audience is not even privy to Vicki’s farewells to the Doctor as they take place out of camera shot inside the TARDIS. The Doctor, nonetheless, appears satisfied with her explanation which seems to have been that she didn’t want Troilus to think she had betrayed him.

Although spending one’s life travelling in a blue wooden box through time and space may appear somewhat aimless, it’s certainly more secure than with a bloke you’ve only known for a day; in a time several thousand years before your own; and in a land where your love’s home City has been destroyed.  Ever quick to point out logical flaws in a witty manner, Wood and Miles in About Time 1 couldn’t help but extrapolate on a grave problem that Vicki and Troilus would be confronted by.  As the TARDIS translates languages for the benefit of the Crew and persons they meet along the way, once it had left then the two lovers would be unable to communicate with each other.  Unless, of course, Vicki had learnt Ancient Greek, the language that Homer attributes to the Trojans in Iliad, in school!

Vicki and Troilus in The Myth Makers

Vicki and Troilus in The Myth Makers

Aside from the characterization failures in Doctor Who, the reality of Maureen O’Brien’s hasty exit from the role of Vicki appears to lay in programme’s change of producer.  According to Howe, Walker and Stammers in The Handbook, O’Brien had been cast by Verity Truman having been suggested by one of her former drama teachers who then was in the employ of the BBC. The new producer, John Wiles, replaced Truman beginning with the production of The Myth Makers, although he had shadowed Truman during the making of Galaxy 4. Wood and Miles argue that “Wiles had noticed her tendency to pick holes in the dialogue during rehearsals for Galaxy Four, and made arrangements to have her removed while the cast were on holiday”.  It was on her return from a week’s break given to the regular cast whilst Mission to the Unknown was filmed  that O’Brien heard of her dismissal. Although the new character of Katarina was going to replace Vicki it soon became evident to Wiles and story editor, Donald Tosh, that Katarina’s Trojan naivety would make her an unsuitable companion.  It’s for that reason that Katarina was just as hastily written out of Doctor Who in the fourth episode of The Daleks’ Master Plan.

So ends the less than a year long tenure of Maureen O’Brien as Vicki.  This was but the beginning of a revolving door of companions which would grace the screens of Doctor Who over the next several years.

Vicki as we first meet her

Vicki as we first meet her

2. Barbara Wright

Barbara first met the Doctor when she and fellow Coal Hill School teacher, Ian Chesterton, went to 76 Totter’s Lane to check on the welfare of one of their students, 15 year old Susan Foreman.   Kidnapped by the Doctor after they entered the TARDIS, Barbara and Ian remained with the Doctor for two years until they took control of the Dalek time-machine at the end of The Chase. Their return to 1965 London was a joyous occasion as snapshots of them frolicking before prominent landmarks were flashed up on the screen.

The Doctor's grand-daughter Susan, with her History Teacher, Barbara Wright and Science Teacher, Ian Chesterton in An Unearthly Child

The Doctor’s grand-daughter Susan, with her History Teacher, Barbara Wright and Science Teacher, Ian Chesterton in An Unearthly Child

Barbara’s excellent knowledge of history was useful during the Doctor’s early journeys and undoubtedly assisted the programme’s mandate to both entertain and educate.  She was more accepting of the unknown than Ian and was quicker to acknowledge that the tales that the Doctor and Susan spun about the TARIS were indeed true. When the TARIS crew visited South America in The Aztecs she was able to draw upon her knowledge of Spanish settlement and traditional Aztec culture and religion.  That, unfortunately, led her to the false belief that by assuming the mantle of the reincarnated priest, Yataxa, that had been thrust upon her, that she could change the course of history and end human sacrifices. The Doctor was quick to point out to Barbara the folly of believing that history could be altered.  She was also able to utilize her knowledge of history in The Dalek Invasion of Earth when she bamboozled the Daleks with some historical falsities and in The Reign of Terror, when she was able to identify the period of French history in which they’d materialized.

Yetaxa in all her finery as Barbara masquerades in The Aztecs

Yetaxa in all her finery as Barbara masquerades in The Aztecs

Unusually for a woman in her mid thirties, Barbara wasn’t married.  Perhaps the negative stereotype of spinster school ma’ams had been adopted here. Barbara was not without romance, however. She came upon several suitors during the course of her companionship, although none matched the tenderness of her relationship with Ian.  Although never openly remarked upon, it was clear that Barbara and Ian had become more than just colleagues.  Their joyful banter whilst reclining in luxury during The Romans was indicative of a particularly strong personal relationship. The tenderness between Barbara and her fellow companion Ian was undoubtedly a silent nod to a love that couldn’t be broached on Saturday tea time family TV. One can only dream that they became a couple and lived in marital bliss upon their return to earth.

Barbara and Ian playfully relax in The Romans

Barbara and Ian playfully relax in The Romans

Barbara and Ian in one of their many embraces (The Dalek Invasion of Earth).  Gif courtesy of http://thechestertons.tumblr.com

Barbara and Ian in one of their many embraces (The Dalek Invasion of Earth). Gif courtesy of http://thechestertons.tumblr.com

1. Zoe Heriot

The character of Zoe was arguably the first companion in Doctor Who to reflect the changing views on women that arose with the second wave of feminism. A teenage genius, Zoe first met the Doctor and Jamie in final serial of Season 5, The Wheel in Space. She remained with the Doctor until the end of the monochrome era when all three stars left in the final episode of The War Games.  My review of The Wheel in Space included a detailed introduction to Zoe.  She was  an astrophysicist and astrometricist first class and employed as the Wheel’s parapsychology librarian. Her perfect recall of scientific facts and ability to undertake mental calculations faster than a hand-held calculator were the consequence of her being brainwashed by the City’s educational institution. She had total faith in the ability of pure logic to provide all the answers required.  Zoe’s future adventures would soon show this to be a folly and the Doctor quickly, but tactfully, advised her on the limitations of logic alone.  Perhaps the Second Doctor’s most famous quote was to Zoe in The Wheel in Space when he stated, “Logic, my dear Zoe, merely enables one to be wrong with authority”.

Zoe and Jamie with the white robots in The Mind Robber

Zoe and Jamie with the white robots in The Mind Robber

Zoe was the first companion with an intellect to match the Doctor’s.  Zoe’s extraordinarily high intelligence was remarked upon several times in The Krotons.  She told Selris that the “Doctor’s almost as clever as I am” whilst earlier the Doctor had said to him, “Yes, well, Zoe is something of a genius. Of course it can be very irritating at times”.  In The Invasion she blew up the automated answering machine at International Electromatics by presenting it with a ALGOL problem that it was unable to answer.  She also assisted in the destruction of the entire fleet of Cybermen ships by mathematically calculating the correct alignment and course of projectile for the Russian missiles targeted at the ships. The Seeds of Death saw her piloting a space rocket.

The delightful Wendy Padbury as Zoe Heriot

The delightful Wendy Padbury as Zoe Heriot

The Doctor, however, was never seriously concerned by Zoe’s brilliance. There was no sense of threat and never a suggestion that her intellect was unbecoming of a young woman. That’s not to say that Zoe didn’t escape entirely from the scourge of sexism. In The Invasion the UNIT soldiers’ praise for Zoe masked an underlying sexism when she was described as “prettier than a computer”.

Jamie is initially reticent to accept Zoe as a member of the TARDIS Crew in The Wheel in Space

Jamie is initially reticent to accept Zoe as a member of the TARDIS Crew in The Wheel in Space

Zoe challenged assumptions on the role of women more by her deeds rather than by words. On at least one occasion, however, she verbalized the thoughts of women of that era. Undoubtedly buoyed by the support of Isobel Watkins in The Invasion, Zoe took offence at Jamie’s sexism when she stated “Just because you’re a man you think you’re superior, don’t you”.  Zoe’s relationship with Jamie, however, was otherwise positive.  Although less intellectually capable than his friend, Jamie is never mocked or derided by Zoe.

Zoe and Jamie cling to the TARDIS console after the Ship explodes in The Mind Robber

Zoe and Jamie cling to the TARDIS console after the Ship explodes in The Mind Robber

Both Zoe and Jamie were returned to their own time in episode 6 of The War Games, with their memories wiped of all but their first adventure with the Doctor. Donna Noble was not the first to suffer this fate. The Doctor’s companions’ departures were heartbreaking and perhaps the most poignant of Classic Series Doctor Who.

Jamie and Zoe’s Goodbye.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The top image is courtesy of www.deviantart.com.  Artwork by Shawn Van Briesen.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Day 38 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – 10 Great Companion Outfits of the Sixties

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In no particular order The Doctor Who Mind Robber today presents 10 Great Companion Outfits of the Sixties.

1. Jamie McCrimmon –  Kilt

Possessed of a fine pair of legs, Jamie McCrimmon always looked stunning in his kilt

Possessed of a fine pair of legs, Jamie McCrimmon always looked stunning in his kilt

2. Zoe Heriot – Catsuit

Zoe fights the Karkus in her famous catsuit

Zoe fights the Karkus in her famous catsuit

3. Barbara Wright – Yetaxa

Barbara masqueraded as the reincarnated priest Yetaxa in The Aztecs

Barbara masqueraded as the reincarnated priest Yetaxa in The Aztecs

4. Dodo Chaplet – The Celestial Toymaker

Zoe looked fabulous in The Celestial Toymaker

Zoe looked fabulous in The Celestial Toymaker

5. Sara Kingdom – The Daleks’ Master Plan

Jean Marsh in black cat suit as Sara Kingdom

Jean Marsh in black catsuit as Sara Kingdom

6. Zoe Heriot – Space Pirates’ Hotpants

Zoe shows some leg in The Space Pirates

Zoe shows some leg in The Space Pirates

7. Susan – An Unearthly Child

Susan at her casual best in An Unearthly Child

Susan at her casual best in An Unearthly Child

8. Polly – Way Out Sixties

Is this the ultimate Sixties companion outfit?

Is this the ultimate Sixties companion outfit?

9. Victoria – The Abominable Snowmen

Victoria emerges from the TARDIS and is shocked by what she sees

Victoria wears Victorian riding gear in The Abominable Snowmen

10. Zoe Heriot – The Invasion 

Zoe in a green feather boa in The Invasion

Zoe in a green feather boa in The Invasion

 

HONOURABLE MENTION

Polly dresses as a local in The Underwater Menace

Polly dresses as a local in The Underwater Menace

 

Vivien Fleming

Day 45 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – The 5 Least Wanted Missing Episodes

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On Day 50 of The Doctor Who Mind Robber’s Countdown to Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary we published our list of the Ten Most Wanted Missing Episodes. Not all episodes are as highly sought after as others and unfortunately there are a limited number that many fans have little or no desire to see returned. Our list of those sad and sorry stories that pine for some respect is provided in broadcast order only.

1.  Galaxy 4 – Season 3

The first broadcast of our least wanted missing stories is the Season 3 opener, Galaxy 4. Until November 2011 none of the story’s four episodes were held in the BBC Archives.  Upon episode three’s discovery, a reconstruction of the serial was produced and included as an extra in The Aztecs Special Edition.  The recovered episode was included in the reconstruction.

The villains of Galaxy 4 were the Drahvins

The villains of Galaxy 4 were the Drahvins

Although the resident monsters of the serial, the Rill and the Chumblies, are generally well regarded the story is nonetheless frequently discounted by fans. In The Discontinuity Guide (1995) Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping’s “Bottom Line” was that “Galaxy 4 presents an interesting if flawed twist on the traditional bug-eyed monster tale”.  

A Chumbley with four Rills in the background

A Chumbly with four Rills in the background

Arguably it is most probably the presence of the chief villains, the Drahvins, which is the cause of most distain for Galaxy 4. Personally I found the concept of a female dominated, anti-male race of aliens absolutely enthralling. It’s for that reason that I rated the serial so highly in my own marathon watch.  Below is an example of one of the recent anti-Galaxy 4 tweets. The diversity of Doctor Who fandom is one of its greatest strengths.

2.  The Celestial Toymaker – Season 3

Prior to the recovery and release of episode four The Celestial Toymaker was held in reasonably high regard.  In Peter Haining’s 1983 coffee table book, Doctor Who A Celebration, Jeremy Bentham waxed lyrical about it.

The success of this story lies in the way if visualises a child’s nightmare – the secret world of toys from the nursery coming to life, harmless games that insidiously graduate into something far more sinister, smiling, happy faces concealing deadly menace.  In short it was a perfect fairy-tale of the kind told by the brothers Grimm – a multi-level fantasy appealing to young and old alike, but strangely being more disturbing to adults than to children.

Peter Haining, Doctor Who A Celebration Two Decades Through Time and Space (W. H Allen, London, 1983)

Peter Haining, Doctor Who A Celebration Two Decades Through Time and Space (W. H Allen, London, 1983)

The widespread availability of episode 4, firstly on the 1991 VHS release and then on 2004’s DVD, Lost in Time, quickly lead to the story’s reputation diminishing.  In Mark Campell’s widely read basic guide, Doctor Who The Complete Series Guide, he gives the serial only 4 out of 10.  His verdict is as follows:

A weird, and at times plodding, excursion into pure fantasy (some might say whimsy).  Not as interesting as its reputation might suggest.

Mark Campbell's Doctor Who The Complete Series Guide (Constable & Robertson Ltd, London, 2010)

Mark Campbell’s Doctor Who The Complete Series Guide (Constable & Robertson Ltd, London, 2010)

 My own marathon review of The Celestial Toymaker was rather more positive.  In introducing the story I stated:

I found the story engaging and fascinating.  The concept of a world of make believe in which the characters are compelled to participate in childish games in order to retrieve the TARDIS is both sinister and surreal. That I’m a great fan of the Second Doctor’s The Mind Robber probably evidences my idiosyncratic tendencies.  Both serials have a similar edge about them.

Dodo, Steven and Cyril the nasty "schoolboy" in The Celestial Toymaker

Dodo, Steven and Cyril the nasty “schoolboy” in The Celestial Toymaker

3.  The Underwater Menace – Season 4

Another poor and lowly regarded story is The Underwater Menace. Episode 3 is included on Lost in Time, and although episode 2 was recovered in November 2011 it has yet to be released on DVD. You have to wonder what that omission says about both the popularity and the quality of the serial. The Discontinuity Guide displayed its distain for the serial in its bottom line summary:

‘I could feed you to my pet octopus – yes? … I, too, have a sense of humour!’ At least Joe Orton got a kick out of watching Frazer Hines in episode four of this story.  

Paul Cornell, Martin Day & Keith Toppiing, The Discontinuity Guide (Doctor Who Books, London, 1995)

Paul Cornell, Martin Day & Keith Toppiing, The Discontinuity Guide (Doctor Who Books, London, 1995)

To find out more about the Joe Orton/Doctor Who connection I suggest you read this blog post.

In my marathon review of The Underwater Menace I successfully found some merit in the story and ended my article by stating, “ The Underwater Menace is a fun romp and nowhere near as bad as its reputation.  Watch it with an eye for the ridiculous and you won’t be disappointed”.

A rare colour photo of the Fish People of The Underwater Menace

A rare colour photo of the Fish People of The Underwater Menace

4.  The Wheel in Space – Season 5

As the lovely Wendy Padbury’s debut story, one would have thought that The Wheel in Space would be a fine contender in the list of the most sought after missing episodes. Moreover, the story features the Cybermen and is the last of a long and continuous run of missing Series 5 stories. That’s enough to make anyone celebrate.  Not so for the authors of The Discontinuity Guide who again panned the story:

Dull, lifeless and so derivative of other base-under-siege stories that it isn’t really a story in its own right.  Despite the detailed Wheel setting, the galloping lack of scientific credibility is annoying, and the Cybermen are so bland and ordinary that they could have been any other monster.  Generic speed-written tosh.

As a great fan of the companion Zoe I nonetheless enjoyed The Wheel in Space. There can never be too much Zoe.

Jamie is initially reticent to accept Zoe as a member of the TARDIS Crew in The Wheel in Space

Jamie is initially reticent to accept Zoe as a member of the TARDIS Crew in The Wheel in Space

5.  The Space Pirates – Season 6

Coming in at 195 in the 2009 Doctor Who Magazine Mighty 200, The Space Pirates has the unfortunate reputation as the least popular Patrick Troughton era Doctor Who serial. It is also the last story that is missing from the BBC Archives.  Being totally bereft of any telesnaps, and having a muddy and almost inaudible fan saved soundtrack, Loose Cannon’s reconstruction of The Space Pirates does not make for very engaging viewing.  So bad was it that I had great difficulty reviewing the story.  I was, however, impressed by Madelaine Issigri’s fabulous metal hair and Zoe’s hotpants!  The only episode held in the BBC Archives has been released on the Lost in Time DVD.

Madelaine Issigri had the most fabulous metal wig in The Space Pirates

Madelaine Issigri had the most fabulous metal wig in The Space Pirates

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Goodbye Second Doctor

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After a two month marathon of Patrick Troughton’s tenure as the Second Doctor, it was with more than a little sadness that I bid farewell to the Cosmic Hobo this evening. Jamie and Zoe were returned to their own time and Doctor Who, as we know it, changed forever.

With the monochrome era behind us, Doctor Who returned to the screens in colour with an earth-ensnared, TARDIS-less Doctor. The Spearhead From Space will soon introduce us to the Autons, but prior to that my forthcoming review of The War Games will lure me back to the sixties for one last hurrah. Please join me as I continue my journey through 50 years of Doctor Who.

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.

The Space Pirates

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Coming in at 195 in the 2009 Doctor Who Magazine Mighty 200, The Space Pirates has the unfortunate reputation as the least popular Patrick Troughton era Doctor Who serial. It is also the last story that is missing from the BBC Archives.  For anyone undertaking a complete marathon this alone is a cause for much celebration. But is The Space Pirates really as bad as its renown would suggest?  In the absence of five of the six episodes, the answer is largely a moot point.  A particularly visual story, The Space Pirates suffers inordinately from the absence of moving pictures.  Moreover, the complete absence of any telesnaps for the serial has made its reconstruction astonishingly difficult. John Cura had taken 35mm photographs from his television screen of the vast majority of Doctor Who episodes.  Generally providing between 70 and 80 photos per programme, these images have become an important record of otherwise lost Doctor Who visuals.  Cura had ceased photographing and selling his telesnaps to the BBC not long prior to his death in April 1969. For further information on John Cura and his telesnaps please see About the Doctor Who Mind Robber.

The Doctor and Jamie upon arrival in The Space Pirates

The Doctor and Jamie upon arrival in The Space Pirates

As if any further hindrances were required, the soundtrack for The Space Pirates is the most muddy of the entire fan recorded missing episode audios.  The renegade old time prospector, Milo Clancey, is frequently credited as the stand-out character in the serial.  I have to admit, however, to finding it almost impossible to comprehend what he was saying. Portrayed by the New Zealand born Australian actor, Gordon Gostelow, Clancey has one of the worst faux American accents in Doctor Who’s illustrious history. It’s not the American accent, however, that I find difficult to understand. Although my hearing is generally fairly reasonable, I very occasionally have difficulty understanding male voices on TV.  When last I had a hearing test the audiologist provided me with a detailed explanation of the reasons why.  I won’t bore you with the details, but hasten to add that the muddy soundtrack of The Space Pirates made it nigh on impossible for me understand most of the largely male cast.

The old time pioneer of space exploration, Milo Clancey

The old time pioneer of space exploration, Milo Clancey

Writing a review of a story bereft of visual images and with a soundtrack which I could barely understand makes for a particularly difficult task.  It’s for that reason that my observations on The Space Pirates will be reasonably short and sweet. I highly recommend that you view the second part of Loose Cannon’s introduction to The Space Pirates, the link for which appears below.   The audio for this introduction, I might add, is crystal clear and provides an excellent summary of several “firsts” for the story, including Doctor Who’s first space opera;  first pirate take on a traditional American Western theme; first episode recorded on 35 mm film; first recording in Television Centre 4;  first episode (save for Mission to the Unknown) in which no regular cast members were present for a studio recording; and finally, the first time that John Nathan-Turner worked on a Doctor Who episode.   The Space Pirates is also credited for having the greatest time lapse between the commencement of an episode and the appearance of the Doctor and his companions.  Emerging onscreen fifteen minutes into the first episode, this is even longer than the 14 minutes it took for the Eleventh Doctor to appear in the Series Seven episode, The Crimson Horror.

The Doctor and his crew collapsed

The Doctor and his crew collapsed

It would be remiss if I failed to mention Madelaine Issigri’s fabulous metal hair.  Women’s wigs in the near future are not only made of metal, but are also styled with an exceptionally large beehive at the back, as opposed to the top, of the head.  It’s just brilliant! Whilst discussing women’s fashion, Zoe’s hotpants are just divine.

Madelaine Issigri had the most fabulous metal wig

Madelaine Issigri had the most fabulous metal wig

That wig again!

That wig again!

Zoe's hotpants

Zoe’s hotpants

The Doctor and his companions were noticeably absent from the greater part of The Space Pirates and could be fairly said to have played supporting roles.  Patrick Troughton’s request for a lighter acting role undoubtedly accounted for this to some degree.  In respect of the final episode, the TARDIS crew were heavily engaged in the location shoot for their final adventure, The War Games.  Accordingly the Doctor, Zoe and Jamie only appeared in pre-filmed inserts for that episode. The results of the Crew’s location filming will be evident in my next review as we say farewell to the monochrome era of Doctor Who, and the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, in The War Games. 

The Space Pirates was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 March and 12 April 1969

The Space Pirates was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 March and 12 April 1969

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

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


Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Seeds of Death

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The Doctor had long shown himself to be adept at time travel, however it was not until the 1969 serial The Seeds of Death that he was seen to man a more conventional form of space transportation, a rocket.  That the Doctor and his friends should find themselves on a rocket to the Moon should come as no surprise given that this serial was broadcast in early 1969 and the Apollo 11 landed the first humans on the Moon on 20 July 1969. What is more astounding is that in the world of Doctor Who rockets are perceived to be outdated and an anachronism.  In The Seeds of Death Professor Eldred is the curator of a space museum who spends his spare time secretly working on a rocket.  All transportation is now carried out by T-Mat, otherwise known as transmit, a form of instantaneous particle matter transfer. Even motor cars have become redundant and the T-Mat system is used to transport people and produce throughout the world.  There is a T-Mat relay on the Moon and it is from there that the Ice Warriors intend to commence their conquest of the Earth.

Jamie, the Doctor and Zoe arrive on Earth following their adventures with The Krotons

Jamie, the Doctor and Zoe arrive on Earth following their adventures with The Krotons

The Doctor is covered in foam as he attempts to gain entry to the Weather Station

The Doctor is covered in foam as he attempts to gain entry to the Weather Station

That there is no alternative transport to T-Mat is extraordinary, particularly as the sustenance of the whole world is dependent upon its operation. This extreme example of “putting all your eggs in one basket” was what led the Doctor and his companions to risk their lives in an untested experimental rocket.  It appears that together with world famine, local stock-piling of goods has long since ended. Although the details provided in The Seeds of Death are sketchy, it appears that the T-Mat system is operated, if not wholly owned, by a corporation named Travel-Mat.  What Travel-Mat’s relationship is to the governments of the world is not specified. Perhaps Travel-Mat is the world government? Travel-Mat certainly has some relationship with the United Nations as Professor Eldred describes Sir James Gregson as the United Nations Plenipotentiary.  Radnor clarifies this by saying that Gregson is the Minister with special responsibility for T-Mat. I suspect that the climate change sceptics with whom I frequently debate would revel in declaring The Seeds of Death to be an accurate prediction of their New World Order conspiracies. Come to think of it, most climate change deniers know so little about science that they’d probably think the mistaken “science” of The Ice Warriors is correct.  Distinguishing fact from fiction can at times be difficult for some, hence the premise behind The Mind Robber!

T-Mat employees wear an unfortunate uniform with their underpants on the outside

T-Mat employees wear an unfortunate uniform with their underpants on the outside

Arguably the most powerful person employed by Travel-Mat is Miss Gia Kelly, the Assistant Controller, who inexplicably is the only person who completely understands T-Mat.  Again the question arises as to what would happen to this world-wide transport system, on which the distribution of all Earth’s food is dependent, if Miss Kelly suddenly became indisposed. It’s a pleasant development in Doctor Who to have a women in such a powerful role and not be denigrated for her gender by fellow on-screen workers. Kelly even managed to escape the sexism inherent in the UNIT soldiers’ praise for Zoe in The Invasion, when they said that she was “prettier than a computer”.  That being said, I’m at a loss to understand why Kelly was portrayed as so officious and unable to smile.  What does this say about our perceptions of powerful women? Do women that attain the giddy heights of success necessarily relinquish all vestiges of humanity in the minds of others? Even a casual observer to Australian politics in recent years would be cognisant of sexist vitriol thrown at our former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Being “deliberately barren” was perhaps the most offensive of them all.  I would posit that the writer Brian Hayles’ portrayal of Kelly is an example of this offensive stereotyping of successful women.

Miss Kelly is the only person who truly understands T-Mat.  She is pictured here with the rocket countdown reflected onto her face

Miss Kelly is the only person who truly understands T-Mat. She is pictured here with the rocket countdown reflected onto her face

Gia Kelly is arguably the most powerful person working for Travel-Mat

Gia Kelly is arguably the most powerful person working for Travel-Mat

Unfortunately I have a concern with the Doctor’s ethics in The Seeds of Death. At the serial’s end the Doctor sent the Ice Warriors’ rockets onto an orbit close to the Sun by transmitting a fake homing signal.  When the Warrior Slaar told the Doctor that he has destroyed their whole fleet, the Doctor’s response was that “you tried to destroy an entire world”. Given that the Doctor believed these Warriors to be the only survivors of their species, he was effectively committing genocide. Whilst we all now know that the fleet didn’t comprise the last of the Ice Warriors, that’s not the point.  The Doctor acted in a similar manner to the Daleks in The Evil of the Daleks and to the Drahvins in Galaxy 4. In my review of Galaxy 4 I discussed in some detail how the Doctor’s apparent genocide of a race was at odds with his classic moral deliberations in The Genesis of the Daleks.

The Doctor kills the first of many Ice Warriors

The Doctor kills the first of many Ice Warriors

Akin to Brian Hayles’ problems with science in The Ice Warriors, The Seeds of Death is similarly tainted.  Remarkably, whilst the Ice Warriors collapsed when the temperate reached 60 degrees Celsius, the humans exhibited no ill effects at all.  Not a bead of sweat was seen to develop on a single brow. This story did, however, again exhibit Hayles’ apparent concern for things environmental. The plant consuming foam which emerged from the Ice Warrior’s seeds would eventually result in the removal of all oxygen and the death of humans as the atmosphere became more akin to that of Mars.

The Doctor discovers that water destroy's the Ice Warriors' seeds

The Doctor discovers that water destroys the Ice Warriors’ seeds

Technology had also caught up with Doctor Who by the Ice Warrior’s second appearance. Filmed inserts for episodes were by then being produced during the recording of the previous stories.  Because of the 1968/1969 Christmas/New Year break, some inserts were filmed up to six weeks prior to the recording of the episodes. It’s for that reason that careful observation will show that within the same episode the Doctor can at one point have particularly bushy side-burns, and the next moment has none.

The Doctor discusses retro rockets with Professor Eldred

The Doctor discusses retro rockets with Professor Eldred

When Jamie suggested that the Doctor should use the TARDIS to travel back to the Moon the Doctor was quick to advise that “the TARDIS is not suited to short range travel”.  It’s a shame that the Eleventh Doctor  didn’t remember that  when he decided to take the TARDIS for a quick hop to the Moon to run her in during The Eleventh Hour (2010).  He didn’t come back to Amy until two years later!  The Doctor also seemed to have forgotten exactly how much of an unpleasant time he’d had when last he visited a space museum (The Space Museum). Quite naturally Zoe knows how to pilot a rocket so she necessarily went up in my esteem, yet again.  She also has a photographic memory.

Clearly the Eleventh Doctor had forgotten that the TARDIS is not suited to short range travel in The Eleventh Hour (2010)

Clearly the Eleventh Doctor had forgotten that the TARDIS was not suited to short range travel in The Eleventh Hour (2010)

Amongst her many skills, Zoe can pilot a space rocket

Amongst her many skills, Zoe can pilot a space rocket

With the conclusion of The Seeds of Death we say goodbye to the last monster story of Patrick Troughton’s tenure.  Not only is it the final monster serial of the 1960s but also of Doctor Who’s monochrome era.  Troughton’s penultimate adventure, The Space Pirates, has no aliens although it does have a space cowboy who is almost as bad, in a frightening sort of way!

The Seeds of Death was originally broadcast in the UK between 25 January and 1 March 1969

The Seeds of Death was originally broadcast in the UK between 25 January and 1 March 1969

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.