After a long 50th Anniversary induced break it’s back to the Doctor Who Mind Robber’sjourney through all 800 episodes of Who. Today we farewell the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, as Season Six concludes and we inch towards Jon Pertwee’s debut as the Third Doctor. Please join us as we explore Season Seven of Doctor Whoand meet the Silurians and Autons for the first time.
With the hysteria of Doctor Who’s50th Anniversary behind us, and Peter Capaldi’s debut series as the Doctor at least six months away, it’s time to recommence the Doctor Who Mind Robber’sultimate marathon. Before the unrelenting barrage of Golden Anniversary publicity and hype derailed the writer’s quest to view and review all 800 episodes of Doctor Who,this humble blog had chronicled the Doctor’s adventures from William Hartnell’s debut serial, An Unearthly Child, to Patrick Troughton’s penultimate outing, The Space Pirates.Although the final serial of the monochrome era, The War Games, had been viewed several times, the review has yet to grace the pages of this blog. It’s almost as if I couldn’t bare to make the final break with my favourite doctor, Troughton. Alas, it’s time to move on. Peter Capalid’s channelling of Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor in his costume publicity photos has reignited my passion to explore the tenure of our first full colour Doctor. Please join me for the journey!
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 Piratesreally as bad as its reputation? Only the moving pictures can show for sure
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
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
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
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
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
One of the most frustrating aspects of 21st Century Doctor Who is the almost complete absence of cliff hangers. Very few stories have extended beyond one episode. In a clear nod to William Hartnell era stories, the Series 7 story The Crimson Horror ended with a direct lead-in to the next story, Nightmare in Silver. Arriving back in present-day London, the companion Clara meets with the children she babysits, Angie and Artie, who blackmail her into taking them on her next adventure in the TARDIS.
Clara is blackmailed by Angie and Artie at the conclusion of The Crimson Horror (2013)
In celebration of the great cliff hangers of Classic Series Doctor Who this article will briefly examine the Top 10 Cliff Hangers of the Sixties. So as not to reinvent the wheel, The Doctor Who Mind Robber has directly quoted the episode ending summaries from David J Howe and Stephen James Walker’s seminal book The Television Companion. No copyright infringement is intended.
David J Howe & Stephen James Walker’s The Television Companion was published in 2003 by Telos Publishing
“Maggie Harris and Robson, both infected by the weed creature, meet on the beach. The former tells the latter that he will obey his instructions. Then she turns and walks straight out into the sea, eventually becoming completely submerged beneath the waves”.
The horror of this cliff hanger is the apparent suicide of Maggie Harris, the wife of one of the base employees. It is not until several episodes later that it becomes evident that Mrs Harris is still alive. Incidentally, Fury From the Deep is one of the few Doctor Who serials in which no one dies.
Unfortunately all episodes of Fury From the Deep have been lost, however the soundtrack, telesnaps and Loose Cannon’s excellent reconstruction brilliantly convey the horror.
In the cliff hanger to episode three Maggie Harris walks into the water, as if to commit suicide
“The TARDIS arrives on a Palaeolithic landscape, over which falls the shadow of a man”.
This is the cliff hanger to the very first episode of Doctor Who and it’s the first time that the television viewers see the TARDIS materialize. The ominous shadow of a man in the barren landscape is both frightening and unexpected.
The ominous shadow of a man approaches the TARDIS in the cliff hanger to An Unearthly Child
“The TARDIS is in flight, the travellers having apparently escaped from the void. A low, throbbing hum is heard which grows in intensity until it is unbearable. Suddenly the TARDIS explodes. The Doctor spins away through space while Jamie and Zoe are left clinging to the console as it is engulfed in swirling mist.”
The end of the first episode of The Mind Robber is absolutely brilliant. This is the first time in Doctor Who that the TARDIS explodes and the crew is left floating perilously in space. The image of Zoe clinging onto the TARDIS console has become iconic for all the wrong reasons. Her tight sparkly cat suit clings to her body as the camera focuses on her bottom.
Wendy Padbury in the scene for which, unfortunately, she is perhaps best known
“The Abbot of Amboise lies dead in the gutter, a crowd of angry Catholics gathering around his body. When Steven protests that the Huguenots were not responsible, Roger Colbert incites the crowd against him. Steven flees for his life through the Paris streets …”
The Massacre sees William Hartnell play two roles – the Doctor and the evil Abbot of Amboise. Both characters are absolutely identical in appearance however the audience and companion Steven are unaware if the Doctor is masquerading as the Abbot, or if the Doctor and the Abbot are two different people. It’s for that reason that this cliff hanger is so powerful as it is not clear if it is the Doctor or the real Abbot who is dead.
The Massacre is another of the serials which unfortunately has all episodes missing. As discussed in Fury From the Deep, this does not distract from the potency of the ending.
“The Doctor returns to the TARDIS, closely followed by Ben and Polly. The ship’s controls move of their own accord and the Doctor collapses to the floor. His companions enter and, before their astonished eyes, the Doctor’s face transforms into that of a younger man”.
This episode ending is of course Doctor Who’s first regeneration. The First Doctor, William Hartnell, collapses and with exceptional special effects for the era, his face is transformed into that of the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton. The audience must wait until the next episode to see all of the new Doctor’s body and to experience his personality. There was no precedent for a change of the lead character in such a manner, and the audience was left stunned as they anticipated the new Doctor’s personality and physical appearance.
Episode 4 of The Tenth Planet has been lost however an amateur film was taken of a television screen during the broadcast of the episode. The episode has also been recently animated and will be released on DVD next month.
“The Doctor and Ian, menaced by a group of Robomen, prepare to escape by diving into the Thames. As they turn, they see rising slowly from the water the familiar shape of a Dalek.” (Episode 1)
“The TARDIS dematerialises and, comforted by David, Susan moves away. Her TARDIS key lies discarded on the ground, with an image of a starscape superimposed …” (Episode 6)
The cliff hanger of episode 1 derives its force from both the iconic background of the Thames River and the emergence of Doctor Who’s first return monsters, the Daleks. Having been so well received in their first story, the return of the Daleks was eagerly anticipated by fans. As was the common practise in early Doctor Who stories, the monsters rarely appeared on-screen until the end of the serial’s first episode.
The episode six ending marked the first departure of a companion in Doctor Who. Just prior to the episode’s end the Doctor gave an impassioned oration to his grand-daughter Susan whom he was effectively deserting on the 21st Century Earth.
A submerged Dalek emerging from the Thames River
Susan talks to the Doctor through the TARDIS’s PA system
“After cleaning Farrow’s blood from the patio stones outside, Smithers goes into the laboratory to wash his hands, unaware that the Doctor and Susan are hiding in the water outlet from the sink. As a helpless Ian and Barbara watch, he fills the sink with water, washes, and then pulls out the plug”.
The brilliance of the episode 2 cliff hanger of Planet of the Giants is that it successfully made the mundane frightening. Watching a plug pulled from a sink and water cascading down a drain would ordinarily be exciting as watching the kettle boil. Our heroes, however, have been shrunk to less than an inch in height and are as vulnerable as an ant is to the heavy boot of a human. The companions Ian and Barbara, together with the audience, are left paralysed with fear at the imminent drowning of the Doctor and Susan.
The Doctor and Susan before descending into the sink drain
“Exploring their apparently deserted city, Barbara encounters one of the Daleks and is menaced by its telescopic sucker arm.”
As outlined in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, it was standard practice in early Doctor Who for the monsters not to emerge until the cliff hanger of the first episode. This absolutely iconic ending sees Barbara pinned to a wall in fear as a Dalek’s sucker arm menaces her. The audience has not yet seen the rest of the Dalek’s body however the expression on Barbara’s face paints a picture of a horrifying spectacle.
Barbara is pinned against the wall in fear during the Daleks’ first appearance in Doctor Whoon 21st December 1963
2. The War Games – Episode 1 and Episode 10
“In the First World War zone the Doctor has been found guilty of spying against the English forces and is tied up before a firing squad. Captain Ransom brings his men to order, tells them to present arms and opens his mouth to give the order to fire. A shot rings out and the Doctor grimaces” (Episode 1)
“A still protesting Doctor spins away through a dark void to begin his sentence of exile on Earth with a new appearance. His face is shrouded in shadow …” (Episode 10)
By the time the first episode of The War Games was broadcast Patrick Troughton’s decision to leave the role of the Doctor had been made public. Whilst history had shown that the Doctor always escaped serious harm, the audience could not be certain that his luck hadn’t finally ended. Perhaps he would be killed by the firing squad and regeneration was imminent?
Episode 10 is perhaps my all-time favourite as so many mysteries about the Doctor’s past are answered. His forced regeneration at the episode’s end is chilling but perhaps not as sad as Jamie and Zoe’s departure earlier in the episode. The monochrome era of Doctor Who was at an end and things would never be the same again.
“The Cybermen emerge from the sewers and march through the streets of London as the invasion begins.”
The Cybermen’s emergence from the sewers of London and their march down the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral is justifiably iconic. By placing the monsters in an easily recognizable London landscape genuine fear would have been instilled in the audience. Although the Daleks had visited tourist spots such as Westminster Bridge in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Cybermen were in current day London. This wasn’t one of the Daleks’ futuristic tales but rather a genuine invasion in our own time. As Jon Pertwee said, there’s a “Yeti on the Loo in Tooting Bec”.
Arguably the most iconic cliff hanger in classic series Doctor Who. The Cybermen on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral
Yes, I know that I’ve yet to review The War Gamesor watch Spearhead From Space (for the purposes of this marathon), however I’m far too excited about the arrival of my favourite Doctor to wait to share this clip. The first tattooed Doctor has appeared and what better way to endear him to the audience than through a shower scene. Thank goodness this is Doctor Who and not Psycho!
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 Spacewill soon introduce us to the Autons, but prior to that my forthcoming review of The War Gameswill lure me back to the sixties for one last hurrah. Please join me as I continue my journey through 50 years of Doctor Who.
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
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
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
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
That wig again!
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
Episode two of The Space Pirates has been released on the triple DVD set Lost in Time
The triple DVD set Lost in Timehas been my constant companion since the sixth serial of Season Two, The Crusade.106 episodes of Doctor Whoare currently listed as officially missing from the BBC Archives. My use of the words “officially missing” are quite deliberate as rumours continue to swirl throughout Whofandom of the alleged recovery of multiple episodes. With neither a confirmation nor unequivocal denial by the BBC, these rumours are unlikely to dissipate in the near future.
Episode One of The Crusade is the first orphan episode on disc one of Lost in Time
Tonight I had the great pleasure of finally removing disc three of Lost in Timefrom my Blu Ray player, putting it away in its case, and then reshelving the set. Having watched the extant episode two of The Space Pirates,and the Loose Cannon reconstructions of the remaining five episodes, I’ve just completed one of the greatest challenges of a Doctor Whofan – to watch reconstructions of all 106 missing episodes and the 18 full orphan episodes released on Lost in Time. What a relief it is to have straddled the last hurdle in the seemingly unending race towards the final episode of Doctor Who’smonochrome era, The War Games.Henceforth, there are no missing episodes of Doctor Whoand only 10 black and white ones remaining. The end of an era is fast approaching and I will certainly miss Patrick Troughton’s “Cosmic Hobo” Doctor.
Episode Two of The Space Pirates is the last orphan episode on disc three of Lost in Time
Watch out for my review of The Space Piratesin the next day or two, and The War Gameslater in the week. The first post in my 50 Day Countdown to the 50th Anniversary will appear on Friday 4 October and will be rather unimaginatively titled The Ten Most Wanted Missing Episodes.Please join me then for a fun romp through 1960s Doctor Who.
A Doctor Who Magazine front cover on Missing Episodes
It’s not often that the opportunity affords itself to write a review of a story that is as close to perfect as Doctor Who can get. So good, in fact, that it’s after this serial that my blog is named. The Mind Robber is the epitome of all that is innovative, experimental and surreal about Doctor Who when it’s done correctly. With the addition of a last minute opening episode and Frazer Hines’ sidelining by chicken pox in episode two, The Mind Robber could easily have become an utter shambles. It’s to the credit of the writer Peter Ling, Script Editor Derrick Sherwin and Director David Maloney that it didn’t.
The Doctor was lucky to have not turned himself into fiction
Myth has it that Peter Ling’s inspiration for The Mind Robber was the inability of soap opera audiences to distinguish fact from fiction. Ling, who had never previously written for a science fiction programme, was well known as a writer for the British soap operas Compact (1962-1965) and Crossroads (1964 onwards), amongst others. It was on Crossroads that incoming Doctor Who story editor, Derrick Sherwin, and assistant story editor, Terrance Dicks, had also been engaged. This soap, which centred on a motel, was filmed in Birmingham and it was on a train trip to that fair city that Ling, Sherwin and Dicks first discussed an idea that would eventually evolve into The Mind Robber script.
Rapunzel and the children of the Land of Fiction
The Master of the Land of Fiction is a different character to the renegade Time Lord we meet in Season 8
The inability of some viewers to comprehend that television dramas are fictional and not fact is not uncommon. Comedian, author and actor Toby Hadoke takes great delight in ridiculing such people in his stand-up comedy show, Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf. Hadoke, who starred as a Vicar in the soap Coronation Street in December 2000, was gobsmacked to actually receive letters from viewers asking if he might officiate at weddings. “And these people can vote” he quipped!
Toby Hadoke – Stand-up comedian, actor and author of Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf.
The fiction of children’s stories and classic mythology permeate The Mind Robber. Lemuel Gulliver, wind-up tin toy soldiers, Rapunzel, the Medusa, a Unicorn, Sir Lancelot and Blackbeard are amongst the characters which confront the Doctor and his crew. Gulliver, who is originally named only as “A Stranger” is brilliantly portrayed by Bernard Horsfall, who only passed away in January 2013. Horsfall went on to appear in another three Doctor Who serials, all of which were directed by David Maloney – The War Games (1969), The Planet of the Daleks (1973) and The Deadly Assassin (1976). Tall and imposing, yet always polite and obliging, the fictional character from Gulliver’s Travels spoke only words and phrases taken directly from Jonathon Swift’s 1726 novel. The juxtaposition of Gulliver’s archaic but lyrical language with the Doctor and his companion’s modern English was superb. It was only in the final episode that Ling permitted Gulliver to speak lines other than those from the novel, however his language form remained Middle English.
The Doctor is initially menaced by Gulliver
The seamless transition of Jamie from Frazer Hines to Hamish Wilson was an imaginatively simple idea that meshed themes common to both The Mind Robber and its preceding serial, The Dominators. When Hines succumbed to chicken pox early in the week of episode two’s shooting an immediate solution was required. During the course of the 60s each episode of Doctor Who was filmed at the end of a week’s rehearsal. Save for sparse location shoots, material was not pre-recorded. Recording was almost live, with only an hour and a half allocated for each 25 minute episode. Given that only three video cuts were permitted for each episode, this necessitated the filming of scenes in their correct order and performances in a play-like fashion. Filming scenes from different episodes on the one day was unheard of. Moreover, episodes were often filmed only two weeks prior to airing. This meant that when episode one of a six part serial was broadcast the production of the final episode could still be a month away.
Hamish Wilson played the role of Jamie in episodes two and three
As a consequence of these production limitations the absence of a cast member presented extraordinary difficulties. The luxury of filming out of order and six months in advance of screenings did not exist, so there was no means by which the ill actor could film their scenes at a later time. Hence the extraordinary decision to retain the character of Jamie in episode two but have him played by an altogether different actor. The fictional nature of the story, in which the Doctor and his companions were constantly confronted by challenges, afforded the opportunity for Jamie’s identity change to become part of a game. Having been turned into a life size cardboard cut-out, Jamie’s face was removed and he could not be animated again until the Doctor put the puzzle pieces of his face correctly together. On a board where three or four photographs of eyes, noses and mouths. In a flustered state the Doctor chose the wrong pieces and Jamie was reanimated with a different face. When Hines returned in episode three Jamie was again transformed into a cut-out. The Doctor was successfully able to complete Jamie’s face puzzle, this time with the assistance of the very attentive Zoe. In the interim Wilson had superbly perfected Jamie’s mannerisms.
The Doctor and Zoe put Jamie’s face back together
The Doctor’s initial inability to correctly choose Jamie’s eyes, nose and mouth was reminiscent of his feigned stupidity in The Dominators. In an attempt to appear an imbecile in the previous serial the Doctor had intentionally failed a block test similar to one that a normal three year old would complete with ease. He was unable to match the wooden blocks with their correct holes and suffered electric shocks to his arms as a consequence. No longer considered a threat, the Doctor and Jamie were subsequently released by the Dominators.
The Doctor with Rapunzel and the Karkus
The Mind Robber contains the only episode of Doctor Who not to feature a writer’s credit. Originally written as a four part serial by Peter Ling, the story was expanded to five episodes after the production fiasco that was The Dominators. Having no budget for guest cast or additional props the production crew were faced with a very similar predicament to that in the season one story The Edge of Destruction. Having access only to the three main cast and the TARDIS console, Script Editor Derrick Sherwin wrote the opening episode to accommodate these restrictions. Akin to The Edge of Destruction, these constraints resulted in a minimalist masterpiece.
Wendy Padbury in the scene for which, unfortunately, she is perhaps best known
The TARDIS Explodes in the cliff hanger to episode one of The Mind Robber
Many of the most memorable scenes in The Mind Robber were Wendy Padbury’s. The cliff-hanger of episode one featured a shiny cat-suited Zoe hanging onto the TARDIS console as it plummeted through space. That much of the scene focussed on Zoe’s bum must have been a cause for great delight amongst male viewers. Zoe also enacted a wondrous pantomime fall and proved herself proficient in martial arts when she easily defeated the cartoon book character, the Karkus, in a fight.
Zoe fights the Karkus
Zoe and Jamie cling to the TARDIS console after the Ship explodes
The Mind Robber wasalmost certainly the naming inspiration for the New Series Doctor Who character Captain Jack Harkness. The Master of Fiction had written 250,000 words of fiction as editor of the boys’ own magazine, The Ensign. Captain Jack Harkaway was one of the Master’s characters which like all others in the story, with the exception of the Karkus, was a fictional character in the real (non-Doctor Who) world. The Master of The Mind Robber, however, is a completely different character to the renegade Time Lord that the Third Doctor first encounters in Season Eight.
The fictional character, Captain Jack Harkaway, was undoubtedly an inspiration in the naming of the new series character Captain Jack Harkness
Captain Jack Harkness is not to be confused with The Mind Robber’s Captain Jack Harkaway
I could inevitably extol the virtues of The Mind Robber for several thousand more words however I’ll bother you not with more reading. Instead I earnestly implore you to legally acquire a copy of the story and take in its pleasures yourself. Watch Jamie and the Doctor climb Rapunzel’s hair, the snakes animating in the Medusa’s hair, and the Unicorn charging at our heroes. I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.
The source of many a nightmare – the Unicorn
The Mind Robber was originally broadcast in the UK between 14 September and 12 October 1968
The Moonbase is arguably the story where the Second Doctor’s characterization truly takes its most familiar form. The Doctor who is sentenced to regeneration and exile to Earth in The War Games for his continual breaches of the Time Lords’ Non-Interference Policy, conceivably had his genesis in The Moonbase. For it is in The Moonbase that this Doctor’s incarnation utters perhaps his most famous words, “There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought”. The Doctor’s goofing about has ended, although of course he’ll always be amusing, and his quest to save the universe has begun.
The genesis of the Second Doctor’s characterization can be seen in The Moonbase
In The Highlanders the Doctor was keen to leave as soon as he spied a steaming cannon ball. It was only after Polly’s mocking of him that the Tardis Crew remained. In The Moonbase, it is Ben who is keen to decamp at the earliest possible opportunity but the Doctor who is insistent on remaining. This is quite a radical change. This is, of course, after the Doctor had initially wanted to immediately leave the Moon after discovering he was not at his intended location, Mars. Being so experienced in space travel the Doctor had not even considered that his three companions may have relished the idea of walking on the moon. This, naturally, was more than two years prior to the first human stepping foot on the Moon on 20th July 1969. Ever since the Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, became the first human to fly in space on 12th April 1961, the Western world was agog with the desire to beat the Communists and be the victors of the space race. That it took over three years for Doctor Who to first venture to the Moon is somewhat surprising given the context of the age.
It took three years for Doctor Who (and the Cybermen) to visit the Moon
Although appearing of sturdier construction than the Mondas forebears in The Tenth Planet, the Cybermen of The Moonbase had lost their most frightening element – the vestiges of their humanity. Prior to watching The Tenth Planet I’d scoff at the awkward appearance of the Mark 1 Cybermen, with their cloth stocking faces and human hands. This was but another example, I thought, of lacklustre costuming. Fancy the team at Doctor Who thinking that the audience could be scared of men with stockings over their heads! How wrong was I. The Mark 1 Cybermen were so very threatening for the primary reason that the vestiges of their humanity were still evident. Their sing-song voices hinted at a humanity that had somehow gone askew.
The Mark 2 Cybermen of The Moonbase have lost the vestiges of their humanity
A Mark 1 Cyberman in The Tenth Planet
The Mark 2 Cybermen of The Moonbase are an almost different species altogether. Monsters they are, but humans they are not. Their monotone metallic voices pay no homage to their humanoid origins and they are little more than robots. Of itself there is nothing amiss with robots, per se, it’s just that “Cyber” without the “men” makes for an altogether different creature. Doctor Who, however, had established its second great monster and no longer would the audience’s imaginations be limited to a Dalek only mindset. Iconic imagery would soon abound to add to the Dalek’s emergence from the murky pollution of the Thames in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Cybermen will emerge from their icy tombs in The Tomb of the Cybermen and march down the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in The Invasion. Nothing will be the same again.
A Cyberman with Jamie
Akin to The Power of the Daleks, the Doctor is recognized by the Cybermen, notwithstanding his regenerated form. Moreover, the adventures of the Doctor and his gang have for the first time gone down in the annals of history. Hobson is perplexed by the Doctor’s ignorance of Cyberman history. Every child knows that the Cybermen died when Mondas was blown up, Hobson states irritably. School children clearly now learn about the adventures of the Doctor and his companions. The Moonbase commander, Hobson, is also the first to utter the words “we’re under siege” but the sentiment of a confined environment under threat by monsters is quickly to become a hallmark of Patrick Troughton’s era. There’s a “base under siege” and under siege the confines of Doctor Who will remain for much of the Second Doctor’s tenure.
The Moonbase is under siege and staffed by an international contingent including Brits, French, Danes, Australians and New Zealanders
The Moonbase is an early example of Doctor Who’s environmental concerns which would become all the more evident during Barry Lett’s tenure as Producer in the early 1970s. The 1964 Season Two opener, Planet of Giants, had contemplated the effect of pesticides on the world’s eco-systems. In The Moonbase the Gravitron controls the Earth’s tides and has been doing so for the last 20 years since 2050. By controlling the tides through the emission of deep sonic fields, the Gravitron controls the weather. It is thermonuclear powered and has an inner core temperature of four million degrees. The Gravitron guides hurricanes, for example, and when it is not working correctly the potential for disaster exists. In this story we learn that thirty minutes previously, in Miami, Florida, they’d been experiencing blue skies and a heatwave. Cyclone Lucy was now just overhead. Something was causing the Gravitron to malfunction, but it is not until the story progresses that it is revealed that the Cybermen are the source of the problems. It’s the Cybermen’s intention to use the Gravitron to kill all life on the Earth and hence eliminate its threat to themselves. Whereas the Mark 1 Cybermen of The Tenth Planet were susceptible to radiation, it’s gravity which is the Mark 2 version’s weakness. The Doctor saves the world by turning the Gravitron onto the Cybermen and blasting them out into space.
The Gravitron is operated by men in funny hats that look like they were rejects from The Underwater Menace
Polly is spectacular in The Moonbase, and seemingly without scientific training is able to formulate a solvent to disintegrate the Cybermen’s plastic chest plates. Deriving the idea from Jamie’s off-hand comment that witches were kept at bay by sprinkling holy water, Polly reasons that if nail polish is a plastic and is removed by acetone, then surely chemicals exist on the base which could disintegrate the chamber holding the Cybermen’s heart and lungs. Being uncertain that acetone would be the correct solvent to dissolve the Cybermen’s plastic, Polly sets about making a cocktail of different solvents in the hope that one will do the trick. Thankfully her ad-hoc mix of benzene, ether, alcohol, acetone and epoxy-propane doesn’t blow up and does a splendid job of producing great sprays of foam from the dying Cybermen. Ben nick-names the concoction the “Polly Cocktail”, although the boys, as is their want, seek to take the fame for the Cybermen’s destruction and to dissuade Polly from participating in “men’s work”. Girls can do anything and Polly certainly proves this!
The “Polly Cocktail” makes Polly the true hero of The Moonbase
Jamie doesn’t see a great deal of action in The Moonbase and spends most of his time recovering from a head injury in the sick bay. His Scottish Highland origins are brought more to the fore in this serial. Together with his comment about holy water and witches, Jamie also innocently speaks of seeing the “man in the moon” and in a hallucinatory state thinks that a Cyberman is the “Phantom Piper”. Akin to the Grim Reaper, the McCrimmon “Phantom Piper” appears just prior to death. Thankfully we get to see Jamie running around in a kilt, which is always a blessing!
Polly tends to the ailing Jamie. Whilst hallucinating Jamie mistakes a Cyberman for the “Phantom Piper”
The Moonbaseconcludes with Doctor firing up the time scanner, a hitherto unheard of Tardis accoutrement which provides a glimpse into the future. Used infrequently and not very reliable, the time scanner shows an image of a giant claw. Our next story, The Macra Terror, is sure to be chilling.
The Moonbase was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 February and 4 March 1967. Episodes 2 and 4 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time