Friday, 28 June 2013

Landmarks No.15

Terror of the Autons.
Significant for the introduction of the Master, and companion Jo Grant. The Brigadier gains a Captain (Mike Yates) and so the UNIT family finally comes together.
Another excellent, somewhat controversial, script from Robert Holmes.
The return of the Autons.
Producer Barry Letts begins to direct one story per season - a condition he had made on accepting the role.
For an Auton story it has very little Auton action in it. Instead, the Master uses plastic in a variety of ways to despatch people - dolls, daffodils, telephone cords and chairs.
The story was controversial for having a policeman revealed as an Auton, and scaring children into refusing to take their teddies to bed in case they throttled them.
UNIT had always seemed a little undermanned, and it was felt that the Brigadier should have an officer under him. Previously, the role had been filled with a number of one-off characters. There was a possibility that the new man might also provide a bit of romance for the new companion.
The original choice for Yates was Ian Marter, but he could not commit to a long running role. Letts then saw Richard Franklin in a play - and his agent just happened to be sitting next to him.
There was never anyone else in the running for the Master. Once the Doctor had been identified as a sort of Sherlock Holmes character, Letts and Terrance Dicks realised he needed a Moriarty figure to act against - especially now that he was exiled to Earth. The Master was created - being given an academic title like the Doctor. Roger Delgado had acted opposite Barry Letts (even running him through with a sword).
When this story made the front cover of the Radio Times, Pertwee was furious. Delgado got the more prominent role - and Pertwee was worried that the public might think the Doctor had regenerated again.
The Autons would never appear in the classic series again. There had been a plan to bring them into The Five Doctors for the Third Doctor to fight, and JNT was planning on bringing them back to meet the Sixth Doctor, had the programme not been put on hiatus. He would have encountered them in Singapore, along with the Rani, in a story provisionally titled "Yellow Fever, And How To Cure It" to be written by Holmes.

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