Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Combat - Torchwood 1.11

In which Captain Jack is pursuing a Weevil through the streets of Cardiff. Gwen is on a dinner date with Rhys and sees him. She runs to join him, much to Rhys' annoyance.  They are just on the point of capturing it when they see it being bundled into the back of a van and driven off. Tosh traces the van to a warehouse. When they arrive, they find a dead man - his body exhibiting wounds consistent with being savaged by a Weevil. His phone rings, and a man's voice warns them from investigating further. Another Weevil victim turns up at the hospital, but he refuses to say how he came to injured. The warehouse is found to belong to a local estate agency, run by a young man named Mark Lynch.
Owen has been depressed since the departure of Diane Holmes, and Gwen has now ended their relationship. He is talked into going undercover as a businessman seeking warehouse properties in Cardiff, in order to find out more about Lynch.

Gwen tells Rhys about her affair, only to then Retcon him. Jack decides to release their captured Weevil, which they have named Janet, in the hope that it will lead them to the abductors. The creature is captured, but they fail to trace the people who have taken it. Owen and Lynch have a drink together, and the estate agent invites him back to his flat once he realises that Owen is looking for some new excitement in his life. Owen has a look round the flat, and comes across Janet chained up in one of the rooms. Lynch takes Owen to a warehouse where a number of people are gathering. A large cage has been set up, and Owen discovers that men are paying to fight Weevils. Everyone puts down £1000, and whoever survives their fight wins the pot. Lynch explains that he and others like him who have wealth and influence are in need of more heightened experiences in their lives. The Weevil fights provide the ultimate thrill.

Owen refuses to join in, and is goaded by Lynch. He relents and enters the cage, at first refusing to fight the creature. It attacks him, but his colleagues have traced his location and arrive in time to rescue him. They break up the fight club, but Lynch enters the cage to show he has no fear. The Weevil attacks and kills him. Jack stands back and allows this to happen.
Owen recuperates in hospital, where Jack suspects that he was trying to kill himself in the cage. Back at work the next day, Owen goes to the cells and watches the captured Weevils held there. When they hiss at him he responds in kind - and finds that the creatures cower before him.

Combat was written by Noel Clarke, and was first broadcast on 24th December, 2006. Clarke was, of course, best known for playing Rose Tyler's boyfriend Mickey Smith in Doctor Who at the time, but he was already an accomplished screenwriter as well as an actor. Kidulthood had been one of the big British hits of 2006.
This is hardly the most original episode of Torchwood, as it shows its influence all too clearly. 1996 saw the publication of the novel Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk, which was filmed by David Fincher and released in cinemas in 1999. This also features a depressed individual meeting someone who draws him into a fight club whose participants are men seeking vicarious thrills in their lives.
The Weevils had featured in the very first episode of Torchwood, and publicity had suggested they would be that series' recurring monsters, but in reality they had rarely featured until this episode.
They will have a bit more to do in the second season, and the incident in the cells which forms the coda to this episode does prefigure Owen's apparent power over them after he has been brought back from the dead.

There's only one real guest artist this week, and that's Alex Hassell as Mark Lynch. Hassell is better known as a theatre performer, having played Caliban alongside Mark Rylance at the Globe, and Prince Hal / Henry V with the RSC. He played opposite Anthony Sher in the Henriad (Sher was Falstaff), and acted alongside him again in Death of a Salesman.
Overall, it is an exciting enough episode, designed mainly to set Owen up for the final section of the series. Gwen and Rhys get a couple of good scenes as well, moving them on a little, whilst Jack gets to demonstrate a real ruthless streak - first of all by allowing Janet to be used as bait, then allowing her to maul Lynch to death.
Things you might like to know:

  • Mark's company is called LynchFrost. This is a homage to Lynch / Frost Productions, the company behind Twin Peaks
  • Torchwood's low key story arc is in evidence as Lynch tells Owen about the darkness and something moving in it.
  • We never do learn anything about the Weevils and their origins. They are presented as a form of bipedal rat, of very limited intelligence, and yet they wear clothes - the exact same clothes, as though they were bred and maintained by some higher power.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

C is for... Cooper, Geraint & Mary

Parents of Torchwood operative Gwen Cooper. We first met them on the occasion of Gwen's marriage to long-suffering fiance Rhys. It was clear that they did not get on with his mother, Brenda. Both were shocked to see that Gwen was pregnant, as she had not informed them she was expecting a child. She was really carrying an alien Nostrovite, having only been impregnated through a bite the night before. Gwen told her parents all about her work with Torchwood after the ceremony - only for Jack to later Retcon the entire wedding party so they would not remember any of the strange events of the day.

Some time later, the surviving members of Torchwood found themselves under attack following the events of "Miracle Day", when people suddenly stopped dying. Going on the run, Gwen and Rhys left their baby Anwen with Geraint and Mary. By this point, Gwen had finally revealed the true nature of her work with Torchwood.
Geraint had suffered a couple of heart attacks prior to Miracle Day, but on suffering a third after it took place he fell into a coma. His condition meant that he was one of those who were to be cremated alive. Gwen arranged for him to be smuggled out of the hospital and he was hidden at home by Mary and Rhys. A Government official investigated and found him - and he was sent to one of the holding areas awaiting cremation. When the Miracle was overturned, Rhys was at Geraint's bedside and was able to allow him to speak to Mary by phone before he died.

Played by: William Thomas (Geraint), and Sharon Morgan (Mary). Appearances: TW 2.9 Something Borrowed (2008), TW 4: Miracle Day.

  • Thomas had previously appeared in Doctor Who twice - as the funeral parlour assistant in Remembrance of the Daleks, and as Mr Cleaver in Boom Town. He was the first actor to appear in the programme in both its classic era and the new version.

C is for... Cook, Captain

The famed interplanetary explorer, whom the Doctor and Ace encountered on the planet Segonax. He and his companion Mags had come to visit the Psychic Circus, but had stopped to excavate a buried robot on the way. The Doctor and Ace found him to be a bit of a bore, but another visitor - Whizzkid - proved to be a big fan of the Captain's travels. The Captain later exploited this to make sure Whizzkid when into the circus ring to entertain the Gods of Ragnarok before himself. He also maneuvered the Doctor and Mags into going ahead of him.
Cook had found Mags on the planet Vulpana, and knew that she was a lycanthrope. Moonlight - even artificial moonlight - would trigger her transformation and the Captain used a theatrical light to create a moon effect. He hoped that Mags would kill the Doctor, and so please the Gods, but she turned on him instead. The Gods reanimated his corpse in order to stop Ace and Kingpin from getting a powerful amulet to the Doctor. He failed, his body falling into a deep chasm.

Played by: T P McKenna. Appearances: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (1988).

  • Producer John Nathan-Turner had been trying to get McKenna into the programme for a number of years. In the previous season he had been considered for both the Chief Caretaker in Paradise Towers and Kane in Dragonfire.

C is for... Control

A female creature who travelled with the alien entity Light. Light was cataloguing all known life in the galaxy. When he arrived on a new planet, he would send one of his creatures out to interact with the native species, whilst the other would remain on his ship to act as a control comparison. Light would hibernate until the experiment was completed. In Victorian Perivale, Control found herself imprisoned as her colleague had taken on the role of Josiah Smith, and he intended to evolve into what he saw as the ultimate human being - the head of the British Empire. Control succeeded in escaping, and began evolving herself, turning into a Victorian lady.

She freed Light, so that he could put a stop to Smith's schemes. After the Doctor had defeated Light, and Smith had been locked away, Control elected to travel the universe in Light's ship with the explorer Redvers Fenn-Cooper and the Neanderthal Nimrod.

Played by: Sharon Duce. Appearances: Ghostlight (1989).

  • Duce is married to Dominic Guard, who had played Olvir in Terminus in 1983.

C is for... Constantine, Dr.

Dr Constantine was a physician at the Royal Hope Hospital in East London during the Blitz. He helped tend to a young boy named Jamie who was brought in, badly wounded by a falling bomb. The boy survived, miraculously, and Constantine studied him in Room 802 of the hospital. Soon, everyone who had come into contact with the boy fell into a coma and began to exhibit the same physical conditions as Jamie - even down to the gas mask which seemed fused to his head. Constantine stayed on alone at the hospital to care for those affected, but he too had caught the affliction. The Doctor saw him transform into a gas masked zombified being.
Later, Jamie called upon all the affected staff and patients of the hospital when the Doctor, Rose and Jack went to the Chula ambulance ship, whose nanogenes had caused his condition. Constantine had earlier indicated that Jamie's sister, Nancy, knew more about the boy than she was saying. She was, in fact, his mother. When the nanogenes recognised the relationship and worked out the correct genetic pattern, Constantine, Jamie and all the others were returned to normal.
Constantine had lost his family in the war, and he would have looked after Nancy and Jamie after the time-travellers had departed.

Played by: Richard Wilson. Appearances: The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances (2005).

  • Wilson is best known for playing grumpy pensioner Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot In The Grave - catchphrase: "I don't believe it!".

C is for... Connolly, Tommy

Teenage son of Eddie and Rita Connolly, who lived on Florizel Street in North London. He talked his father into getting a TV set, as the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was due. He was horrified when his grandmother was struck down by a mysterious condition - her face rendered smooth and featureless. Many neighbours were also afflicted. Tommy worked out that his father was reporting these victims to the police, who would turn up in the middle of the night and take them away. Tommy warned the Doctor and Rose about what was happening. Later, he rebelled against his father and joined the Doctor in his investigations, accompanying him and Inspector Bishop to the electrical store belonging to Mr Magpie, from where Eddie had bought their TV. He witnessed the Wire removing Bishop's features, and saw the creature's victims trapped in TV screens. He then accompanied the Doctor to the BBC transmitter at Alexandra Palace, and helped him trap the Wire onto a video tape.
The Doctor gifted him his scooter, and also advised him not to judge his father too harshly. Tommy helped his father move out of the family home.

Played by: Rory Jennings. Appearances: The Idiot's Lantern (2006).

  • Jennings was actually in his early 20's when he played Tommy. His youthful looks often had him playing younger roles. He now presents a Chelsea FC cable show alongside his acting.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Inspirations - The Underwater Menace

By Geoffrey Orme - his only contribution to the programme. This adventure had a troubled gestation - something which we will see happening a lot over the Patrick Troughton era of the show.
Initially known as "Doctor Who Under the Sea" or "In Atlantis" or "The Fish People", it was originally going to be the new Doctor's second story. Pencilled in to direct was Hugh David. These four episodes were going to get a larger budget as well. The production team decided that the script might be too ambitious to realise, so it was shelved in favour of a story by William Emms - "The Imps". This also proved to be rather over ambitious, and so the underwater story came back to the table. David contacted a friend of his who was then working out at Pinewood on the latest Bond movie, Thunderball - the one with the all the underwater action. The friend informed David that it was impossible to achieve by Doctor Who's usual production methods, even with an increased budget. David managed to get transferred onto The Highlanders, and its scheduled director - Julia Smith - was assigned The Underwater Menace.
The production was as troubled as the script development, with the cast openly deriding the story, and the director being reduced to tears. Michael Craze was unhappy that some of his part had to be apportioned to Frazer Hines, who had just joined late in the day with the previous adventure.

The story is set in the very near future. We have references to the Mexico Olympic Games - which were scheduled to take place the year after broadcast - as Polly finds a piece of souvenir ware on the coast of the rocky volcanic island on which the TARDIS has landed. This turns out to be the remains of the lost civilisation of Atlantis, the survivors of which are dwelling in a city deep beneath the surface.
Now, every Doctor Who fan is aware that a series that has lasted more than 50 years, with nearly a dozen producers / showrunners, and with more than a dozen script / story editors, is going to have some continuity problems. Some of these continuity problems have become the stuff of legend, such as the UNIT dating conundrum, and we have always loved to debate them. Recent writers have played with these, offering off hand comments that try to plug gaps or resolve the seemingly unresolveable. The authors of the Virgin New Adventures novels apparently laboured under the delusion that they were contractually obliged to address these issues, and write entire novels that might explain why Warriors of the Deep bears no relation whatsoever to either The Silurians or The Sea Devils (to give but one example). To be honest, we'd rather these continuity glitches were left alone. If anything, we miss them when they're gone.
One of the continuity arguments used to be about Atlantis. It looked at first glance like there were three mutually exclusive versions of its destruction - two of them by the same writers exactly a year apart. (That's how bad continuity can be in Doctor Who).
This story doesn't actually pose a problem, as it doesn't really say categorically how Atlantis came to be destroyed. We're simply seeing the aftermath centuries later. In The Magician's Apprentice, however, Steven Moffat has Clara and UNIT searching for the Doctor, and so they look to see where in history he is making the most "noise". There's a line - purely for the fans - about a triple paradox with Atlantis. As I've said, the Atlantis we see here comes much later, and could be the kingdom destroyed either by Kronos or by the Daemons - or both.
(When I reviewed this story many moons ago, I came up with the idea that Atlantis could be the name of a country / continent as well as that of a city on that country / continent. Kronos could have wiped out the city, and then the Daemons came along and destroyed the wider kingdom, or vice versa).

Enough of continuity squabbles. There's another 200 odd of these Inspirations posts to go, so we won't have heard the last of them.
The Underwater Menace has a real B-Movie feel to it, with its mad scientist villain. Had this been a movie, it would have been directed by Ed Wood, and Bela Lugosi would have played Professor Zaroff. If unavailable in rehab, George Zucco would have sufficed. A movie would probably have had some kind of giant monster - probably an octopus or dinosaur. The only octopus here is an ordinary sized one - pet to Zaroff. We do get some stock footage of sharks in Part One, as the Doctor and his companions are going to be sacrificed by being dropped into a shark-infested pool.
The only "monsters" here are the Fish Workers. The publicity might have highlighted them as the monster of the week, but they only feature briefly at the close of Part One, and then have their bizarre underwater ballet sequence in Part Three. They're really quite benign creatures.
The scene mentioned above about the sharks is reminiscent of something out of one of the old adventure serials they used to show at the cinema on Saturday mornings (or indeed on BBC TV on school holiday mornings) - most famous of which is Flash Gordon.
However, it's to another adventure serial of the same era that we need to look for inspiration for this story. The Undersea Kingdom was Republic's answer to Flash, back in 1936. The star is Ray "Crash" Corrigan. He's a navy lieutenant who just happens to be a sporting hero, who joins a mission in an atomic submarine to investigate the source of a spate of earthquakes. They're being caused by the villainous Unga Khan. Unlike Zaroff, who claims to want to raise Atlantis, Khan wants to sink the rest of the planet. You can see how well he fares just by going to You Tube, where they have the entire serial. Don't watch the episodes back to back, however. Play the game, and spend a week trying to work out how he's going to get out of that one...

If you are a fan of publications such as Fortean Times, you'll be aware that the legend of Atlantis is linked to all manner of yet-to-be explained phenomena. It has been written about since the time of Plato. If UFO's don't come from outer space then they originate from Atlantis. Its citizens were the ones who gave the ancients the knowledge to build the pyramids and other monumental structures, and people who have ESP are descended from them. Evidence for it has been (allegedly) found in the West Indies, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic Ocean. (The Pacific region has its own lost continent). Less fanciful theories look to the Minoan civilisation, and the cataclysmic eruption of the volcanic island of Thera (which returns us to The Time Monster). The Atlantis myth may be a garbled version of a real event, but it was a powerful local state that was laid low rather than a flying saucer-building super-race.

Now we have to talk about Professor Zaroff. Sorry, but we do. Cinema's earliest most famous mad scientist is probably Henry Frankenstein, as played by Colin Clive in the classic 1931 Universal movie. Technically, he only comes across as mad to his friends and family, as he is utterly obsessed with his work - which just happens to be trying to put God out of a job. He wants to create something (life from dead tissue), and will go to any lengths to achieve this. Sadly, Hollywood took him as a template, twisted it, and came up with decades of similarly obsessed scientists who instead want to destroy. This is where Zaroff comes from. Certainly, after the first A-Bomb, the public started to become wary of scientists, and thought that they were prepared do anything they liked just because they could. We fell out of trust with them. They no longer strove to help us, but experimented with things that could ultimately destroy us. Note how many of the 1950's monster movies revolve around mutation due to exposure to atomic testing - many of which feature a scientist who has brought things about due to his (and they were always men) obsession. Scientists in these movies are often portrayed as having good intentions, but care little for the consequences. They're sociopaths who want to benefit Mankind.
The problem with Zaroff is that he is simply Bonkers. That's the technical term - with a capital B. The Doctor thinks so too. Just look at the way he tries to describe Zaroff's state of mind to King Thous in Part Two. No deep psychological analysis needed. Zaroff has no good intentions whatsoever. You can't even excuse him as being "misguided". He plans to blow up the planet, just to see what it is like to blow up the planet. In a way Joseph Furst plays him the only way he can. A bit of background that existed in the earlier drafts had him grieving for his dead wife and child, killed in a car crash, and thus making him suicidal - damning the world along with himself. Unfortunately, there is no such motivation on view in the finished programme.

The inspiration looks like it comes from those old Saturday morning serials, but Ming the Merciless had a plan - to conquer the Earth / Universe - and Unga Khan wanted to make Atlantis great again by dragging down the rest of the world to his level. If any of them had intended to destroy the planet they were actually standing on, then there would have been a handy escape capsule hidden nearby.
Is it just a coincidence that Zaroff's name is just one letter out from that proto-hipster prof who appeared in all three of the Flash Gordon serials?
Some other potential inspirations before we sign off. In the 1950's & '60's there was as much excitement about us all living in underwater cities as there was about us living on the Moon or on Mars. The hugely popular TV series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau began its 10 year run in 1966, so we were all marveling at what went on beneath the waves then pretty much as we are at the moment watching Blue Planet II.
We also have the Cornish myth of Lyonesse - another sunken kingdom which has Arthurian connections, and which featured in a poem by Walter de la Mare (Sunk Lyonesse, 1922). 1965 had seen the release of the Vincent Price film City Beneath The Sea, inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe tale The City In The Sea. Note the film's Gill Men. It was made by the same team behind the Aaru Dalek movies, and featured dialogue written by one David Whitaker.
Next time: Brexit hasn't happened, or by 2070 we're back in, as the UK is bossing a load of Europeans about on the Moon. No-one's worrying about climate change, because we can control the weather now. Polly devises a new cocktail, Jamie has a lie-in, and Ben suddenly knows all about nuclear reactors. The Cybermen spot the similarities between this and an earlier story, so logic dictates that they have to make their return...

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Story 185 - Human Nature / The Family of Blood

In which a history master at Farringham School for Boys dreams that he travels through time and fights aliens. The maid who cleans his rooms - Martha Jones - assures John Smith that this is just his imagination. The year is 1913, and Smith and Martha have been at the school for around a month. The socially awkward teacher has taken a liking for the school matron, Joan Redfern, and decides to pluck up the courage to ask her to a ball that is going to be held in the village hall. He tells Joan of his dreams, and shows her a journal he has made of them - his Journal of Impossible Things. Martha tries to convince the matron not to heed Smith. Joan becomes indignant that a maid should interfere in what Smith does. That night, Martha goes to the TARDIS, hidden in a barn some miles away, and activates a recording which the Doctor had made.
Some weeks ago, the Doctor and Martha had encountered a hostile alien force called the Family of Blood. They exist in a gaseous form, and have a very short life-span. They want to take the Doctor's body so that one of their number - Son of Mine - can have a prolonged existence as a Time Lord. They have a stolen spacecraft that can travel in time, and the Doctor knows that they will hunt them down. To avoid detection, he decides to use a Chameleon Arch to rewrite his biology. He will become a human being, with a set of new memories grafted on. His Time Lord essence will be stored in a fob watch. They only need to hide for a month or so, then the threat will be gone as the Family will have died out by then. The Doctor has made a recording to help Martha cope whilst he is John Smith, but he had not reckoned on falling in love with someone.

That same night, the Family's spaceship arrives nearby. A pupil named Jeremy Baines comes across it whilst out hunting for alcohol, and he is taken over by Son of Mine. He returns to the school to seek out the Time Lord. A fellow pupil named Tim Latimer has mild telepathic gifts, and recognises the change in Baines. On a visit to Smith's rooms, he spots the fob watch and is drawn to it, slipping it into his pocket. The Family take on more bodies for themselves. Farmer Clark sees one of his scarecrows move. Thinking it is one of the pupils playing a prank, he investigates, only to find that it is just straw. He is taken over by Father of Mine. The Family can animate scarecrows to use as an army. They attack a girl named Lucy Cartwright, who becomes the host for Daughter of Mine. Jenny, a friend of Martha's who is also a maid at the school, is taken over by Mother of Mine. Tim is compelled to open the fob watch, and the Family sense the Time Lord's presence at the school. John Smith is walking with Joan when a little of the Doctor's character slips out, as he uses a cricket ball to prevent an accident. Martha discovers that Jenny has been taken over and runs off to the dance to warn the Doctor. Tim sneaks into the dance and sees the Family arrive. They now know that Smith is the Doctor, but he has no idea of his real self. Martha helps everyone flee the hall. Smith and Joan head back to the school to warn the staff and pupils.

The Family lay siege to the school with their scarecrow army and launch an attack. The pupils are forced to fight them. Martha attempts to convince Smith that he really is the Doctor, and finds an ally in Joan. She suspects that the Doctor's dreams may be true, and had noticed that his life seemed to be merely a list of facts. Smith is horrified that he will have to cease to exist for the Doctor to return. The Family seize the TARDIS, and then start to bombard the village. Hiding out at the Cartwright's home, Joan and Martha attempt to get Smith to accept who he really is. For a moment he gets to see what his life would have been like if he had remained as the teacher, marrying Joan and having children before growing old and dying in bed. Tim arrives with the fob watch, and tells them of the heroic Time Lord he has seen in it. Smith goes to the Family's spaceship to give himself up. He hands over the fob watch. However, it proves to be empty. The Doctor has returned. He has stumbled around the ship in his guise as Smith, pretending to be clumsy when he has in fact been sabotaging it. The Family flee before the vessel explodes. The Doctor then takes his revenge on each of them. Father of Mine is imprisoned in dwarf star alloy chains at the heart of the TARDIS, whilst Mother of Mine is left suspended on the edge of a Black Hole. Daughter of Mine is trapped in a mirror - every mirror. Son of Mine is left frozen in time and set up as a scarecrow, to guard over the fields of England for all time.
The Doctor asks Joan to join him in his travels, but she rejects him. She loved Smith, but the Doctor scares her. Would anyone have died in the village had he not come here, she asks him. The Doctor gives Tim the fob watch before he and Martha depart. Tim had frequently had a vision of a battlefield, and the watch had saved his life as he knew when to leap to safety from a falling bomb.
In 1914, Europe went to war. Tim one night found that his vision had come to pass, and the watch saved him. Many decades later, now an old man, he attends a Remembrance Day service, and sees the Doctor and Martha watching from a distance, wearing red poppies...

Human Nature / The Family of Blood was written by Paul Cornell, and was first broadcast on 26th May and 2nd June, 2007. It was adapted from Cornell's 1995 Virgin New Adventures novel Human Nature, which featured the Seventh Doctor and companion Bernice Summerfield. A poll to mark the programme's 35th anniversary had voted this book the fans' favourite. Cornell had developed the plot with fellow NA writer Kate Orman.
Cornell had previously written the Series 1 story Father's Day. To date, he has not written any further episodes for the series.
Russell T Davies loved the novel, and so approached Cornell about adapting it for Series 3. A well as the change of Doctor / companion, there are a number of significant differences between the book and the screenplay. In the book, the Doctor decides to become human in order to understand grief, as Bernice is mourning a character who was killed in the previous novel. He purchases the means to do it - rather than using a piece of TARDIS technology. His Time Lord essence is stored in a cricket ball rather than a fob watch. Joan is a fellow teacher. The enemy are called the Aubertides, and they are shapeshifters, rather than a species who possess people's bodies. It is slightly later in the novel as well - already into 1914. The scarecrow army are Davies' idea, as the series since 2005 had to include a monster each week. Cornell was not convinced, but the scene where the pupils gun down the scarecrows as the hymn To Be A Pilgrim plays is one of the strongest of the two episodes.
In the book, the Doctor rejects Joan at the end, rather than the other way round, as he cannot love her in the same way now that he is no longer human. A big change is the character of Tim. In the book he becomes a conscientious objector, and saves the man's life as a Red Cross orderly. He later wears a white poppy when revisited in the epilogue.

The main guest cast is headed by Jessica Hynes (known as Jessica Stevenson until 2007) as Joan. She was best known for starring in, and co-writing, Spaced, with Simon Pegg. She'll be back at the end of David Tennant's tenure as the Doctor, playing Joan's granddaughter Verity Newman.
Playing the Family we have: Gerard Horan (Father / Mr Clark), Rebekah Staton (Mother / Jenny), Harry Lloyd (Son / Baines) and Lauren Wilson (Daughter / Lucy). Lloyd was a regular in the first two seasons of Robin Hood (as Will Scarlett), and featured in the first series of Game of Thrones as Daenerys' brother.
Also from Game of Thrones we have Thomas Sangster playing Tim. He goes by the name Brodie-Sangster these days. He first came to prominence in the movie Love Actually, and is now a regular in the Maze Runner franchise.
One other guest of note is Pip Torrens as the headmaster, Mr Rocastle. He can be seen in the TV series Versailles these days.

The cliffhanger: The Family have arrived at the village dance and they take Martha hostage. Father of Mine aims his gun at Joan and Smith is offered a choice - the life of his friend or that of the woman he loves...
Story Arc: As the story is set in 1913, we don't have any Saxon references over these two episodes, but the Chameleon Arch is introduced, and the fob watch, and these will play a significant role in a few week's time.

Overall, a fantastic two parter which is deeply moving at times. David Tennant is wonderful as Smith (he won an award for his role in this story). Great performances all round really. Various polls have put it in the top 10 best Doctor Who stories ever. The DWM Mighty 200 had it in 6th place, whilst the 50th Anniversary poll placed it at 9th.
Things you might like to know:

  • One tiny thing that always spoils this for me is the very first shot after the opening credits, as I always get distracted by the schoolboy who can't march properly. Once you've noticed him you can't ever un-notice him. 
  • John Smith tells Joan that his parents were called Sydney and Verity - name checking the show's creator and first producer.
  • Talking of Verity Lambert, this is the first Doctor Who story since Mission to the Unknown back in 1965 to be produced by a woman, as Phil Collinson has stepped aside temporarily in favour of Susie Liggat.
  • To Be A Pilgrim was written by John Bunyan in 1684. The version we hear in this is the 1906 version, the fourth line of which is "Follow the Master". Just a coincidence?
  • The Journal of Impossible Things was illustrated by Kellyanne Walker, with text by Cornell. It features the first on screen acknowledgement of the Paul McGann Doctor since the programme returned. Prior to becoming the showrunner, Davies had always claimed that the TV Movie wasn't canon - even including this in the final episode of Queer As Folk.
  • Most of David Tennant's speech on the video gets fast forwarded, but he still had to talk to camera, and so expresses his love for band The Housemartins amongst other things.
  • When Tim opens the fob watch he sees glimpses of earlier stories - all ones from the Tenth Doctor's era.
  • Joan asks Smith where he learned to draw and, the Doctor's character once again slipping out, he says Gallifrey. She asks if this is in Ireland. This is an old Bob Baker & Dave Martin joke, which they used in both The Hand of Fear and The Invisible Enemy.
  • The Doctor has encountered animated scarecrows once before - though not on TV. In the comic strip The Night Walkers (TV Comic, November 1969), the Second Doctor investigates walking scarecrows but finds that these have been sent by the Time Lords to force him to regenerate and begin his exile on Earth in his third incarnation.

Monday, 13 November 2017

C is for... Connolly, Eddie

Bullying patriarch of the Connolly family, who lived on Florizel Street in North London. Eddie prided himself on his military accomplishments, often wearing his medals when he was going out to meet friends at the local pub. He hated the fact that the house he lived in belonged to his mother-in-law, who stayed there with him, his wife Rita, and his son, Tommy. He was talked into purchasing a TV set by his son, due to the forthcoming Coronation. He got the set cheap from Magpie's Electricals, unaware that this shop had been taken over by the alien Wire. When people started to be struck down with a bizarre condition - their faces seemingly wiped smooth - Eddie began to inform on his neighbours who had been affected. The police would come and take the victims away, and this included his own mother-in-law. Tommy alerted the Doctor and Rose to what was going on, and they turned up at Eddie's home one evening pretending to be surveying how people were preparing for the big event. Spotting Eddie's bullying ways, they endeavoured to bring him down a peg or two, but he quickly resented their interference and threw them out.
During the Coronation ceremony, Tommy turned on his father and revealed that he knew that he had been the one informing on the neighbours. After putting up with years of abuse, Rita threw him out of the house.

Played by: Jamie Foreman. Appearances: The Idiot's Lantern (2006).

  • Just before the Doctor Who role, Foreman had played Bill Sykes in the Roman Polanski version of Oliver Twist. He tends to be cast as policemen or villains. The latter is a little ironic, as he is the son of Freddie Foreman, an associate of the Krays.

C is for... Condo

Servant to Dr Mehendri Solon on the planet Karn. Solon had pulled Condo from the wreck of a Dravidian slaveship. He claimed to have had to amputate Condo's left arm in order to save his life. This was replaced with a fierce hook. Condo longed to have the new arm which Solon claimed to have for him, and would go looking for it when his master was busy elsewhere. Condo was tasked with obtaining body parts from the victims of other space wrecks on the planet, which Solon could use in his great work. This was to construct a new body in which to house the brain of the rogue Time Lord Morbius. Condo was of limited intelligence, and his loyalty was only bought with the promise that he would get his new arm. He was quite prepared to kill Solon if the surgeon threatened him - as when he offered to substitute his servant for the Doctor when the latter was going to be sacrificed by the Sisterhood. In his own brutish way, Condo became quite protective towards Sarah after she had been blinded.
Condo finally turned against Solon when he discovered that the arm promised to him had been used for Morbius' new body. Solon was forced to shoot him. Condo survived, badly wounded. When the Morbius monster threatened Sarah, Condo went to her rescue - only to be killed himself by the creature.

Played by: Colin Fay. Appearances: The Brain of Morbius (1976).

  • Fay was new to TV acting. His background was in opera. He later became a Production Manager with the BBC, and one of his jobs was to oversee the 1987 Victoria Wood Doctor Who sketch which featured Jim Broadbent as the Doctor.

C is for... Commander

Unnamed leader of an Earth space mission which visited the planet Sense-Sphere in the 28th Century. The crew discovered that the planet was rich in minerals such as molybdenum, and the Sensorites feared that their world would be plundered. They launched a mental attack on the astronauts. The Earth ship took off and exploded, and the Sensorites assumed that all of the humans had been on board. However, the Commander and two of his men had been left behind, and had arranged for the destruction of their ship to kill their colleagues who were trying to abandon them. The trio sabotaged the lights in the aqueduct which provided the Sensorite city with its water, and soon rumours spread of a monster hiding in the tunnels. Driven mad by the isolation and the darkness, the Commander began to poison the water supply using Deadly Nightshade. When the Doctor arrived on the planet, he decided to investigate the "disease" afflicting the Sensorites after Ian fell ill. He identified the poisoning. He went into the aqueduct and was attacked by the Commander and his men. Later, he and Ian re-entered the tunnels and met the humans. They succeeded in convincing the Commander that his war against the Sensorites was over and he was victorious, so could now return to Earth. This was a ruse to get the humans to leave the tunnels and they were ambushed by Sensorite warriors. The Commander was shot and stunned, the others taken prisoner. Captain Maitland and his crew agreed to take the men back to Earth where they could no longer cause the Sensorites any more harm.

Played by: John Bailey. Appearances: The Sensorites (1964).

  • Bailey only appears in the final episode - A Desperate Venture. He will return to the series in the more substantial role of Edward Waterfield - Victoria's father - in Evil of the Daleks. A final appearance will be as Sezom in The Horns of Nimon.
  • William Hartnell famously fluffs a line when he reads aloud the letters on a uniform badge which Ian finds in the aqueduct. On screen we clearly see INEER - the end of the word ENGINEER. However, Hartnell reads it as INNER. Rather pointlessly, the novelisation claims the Commander and his men belong to an organisation named after Hartnell's fluff - the clumsily titled INterstellar Navigation, Exploration and Research.

C is for... Commandant

The official responsible for the day to day running of Gatwick Airport, south of London. He was based in the air traffic control centre, and was assisted by the capable Jean Rock. Under the Commandant, the airport ran smoothly, until one day there was a near miss on the runway when an inbound aircraft almost hit a Police Box. Assuming this to be some student prank, the Commandant ordered that the Police remove their Box. Later, passport control reported a couple of unauthorised people who appeared to have disembarked from a flight from Switzerland without passports. This was the Doctor and Jamie. Polly had seen a man murdered in the hangar belonging to Chameleon Tours. She disappeared after informing the Doctor. He attempted to warn the Commandant, but he refused to accept his story of ray guns and murder as there was no body. However, the Doctor was soon able to convince him that the airport was being used as a base by aliens after showing him one of their freezing weapons. The Commandant was talked into co-operating with the Doctor by Inspector Crossland. He ordered the search of the airport for the people who had been abducted by the Chameleons in order to have their identities copied. He helped play for time until the people had been located - which forced the Chameleons to negotiate with the Doctor.

Played by: Colin Gordon. Appearances: The Faceless Ones (1967).

  • Gordon appeared in a huge number of British films and TV series between 1947 and 1970, usually playing stuffy officials of one type or another. He was Number Two twice in The Prisoner, and a regular on The Baron
  • The Commandant's name is never mentioned. The novelisation gives him the name Charles Gordon, clearly inspired by the actor who played him.

C is for... Colony Sarff

Davros' personal chief of security. Sarff was dispatched to find the Doctor when it appeared that Davros was dying, visiting the Maldovarium, the Shadow Proclamation headquarters, and the planet Karn in his quest. His message to the Doctor was: "Davros remembers". The Doctor was present on Karn when he arrived, but remained hidden. He knew what the message meant - an allusion to a meeting he had with Davros when the Kaled scientist was still a boy. Colony Sarff finally tracked the Doctor down in medieval England. Here he revealed his true form. His humanoid shape was actually composed of a colony of snakes - hence his name. The snakes could inject Dalek nanogenes into people they bit - turning them into Dalek drones.

Sarff took the Doctor to Skaro, along with Clara and Missy. Some of his snakes were employed to bind the prisoners' wrists. When the Doctor tried to escape by stealing Davros' chair, he was overpowered as the unit was full of snakes. Later, Sarff disguised himself as energy cables on Davros' intensive care unit. This was part of a ploy for Davros to steal some of the Doctor's regeneration energy for himself and his Daleks. Missy arrived and blasted the unit with a Dalek gun, destroying Sarff.

Played by Jamie Reid-Quarrell. Appearances: The Magician's Apprentice / The Witch's Familiar (2015).

  • Sarff is the Welsh word for serpent.
  • The character's distinctive gliding motion was created by the actor using a segway hover-board under his robes. Reid-Quarrell put it to further use when he later played one of the gliding Cloister Wraiths in the series finale.
A Sarff prosthesis, as seen at the Doctor Who Festival in 2015.

C is for... Collector

A diminutive, bald headed man who governed the planet Pluto in the far distant future. He was confined to an electronic wheelchair. Based in Megropolis One, he represented a business concern known simply as the Company which had paid for the human race to move to the planet. Everyone was heavily taxed on every aspect of their life - and death. The Collector employed an official called a Gatherer in each of Pluto's Megropoleis to oversee tax collection. He was protected by his own personal guard - the Internal Retinue - and the population was kept in check through the distribution of an anxiety-inducing gas throughout the city.
The Collector could be quite sadistic, enjoying personally overseeing executions. The Doctor joined a rebel group who were opposed to the Collector's tyranny. A revolution began, and the Doctor broke into the Collector's inner sanctum and reprogrammed his computer with a growth tax to create massive losses. The Collector could not cope with this and reverted to his natural form - a small green plant-form akin to seaweed. He was really an alien Usurian - his humanoid shape having been an illusion maintained by the chair he always travelled in. The Doctor sealed him in the base of the chair.

Played by: Henry Woolf. Appearances: The Sunmakers (1977).

  • Woolf was one of the Transylvanians performing the 'Time Warp' in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. A close friend of Harold Pinter, the playwright dedicated one of his works to Woolf. He moved to Canada in 1978, and helped found a Shakespeare festival, which he chaired until 1997 when he retired, though he has acted a little since.
  • The Collector's bushy eyebrows were a reference to then Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healey.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Inspirations - The Highlanders

The final historical story of the 1960's, the last of a regular run that began with the fourth story back in 1964. Some would argue that it's the final historical story of them all, as Black Orchid could have been set in any time period, and makes use of George Cranleigh as the monster-of-the-week.
Not only has the TARDIS travelled back into Earth's past, but it has arrived at a significant historical event - or at least the immediate aftermath of one. No real people are seen, but Bonnie Prince Charlie is mentioned several times and the Doctor pretends that Jamie is the Prince in disguise to fool Solicitor Grey and the Redcoats.
The year is 1746, and the Doctor, Ben and Polly have arrived at the site of the Battle of Culloden, in the Scottish Highlands. The battle has ended, with the Jacobite forces who have survived fleeing in disarray.
Story Editor Gerry Davis had approached veteran writer Elwyn Jones for a script. Jones had created the police series Softly, Softly, and had been the BBC's first Head of Drama (Series) after Sydney Newman had reorganised the drama group. As things turned out, Jones was busy on other things - mainly his own creation - and so Davis wrote much of this story on his own. As with The Smugglers, this is more a story from the literary history genre. An obvious antecedent is Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson. This is also set just after the Jacobite rebellion, and features a young man who is going to be sold into slavery, as Jamie is here. Highlanders are hunted by a villainous agent of the King, and the young hero poses as someone more important at one point.

The other big inspiration is the 1964 BBC docudrama Culloden. This was directed by Peter Watkins, and was based on the book by Scots historian John Prebble. It was innovative for being made in the style of contemporary war reporting, and utilised an amateur cast. Much of the camerawork was done with a hand-held camera, to provide a cinema verite look. The action was co-ordinated by Derek Ware -  a name very familiar to Doctor Who fans.
As far as the historical background is concerned, we have to start with the death of Charles II. Despite fathering numerous children, none were legitimate. On his death, therefore, the throne went to his brother James. This wasn't popular with Parliament, as James was openly Catholic and pro-French. It was also feared that he wanted to become an absolute monarch. When he had a son and heir, Parliament approached his daughter Mary to come over and take the throne. She was married to the Dutch Protestant King William III of Orange. In 1688 James was forced to flee, with one attempt to reclaim his throne thwarted after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. After Mary's death in 1702, her younger sister Anne became Queen. On her death, in 1714, James' son - James Francis Edward - claimed the throne, and this led to the first Jacobite rebellion of 1715. It should be noted that 'Jacobite' derives from Jacob, another version of James. Then, in 1745, James' grandson - Charles Edward Stuart - launched his bid to reclaim the British throne. Initially successful, Bonnie Prince Charlie got all the way to Derby, before being forced back up into the Highlands. He was known as the Young Pretender, whilst his father was known as the Old Pretender. The Jacobite forces were finally routed on 16th April 1746 at Culloden, not far from Inverness. Charles had failed to take military advice, and fled the battle early when he suspected that he had been betrayed. In command of the Hanoverian forces was the King's son - the Duke of Cumberland - who earned himself the nickname "Butcher" Cumberland due to the bloody reprisals he ordered against the defeated Jacobites.

So, The Highlanders begins with the aftermath of the battle. The Doctor and his companions find themselves captured by a pair of Highlanders. One of these is James Robert McCrimmon - who will be better known simply as Jamie. Jamie is piper to one of the Jacobite clan chiefs - Colin McLaren. With them are the laird's son Alexander and daughter Kirsty. Alexander is soon killed by Redcoats, who capture the Doctor, Ben, Jamie and Colin. Kirsty and Polly manage to remain at large, and set about rescuing the menfolk. They succeed in blackmailing a young English Lieutenant - Algernon ffinch.
Historically, the McCrimmons were a famous piping family, but they were loyal to the MacLeod clan of Skye rather than to any McLarens. One fanciful theory is that the name is a corruption of the Italian town of Cremona, as the family were founded by a Cremonese who migrated to Ireland. It's more likely to come from Mac (son of) Ruimein - an old Norse name. It needs to be noted that the MacLeods and their McCrimmon pipers were opposed to the Jacobites and fought on the side of the Hanoverian forces in 1745.
Jamie's battle cry of "Creag an Tuirc!" does belong to the McLaren clan. It means 'hill of the boar' and refers to a rocky outcrop outside Balqhidder where the clan would rally before going into battle.

This being a Gerry Davis script, he thinks that the Doctor's name really is "Who". It was under his watch that WOTAN demanded that "Doctor Who is required", and here the Doctor adopts the name Von Wer when posing as a German physician - 'wer' being German for 'who'. Steven Moffat seems to have recently come round to this way of thinking as well.
This story sees the Doctor assume a number of disguises - something that it was hoped would become a regular thing for the Second Doctor. He plays an old washerwoman in Inverness, then dresses as a wounded Redcoat. Apart from a bit of a hat fetish, this disguising act doesn't last beyond this one story.
Captain Trask is even more of a fictional pirate than the ones we saw in The Smugglers - the story that really should have been called "The Pirates". As played by Dallas Cavell, he is pure Long John Silver.
Many Jacobite prisoners were sold into slavery in the West Indies and the Carolinas. Being white men, however, they would more likely have gained positions as overseers on the plantations. As slavery was legal in 1746, and Scots prisoners were being officially shipped out to the colonies, it is unlikely that any serious action would have been taken against the crooked solicitor Grey.

Frazer Hines had acted alongside Patrick Troughton before, and was a friend of producer Innes Lloyd. It was whilst filming that the decision was made to keep him on as a regular companion, with an initial contract of a further three stories. Hines has claimed that public reaction to Jamie led to him getting the companion role, but he is mis-remembering, as his departure in the TARDIS had been filmed before the first episode aired. It was still a last minute decision, as they had already filmed the scene once with him staying behind.
A couple of things you might like to know before we finish. Director Hugh David had been first choice by Rex Tucker to play the First Doctor, but when he was replaced by Verity Lambert she thought David too young, and he didn't want to commit to a long series, having recently come off Knight Errant.
The Highlanders was the first Doctor Who story to be deleted from the archives - the tapes being wiped only a couple of months after broadcast. It was clear that Innes Lloyd believed the historical stories had no future. It was claimed that the poor ratings for The Gunfighters were one of the reasons to ditch the historicals, but this isn't the case. It fared better than The Tenth Planet - the model which Lloyd was to use for his vision for the programme. What The Gunfighters did get was the lowest Audience Appreciation figures.
Next time: there's a mad scientist at work in Atlantis, and nothing in the world is going to stop him...

Thursday, 9 November 2017

November Figurines

I was only expecting the two regular releases this month, but instead there were three. Joining the Cybus Cyberman and the Clockwork Droid is a Dalek - the Death Zone one from The Five Doctors.
This is one of those hybrid casings that was put together from parts of other Daleks. It has distinctive red lights on the dome, and gun 'petals' of the same colour. A nice touch is the broken slat on the right hand side. The casings were all pretty bashed about when this story was made.
It is surprising how long it has taken them to release the Cyberman. The Clockwork Droid is the blue-coated male one, and is rather finely detailed.

13th Doctor - 1st Look

First image of Jodie Whittaker in costume as the Doctor - which means that they have started filming Series 11, and will be doing so in a public area some time soon.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Out of Time - Torchwood 1.10

In which Torchwood are alerted to a Rift opening at a nearby airfield. An aircraft - the Sky Gypsy - comes in to land, with its pilot and two passengers on board. The plane had taken off in 1953, and entered the Rift. The pilot is Diane Holmes, and the passengers are businessman John Ellis, and a young woman named Emma-Louise Cowell. They are informed that they have travelled through time, and it is now the 21st Century. The trio have to be taken under Torchwood's wing, to learn about modern living. Ianto takes them to a supermarket to do some shopping, and they are given accommodation in a hostel. Each of them is paired up with a team member to help them adjust. John is looked after by Jack, and Emma-Louise by Gwen, who passes her off to Rhys as a distant cousin. Owen looks after Diane.

Diane wants to fly again, and is frustrated by the number of rules and health and safety regulations which stand in her way. She and Owen become lovers. John goes in search of his son, only to find that he is an old man suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. He is in a nursing home, with no family to care for him. The old man briefly remembers an incident from his childhood, but little else. Emma-Louise is shocked by the apparent promiscuity she sees around her. John seems to find adapting to their new life the hardest, and is angry with Emma-Louise when he sees her drinking with a couple of the hostel residents. Rhys is upset when he discovers that Gwen has lied to him and Emma-Louise is not a relative.

Jack discovers that Ianto's car has disappeared and goes to where John used to have his shop. He finds him in the vehicle in the garage, about to end his life. At first trying to stop him, Jack is talked into helping him commit suicide. He knows first hand the pain of outliving loved ones. Emma-Louise gets the offer of work in London, due to her retro fashion sense chiming with contemporary tastes. Gwen tries to talk her into staying in Cardiff, but Emma-Louise gets on a bus for London. Owen discovers that Diane is going to return in the plane to the Rift. Nothing he can say can change her mind, and she flies off - leaving him heartbroken.

Out of Time was written by Catherine Tregenna, and was first broadcast on 17th December, 2006. It's the first of four scripts Tregenna will write for Torchwood, the others being this season's Captain Jack Harkness, and Series 2's Meat and Adam. She later wrote The Woman Who Lived for Doctor Who Series 9.
As with the previous episode, this is very much a character piece, with no aliens or alien tech. The only villain is Time, which has robbed some of the anachronistic trio of the lives they should have led. Only one of them, the youngest, decides to make a new home for herself in the 21st Century. Diane goes running off to see if she can get back home, or possibly have further adventures elsewhere. She lives to fly and, despite all her years of experience, bureaucracy won't let her. A blunt, no-nonsense sort of man, it is seeing his elderly son which is the last straw for John. He cannot see himself in this new world. He should be dead by now, so decides to kill himself.

Gwen loses a new friend, though she has the consolation of being able to keep in touch with Emma-Louise. Owen is particularly affected by Diane's abandonment of him. For once he has met a woman whom he actually loves, after years of one-night stands. This will play out over the remainder of the season. Jack dies once again, this time agreeing to remain with John in a car full of carbon monoxide fumes. He tells John that there is no afterlife - just a black void - but John's mind is made up. Jack clearly sees something of himself in John - a man out of time.
The trio are played by Mark Lewis Jones (John), Louise Delamere (Diane) and Olivia Hallinan (Emma-Louise).

Overall, another quieter storyline for the series. Initially there is a lot of humour to be gleaned from the fishes out of water, but then things darken in the second half and it becomes quite moving. If you liked Random Shoes you will probably like this one as well.
Things you might like to know:

  • For the plane spotters amongst you, the Sky Gypsy is a de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide. These first saw service in the mid 1930's as short haul cargo aircraft.
  • Owen's rejection by Diane will form a story arc for the rest of the season, as he becomes suicidally reckless in the next story, and is at odds with his colleagues in the final two episodes.
  • The supermarket which Ianto takes the trio to is an ASDA, though the BBC tried very hard to disguise this fact. 
  • Diane surmises that the aviator Amelia Earhart might have flown into the Rift, or something similar. Earhart disappeared with her navigator in the summer of 1937 in the Pacific. It is widely believed that her plane crashed into the sea after running out of fuel when they could not find their destination, though there is also a theory that she may have been captured as a spy by the Japanese. Star Trek: Voyager had her abducted by aliens and transported to the Delta Quadrant. 
  • John speaks to his son about the 1953 FA Cup, which took place at Wembley Stadium on 2nd May. Blackpool beat Bolton Wanderers 4 - 3, after being 3 - 1 down. The match is known as the Matthews Final - as it was Stanley Matthews who rallied his team to make up the three goal deficit. Stan Mortensen scored a hat-trick - the only player ever to do so in an FA Cup Final at the old Wembley.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Dudley Simpson 1922 - 2017

Very sorry to hear that composer Dudley Simpson has passed away at the age of 95. He scored around 60 Doctor Who stories between Planet of Giants and The Horns of Nimon. He appeared on screen once, as the music hall conductor in The Talons of Weng-Chiang. Amongst his most noted pieces is the theme for the Roger Delgado Master. He was as much a part of the success of the early Tom Baker era as Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes, and he was pretty much the house composer for the period up until new broom producer John Nathan-Turner took over. An obvious highlight of the Graham Williams era is the score for City of Death.  There might be the odd good score for JNT stories, but there are far too many overblown turkeys which were all doomed to obsolescence thanks to their attempts at being contemporary. Simpson would never have inflicted scores such as those for Mawdryn Undead or Battlefield on us. Simpson's stuff is quite simply timeless.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

C is for... Colby, Adam

Adam Colby was a scientist who had helped to date a prehistoric skull to some 12 million years old. He was employed by Prof Fendelman to assist in experiments at the mansion he had bought on the outskirts of the village of Fetchborough. Fendelman had made his fortune in the armaments business, but had now decided to study the human race's ancient origins. Fendelman began to conduct secretive experiments using a sonic time scanner with another scientist named Max Stael - which Colby and his colleague Thea Ransome seemed to be excluded from. This brought he and Thea closer together as friends.
Colby enjoyed baiting old Mrs Tyler, who acted as house-keeper.
One morning Colby was walking the professor's dog when he found a corpse in the woods. It had been drained of its life-force. Fendelman then insisted on locking down the mansion - bringing in security guards and allowing no-one to leave or enter the grounds without his consent. Later, Colby saw Thea collapse and strange slug-like creatures materialised on her body. The Doctor arrived and recognised these as Fendahleen. Colby learned that the skull was not of terrestrial origins, but had come from another planet, now destroyed, on which evolution created a creature that fed on life itself.
Stael intended to resurrect this creature - the Fendahl - using Thea as its human core. Colby was captured, but the Doctor and Leela rescued him. He was tasked by the Doctor with activating the time scanner, as the Doctor had deduced that it would result in an implosion that would destroy the creature. Colby did as he was asked, then ran to take cover with Mrs Tyler and her son Jack in their cottage.

Played by: Edward Arthur. Appearances: Image of the Fendahl (1977).

C is for... Colbert, Leon

Colbert was a member of  group which worked to save prisoners from the Terror in Revolutionary France. They would free them as they left the prisons for the guillotine, then plan an escape route for them out of the country. The group was led by Jules Renan. He became concerned when he brought Barbara Wright and Susan to his home, as they claimed to have been captured in one of his safe houses north of Paris. He suspected that there might be a spy in his organisation. Leon visited the house and became friends with Barbara. He proposed that the sickly Susan go with Barbara and see a doctor, but the medic handed them both over to the soldiers. Renan arranged for Ian Chesterton to meet with Leon so that he could help him get a message to an English spy named Stirling. Ian walked into a trap, as Colbert had been the spy in Renan's group - feeding information back to Robespierre's forces. Colbert wanted information from Ian, and was prepared to torture him for it. Renan turned up in time and shot Colbert dead.
Barbara was initially upset at the news of his death, considering that he had only done what he felt to be right.

Played by: Edward Brayshaw. Appearances: The Reign of Terror (1964).

  • Brayshaw would return to play renegade Time Lord the War Chief in The War Games in 1969. 
  • He is best known for his role as Mr Meaker in the BBC TV series Rentaghost.