On Earth in 2018, the Doctor and his companions are enmeshed in a deadly web of intrigue thanks to his uncanny resemblance to the scientist/politician Salamander. He is hailed as the “shopkeeper of the world” for his efforts to relive global famine, but why do his rivals keep disappearing? How can he predict so many natural disasters? The Doctor must expose Salamander’s schemes before he takes over the world.
Season 5 is sometimes referred to as the monster season, and The Enemy of the World is a pretty obvious outlier in this regard as it features no aliens except for the Doctor himself. With Troughton playing both the Doctor and Ramón Salamander, this story is real exhibition of his talents as an actor and considering his acting CV, it is no surprise that he is fantastic in the dual role.
It would be all too easy, with hindsight, to say that this story shows the direction the show would take in the coming years, especially the early Pertwee era, especially considering that Barry Letts directs it. In reality, at the time, it was just another story, experimenting with what kind of stories the show could get away with showing. Some draw parallels between this story and the James Bond films of the era and to an extent, I can see where they are coming from. This story is certainly globetrotting, with locations such as Australia and Hungary featured, although on a budget and it is to the production team’s credit that the British locations don’t let the side down. Salamander is also similar to Bond villains in a lot of ways, with his seemingly amiable public façade covering for much more diabolical schemes. When it’s revealed later on in the story that Salamander has slaves working underground, it certainly feels like a plot element that you wouldn’t be surprised if it came up in a Bond movie, lurking in a traditional lair. The story also evokes a dystopian future, almost like 1984, with a situation that feels quite bleak and hopeless at times.
The story is pretty great, though, and I was pleasantly surprised that it kept me engaged throughout. It has a pretty action-packed opening, with the helicopter and hovercraft, before becoming a Cold War thriller, trying to bring down a dictator with a plot about duplicates. Jamie even gets to step into the Bond-esque role when he is sent to earn Salamander’s trust by saving his life, complete with Victoria and Astrid in tow. I quite liked the fact that the story delivers a good twist in its final part, revealing that the seemingly affable Kent wants Salamander out of the way so that he can take his place, which worked really well for me. Equally, Salamander impersonating the Doctor towards the end of the story was a good idea even if it was disappointing that we didn’t get a bit more of it.
Whilst the majority of the story works really well, there are aspects that aren’t great, for instance, Victoria doesn’t have a lot to do, and the conclusion feels distinctly underwhelming after waiting for the Doctor and Salamander to come face to face. This is not entirely the story’s fault, as the technology did not exist to do this more often, but I feel that the story does struggle due to this. The kitchen interlude is bizarre, introducing the constantly complaining Griffin, and doesn’t really feel like it services the story going forwards, except for the attempted assassination of Denes.
Patrick Troughton is a great actor, and this story is one that allows him to show off his abilities to the full, using subtle things to differentiate between the Doctor and Salamander. Troughton manages to even lose his sparkle when he is playing the villain and is capable of being quite menacing at times, like in his scenes with Denes and Fedorin. Admittedly, part of this is down to the changing hairstyle, but Troughton’s entire face seems to switch effortlessly between characters. When the TARDIS arrives on the beach, I was struck how similar the Second and Eleventh Doctors are when the Second Doctor is so enthusiastic at being at the seaside, much to the bemusement of his companions. Salamander is an effective villain, although it would be nice to see more characters who adore him rather than the characters we get, who all seem to be firmly on the other side.
Verdict: One of the high points of Troughton’s time as the Doctor, The Enemy of the World feels different to the stories surrounding it but struggles with practicalities of the time. 8/10
Cast: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor/Ramón Salamander), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), Bill Kerr (Giles Kent), Mary Peach (Astrid), George Pravda (Denes), Colin Douglas (Donald Bruce), David Nettheim (Fedorin), Milton Johns (Benik), Henry Stamper (Anton), Simon Cain (Curly), Rhys McConnochie (Rod), Reg Lye (Griffin), Christopher Burgess (Swann), Adam Verney (Colin), Margaret Hickey (Mary), Andrew Staines (Sergeant to Benik), Bob Anderson (Fighting Guard), Gordon Faith (Guard Captain), Elliot Cairnes (Guard Captain), Dibbs Mather (Guard in Caravan), William McGuirk (Guard in Corridor) & Bill Lyons (Guard on Denes).
Writer: David Whitaker
Director: Barry Letts
Behind the Scenes
- This is quite a notable story from a production aspect. This was the last serial broadcast whilst creator Sydney Newman was working at the BBC, as his contract expired at the end of 1967. The key production roles for this story were all occupied by men heavily involved in the development of Doctor Who:
- David Whitaker was the first script editor for the show;
- Barry Letts makes his directorial debut for the show here, and he would become the show’s producer for the majority of the Pertwee era, executive producer for Season 18 and occasional script writer.
- Peter Bryant (script editor) would become producer from the next story; and
- Innes Lloyd was the current producer and left after this story.
- Troughton is credited as “Dr Who” for episodes 1 and 6 and as “Dr Who” and “Salamander” for the remaining parts. This is the second time a doppelganger of the Doctor has appeared following William Hartnell’s double performance as the Doctor and the Abbott of Amboise in The Massacre.
- The helicopter explosion in Episode One was stock footage originally shot for From Russia With Love.
- It was intended for the Doctor to come face to face with Salamander more often in this story, but due to the technical difficulty in accomplishing this, the characters only meet once.
- Episode 3 was the only episode to survive in the BBC Archive until 2013 when the remaining five episodes were returned, having been found in a television relay station storage room in Nigeria.
- Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling do not appear in Episode 4 as they were on holiday that week.
- Milton Johns would reappear in The Android Invasion and The Invasion of Time.
- Colin Douglas appeared in The Horror of Fang Rock.
- George Pravda would reappear in The Mutants and The Deadly Assassin
The scenes with the hovercraft on the beach in the first episode are great, really well directed and tense scenes.
Also, Jamie and Victoria being terrified of the helicopter is great.
Perhaps we’ve landed in a world of mad men!
They’re human beings, if that’s what you mean. Indulging their favourite pastime of trying to destroy each other.Victoria Waterfield and the Second Doctor
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