The Curse of Peladon

We reject all violence…except in self-defence.

Izlyr

Synopsis

The Doctor and Jo make a test flight in the TARDIS and arrive on the planet Peladon. Seeking shelter, they enter the citadel of the soon-to-be-crowned King Peladon, where the Doctor is mistaken for a human dignitary summoned to act as chairman of a committee assessing an application by the planet to join the Galactic Federation.

Review

The Curse of Peladon is one of the first Doctor Who stories that reflects the wider context in which it was made. The story can be seen to be paralleling current affairs of the day, with Peladon’s application to join the Galactic Federation a metaphor for Britain’s vote on joining the European Economic Community. Like a lot of Jon Pertwee’s era as the Doctor, this political metaphor is not unusual, but it is certainly one in the eye for anybody who claims that Doctor Who being political is only a recent thing.

The story is really strong here, with a conflict between tradition and progress embodied by the conflict between King Peladon and the Galactic Federation the one hand, and Hepesh and his followers on the other. Neither side are completely flawless – the Galactic Federation discuss destroying Peladon should the rebellion led by Hepesh successfully overthrow Peladon’s rule, whilst Hepesh’s faction are resistant to modernisation that joining the Federation would bring. The story works really well and establishes the planet as one of the better developed planets in the show’s history. We get a well developed sense of history and a faith system, which makes this world feel lived in, as well as a genuine background given to the relationships of the people of the planet. Hayles’ story also shows how creatures can change over time, as demonstrated by the Ice Warriors who have switched from the aggression we have seen in the past to being more peaceful ambassadors, much to the Doctor’s distrust at the beginning of the story. In fact, the change in the Ice Warrior’s nature leads to the tension and intrigue around the central plot of who is sabotaging the conference on Peladon – as we have only met the Ice Warriors through travels with the Doctor, we mistrust them too. I particularly like the idea of the Galactic Federation and it certainly makes this story more interesting as it features a range of colourful aliens and makes the wider universe feel more realistic and lived in. Not every bit works well though, as I think that the cliffhangers are pretty underwhelming and I’m struggling to remember any of them really well, with the one at the end of Episode 3 needing some clarification as to what is actually going on at the beginning of the concluding part.

From a production point of view, this is really well made despite having a low budget. The story makes up for a lack of location shooting by having some lovely model shots of the citadel of Peladon which look fantastic and the sets seem to be of a very high quality, simply conveying the fact that these people live quite medieval and feudal lives. One of the best of the model shots is when the TARDIS topples over the edge of the mountain, which looks really good and certainly gives off the impression of the hopelessness of the Doctor and Jo’s situation. The director, Lennie Mayne, does a good job making the story look visually interesting and making the most of a limited budget. The costume design is also pretty fantastic, with the obvious exception of Alpha Centauri, but the production team and director are to be praised for realising that something had to be done to the original costume. Arcturus’ costume is really good and works really well, whilst Aggedor’s is possibly where the show’s lack of budget finally shows.

The performances are good here. Jon Pertwee seems noticeably softer and is charming at times, especially when impersonating the Earth delegate. He has some really lovely scenes with Katy Manning here, where their fondness for each other really shines through, especially when he commends her for her bravery despite her chasing off Aggedor when the Doctor had nearly completed hypnotising the creature. Pertwee is particularly good towards the end of the story where he bashfully confesses that the TARDIS is not fixed at all, and their presence on Peladon was most likely due to more Time Lord meddling. Manning is really good in her scenes with David Troughton, selling the romantic angle really well opposite the young and naïve King-to-be. It is testament to how good this story is that the romantic subplot between King Peladon and Jo is wrapped up before the conclusion of the story. Troughton does well as the half-human, half-Peladon King, desperately trying to lead his society into the future despite the advice coming from his former mentor, Hepesh, which is another fine performance in this story.

Verdict: The Curse of Peladon is an example of a low budget story done well. There are good performances, good direction and model work making this a great Pertwee story. 8/10

Cast: Jon Pertwee (The Doctor), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), David Troughton (Peladon), Geoffrey Toone (Hepesh), Henry Gilbert (Torbis), Alan Bennion (Izlyr), Sonny Caldinez (Ssorg), Stuart Fell (Alpha Centauri), Ysanne Churchman (Voice of Alpha Centauri), Murphy Grumbar (Arcturus), Terry Bale (Voice of Arcturus), Gordon St. Clair (Grun), Nick Hobbs (Aggedor), George Giles (Guard Captain) & Wendy Danvers (Amazonia).

Writer: Brian Hayles

Director: Lennie Mayne

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • The first story to be broadcast in a different order to that in which it had been produced. Though a common occurence in later years, it had been impossible in the 1960s due to the narrow interval between recording and broadcast.
  • This is the first story of the Third Doctor’s era not to feature the Brigadier, UNIT or any scenes set on Earth.
  • The only story of the original run of the show to feature the Ice Warriors that does not consist of six episodes.

Cast Notes

  • David Troughton makes his third appearance in this story. He is the son of Patrick Troughton and appeared opposite his father in The Enemy of the World and The War Games. He would reappear in Midnight.
  • Geoffrey Toone previously appeared in the film Dr Who and the Daleks.
  • Ysanne Churchman would reprise her role as Alpha Centauri in The Monster of Peladon and Empress of Mars.

Best Moment

I really liked all the miniature shots, but especially the one of the TARDIS falling off the mountain, which looks really stunning and is a superb piece of direction from Lennie Mayne and the production team.

Best Quote

I wanted to save our world…to preserve the old ways. Perhaps I was wrong, Peladon. I hope so. Your future, which you set so much store by, is yours now.

Hepesh

Previous Third Doctor story: Day of the Daleks

Day of the Daleks

There are many sorts of ghosts, Jo. Ghosts from the past, and ghosts from the future.

The Third Doctor

Synopsis

When a ghost attempts to assassinate Sir Reginald Styles, a delegate to the Second World Peace Conference, the Doctor and Jo investigate. It transpires that the ‘ghosts’ are actually Freedom Fighters from the 22nd Century, attempting to prevent a sequence of events that leads to the Daleks conquering Earth.

Review

Day of the Daleks kicks off Jon Pertwee’s third season and the show’s ninth in an authoritative fashion. It is rather remarkable that in the show’s 57 year history, the show doesn’t use time as a central plot point more often, as when they do it normally leads to pretty great stories. I have watched both the original and Special Edition, and enjoy both equally. I find that the cosmetic changes made in the Special Edition, such as increasing the number of Daleks in the final attack and changing the Dalek voices, only improve upon the foundations of Louis Marks’ original story. Whichever version you prefer, those building blocks make for a fun and enjoyable serial.

By this point in their run as producer and script editor, it is perhaps fair to say that Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks really knew how to kick off a new season of Doctor Who, with the return of the Daleks after five years off screen. Whilst it is fair to say that the Daleks don’t have an awful lot to do here, likely due to their eleventh hour insertion, they would have likely been a draw to the story at the time of its first broadcast and certainly to fans watching this story in the years since. The fact that this story is one of a relative few to use time travel as central to its narrative makes it stand out all the more. Marks’ script works really well, complete with twists that you don’t see coming, like the reveal that the Controller has developed a conscience about being a quisling for the Daleks or that the guerillas are responsible for the chain of events that lead to the Dalek occupied Earth 200 years in the future. By the way, this story taught me the word ‘quisling’, which I’d never come across before, and also about the phrase ‘tell it to the Marines’ used by the Doctor as a duress code to the Brigadier, which made me appreciate it all the more. This is also one of the few stories in Doctor Who where the monsters have already won – the only one that jumps to my mind is The Dalek Invasion of Earth – which is interesting even of itself. It’s not a story entirely without minor flaws though. The fact that the Daleks are sidelined in a little room for the majority is a little baffling, although given that Earth in the future is under their control, it is perhaps an intriguing look at how they would go about managing the Earth and using it as a stepping stone to the rest of the universe. From a production standpoint, it is no doubt due to their late addition to the script. Then there is the infamous attack on Auderly House with the three Daleks and limited Ogrons, improved upon in the Special Edition. Whilst the original looks a bit rubbish, it is worth noting that this was in the days before we really appreciated what a sole Dalek could do. The Special Edition does improve on this scene greatly though.

You went back to change history, but you didn’t change anything. You became a part of it.

The Third Doctor

Day of the Daleks is a really well-paced story and feels as though a lot happens in each part, as opposed to some other serials, and that is in no small part down to the writing of Louis Marks and direction of Paul Bernard. This story did come into criticism from both Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning, whilst the direction was thought to be bland by producer Barry Letts. I certainly dispute that claim as this feels very solidly directed, and both Marks and Bernard had to deal with the late addition of the Daleks. This story certainly feels as though it feeds the modern show in its approach to the Daleks and feels as though an outlier in comparison to some other Dalek stories in the original run. The twist that one of the guerillas, Shura, is ultimately responsible for creating the future that the guerillas are desperate to avert works really well, and it’s a nice use of a temporal paradox. The Third Doctor’s time on Earth has lead to him understanding that humanity is more often than not it’s own worst enemy. There are some nice moments inserted into the story here, such as this being the Second World Peace Conference, carrying on from The Mind of Evil and seeing the First and Second Doctors during the mind probe sequence, which acts as a reminder that this is still the same character.

This story marks the debut of the Ogrons, and their costumes look pretty great. The great thing about having them is that it acts as a shorthand for the galactic outlook for the Daleks. Previously, we have only seen them subjugate humans to act as their slaves, having a race of aliens acting in this capacity helps make it believable that the Daleks are conquering the rest of the galaxy. The Ogrons’ sheer strength makes them feel quite threatening and scary, able to knock humans out with a single swipe. Whilst Jon Pertwee was always quite scathing about the Daleks, he admitted that he was slightly afraid of the Ogrons due to their size and they certainly do add brawn, if not brains, to the Daleks operation. There’s certainly more of a feeling of Earth being a stepping stone rather than an Endgame for Skaro’s famous creation, especially when it is revealed that in the future, the Daleks are essentially using Earth and the remaining humans for its resources for fuel.

The central cast is on great form here too. Pertwee is suitably commanding in all of his scenes and his chemistry with Katy Manning is fantastic. It helps that Jo isn’t reduced to just asking questions but takes an active role in dialogue, contributing her observations in discussions like the one where she and the Doctor are tied up in the cellar. The Third Doctor is probably the only one who would feel completely at home in a setting like Auderly House, but equally in his action sequences. The two leads probably benefit from the fact that Jo and the Doctor are separated relatively early on, as it allows Jo to show that she is capable of holding her own in these scenarios. The UNIT crew are good here too, and I particularly like the “RHIP” scene with Yates, Benton and Jo, which feels very natural. The guest cast are solid too, with the standout performance being Aubrey Woods as the Controller, who demonstrates a conflicted nature between serving his masters and his loyalty to the human race. He shows compassion in the scene with the manager, and his exchanges with the Doctor and Jo obviously impact him to the point that he ultimately plays a role in the Daleks’ downfall.

Verdict: Day of the Daleks is a lot of fun, thanks to an interesting plot playing around with time. This is a good strong start to Pertwee’s third season as the Doctor and definitely in my favourite stories. 9/10

Cast: Jon Pertwee (The Doctor), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), John Levene (Sergeant Benton), Richard Franklin (Captain Mike Yates), Wilfred Carter (Sir Reginald Styles), Jimmy Winston (Shura), Anna Barry (Anat), Scott Fredericks (Boaz), Aubrey Woods (Controller), Jean McFarlane (Miss Paget), Deborah Brayshaw (Girl Technician), Gypsie Kemp (UNIT Radio Operator), Tim Condren (Guerilla), Valentine Palmer (Monia), Peter Hill (Manager), Andrew Carr (Senior Guard), George Raistrick (Guard at Work Station), Rick Lester, Maurice Bush, David Joyce, Frank Menzies, Bruce Wells and Geoffrey Todd (Ogrons), John Scott Martin, Ricky Newby and Murphy Grumbar (Daleks), Oliver Gilbert and Peter Messaline (Dalek Voices), Nicholas Briggs (Dalek Voices (DVD Special Edition) & Alex MacIntosh (Television Reporter).

Writer: Louis Marks

Director: Paul Bernard

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • The story had working titles of The Ghost Hunters, Years of Doom, The Time Warriors, The Day of the Daleks and Ghosts.
  • Louis Marks’ story outline did not contain Daleks. Producer Barry Letts decided that they should return in Season 9 and Terrance Dicks nominated this story.
  • The first time (with the exception of the mirror scene in The Power of the Daleks) that images of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton appeared in the show. The only other time this would occur in Pertwee’s era would be The Three Doctors.
  • Episode 4 originally contained the Daleks explaining that they had destroyed the Daleks infused with the human factor (as seen in The Evil of the Daleks) before turning their efforts towards conquering Earth using time travel. This was cut due to the story overrunning.
  • The first appearance of the Daleks since The Evil of the Daleks, and thus their first appearance in colour on television. As such, the production team were not sure what Daleks should sound like and following this story, voice artists Oliver Gilbert and Peter Messaline were not used again.
  • In the 2011 DVD release of this story, the special edition features more Daleks and they are voiced by Nicholas Briggs.
  • In a scene cut from the televised story but included in Terrance Dicks’ novelisation, the Doctor and Jo would have come face to face with their past selves in a reprise of the scene earlier in the story.
  • The first story not to feature the Master since Inferno.
  • The first Dalek story since The Daleks not to feature the departure or arrival of a new main cast member.

Cast Notes

  • Scott Fredericks would later appear in Image of the Fendahl.

Best Moment

The Doctor is attacked by one of the guerillas looking for Styles, throws him to the ground, finishes his glass of wine, places it down on the table before straightening up in time to counter his next attack.

Best Quote

Who knows? I may have helped to exterminate you.

The Controller

Previous Third Doctor review: The Daemons

The Dæmons

Chap with the wings there. Five rounds rapid.

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

Synopsis

In the village of Devil’s End, the Master is at working summoning cloven-hoofed demons to bow the residents to his will. With the village sealed off to the outside world, the Doctor and Jo have to race against time to stop the Master destroying the whole world.

Review

The Dæmons is possibly the most quintessential Third Doctor stories, and your individual reaction to this story will largely depend on your opinion of his era. It will come as no surprise to people who have read my other blogs on this era that this is one of my favourites, and I particularly love the UNIT family, so it’s safe to say that I really enjoyed this one. That’s not to say that this story is without flaws, however, and it’s certainly a divisive story in certain sectors of the fan community.

My main issue with this story is that it feels a bit too long, even though it is only five parts and I feel that it may have been a push if it had been six parts as originally intended. Whilst I like the delay in UNIT getting involved in the story, it does feel as though these scenes, as well as those with the Brigadier and Sergeant Osgood being held outside of Devil’s End by the heat barrier are just padding. In my opinion, The Dæmons would work better as a tight four-part story with fewer of these scenes. The Brigadier also gets some suspect dialogue, and it is a testament to Nicholas Courtney’s acting ability that he makes these feel real.

Despite this, the story in general is strong and feels as though the writers had done their research, or were at least aided by Damaris Hayman, playing Miss Hawthorne. The story deals with her character surprisingly sympathetically, as Miss Hawthorne is a white witch and it would be all too easy to characterise her as a bit crazy. Instead, she is shown as resourceful and a great help to the Doctor and his allies, especially Benton. The story also gives what seems like a perfectly feasible endgame for the Master after his repeated appearances in Pertwee’s second season, with his aim being world domination, if not, global destruction. The presence of a BBC News crew (from BBC 3, no less) gives this story a feeling of urgency and some degree of scale, which is needed before the Doctor turns up. With producer Barry Letts writing the backbone of this story, it is unsurprising that the regulars all get their moments to shine, even if the Brigadier has to wait a bit longer for his. The story benefits from the direction of Christopher Barry, who uses simple and effective tools to cover up the perennial problem of not having the budget to effectively tell the whole story, along with some strong demonic imagery which make this effective. Of all the effects, the one of Bok reforming after enduring heavy fire from the UNIT troops is fantastic. Barry also makes the action sequences synonymous with the Pertwee era look great, especially the sequence with Girton in the helicopter attempting to get the Doctor to drive into the heat barrier around Devil’s End. Barry also deserves a lot of credit for not making the sequence with the Morris Dancers surrounding the Doctor look laughable, which it so easily could have done in other hands. It would be remiss of me to not mention the location filming in Aldbourne, which is another of the stars and was a great choice for the sleepy village.

The regulars here are all on fine form. Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning are fantastic as the Doctor and Jo, and for moments where the Doctor is condescending to her, we get scenes like the one before they go into the Barrow where he shows real concern for her well-being by giving her the option to stay outside, which of course, she refuses! Jo is of course responsible for the ultimate defeat of Azal by putting her life on the line for the Doctor, a move that he cannot comprehend. It is lovely to see Benton and Yates in their civvies, and the Brigadier all dressed up. All three actors put in great performances, but Courtney is the real stand out, especially in the scene where he learns that Benton and Yates have gone to Devil’s End. I haven’t really suffered with ‘Master fatigue’ due to the way that I’m watching stories in order to post these reviews, and Delgado is good here again.

The Dæmons are used quite effectively here. As mentioned above, Barry only shows us Azal sparingly so that we can avoid the use of too much Colour Separation Overlay (CSO), and although Bok is clearly a man in a costume, he is quite effectively creepy and I didn’t have any trouble buying him as a gargoyle who had started moving about. Stephen Thorne is great as Azal, and it is easy to see why the production team would call him back to play similarly intimidating characters later on in the future.

Verdict: A good fun episode, which could only potentially be improved by reducing the run time, The Dæmons is deserves its place in the best stories of Jon Pertwee’s era. 8/10

Cast: Jon Pertwee (The Doctor), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), Roger Delgado (The Master), Richard Franklin (Captain Mike Yates), John Levene (Sergeant Benton), Damaris Hayman (Miss Hawthorne), Don McKillop (Bert the Landlord), Rollo Gamble (Winstanley), Robin Wentworth (Prof. Horner), David Simeon (Alastair Fergus), James Snell (Harry), John Joyce (Garvin), Eric Hillyard (Dr. Reeves), Jon Croft (Tom Girton), Christopher Wray (PC Groom), Gerald Taylor (Baker’s Man), Stanley Mason (Bok), Alec Linstead (Sergeant Osgood), John Owens (Thorpe), Stephen Thorne (Azal), The Headington Quarry Men (Morris Dancers) & Matthew Corbett (Jones).

Writer: Guy Leopold (Robert Sloman & Barry Letts)

Director: Christopher Barry

Parts: 5

Behind the Scenes

  • One of the eleven televised stories not to feature the Doctor’s TARDIS.
  • The story was filmed in Aldbourne in Wiltshire.
  • The shot of the exploded helicopter was an used shot from the James Bond film From Russia With Love. The shot was so convincing that some members of the audience were convinced that a real helicopter had been destroyed.
  • This story concludes a season-long run of stories featuring the Master. Roger Delgado would appear in the following two seasons, appearing in two stories in Season 9 and one in Season 10.
  • The last five part Doctor Who story.
  • The incantation used by the Master is ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’ backwards. It was originally The Lord’s Prayer spoken backwards but BBC bosses objected.
  • Many viewers believed that the model of the church destroyed in the final episode was the actual church and the BBC received complaints.
  • It was originally intended to be a six-part story but was cut down due to production difficulties.

Cast Notes

  • David Simeon had previously appeared in Inferno.
  • Damaris Hayman acted as an unofficial adviser whilst on the show as she had an interest in the supernatural.
  • Stephen Thorne would go on to appear as further costumed villains in The Three Doctors, Frontier in Space and The Hand of Fear.

Best Moment

Best Quote

I see. So all we’ve got to deal with is something which is either too small to see or thirty feet tall, can incinerate you or freeze you to death, turn stone images into homicidal monsters and looks like the devil.

Exactly.

Mike Yates and the Third Doctor

Previous Third Doctor Review: Colony in Space

Colony in Space

It’s always innocent bystanders who suffer.

The Master

Synopsis

The Time Lords discover that the Master has stolen their file on the Doomsday Weapon, and so enlist the Doctor and Jo to help deal with the crisis. On arriving on the planet Uxarieus, they became involved in a struggle between human colonists and a powerful mining company determined to evict them.

Review

Colony in Space marks the first time since Patrick Troughton’s regeneration story, The War Games, that the Third Doctor has left Earth. From a production standpoint, this was to prevent the monotony of what they saw as the two main Earth-bound stories, the evil scientist and the alien invasion. Whilst the production is undoubtedly filmed in a rain-sodden quarry somewhere in England, it is quite refreshing to see this Doctor and companion pairing given some time away from the Brigadier and UNIT. It has quite a clear political message – even in the future, the corporations are calling the shots – which isn’t exactly subtle!

One of the story’s biggest issues is that it does feel quite slow and repetitive in places, with the dispute between the Interplanetary Mining Corporation (IMC) and the colonists on Uxarieus feeling like some quite mature science fiction and I think that children would certainly struggle with this story. At six parts long, it feels as though it would be much more effective and memorable as a four-parter, as having the colonists attack the IMC twice and win twice does feel quite repetitive here. I really enjoyed the first two parts of this story but thought that it began to drag once Jo was captured by the Uxarieans and struggled to regain my interest until the Master showed up in Part 4. The native aliens are very much bog standard Doctor Who aliens, and their inclusion does feel like a bit of an afterthought, as does the whole Doomsday weapon subplot, which is built up to be important by the Time Lords at the start of the story, but seems to be largely forgotten.

The story does feature some really good direction and the general production standard is good. The titular colony and the Uxariean underground civilisation are excellent examples of set design, and whilst this might not be Michael Briant’s best story to judge his talents as director, he definitely has moments of visual flair and manages to make the robot look threatening at the end of part one despite the ridiculous ‘reptile’ hands. The show also deserves a lot of credit for finding the quarry of the week as it does appear to be completely inhospitable and so it is believable when the Doctor and Ashe discuss the failing crop yields at the beginning of the story. Briant also makes the colony feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable especially in the scenes when they are unaware that they have a traitor in their midst in the shape of Norton.

The main villains of the piece are Captain Dent and Morgan from IMC, alongside the Master when he eventually shows up. Dent and Morgan are good villains, shown to have no scruples about their attempts to convince Ashe and the colonists to leave Uraxeius and their actions and dialogue make it clear that they are unafraid of the leaders of the overcrowded planet Earth and any potential consequences that they may suffer. Hulke here is clearly warning about the dangers of unaccountable corporations acting in similar ways. Caldwell presents a more sympathetic character, expressing some concerns about the legality and morality of what they are doing in order to get their hands on the substantive amounts of Duralinium, but he is prevented from taking his concerns further by Dent’s threats that he will ensure that Caldwell never works again. These three actors all do good jobs, especially Morris Perry as Dent who is really sinister at times. The other antagonist is the Master, who continues his streak of appearing in every story in Season 8. I know some are critical of this, however, I rather enjoyed the fact that his appearance on screen was held back here and found that his presence elevated the latter half of the story which could have really dragged otherwise. Delgado is such an engaging presence on screen that it almost distracts from other deficiencies in the story, especially in his scenes with Pertwee, even if the Doomsday Weapon subplot is a bit rubbish.

Speaking of Jon Pertwee, this is another good performance from him as the Third Doctor and his delight at being able to travel off the Earth is palpable in part one, even if he is annoyed at the fact that this does not mean he can control his TARDIS again. The Doctor and Jo spend very little time together once they have travelled to the planet and as much as I like the character and Katy Manning’s performances generally, she is portrayed as a typical damsel in distress here. Amongst the colonists, there are also no real stand out performances and the characters largely feel bland and interchangeable.

Verdict: A good if not exceptional first adventure off Earth for the Third Doctor would have benefited greatly from being shorter. Michael Briant and the rest of the production team deserve praise for some lovely direction and set design though. 6/10

Cast: Jon Pertwee (The Doctor), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), Nicholas Pennell (Winton), John Ringham (Ashe), David Webb (Leeson), Sheila Grant (Jane Leeson), Roy Skelton (Norton), Helen Worth (Mary Ashe), John Line (Martin), Mitzi Webster (Mrs Martin), John Scott Martin (Robot), Pat Gorman (Primitive, Voice, Long and Colonist), Peter Forbes-Robertson (Time Lord), John Baker (Time Lord), Graham Leaman (Time Lord), Bernard Kay (Caldwell), Morris Perry (Dent), Tony Caunter (Morgan), John Herrington (Holden), Stanley McGeagh (Allen), Roger Delgado (The Master), John Tordoff (Alec Leeson), Norman Atkyns (Guardian) & Roy Heymann (Alien Priest),.

Writer: Malcolm Hulke

Director: Michael Briant

Parts: 6

Behind the Scenes

  • The first off-Earth story recorded in colour and Jo Grant is the first companion to travel with the Doctor in the TARDIS since The War Games.
  • The story introduces a new model of the sonic screwdriver and also marks the start of it being used more often.
  • The first directorial credit for Michael Briant, who had been with the show since the Innes Lloyd and Peter Bryant eras. He also provides the voice-over for the propaganda film in the second episode.
  • The working title for this story was The Colony.

Cast Notes

  • Susan Jameson was originally cast as Morgan, however, after the BBC’s Head of Drama Serials made an intervention, the role was given to Tony Caunter as the role was deemed inappropriate for a woman to play in a show targeted at families as it could have been unintentally deemed to be sexual. As Jameson had signed a contract, she was paid in full.
  • Tony Caunter had previously appeared in The Crusade and would go on to appear in Enlightenment.
  • Sheila Grant previously voiced the Quarks in The Dominators.
  • Roy Skelton makes his first on screen appearance here, and would later appear in The Green Death. He had done voice work for the show since The Ark and is probably best known as the voice of the Daleks from Evil of the Daleks until Remembrance of the Daleks. He also voiced the Monoids and Cybermen.
  • John Line appeared in the stage play The Curse of the Daleks and the audio adaptation of the same produced by Big Finish.
  • Mitzi McKenzie went on to appear in The Green Death.
  • Peter Forbes-Robertson previously appeared as a guard in The Power of the Daleks and was the Chief Sea Devil in The Sea Devils.
  • John Baker appeared in The Visitation.
  • Graham Leaman makes his fourth of five appearances in Doctor Who here. His final appearance would be in The Three Doctors.
  • Bernard Kay makes his final appearance in a Doctor Who story, having previously been in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Crusade and The Faceless Ones.
  • John Herrington previously appeared in The Daleks’ Master Plan.
  • Stanley McGeagh and Norman Atkyns would go on to appear in The Sea Devils.
  • Roy Heymann would later appear in Death to the Daleks.

Best Moment

It’s not a traditionally great moment, but I do like the top and tail scenes with the Brigadier, especially when the Doctor and Jo decide not to tell the Brigadier that they have been on a trip away from Headquarters.

Best Quote

One must rule or serve. That is the basic law of life. Why do you hesitate? Surely it’s not loyalty to the Time Lords, who exiled you to one insignificant planet.

You’ll never understand. I want to see the universe, not rule it.

The Master and the Third Doctor

Previous Third Doctor review: The Claws of Axos

The Claws of Axos

Claws of Axos - Axons

Obviously the Time Lords have programmed the TARDIS always to return to Earth.  It seems that I am some sort of intergalactic yo-yo!

The Third Doctor

Synopsis

A group of gold-skinned aliens arrive on Earth offering a seemingly magical element in return for fuel.  The Doctor sees through their seeming benevolence and uncovers their true nature, ultimately teaming up with his adversary the Master in efforts to take them down.

Review

It’ll be no secret to anybody who has read my other blogs about the Jon Pertwee era that it is one that I am immensely fond of.  I really enjoy the Third Doctor’s man of action, the UNIT Family (especially the Brigadier!) and Roger Delgado, however, that doesn’t stop me from seeing how formulaic things get.  The Claws of Axos is a solid, if unremarkable, story with a lot of familiar elements and I acknowledge that it is unfair to lay all the faults of Season 8 squarely at the door of this serial.

As mentioned above, all of the hallmarks of the Third Doctor’s era are here.  We have an interfering civil servant in the shape of Mr Chinn, played by Peter Bathurst, who gives a good performance as an utter jobsworth who seems to be equally despised by the Doctor, UNIT and the Ministry that he serves.  Chinn is shown to be the worst of humanity when he is presented with the Axonite, only wanting it to benefit Britain and being extremely reluctant even when instructed by the Minister to share it with the rest of the World.  There is somewhat of a see-saw of control in this story, as the Brigadier and Chinn are constantly vying to stay in control of the situation surrounding the seemingly distressed Axon craft, with the Brigadier, Benton and Yates arrested by the military at one point.  Whilst other civil servants have acted foolishly (see Geoffrey Palmer’s infected Masters in The Silurians) or acted antagonistically towards the Doctor and the Brigadier, Chinn seems completely callous.  When he wanders into the reactor room towards the serial’s conclusion, he is more concerned about the potential impact on his career than the fate of the Earth.

Ah, Mister Chinn.  Where have you been hiding yourself?  Canteen?

As it so happens, I’ve been doing your job!

Oh yes?

Trying to do something about the situation.

Which particular situation?

Axonite, Brigadier, Axonite.  Do you realise that Britain’s going to get the blame for all this? 

Britain or you, Mister Chinn?

Well, if you won’t get me the Ministry…where’s Hardiman?

Dead.

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Chinn

Despite the story being quite formulaic, I do quite like the Axons.  There is certainly something about their gold faces and bug-like eyes which is rather unsettling and they are rather unique in the grand scheme of Doctor Who foes, seemingly being a benevolent force.  The costumes in both their humanoid and “raw” forms are quite effectively creepy and I like the idea of them being an embodiment of their ship.  Their plan is an allusion to the fuel crisis in the 1970s, with Axonite being gifted to the humans as a substitute fuel and a “chameleon element”.  When it is sold to humanity like that, it is perhaps not surprising that Chinn would take this attitude to hoard the supplies for Britain, and it is only with the intervention of the Master that Axos’s plan gets back on track.

Claws of Axos - Master

Speaking of the Master, Roger Delgado is great as usual.  He is able to easily manage scenes like hypnotising the UNIT truck driver and using a frankly ludicrous disguise to get past Benton with his usual charming and suave demeanour, and it is perhaps difficult to see any of his successors in the role managing to pull this off in the same way.  The one element that doesn’t really work is the presence of Bill Filer, an American agent sent to arrest the Master, not helped by an accent that could be described as shaky at best.  Despite this, I’m still not bored of the Master turning up every episode, and it is nice to see the Doctor and the Master finally working together to defeat Axos.  Considering how spiky the Third Doctor has been in his tenure to date, it is not surprising to see his abandonment of humanity once he has an inkling of a way off the planet and the scenes with the Master and the Doctor in the TARDIS are a joy.  It’s equally nice to see the Master almost acting as the scientific advisor to UNIT and the Master’s frustration that the Brigadier won’t simply let him leave his fantastic.

Claws of Axos - Brigadier, Master, Filer

If I had one major criticism, it would be that Katy Manning doesn’t really have very much to do here.  This might be in part why I am not keen on the character of Bill Filer, as his role could have been much better filled by Jo, especially the initial discovery of the Master.  I do like Jo as a companion, so it is a shame to see her reduced to a bit part here, especially as she is one of two women who appear in this story.

Verdict: Whilst the story is almost a paint by numbers Earth invasion story, there are moments that redeem it from becoming completely formulaic.  This is probably helped by decent performances from the regulars, especially Delgado. 6/10

Cast: Jon Pertwee (The Doctor), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), John Levene (Sergeant Benton), Richard Franklin (Captain Mike Yates), Roger Delgado (The Master), Paul Grist (Filer), Peter Bathurst (Chinn), Fernanda Marlowe (Corporal Bell), Donald Hewlett (Hardiman), David Savile (Winser), Derek Ware (Pigbin Josh), Bernard Holley (Axon Man), Michael Walker (1st Radar Operator), David G Marsh (2nd Radar Operator), Patricia Gordino (Axon Woman), John Hicks (Axon Boy), Debbie Lee London (Axon Girl), Tim Piggott-Smith (Captain Harker), Kenneth Benda (Defence Minister) & Royston Farrell (Technician).

Writer: Bob Baker & Dave Martin

Director: Michael Ferguson

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • The first contribution to the show by Bob Baker and Dave Martin.  Originally envisaged as a six or seven-part story, it was scaled back due to issues relating to the budget.
  • The first appearance of the TARDIS interior in Pertwee’s era, and the differences seen here – the corridor between the main doors and the console room and the monitor screen being contained in a roundel.  When the TARDIS interior reappeared later, both features were gone.
  • An overnight snowstorm during location filming necessitated the line regarding the ‘freak weather conditions’ caused by the arrival of Axos.
  • The third and final serial of the Pertwee era to use the Patrick Troughton variation of the theme.
  • Bernard Holley previously appeared in The Tomb of the Cybermen and would reprise his role in The Feast of Axos.  Peter Bathurst had previously appeared in The Power of the Daleks, John Hicks had previously appeared in The Dominators, and Tim Piggott-Smith would go on to appear in The Masque of Mandragora.

Best Moment

Seeing the Master and the Brigadier working together is quite enjoyable.

Best Quote

What else can we do?

Oh, nothing very much.  Oh, I suppose you can take the usual precautions against nuclear blast, like, er, sticky tape on the windows and that sort of thing.

Hardiman and the Master

Claws of Axos - Jo, Doctor, Filer