Thursday, 17 August 2017

C is for... Castrovalvans

According to the TARDIS databanks, on the planet of Castrovalva existed Dwellings of Simplicty. Here, the Doctor would be isolated from all technology, and so free to heal after his fourth regeneration. Castrovalva appeared to be a hilltop citadel, and its people were a friendly, peace-loving humanoid race. They engaged in ritualised hunting parties, wearing furred, masked costumes that had belonged to their ancestors. Librarian Shardovan refused to participate in these hunts. Their leader was a wise old man - the Portreeve. The Doctor was placed under the care of physician Mergrave, and soon recovered. He decided to read the history of Castrovalva, which chronicled the city from the coming together of various tribes up to the present day. He discovered that, though supposedly old, this had been written by Shardovan. He soon became aware that Castrovalva was not what it appeared. It was subject to dimensional instability. Mergrave became confused about its geography when asked to draw a map showing his apothecary. Shardovan had created the history because he had come to realise that his people had none. They were all a creation of the Master, harnessing Adric's mathematical skills to create block transfer computations. He had been the Portreeve in disguise.
When the Doctor freed Adric, the city began to collapse in on itself. The Castrovalvans turned on their creator - ensnaring him in his own trap.

Appearances: Castrovalva (1982).

  • "Castrovalva" is the name of a work by the artist M C Escher, famous for his strange optical illusions. A print had hung behind the desk of producer John Nathan Turner's boss, and it had always annoyed him.

C is for... Castellan

The Doctor had encountered two other holders of this post on Gallifrey before he met this unnamed individual. The Castellan was a senior Time Lord, responsible for internal security. He commanded the Chancellery Guards. This Castellan held a seat on the High Council, and was one of its key members. At the same time that he was investigating the apparently accidental death of a Time Lord technician, the Time Lords became aware that an entity from the universe of Anti-Matter was attempting to break into this universe by bonding itself physically to the Doctor. The Castellan had the TARDIS recalled to Gallifrey, materialising it in a security area. A humourless and obsessive man, he failed to heed warnings by a friend of the Doctor's - Damon - that might point towards a traitor at work. He pursued the Doctor ruthlessly. When the Doctor was captured and sentenced to vapourisation the Castellan harboured doubts, and ordered Captain Maxil of the Chancellery Guards to investigate the execution. A fellow member of the High Council - Hedin - was the traitor, seeking to bring Omega back from his long exile. Hedin manufactured evidence that made President Borusa look like he was in league with the Doctor. The Castellan was prepared to shoot down the Doctor when he went to arrest Borusa, but Hedin intervened and was killed, as he knew Omega needed the Doctor alive.

Later, when the Doctor was taken out of time in all of his regenerations and deposited in the Death Zone on Gallifrey, the Castellan was once again part of the inner circle of the Council. This was the work of Borusa. Knowing of the animosity felt by the Castellan towards the Doctor, he made the perfect scapegoat to throw attention away from himself. He arranged for the forbidden Black Scrolls of Rassilon to be found amongst the Castellan's effects and ordered his arrest - authorising use of the Mind Probe to interrogate him. He then engineered his murder, employing a Chancellery Guard Captain to shoot him down in a faked escape bid.

Played by: Paul Jerricho. Appearances: Arc of Infinity and The Five Doctors (1983).

  • A Castellan is the governor of a castle.

C is for... Cassandra (2)

Lady Cassandra O'Brien dot Delta 17 claimed to be the last pure bred human, and so was a guest on Platform One in the year 5 Billion to witness the final destruction of the Earth. Born a boy in Texas, she had grown up in England. After transitioning to a woman, she became obsessed with her appearance and embarked on hundreds of surgical procedures to improve her looks - resulting in her becoming a piece of skin stretched on a frame, with eyes and mouth, and with her brain held in a jar. She married several times, outliving all of her wealthy husbands.
She arrived on the Platform with attendant nurses, whose main job was to keep her permanently moisturised. She brought gifts of an ostrich egg (which she believed to have been a beast like a dragon), and a Wurlitzer juke-box, which she thought was an i-pod.
Desperate for funds to finance her next cosmetic operation, she hatched a plan to engineer a hostage situation on the Platform. She employed the Adherents of the Repeated Meme to distribute metal spheres to her fellow guests, inside each of which was a robot spider programmed to commit acts of sabotage. When it appeared that the Platform would be destroyed, she opted for a back-up plan, having invested heavily in the competitor firms of those aboard. She transmatted off the Platform, but the Doctor reversed this and brought her back. Without her attendants, the heat in the station caused her to dry out and she burst apart.

A faithful servant named Chip, who was a short-lived clone, salvaged her brain and eyes, and connected them up to a new body made from another piece of her skin. He hid her in the basement of the hospital on New Earth. She spent her time reminiscing about her earlier life, and plotting to discover the secrets of the cat-like Sisters of Plenitude who ran the hospital. Her robot spiders alerted her to the fact that Rose and the Doctor had arrived on the planet and were coming to the hospital. She tricked Rose into going to the basement and employed a psycho-graft to transfer her mind into Rose's body. Her own body and brain died. She pretended to be Rose and helped the Doctor discover what the Sisters were up to - growing cloned humans to use as laboratory guinea-pigs. They carried many virulent diseases, and Cassandra released them. At one point she transferred herself into the Doctor. On another occasion she entered one of the clones, and was shocked by the loneliness she felt there. When forced to vacate Rose's body and accept her inevitable demise, Chip stepped in and became a willing host for her. His life had been almost over, however. The Doctor took her to visit her earlier self, when she still had a humanoid body. She had based Chip on the last person ever to tell her she looked beautiful - which proved to be her future self.

Played by: Zoe Wanamaker. Appearances: The End of the World (2005) and New Earth (2006).

  • According to a BBC reference book (Monsters and Villains), Cassandra was born Brian Edward Cobbs.
  • Wanamaker was making a number of appearances in the Poirot TV series at the time these episodes were filmed, so only had limited time to record her dialogue, and to have motion capture done on her facial features in order that the Mill could animate her.

C is for... Cassandra (1)

Daughter of Priam, King of Troy. She feared that the city would fall after it accepted a gift from the Greeks, and at first thought that this might be the TARDIS, which brother Paris had found. She insisted it be burnt - prompting Vicki to leave the ship. Cassandra could foresee the future, though she was cursed that no-one would believe her prophesies. When it became clear that Vicki knew Steven, who was posing as a Greek warrior, Cassandra had her thrown into prison. When the city fell, Cassandra was taken captive and given to Agamemnon. Her handmaiden, Katarina, joined the TARDIS crew.

Played by: Frances White. Appearances: The Myth Makers (1965).

  • There is a popular myth that White asked the Radio Times not to credit her. She has denied this and states that it was a mistake by the publication.
  • In Greek mythology it was Apollo who gave Cassandra the gift of prophesy, and added the curse of never being believed when she spurned him. She was raped by Ajax in the temple dedicated to Athena, who wrecked the Greek fleet in revenge. Cassandra was killed along with Agamemnon shortly after they reached Mycenae.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Small Worlds - Torchwood 1.5

In which Jack wakes from a vivid nightmare - a memory of something which happened to him decades ago. As an officer in the British army he was traveling through India in the boxcar of a train when it passed through a tunnel. Within seconds, all of his men were dead - suffocated with rose petals. Jack finds a lone petal beside his bed. The next day he takes Gwen to see a lecture about local folklore, given by an old friend of his named Estelle Cole. She has taken some photographs which she claims show Faeries, taken in a local woodland.
At Estelle's home, Gwen sees a photo of her as a young woman, with a man who looks exactly like Jack. He claims that this was his father, who courted Estelle for a time. Jack warns Estelle that Faeries are not the benign creatures she believes them to be, but she refuses to accept this. Outside, he tells Gwen that they are beings from outwith Time itself and are totally amoral. Back at the Hub, Jack asks Toshiko to monitor for any unusual weather events, as these can indicate Faery activity.

A young girl named Jasmine lives in a house that backs onto the woodland where Estelle saw the creatures. She is a solitary child, with no friends, and who does not get on with her mother's boyfriend, Roy. He fails to pick her up from school and so she walks home. A man named Mark Goodson attempts to lure her into his car. Jasmine does have friends - ones that only she can see. A fierce wind forces Mark to withdraw and he feels that someone is hunting him. In a nearby market he begins to regurgitate rose petals. He finds a police officer and asks to be arrested, admitting that he is a paedophile.  In custody, he dies - suffocated by petals. Jack and Gwen are called in to investigate the death. Jack tells Gwen about the events in India, back in 1909. Some of his men had drunkenly run over and killed a child. This child was a chosen one for the Faeries, and this is why they killed his men in the train.
That night Estelle hears someone prowling outside her home and calls Jack. Going out into the garden to fetch her cat she is caught in a torrential downpour. This freak weather is spotted in the Hub. By the time Jack gets to the house, Estelle has died from drowning. Jack admits to Gwen that the man in the photo was him. Returning home, Gwen finds her flat has been ransacked. A miniature sculpture, like a stone circle, has been left on the floor.

The next day, Jasmine is bullied at school. The playground is buffeted by strong winds, causing everyone to panic - all except Jasmine. Owen has discovered that the piece of woodland where Estelle saw the Faeries - Roundstone Woods - has always been wild and never been built upon, despite redevelopment all around it. It contains an ancient stone circle. When Jack and Gwen investigate the school, Gwen is convinced that something is watching them from the trees. They decide to go and speak to Jasmine. Roy has boarded up the fence to stop Jasmine from going into the woods. A party is being held to celebrate the fifth anniversary since Roy started going out with her mother. It is attacked by winged, green-skinned creatures. One of them kills Roy, suffocating him. Jasmine runs into the woods. Jack realises that the girl has been chosen to join the Faeries, and that nothing will prevent this. To the horror of his colleagues and her mother, Jack allows the creatures to take Jasmine.
Back at the Hub, Gwen is studying images of the Cottingley Fairies, taken in 1917. She zooms in on one of the faces of the dancing figures, and sees that it shows a smiling Jasmine.

Small Worlds was written by P J Hammond, best known for creating Sapphire and Steel. It was first broadcast on 12th November, 2006.
Hammond had been sounded out for a Doctor Who contribution by script editor Eric Saward in the mid 1980's, though nothing had come of the approach.
For a change, there are no alien aspects to the story, though Jack does reference a monster from the classic era of Doctor Who. The Faeries are Earthbound creatures, who have always lived alongside us, though they don't follow linear time. I've read a lot of Scottish folklore, and Faeries feature prominently. The stories rarely show them in a benign light. At best they are amoral. They are often alleged to steal children, or nursing women to feed their own children, replacing them with a piece of wood. Another popular tale is that of the person who joins them in a dance. He thinks he has only been with them a few hours, whereas a year or more has really passed. In one version, a whole century has gone by.
Child abduction features in the Doctor Who series 2 story Fear Her, but at no point is it ever even suggested that this may be due to a paedophile. Small Worlds tackles this subject head on, in the character of Goodson.

Jasmine is played by Lara Phillipart. She features in The Idiot's Lantern, watching the Coronation at the Connolly household. Estelle is Eve Pearce. She's a poet as well as an actor.
Overall, one of the highlights of the first season. Hammond is a great writer, and his contribution to the second season will be one of its best.
Things you might like to know:

  • The Doctor Who monster Jack refers to is the Mara - from Kinda and Snakedance. He suggests that the Faeries might be part Mara. At least that's the conclusion fans jump to. Hammond would be referencing the Germanic legends, where the Mara can steal peoples' breath and are the derivation of the word "nightmare", whereas Christopher Bailey was inspired by a Buddhist demon.
  • It has been implied that Jack never sleeps, yet here we see him in bed, waking from a nightmare.
  • The Torchwood website claimed that Jack's role in India, 1909, was when he was acting as a con-man, out to steal diamonds.
  • The Cottingley Fairies were revealed to have been a hoax in the early 1980's, when the two cousins who feature in the pictures admitted they cut the figures from a book and fastened them with hat pins. When first revealed to the public, they caught the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was convinced of their authenticity. The August 2017 edition of Fortean Times has a feature, marking the centenary of the photographs.
  • The episode ends with a quotation from The Stolen Child, by W B Yeats - a devout believer in the supernatural. It runs: "Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild. With a faery hand in hand. For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand".

Friday, 11 August 2017

August's Figurines

Three figurines again this month - two regular releases plus the latest of the special editions. First of all we have the Professor Yana Master. An extremely good likeness of Derek Jacobi.
With him is Dalek Caan, as he appeared in The Stolen Earth / Journey's End, with the casing broken open. This is one of those figurines that looks odd out of context, being so brightly coloured. On screen it was kept in a harsh spotlight, in a darkened chamber.

The special edition figure is the Yeti, as it appeared in The Web of Fear. It is roughly twice the size of the normal figurines. Unfortunately, mine came with a couple of the talons broken off - that's three months running I've had to get the super-glue out. Either Eaglemoss need to improve their packaging, or my postman has to to go.
Next month we will be treated to Sharaz Jek, from The Caves of Androzani, plus - what it possibly the most pointless release yet - the Space Pig from the Series 1 Slitheen story. October sees an Ogron plus a Cheetah Person, whilst the next special edition will be Aggedor.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Inspirations: The Myth Makers

Until relatively recently, it was widely accepted that a man named Homer wrote an epic poem about a legendary war - and of a ten year siege by Achaean (Greek) heroes of a city named Troy.
More recently it has become widely accepted that the Greeks really did besiege and destroy the city of Troy, in the Dardanelles, during the Bronze Age. It's Homer himself who has become the myth.
If he did exist, he certainly wasn't a first hand observer of the conflict - he lived several centuries later.
It appears that the tale was handed down orally over those centuries by story-tellers until someone - possibly Homer - wrote it down. But the germ of the poem came from first hand accounts of a real conflict. There's corroboration in Hittite texts of a Mycenaean Greek High King campaigning in Asia Minor in the area where archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann unearthed the ruins of the city he believed to be Troy, which had clear destruction layers. The Greeks had built a new city on top of this, and the Romans had built another on top of that. Alexander the Great had no problem identifying it as the site of Troy. He was shown the tomb of Achilles - a mound near the site - and is said to have swapped his own shield for that of his hero.
That's as much as we can say about a conflict in the region in the Bronze Age. The details, such as Paris abducting Helen; her husband Menelaus seeking help from his brother - Agamemnon - and other Greek city states to lay siege; the siege lasting ten years; and the subterfuge of the Wooden Horse etc - all this can never be proved. Some of it is certainly artistic licence on the part of the bards who first told the tale.

We've said a lot about Homer, but nothing so far about the Doctor. The Myth Makers - always known under this title - was written by Donald Cotton. He had written a number of plays for the Third Programme, most inspired by the classical Greek myths. When story editor Donald Tosh invited him to contribute a storyline to Doctor Who, he settled on the legend of the Wooden Horse of Troy. Cotton elected to make the episodes humorous, but with a sudden switch to darkness in the final section when Troy would fall, and most of the characters would be killed.
The action begins with the TARDIS materialising near Troy. The Doctor goes out to confront two men who are fighting - distracting one of them (Hector) long enough for the other (Achilles) to kill him. Achilles takes the Doctor to be Zeus, and he plays along as he's taken to the Greek camp where he meets Agamemnon, the spineless Menelaus - who just wants to go home and isn't that bothered about getting Helen back - and the cynical Odysseus, who wants proof of his divinity. Steven comes looking for the Doctor, gets taken for a Trojan spy, and so the Doctor has to step in to save him. He decides to show Odysseus his "temple" - the TARDIS - but when they get there it has gone. Vicki, nursing a sore ankle, was still inside. She emerges from the ship after it has been carried into Troy.
Vicki needs to be rescued from the city by Steven, whilst the Doctor is challenged to come up with a way of capturing it. She falls in love with King Priam's son Troilus, whilst making an enemy of his sister Cassandra, the prophetess. Steven pretends to be a warrior named Diomedes and allows himself to be captured by Paris - so he can get to Vicki. The Doctor decides that the Wooden Horse must have been made up by Homer, so he won't be messing with history if he suggests it to Odysseus.
The city falls, the Trojans are massacred - except for Cassandra who gets taken captive, Troilus, who runs off with Vicki (who changes her name to Cressida), and Katarina, a handmaiden who looks like she's going to be the new companion as she departs in the TARDIS with the Doctor and Steven.

As well as the general myths of the Trojan War on view, the other big inspiration is the story of Troilus and Cressida. Shakespeare's play is probably the best known version, but earlier than that we have Chaucer's poem - and he is said to have taken the idea from Boccaccio. He in turn took inspiration from 12th Century poet Benoit de Saint-Maure. The two lovers fail to live happily ever after in the literary sources - with Troilus slain in battle and Cressida taking a Greek lover, ironically the person whom Steven is impersonating.
Whilst on the subject, Diomedes was not killed during the Trojan War. He returned to Greece and successfully founded a number of new cities.
Maureen O'Brien only discovered she was being written out of the series on her return from holiday at the end of Season 2. New producer John Wiles had heard her complain about the scripts for Galaxy 4, and thought she wanted to leave, so asked Tosh to arrange it as soon as possible. Of the four companion departures to date, that's two who have fallen in love with someone in the course of a few days, though Susan never got to make the decision to leave the TARDIS for herself.

Homer's Iliad is set in the later stages of the war, but ends before the fall of Troy - so the Wooden Horse doesn't feature. It is briefly mentioned in his other great work - The Odyssey - though that is set after the war has ended, when Odysseus is trying to get home to Ithaca. It is actually to the Roman writer Virgil that we should look for the full story of the Horse - in The Aeneid. Virgil recounts the story of the actual fall of the city, and of how the survivor Aeneas, after much wandering, arrives in Italy and founds Rome.
As far as Donald Cotton was concerned, the Wooden Horse was simply inspired by a Siege Machine. Though not common, they had been used at the time the war was set. An interesting theory is that the Horse was not a real one but a metaphorical one. The horse was one of the symbols of Poseidon. As well as being god of the seas, he was also responsible for earthquakes. Archaeologists working at Troy have found that it is not always possible to confirm if an area of destruction was man-made, or the result of a natural disaster like an earthquake. Troy lies in modern Turkey, which is geologically unstable.
Was the idea of a ten year siege such an unlikely one? It is written as though it was continuous, but warfare up until the formation of standing armies was a seasonal thing. You went off campaigning each year, but went home for important things like the harvest. A campaign lasting ten seasons is perfectly feasible.
Even something as fantastic as Achilles' vulnerable heel might have its derivation in truth. Experts have recreated armour from Bronze Age Asia Minor. It affords a great deal of protection - apart from the back of the lower leg...
Next time, it's back to Kembel for Dalek shenanigans of epic proportions.

Friday, 4 August 2017

C is for... Cass (2)

Crew member of the Drum - an underwater mining facility in a flooded valley in the North of Scotland. The crew had found a strange craft on the lake bed and brought it into the complex. Its engines suddenly fired - killing the commander, Moran. His ghost appeared moments later, and the crew had to seek shelter in a Faraday Cage which the spirit Moran could not enter. Another, alien, ghost appeared - dressed like a funeral director.
As Cass was second in command, she took charge. She had been deaf since birth, and had a colleague named Lunn who signed for her. Cass was very protective towards Lunn - refusing to allow him to enter the craft. Fortunately, this prevented him from becoming a victim of the ghosts - transformed into another of their kind. Her protectiveness was because she was in love with him, but didn't feel she could say so. He was secretly in love with her in return.
Lunn's immunity proved helpful once the Doctor and Clara arrived and helped them investigate what was going on. Whilst Cass couldn't hear an approaching ghost, she could feel the vibration of the axe it was dragging, and this saved her life.
Another victim of unrequited love, her colleague Bennett convinced Cass and Lunn to admit their feelings towards each other after the ghosts had been neutralised.

Played by: Sophie Stone. Appearances: Under the Lake / Before the Flood (2015).

  • Sophie was a 24 year old single mum when she became the first deaf actor to be enrolled at RADA. Inspiring.

C is for... Cass (1)

Pilot of a spaceship which was breaking up near the orbit of the planet Karn. She had transported her crew off the vessel and stayed behind. The Doctor materialised the TARDIS aboard the vessel and attempted to rescue her. On discovering that he was a Time Lord, she refused to go with him - believing both sides in the Time War to be just as bad as each other. The Doctor decided not to leave her, and remained on the ship when it crashed. He was taken from the wreckage, dying. Cass was already dead, and the Sisterhood of Karn could not bring her back. This prompted the peace-loving Eighth Doctor to regenerate into the incarnation known as the "War Doctor".

Played by: Emma Campbell-Jones. Appearances: Night of the Doctor (2013).

C is for... Carter, Alice and Steven

Daughter and grandson of Captain Jack Harkness. Her mother was Lucia Moretti, who worked with Jack in Torchwood Three. She left the organisation in 1977, and put her daughter under deep cover - as Alice Sangster. She went on to marry Joe Carter, and had a son - Steven - in 1999.
Alice knew all about her father, and refused to have any connection with him - knowing the dangers associated with him. They started limited contact after Lucia died - Jack being passed off as an uncle to Steven due to his apparent younger age.
When the aliens known as the 456 began to send messages to Earth through its children, Steven was one of those affected. The Government elected to destroy Torchwood as part of a cover-up, as Jack had been involved in an earlier encounter with the species. Agent Johnson traced Alice and Steven and took them into custody, as a means of getting Jack, Gwen and Rhys to hand themselves in. They were released when Jack convinced Johnson that there was a way to combat the aliens. This needed a child to be used as a conduit for a signal. To save millions of other children, Jack allowed Steven to be used. The signal worked, but Steven was killed. Alice refused to speak to him after this, and in remorse Jack fled from Earth.

Played by: Lucy Cohu (Alice), Bear McCausland (Steven). Appearances: TW: Children of Earth (2009).

C is for... Carter (3)

Commander of the Teselecta - Justice Department Vehicle 6018. This humanoid-shaped machine could transform its appearance to look and sound like anyone. The original person was transported inside it. If a wrong-doer, they were killed by the machine's robotic Antibodies. Others were given a wristband device which protected them.
Within the Teselecta were some 421 miniaturised crew members. The machine could travel through Time - visiting people who had committed serious crimes and who had managed to escape justice, usually by dying. Carter's vessel travelled to Berlin in 1938 to punish Adolf Hitler, taking on the appearance of a Nazi officer named Zimmerman. Carter realised that they had arrived seven years too early. The Teselecta was then knocked down by the crashing TARDIS. When Amy and Rory's friend Mels regenerated into River Song, Carter realised that he had a new target - as she was the killer of the Doctor. He was prevented from harming her by her daughter, who disabled the Antibody safeguards - forcing Carter and his crew to abandon ship and return to their mothership.
The Doctor encountered Carter again when the Teselecta was disguised as Gideon Vandalour of the Silence, frequenting a bar in the docklands of Calisto B. After giving him information about Silence agent Gantok, Carter allowed the Doctor to use the machine to feign his death.

Played by: Richard Dillane. Appearances: Let's Kill Hitler, The Wedding of River Song (both 2011).

C is for... Carter (2)

Penny Carter was the science correspondent for The Observer newspaper, investigating the weight loss claims of Adipose Industries at the same time that the company was attracting the attention, separately, of the Doctor and Donna Noble. Whilst not suspecting alien activity, she was concerned about their miraculous results. She decided to hide in the company's HQ after it had closed, concealing herself in a cubicle in the Ladies' toilets. Donna had the same idea, and at first thought that it was she who had been discovered by Miss Foster and her security men. Whilst being interrogated in Miss Foster's office, the Doctor and Donna spied on her, he from outside the window and she from the glass panel on the door. This was the first time they had seen each other since the Racnoss incident of two Christmases ago. Penny was untied, only to be recaptured and tied to a chair again. After the Adipose spacecraft had come to collect their youngsters, and Miss Foster had plunged to her death, Penny emerged from the building - still tied to a chair. She was convinced the Doctor and Donna were crazy.

Played by: Verona Joseph. Appearances: Partners in Crime (2008).

  • Had Catherine Tate not returned to do Series 4, journalist Penny Carter would have been the new companion to replace Martha Jones.

C is for... Carter (1)

Dr Carter was a pathologist at the hospital to which Sarah Jane Smith was taken after being caught up in a quarry blasting accident. At the Doctor's behest he investigated the stone hand which she had been found clutching. The hand appeared to have a helical structure like DNA, and it absorbed radiation from the electron microscope examining it. Sarah woke and stole the hand, knocking Carter out with a blast of energy from the blue crystal ring which the hand had worn. Carter insisted on accompanying the Doctor to the Nunton Nuclear Power Complex, where Sarah had taken the fossil.
The ring caused anyone who came under its influence to fall under the power of the hand's owner - an alien named Eldrad. They were compelled to prevent anyone from hindering the hand's attempts to reconstitute itself. Crying "Eldrad must live!", Carter attacked the Doctor with a wrench, but he lost his balance and fell from a high gantry to his death.

Played by: Rex Robinson. Appearances: The Hand of Fear (1976).

  • Third and final appearance by Robinson in the programme - all in stories directed by Lennie Mayne. His first was as another doctor - Tyler - in The Three Doctors. He then played the miners' leader Gebek in The Monster of Peladon.
  • His wife - Patricia Prior - also featured in The Three Doctors, playing Mrs Ollis.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Cyberwoman - Torchwood 1.4

In which the Torchwood team go out for a drink, leaving Ianto in charge of the Hub. Once alone, he ushers in a Japanese doctor - Tanizaki - and leads him to the lowermost depths of the complex. In a storeroom he introduces the doctor to his girlfriend - Lisa Hallett. She is connected to a Cyber-conversion unit, her body partially transformed into a Cyberman. Ianto explains that she had worked with him at Canary Wharf when the Cybermen invaded. He had managed to rescue her, along with the unit, and smuggled them into the Hub. He is searching for a means of restoring her humanity to her. A UFO sighting over Cardiff Bay brings the rest of the team back early. Ianto goes upstairs, leaving Tanizaki with Lisa. There is a massive power loss, and Ianto sees that it comes from the basement. Claiming this has happened earlier, he goes alone to see what the problem is - rushing to the storeroom. Here he finds the doctor dead, having been partly converted by Lisa.

Ianto is horrified that she has destroyed his hope of saving her. He hurriedly hides the body, but Lisa reactivates the conversion unit to draw more power. Tosh discovers that the CCTV has been tampered with, but some of it is retrieved and they see Ianto welcoming the doctor. The power drain causes the Hub to go into lock-down. Gwen and Owen go to the basement to investigate and discover the conversion unit. They report back to Jack. Owen is knocked out and Lisa attempts to convert Gwen. Jack arrives in time to stop the process, but Ianto stops him shooting Lisa and she escapes into the Hub. To give Tosh time to recharge the power supply, Jack allows himself to be "deleted" by Lisa. She turns on Ianto, knocking him unconscious. Jack sprays her with BBQ sauce - causing her to be attacked by the pterodactyl which lives in the Hub.

This allows everyone to escape to the surface using the invisible lift to the plaza above. Jack gives Ianto an ultimatum - kill Lisa or he will come down after 10 minutes and shoot them both. Meanwhile, a pizza delivery girl named Annie has found the entrance to the Hub unlocked and she descends into the complex. She encounters Lisa. When Ianto goes to the basement storeroom he finds Lisa dead, but she has transplanted her brain into Annie's skull. When she fails to see the wrong she has done - and recommends that Ianto also upgrade - he realises that he has lost her forever. He still cannot bring himself to kill her, but his colleagues arrive and shoot her dead.

Cyberwoman was written by Chris Chibnall, and was first broadcast on 5th November, 2006. The story idea originated with Russell T Davies, and was one of the first pitched for the series. Davies thought there was mileage in a story showing the aftermath of his Doctor Who Series 2 finale - Army of Ghosts / Doomsday. We had seen three women turned into Cybermen - Sally Phelan, the alternative Jackie Tyler, and Yvonne Hartman - but their brains all ended up in standard Cyberman shells. Here, Lisa has only been partially converted, so she retains her feminine form - allowing for a sexualised, fetishistic design. Quite where the Cybermen got the parts, lord only knows.
As Torchwood is aimed at an adult market - it was barely covered by DWM, lest youngsters insist on watching the further adventures of Captain Jack - this allows for the body-horror of Cyber-conversion to be shown graphically. First we see the doctor with parts of his face and head partly implanted, and later we see the crude brain surgery which Lisa uses to transplant her brain into the hapless pizza delivery girl.
Once again, we see that Jack has absolutely no control over his team. It's one thing for them to take alien objects home with them, but here Ianto is seemingly able to smuggle Lisa and the conversion unit into the Hub and keep her there for what must be a number of months at least.

The first two episodes of the series were very much about Gwen joining the team, with Owen starting to come to the fore in the third episode. Here, Ianto gets to be the main protagonist in the plot. He had been pretty much a background character up until now - not even going out on field trips with the others.
As the action is pretty much confined to the Hub, there is only a small guest cast. Lisa is Caroline Chikezie, Tanizaki is Togo Igawa, and Annie is played by Bethan Walker.

Overall, an episode that has divided fans. Some people would have liked to have seen more explicit crossover with the parent programme, whilst others preferred it to forge its own path. As a storyline, it makes for a fast-paced, base under siege adventure. Others would have liked to have seen more about the emotional and moral implications of what Ianto was doing, rather than a monster on the loose shoot-em-up. The pterodactyl fight is a bit silly, however much you like the story overall.
Things you might like to know:

  • Chibnall claimed this was the hardest story he had to write for the series. He started with the conclusion, with the team shooting Lisa dead. One draft did have Ianto pull the trigger.
  • Cyberwoman was supposed to have sat later in the series, but problems with some of the other scripts meant it being brought forward and shown fourth - so Ianto might have been expected to have kept Lisa hidden for even longer.
  • By rights, Lisa and the conversion unit should have been sucked into the Void at the conclusion to Doomsday. Realising this, the official website decided that her implants and the unit were all sourced from material from our universe rather than from Pete's World.
  • However, one big problem is that Ianto claims that towards the end of the invasion, the Cybermen resorted to partial conversions. Surely if you are in a hurry it is a lot quicker to whip out a brain and plonk it in a suit, than it is to start transforming someone piecemeal?
  • How does Ianto keep his job at the end of this - or indeed his life? It is one thing to smuggle his girlfriend and some alien tech into the Hub, but this is a Cyber-conversion unit - capable of starting the whole invasion up all over again.
  • It was around this time that criticism really got underway for the manner in which John Barrowman was playing Captain Jack. Fans knew him as a cheeky, cocky, funny character in the closing episodes of the Chris Eccleston series, but he seems to have had all the fun and joy sucked out of him.
  • The brief flashback scene of Ianto saving Lisa from Canary Wharf took a whole day to film as the camera broke down, as did its replacement.
  • One of the inspirations for Lisa's costume was the Maria robot from Metropolis.
  • Lisa claims that the Hub would make a good Cyber-conversion facility. Ironically, the by then redundant set was later used as the heart of the Cyber-King, in The Next Doctor.
  • With its limited settings and small guest cast, this was the cheapest episode of the season. Even the UFO glimpsed on video was achieved simply by covering a frisbee in tinfoil.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Inspirations: Mission to the Unknown

Mission to the Unknown is an odd beast - a single episode storyline that acts as a prequel to the 12 part Dalek epic that follows, though not immediately. There is no Doctor, Steven, Vicki or TARDIS.
Instead we get a space secret agent - Marc Cory - and his astronaut colleagues, investigating the sighting of a strange spaceship seen near the jungle planet of Kembel.
Last week, Vicki had seen this planet on the TARDIS scanner, and wondered aloud what might be happening there. We saw one of the astronauts - a man named Garvey - wandering through the jungle, seemingly obsessed with killing.
Kembel is infested with hostile plant-forms called Vargas. If one of their spines breaks the skin, victims become homicidally deranged as they turn into Varga Plants themselves. Even after death, they continue to mutate. The Vargas are not native to Kembel. They have been bred on the planet Skaro by the Daleks.

Cory is a member of the Space Special Security Service. He is one of their top agents and tells his pilot, Lowery, that he has the right to commandeer spacecraft. He also says that he is "licensed to kill" - letting the audience know exactly where the inspiration for his character comes from.
By the time this episode aired, there had been three Bond movies released in the cinemas, and the most recent - Goldfinger - had really turned the franchise into a global phenomenon. Spoofs and merchandising proliferated. The fourth movie - Thunderball - would have been due in the cinemas a couple of months later (the UK premiere was 29th December, 1965) and the publicity would already have been evident. Terry Nation had been working on a number of glossy spy-fi TV series much influenced by the success of Bond when he came up with his space secret service.
Cory's rocket has United Nations markings on its tail, as well as the Union Jack. Nice to see both geo-political entities are still present in the year 3999.

Cory discovers that the Daleks have set up a base on Kembel and have formed an alliance comprising a number of alien races. They plan to launch an attack on the rest of the cosmos - starting with the Solar System. Advanced publicity referred to this group as UGH - United Galactic Headquarters. The same publicity calls the planet Varga, so can't be relied upon. The alien representatives are called Malpha (the bald white figure with the patterned skin), Trantis (the short black haired fellow with the face tendrils), Gearon, Celation, Beaus and Sentreal. Debate still rages as to which of the other costumes these refer to. Celation will appear in The Daleks' Master Plan, but not looking like any of these, whilst Trantis will lose his face tendrils. The chap who looks like a collection of Hogwarts' Sorting Hats stacked on top of each other doesn't appear at all in the Master Plan.
Giving this group an acronymic title is yet another Bond reference, as he was facing SPECTRE and SMERSH on the big screens. Pity poor Napoleon Solo, who had to contend with THRUSH.

Terry Nation had a love of war films, and in particular those set in the Pacific arena. He loved jungle and swamp settings, and had a soft spot for hostile plant-life which he would return to many times in his writing. A swamp full of mutated creatures had featured in his very first Dalek story, as well as the planet Mechanus in their third outing. That had featured the deadly plant creatures known as Fungoids. Part 3 of The Keys of Marinus had also revolved around plants that killed. When he comes to write his greatest hits package for the show's 10th anniversary year, it will feature jungle warfare and deadly plant-life in a big way.
Cory never does manage to warn his bosses of the Dalek threat. He gets killed, with a tape recording hidden on his person. This marks the first ever story in which everyone on the side of Good gets killed.
This is also where we say goodbye to Verity Lambert, who steps down as producer. She's off to get Adam Adamant off the ground, and John Wiles takes full control of the programme - much to William Hartnell's consternation.
Despite being only one episode, with an on-screen title, there is still some debate amongst fans as to the story title. Some BBC paperwork refers to this as "Dalek Cutaway" and some people seem to think that this should be the correct title. This is clearly a production term - as we are cutting away from the Doctor's adventures to have a stand-alone one with the Daleks. Only an idiot would accept this as a story title.
Having the Daleks on their own, without the Doctor and his companions, will give Nation the idea that his creations might just work on their own, divorced from the parent programme with a new group of heroes to fight against, based on his space secret service. More of this later...
Next time - Great Zeus! It's the Celestial Troymaker...

Friday, 28 July 2017

C is for... Carstairs

A young Lieutenant in the British Army, serving in France in 1917. He and his men halted an ambulance which had been captured by the Germans, thus freeing Lady Jennifer Buckingham - the driver - and her passengers, whom she had picked up in the middle of No Man's Land. These were the Doctor and his companions, Jamie and Zoe. At the British HQ, Carstairs and Jennifer were called upon to take part as witnesses in a court martial in which the time-travellers were accused by General Smythe of being spies. Carstairs was unsettled by the proceedings, feeling the prisoners had not been given a fair hearing. He had been subjected to mental conditioning, and this was starting to break down. Speaking to Jennifer, he realised that both could not remember their recent past. He helped the Doctor and his friends escape and steal the ambulance from the HQ, and was with them when they drove through a strange bank of mist - to find themselves confronted by Roman soldiers.
Returning to the HQ they went to Smythe's private quarters and found evidence of alien technology hidden there. Carstairs' conditioning broke down fully and he accepted the Doctor's explanation that they were no longer in France but on some alien planet where a number of different battles from Earth's history were being fought in various time zones.
In the American Civil War zone, Carstairs was captured and taken to the alien command centre where he was reprocessed. He recognised Zoe as an enemy spy and was prepared to shoot her. The Doctor undid the reprocessing, and Carstairs then helped to lead the resistance movement which the Doctor initiated.
After the Doctor had summoned the Time Lords to come and stop the war games, Carstairs accompanied him and his companions back into the 1917 zone where the TARDIS lay. He then planned to go and find Jennifer, for whom he had formed a romantic attachment. The Time Lords returned him to his correct time and place in history.
His memory would have been wiped, but he had already proved himself adept at breaking mental conditioning.

Played by: David Savile. Appearances: The War Games (1969).

  • First of three appearances in the programme for Savile. The second was as the scientist Winser in The Claws of Axos, and the most recent was as the Brigadier's replacement, commanding the UK contingent of UNIT, in The Five Doctors. He's married to Lois Baxter - Madam Lamia in The Androids of Tara.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

C is for... Carrionites

An incredibly ancient race, who derived their power from words rather than numbers. Embarking on a war with another powerful race which threatened the nascent universe, the Eternals stepped in and banished them to the realm of the Deep Darkness.
A trio of Carrionites escaped and found their way to London in the late 16th Century. They had with them a crystal sphere in which their race were imprisoned. They took on humanoid female form, adopting the names Lilith, Doomfinger and Bloodtide. Maintaining this form took a lot of energy, and so they appeared as wizened old women. The younger of the three - Lilith - was also the strongest, and she was able to retain the appearance of a beautiful woman for much of the time. To the locals of the period they would be seen as witches, and their word-science would have sounded like witchcraft.
They were able to influence people's minds so long as they had a piece of their genetic material to work with. A few strands of hair would do, attaching them to a crude facsimile of their victim to create a DNA replication module.
They thrived on blood, and Lilith would ensnare young men on whom they would feed.

They planned to free the rest of their kind from the Deep Darkness by exploiting the words of the playwright William Shakespeare, preying on the emotions he felt at the loss of his son. They first made the architect Peter Streete design the Globe Theatre with 14 sides - reflecting their home planetary system of Rexel 4. They then set about influencing Shakespeare to write a play - "Love's Labours Won" - which would contain the words needed to unlock the prison in which the rest of the Carrionites were held. When the Master of Revels threatened to stop the play being performed, Lilith stole a lock of his hair, attached it to one of their DNA replication modules and immersed it in a barrel of water - causing him to drown on dry land.
Peter Streete was driven mad by his contact with them, and they killed him in Bedlam to stop him helping the Doctor, Martha and Shakespeare - causing his heart to stop. When the Doctor identified their species, he used the power of their name to attack them. Knowing he posed a threat to their plans, Lilith stopped his heart - not realising he was a Time Lord and so carried a spare.
The play was staged at the Globe, and at the climax the cast said the lines that had been inserted. Carrionites started to materialise in their true form - large skeletal raven-like creatures.

The Doctor had Shakespeare create new words to use against them, with Martha throwing in a final "Expelliarmus!" from J K Rowling, to cast them all back into the crystal sphere and the Deep Darkness. The Doctor took the sphere and kept it locked away in a locker in the TARDIS.

Played by: Christina Cole (Lilith), Amanda Lawrence (Doomfinger), and Linda Clark (Bloodtide). Appearances: The Shakespeare Code (2007).

  • The Carrionite sphere is seen again in The Unicorn and the Wasp (by the same author - Gareth Roberts) where it is being held in a locker containing things beginning with the letter 'C'.
  • Prior to this Christina Cole was best known for playing another witch character, in the TV series Hex.
  • The story is full of Shakespeare in-jokes. The three Carrionites are obviously based on Macbeth's Three Weird Sisters.
  • The name derives from carrion - the decaying flesh of dead animals - and the birds which feed upon it, such as ravens and crows, which influence the design of their natural forms.

C is for... Carrington

When the Doctor met General Charles Carrington he was head of security for the UK Space programme. He had previously been an astronaut, and had been the sole survivor of the Mars Probe 6 mission. He and colleague Jim Daniels had encountered a race of aliens on Mars who thrived on radiation, and contact with them had inadvertently killed Daniels. Carrington kept the details of what had happened secret, and developed a pathological hatred for the aliens. He decided on a plan to destroy them.
The aliens abducted the crew of Mars Probe 7, substituting them with two of their kind who would return to Earth in their place to act as ambassadors. The astronaut on the Recovery 7 vessel sent up to make contact with the returning men was likewise abducted.
Carrington knew of the aliens' radio frequency and used it to lure them into a trap. He employed the senior scientist at Space Centre - Bruno Taltalian - to commit acts of sabotage to prevent anyone from knowing what he was doing. He also formed his own mercenary outfit made up of ex-servicemen. They were used to guard the warehouse from where he sent radio signals to the aliens.
When the Probe 7 ship landed, his men helped him to hijack it. When this plan was foiled by the Doctor, who disabled the masked Carrington and his deputy by sticking them to "Bessie" using a forcefield, he adopted a second plan - abducting the aliens from Space Centre under cover of a false fire drill.
The aliens would be kept under guard by another employee - a terrorist named Regan. He would use them to carry out a number of crimes - thefts and killings. The plan was to discredit the aliens, and then to provoke global animosity towards them. He could not see that the aliens would destroy the Earth if their ambassadors were not returned safely to them. He was utterly convinced he had a moral duty to protect the planet from them.
As the alien mothership approached the Earth, Carrington had the Brigadier and his men put under arrest, and prepared for a global TV broadcast to incite hatred towards the aliens.
The Brigadier escaped, and he and the Doctor were able to halt the broadcast. Carrington was placed under arrest, still convinced he had done the right thing.

Played by: John Abineri. Appearances: The Ambassadors of Death (1970).

  • Second of four appearances by John Abineri in the programme. He first featured in Fury From The Deep with Patrick Troughton. He returned in Death to the Daleks, and finally in The Power of Kroll.
  • For me, Abineri will always be best known as Herne The Hunter from Robin of Sherwood, but his most famous role is probably that one as the butler in the Ferrero Rocher advert - ironically set at an Ambassador's Reception.

C is for... Carmen

One of the passengers on the No.200 bus which vanished through a wormhole whilst travelling through a tunnel under the Thames. She was with her husband, Lou. She had low level psychic abilities, able to sense the fate of the planet San Helios, and the approaching alien Swarm. Lou confirmed that she picked winning lottery ticket numbers every week - just the basic £10, but every single week.
Once the bus had returned to London, Carmen had a message for the Doctor. "You be careful, because your song is ending, sir. It is returning, returning through the dark. And then Doctor... oh but then... he will knock four times..."

Played by: Ellen Thomas. Appearances: Planet of the Dead (2009).

  • Carmen sees the end of the Tenth Doctor. The Ood had foretold that his song would end soon. It is Gallifrey that is returning, and it will be Wilf who will knock four times - causing the Doctor to ultimately regenerate.
  • Carmen and Lou never get off the bus whilst on San Helios, so Ellen Thomas and Reginald Tsiboe did not get to travel to Dubai.

C is for... Captain (2)

When Sarah Jane Smith and her young friends Rani and Clyde were lured to an antiques shop by a newspaper article, they met a mysterious man - the Shopkeeper - who had a pet parrot, which he called the Captain. The Shopkeeper sent them all on a quest through history to collect a number of metallic objects. They were made from Chronosteel, forged within the temporal vortex, and all had to be collected together otherwise disaster would befall the cosmos.
On returning to the present day, their mission completed successfully, Sarah and her friends discovered that the Shopkeeper actually worked for the Captain.
Some time later, Sarah discovered a baby abandoned on her doorstep. The girl caused electrical overloads when she cried. The child grew rapidly, and adopted the name Sky. It transpired that she had been bred as a weapon by an alien race of humanoids who were at war with the Metalkind. Sky elected to stay on Earth with Sarah, and it was revealed that it was the Shopkeeper and the Captain who had left the baby for Sarah to look after.

Appearances: SJA 4.5: Lost in Time (2010), and SJA 5.1: Sky (2011).

  • Had the series continued, the Shopkeeper and the Captain would have featured again. Their origins are never explained.

C is for... Captain (1)

When the Vantarialis, the most feared pirate raider in the galaxy, crash-landed on the planet Zanak, its captain was left badly injured. He was saved by the planet's ruler - Xanxia. The whole left side of his body was replaced with cybernetic implants. His ship was cannibalised to construct the Bridge, a mountain-top command centre which overlooked the principal city. Beneath, massive temporal engines were constructed, and the planet was heavily mined. Xanxia died, and the Captain took over the planet. He would announce times of new prosperity, and the populace would see the stars in the sky change as their mines were miraculously replenished.
The Captain was of a fierce temper, and sadistic in nature. He had as a pet a robotic bird of prey - the Polyphase Avatron - which he used to kill subordinates who failed him. A taciturn young nurse looked after him constantly. He had one trusted and loyal underling - Mr Fibuli - but even he was frequently bullied by the Captain.
When the Doctor, Romana and K9 arrived on Zanak, looking for the planet Calufrax in their quest for the Key to Time, they learned the truth about the planet and its leader. The Captain had turned the whole world into one gigantic time ship. It would envelop smaller victim worlds, extinguishing all life so that the resources could be plundered. It transpired that Xanxia was still alive - held in stasis by Time Dams at the moment of her death. The plundering of the other planets was to provide the power she needed to create a new, younger body for herself - that of the nurse. She had control over his cyborg components and had made a slave of him. However, he was secretly working on a means to breach the Time Dams to destroy her and free himself.
The TARDIS was used to sabotage the time engines and prevent Zanak from destroying the Earth. The Captain was heartbroken when Mr Fibuli was killed as the Bridge was crippled. When he attempted to stand up to Xanxia, she destroyed him by self-destructing his cybernetic systems.

Played by: Bruce Purchase. Appearances: The Pirate Planet (1978).

  • His cybernetic body parts give the Captain futuristic equivalents of an eye-patch and a peg-leg, whilst his robot bird acts as an electronic parrot sitting on his shoulder - all attributes of stereotypical literary pirate captains like Long John Silver. Mr Fibuli is the equivalent of Captain Hook's Mr Smee.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Ghost Machine - Torchwood 1.3

In which the Torchwood team have detected the use of an alien artefact in the middle of Cardiff city centre. As Tosh guides them from the Hub, the source is identified as coming from a young man. He manages to give Gwen the slip at the railway station, though he leaves his jacket behind. In the pocket, she finds the alien device. She accidentally operates it, and finds herself seeing the station as it was during the last war. A young evacuee emerges, lost. Not only can Gwen see him, but she can feel his fear and loneliness. He has a label on his clothes - Tom Erasmus Flanagan. Whilst she can see the boy, he cannot see her. Suddenly Gwen is back in the present day as Jack and Owen arrive.
Back at the Hub, CCTV is checked and Gwen sees that she did not go anywhere during the encounter with the "ghost". Owen looks up the name of the boy in the phone-book, and finds an address for someone of that name. Gwen and Owen pay him a visit and find him to be an old man. He recalls having arrived in the city as a child - evacuated from London, and he did indeed get separated from his friends at the station. Gwen realises that she had formed a psychic link with the past through the alien device.

The young man who had the device is identified as Sean Harris - known as Bernie. They go to look for him and find out that he is a petty criminal and a loner who is estranged from his mother. Jack decides to replicate what happened to Gwen and so the team head for the station. As they pass under a railway bridge over the river, Owen activates the device. He witnesses a young man and woman, in early 1960's fashions. She is called Lizzie Lewis, and he Eddie Morgan, and he has followed her from a nearby dancehall. When she rejects his advances, he pulls a knife on her... Owen returns to the present, shocked by what he has seen and felt. Back at the Hub, Owen starts to investigate Lizzie's murder, and tracks down Eddie Morgan's address. Jack helps Gwen with her target practice before sending her home to Rhys. She has taken the device with her, and uses it to relive happy memories of her time with her boyfriend. Owen goes to see Eddie and tells him of what he saw under the bridge. Eddie becomes angry and throws him out, but Owen then sees Bernie hanging around outside. He manages to catch him and the others join them in a pub.

It turns out Bernie knows nothing of the device's origins. He found it, and another like it, along with some strange coins and rocks in a lock-up garage. He tells them it activated and he saw a woman, whom he recognised as an old lady now, disposing of a dead baby in the river, and when he confronted her about this she gave him money not to say anything. Bernie reveals that the other part of the device does not show the past. It shows the future, and he has seen himself lying bleeding in the street. Bernie had seen what Owen saw, and had been trying to blackmail Eddie Morgan. As Gwen holds the device, she sees herself covered in blood and holding a knife. She thinks that she has killed Owen.
Eddie has been suffering from mental health problems for a number of years, and has not left his house for a long time, but he decides to go after Bernie armed with a knife. The team manage to stop him from killing the young man, and Owen takes the knife from him. He wants to hurt the old man, after what he had seen him do, but his colleagues talk him out of it. Eddie is glad that he did not kill Bernie and as he goes to hug Gwen he accidentally pierces his heart with the knife she is holding.
Back at the Hub, Jack has Ianto lock the device away.

Ghost Machine was written by Helen Raynor, and was first broadcast on 29th October, 2006. Raynor had been script editing Doctor Who prior to this.
It is a great leap forward after what has been a very shaky start to the series. As with the first two episodes, Gwen has a significant role to play, but this is the first time that the focus also shifts towards Owen Harper.
There's nothing original about having a machine that shows you the future, or the past, but this device has the added function of empathically allowing its user to experience the emotions as well. They feel as well as see.
Principal guest star is Gareth Thomas as Eddie Morgan, best known as Blake in Blake's 7. This was his only appearance in the Doctor Who franchise. He's called upon to play a seedy old man, mentally unbalanced, with a pathological hatred of women - a far cry from the more heroic roles of his youth.
The older version of the evacuee - Tom - is played by John Normington, who will always be remembered by Doctor Who fans for his brilliant portrayal of Morgus in The Caves of Androzani. This was one of his final performances.
The other guest role of note is Ben McKay as Bernie.

Overall, a much stronger episode than what has gone before, with a great guest cast.
Things you might like to know:

  • Jack teaches Gwen how to shoot a gun, after she previously said she had no firearms training. This will be necessary for forthcoming episodes where she's called upon to fire guns. The Hub has its own shooting range - in a rail tunnel.
  • Outside Bernie's flat there is some graffiti on a bin - a letter 'P' in a circle. This is left over from the filming of the Rise of the Cybermen story, as it is the symbol for the Preachers. 
  • When visiting Eddie, Owen uses the fake ID of a gas workman. Amongst his other fake IDs is one for UNIT.
  • He reveals himself to be a fan of Strictly Come Dancing, knowing it was won by a newsreader.
  • Eddie has been prescribed SSRI. At the time of writing, this is being linked with a number of homicides in the UK and USA.
  • One big continuity error - Tosh states that Eddie is claustrophobic, yet later he is said to be agoraphobic.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Twice Upon A Time

Once upon a time any preview material shown at Comic-Con had all manner of injunctions against anyone who wasn't in the hall from seeing it. Fans used to complain bitterly that they weren't allowed to see trailers or clips, and RTD and Moffat would insist stuff wasn't leaked.
Well twice upon a time, the video now gets released straight away. Twice Upon A Time is the name of the 2017 Xmas Special, Capaldi's swan-song in which he's joined by David Bradley's First Doctor and what looks to be a temporary companion - "The Captain" - played by Mark Gatiss.

Talking of companions, we also get a glimpse of Polly, and it has been confirmed that Bill will also get to say goodbye to the Doctor. If she finds out the next incarnation is a woman, she might well want to sign up to TARDIS duties once again.

Bets being taken now that the Captain will turn out to be the Brigadier's dad - hence the lack of name.
The clip begins with a scene from the second episode of The Tenth Planet - with Hartnell morphing into Bradley.

There's something about time standing still, with the Doctors stuck in a moment of time. There's also some stuff with them running through explosions, and being seen in a chamber with chains hanging down and what looks like bodies in alcoves behind.

It all looks very intriguing. No sign of who or what the enemy of the piece might be.