Sunday, 30 December 2012

BFI To Celebrate 50th Anniversary By Screening Doctor Who

The British Film Institute have been a big part of Doctor Who for many years, so like the rest of us they're celebrating the fantastic 50th Anniversary of a certain Time Lord.

Each month the BFI will screen an iconic episode of Doctor Who for each Doctor, starting with William Hartnell and An Unearthly Child, then going on to Patrick Troughton and The Tomb of The Cybermen, a special advance screening of the colourised version of The Mind of Evil for Jon Pertwee. These three are the only ones announced thus far, but a story per Doctor is expected each month. 

Also! The BFI are planning a very special Preview screening of the inception of Doctor Who Drama: An Adventure in Space and Time penned by Mark Gatiss.

Each screening will feature a guest or guests involved in each story. The announced screening thus far include:

An Unearthly Child Saturday January 12th 15:30pm

The Tomb of the Cybermen Saturday February 9th 14:30pm

The Mind of Evil (Recolourised) - March - Date and time TBC

An Adventure In Space and Time - November - Date and time TBC

All in all it's shaping up to be a very exciting 50th Anniversary.

Monday, 5 November 2012

64: The Time Monster - Masterful But Hardly A Master-Piece

Written by: Robert Sloman.
Companions: The Doctor, Jo Grant, Brigadier, Captain Mike Yates, Sergeant Benton.
Monsters/Villains: The Master, Kronos, Minotaur.
Brief Synopsis: The Master goes all the way to Atlantis to unleash and harness a powerful being known as Kronos.
Rating: 5/10.

Here we are at the end of Season 9. It's been a fantastic one, but what of the Season Finale? We're back in Atlantis, but it doesn't bare the slightest resemblance to how it appeared in The Underwater Menace just 5 years prior. Penned by Robert Sloman and Barry Letts, The Time Monster is not one of the most loved, or highly thought of stories; this is most likely due to it lacking a memorable design element. The "monster" of this piece spends most of the story waiting in the wings, the location and studio work for the Newton Institute are pretty good, but not particularly memorable, the odd camera work and poor design of Atlantis really pull down the production as a whole and the less said about the one-off, washing up bowl interior TARDIS redesign the better.

The Master's assistants Stuart and and Ruth.
However this story does have some wonderful touches, the most noticeable has to be the Master having assistants. The Doctor's "best enemy" often has allies or cronies, both willing or hypnotised but in this story it feels somehow different. When we first see him posing as Greek Professor Thascalos, the genius behind TOMTIT (Transmission Of Matter Through Interstitial Time) he is working with Dr. Ruth Ingram, and Stuart Hyde; clear assistant archetypes. Surely someone of the Master's intellectual prowess wouldn't need assistance. He is changing. Maybe he thinks it's the Doctor's assistants are what give him the edge. And later the Master takes Krasis under his wing and even in to his TARDIS. In what would be Roger Delgado's penultimate story as the Master, he really excels as the maniacal renegade time lord.

Delgado at his best.
He has some fantastic moments including a reminder/in-joke about how he hasn't used hypnosis in a while, an impression of the Brig, some wonderful scenes of an amorous nature with guest star Ingrid Pitt, and of course being the third explanation/person to blame for the destruction of Atlantis.

Baby Benton.
I noticed something that was clearly homaged recently in with Matt Smith's Doctor in the episode The Lodger. The Doctor constructs a Time Flow Analogue, which is kind of like jamming a radio signal, claiming the Master and he, "used to make them at school to spoil each others time experiments."

The Doctor makes a Time Flow Analogue.
The Doctor makes a similar device in The Lodger.
The story plays out fairly consistently, the Brig and UNIT get frozen in time and Benton gets regressed into a baby. Everything is going well until, at the beginning of episode 5, the Doctor and Jo follow the Master and arrive in Atlantis. The first time we see Atlantis at the very beginning of this story is in an appropriately filmed bad dream of the Doctor. When we finally arrive there in episode 5 it seems as thought the director has forgotten we're not still in a nightmare, as the camera filter quality remains rose-tinted. The sets are equally lacking in budget, this is especially noticeable when the Atlantian hero Hippias, is thrown through a mirror clearly made of tin foil. Fans defend Doctor Who through many tribulations, but this one might be hard to explain away. 

We don't see much of the titular Time Monster itself, and when we do, you can see the stings in an entirely literal sense. The design is impressive but badly presented and sadly underused.

Ingrid Pitt as Atlantian Queen Galleia.
The story boasts a couple of impressive guest stars, Ingrid Pitt (Hammer Horror Starlet) as queen of Atlantis, Galleia. And the second but easier to miss is Dave Prowse who plays the minotaur, famed for another unrecognisable role, as the body of Darth Vader in the Star Wars films.

Dave Prowse as the Minotaur.
There is a wonderful monologue from Pertwee in a scene where the Doctor and Jo are locked up: "When I was a little boy, we used to live in a house that was perched halfway up the top of a mountain. Behind our house, there sat under a tree, an old man. A hermit, a monk. He'd lived under this tree for half his lifetime, so they said, and had learned the secret of life. So, when my black day came, I went and asked him to help me." This presumably alludes to something to do with what would come to be known as regeneration. The hermit is almost certainly a character that we will meet in person in Pertwee's final story, Planet of the Spiders.

The denouement of the story is impressive, but the stakes aren't entirely clear. The Master finally manages to release Kronos thus destroying Atlantis, and escapes with his and the Doctor's TARDISes and Jo Grant. He seems to have finally won. He's bested the Doctor, with Kronos in his control the Master could dominate the universe and he holds all the cards. The Doctor threatens to Time-Ram the Master, which would destroy them both and stop Kronos. But the Doctor can't do it, he can't kill Jo.  In the Master's eyes the Doctor's compassion and pity are his weakness. It is Jo who takes the impetus and activates Time-Ram. This is a huge moment for the role of the companion. When the Doctor's values, which we cherish and respect so much, stop him from doing what he must it is Jo who steps up and saves the universe.

Jo saves the Universe.
Thankful for it's freedom, Kronos saves the Doctor and Jo and at the Doctor's behest the Master as well. The Doctor and Jo are returned but the Master escapes, his ex-assistants Ruth and Stuart manage to free the Brig and UNIT and return Benton to his correct age. After all this impressive high octane stuff, the story fizzles out at the end with a naked Sergeant Benton asking "Can anyone tell me what exactly is going on?"

A Nude Benton.
My answer: "No, I really can't." There are some wonderful moments in this story, some parts I really love but it's let down on too many points to ignore. Roger Delgado rules as the Master, but the story isn't well produced, ultimately it just doesn't feel like a season finale.

But it is, which means we've reached the end of Season Nine. The season in which we saw the long awaited return of the Daleks. We took a trip to Peladon and met the Ice Warriors once more. We caught up with the Master twice, we discovered the Silurians' brothers: the Sea Devils, saw the oppressed Solonians freed from the tyranny of the evil Marshal and colonial Earth and finally, returned to Atlantis. My favourite story in this season has to be The Curse of Peladon. I don't really have a least favourite, if I had to pick one it would be this story, The Time Monster. Out of a possible 50 points I scored Season Nine 37/50. Giving it an average score of 74/100 putting Season Nine in second place overall thus far, after Season 7. It was a really strong season with great monsters, ambitious plots, and thought provoking themes. It didn't quite have the consistency of Season 7 but it certainly earns it's number 2 slot so far.

Join me next time for a new season, an anniversary special, and the return of some familiar faces in The Three Doctors.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Colin Baker To Appear In I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here?

It was leaked today that amongst others Colin Baker (Doctor No. 6) is going to be a contestant on the upcoming new series of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

Others rumoured to be appearing in the "reality" tv series are: a wrestler-cum-actor, several washed up soap stars, a pussy cat doll, a former MP, a 70's pop star, a former heavy weight boxer, a celeb cook, a darts player, a comic, and someone from Made In Chelsea.

The programme begins on 11th November, will you be watching?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

63: The Mutants - Don't Be Mutt Mad, It's Not That Bad

Written by: Bob Baker and Dave Martin.
Companions: The Doctor, Jo Grant.
Monsters/Villains: The Marshal, Mutts.
Brief Synopsis: On the planet Solos, the sadistic Marshal is experimenting on the mutant natives.
Rating: 7/10.

The Mutants is not the best produced story ever, it's a bit pacey, quite long, the acting of a few members of the cast is more than a little suspect, and the monsters are somewhat under par. This story could easily be judged by and dismissed for all the above reasons. However it's the meaning and the message behind this story by which it should be measured. A story that clearly uses science fiction to draw parallels between the Mutts and Overlords of Solos and real life colonialism, apartheid and racism. The Mutants isn't rated very highly but Salman Rushdie thought enough of it to give it a mention in his infamous book, The Satanic Verses. I ask that you consider the following before judging this rough and ready story.

Salman Rushdie with his book The Satanic Verses.
The story sees the Time Lords sending the Doctor on another mission, this time delivering a box to an unknown someone on the planet Solos. Arriving on a Skybase in orbit of the planet, the Doctor and Jo find the sadistic Marshal ordering his pet scientist Jaeger to attempt experiments to change the atmosphere of Solos making it breathable for humans but not for the native solonians (a perfect sci-fi parallel with colonialism). The Marshal, along with the other humans in attendance claim they are their to "help" the savage natives, and civilise them, but the Solonians want freedom from the overlords oppression and rule.

Paul Whitson-Jones as the Marshal
and Geoffrey Palmer as Administrator.
The cast assembled really shouldn't be too bad, Garrick Hagon (Biggs Darklighter, Star Wars and  the undertaker Abraham in A Town Called Mercy) is our leading man Ky, Geoffrey Palmer makes a brief but excellent appearance as the Administrator, John Hollis as Sondergaard, Christopher Coll as Stubbs, Paul Whitson-Jones as the Marshal and George Pravda plays Dr. Jaeger. 

Rick James as Cotton.
I have to admit that The Mutants does boast some of the very worst acting in Doctor Who history. The  side is let down by James Mellor who overacts terribly as native warlord Varan, and Rick James as the Skybase soldier Cotton, whose character name is even a reference to the cotton plantations used in colonial times. His dialogue is awful and take some of the responsibility but sadly he isn't the best actor either.

Garrick Hagon as Ky, beside the segregated transmat.
Aboard Skybase there are separate cubicles for the transmat to Solos, marked 'Solonians' and 'Overlords,' showing a segregation similar to that of apartheid in South Africa. This segregation is driven by fear of the unlike and fear of difference. The people of Solos appear diseased and are gradually transforming into apparently savage mutant 'Mutts.'

Eventually we learn that the Solonians are naturally meant to mutate, but the Marshal and Jaeger's experiments with the atmosphere have sped up and changed the rate of mutation causing their fearful appearance. With the help of the Doctor, another scientist, Sondergaard (who was presumed lost on Solos) and a bit of radiation, Ky is able to open the time lords box, decipher the tablets within and complete his intended mutation.

John Hollis as Sondergaard.
It's a clear comment on colonialism. A group of colonists arrive in a new place, they try to "help" the natives of that place by civilising them but all they actually achieve is restricting and halting the natives own ways by holding them to colonial expectations and standards.

Once Ky has completed his mutation he appears as highly developed being a kind of telepathic, floating rainbow angel. Showing what Ky and the natives of Solos can achieve if left alone clearly comes down  against Colonialism.

A wonderful caricature of The Mutants by Ben Willsher. 
In the end Ky kills the Marshal, Cotton takes over command of Skybase, and Sondergaard stays on Solos to help the remaining Mutts to complete their mutation. 

All of this may seem like I'm looking for needles in a haystack, but the messages of this story are still as important today as they were in the time when The Mutants was originally shown (1972), and their execution through a family sci-fi television show was a wonderful and covert way of getting these important points into the public awareness.

The Mutants isn't the best story ever and it's messages could certainly have been put across in a more accessible way, but the fact that it deals with these big issues in the first place should surely make it in some way worthy. I leave you to decide.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Doctor Who Season 7 "P.S" The Scene That Was Never Shot Concerning What Happened to The Ponds and Brian.

For those who were left a tad cold from the Ponds departure, watch this wonderful video of a scene that was never shot, which reveals what happened to the Ponds and to Rory's dad, Brian.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Doctor Who: The Ambassadors of Death DVD Review

The Ambassadors of Death had a turbulent genesis. It was originally submitted by writer David Whitaker in 1968, titled 'Invaders From Mars' and written for Patrick Troughton's Doctor. In '69 the script was reworked for Jon Pertwee and renamed 'The Carriers Of Death.' The scripts were handed to Terrance Dick's assistant Trevor Ray who reworked episode one. After going through three different producers, Peter Bryant, Derrick Sherwin and finally Barry Letts, Whitaker's working and reworking on the scripts was deemed unsatisfactory; therefore episodes two and three were rewritten by Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke, and Four-Seven by Hulke alone. The Ambassadors of Death is a great story but this complicated process sadly reflects on the finish product.

The story centres around the Doctor and UNIT's investigation of the mystery surrounding Mars Probe 7. Space Control hasn't had any contact with the astronauts on board since it started back from Mars seven months ago and then the Recovery 7 rescue mission runs into similar difficulties. It transpires that the ship's occupants are not the human astronauts after all but a trio of radiation-dependent aliens. The earth is threatened once more by invasion but who is behind the plot? The Ambassadors of Deathis arguably the closest Who gets to James Bond. It also goes without saying that the narrative owes a great deal to the 1953 tv-serial The Quatermass Experiment, where an astronaut returning to earth is replaced by an alien life form. The story boasts one of the first uses of CSO (Colour Separation Overlay) on Doctor Who and some of the programme's greatest ever stunt and action sequences.

The Quatermass Experiment (1953)
Extra Features/Value Added Material:

Much like the story's production itself the DVD release has had a somewhat troubled past and development. Originally planned for release in 2011 alongside The Sun Makers,Ambassadors was delayed due to ongoing restoration issues. These issues were finally resolved in November 2011 and it has taken until October 2012 for the DVD to finally see release. So, was it worth the wait? I'll say, it was! Like other early Who,The Ambassadors of Death benefits immensely from theDigitally Remastered Picture and Sound Quality. This is probably the best it has ever looked.

The difference from VHS to
DVD speaks for itself.

The main boast of the DVD's V.A.M. is the documentary Mars Probe 7: Making the Ambassadors of Death from BAFTA-nominated director Chris Chapman.  The doco chronicles the making of this story brilliantly; covering it's sticky inception, writing, rewriting, production, stunts and effects. There is some lovely old footage of the HAVOC stunt team, who share their anecdotal experiences with glee. We also get some interesting insights from the show's director Michael Ferguson. Just as the story was when it was original aired, the documentary is framed beautifully by the real life events of the Apollo 13 space mission.

Toby Hadoke ably moderates the Commentary with the massed collective of Caroline John (Liz Shaw), Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier), Peter Halliday (Alien Voices) and Geoffrey Beevers (Private Johnson), director Michael Ferguson, script editor Terrance Dicks, stunt co-ordinator Derek Ware and stunt performers Roy Scammell and Derek Martin. The assembled team give an enjoyable and amusing recanting of their experiences working on the story, with plenty of jolly anecdotes on hand. Hearing Caroline John and Nicholas Courtney's voices from beyond the grave is at times haunting and at others wonderfully comforting.

Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John.
The disc features the final installment of the Tomorrow’s Times series, this time for The Third Doctor. The extra looks at the press coverage of Doctor Who during the Pertwee era and is presented by Peter Purves, who gives the piece an experienced and grounded feel.

Also included are the original BBC Trailer for the story, and the usual Photo Gallery, Coming Soon, and Radio Times Listings.

The Ambassadors of Death is a fairly long, seven-part story with a troubled background, but it's action packed and offers a rare cocktail of Doctor WhoJames Bond, and Quatermass, shaken but not stirred. The extras are a little thin on the ground but it's quality over quantity.

Story: 7/10
Extra Features: 4/5

The Ambassadors of Death is released on DVD in the UK on 1st October, the US on 2nd October and in Australia on the 3rd October.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Angel’s Kiss: A Melody Malone Mystery E-Book

BBC books have announced that the book The Angel's Kiss: A Melody Malone Mystery recently featured in the 5th episode of Season 7, The Angels Take Manhattan, has actually been fully written and will soon be released as an e-book.

The e-book novella will be released on October 4th via digital stores (priced £1.99).

Here's the full story synopsis:

On some days, New York is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

This was one of the other days…

Melody Malone, owner and sole employee of the Angel Detective Agency, has an unexpected caller. It’s movie star Rock Railton, and he thinks someone is out to kill him. When he mentions the ‘kiss of the Angel’, she takes the case. Angels are Melody’s business…

At the press party for Railton’s latest movie, studio owner Max Kliener invites Melody to the film set of their next blockbuster. He’s obviously spotted her potential, and Melody is flattered when Kliener asks her to become a star. But the cost of fame, she’ll soon discover, is greater than anyone could possibly imagine.

Will Melody be able to escape Kliener’s dastardly plan – before the Angels take Manhattan?

The book is the first Doctor Who title from BBC Books to be published only in epub format, and the first to be written exclusively from the perspective of a character within the show – Melody Malone, who not only runs her own agency, she also happens to be the author of a successful series of novels, featuring one Melody Malone.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Action Figure Report: Exclusive Three Doctors Collectors Set

This wonderful set has just been announced, although you'll have to wait until 3rd January 2013 to take one home. This long awaited set includes:

-The Brigadier In Peaked Cap with Pistol
-Jo Grant (with alternate arms and removable gilet).
-Gel Guard

The quality of the likeness of the Brig and Jo look pretty good. The Gel Guard doesn't look quite perfect, but is still a fairly close representation.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Exclusive Interview With A Star Of "A Town Called Mercy"

Check out my Exclusive Interview with star of 'A Town Called Mercy,' Sean Benedict over at The Gallifrey Times.

Action Figure Report: Pyramids of Mars Set

Today this rather awesome Pyramids of Mars set was announced. The set was revealed on the Forbidden Planet website to be released 18th September but was quickly removed; perhaps because it was announced prematurely.

My only reservation is that the Sutekh figure should come with interchangeable heads.


1 x Sutekh with jackal head action figure.
2 x Mars Guardian Robot Mummy action figures.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Same Dimension, New Domain...

Hello you big beautiful World Wide Webbers,

Wonderings In The Fourth Dimension has been going from strength to strength recently. We just broke 100,000 page views and last month had the most page views in a month we've ever had. It's all thanks to you wonderful people and your patronage. 

In order to celebrate the site's increasing popularity and status we're moving to a new, independent, slightly less long winded and more memorable domain name: 

Don't worry though you can still access the site from it's old address ( too. 

Thank you for all your suport and remember to keep telling your friends about Wonderings In The Fourth Dimension or Fourth Dimension as we're now also known.

All the best

E. Matthews

Site Editor

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Doctor Who "Black And White" Audio Review

Check out my review of the latest Big Finish, Doctor Who main range release "Black and White" featured over at BlogtorWho.

Friday, 24 August 2012

62: The Sea Devils - A Little Bit Of History Repeating

Written by: Malcolm Hulke.
Companions: The Doctor, Jo Grant.
Monsters/Aliens: Sea Devils, the Master.
Brief Synopsis: The Doctor and Jo visit a newly imprisoned Master, and learn that ships have been mysteriously disappearing at sea.
Rating: 7/10.

Okay, so it's a straight up sequel to The Silurians, does that mean that I can't love it? I can very vividly remember watching The Sea Devils as it went out on a repeat on UK Gold or some-such glorious channel that played Who during the wilderness years. I truly loved it, and waited on edge each week for the thrilling conclusion to each cliffhanger. Watching it now, without the innocence of youth I see its faults and the fact that it is almost a carbon copy of The Silurians. What I'm trying to say is, it's a hard one for me to review with out some bias, because it's here where nostalgia takes over, but I'll do my best.

The Sea Devils design was based on turtles.
This one came about when the 70's Who production team were discussing what monsters they could bring back for a new story. They decided the Silurians were worth a reprise, but chose to have a kind of underwater version of the creatures; that way they could have lots of exciting location work and possibly get Navy cooperation. The Silurians became Sea Devils, just because "it's a dramatic sounding name," according to script editor Terrance Dicks; although like so many Who monsters this isn't their real name. It's just something one rambling survivor calls them in passing, but in Doctor Who that's all it takes to name a monster for life.

Whilst on the subject of these creature's name let's try and get this straight. The first time we see them they're called Silurians, as they are supposedly a product of that era. The next time we meet them the Doctor disavows this first designation as an inaccurate estimation of the time period from which they would have originated (which is somewhat hilarious when you consider that he was the one to first coin that appellation). The Doctor corrects their name to Eocenes. However this has also been identified as a misnomer and an unlikely time period to have produced such a being. The confusion of the name of these earth reptiles has continued throughout their various appearances, culminating in their latest name Homo Reptillia. As far as I know no one has disapproved of this one yet, but give it time...

The Sonic Screwdriver makes a return, used here to detonate mines. 
From the way everyone's talking about the Silurians in the caves in Derbyshire, the events of The Silurians can't have taken place too long before those in The Sea Devils. So here we are probably less than a year later (if I get my UNIT dating correct) and history is repeating itself. The Sea Devils is penned by the excellent Malcolm Hulke (my favourite Who writer) and I just can't believe that a writer of his calibre would just regurgitate the same story without some meaning or additional point to be made.

The Master aids the Sea Devils.
So what can we make of this? The events are almost identical in both stories, the Doctor investigates an issue; power failures in a research facility or ships going missing at sea. Their cause turns out to be the Silurians/Sea Devils. Both times they have a humanoid helping them, first time it's Dr. Quinn, the next time the Master. Both boast an unsavoury Civil Servant type and those who only want to settle things with war. Both times the Doctor tries to form a peace between the creatures and the human race and fails. The only difference is that the first time it's the Brigadier who puts pay to the creatures by bombing their base and the second time it's the Doctor. So the question is: why repeat this formula so precisely? The only reason for this repetition can be to drive the point home, to show a lack of change or development. To show that although peace may not alway prevail it is always worth attempting and that if we don't learn from our mistakes in the past we will end up repeating them in the future.

The Doctor stopping for a snack during his duel with the Master.
There are some wonderful moments between the Doctor and the Master, including an impressive fencing duel and the tidbit of information that the Doctor and Master used to be very good friends at school together. Both Pertwee and Delgado are really on form and clearly having the best time.

The Master watches the Clangers.
There is some very impressive location work, which gives the whole story a very real feeling, the support from the Royal Navy is excellent, with real navy personelle, ships, big guns, and a diving pod all supplied for free. The navy were so keen to help they even rearranged operations to aid the filming. The iconic moment when the Sea Devils emerge from the sea will never leave me.

So there you have it, history repeating; for the Doctor, for the humans, for the Silurians/Sea Devils/Eocenes/Homo Reptillia/or whatever you want to call them and also for me and all other viewers. It may be a story that has been told before and that will be told again but The Sea Devils will always have a special place in my heart. It may not be as good as The Silurians but it has a classiness and a charisma that makes it mention-worthy all by itself.

Join me next time for a story of particular note, The Mutants.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Action Figure Report: Rory Williams

It was recently announced on the Forbidden Planet site that this long awaited Rory Williams action figure could be in your possession from the 5th October, but the image of the highly demanded figure of Mr. Pond has not received positive feedback thus far. Many fans across various Who internet forums have expressed disappointment and complained that the figurine bares little to no resemblance to the character played by Arthur Darvill. Judge for yourself...


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

61: The Curse Of Peladon - Doctor Who At Its Multifaceted Finest

Written by: Brian Hayles.
Companions: The Doctor, Jo Grant.
Monsters/Villains: Aggedor, Arcturus, Ice Warriors, Alpha Centauri.
Brief Synopsis: The Ghost of Aggedor threatens to stop the planet Peladon from joining the Galactic Federation.
Rating: 10/10.

Okay it's been nearly a month since I reported back on Day of The Daleks and I can't apologise enough. So much has been happening. I've started as a staff writer for The Gallifrey Times and a regular reviewer for Blogtor Who but now I'm back here to give you the skinny on an old favourite of mine, The Curse of Peladon.

The Curse of Peladon was the very first story in Doctor Who to be broadcast in a different order from which it was filmed, when it switched places with the previously produced story The Sea Devils. This doesn't sound like the most fascinating fact, but it meant a great deal to all the stories that would follow. Due to the narrow gap between recording and broadcast it had been impossible before this time to broadcast out of production order this extra time gave space for more editing, although you could argue that after this some of the immediacy of the series was gone.

The Ice Warriors are back!
The Curse of Peladon marks the return of writer Brian Hayles and his creations the Ice Warriors, this time appearing somewhat more civilised and in attendance on the planet Peladon to assess it's bid to join the Galactic Federation. Unlike many other Who stories this one doesn't feature just one bug-eyed monster, not even two, but three. Joining the martians we have delegates from Arcturus and Alpha Centauri. It's surprising that we don't get this sort of thing more often; whenever the Doctor arrives on a new planet  he rarely seems to meet more than one alien species. In this instance the Doctor crash lands  on a mountainside beneath a castle and is mistaken for the Chairman delegate from Earth introducing Jo Grant as HRH Princess Josephine of TARDIS.

We also see the return of second Doctor Patrick Troughton's son, David Troughton. This time giving a beautiful performance as the young King Peladon, struggling with this difficult decision that will effect all the people of his planet. From the get go people are murdered and the Doctor assumes that the Ice Warriors must be behind it.

The design is unusual but brilliant. Red and white hair and purple robes.
I have always been a big fan of "political Who," and this story certainly falls under that heading. The story is a then-topical, political allegory for the UK's accession to the EEC (European Economic Community). When The Curse of Peladon was aired in January 1972 the whole country were talking about PM Edward Heath's decision for the UK to join the common market. In this story Peladon stands in for the UK, with it's fears and hesitations to join the Galactic Federation (the EEC). Which countries Arcturus, Alpha Centauri and the Mars represent isn't made abundantly clear, although I like to think the Martians are Germany (previous enemies) Arcturus is France or maybe Italy and Alpha Centauri is Luxembourg or more likely Belgium (somewhere relatively small).

Brian Hayles.
Unlike another political Who writer Malcolm Hulke, who tended towards fairer representation of both sides of the argument, Brian Hayles clearly comes down on one side of things. He is clearly in favour of the join drawing connections between religion and tradition vesus science and progress.

However The Curse of Peladon isn't just a political intrigue story, it's also a murder mystery, a shakespearian tragedy, the personal story of a young King and a romance between Peladon and the Princess Josephine. In short it's a truly multifaceted story, which surely forms a large part of it's appeal.

Jo actually gets quite a bit to do in this one and certainly has a real baring on proceedings. Her romantic side story with the King is handled beautifully. I always wonder what might have happened had she decided to stay on Peladon.

When he accidentally sets foot in the Temple of Aggedor, the Doctor is forced to take part in trial by combat, and manages to best the King's champion, Grun. Delegate Arcturus shows his true colours when he tries to shoot the Doctor, but the Ice Warrior, Ssorg shoots Arcturus first. To the viewers surprise it turns out that it wasn't the Ice Warriors behind the attempts to stop Peladon joining the Galactic Federation. King Peladon's High Priest Hepesh was so afraid of change that he allied himself with the delegate from Arcturus; a planet poor in mineral wealth and hoping for a mining treaty, to stop Peladon's accession and take over the planet. 

Hepesh's men storm the castle defeating the royal guard and capturing the King. The Doctor wins the day when he comes across a rare specimen of Peladon's sacred beast Aggedor, and using hypnosis, empathy and a Venusian lullaby he calms the creature. It transpires that Hepesh previously found a lone  Aggedor beast and trained it to do his bidding. The Doctor produces the creature to the King as proof and it attacks and kills Hepesh. 

The oddly loveable beast, Aggedor.
The Curse of Peladon is a brilliant story because it is multifaceted, entertaining, mysterious, charming, dramatic, political, exciting and romantic. It's everything Doctor Who can be when it's at its very best. It has an excellent and memorable cast, it's overflowing with atmosphere and both Pertwee and Manning are at the top of their game. 

Join me next time for another old favourite, The Sea Devils.