The Sun Makers, by Lewis Baston (and Robert Holmes, and Terrance Dicks); and Angela from Bristol, the mystery extra

I remember watching The Sun Makers aged ten when it was first shown in late 1977. It’s not the high point of Season 15 (that would be Horror of Fang Rock) but it’s not the low point either (that would be Underworld). Even at ten, however, I could feel that the show was trying not to lose its way; I did not know of course that new producer Graham Williams was fumbling to set his mark on the show, or that Robert Holmes stepped down as script editor halfway through the story.

When I rewatched it in 2008, I wrote:

I remembered The Sunmakers from its first broadcast in 1977, but had forgotten quite how good it is. In total contrast to The Seeds of Doom, here we have the Doctor fomenting a popular uprising against an oppressive regime. There are numerous classic sf tropes – the rag-tag rebels living in the bowels of the city, the drugs in the air supply – but also a couple of Robert Holmes touches, such as the repeated digs at the British tax system. The bad guys – Gatherer Hade and the Collector – are gratifyingly over the top, but at the same time the implied violence is pretty alarming – the Doctor almost gets his brains burnt out, Leela is almost executed by public steaming, both are threatened with ugly death by the suspicious rebels, and these seem like serious threats. Indeed I seem to remember reading somewhere that at one point there was a plan for Leela to be killed off in this story, which would certainly have been a more in-character departure than what actually happened (but would have deprived us of her in the much later Gallifrey audios). It is also, and this I think is very unusual, a good story for K9: he starts and ends by beating the Doctor at chess, and takes the initiative at several crucial points during proceedings. It seems almost churlish after all that to point out that the actual setting – humanity has been forcibly displaced to Pluto as a result of fiendish capitalist exploitation – is pretty implausible even for Who, and does great violence to any attempts to construct a future history of the Whoniverse.

When I came back to it for my Great Rewatch in 2011, I wrote:

I have a feeling that last time I watched The Sun Makers, for some reason it was immediately after watching Underworld so it looked rather good in comparison. However, in sequence after the brilliance of Season 14 and the more modest successes of Horror of Fang Rock and Image of the Fendahl, it is pretty awful. I think I can establish several specific reasons for the awfulness, one of which was not really anyone’s fault, but the remainder of which could have been corrected.

The unchangeable factor is that the weather for the location filming was dull, so the story gets off to a tremendously dull start; it’s difficult to make the roof of a cigarette factory in Bristol look much like the top of a kilometer-high apartment block on Pluto, but it helps if the weather cooperates. I wonder if there’s also a bit of an unconscious assumption on my part that cuddly blurry film should represent contemporary Earth settings, and sharp-edged videotape the future; so the setting looks even more like Bristol than Pluto.

But the other factors were simply mistakes made by Holmes in the script and not sufficiently rounded off in the editing process. The story is simply very nasty. The rebels are really very unpleasant people, threatening to kill him and Leela; we don’t really see why the Doctor should choose to help such unlikeable (and otherwise unmemorable) individuals. The Company of course are even worse, which is OK since they are the baddies, but the attempted steaming of Leela is a really horrific prospect, much worse actually than any of the supposedly extreme violence of the previous season.

It does have its good points. The interplay between Gatherer Hade and the Collector is great fun (though again Holmes is usually smarter than to give all the good dialogue to the villains) and K9 gets to be very useful in his first proper story after joining the Tardis. Though even then, the framing narrative of the chess match in the console room doesn’t quite gel. I don’t think I’ll watch this one again, unless the DVD commentary is particularly good.

This time around, I felt myself falling between the two poles: yes, cracking satire by Holmes and good performances from the bad guys; but the rebels are really unpleasant and the violence very squicky.

It also struck me that the future of humanity on Pluto is rather white. There is one exception, an uncredited Work Unit who appears on the roof in episode 4:

Who was she? The surviving paperwork, supplied to me by Paul Scoones, has four extras with women’s names booked for the filming in Bristol on 19 June 1977, six months before the episode was shown.

The four names are Jennie Weston, Elizabeth Havelock, Angela Towner and Marion Venn. Surprisingly, I think I have tracked down three of them.

  • I find a Jennie Weston who in 2010 was reported to be a Drama and English teacher, who had worked for Radio Bristol in educational broadcasting; the picture supplied doesn’t look like the person I am interested in.
  • An Elizabeth Havelock does have a credited page on IMDB, including four speaking TV roles from 1977-79, but was born in 1926 so clearly too old (if it’s the same Elizabeth Havelock); and again there’s a photo which is clearly a different person.
  • A Marion Venn was swimming coach at Dean Close School in Cheltenham from 1977 (the year of filming) to 2000; I’ve found recent photos of her and she’s definitely not the person I am looking for.

So I think my mystery actor, possibly the only actor of colour in the whole of Season 15 of Doctor Who, is Angela Towner (The Complete History thinks it’s “Angela Tower”, but Paul Scoones was able to find legible paperwork in which the name is clear). This could well have been her only professional acting role, asked to stand around with a crowd on top of a factory in Bristol on an overcast and not very warm Thursday, before going on to a life doing something completely different. It’s entirely possible that her surname subsequently changed, which would make it much more difficult to track down her later performances if any.

Oh yeah, I reread the novelisation by Terrance Dicks as well. The second paragraph of the third chapter is:

However, K9’s brand of logic, based on his recollection of past events, and an extrapolation of future probabilities, told him that the Doctor would land in trouble within a very short time of leaving the TARDIS. He would need K9’s remarkable powers to rescue him from the dangers into which his rashness had led him. It was therefore logical that K9 should exercise these powers as soon as possible.

In 2008 I wrote:

Doctor Who and the Sunmakers is probably the best of these nine books [the Leela novelisations]; Dicks clearly appreciated Robert Holmes’ script and seems to have really got into the spirit of it. There is an interesting scene in the book but not in the TV series where Leela encounters some elderly workers waiting for euthanasia. Various other minor details are tweaked and basically improved in Dicks’ telling of the story.

Watching the series with the production subtitles switched on, I could see that Dicks was working from Holmes’ script as originally envisaged, and making the most of it.

Anyway. After my very grumpy post about the Black Archive on Kill the Moon, I’m very glad to say that Lewis Baston’s monograph on The Sun Makers was much more to my liking.

The first chapter, “‘An Unprofitable Operation, Hade’: The Sun Makers in context”, looks at the social and economic difficulties of the UK in general and of Robert Holmes in particular at the time the story was made.

The second chapter, “‘The Grandest Society of Merchants in the Universe'”, convincingly analyses the extent to which The Sun Makers draws not from contemporary Britain but from the history of the East India Company.

The third chapter, “‘Sacrifices to Tribal Gods'”, announces up front that it examines Doctor Who’s treatment of economics in general, but it also veers into the steaming subplot and death as entertainment, re-done (not as well) in Vengeance on Varos a few years later, and the influence of the Aztecs (much less in the finished programme than was planned by Holmes). Its second paragraph is:

The Sun Makers came relatively early in Doctor Who’s late 1970s engagement with economics. Before then, the principal economic concern was energy, hence baleful consequences in Fury from the Deep (1968), Inferno (1970) and The Claws of Axos (1971) and the background to Terror of the Zygons (1975). The Doctor consistently takes a dim view of humanity’s fossil fuel dependence.

The fourth chapter, “Empire of the Iron Sun”, looks at imperialism as protrayed in science fiction, especially Doctor Who, and also considers the influence of The Iron Sun by Adrian Berry (later Lord Camrose), and the anti-Semitism in the portrayal of the Collector.

The fifth chapter, “‘The People Should Rise Up and Slaughter Their Oppressors'”, looks at the frankly revolutionary and Marxist agenda of the story. It doesn’t reflect, as I did, on how remarkable it is that this story should be written by a former policeman who fought in Burma in the second world war and whose other work is usually entertaining but not nearly as subversive.

The sixth chapter, “‘Praise the Company'”, moves on from 1977, reviews what has happened to us politically and economically since then, and comes to the gloomy conclusion that to an extent we all live in the Collector’s world now.

A brief conclusion ends with a pithy summing-up:

The Sun Makers, therefore, is a revolutionary, experimental tract that shows the signs of its origins as a piece of writing by Robert Holmes which was turned into television by the BBC in the late 1970s. It deals with big ideas, and it is full of allusions and tangents. It also fulfilled its role as entertaining Saturday evening television for a family audience as the nights drew in before Christmas 1977. And, perhaps above all, it is very funny.

I’d have liked a bit more on the parts of the story I didn’t like as much – the gratuitous violence and the poor production values – but this is a case where the Black Archive has achieved redemption for me: I think I like The Sun Makers a bit more, now that I have read this analysis of it. You can get it here.

The Black Archives
1st Doctor: Marco Polo (18) | The Dalek Invasion of Earth (30) | The Romans (32) | The Massacre (2)
2nd Doctor: The Underwater Menace (40) | The Evil of the Daleks (11) | The Mind Robber (7)
3rd Doctor: Doctor Who and the Silurians (39) | The Ambassadors of Death (3) | The Dæmons (26) | Carnival of Monsters (16) | The Time Warrior (24) | Invasion of the Dinosaurs (55)
4th Doctor: Pyramids of Mars (12) | The Hand of Fear (53) | The Deadly Assassin (45) | The Face of Evil (27) | The Robots of Death (43) | Talons of Weng-Chiang (58) | Horror of Fang Rock (33) | Image of the Fendahl (5) | The Sun Makers (60) | The Stones of Blood (47) | Full Circle (15) | Warriors’ Gate (31)
5th Doctor: Kinda (62) | Black Orchid (8) | Earthshock (51) | The Awakening (46)
6th Doctor: Vengeance on Varos (41) | Timelash (35) | The Ultimate Foe (14)
7th Doctor: Paradise Towers (61) | Battlefield (34) | The Curse of Fenric (23) | Ghost Light (6)
8th Doctor: The Movie (25) | The Night of the Doctor (49)
Other Doctor: Scream of the Shalka (10)
9th Doctor: Rose (1) | Dalek (54)
10th Doctor: The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit (17) | Love & Monsters (28) | Human Nature / The Family of Blood (13) | The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords (38)
11th Doctor: The Eleventh Hour (19) | Vincent and the Doctor (57) | The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang (44) | The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon (29) | The God Complex (9) | The Rings of Akhaten (42) | Day of the Doctor (50)
12th Doctor: Listen (36) | Kill the Moon (59) | Dark Water / Death in Heaven (4) | Face the Raven (20) | Heaven Sent (21) | Hell Bent (22)
13th Doctor: Arachnids in the UK (48) | Kerblam! (37) | The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos (52) | The Haunting of Villa Diodati (56) | Flux (63)

The Talons of Weng-Chiang, by Dale Smith (and Robert Holmes, and Terrance Dicks)

I remember watching The Talons of Weng-Chiang when it was first broadcast in 1977, and loving it; the years since then have sensitised me to the racism in the story, but it retains a problematic attraction. I saw it again on videotape twice in the 1990s, and next time I saw it in 2007 I wrote:

The Talons of Weng-Chiang, from 1977, is the climax of the great Holmes/Hinchcliffe era of Doctor Who (also the last directed by the superb David Maloney), and is as good now as I remember it being when I was nine. (I admit I have also seen it a couple of times since, once in the company of a girl from Manila who giggled pleasingly at the line about the Filipino army advancing on Reykjavik.) Thanks to my background reading I was now alert to look out for a particular shot at the start of episode 4 which had escaped my notice previously (on the DVD commentary track, Louise Jameson laughs loudly). There is so much great stuff here: Leela and the Doctor are both alien to Victorian London, so Jago and Litefoot are effectively the viewpoint characters; Deep Roy, later to play hundreds of Oompa-Loompas in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, turns in a great Mr Sin. Yes, the ethnic stereotypes are rather regrettable (and quite apart from the Chinese, I would draw the attention of Irish viewers to Chris Gannon’s Casey), but the setting and drama are just fantastic.

When I came to it in my Great Rewatch in 2010, I wrote:

I always loved The Talons of Weng-Chiang, and rewatching it made me realise once again how brilliant it is. (I know, I said this about The Deadly Assassin too, but it’s true in both cases.) There are two big problems with the story: the fairly useless and unterrifying giant rat, and the racism including having the lead Chinese role played by a non-Chinese actor. However, the settings are beautifully done, the plotting is tight enough, Magnus Greel’s distorted face is truly horrible, and everyone takes it seriously and does it well. The script has some particular delights: “I can play the ‘Trumpet Voluntary’ in a bowl of live goldfish”; “sleep is for tortoises”; etc.

I know it by heart, so this time I watched it with the cast commentary and the production subtitles. Still enjoyable, except that the racism really does make you cringe. It’s also a total Bechdel fail. Apart from Leela, there are hardly any women characters, and they do not talk to each other.

As it happens, I was reading R.F. Kuang’s Babel at exactly the same time as rewatching the show and reading the books, and if you don’t mind connecting the sublime and the ridiculous, that’s a really interesting pairing. You can get the DVD here.

Since I have it, I also went back and reread the Robert Holmes script, edited by John McElroy. The opening of the second scene of the third episode is:

2. PROFESSOR LITEFOOT’S DINING ROOM.

(LEELA peers out of the window. She hears the front door shut, then turns around.)
LITEFOOT: Nobody out there now! Fellow must have got wind of .. .
(He breaks off mid-sentence with a groan. There is a rustling sound in the hall.)
LEELA: Professor?
(She goes towards the door.)
Are you there, Professor?
(She is almost at the door when it swings open. MR. SIN is standing there, a knife glinting evilly in his hand. He moves purposefully towards LEELA. For a moment she is frozen with fear, then she grabs a carving knife from the side-table.
As MR. SIN moves stiffly towards her, she hurls the knife at him, with expert precision. It thuds into MR. SIN‘s throat but, to LEELA‘s amazement, it seems to have little effect. The weird little mannequin continues to shuffle towards her.)

I wrote in 2018:

The script, published in 1989, is really for completists only, but I would say two things: first, two of the most problematic elements of the TV series – the use of a white actor to play Li H’sen Chang, and the rather poor implementation of the giant rat – are of course invisible in the script (the racism, alas, survives); but second, so is the gorgeous staging which made it such a vivid experience when I was nine. A nice bit of nostalgia which you can get here.

Not much to add to that.

The second paragraph of the third chapter of the Terrance Dicks novelisation is:

‘You sent for me, Sergeant?’

When I reread it in 2008, I wrote:

Doctor Who and the Talons of Weng-Chiang also loses out in the visual stakes, but gains a bit with occasional tight-third narrative from Leela’s point of view, which accentuates one of the successful aspects of the story, the confrontation between her primitive experience and the Victorian era.

The one difference I picked up on this time is that Teresa, one of Greel’s victims, is clearly coded as a sex worker in the TV story but is a gambling hostess in the adaptation. You can get it here.

Before I get to the Black Archive, I just want to salute some of the spinoffs: a Fifth Doctor prequel, a Fourth Doctor sequel, and a whole sequence of generally excellent Jago and Litefoot spinoffs from Big Finish.

With the publication of Dale Smith’s monograph on The Talons of Weng-Chiang, the Black Archive covers six consecutive Tom Baker stories and 26 consecutive episodes, which is their longest run of any era. I think that underlines the consensus that the Hinchcliffe/Holmes era, which ended with Talons, was a true high point of the show.

Smith’s monograph is actually quite short by Black Archive standards, at 137 pages. It has just five chapters.

The first, “Foe from the Future”, looks at the story’s roots in the Jack the Ripper murders, Fu Manchu and The Phantom of the Opera, and also reviews the production process which was deeply exhausting for Holmes.

The second chapter, “The Talons of Victoria”, looks at the affinity that Doctor Who has with the Victorian era, and explores the role of science and the narrative of colonialism (also very much applicable to Leela).

The third chapter, “The Time-Traveller and his Savage Companion”, looks at the many double-acts in the story – not just Jago/Litefoot but also Doctor/Leela and Greel/Chang and even Greel/Mr Sin – and also at the extent to which it really does draw on Fu Manchu, The Phantom of the Opera and indeed The Island of Doctor Moreau. Its second paragraph is:

Holmes was undoubtedly a master of dialogue, creating characters painted with broad enough strokes to be immediately recognisable, but giving each of them the ability to say just the right things to give us a clear picture of who they are. Jago’s couplet of ‘You’ve been drinking’ / ‘Well, it’s time you started’ isn’t just a funny joke3: it gives us a clear picture of what is going through his mind, what he wants and how he intends to get it. But dialogue isn’t the only thing that Holmes uses to give his characters life and depth, and his ability with double acts shouldn’t be reduced to just having a way with words. Holmes had a way with every tool in the writer’s toolkit, and the best way to demonstrate that would be to look at one of the other double acts that Holmes peppered Talons with.
3 Episode 1.

The fourth chapter, “‘Die, Bent Face!'”, looks at Greel’s disfigurement and at disability in fiction in general and Doctor Who in particular, a theme that suddenly caught fire for about 48 hours last year.

The fifth and longest chapter, “Of Its Time, and Ours” addresses the crucial issue of race and racism. I think this is one of the best such analyses I’ve read by a white guy, addressing a largely white audience. We can love things that are problematic, but it’s really important to understand why and how they are problematic. Smith very briefly reviews the history of British engagement with China in the nineteenth century (it was, again, refreshing that I had just read Kuang’s Babel) and also the history of discrimination against London’s Chinese population, led by the trade unions. (He doesn’t mention the issue of Chinese slave labour in South Africa which became one of the themes of the 1906 general election, but there is plenty else to choose from.) He makes it clear that the question of whether Talons of Weng-Chiang is a racist story isn’t a matter of debate; what is up for debate is our response.

We know this is a bigger issue than just whether one story broadcast in 1977 contains racism. Talons isn’t just a product of the 70s – that young proto-fan can find it just as easily as they would find any of Christopher Eccleston’s stories. It is impossible for anyone to watch anything in the context it was made: everything is watched within an elastic context of ‘now’, and Talons is quite literally a product of now. It is easy for someone to get down their Blu-ray and settle down to watch it, to buy books about how it was made or listen to sequels that ape its atmosphere. The same can’t be said for The Black and White Minstrel Show. That’s why we feel uncomfortable when it is raised, why the urge to minimise and argue is so strong: we have watched this story and enjoyed it, and we are not racists so something else must be wrong.

But it isn’t. We are.

If we were educated through the British school system; if we have engaged with British culture; if we have lived in this country for any length of time. If we are white. It would be impossible for us to eliminate every unconscious racist assumption we have been taught to make. That is why the onus is on those of us who are white Doctor Who fans, to listen when people raise the issue of the racism in Talons. We have to educate ourselves about what that racism is and how it displays itself, and ultimately we have to decide how we as people are going to respond to it. Because it is too easy for us to push back, to force the people that racism targets to carry out the emotional and physical labour involved in educating white people. Because racism is a white problem. We benefit from it every day. It is up to us to solve it.

This is a short but powerful Black Archive, and you can get it here.

As this story demonstrates, Doctor Who has not always been good to China, but I’m glad to say that China has a thriving Doctor Who fanbase, as I discovered in October. After a couple of weeks when the Chengdu Worldcon has been excoriated in public and in private (including by me) I’ll take a moment to remember the positive.

The Black Archives
1st Doctor: Marco Polo (18) | The Dalek Invasion of Earth (30) | The Romans (32) | The Massacre (2)
2nd Doctor: The Underwater Menace (40) | The Evil of the Daleks (11) | The Mind Robber (7)
3rd Doctor: Doctor Who and the Silurians (39) | The Ambassadors of Death (3) | The Dæmons (26) | Carnival of Monsters (16) | The Time Warrior (24) | Invasion of the Dinosaurs (55)
4th Doctor: Pyramids of Mars (12) | The Hand of Fear (53) | The Deadly Assassin (45) | The Face of Evil (27) | The Robots of Death (43) | Talons of Weng-Chiang (58) | Horror of Fang Rock (33) | Image of the Fendahl (5) | The Sun Makers (60) | The Stones of Blood (47) | Full Circle (15) | Warriors’ Gate (31)
5th Doctor: Kinda (62) | Black Orchid (8) | Earthshock (51) | The Awakening (46)
6th Doctor: Vengeance on Varos (41) | Timelash (35) | The Ultimate Foe (14)
7th Doctor: Paradise Towers (61) | Battlefield (34) | The Curse of Fenric (23) | Ghost Light (6)
8th Doctor: The Movie (25) | The Night of the Doctor (49)
Other Doctor: Scream of the Shalka (10)
9th Doctor: Rose (1) | Dalek (54)
10th Doctor: The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit (17) | Love & Monsters (28) | Human Nature / The Family of Blood (13) | The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords (38)
11th Doctor: The Eleventh Hour (19) | Vincent and the Doctor (57) | The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang (44) | The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon (29) | The God Complex (9) | The Rings of Akhaten (42) | Day of the Doctor (50)
12th Doctor: Listen (36) | Kill the Moon (59) | Dark Water / Death in Heaven (4) | Face the Raven (20) | Heaven Sent (21) | Hell Bent (22)
13th Doctor: Arachnids in the UK (48) | Kerblam! (37) | The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos (52) | The Haunting of Villa Diodati (56) | Flux (63)

The Deadly Assassin, by Andrew Orton (and Terrance Dicks, and Robert Holmes)

I loved The Deadly Assassin when it was first broadcast in 1977, and I love it still. When I rewatched it in 2007, immediately after my first watch of The Mind Robber, I wrote:

As for The Deadly Assassin: I was really a bit worried about watching it this time round; could it possibly be as good as I remembered it being from when I was nine years old, over thirty years ago? But yes, yes it is. Tom Baker is at the top of his form, combining humour, moral outrage, and determination to do the right thing by his home planet and people, even if they seem at times equally determined to do the wrong thing by him. And Robert Holmes’ superb script has so many memorable moments – here’s an early one, spoken by the exasperated official trying to pin the Doctor down who comes closest to filling the companion role. There’s a great Doctor/Tardis love moment as well.

Yet there are a couple of oddities. One, which is nothing to do with the series as originally presented, is that it has been preserved only as a 90-minute movie, which is rather annoying for those of us purists who like the old cliffhangers. [No longer the case, thank heavens.] Another, which is very bizarre indeed, is that there are no women visible anywhere in the Gallifrey of The Deadly Assassin. (Helen Blatch plays the disembodied voice of the Time Lords’ computer system.) This is of course the only story featuring the Doctor with no companion (unless one counts The Runaway Bride), but it really does seem peculiar. One could probably do a short list of stories featuring only male guest stars (?The Moonbase?) but I think this must be the only one with no women on the screen at all.

The interesting linkage with The Mind Robber is that for much of the story the Doctor enters a constructed, invented world, in which he has to battle an artifical reality and try and impose his own will on it. There is an interesting compare-and-contrast between the Second Doctor urging Jamie and Zoe to deny the existence of the unicorn charging at them, and the Fourth Doctor denying the fact that he has been wounded in the leg – same theme but pointing to the very different ways the series as a whole was going in 1968 and 1976. Like the Land of Fiction, the world inside the Matrix of the Time Lords turns out to be under the control of a cosmic villain called the Master – and this time it is that Master, reappearing for the first time since 1973, but horribly altered; with an audacious plan to seize control of the universe by tapping the very power of the Time Lords themselves. (The reality-altering theme is nicely echoed in the final episode by Cardinal Borusa’s attempt to impose his own version of historical reality on recent events.)

As I hinted at above, The Deadly Assassin has Bernard Horsfall returning – this time not as Gulliver (left), but as Chancellor Goth of the Time Lords (right). (I believe he is a Thal officer in Planet of the Daleks too, but haven’t seen that yet.) Horsfall also appeared in the last episode of The War Games in 1969 (middle), pronouncing sentence of exile and regeneration on the Doctor. If we are meant to read the two characters as the same person – though they have very different haircuts – then The Deadly Assassin represents the Fourth Doctor not only overcoming the Third Doctor’s unfinished business with his arch-enemy, but also reversing the Second Doctor’s defeat by the Time Lords in general (and by this one in particular).

Rewatching it in 2010, I wrote:

I always loved The [companionless] Deadly Assassin, and rewatching it made me realise once again how brilliant it is. It is as if Sarah Jane Smith’s departure liberated Robert Holmes from the constraints of the show’s previous history, to go back to the Doctor’s own origins and rewrite them completely. We’ve been gradually moving towards Gallifrey as not so much a place of magical, ineffable power, as we saw in The War Games, but as the fading bureaucracy glimpsed in Colony in Space and The Three Doctors, subject to the political corruption that could give rise to a Morbius. Now it all comes together. I suspect that my own professional fascination with politics may be partly rooted in watching this at the age of nine; the reality that the most powerful people are none the less fallible individuals, operating to their own private agendas as much as to public perceptions, is well portrayed here.

There are so many delights in this: the nightmarish world of the Matrix, the Engin/Spandrell [Pravda/Chitty] double act, Runcible the Fatuous, the final battle amidst crumbling architecture (so dismally copied by the TV Movie). It seems almost churlish to mention two flaws. First off, the re-introduction of the Master worked much better for me at the age of nine, when I barely remembered his existence in the Pertwee era, than it does in sequence – apart from anything else the Time Lords have forgotten him now, having specifically warned the Doctor about him in Terror of the Autons; and of course nobody, not even Peter Pratt who was a great performer, can match Roger Delgado as the arch-enemy. [Since 2010 we’ve seen strong competition from Michelle Gomez and Sacha Dhawan.] Secondly, as my mother remarked when I was nine, there appear to be no Time Ladies among the Time Lords. Now, there are other Who stories without woman among the guest cast – Warriors’ GateThe Power of KrollThe Pyramids of MarsPlanet of EvilRevenge of the CybermenThe MutantsThe Abominable SnowmenThe MoonbaseThe Smugglers and The Rescue – but this is the only one with no visible speaking female character at all (the voice of the Matrix is played by Helen Blatch. It’s a sad lacuna in what is otherwise one of the greatest stories.

When the whole thing was streamed on Twitch in January 2019, I happened to be stuck at a loose end in London and watched it again, live-tweeting as it rolled.

Needless to say I watched it again for this post, and needless to say I enjoyed it again. You can get it here. Nothing much to add to what I have already extensively written. But I was intrigued to learn that the following slide was dropped from the end titles:

We thank the High Court of Time Lords and the Keeper of the Records, Gallifrey, for their help and co-operation.

Who are “we”?

Diverting to another book entirely, I am intrigued by Richard Molesworth’s suggestion, in his biography of Robert Holmes, that the writer at this point was getting irritated with Doctor Who, and that the tall blond Chancellor Goth stalking the hero through the swamp in hope of wiping him out could be seen as wish fulfillment by the author, who was also tall and blond, and had fought in the swamps of Burma / Myanmar during the second world war.

The second paragraph of the third chapter of Terrance Dicks’ novelisation is:

Three figures appeared out of the gathering darkness. Castellan Spandrell and Chancellor Goth walked side by side, Hildred following respectfully behind them.

When I reread it in 2007, I noted very briefly that it’s an average Terrance Dicks treatment of one of Robert Holmes’ best scripts, and there’s nothing much to add to that now. NB that “Hildred” in the book is “Hilred” on screen. You can get it here.

Andrew Orton’s Black Archive on the story is very meaty, with seven chapters and three appendices. Up front: I liked it a lot for shedding new light on a story I already love.

“Chapter 1: The Gothic Assassin” is the longest of the chapters, setting out Orton’s agenda. It leads with a consideration of the Gothic in Doctor Who of the Hinchcliffe/Holmes period in general, and of course in The Deadly Assassin in particular. There’s a whacking great indicator in the name of the main Time Lord villain. Even the opening rollover caption echoes the faux manuscript theme in Gothic literature.

“Chaper 2: The Noir Assassin” looks not only at the visible noir influence in the story but also as American and British political scandals: Watergate, Jeremy Thorpe, Harold Wilson’s resignation honours (announced the day the first episode was shown).

“Chapter 3: The Wartime Assassin” looks at the influence of the Second World War and the Cold War on British TV of the era in general, and on Doctor Who and this story in particular. Orton makes the point that the first twenty years of Doctor Who were dominated by the memory of conflict, Holmes in particular with his Burmese experience (it has been previously noted that he has a fondness for swamp planets with bubbling explosive gas). The second paragraph is:

The Second World War cast a massive pall over the first 20 years of Doctor Who, as it did over most of British culture. The Leisure Hive (1980) and Terminus (1983) were the series’ final real dalliances with War imagery, through their use of background radiation as a threat. Up until this point, the War permeated the series. Almost all of Doctor Who’s writers had lived through it (Douglas Adams was the first writer who hadn’t lived through at least a part of the War, although Chris Boucher was only born in 1943 and Graham Williams was born after VE Day but before VJ Day), and its influence informed and is present throughout the series’ first couple of decades. This tended to be shown in two strands: that of the totalitarian regime against which a resistance is formed, and that of the atomic bomb and the dangers of nuclear fallout.

“Chapter 4: The Symbolic Assassin” looks at the way in which the Time Lords mirror British society, especially parliament, and at the symbolism of the Matrix.

“Chapter 5: The Observant Assassin” reflects on the significance of the Panopticon and the Eye of Harmony; what are the Time Lords actually observing?

“Chapter 6: The Linguistic Assassin” looks at Robert Holmes’ inventive use of language throughout his Doctor Who career.

“Chapter 7: The Dangerous Assassin” points out that the story comes more or less at the half-way point of Old Who, and reflects that Holmes’ attempt to myth-bust the Time Lords resulted in yet more mythology.

“Appendix 1: Engines” reports briefly on the whereabouts of the four railway engines seen in Episode 3, all of which are still intact.

“Appendix 2: How Might the Eye of Harmony Actually Work?” unsuccessfully attempts to bring scientific rigour to a technobabble plot twist.

“Appendix 3: Observer Theory” looks at why it is that the Doctor (generally) has his adventures in order. Of course, we know the real reason, but it’s fun to try and put it in fictionally coherent terms.

In summary, Robert Holmes is the greatest Old Who writer, The Deadly Assassin is his greatest story, and this book is a great book because it provides further evidence for those uncontroversial opinions. You may be able to get it here.

Next, The Awakening.

The Black Archives
1st Doctor: Marco Polo (18) | The Dalek Invasion of Earth (30) | The Romans (32) | The Massacre (2)
2nd Doctor: The Underwater Menace (40) | The Evil of the Daleks (11) | The Mind Robber (7)
3rd Doctor: Doctor Who and the Silurians (39) | The Ambassadors of Death (3) | The Dæmons (26) | Carnival of Monsters (16) | The Time Warrior (24) | Invasion of the Dinosaurs (55)
4th Doctor: Pyramids of Mars (12) | The Hand of Fear (53) | The Deadly Assassin (45) | The Face of Evil (27) | The Robots of Death (43) | Talons of Weng-Chiang (58) | Horror of Fang Rock (33) | Image of the Fendahl (5) | The Sun Makers (60) | The Stones of Blood (47) | Full Circle (15) | Warriors’ Gate (31)
5th Doctor: Kinda (62) | Black Orchid (8) | Earthshock (51) | The Awakening (46)
6th Doctor: Vengeance on Varos (41) | Timelash (35) | The Ultimate Foe (14)
7th Doctor: Paradise Towers (61) | Battlefield (34) | The Curse of Fenric (23) | Ghost Light (6)
8th Doctor: The Movie (25) | The Night of the Doctor (49)
Other Doctor: Scream of the Shalka (10)
9th Doctor: Rose (1) | Dalek (54)
10th Doctor: The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit (17) | Love & Monsters (28) | Human Nature / The Family of Blood (13) | The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords (38)
11th Doctor: The Eleventh Hour (19) | Vincent and the Doctor (57) | The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang (44) | The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon (29) | The God Complex (9) | The Rings of Akhaten (42) | Day of the Doctor (50)
12th Doctor: Listen (36) | Kill the Moon (59) | Dark Water / Death in Heaven (4) | Face the Raven (20) | Heaven Sent (21) | Hell Bent (22)
13th Doctor: Arachnids in the UK (48) | Kerblam! (37) | The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos (52) | The Haunting of Villa Diodati (56) | Flux (63)

Carnival of Monsters, by Ian Potter (and Robert Holmes, and Terrance Dicks)

Next in the series of Black Archive monographs on Doctor Who is the second story from Season 10, where the Doctor has been liberated by the Time Lords from his exile on Earth and is once again able to travel the Universe. I missed it on original broadcast, but devoured the Target novelisation as a kid, and also enjoyed the re-showing of the TV story in 1981. When I came back to it in 1987, I wrote:

I’ve tended to rather rush through writing up the Pertwee stories I have been watching, as they are much of a muchness, but this is different. I remember back in 1981 when it was re-broadcast, we really wondered why – surely there were other, better Pertwee four-parters out there? The Terrance Dicks novelisation is only average. It seemed as if Carnival of Monsters had been chosen mainly because it followed on in continuity directly after The Three Doctors. Spoiled as we were by the Hinchcliffe and Williams years, Carnival of Monsters did not seem all that special.

I must say that now it does. The 1973 season was probably Pertwee’s second best (after his first, the 1970 season) and Carnival of Monsters is surely the best story in it – followed by Frontier in Space and Planet of the Daleks, which are both OK but not spectacular, and ending with  The Green Death which is also a good one, particularly because it gets rid of Jo. The one thing that lets it down is the visual effects, rather a lot of dodgy CSO being used. But if you can shut your eyes and pretend you are still six during those bits, the rest is fantastic – Robert Holmes at his very best in the script, Michael Wisher in pre-Davros days as the main villain, Ian Marter in pre-Harry Sullivan days as a minor character, a real feeling of several different completely alien cultures (the two classes on Inter Minor and the Lurmans), and an absence of the blatant padding that mars so many Pertwee stories. A special shout to Cheryl Hall, later the girlfriend of Citizen Smith, as showgirl Shirna.

And there’s a couple of serious reflections in there too – the MiniScope itself is a futuristic development of the zoo, and gives rise to a rather caricatured discussion of conservation versus entertainment’ more seriously, Inter Minor is clearly a communist totalitarian state, threatened to its very foundations by any influence from the outside. [2022: I would not describe it as “communist” now.] Michael Wisher’s character Kalik is the conservative brother of the unseen president Zarb. It’s nicely observed, although not all conservative backlashes end with the leader of the hardliners being eaten alive by a Drashig. Shame.

When I came back to it again for my Great Rewatch, I wrote:

And Carnival of Monsters takes us to an alien planet, with one of the great Robert Holmes scripts: he specialised in having a couple of characters whose dialogue informs us all about their world, and here he does it twice over, with Kalik and Orum (and to an extent Pletrac) revealing Inter Minor to us, and Vorg and Shirna representing the outside world. The idea of a closed and bureaucratic society dealing with the decadent entertainment possibilities of its neighbours is a rather good one. The first episode is especially good with no apparent connection between Inter Minor and the SS Bernice, until Vorg’s hand removes the Tardis.

Michael Wisher is excellent as the villainous Kalik. Maybe they should bring him back to, I dunno, play a mad scientist who invents the Daleks. I love Cheryl Hall as Shirna as well, though admittedly more for her costume than her acting. The Drashigs rather let it down though. And I noticed a continuity goof: as Jo flees from being thigh-deep in the marsh, her trousers dry instantly (and her close-fitting pockets don’t seem to contain the bulky set of skeleton keys).

Rewatching it now, I was impressed by the theatricality (in a good way) of the story. The scenes on Inter Minor all take place around the MiniScope. Cheryl Hall, only 22, is really impressive in a generally good cast. I did twitch at the racism of the S.S. Bernice sections, but it’s reasonable to say that this is counterpointed by the Inter Minor setting, which is not a communist state but an authoritarian racist apartheid society. I loved the line, “Give them a hygiene chamber and they store fossil fuel in it”!

The second paragraph of the third chapter of the novelisation is:

‘My dear fellow, do you really think that’s necessary?’

When I reread it in 2007, I wrote:

A good Robert Holmes script, turned into an average Terrance Dicks novel. I remember seeing this one in 1981 during the “Five Faces of Doctor Who” repeat season; wonder how well it would stand up to re-watching now?

In Dicks’ defence, I would say that he adds some extra bits of background colour to make Inter Minor more fully realised than it was on screen. I enjoyed returning to both the story and the book. You can get the book here.

I’ve greatly enjoyed Ian Potter’s Who-related fiction – several audio plays and a couple of short stories – and was curious as to how he would approach the task of writing up this story. He’s done a great job. I will quote the body of the first chapter in full, because it’s a good statement of how writing about Who can work at its best.

One of the great things about Doctor Who is that it is constructed by many hands for many audiences. It was built to entertain viewers of different ages and consequently has to work on several levels at once to engage them all. That gives us a lot to latch on to.

Carnival of Monsters (1973) is a story all about levels, but it’s not the vision of an auteur with a single story or underlying message to relay. It’s a show full of episodic set pieces having fun with us and with itself that also happens to be a story full of messages.

Once we get into critical analysis of any work of art, we inevitably open ourselves up to the accusation that we’re seeing things in the work that ‘aren’t there’. Our own expectations, prejudices, historical perspectives and personal contexts will always colour our responses and interpretations. I happen to think that’s fine. That’s viewing for you – you bring yourself to the show. I also make no apology for the fact that the discussion of the programme you’re now reading will end up longer than either the programme’s script or its novelisation, and will probably take longer to read than the programme takes to view. There’s always more in a script than is on the page, more in a production than ends up on screen, and more than one way to reinterpret it in print.

Some of the things I hope to explore in this brief look at Carnival of Monsters will be ideas that were quite deliberately placed there by one or more of the show’s many creators. Some will be things that may have slipped in without the creators’ knowledge. Some will have arisen simply through the circumstances of the production, or the climate of the time. Others are perhaps more visible now than they were then. I hope you’ll forgive me missing out or under-emphasising any aspects that interest you.

The second chapter records the extensive source material available about how the show was made. Part of the script was used for Malcolm Hulke’s book on TV writing, including the classic stage direction “‘A STREAM OF INCOMPREHENSIBLE BUT OBVIOUSLY REVOLUTIONARY GOBBLEDEYGOOK.”

The third chapter looks briefly at the soundtrack. The second paragraph of the third chapter is:

The great triumph of the soundtrack is [Brian Hodgson’s] unearthly Drashig roars which combined treated versions of Hodgson’s own voice, his corgi bitch, an Australian butcherbird and, as Barry Letts recalled it, a squeal of car brakes. Whether deliberately, to help blend the elements, or just as result of slowing down tapes, the roar also has a curious long reverb, suggestive of a large echoing space. Perhaps the one weakness of the Drashig sound effects is that this reverb remains constant whether the Drashigs are in open country, within the SS Bernice hold, or roaming the Inter Minorian city.

The fourth chapter looks at the logistical considerations that led to the S.S. Bernice sections being on film and the Inter Minor scenes on video.

The fifth chapter looks in depth at the theatricality point I made earlier, for good and ill (mostly good), and how the editing process contributed to the final effect (more than usually so).

The sixth chapter looks at how the editing process affected the plot, with a few loose ends left dangling (most of which I must admit I did not notice on any of the four times I watched it).

The seventh chapter looks at Robert Holmes’ potential inspiration for the story. The one taproot text that is (plausibly) identified is Frederik Pohl’s “The Tunnel Under the World”. Potter also makes the interesting observation that Holmes saw military service in Burma in the second world war, and therefore would have had first-hand experience both of the Raj and of the bubbling marshes that feature in so many of his stories – a really interesting point that I had not thought of before.

The eighth chapter looks at the extent to which the story is commentary on TV, on Doctor Who and on itself.

The populations of Inter Minor and the SS Bernice are not massively dissimilar: both locations feature a pair of male and female travellers, a handful of authority figures, and about six non-speaking characters who do all the work for them and mostly end up as disposable foot soldiers for the elite. The extent to which this is the writer drawing a deliberate parallel or devising drama for each recording block with similar available resources is up for debate, but Holmes definitely seems to repeatedly invite us to draw connections between the worlds.

The ninth chapter looks briefly at the political satire in the script, with reference to Britain’s relations with the EU and to pandemics.

The tenth chapter looks at the story’s approach to racism, both on Inter Minor and the Raj, and packs a lot of things to think about into a few pages.

The eleventh chapter looks at the story’s unusual use of vertical perspectives in filming. (Actually this did not completely convince me.)

The twelfth chapter looks at language, specifically the language of the chickens, and Polari.

The thirteenth chapter looks at the extent to which the story resets the narrative of Doctor Who as a whole.

The fourteenth chapter looks at the story’s longevity and popularity, especially the Drashigs.

The fifteenth chapter tries to establish the dates on which the story is set, at length.

An appendix, as long as the main text, compares the early and final versions of the script. Unfortunately in the electronic version of the book we can’t see the struck through text which indicates deletions.

This is generally very good, breezy and enlightening, and you can get it here.

The Black Archives
1st Doctor: Marco Polo (18) | The Dalek Invasion of Earth (30) | The Romans (32) | The Massacre (2)
2nd Doctor: The Underwater Menace (40) | The Evil of the Daleks (11) | The Mind Robber (7)
3rd Doctor: Doctor Who and the Silurians (39) | The Ambassadors of Death (3) | The Dæmons (26) | Carnival of Monsters (16) | The Time Warrior (24) | Invasion of the Dinosaurs (55)
4th Doctor: Pyramids of Mars (12) | The Hand of Fear (53) | The Deadly Assassin (45) | The Face of Evil (27) | The Robots of Death (43) | Talons of Weng-Chiang (58) | Horror of Fang Rock (33) | Image of the Fendahl (5) | The Sun Makers (60) | The Stones of Blood (47) | Full Circle (15) | Warriors’ Gate (31)
5th Doctor: Kinda (62) | Black Orchid (8) | Earthshock (51) | The Awakening (46)
6th Doctor: Vengeance on Varos (41) | Timelash (35) | The Ultimate Foe (14)
7th Doctor: Paradise Towers (61) | Battlefield (34) | The Curse of Fenric (23) | Ghost Light (6)
8th Doctor: The Movie (25) | The Night of the Doctor (49)
Other Doctor: Scream of the Shalka (10)
9th Doctor: Rose (1) | Dalek (54)
10th Doctor: The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit (17) | Love & Monsters (28) | Human Nature / The Family of Blood (13) | The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords (38)
11th Doctor: The Eleventh Hour (19) | Vincent and the Doctor (57) | The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang (44) | The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon (29) | The God Complex (9) | The Rings of Akhaten (42) | Day of the Doctor (50)
12th Doctor: Listen (36) | Kill the Moon (59) | Dark Water / Death in Heaven (4) | Face the Raven (20) | Heaven Sent (21) | Hell Bent (22)
13th Doctor: Arachnids in the UK (48) | Kerblam! (37) | The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos (52) | The Haunting of Villa Diodati (56) | Flux (63)

The Ultimate Foe, by James Cooray Smith (and Robert Holmes, Eric Saward and Pip and Jane Baker)

The fourteenth in the Black Archive sequence of analyses of Doctor Who, this takes the sensitive topic of the two-part story that ended Colin Baker’s time as the Sixth Doctor – billed on TV at the time as “Trial of a Time Lord” episodes 13 and 14, but generally known now as The Ultimate Foe. When I first watched it in 2006, I was not forgiving.

Sadly, there is nothing to be said in favour of the last segment of the Trial of a Time Lord, two episodes credited to three writers [Robert Holmes for the first – though it turns out that Eric Saward, then the script editor, rewrote a large chunk of it – and Pip and Jane Baker for the second], a botched farrago of half-baked Time Lord lore, where we find out that the Valeyard is a projection of the Doctor’s future self, and he and the Master take it in turns to do the evil cackle. The Time Lords have forgotten who the Master is, despite what happened in The Deadly Assassin and their summoning of his aid in The Five Doctors. The means available to the Master and the Valeyard are conveniently immense and yet just not quite immense enough to destroy the Doctor. I am even a bit dubious about Peri’s survival, which rather critically undermines the drama of her death (and the chemistry between her and King Yrcanos was as absent as that between Leela and Andred – at least SusanVicki and Jo got decent parting romances.) It’s a shame that after delivering so many classics Robert Holmes’ final contribution is such a dud, and the Sixth Doctor, having won his trial, then gets regenerated anyway. The miracle is that the show was allowed another three years after this awful closure to an over-ambitious season.

Rewatching it in 2011, I had not mellowed:

And then The Ultimate Foe is a poor farewell to a misused Doctor. There is little good to be said of it – Eric Saward’s original script for the second episode makes more sense than Pip and Jane Baker’s version as broadcast, but that is not saying much. The Valeyard’s role does become clear, and actually interesting, but the back-story of Time Lord politics simply becomes confusing and the means and motivation of the Master, crucial to what passes for a plot, are even less comprehensible than usual. (And we have the cop-out of Peri’s faked death, which kills the drama of the only interesting development of the entire season.)

Rewatching it again, I felt exactly the same. The first episode is not bad, but it is let down by the second episode. As my brother put it, “this story is not just boring and not just stupid: it is boring AND stupid.”

There are of course good reasons why the whole thing ended up in such a mess, and James Cooray Smith takes us through them; but before we get there, let’s briefly look at the novelisation by Pip and Jane Baker. The second paragraph of the third chapter is:

His [the Master’s] brooding eyes surveyed the scene below him. ‘By me, Madam,’ he repeated, enjoying the consternation his intrusion had caused.

When I read it in 2008, I wrote:

Alas, it doesn’t matter how many exclamation marks you add, this remains an incoherent story; and while the Bakers valiantly attempt to fill it out with extra detail, it is basically beyond salvation from the start.

What I did not know was that the “extra detail” was all in the original script that the Bakers had submitted to the BBC, and excised because at 38 minutes it was far too long for a 25-minute slot.

Rereading, I actually felt that the writing was OK at first, but by the end I still got annoyed by the incoherent plot. Completists will want it anyway, and you can get it here.

From this pig’s ear of source material, James Cooray Smith has produced a surprisingly silky purse. The history of how the TV story was made (or not made) is much more interesting than the TV story itself, and that is what Cooray Smith has chosen to tell.

  • The account begins with the early 1986 attempt by Michael Grade to cancel Old Who (for which he has been called to account on the floor of the House of Lords) and the consequent disruption to production schedules and procedures. Cooray Smith is not charitable to either Grade or his Director of Programmes, Jonathan Powell.
  • He then looks at the writing of the original Robert Holmes script of the first episode, about half of which ended up on screen. The half that did not survive is very dark indeed. The fact is that Holmes was dying at the time, and indeed died before starting on the second episode, and Cooray Smith convincingly argues that this is subconsciously present in the script.
  • The third chapter looks at the uncredited revisions to Robert Holmes’ script carried out by Eric Saward, again including about half of what appeared on screen. Per my usual procedure, here is the second paragraph of the third chapter, along with the quote which it introduces:

Saward revised Part 13 in his capacity as Doctor Who’s Script Editor, and therefore there are no records of exactly when he began or completed his work on it, or when he moved onto writing his version of Part 14. His work on Part 13, though, must have been completed before he resigned from the BBC on 13 April 1986. Saward had been under pressure for at least a year, the production team had literally written off as many scripts as they’d accepted for the 1986 series of Doctor Who, and Holmes’ illness had taken a huge emotional toll on the younger writer:
  ‘I said ultimately to John [Nathan-Turner]… “I feel I can’t serve this any more, I’ve given so much to it already.” John was sort of understanding, I think he was also terrified that he might be left to finish the series on his own, which he ultimately was.”

  • A brief “intermission” asks who the Valeyard actually is.
  • The fourth full chapter looks at the unproduced script for the second episode by Eric Saward, whose rejection by John Nathan-Turner provoked his resignation from the show, taking the script with him. The killer point of dispute with Nathan-Turner was the question of how it should end. Saward insisted on a literal cliff-hanger; Nathan-Turner vetoed the idea; Saward could not take any more, and left. (This was only a few days after Holmes’ death, which had deeply upset both of them.)
  • The fifth and last full chapter tells the story of how Pip and Jane Baker were commissioned to write the new second episode with a three-day deadline, forbidden to use any of the ideas from Saward’s script which he had taken with him.
  • The sixth and last chapter pulls all the threads together and finds some degree of sympathy for all involved (except Grade and Powell). Certainly I have to admit that I still don’t like what Pip and Jane Baker wrote, but I am much more sympathetic to their travails now that I have read about them in detail.
  • A really intriguing footnote here tells a story that I did not know. Michael Grade asked Sydney Newman, the original creator of Doctor Who, what he would do with the show; and Newman responded that he would bring back Patrick Troughton for two years, and then regenerate the Doctor into a woman. He also had some rather odd thoughts about child companions, and wanted his own name in the credits as creator of the series. Troughton of course died only a few months later; but it’s fascinating to think what might have been. The source given is Newman’s 2017 memoirs, though I find it in the Daily Telegraph in 2010 and have been told that it was first published in 1996.
  • An appendix looks briefly at the question of what the title of the story actually is. Cooray Smith hints that he would actually have preferred to call the book “Trial of a Time Lord, episodes 13 and 14” but that he “bows to convention” “in deference to [the] DVD release”.
  • A second appendix asks how you can resolve the question of Melanie Bush’s first meeting with the Doctor. Cooray Smith doesn’t seem to be aware of the 2013 Big Finish play The Wrong Doctors, which addresses this issue rather amusingly.
  • A third and final appendix gives the scene breakdowns for the Holmes and Saward scripts of the first episode.

Cooray Smith’s previous Black Archive contribution was on the lost First Doctor story The Massacre, where he similarly converted a complex production history into a compelling narrative. But this is really superb, and it’s the first Black Archive volume that I have liked much more than the story it is covering. You can get it here.

The Black Archives
1st Doctor: Marco Polo (18) | The Dalek Invasion of Earth (30) | The Romans (32) | The Massacre (2)
2nd Doctor: The Underwater Menace (40) | The Evil of the Daleks (11) | The Mind Robber (7)
3rd Doctor: Doctor Who and the Silurians (39) | The Ambassadors of Death (3) | The Dæmons (26) | Carnival of Monsters (16) | The Time Warrior (24) | Invasion of the Dinosaurs (55)
4th Doctor: Pyramids of Mars (12) | The Hand of Fear (53) | The Deadly Assassin (45) | The Face of Evil (27) | The Robots of Death (43) | Talons of Weng-Chiang (58) | Horror of Fang Rock (33) | Image of the Fendahl (5) | The Sun Makers (60) | The Stones of Blood (47) | Full Circle (15) | Warriors’ Gate (31)
5th Doctor: Kinda (62) | Black Orchid (8) | Earthshock (51) | The Awakening (46)
6th Doctor: Vengeance on Varos (41) | Timelash (35) | The Ultimate Foe (14)
7th Doctor: Paradise Towers (61) | Battlefield (34) | The Curse of Fenric (23) | Ghost Light (6)
8th Doctor: The Movie (25) | The Night of the Doctor (49)
Other Doctor: Scream of the Shalka (10)
9th Doctor: Rose (1) | Dalek (54)
10th Doctor: The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit (17) | Love & Monsters (28) | Human Nature / The Family of Blood (13) | The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords (38)
11th Doctor: The Eleventh Hour (19) | Vincent and the Doctor (57) | The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang (44) | The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon (29) | The God Complex (9) | The Rings of Akhaten (42) | Day of the Doctor (50)
12th Doctor: Listen (36) | Kill the Moon (59) | Dark Water / Death in Heaven (4) | Face the Raven (20) | Heaven Sent (21) | Hell Bent (22)
13th Doctor: Arachnids in the UK (48) | Kerblam! (37) | The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos (52) | The Haunting of Villa Diodati (56) | Flux (63)