I can't imagine we've heard the last of him... If he's not won a Grand Slam by 2015, I'll be very surprised.
28 June 2012
This is a welcome decision as it allows for people not to be denied care due to pre-existing conditions and places the decision on this matter where it should be - in the hands of the people.
24 June 2012
With six armies, no less. With an entire army group at my disposal, I'll be able to launch a lot of attacks on the UN forces.
21 June 2012
20 June 2012
19 June 2012
18 June 2012
17 June 2012
15 June 2012
14 June 2012
- The Falklands conflict is probably the highest intensity war we have fought since 1945. In Afghanistan we lose one or two soldiers a week. In the Falklands, we had 255 killed in just over six weeks.
- The failure of the UK to see this coming and take adequate measures to prevent it reflects very badly on the Thatcher government.
- British forces were not properly equipped for the conflict - they used semi-automatic rifles and ships were inadequately able to defend themselves.
- Further to this, the key ship in the campaign was Hermes with its large complement of Harriers; a ship that would have been unavailable a couple of years later. Invincible on its own could not have done the job.
- American support was vital for the British victory in this war - without the AIM-9L Sidewinders and the use of Ascension Island, things would be a lot harder for the British.
- Mobile land-based anti-shipping missiles are potent indeed.
- International political opinion no longer accepts the resolution of territorial disputes by armed force.
- Perception is nine-tenths of a war - the BLACK BUCK missions had a psychological effect far greater than their military one, as did the sinking of General Belgrano.
- "Short victorious wars" usually turn out to be anything but - this is a case in point.
- The Argentine military does not now have the capability to launch a successful invasion of the islands - there is also no political will for an actual war in Argentina over this matter.
- Apart from the Falklands War, there are very few conflicts in British history that have actually started from a direct attack on our territory - we mostly come to the aid of allies.
13 June 2012
I should note though that it is December 1950 in game time; the real-world crossing occurred in October 1950, so I'm doing a bit better than the real-life KPA.
12 June 2012
The dandy and the clown, saving the universe
The tenth season of the show saw Jon Pertwee continue as the Doctor, the production team remain in place and Katy Manning continue as Jo Grant until departing at the end of the season. It almost saw the show get a new version of the theme tune as well.
The theme tune had under minor changes during the show’s history, but Brian Hodgson, Paddy Kingsland and Delia Derbyshire created a new version on a EMS Synthi 100 analogue synthesiser (a thing the size of two double wardrobes), dubbed “Delaware” after the road in the London area of Maida Vale that was home to the Radiophonic Workshop. The theme, called the “Delaware” version as well, wasn’t liked by BBC execs, who decided to keep the current theme – but not before it had ended up by mistake on a few episode copies sold to Australia.
There would be other changes though – the Doctor’s exile would be ended for services rendered in “The Three Doctors”, allowing him to move freely in space and time. Therefore UNIT began to appear less in the show – only twice in this 26-episode run.
The first episode of this season aired on 30 December 1972; hence the two years listed in the subject of this post.
The Three Doctors (4 episodes)
Time itself is in danger and the Time Lords realise this is a job too big for one Doctor…
The show’s tenth anniversary story, although airing nowhere near the anniversary date (the nearest story to that is actually the following season’s “The Time Warrior”), this is an enjoyable little tale – although the costumes get a bit dodgy at times. All three Doctors appear here, although William Hartnell’s role is limited to appearing on a monitor as he was too ill to do anything except read cue cards – it would be his final acting job before his death in 1975.
Treat this as a Christmas panto and you’ll enjoy it.
Carnival of Monsters (4 episodes)
Taking the TARDIS for a spin now he is free from his exile, the Doctor and Jo arrive on a cargo ship. Or so they think to begin with, as strange events occur, they actually learn they are in an alien peepshow…
A light-hearted and witty tale by Robert Holmes, this story also features Ian Marter, who had gone for the role of Mike Yates but to pull out, who would later play Harry Sullivan, companion to the Fourth Doctor.
Frontier In Space (6 episodes)
The Doctor and Jo arrive in 2540, where the empires of Earth and Draconia are on the brink of war, accusing each other of attacks on their ships, which are in reality being carried out by Ogrons (mercenaries who worked for the Daleks in “Day of the Daleks”). Accused of being spies for Draconia, the time travellers learn that the real person behind the situation is none other than a certain bearded Time Lord.
Roger Delgado’s final appearance before his tragic death (there’s a wonderful bit where he’s seen reading H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds; even super villains like to have a read), Malcolm Hulke’s “Frontier” is a plot-heavy space opera with a big surprise at the end; I enjoyed this one considerably. In fact, more than one reviewer has noted the similarity between this one and a war in Babylon 5. Ratings were overall a bit lower than “Carnival”, though.
Planet of the Daleks (6 episodes)
The Doctor is seriously injured – having been shot by the Master. He and Jo arrive on the planet Spiridon, where they encounter one thing worse than Daleks. Invisible Daleks.
The conclusion of a short arc started in “Frontier” (the initial plan was for one twelve-parter, in fact), this story, Terry Nation’s first for the show since 1965, is to a great extent a re-do of Season 1’s “The Daleks”, even including Thals. All round good, but contains some very obvious toy Daleks in a couple of shots and some continuity howlers.
The Green Death (6 episodes)
UNIT investigate a mysterious death at a Welsh mine, where the body is glowing green. Are Global Chemicals responsible for this and an infestation of giant maggots?
Primarily remembered for the giant maggots (some of them being inflated condoms), this ecology-themed story also gets a bit patronising on the Welsh. That said, there is some great stuff here and the final scene with the Doctor quietly slipping away from Jo’s engagement party, driving off into the distance, is very moving.
Jo’s departure concluded another successful season for the show – which averaged 8.87 million viewers, about half a million up from Season 9.
The Doctor wouldn’t be alone for long though. Dr. John Smith was about to meet Miss Sarah Jane Smith.
ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) in Australia was a popular first overseas sale destination for serials – for a start, ABC could pay the bulk of the residual fees that needed to go to the performers and crew, making other sales cheaper – and the show has had a long popularity Down Under, as well as in its own way contributing to the making of the show by providing some of its crew members, such as incidental music composer Dudley Simpson. Today, it is still broadcast only a couple of weeks after the UK airing and in prime time as well. More than a few lost episodes have turned up down here, as well as clips from others that were cut by Australian censors. The popularity of the show there was the basic motivation for Tegan Jovanka, of whom more later.
BBC Wales now produces the show!
She’s marrying Professor Clifford Jones (played here by Stewart Bevan, then Manning’s RL boyfriend), who she meets here – they would have seven children.
11 June 2012
It's going to involve a cargo crew who arrive in a system only to find that the local human colony is no longer functioning - and something is out there...
09 June 2012
Just a quick review.
Got to say that this film noir based episode is my favourite of Season 4 so far. Just wish we had more of the very good PI stuff, which I am sure the cast enjoyed doing, as the end of the episode dragged a bit.
Also saw one twist a mile off, but no-one really watches this for the cases.
08 June 2012
The Doctor sees great things ahead for Julian Glover…
Five minutes into a Doctor Who and a bunch of knights are discussing a situation in clear diction with flowing words. I think: I’ve walked into a Shakespeare play.
The second part of my classic Who watch/listen/read saw a change of plan as I decided to watch the stories on the Lost in Time DVD in broadcast order. This meant “The Crusade” comes first, way before “The Moonbase”.
“The Daleks’ Master Plan” was directed by Douglas Camfield. Watching the first episode of this, I see the director is… Douglas Camfield…
Anyway… this story, broadcast from 27 March to 17 April 1965, is from Season 2 of the first run and only two episodes (the first and the third) of four survive in video form, or rather 16mm film print. Episode 1, “The Lion”, only turned up in 1999 after being found in Bruce Grenville’s film collection. In fact, it’s the only incomplete story from Season 2, a time that the show was in one of its early peaks of popularity, averaging 10.4 million viewers over the run – this story itself averaged 9.4.
The DVD includes audio of episodes 2 and 4, as well as filmed links from the VHS release by William Russell in character as an old Ian Chesterton, which puts one comment from The Sarah Jane Adventures regarding him in the questionable pile.
So, cast your mind back to the spring of 1965. Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, the US were just starting to get involved in Vietnam and the British public had only three TV channels. You finish watching Grandstand on a Saturday afternoon and then the next programme starts…
You’re watching the adventures of two schoolteachers who were abducted by an eccentric alien when they went to investigate the strange behaviour of his granddaughter (who he later threw off the ship) travelling with an orphaned young lady – will the teachers ever get home? What scary things will they encounter next? Daleks? Vikings? More weird ants ?
The story opens with the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki landing in a forest just outside Jaffa (now part of Tel Aviv) in 1190. A skirmish between Englishmen and Saracens breaks out, which results in Barbara being abducted. The other three go to help the wounded and run into King Richard I, getting caught up in politics as they try to get their companion back…
The moment the first bit of white emerges from the bottom of the screen and the Delia Derbyshire arrangement of the theme kicks in, you know this is a title sequence unlike anything else airing on TV then or really now. Video feedback is not something most people would think of using as a basis for a title sequence at any time. The theme itself from the first 17 seasons of the show is pretty eerie - in fact, some even found the white-noise-using tune scary.
The Hartnell era title sequence doesn’t go like the later era ones or today’s version. Instead of Doctor’s face, show title, story title, writer and episode, we get the show title only, then the music fades out much earlier than today. There’s a brief bit of action, then we get a musical sting with the episode title (no on-screen story title then) and the writer appearing as captions on the screen; which explains why it was that on the audio release of “Master Plan”. It’s interesting, but I do prefer the later title sequences.
Unfortunately the BBC make a big mistake here by only including the raw audio of the two missing episodes – this results in the final bits of episodes 2 and 4 essentially being a loud of sound effects, so I had to look up the various episode endings; however, the linking narrations from Russell really help things here. Also, you’ve got to love the Radiophonic Workshop’s sound effects and Dudley Simpson’s incidental music.
The 90-minutes or so of plot could today fill a 45-minute episode with its faster pacing. The story itself, a “pure historical” with no aliens at all, is a fairly lightweight one, a sort of Saturday afternoon serial kind of tale that while having a clever thing or two to say about prejudice, is ultimately a bit forgettable. David Whitaker, while doing nine stories for the show, never really produced a true classic, but then again, never produced a clunker.
That said, the climax is a rather good one, with Ian, who has managed to get himself knighted, using said position to rescue the Doctor.
Direction and staging
Douglas Camfield’s direction, particularly during a fight scene in “The Lion” between Ian and a Saracen is good. The pacing of the opening skirmish is en par with the modern show, but unfortunately Camfield has to work with an older-style camera set up and set design. I’ll explain…
Multiple-camera set ups these days are largely limited to sitcoms when it comes to TV fiction. Not so back in the 1960s – Doctor Who’s studio scenes for much of its first run were largely done with multiple cameras, as indeed was most British television drama done in studio. This, combined with a “three-wall set” and a cast that has largely learned their trade treading the boards who play this like they’re in a massive theatre, combines to make watching “The Crusade” rather watching a play broadcast live – the camera isn’t quite in focus as episode three starts. While Doctor Who never went out live, it was recorded “as live”, complete here with rather sharp camera changes – I was reminded of Britain’s Got Talent. After listening to “The Warlords” (it’s a pity the sequence with Ian and a bunch of ants doesn’t survive), I watched episode 2 of “Master Plan” and the freer camera stuff and better design allows Camfield to do a much better job.
This one is entirely done in studio (at Ealing and Riverside Studios in Hammersmith), even the outdoors scenes. The matte backdrops are noticeable, but you have to look for it.
William Hartnell hmms away nicely here, but also demonstrates some good flashes of anger at times. One interesting thing he does here is steal contemporary clothes from a shopkeeper, justifying it on the grounds that the guy has already stolen them. That is pretty Doctorish.
Maureen O’Brien’s Vicki is, well, not all that good – there are far better companions from this era. If you listen, you notice the slight Liverpudlian lilt to her voice – these days the accent would be a lot clearer.
Jacqueline Hill’s Barbara Wright has a rough time of it. The poor history teacher gets abducted in episode one and not really rescued until episode 4, with villain of the piece El Akir wanting to make her a member of his harem. The cliff-hanger to “The Wheel of Fortune” [One can’t help but think of the game show – Ed.] sees El Akir basically threatening her with a great deal of unpleasantness and then in the following episode, in effect allowing his guards to rape her, although she’s rescued before that can happen to her. You just would not have a scene with that happening to Amy today, no way. Full credit to Hill, who gives a good performance – the terror on her face is clear when El Akir threatens her.
William Russell’s Ian does very well in this serial; he only appears in a bit of “Wheel” as Russell was on holiday, but his other stuff is very well done. An unfairly forgotten companion, that’s all I’ll say.
The guest cast
The English characters are reasonably well done and include Jean Marsh (Sara Kingdom in “Master Plan”) as Joanna, Richard’s sister, who plays a key part in the plot.
Most standout of all is Julian Glover, just turning 30 at this point. Glover’s performance as a volatile Richard the Lionheart was in the early part of a long career, mostly playing villains, that has seen him grace this show twice and appear in Star Wars, Indiana Jones and James Bond – he’s most recently turned up in Game of Thrones.
We come to the other side and walk into a problem that proves very distracting, especially in “The Lion”. Basically, all the Arabs are played by English actors… most of them “blacked-up” (a couple of actually black extras can be seen though). “Blackface” continued well into the 1970s on British television – The Black and White Minstrel Show springs horribly to mind here, as does It Ain’t Half Hot Mum – Doctor Who was guilty of it on more than one go. The serial only gets off with a caution as the Saracens are, mostly, sympathetic characters, particularly Saladin. All this said, Ibrahim, a petty criminal, is a walking cliché with bad accent to boot. While this story was sold abroad, it was never offered to the Middle East for, arguably justified, fear of causing offence.
The “pure historicals” didn’t really last past Season 4 – I can see why. The first two episodes drag badly and while things get better later on, there’s a lot better stuff from Hartnell out there. Even leaving the “blackface” out of it, I can only give this:
In order, they’re called: “The Lion”, “The Knight of Jaffa”, “The Wheel of Fortune” and “The Warlords”.
Russell, now 88, is still with us and might be the oldest living companion actor.
 “The Web Planet”, which aired before this.
The main, but by no means exclusive home of the show for Seasons 2 to 4. BBC Television Centre at White City was also used, as it would be extensively from 1964 to 1989. Lime Grove got used for much of the black-and-white era as well – most of the first season was done there.
Tom Baker, Lis Sladen and Paul McGann all hailed from Liverpool, but none allowed the distinctive accent full reign like Craig Charles in Red Dwarf.
At that rate that show’s going, most of Equity will turn up sooner or later – Ed.
BBC sitcom (1974-1981), created by renowned pairing Jimmy Croft and David Perry, revolving around the misadventures of a concert troupe in India during the Second World War. One of the key Indian characters is played by a blacked-up English actor, although in the show’s defence, he was born in the country, was partly of Indian ancestry and spoke fluent Urdu, at a time when big name South Asian actors were limited in the UK. This particular decision has contributed to the show being repeated a great deal less than Croft and Perry’s other works like Allo! Allo!, which for its part, breaks out the national stereotypes on everyone equally.
06 June 2012
The 48-minute runtime was a bit too long in my opinion as well. I still don't like Olivia's voice.
US paratroopers jump over France to mark the anniversary of D-Day (from the EUCOM YouTube channel)
05 June 2012
Back – for the first time in colour!
Season 9 was one of remarkable stability in the show’s history. There were no changes in the production team or the regular cast. With the new formula proving to be a ratings and critical success, Letts and Dicks saw no real reason to change it. That said, the Master would appear less, as would the UNIT characters. There would be more trips away from Earth – the Doctor could leave in the TARDIS on missions for the Time Lords, but they’d always send him back to Earth when he was done – making him, as he put it in “The Claws of Axos”, an intergalactic yo-yo.
Letts and Dicks had planned to move on at the end of the ninth production block, which would actually include Season 10’s “Carnival of Monsters”, but the BBC were so happy with their performance, they were asked to stay on.
To open the 26-episode season (one episode longer than Season 8), they decided on a nice publicity-grabbing gimmick. It was time to bring an old monster back…
Day of the Daleks (4 episodes)
The organiser of a crucial peace conference is attacked in the stately home that is hosting the event by a guerrilla who then mysteriously vanishes into thin air. UNIT, who are providing security, later find the guy unconscious in the grounds. Then his mates show up – carrying futuristic ray guns. They’ve come from two centuries in the future, where the Daleks rule Earth…
A timey-wimey fan favourite of Season 9, this Louis Marks idea got the Daleks added in fairly late by Robert Sloman (Terry Nation, who had commitments on The Persuaders!, allowed someone else to write their first appearance since Season 4 provided he had script approval and a creator’s credit). That said, the BBC only had three complete Daleks to hand and could only use two for the final battle scene. Subsequently, when the DVD release came out last year, 2 entertain arranged for new footage to be shot with more Daleks in.
The Curse of Peladon (4 episodes)
The Doctor and Jo take a test flight in the TARDIS, landing on the planet of Peladon. When a storm causes the ship to fall off a cliff while they’re outside, the two seek shelter in a citadel, where they are promptly mistaken for delegates from Earth assessing the planet’s application to join the Galactic Federation.
A pretty good tale with a surprise twist on the Ice Warriors and the Doctor dealing with a beast by singing a lullaby to it, it’s generally held that this story is an allegory, intentional or not, about the United Kingdom’s accession to the then European Economic Community. It was domestic politics, though, that caused a significant rating drop for episode 3 and 4 – a seven week miners’ strike that resulted in domestic power cuts, laying off of workers and the imposition of a state of emergency. Said strike was the inspiration for this story’s sequel in Season 11.
Also, the King in this story is played by David Troughton – Patrick’s son, making his third appearance in the show.
The Sea Devils (6 episodes)
The Doctor and Jo go to visit the Master in prison, where they learn that ships have been mysteriously disappearing.
The first appearance of the Sea Devils, this well-remembered action story was done with a lot of assistance from the Royal Navy (much of it stock footage, but also actual use of bases). It features one of the only two times the full line “I reversed the polarity of the neutron flow” is used.
Also, this story was screened third, but shot second – the first time Who shot its stories out of transmission order, something it is now routine for the show. Before, the gap between production and airing was too small for this to be done.
The Mutants (6 episodes)
The Time Lords send the Doctor and Jo to Solos in the 30th century with a message pod. There is a power struggle going on between the cruel Marshal that Earth has put in charge and the natives – the message will be of vital importance, if they can deliver it…
This Bob Baker and Dave Martin story was another political one, like Hulke’s “Colony in Space” from the previous season – this time the focus was on apartheid. Views on this one are decidedly mixed.
The Time Monster (6 episodes)
The Master, disguised as a professor whose surname is Greek for “Master”, builds a device to try and take control of a creature who lives outside of time.
A story that I quite enjoyed when I watched it, “The Time Monster” is generally viewed by fandom as a bit silly, but it does contain a wonderful “moment of charm” (as Pertwee called them), where the Doctor relates to Jo, while they’re both tied up, a story about his childhood. Also, Dave Prowse, the body of Darth Vader, is in a monster suit in this, while the late Ingrid Pitt, best known for her Hammer Horror work, also makes her first of two appearances in the show.
The ratings, despite the miners’ strike, were good, with an average of 8.33 million, but they dropped significantly towards the end of the season.
It becomes necessary at this point to conclude with a history lesson. The 1970s in Britain were a turbulent time, with high inflation, rising unemployment, Northern Irish terrorism and frequent industrial action. The oil shock of late 1973 caused by the Arab oil embargo resulting from the Yom Kippur War, combined with another miners’ strike, led to the implementation of a three-day week. The Conservative government of Edward Heath called a snap election for the following February and the result was a Hung Parliament, with Labour having most seats, but second place in the popular vote. Labour leader Harold Wilson, who had been Prime Minister from 1964-70, got his old job back and called another election that October, with Labour just squeaking into an overall majority. This meant, in effect, no majority at all, with Wilson and his successor James Callaghan having to deal with militant unions who opposed their attempts to keep down wages and prices.
This was going to affect the show in more ways than one, not least in the budget department…
1971 action series produced by ITC Entertainment for “ITV” (we’ll be discussing the unusual nature of that network later) in the UK and ABC in the US, starring Roger Moore and Tony Curtis as a pair of crime fighting international playboys. While doing very well in the UK and is considered a cult classic there, the US broadcast was put up against Mission: Impossible and did badly, resulting in the show getting axed after one season. Oddly enough, the cancellation freed Moore up to play James Bond.
Nation still gets a creator’s credit today.
BBC Worldwide’s video publishing firm. 40% of the firm used to be owned by high street chain Woolworths until that company went bust in 2010.
Then, as now, a very topical issue. When the Labour administration of Harold Wilson came into power two years later, it held a referendum on continued EEC membership, allowing its members to campaign on either side. The national vote went in favour.
British military produced footage is not “public domain”.
The South African policy was a big issue at the time – in 1970, public protest forced the cancellation of the South African cricket tour of England. The strength of feeling in British media union Equity at the time can be demonstrated by the fact that when South Africa got television for the first time in 1976, the union blocked the sale of any programmes featuring its members to the country, effectively barring any British television from being broadcast there and limiting SABC to American imports. In fact, Doctor Who still has not been sold to the country to this day.
Israel was invaded by its Arab neighbours and came close to nuclear use before US supplies allowed it to turn the situation about.
02 June 2012
Whatever you think of monarchy, you've got to admit Elizabeth's been a good head of state for this country, attracting a lot of tourism and providing a continuous figurehead in the midst of much turmoil.
At any rate, could you think of a President who would be as good as her?