Tuesday 8 March 2011

106 The Massacre Part 4: Bell of Doom

EPISODE: The Massacre Part 4: Bell of Doom
TRANSMITTED: 26 February 1966
WRITER: John Lucarotti
DIRECTOR: Paddy Russell
PRODUCER: John Wiles
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: (1965-1966) No. 2

Steven returns to Preslin's shop and meets Anne there. They spend the next day searching for the Tardis key and are stunned when the Doctor turns up, unwilling to say where he's been or what he's been doing. The Doctor learns the year & date, and knowing what's to come sends Anne away while he & Steven return to the Tardis. As they leave anti-Huguenot violence erupts as the Massacre begins. Steven is angry with the Doctor for abandoning Anne to near certain death and walks out on the Doctor the next time the Tardis lands, as it happens on Wimbledon common. The Doctor reflects on events and his friend's departure:
"Steven... Even after all this time, he cannot understand. I dare not change the course of history. Well, at least I taught him to take some precautions; he did remember to look at the scanner before he opened the doors. And now, they're all gone. All gone. None of them could understand. Not even my little Susan. Or Vicki. And as for Barbara and Chatterton - Chesterton - they were all too impatient to get back to their own time. And now, Steven. Perhaps I should go home. Back to my own planet. But I can't... I can't..."
However at that moment a young girl charges into the Tardis, mistaking it for a real Police Box, seeking help. She is closely followed by a returning Steven who warns the Doctor of approaching Policemen, causing the Doctor to dematerialise the Tardis with the stranger aboard. She is Dorothea "Dodo" Chaplet, an orphan who lives with a great aunt who will not miss her. She reminds the Doctor of his much missed granddaughter Susan. Steven is startled by the surname and Dodo reveals she had a French Grandfather leaving Steven to wonder if Anne survived after all....

Much better episode this one, a real sense of doom about it followed by some fabulous scenes in the Tardis. So where was the Doctor and what was he doing? Was he actually the Abbot in disguise? People have pointed out that it's difficult for Dodo to be Anne's descendant if they have the same surname but there's several solutions including a descendant of hers (with her married name) marrying into the Chaplet name and Anne producing a child out of wedlock - is she pregnant at the time of the Massacre and uses the chaos afterwards to pretend she had a husband who has been killed? I'm not sorry to see the Massacre go: It didn't do it for me, except for the final episode, and this is a similar impression to the one I got when I listened to the story for the first time about six months ago.

The historical setting for this story is somewhat obscure thus making this serial more educational than many Doctor Who stories. The St Bartholomew's Day Massacre is an actual event and was triggered by the wedding of Henry III of Navarre and Margaret of Valois, who are mentioned in the story, and the assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny who appears in the story as do Charles IX of France and Catherine de Medici. Other characters, including Preslin who's scientific achievements are so highly praised by the Doctor, I am unable to find any record of.

Donald Tosh, outgoing Script Editor, supposedly performed extensive rewrites on John Lucarotti's final script for the series and now he's off staff he's credited for the work. Lucarotti would write a draft for Ark in Space for Tom Baker's Doctor but the majority of the work for that story was done, and credited to, then script editor Robert Holmes. Lucarotti would return to the world of Doctor Who in the 80s when he novelised all three of his script, with the adaptation of this story becoming a version closer to what was written before Tosh changed it. Donald Tosh did some writing work after leaving Doctor Who, but then went to work for English Heritage. As of me writing this he is the sole surviving Hartnell era script editor, and he & Glyn Jones are the only surviving Hartnell authors.

So out goes Donald Tosh. In comes Gerry Davis! Huzzah! Already experienced through working on Coronation Street & United, Davis is a key appointment in taking the show forward. The next three, possibly four, stories (The Ark, The Celestial Toyroom, The Gunfighters & The Savages) were all dreamed up under the Tosh/Wills regime so if you want to see what the Davis vision of the show looks like then come back for The War Machines.

We also, although only briefly at the end, welcome Jackie Lane as new companion Dodo. She arrives courtesy of some location film work at Windmill road in Wimbledon. According to the book Doctor Who: Companions by David J. Howe and Mark Stammers, this sequence would have included a cameo appearance by former companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. The scene — which was scheduled to be filmed but was cancelled — had Ian and Barbara witnessing the dematerialisation of the TARDIS after Dodo enters. A nice touch, but perhaps the availability of William Russell and Jacqueline Hill put paid to it.

This story was novelised in the 1980s, was the first of the BBC Missing Collection releases in 1999 (which is long out of print and trading for a penny or two) was part of the Adventure in History boxset (again again long out of print) and has recently been reissued as part of Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: (1965-1966) No. 2 which is selling on Amazon for cheaper than the original CD!

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