Sunday 27 March 2011

125 The War Machines: Part Three

EPISODE: The War Machines: Part Three
TRANSMITTED: 09 July 1966
WRITER: Ian Stuart Black & Kit Pedler
DIRECTOR: Michael Ferguson
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The War Machines

Green comes over to the War Machine which allows Ben to escape. He encounters the controlled Polly while leaving and she locks him in and he is seized. He is brought to the War Machine.... The Doctor is wondering what has happened to Ben but Sir Charles is worried about C-Day being delayed. Polly gives Green orders from WOTAN and Ben is spared to be put to work for WOTAN. The workers are being worked into the ground in time for the deadline which Polly informs Ben is tomorrow at noon. Explosives and armaments are being collected at the warehouse. Ben escapes, leaving the weakening Polly behind and seeks out the Doctor, telling him of what he has found. Polly is questioned about her part in Ben's escape and it becomes obvious her conditioning is failing. The Doctor deduces that there may be other machines and thinks they should attack WOTAN. Sir Charles arranges for the army to raid the warehouse in Covent Garden. The army sends a patrol to enter the warehouse and they are attacked by the War Machine and some of the workers. Their weapons are jammed by the War Machine. Suffering losses they retreat taking the battle into the street outside and exposing the threat to the onlooking Sir Charles & The Doctor. The War Machine advances down the street and as everyone else flees The Doctor stands still ready to confront the enemy.

Although this episode is a little Hartnell light - he spends the first half sitting around in Sir Charles' house and then doesn't turn up till near the end of the incursion into the warehouse, it's still a cracker with Ben getting a chance to shine. Then the army show up and if you hadn't thought you were watching a Jon Pertwee story before now you certainly feel it as the soldiers wade into the warehouse. All we need is an "ACTION BY HAVOK" caption and the authentic Pertwee feel would be complete.

With Episode 2 already in the BBC's hands the search was on for the remaining episodes. In 1984 all four episodes of The War Machines, along with all four episodes of The Time Meddler (one of which was already in the BBC's hands) and all six episodes of The Web Planet (all six of which the BBC had) were found in Nigeria. A diplomatic incident (see The Time Meddler Episode 1: The Watcher) prevented their return to the BBC until 1985, where the War Machines episodes were found to have small cuts, matching those made by the New Zealand censors. Over the years much of this material has been discovered either in the material cut & retained by the Australian censors or, in one case, in an edition of Blue Peter covering the War Machines. See here, here and here on the now sadly defunct Restoration Team Website for details.

The War Machines features the most extensive location filming undertaken by Doctor Who so far around the centre of London. See The Doctor Who Locations Guide: The War Machines for details. This work adds a very authentic look to the program, and it's odd to see Hartnell outside so much. The one location they would like to have filmed at they couldn't: The Post Office Tower at the time came under the auspices of the Official Secrets Act which prevented filming there. Doctor Who: The War Machines DVD features an extensive Now & Then location filming piece showing you the locations in the episode and what they look like now.

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