Sunday 31 July 2011

251 The War Games: Episode Eight

EPISODE: The War Games: Episode Eight
TRANSMITTED: 07 June 1969
WRITER: Malcolm Hulke & Terrance Dicks
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Derrick Sherwin
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The War Games

The recovering resistance discuss they're next move. The Security Chief tries to interrogate the Doctor accusing him of being part of a plot to betray them to the Time Lords. Zoe recalls the names of the other resistance leaders and Carstairs' group make plans to contact them. A SIDRAT arrives but they throw a grenade into it. The Security Chief accuses the Doctor of being sent for by the War Chief, but the War Chief interrupts admitting the Doctor is one of his own race and taking him into his personal custody. An upset Security Chief confers with the War Lord. The War Chief and the Doctor discuss their departures from the Time Lords the Doctor accusing the War Chief of leaving to gain power. The War Chief says the aliens want to conquer the galaxy and is using the War Games as an audition for human troops for their armies. The Mexican resistance group lead by Arturo Villa arrive at the ch√Ęteau. Carstairs absent, Jamie speaks with Villa, supported by Zoe and brings them onside. The Doctor is interrogated by the War Chief, but the Security Chief. The War Chief says the Doctor will help them destroy the resistance and the War Lord says they will succeed or die. The Resistance plot to ambush a SIDRAT at the American Barn. Resistance groups attack the communication units destroying them. The Security Chief dispatches guards & technicians to the damaged sites emptying guards from the HQ. The War Lord considers using a neutron bomb against the resistance. The Doctor send the Resistance a SIDRAT and asks the leaders to travel to the headquarters in it. They arrive at the alien HQ and are captured by the guards, betrayed by the Doctor!

Coerced by the War Chief there's a real feeling at the end of this episode that the Doctor has betrayed the resistance. The episode rolls along at a lively paste liberally interspersed with brief action sequences.

What this episode is famed for is that for the very first time the Doctor's race are named: they are the Time Lords. We've known for years that he fled their society though I think this is the first time he's been accused of actually having stolen his Tardis. Five and a half years into the show and we finally find out the name of his people, but it'll be a few more years before we find out the name of his home planet. We'll see it earlier than that though, quite soon in the future in fact.

This season, the sixth, had not gone well for the script department. From taking an episode from The Dominators and adding one to The Mind Robber, stretching the Invasion, major rewrites on Seeds of Death, a back up script being pressed into use and that writer immediately being commissioned for another things hadn't gone well. At least three scripts had been abandoned this season already. The plan was to conclude with a six part Malcolm Hulke script and a 4 part Derrick Sherwin at the end of which the Doctor would regenerate. Somewhere along the line they both fell through. What I suspect happened is Sherwin ran out of time to write when he found himself doing Peter Bryant's job when Bryant was taken ill. Terrance Dicks, Script editor, is told they now need a ten parter so he and Malcolm Hulke sit down, take elements from Hulke's script and build a larger tale around it.

This is what Season 6 might have looked like, given what we know about the intended stories, if things had gone to plan vs what actually happened:

Story Author Episodes Story Author Episodes
The Dominators Mervyn Haysman &
Henry Lincoln
6 The Dominators Mervyn Haysman &
Henry Lincoln
The Mind Robber Peter Ling 4 The Mind Robber Peter Ling 5
The Invasion Derrick Sherwin 6 The Invasion Derrick Sherwin 8
The Dreamspinner Paul Wheeler 6 The Krotons Robert Holmes 4
The Lords of the Red Planet Brian Hayles 6 The Seeds of Death Brian Hayles 6
The Prison In Space Dick Sharples 6 The Space Pirates Robert Holmes 6
The Impersonators Malcolm Hulke 6 The War Games Terrance Dicks &
Malcolm Hulke
AAA Derrick Sherwin 4

There is considerable evidence that Terrance Dicks learnt much from the experience of script editing season 6. Although he frequently mentions scripts as being a problem, there is no evidence of a crisis of this magnitude occurring again until after Terrance Dicks leaves his post in five years time. Indeed Barry Letts, producer for most of that period, talks about how they would try and be ahead of the game working on the next season's scripts.


  1. Every time I see this my brain spends a few seconds thinking about how the aliens plan, to use an army of humans to conquer the galaxy seems slightly unlikely... and the Arturo Villa turns up projecting so much machismo and self-confidence that it makes one think he probably could have a good crack at conquering an entire planet with only himself (and his guns) and suddenly it doesn't seem like such a daft plan.

  2. Interesting. I've heard on several occasions that Season Six was plagued by various behind-the-scenes problems, resulting in several stories being abandoned, and replacements hastily written. But I have never seen any precise details regarding what the original plans might have been until now. Thanks for the informative entry.

    On the extra features for The Dominators DVD, it was mentioned that Mervyn Haysman & Henry Lincoln had hoped to write a third Yeti story to close out Season Six, one that would see Jaime returning to Scotland to once again fight against yonder hairy beasties (so to speak). But those plans quickly fell apart after Derrick Sherwin heavily rewrote The Dominators. No idea how far along Haysman & Lincon's plans would have been when they were abandoned, though.

  3. Everything there is sourced from the Pixley article in the Nothing at the End of the Lane Prison in Space book.....

    Another promotion from Lulu, which will give you 20% discount on any books ordered. This one lasts until 11.59pm on Friday 29 June.

    Enter the code CHASEUK (for UK orders) or JUNEBOOKS12 (for US orders).

    This code can be used against the following books:

    The Prison in Space Scriptbook

    Farewell Great Macedon Scriptbook

    Nothing at the End of the Lane Issue 1 & 2 Omnibus