Friday 5 August 2011

256 Spearhead from Space: Episode Three

EPISODE: Spearhead from Space: Episode Three
TRANSMITTED: 17 January 1970
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: Derek Martinus
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Derrick Sherwin
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: Mannequin Mania Box Set - Spearhead from Space / Terror of the Autons
Episode Format: 16mm colour film

The Auton walks toward Ransome, it's hand dropping away to reveal a gun. Ransome flees the. Channing sends an Auton to kill Ransome. Ransome finds the Unit command post in the nearby woods. The Doctor dupes Liz into obtaining the Tardis key for him on the pretext of needing some equipment from within. Seeley asks Unit if there's a reward for finding a "Thunderbolt" as he calls the meteorites. Ransome describes what he saw at the factory to the Brigadier. The Doctor tries to dematerialise but the Tardis won't leave & smoke pours out of the doors. The Timelords have changed the dematerialisation code confining the Doctor to Earth. The Doctor suggests visiting the plastics factory. Mrs Seeley, suspicious that her husband has been thieving, opens the box in the shed exposing the Nestene Energy Unit which transmits a signal to the searching Auton. Sam Seeley tells Unit where his "thunderbolt" is. Ransome is left in the Unit command tent in the woods as everyone leaves to retrieve the meteorite. The Auton enters Seeley house searching for the energy unit. Mrs Seeley, alarmed by the intruder, finds her husband's shotgun and shoots the Auton, but it's uninjured. Unit arrive at the Seeley house and drive off the Auton, preventing it from recovering the energy unit. The Auton is sent to the Unit tent where it kills Ransome. The Brigadier, Doctor & Liz visit plastics factory, where the Brigadier recognises Channing from the hospital. General Scobie answers his front door and finds his Auton duplicate waiting for him.....

This is the point where The Doctor discovers that he is actually stuck on Earth, almost as if he doesn't believe the threats the Time Lords made at his trial (possibly giving further credence to Season 6b theory if he had been allowed to travel on missions for the Timelords afterwards). There's some good stuff in this one, especially the scenes of Channing watching what's happening through the Auton and Scobie answering the door to his duplicate.

Playing lead villain Channing is Hugh Burden a well known actor who for many years served the Actor's union Equity. John Woodnutt makes his first Doctor Who appearance as Hibbert, the factory boss. He'll be back as the Draconian Emperor in Frontier in Space, in the twin roles of Broton and His Grace, the Duke of Forgill in Terror of the Zygons and finally as Seron in The Keeper of Traken. Much lower down the order I find that George Lee who plays Corporal Forbes here returns as a farmworker in The Time Monster.

In 1972 publisher Universal Tandem were looking to set up a children's book imprint and hired Richard Henwood to be the editor for Target Books. He visited publishers Frederick Muller and licensed from them the three Doctor Who novels they published in the Sixties: The Daleks & The Crusade, both by David Whitaker, and the Zarbi by Bill Strutton. They were published on the 2nd May 1973, two days before my birthday and in between Planet of the Daleks episodes 4 & 5 and were a roaring success. Wanting more titles he was put in contact with the Doctor Who Production Office. Terrance Dicks was eager to write a book and adapted Spearhead from Space into the Auton Invasion, which was one of the two launch books for the range along with it's following story on television, The Silurians, which was novelised by it's original author, Malcolm Hulke, under the title of The Cave Monsters. Both books were released on 17th January 1974 and were a huge success with further titles following quickly on. Both of these early titles are still regarded as two of the best in the range.

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