OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 672
STORY NUMBER: 152
TRANSMITTED: Monday 30 November 1987
WRITER: Ian Briggs
DIRECTOR: Chris Clough
SCRIPT EDITOR: Andrew Cartmel
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: Ace Adventures Box Set (Dragonfire/The Happiness Patrol)
Glitz rescues the Doctor and persuades him to help steal his ship back. Ace & Mel evade the dragon. Glitz & The Doctor are caught on the flight deck of Glitz's ship the Nosferatu by Kane's liutenant Belazs but manage to escape. They are reunited with Mel & Ace, but find themselves stalked by Glitz's former crew now in Kane's service. Belazs & Kracauer attempt to kill Kane to escape from his service but he discovers their attempt and slays them. The Doctor and his friends are saved by the arrival of the Dragon which takes them to the chamber it inhabits where it shows them a hologram telling how Kane was imprisoned on Svartos for his crimes on the planet Proamnon. The treasure, the Dragonfire, that Kane has been seeking is housed within the head of the dragon, a bio-mechanoid creature, but thanks to the monitoring device in Glitz's map he now knows it's precise location.
A "let run around in the tunnel" episode, enlivened by some nasty killings on the part of Kane and the stunning Dragon creature. It looks good anyway, but the scene where it's head opens to reveal the crystal is fab. Now at the time I first saw this I hadn't seen Alien or it's sequel Aliens but knew enough about them to recognise the design similarity, probably a result of designer Lindsay MacGowan having created it. Andrew Cartmel's book tells how the designer, who'd worked on Aliens, was back in the UK due to his work permit in the US having run out and was able to work on this story. He also tells of some damage having been down to the creature with the designer staying up half the night to repair it! Two familiar design elements crop up in this episode: first the Nosferatu's flight deck is the redressed Bannerman ship interior from Delta & The Bannermen and then along the walls of Kane's control room we see the familiar triangle/hexagonal wall panels seen frequently since their creation for the Mutants.
Are we sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin: Daphne Oxenford, who plays the holographic archivist who explains about Kane's imprisonment on Svartos,was for many years the voice of Listen with Mother. The scene which she appears in would seem to owe a certain debt to the scenes in Superman of the title character being addressed by a hologram of his mother while in a chamber in his ice constructed Fortress of Solitude. A whole load of the rest of the character names in this story are inspired by famous films or those involved in the study of films, while many of the cast are familiar faces. Kane was played by Edward Peel who was known for his role as DCI Mark Perrin in Juliet Bravo. His character's name obviously comes from Citzen Kane while his deceased love Xana is taken from Xanadu, the name of Kane's estate in the film. Tony Osoba plays Kracauer and returns to Doctor Who after his previous appearance as Lan in Destiny of the Daleks. Osoba is best known for playing McLaren in Porridge. His character's name comes from Sigfried Kracauer, a German film theorist. Playing Belazs is Patricia Quinn famed for her role as Magenta in both The Rocky Horror Show stageplay and The Rocky Horror Picture Show film. We will assume that you've seen it and merely past comment that it's astounding .... The real Belazs is (and at this point I had to go fishing for the Doctor Who Magazine Fact of Fiction on Dragonfire! It's in issue 444 from Feb 2012) Bela Balzas, the author of The Theory of Film. Stuart Organ as Bazin would later find fame as Mr Robson in Grange Hill (see the next story for the return of one of Grange Hill's most famous actors). Andre Bazin was a French Film Critic and Theorist. Ace's boss Anderson was named after Lindsay Anderson, another French film critic, McLuhan after Canadian critic McLuhan, Pudovkin after Russian director Vsevolod Pudovkin and Arnheim after Rudolf Arnheim a German film theorist. Plus there's an announcement in part 1 calling for a "Miss Kael", a reference to Pauline Kael an American film critic and Glitz's ship's name, Nosferatu, is taken from Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens a 1920s German horror film. Of the remaining cast The Creature/Dragon was played by Leslie Meadows who'd been Adlon in Delta and the Bannermen while the Announcer was voiced by Lynn Gardner, the actress originally cast as Ray in Delta and The Bannermen who'd had to withdraw after injuring herself practising on a scooter.