Thursday 27 September 2012

674 Remembrance of the Daleks Part One

"What am I dealing with, little green men?"
"No, Little green blobs in bonded polycarbide armour"

EPISODE: Remembrance of the Daleks Part One
TRANSMITTED: Wednesday 05 October 1988
WRITER: Ben Aaronovitch
DIRECTOR: Andrew Morgan
SCRIPT EDITOR: Andrew Cartmel
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 5.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Remembrance Of The Daleks - Special Edition

High above the Earth a large spaceship approaches the planet....

We start Doctor Who's 25th anniversary season with a fabulous pre credits sequence showing the Earth in space with excerpts from various famous speeches playing. First there's an excerpt from the American University speech given by US President John F. Kennedy on June 10, 1963:

"our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet.
We all breathe the same air.
We all cherish our children's future."

There's then an excerpt from a Charles de Gaulle but my French is so poor I can't tell you what it says. there then follows part of the I Have a Dream from Martin Luther King, Jr. given on August 28, 1963:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up"

before the picture pulls back to show the hull of the ship.

Kennedy is intimately associated with fans to the start of Doctor Who, having been assassinated the day before so it's an obvious thing to work him into this story some how. This is the only mention of him here though: The Kennedy Assassination will be further alluded to in the official 25th anniversary story Silver Nemesis and then again in the superb and very out of print Doctor Who conspiracy novel Who Killed Kennedy.

We're on Wednesday nights for this season's episodes, probably just so we can have an episode on Doctor Who's actual 25th anniversary on 23 November 1988. I'm in at the start of my fifth & final year at secondary school.

This story is written by new author Ben Aaronovitch. He'd sent an unsolicited script "The Dole Queue Detective" into Caroline Oulten, then a BBC Script Editor, who suggested he might be suitable for Doctor Who and passed him to Andrew Cartmel. He loved it and was keen for Ben to write for the show. They were in the process of developing a script called "Knight Fall" when word came through that the Daleks could be used in this season and Cartmel knew he wanted Aaronovitch to write it.

Cartmel relates a story in his book about not knowing Ben's phone number, looking up the name Aaronovitch in the phone book and ringing the first one he found then discovering they're all related.... well it now turns out that several of them have their own Wikipedia entries. His father Sam Aaronovitch was an academic & Communist Party member, one of his brothers David Aaronovitch is a journalist, broadcaster, and author while another Owen Aaronovitch is an actor who has appeared on Coronation Street a and played the part of Gan in an audio version of Blake's 7.

Children file into the start of Cole Hill Road Secondary School in Shoreditch for the start of the days lessons.
Cole Hill School was the setting for the very first episode of Doctor Who, An Unearthly Child. Events in episode 2 will tell us that this episode is taking place on Friday 22nd November 1963, the day that Kennedy was shot. The Doctor Who Discontinuity Guide has a good go at working out which day the events of An Unearthly Child took place and reckons a Wednesday or Thursday. In which case the staff will be starting to wonder what's happened to two of their teachers and a pupil....

The dating of this story makes it the only original series story set with a setting in the past but still within the timespan of the run of the original series.

The school location was at St. John's CE Junior and Infants School in Hammersmith, the other side of London to the supposed Shoreditch fictional location.

At the school gate a girl watches a black van, with an aerial on top, over the street and sees The Doctor & Ace's arrival.
The Tardis has landed in Macbeth Street near the school which is near the school location.

This is Jasmine Breaks' only TV work as the girl and she gives a really creepy performance throughout.

The Doctor investigates the van while Ace goes for something to eat at a local cafe. She has trouble finding anyone to serve her but another customer Mike loudly summons the manager Harry from the kitchen.
Playing Mike Smith is Dursley McLinden. A then up & coming actor he died at the age of just 30 in 1995. Harry the cafe owner is played by Harry Fowler, who's got an astonishing long career in cinema. I'd never heard of him!
Ace struggles with the currency. As the Doctor examines mysterious regular burn marks on playground the playground, the girl plays hopscotch and sings a song

Five, Six, Seven, Eight,
It's a Doctor at the gate....

The Doctor gets into the back of the van and meets Professor Rachel Jenson who has detected an artificial signal. Rachel summoned by a Group Captain over the radio. Mike returns towards the van with Ace, explaining Imperial Currency to her and is called inside by Rachel.
Playing Rachel is actress Pamela Salem, formerly Toos in Robots of Death and one of Xoanon's voices in Face of Evil.

The problems Ace is having with Imperial currency will be familiar to anyone of my age who's asked their parents about it. But it's also a nice call back to Unearthly Child where Susan doesn't know how many shillings in a pound and remarks, prophetically, about Britain not having a decimal system yet.

They drive to IM Foreman's junkyard at 76 where Group Captain Gilmore is waiting for them with a soldier who the Doctor examines to discover that he's died due to massive internal displacement from a projected energy weapon.
Oh Dear, little mistake there with the Scrapyard sign: it should read IM Foreman not the IM Forman that was shown on screen! An earlier mistake when it was painted LM Forman was spotted but nobody spotted the mistake the surname!

This is of course the junkyard that the Tardis is shown to leave from in the very first episode of Doctor Who where it was shown as a studio set. In 1985 the Tardis returned to the junkyard, the location where it became stuck as a Police Box, in Attack of the Cybermen the very first time it ever changed shape. Then the junkyard was portrayed on location in Becklow Road Acton. Now we're a few miles to the South West at Kew Bridge Steam Museum , a short bus ride away from where I went to school in Ham.

Andrew Cartmel tells a story in his book Script Doctor: The Inside Story of Doctor Who 1986-89 of the unnamed original production assistant assigned to the show, later replaced, trying to convince them to set this scene anywhere but a period junk yard completely missing it's significance!

Playing Group Captain Gilmore is Simon Williams, the principle guest star for this serial, best known for playing James Bellamy in Upstairs, Downstairs. Upstairs Downstairs was co-created by Jean Marsh, the first Mrs Jon Pertwee who was Joanna in the Crusade, Sara Kingdom in The Dalek Masterplan and will be Queen Morgana in Battlefield. She also co starred in it as Rose Buck, house maid. Other Who personnel involved include Pauline Collins (Samantha Briggs in the Faceless Ones) as Sarah Moffat, Patsy Smart (Ghoul in Talons of Weng Chiang) as Maud Roberts and Jenny Tomasin (Tasambeker in Revelation of the Daleks) as Ruby Finch, all "downstairs" maids. Gilmour's first wife was actress Belinda Carroll, thus making him the former brother in law of Kate O'Mara (The Rani). His second wife Lucy Fleming played Jenny Richards in Terry Nation's Survivors.

The Doctor deduces that whatever fired at the is trapped in building. Gilmore orders the dead soldier's body removed but as he does the troops performing the task are lined up within an electronic sight and an energy blast from within the building hits killing him.
The Dalek extermination effect started with the entire screen going negative, then a negative field round the hit person accompanied by a ray from Genesis of the Daleks onwards. Now we get an electric blue energy blast and the body glowing exposing the skeleton within. Best effect in the entire original series, so much so that it was adopted by the new series when they introduced the Daleks.

Unfortunately when the original Remembrance Of The Daleks DVD came out in 2001 this effect was left of accidentally when the team producing it went back to the earliest available video to produce the best quality picture and missed the effect off when rebuilding the episode. Easily the most obvious mistake made on the DVD range it was the main catalyst for the Remembrance Of The Daleks - Special Edition released on 26th November 2007 as part of Doctor Who : The Davros Collection and then on it's own in 2009.

The Group Captain has the soldier launch grenades into the building as Mike calls for reinforcements but the creature inside picks up the radio signal and opens fire on the van Mike's hiding in.
The Doctor addresses the Group Captain as Brigadier in this segment, recalling his time with UNIT.

Chronologically this is the first time the Army has met the Doctor. Three years later he'd work with them again against WOTON (The War Machines) and two years after that against the Yeti in the Underground (The Web of Fear) where he first meets the future Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart.

A grey Dalek emerges from the smoke within the building.
Now this was a surprise at the time: all the publicity for the story including the colour photos in the Radio Times (which I still have) showed White & Gold Daleks....

The only Dalek operator credited for this episode is d├ębutante Hugh Spight.

The Doctor lures the Dalek into the open & destroys it using a stack of bricks and Ace's nitro nine explosives.
That's a little bit vulnerable for a Dalek isn't it? I suppose it's been hit by a lot of weight and force all at once but....
The Doctor & Ace borrow the Army's van to drive back to the school and on the way the Doctor explains the Daleks' origins in the nuclear war between them and the Thals. Ace assumes they want to conquer the Earth but the Doctor tells her that they're after the Hand of Omega.
Superb summary of the Daleks origins here: extensive enough to explain it to the casual viewer, short enough not to annoy fans in the know whose ears would have pricked up the moment they heard the word Omega, a renegade Time Lord seen in the Three Doctors & Arc of Infinity.

Some fab comedy between The Doctor & Ace with confusion between left & right and swapping positions in the van as it passes under a bridge.

Before the bridge, when Ace is driving, is Braybrook Street, the bridge itself is on Old Oak Common Lane and the Doctor driving was filmed on Wulfstan Street.

Mike brings Mr Ratcliffe to meet Group Captain Gilmour who he believes can help them.
Would the army really bring in civilian assistance on such a job as this? Ratcliffe is played by George Sewell who has been superb in many programs for donkeys years. Science fiction fans will know him as Colonel Alec Freeman in UFO.

The exterior of Ratcliffe's HQ is Horn Lane Territorial Army Volunteer Centre. The building had previously served as the rehearsal rooms for episodes 3 & 4 of the Chase.

Arriving at the school the Doctor is observed by the child again and meets the headmaster who assumes he's here for caretaker's job. The Doctor asks to look round the premiss. At first the Headmaster refuses and then, after becoming vague & rubbing his ear, he agrees.
Ladies and gentlemen, for his final Doctor Who guest role please welcome the great Michael Sheard! By this point he was famed for playing teacher Mr Bronson in Grange Hill so his casting as a Headmaster here was a little bit of a joke. He'd previously played Rhos in The Ark part 2: The Plague, Dr Summers in Mind of Evil, Laurence Scarman in Pyramids of Mars, Lowe in Invisible Enemy and Mergrave in Castrovalva. He was was Admiral Ozzel in The Empire Strikes Back and has played numerous senior Nazis including Adolf Hitler five times and Heinrich Himmler three times.
Ratcliffe's men move the destroyed Dalek from the junkyard.
The sight of the two dead soldiers left behind in the now abandoned junkyard is quite chilling.
The Doctor & Ace go the chemistry lab on an upper floor, where Ace finds book on the French Revolution but accidentally leaves her ghetto blaster behind.
We've seen the lab before: that's where Ian Chesterton is teaching in An Unearthly Child. The book on the French Revolution is the one that Susan borrows, prefiguring a visit to that period at the end of the first season. We must assume she read it through in the lab and left it there before going back to Totter's Lane.
Looking out of a window the Doctor points out the burn marks on the playground which he believes were caused by a spacecraft landing. Ace argues that if a spaceship had landed in London in 1963 she'd have heard about it but the Doctor points out that she doesn't remember the Zygons & Loch Ness Monster or the Yeti in the Underground. The Doctor explains to her that he left the Hand of Omega behind when he was here before. Ratcliffe takes destroyed Dalek back to his yard and speaks to a figure hunched in a black Dalek base.
A black Dalek base with silver spots? This must be Davros right? The person providing the voice here is John Leeson, formerly the voice of K-9 and Dugeen in The Power of Kroll. I'm told he also supplies some Dalek voices during these episodes.
The Doctor & Ace investigate the school cellar, but are seen entering by the Headmaster. In the cellar they find a Transmat station that the Doctor deactivates just as a Dalek begins to form on it. Their interference is detected by the Transmat operator, a white & gold Dalek who emerges from the shadows in the cellar. The Doctor & Ace make a run for it up the stairs, but the Doctor trips over half way up. Ace emerges from the cellar only to be clubbed to the floor by the headmaster who locks the Doctor in. As the Doctor hammers on the door the Dalek advances up the stairs towards him with the Doctor fixed firmly within it's targeting sight

You are the Doctor!
You are the enemy of the Daleks
You will be exterminated!

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

What a superb episode ending totally playing with the heads of he casual viewers who believe that Daleks can't climb stairs. The effect here is achieved by putting the Dalek on a stairlift and covering the base with the orange video effect glow. The Dalek in this episode is voiced by Roy Skelton, who'd voiced Daleks previously in The Evil of the Daleks, Planet of the Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks, Destiny of the Daleks, The Five Doctors & Revelation of the Daleks. He was also Monoid voices in The Ark, Cybermen voices in The Tenth Planet & The Wheel in Space, Computer voice in The Ice Warriors, Kroton voices in The Krotons, Norton in Colony in Space, Wester in Planet of the Daleks, James in The Green Death, Marshall Chedaki in The Android Invasion and King Rokon in The Hand of Fear as well as being famed throughout the UK as the voice of both Zippy & George in Rainbow.

It's a good opening episode for a story and a season: plenty of incident, the Daleks as an added lure for the audience plus it presents some mystery to get people back the next week: what is the Hand of Omega? Why are there two different sets of Daleks? What's Davros seemingly doing working with some humans?

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