Thursday 30 December 2010

038 The Reign of Terror Part 2: Guests of Madame Guillotine

EPISODE: The Reign of Terror Part 2: Guests of Madame Guillotine
TRANSMITTED: 15 August 1964
WRITER: Dennis Spooner
DIRECTOR: Henric Hirsch
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who - The Reign Of Terror

Before we start: what's special about this episode of Doctor Who? The answer will follow after I watch it!

The Doctor is unconscious and trapped in the blazing house. We cut to pictures of Paris and a dropping guillotine. The other three Travellers are taken to court where they are sentenced to death and taken to the cells to await execution by guillotine. Barbara attracts the attention of the Jailer but spurns him so ends up in the cell with Susan while Ian is held separately, The Doctor has been rescued by the boy we saw in the previous episode, who tells him the soldiers have taken his friends. The Doctor leaves on foot for Paris to rescue his friends walking through the fields till he finds a road. Susan is worried about the Doctor and hopes he has survived. Barbara wants to escape, but attempts are thwarted by the return of the guards. Ian shares a cell with another Englishman, Webster, who is dying from his wounds, who tells him war between England & France is near. He tells Ian to find James Stirling and get him to return to England with the information he possesses. He says Stirling may be found through Jules Renan at the sign of "Le Chien Gris" and dies. The Doctor encounters a chain gang of tax dodgers on the road. Antagonising the gangmaster and being unable to produce papers, the Doctor is forced into the chain gang. Barbara's attempts at levering a block out the cell wall aren't going well, and Susan fares no better. They are about to be discovered by the jailer when Citizen Lemaitre, his superior, arrives to see Webster's body. The jailer tells Lemaitre he heard the prisoners speak, and while Webster's body is being removed Susan is scared by the rats in her cell! The Doctor & the chain gang distract the gang master with talk of an eclipse so the Doctor can steel his keys. Duping the gang master again with a coin they've found the chain gang knock him out with a spade and escape allowing the Doctor to continue his journey to Paris. He stops to rest on a Paris 5km marker. As Susan & Barbara are brought from their cells they discover Ian has been crossed off the death list by Lemaitre. Ian watches from his cell window as the women are taken away to the guillotine.

Wow, that's top stuff. Probably the best episode of the series since the first. Hartnell is on towering form throughout - the scene with Hartnell & the boy is wonderful and the comedy stuff with the chain gang is very well done. The rest of the Tardis crew imprisoned throughout, the hint of a quest for Ian and another wonderfully imperilled cliffhanger make this a great episode.

So what's special about it? Well the scenes of the Doctor walking along the roads and in the fields are the very first location filming undertaken by the team. Ok, it's not William Hartnell being filmed, but his double Brian Proudfoot. Even so it adds some nice detail to the episode. Details of the locations in Buckinghamshire can be found on It's a small start, but much location work will follow including some splendid stuff in just two stories time. For more information on the locations used in Doctor Who visit the website linked above or track down a copy of Doctor Who on Location by Richard Bignell.

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