Saturday 15 January 2011

054 The Romans Part 1: The Slave Traders

EPISODE: The Romans Part 1: The Slave Traders
TRANSMITTED: 16 January 1965
WRITER: Dennis Spooner
DIRECTOR: Christopher Barry
SCRIPT EDITOR: Dennis Spooner
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Rescue & The Romans

The Tardis lies at the foot of the cliff covered in undergrowth to disguise it's presence (oh for a working Chameleon Circuit) It has been there some while. We cut to Ian reclining asleep as the Doctor arrives. Both are in Roman clothing. Barbara and Vicky have gone to the village to buy food. Vicky is disappointed that in the month they've been there she's not had any of the adventure she was promised. A figure, Ascarius, hides in the bushes sharpening his sword. In the market, as the famous lyre player Maximus Pettulian plays, Didius and Sevcheria discuss the lack of slaves for their trade. They ask a cloth trade, who Barbara & Vicki have spoken with, about the travellers and are pleased to learn they are Britons. Maximus Pettulian makes his way along the road and is set upon by Ascarius who kills him. The travellers dine at the Villa they are using where the Doctor is enjoying his meal, but seems to have decided to go away for a few days. He packs a bag of provisions for his trip to Rome, agreeing to take Vicki with him. Didius and Sevcheria have fed their small group of poor looking slaves and prepare to gain some more. While Ian & Barbara are relaxing in the villa they hear a noise. The two slave traders arrive at the villa, and thanks to Barbara accidentally knocking Ian out with a vase, capture them. The Doctor & Vicki stumble on Maximus Pettulian's body. The Doctor picks the lyre up, just as a Roman Soldier arrives searching the bushes. He's looking for Maximus Pettulian and mistakes the Doctor for him! He is expected in Rome by the Emperor Nero. The Doctor decides to pose as Pettulian in order to meet Nero. Ian is sold on by the traders leaving Barbara to be taken with them to be sold in Rome. The roman soldier meets Ascarius, who was paid to kill Pettulian, and instructs him to complete the job. He goes upstairs to where the Doctor is staying.....

Very much a set-up episode, it serves to split the regular cast up with Ian & Barbara separately enslaved and The Doctor & Vicki involved in a case of mistaken identity/the Doctor pretending to be someone else again. (I forgot this one the other week!)

Doctor Who led a nomadic life over it's first few years being recorded at both Lime Grove & Riverside Studios. This episode was filmed in Riverside Studio 1, many years later the home of Chris Evans' TFI Friday.

The mute Ascarius is played by Barry Jackson. For years a jobbing actor and occasional stuntman, including an appearance as the Doctor's classmate Drax in the Armageddon Factor as well as a role in the Doctorless episode Mission to the Unknown, he later found fame as Pathologist Doctor George Bullard in Midsomer Murders. Interestingly while Doctor Bullard is absent during the 2nd & 3rd series of Midsomer Murders he's replaced in four episodes by pathologist Dan Peterson who's played by Toby Jones who we now know as The Dream Lord from Amy's Choice and have seen this Christmas as the Murder on the Orient Express. Apparently he's going to be Arnim Zola in the Captain America movie, that I have to see now! He's also the son of noted thesp Freddie Jones.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, The Romans. One of Doctor Who's more divisive stories I think. It is quite a long way out in tone from a lot of the other early stories, but I think more of the series for trying out its boundaries and seeing how far it can stretch. I actually quite enjoy this story, and this episode in particular - the family schtick of the main cast works really well, with Ian and Barbara's domesticity being quite charming and Vicki getting to demonstrate the enthusiasm that endears her to me much more than Susan ever did.