Wednesday 23 February 2011

093 The Daleks' Master Plan Part 3: Devil's Planet

EPISODE: The Daleks' Master Plan Part 3: Devil's Planet
TRANSMITTED: 27 November 1965
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield
PRODUCER: John Wiles
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: (1965-1966) No. 2

The airlock door on the ship is open, preventing take off and allowing the Doctor time to get aboard. Zephon is exterminated for his unwilling part in the theft of the Taranium and the Doctor's escape while Mavic Chen returns to Earth in a ship similar to the stolen one which is provided by the Daleks. The Doctor plays back the tape he found in the Jungle (during episode 1) hearing the warning from Marc Cory. The Daleks use a randomiser to bring the ship down on the prison planet Desperus and dispatch pursuit. Desperus is a planet where prisoners are marooned. Bors, Garge and Kirksen struggle for control of the prisoners. When they see the ship land they approach but the Doctor jury rigs a defence mechanism that knocks out Bors and Garge while Steven & Bret repair the ship preparing to launch just as the Daleks arrive. Katarina is sent to check the airlock door is closed this time, but is grabbed by the third prisoner Kirksen who has sneaked aboard.

The quality of the recording for this episode isn't great but the storyline sounds decent enough. Desperus reminds me somewhat of Cygnus Alpha, the prison planet in early episodes of Blake's Seven, where prisoners are marooned. More evidence of Nation recycling!

A brief clip from this episode survives in a 1971 edition of Blue Peter. Mainly set in the Spaceship, as it's forced down towards Desperus, there' also a brief glimpse of the Dalek control room.

Since Zephon shuffles off this mortal coil during this episode I thought we'd have a look at the members of the Dalek Council. For many years the only evidence of the Dalek council we had was a series of publicity photos from Mission to the Unknown, and some of those Doctor Who fandom were unsure which name should be attached to which alien. When Dalek Masterplan 2 came to light things became clearer to the point where it was discovered that several of the aliens change between the two stories and a couple of those that remain change appearance. Even to this day we aren't 100% sure who is who but there are some pretty good guesses out there: Sentreal and Warrien only appear in Mission to the Unknown and are replaced in Masterplan by Zephon and Celation. Where did Sentreal & Warrien go? Exterminated like many "loyal" servants of the Daleks? Appearing in both stories are Trantis, Beaus, Malpha & Gearon. Years as I had (possibly still have) a Starlord annual with an article on BBC effects in it. There was a picture of this Michelin Man like creature with a heavy veined face in the article labelled as being a Doctor Who monster but I didn't know where it came from. I now know that it's Malpha from this story. Incidentally Malpha is played in this story by Brian Mosley, later to find fame as Alf Roberts in Coronation Street. He appears under his own name in episode 11 but is credited as Brian Edwards and Buddy Windrush in Episode 7 where he play a different role.

I bring to your attention Zephon's rather prominent necklace: it will be seen in Doctor Who again three years later hanging round the neck of the War Chief in the War Games, and it's by no means the only recycled prop or costume element we'll see.

Just as I was about to post this news reaches me that Nicholas Courtney, who played Bret Vyon in this story and is of course most famous as Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, died yesterday evening. He was 81.