Friday 3 June 2011

193 The Web of Fear: Episode Two

EPISODE: The Web of Fear: Episode Two
TRANSMITTED: 10 February 1968
WRITER: Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield
SCRIPT EDITOR: Derrick Sherwin
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Web of Fear
TELESNAPS: The Web of Fear: Episode Two

The soldiers have discovered the Doctor was at Charring Cross. Captain Knight dispatches Staff Sergeant Arnold to find him. Weams reports that blast recorder has measured no damage. Word comes in that there is trouble at Holborn and Jamie, to his alarm, overhears the word Yeti. On the phone line gunfire is heard and a roar before the line goes dead. Knight takes a team of soldiers to Holborn to see what's happened. Arnold & Blake find the destroyed explosive boxes under the Yeti's web: both suspect the Doctor of interference. Travers is reunited with Jamie and Victoria, vouching for them to the soldiers. Arnold returns, sure that the Doctor has sabotaged the explosion. Jamie, insisting that the Doctor didn't do it, says he suspects he knows where the Doctor can be found. The journalist, Chorley, is suspicious of the Doctor & his friends as well. Falling back from Holborn Knight's party have been engaged by Yeti, with several soldiers killed by the web guns. They attempt to build a barricade, packed with explosives which they detonate but the Yeti are unharmed. Victoria overhears Ann Travers accusing the Doctor of being responsible for the Yeti and leaves the fortress to find him, not hearing Professor Travers robust denial and defence of his old friend. Arnold & Jamie have met Knight & Lane in the tunnels but all are captured by Yeti. Blake & Weams speculate about the origins of the Yeti, with the Doctor being accused of responsibility again. The illuminated underground map on the shelter wall suddenly starts to shows the Yeti's web fungus advancing round the circle line at both the top and bottom of the loop. Travers is informed and is astonished at the rate of progress. Chorley suggests the Doctor's responsible. Victoria has become lost in the tunnels. Meanwhile the Yeti guarding Jamie and the soliders suddenly are summoned away and walk off abandoning their prisoners. They hear a welsh voice singing in the tunnels and meet Evans, the driver on the ammunition truck. He has seen the web advancing following a Yeti holding a pyramid. Remembering how the Pyramids helped the Intelligence maintain it's earthbound presence in Tibet, Jamie leaves with Evans to destroy the pyramid. Evans meanwhile intends to do a runner at the earliest opportunity. They proceed to Cannon Street and onwards to Monument. Chorley wants to evacuate the base. Knight and Arnold return to base with no news: all three of the time travellers are now missing in the tunnels. An unknown soldier stalks Victoria in the tunnels. Jamie and Evans hear a noise, then see a light: the Fungus is advancing down the tunnel towards them!

This episode, with it's battle with the Yeti in the tunnels sounds superb. Like Abominable Snowmen we've got an early episode existing so we've got a decent idea of what everything looks like, helped here by (if you're a Londoner) familiarity with the location. When Haysman and Lincoln last did a Doctor Who story they had accusations been flung at the Doctor that he's responsible for the alien menace. The same trick is used again here. Last time suspicion passed round the cast when we knew who was responsible: this time it's slightly different. Patrick Troughton's on holiday this week but unlike Evil of the Daleks 4, where all his material was pre filmed, he doesn't appear at all. Similarly the Army boots seen in the tunnel towards the end aren't filled with their usual owner but instead are occupied by by Maurice Brooks, saving the cost of hiring the actor in question for a cameo scene.

Right lets get the changes in behind the scenes personnel out the way: It's Peter Bryant's first show as producer proper, after a trial run on Tomb of the Cybermen. The new script editor is Derrick Sherwin, an actor turned writer. He'd been working on the popular soap opera Crossroads and brought with him to Doctor Who a writer he'd worked with there to act as his Assistant Script Editor: Terrance Dicks, who'll we'll here much, MUCH more from later.

As we've already said, returning to Doctor Who for this production are Douglas Camfield, absent since the 12 part Dalek Masterplan two years earlier, and Melvyn Haysman & Henry Lincoln, who wrote the Yeti's previous appearance, The Abominable Snowmen. There's an indication in the script that Haysman and Lincoln might be Pink Floyd fans: Web of Fear features characters named Arnold & Lane. Seeing the names together makes you think that inspiration may have come from the Floyd's 1967 hit Arnold Layne.

The main location for this story is the Deep Level Shelter at Goodge Street Tube Station. Constructed at various points along the Northern line these shelters exist bellow the level of the tube stations to offer a good level of protection in the event of an air raid. People had been sheltering in Tube stations since the start of WWII, indeed Churchill used the disused Down Street Tube Station as a shelter. If you watch the James Bond film, Die Another Day, the fictional Vauxhall Cross station Vauxhall Cross Tube Station shown in the film occupies the space where Down Street would be on the Picadilly Line map. For more information on deep level shelters see Ten years later the Camden Town deep level shelter would be used in a location during Doctor Who: The Sunmakers.

The London Underground Tube Map features prominently in this and subsequent episode, particularly in the form of an illuminated version on the wall of the Goodge Street Fortress showing the progress of the web fungus. The tube map is a piece of iconic design created by draftsman Harry Beck that's become an icon of London in it's own right and a template for public transport maps everywhere. Mr. Beck's Underground Map is a great read on the development of this important document.

The map at Goodge Street helps us date this story: No Victoria line is shown so it's prior to 1st September 1968 when the branch from Walthamstow Central to Highbury & Islington in North London opened.

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