Saturday 4 June 2011

194 The Web of Fear: Episode Three

EPISODE: The Web of Fear: Episode Three
TRANSMITTED: 17 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 Three

We're half half way through the Troughton episodes today, though of course the production team didn't know that at the time. Neither did they have an idea quite how important today's episode would turn out to be. You'll know why virtually immediately.

Evans shoots at the glass pyramid shattering it but the fungus web in the tunnels continues to advance. Victoria is calling for the Doctor in the tunnels when she is waylaid by the soldier "One Moment" he says stepping out the shadows, but he's accompanied by the Doctor. Learning they're connected with Travers he takes them back to Goodge Street. Anne reports to Captain Knight that the circle line is completely enclosed with fungus now. Arnold delivers word that Victoria has returned, with the Doctor and a Colonel. The Doctor tells Victoria he was knocked out by the explosion and then met the Colonel in the tunnels. Blake guards the Colonel waiting for Knight. When he arrives the Colonel introduces himself: He is Colonel Lethbridge Stewart and presents his authorisation papers to take over command of the Goodge Street fortress. Travers and Ann apologise for the misunderstanding that led Victoria to go into the tunnels. Now on the Central Line, Jamie & Evans have reached St Paul's. At the fortress Chorley is trying his best to leave. Travers recounts how one of the control spheres brought back from Tibet was reactivated. Reaching Chancery Lane, Evans and Jamie part company with the Welsh driver attempting to return to the surface. Knight & Lethbridge-Stewart hold a briefing bringing the Doctor up to speed on how the mist and fungus appeared and spread. Chorley interrupts proposing they be air lifted out, but the Colonel dismisses the idea. Jamie is reunited with Evans: he couldn't get out because the gates were locked. Queensway, Lancaster Gate, Strand and Chancery Lane all fall to the fungus as it works it's way inwards from the circle line. The Colonel gives Chorley the job of liaison officer to keep him occupied and out of the way. The Doctor suggest a way of remote detonating some explosives in the tunnel to seal themselves in. Someone is opening the main door to the fortress. Victoria finds the Yeti models in Travers' lab - however one is missing. Elsewhere the missing model is placed on the floor, making a bleeping noise summoning a Yeti. Victoria is horrified by the plan to blow up the tunnel: Jamie won't be able to get to them. The Yeti enters the base. Knight finds the padlock for the door and the Yeti model at the explosives store and leaves Lane guarding it. The Doctor opens the explosive store to find it full of web: the Yeti have destroyed their means of attack. The Colonel and Knight take a squad to Holborn to attempt to recover the explosives there. Victoria accidentally tells Chorley about the Tardis at Covent Garden and he leaves to find it, shutting the Doctor and Victoria in a room. They're released by Jamie and Evans. They all depart to find Chorley. There's a scream in fortress: Travers finds Weams's body with a Yeti looming over him.

You can't get round it, what you have to talk about this episode is the first appearance of Lethbridge Stewart, here still ranked as Colonel. He'll be back more often than any other character in Doctor Who and Nicholas Courtney would have a job for life. But it could all have been so different: Originally cast in the role was David Langton, who backed out in late November after being offered other work. Camfield instead offered the part to Nicholas Courtney, who he'd previously used in Dalek Masterplan, and he had planned to have played Captain Knight. The script, as written, calls the character Colonel Lethbridge: Douglas Camfield altered the name to Lethbridge Stewart. Of course *knowing* that Colonel Lethbridge Stewart would go on to become such a huge part of the show does rather defuse an aspect of the story here: he shows up, with slightly flimsy credentials, and suddenly things start going wrong in the fortress. Someone's under the intelligence's control and, without the knowledge of the future, Lethbridge Stewart is your number one suspect. Once you know who the traitor is it's worth going back and listening to the episodes again: they do drop some little tiny hints on the way. Your main alternate subject at this stage is Chorley, new holder of the "most annoying character in Doctor Who" trophy. He's busy going to pieces here and looking for a way, any way, out of the situation he finds himself trapped in.

We've got a station mentioned in this episode that you won't find on any present Tube map: The Strand was then the name for the Northern Line station that now forms part of Charring Cross.

The cast of this story features some familiar faces from other Doctor Who productions. As we've noted, Nicholas Courtney was previously Brett Vyon in Dalek Masterplan and Jack Watling was Edward Travers in his previous appearance in Abominable Snowmen. Ralph Watson's already been a scientist in The Underwater Menace before he featured as Captain knight here and will be back as Ettis in Monster of Peladon and Ben in Horror of Fang Rock. Under one of the Yeti costumes is John Levene, previously a Cyberman in Moonbase. But this role brings him into contact with Camfield which will be useful a year or so down the line..... Richardson Morgan, as Corporal Blake, will be back as Rogin in Ark in Space. Derek Pollit, Evans, will return as Private Wright in Doctor Who and the Silurians, and A. St. John D. Caldera in Shada. Where's Walter Randall? It's not a proper Camfield production without him!

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