Tuesday 30 August 2011

281 Terror of the Autons: Episode Three

EPISODE: Terror of the Autons: Episode Three
TRANSMITTED: 16 January 1971
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: Barry Letts
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: Mannequin Mania Box Set - Spearhead from Space / Terror of the Autons
Episode Format: 16mm b&w film recording recoloured using 525 off air video

The Doctor & Jo leap from the police car but are pursued by the Auton who is knocked over a cliff by a pursuing Unit staff car. Returning to base Unit plots their next move. The Doctor attempts to take off in the Tardis using the captured dematerialisation circuit but fails. Unit is visited by a man from the ministry bringing reports of unexplained deaths. Seeing that the first two are McDermott & Farrel Sr, both with links to the plastics factory the Doctor & Jo visit Farrel's widow who tells them of Colonel Masters who works with her son and gives them the troll doll. Out on the streets men with huge grinning false heads are handing out daffodils. The Doctor's lab is visited by a telephone engineer who installs an extra long phone lead for him. Returning to HQ the Doctor and Brigadier visit Farrel plastics finding it deserted. They find a plastic daffodil, a receipt for a coach hire and an Auton hiding in the safe waiting for them. Meanwhile Jo is attacked by the doll, activated by the heat from the Doctor's Bunsen Burner which Mike is using to make Cocoa. The Master rings the Doctor to gloat and using a device activates the telephone cable which comes to life trying to strangle the Doctor.

this episode is slightly less frenetic than the last two, but only just. It's more figuring out what the Master's scheme is: the Auton in the safe is his way of saying hello, serving as a guard/nasty surprise for whoever may have tried to open the safe and the doll has already done it's job, killing Farrel sr, Jo & Mike activating it is a bit of an accident. Yes the telephone wire is left specifically for the Doctor and as it tries to kill him the Pertwee gurning makes a return to our screens! We see the start of the Doctor's name droping habit in this episode too, stating he goes to the same club as the visiting civil servant's boss. Larger and more recognisable names will follow later....

Filming the location scenes for this episode did not go well. First Nicholas Courtney, who was suffering from depression, was rendered too unwell to work and then Katy Manning, on her third day filming, sprained her ankle. Nicholas John, Production Assistant, teased her that she would be recast, leaving Manning upset and earning John a few words from the show's star, protective of his new co-star. It's worth noting that Nicholas John was the brother of Caroline John, the actress who had played the Doctor's previous companion Liz Shaw!

There's some familiar faces in this episode stuntman Terry Walsh is an Auton Policeman while regular extra Pat Gorman is the Auton Leader. Hayden Jones supplies the Auton Voice, the first time normal Autons are heard to speak. He was meant to play the Master's disguise as a telephone engineer but was offered the larger role of Lenny Vosper in the next story the The Mind of Evil. Another actor who Barry Letts had used previously was slated to appear in this episode: Bill McGuirk, who'd been a Guard in The Enemy of the World, played a policeman who is suspicious of the coach and is killed for his curiosity. His scenes ended up being cut.

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