Thursday 17 November 2011

360 Invasion of the Dinosaurs Part One

EPISODE: Invasion of the Dinosaurs Part One
TRANSMITTED: 12 January 1974
WRITER: Malcolm Hulke
DIRECTOR: Paddy Russell
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who - Invasion Of The Dinosaurs
Episode Format: 16mm b&w film recording

For the first time in ages we're watching a VHS Video! And for the very last time the episode we're watching is in black & white.

The Doctor & Sarah materialise in a park in a deserted London with the phones cut off. Elsewhere the army are patrolling the streets looking for looters, one of whom nearly mows the Doctor & Sarah down as they wait for a non arriving bus. Following they find the man breaking into a jewellers. He escapes but moments later they here a crash and find him dead with his car crushed. At UNIT HQ sightings are recorded and looters noted as the Brigadier hopes that the Doctor will show up soon. Pursuing a second vehicle the Doctor & Sarah are trapped in a garage where they attacked by a Pterodactyl, escaping by driving a land rover through the doors. The Brigadier's liaison with the regular army, General Finch, is ordering him to shoot looters. The Doctor & Sarah are themselves arrested as looters. On the streets soldiers battle a Tyrannosaur but their report to hq is subject to radio interference. The Brigadier sees photos of the Doctor & Sarah when they were arrested and arranges to collect them. On the way to the detention centre the land rover they are being carried in is attacked by a Tyrannosaur.....

Oh that's a fabulous episode, with an almost Dalek Invasion of Earth feel to the central London location seen at the start, filmed in a unauthorised covert filming session undertaken by director Paddy Russell, returning for the first time since her debut on 1966's The Massacre. This session earned her a reprimand from BBC bosses but it looks superb on the screen as does the sequence of the Doctor & Sarah landing and finding themselves in a deserted park filled with abandoned everyday items. The Doctor's comment "It's a Sunday, Great Britain always closes on Sundays" is accurate for the time period but isn't recognisably to anyone who lives in any town in the UK now. There's a small bit of escape & recapture padding the episode later on but apart from the it uses the time wisely setting up the situation as the Brigadier tries to discover why the dinosaurs keep turning up.

Lots of the cast of this episode only appear in this episode: Lieutenant Shears, the officer staging the looters' trials, is played by Ben Aris a man with two major comedy roles to his name. From 1980 to 1981 he played Mr Spalding in To the Manor Born, and then from 1982 onwards, he played ballroom dancer Julian Dalrymple-Sykes in Hi-de-Hi! Two very familiar faces Dave Carter & Terry Walsh appear as Sergeant Duffy & the Looter respectively. John Caesar, who plays the R/T Soldier had been in several previous stories: The Romans (as 2nd Man in Market), The Daleks' Master Plan (uncredited; as an Egyptian Soldier), The Ark (as a Monoid), The Macra Terror (as a Guard) & The Sea Devils (as C.P.O. Myers). Gordon Reid, who played Phillips, has a somewhat notable end to his life: He collapsed and died on stage at the Finborough Theatre at Earls Court, London on the evening of 26 November 2003 halfway through Act Two of a performance of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot in the role of Vladimir, aged 64.

Oddly this episode is entitled on screen Invasion part 1, supposedly to keep the appearance of the dinosaurs a secret...... despite a picture appearing in the Radio Times and the Dinosaurs making sporadic appearances during the episode, not being saved till the end. At the time the decision angered story author Malcolm Hulke, for which he later received an apology from producer Barry Letts & the head of serials. This had led to rumours over the years that the videotape for this episode was junked because it was confused with the video for the first episode of the Invasion, the 1968 Cyberman story. However since the videos for the Invasion were junked in 1971, three years before this story was made, this seems unlikely.

At the point that the BBC archives were first audited all six episodes of Invasion of the Dinosaurs were missing. We'll cover the whereabouts of the later episodes later but by 1981 Invasion of the Dinosaurs 1 was the only Pertwee episode missing from the Archives. Ian Levine was put in touch with a fan, Roger Stevens, who has provided him with black & white film copies of Abominable Snowman 2 & Invasion of the Dinosaurs 1 which he had obtained through a colleague at the BBC. Abominable Snowman 2 was returned to the BBC in February 1982 but Levene held onto Invasion of the Dinosaurs 1 till June 1983 to use as a bargaining chip in case any other Doctor Who episodes came to light.

Quite how this episode comes to exist as a black & white film, and then not a terribly good copy, and what happened to the original videotape is something of a mystery. The Time Warrior was the last complete story to have a black & white telerecording made of it, but the first three episodes of Invasion of the Dinosaurs are known to have been recorded and were believed to have later been destroyed. When it was recently passed through the chroma dot recovery process to recover the colour information to use on the forthcoming Invasion of the Dinosaurs DVD it was discovered that the blue part of the signal could not be recovered (I presume due to the blue chroma dots being absent) and a manual recolour of certain blue elements became necessary (like the Tardis and the River Thames on the map)

When I was young I wanted to see the town were I lived, Kingston Upon Thames on TV. After all it was the most important place in the entire world. In particular I wanted Doctor Who to film there. Little did I know that it had in the year I was born! This episode features several locations from my home town.

Firstly near the end of the opening sequence is a shot of an abandoned Milk Float. This was filmed in Wilmer Close. The trees you can see in the background of the shot are the edge of Richmond Park. This sequence was filmed 26th September 1973 along with another nearby from episode 3 which actually shows the entrance to Wilmer Close. Six years later my parents bought a house in nearby Woodcote Close. I've walked past this road many a time without ever realising Doctor Who was filmed there. (I went to a rather good garage sale in Wilmer Close once leaving with a load of early Star Wars weeklys that still sit in my long boxes today)

The sequence where the Tardis materialises was filmed on 27th September 1973 at Canbury Gardens which runs alongside the River Thames. Shooting here without capturing the river or the Power Station which once dominated one end of the site is some achievement.

Along the other side of Canbury Gardens to the river runs Lower Ham Road which forms the location where Sarah & The Doctor try to call UNIT, wait for a bus and nearly get run down by a car. This road is now a dead end at the south but when this story was filmed it was possible to drive through Kingston from the Portsmouth Road (near to the Meat Market Location bellow), through the Market Place, along Thames Street, under the railway line by Bentalls and along Lower Ham Road emerging as you do now by the former Britsh Aerospace Site which in turn is close to a third location used later in the story!

Palmer Crescent, where the Doctor & Sarah see a van, is to the south of the town centre near to Kingston University and the GPO Sorting Office location, used very briefly as a substitute for a police station. Both sequences were also filmed on 26th September 1973.

The Doctor & Sarah are mistaken for looters and captured at Kingston Meat Market, a site which the majority of is no longer there. Several shots filmed nearby close to this location are used in the next episode and these were filmed on the 26th& 27th September 1973. If you decide to visit it we can heartily recommend the Riverside Vegetaria for a meal.

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