Thursday 9 February 2012

444 The Robots of Death Part One

EPISODE: The Robots of Death Part One
TRANSMITTED: 29 January 1977
WRITER: Chris Boucher
DIRECTOR: Michael Briant
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who Revisitations 3 (The Tomb of the Cybermen and the Robots of Death)

On a giant robotic sandminer, crewed by Robots under the supervision of a small group of humans, Commander Uvanov is pursuing a mineral rich storm when it is discovered that one of the crew, the scientist Chubb, has been murdered by being strangled. The Tardis materialises in on of the sand scoops, and the Doctor & Leela are saved from being killed when Uvanov reluctantly aborts the pursuit of the storm to investigate the death. The Doctor & Leela are captured by the robots and locked up but quickly escape. They try to return to the Tardis but are separated with Leela finding Chubb's body being kept in a store room while the Doctor finds a second body in a sand scoop. As he investigates the scoop starts to fill with sand burying him and the body.

Oh that's fabulous. The script is great, dropping in little details to illustrate the society the people are from and their relationships. The acting is fine all round. The way it's shot looks superb: a CSO insert of the bridge set inside the model sandminer, an aerial shot in the console room (sadly the last appearance of the secondary control room which warped in storage rendering it unusable) and the robot point of view shot as it kills Chubb. And we get one of the greatest double entendres in Doctor Who
First we'll find the Tardis and then we'll have a little scout round
My friend Naomi (she who refuses to watch Planet of the Spiders) once told me that her earliest memory of Doctor Who was the Doctor drowning in baked beans. We're pretty sure she's talking about the end of this episode.

Loads of the cast in this story are known from elsewhere: Russell Hunter, playing Commander Uvanov is famous for playing Lonely in Callan. Toos is played by Pamela Salem who we've just heard as a Xoanon voice in Face of Evil. She'll be back as Professor Rachel Jensen in Remembrance of the Daleks. If you're about my age you may remember her as Belor in Into the Labryinth. She was also Moneypenny in the "unofficial" James Bond film ,Never Say Never Again. Likewise we also heard Rob Edwards, seen briefly here as Chub, as another Xoanon voice in Face of Evil.

Robot D84, one of the pair that find the Doctor & Leela, is played by Gregory de Polnay. He's not got any Doctor Who credits to his name but was in former script editor Terrance Dicks's Space 1999 episode The Lamda Factor.

Like many of the rest of the cast the actor playing chief robot SV7, Miles Fothergill, has a Blake's 7 credit on his CV: he was in The Web as Novara while David Bailie, playing Dask was in Project Avalon as Chevney. David Collings, as Poul was previously Vorus in Revenge of the Cybermen and will be Mawdryn in Mawdryn Undead as well as being famous for playing Silver in Sapphire & Steel. He was also Legolas in Radio 4's Lord of the Rings and, yes, was in Blake's 7 too: he appears in the final episode Blake as Deva. Finally Brian Croucher as Borg is the second Travis in the second season of Blake's 7 which means it's time tomorrow for another look at Doctor Who Cast & Crew in Blake's 7 this time, rather fortunately, looking at season 2.

This episode marks the start of our longest run of episodes so far in one format: the last 10 of Season 14, all 26 of Season 15, all 26 of Season 16 and the first 12 of Season 17 making 74 consecutive episodes. Later on this year, with the release of Face of Evil, the run will stretch all the way back to Planet of Evil 1, a huge 112 episodes!

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