Sunday 19 February 2012

454 Horror of Fang Rock Part One

EPISODE: Horror of Fang Rock Part One
TRANSMITTED: 03 September 1977
WRITER: Terrance Dicks
DIRECTOR: Paddy Russell
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock

At an isolated lighthouse, keeper Vince sees a purple light streak across the sky but is ridiculed by his fellow keepers Ben & Reuben. As fog surrounds the island the Tardis arrives bearing the Doctor & Leela. The lighthouse's electric supply is drained causing the light to cut out and attracting the Doctor's attention. Something enters the lighthouse and attacks Ben. The Doctor offers his assistance fixing the generator, but in doing so they realise Ben is missing and the Doctor goes to find him, but instead finds his body, killed by a massive electric shock. The Keepers believes the generator is responsible but the Doctor thinks an alien is among them. Reuben is suspicious of the Doctor & Leela. Vince tells the Doctor of the light he saw in the sky and how the fog & cold arrived. Exploring the beach Leela finds a number of electrocuted fish and is stalked by something. Vince finds Ben's body has disappeared which spooks him. A boat is sighted not far off the island and unable to alter course runs aground.

A small group of people, an isolated location and an alien menace bumping people off. That means one thing - It's "Base Under Siege" time! And this one's fab. It helps by looking decent and tapping into the BBC's natural ability to do period drama well by setting it around the start of the 20th century. So a limited number of sets and characters, all of which we know what they should look like, help this look really good.

Of the three man Lighthouse crew, two have been in Doctor Who before: Reuben is played by Colin Douglas who was Donald Bruce in The Enemy of the World, while the already deceased Ben is played by Ralph Watson who was the Generator Scientist in The Underwater Menace, Captain Knight in The Web of Fear and Ettis in The Monster of Peladon. The third member of the team, John Abbott playing Vince. He's been in loads of things but what most people will have seen him in is as the vicar at the end of Four Weddings & a Funeral.

By an odd coincidence both the first & last stories of this season have pretty interesting tales of how they came to be both involving scripts written in a hurry and recording outside of Doctor Who's usual studios. Script editor Robert Holmes commissioned his old friend (and former Doctor Who script editor) Terrance Dicks to write a story based on one of the few horror tales they hadn't previously "paid homage to" over the last few years: Dracula. Dicks duly supplied the scripts for "The Witch Lords"/"The Vampire Mutation" only to then have the story spiked (staked?) when high ups at the BBC realised it would be airing at a similar time to the prestigious adaptation of the original story, Count Dracula. So Terrance Dicks was sent away to write another script in an extreme hurry and given the instruction to "set it in a light house". The following story, Invisible Enemy, was pulled into production early to give the production crew some extra time.... At this point it was discovered that there would be no studio space at Television Centre to record the story so for the first and only time in the show's history they decamped to the Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham to record the story. Dicks' original script went into a drawer where it stayed for three years ..... Come back on the 19th May to find out what happened to it!

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