Thursday 7 June 2012

562 Castrovalva Part Three

EPISODE: Castrovalva Part Three
TRANSMITTED: Monday 11 January 1982
WRITER: Christopher H. Bidmead
DIRECTOR: Fiona Cumming
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 10.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - New Beginnings (The Keeper of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalva)

The Doctor, unsure of who he is, is taken into Castrovalva's dwellings by the hunting party and made welcome. He is given a bed for the night and as he drifts off to sleep is visited by the Portreeve who lets slip that he knows who the Doctor is. Tegan & Nyssa are admitted too, and after being allowed to see the Doctor they retire to bed. Nyssa sees an image of Adric in his mirror who advises them to make sure the Doctor stays there and not to reveal that he is missing, The next morning they meet with the Portreeve and the librarian Shardovan. The Portreeve shows them his tapestry which re-arranges itself to show past events and is the source of the Portreeve's knowledge. Watching Nyssa & Tegan carry him to Castrovalva makes the Doctor realise something is wrong and a remark by a child makes him realise Adric is missing. He confronts Nyssa & Tegan who tell him Adric is missing but when they try to leave Castrovalva they discover it's subject to a spatial disturbance which folds in on itself trapping them....

How nice it is to find an alien society that doesn't all want to kill the Doctor for once? They seem genuinely pleased to have him there. I can remember watching this episode at the time and thinking "The Master's there somewhere" and thinking it must be the librarian Shardovan cos he's wearing black and has a moustache........ Incidentally doesn't the actor playing Shardovan, Derek Waring, look like Edward Brayshaw of the Doctor Who stories The Reign of Terror & The War Games and famed for being Harold Meaker in the children's TV series Rentaghost?

The end of the episode, with the entrances and exits from Castrovalva looping round on each other expose the origins of the story which can be found in the works of M. C. Escher, especially Relativity and Ascending and Descending, both of which depict concepts similar to what we see here. A third Escher illustration, Castrovalva provides both the title of the story and the concept of a fortified town on a hill. Christopher H. Bidmead's novelisation of Logopolis is dedicated to Escher.

Castrovalva wasn't the original opening story for this season. A story called Project Zeta Sigma had been commissioned from the writers of Meglos, John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch. However concerns about the script led to it being dropped and the by now former script editor Christopher H. Bidmead was asked to draft a replacement. This resulting delay in a completed script being available meant that Castrovalva was made fourth in the 1982 recording block after Four to Doomsday (broadcast second), The Visitation (broadcast fourth) and Kinda (broadcast third). Bear this in mind as the identity of the script editor changes from story to story!

Director Fiona Cumming makes her debut on this story: she was previously assistant floor manager on The Massacre, and then Production Assistant on The Highlanders (a film cut off exists of her operating a clapperboard from this story), The Seeds of Death & The Mutants.

We have one of the Doctor Who greats amongst us for these last two episodes: playing the physician, Mergrave, is Michael Sheard who was previously in The Ark as Rhos, The Mind of Evil as Dr. Roland Summers, Pyramids of Mars as Laurence Scarman and The Invisible Enemy as Lowe. He's got one more appearance to come in Remembrance of the Daleks as the Headmaster. Before then he'd find lasting fame as Mr Bronson in Grange Hill. According to the Matrix Databank the actress playing the child that speaks to the Doctor, Souska John, is the niece of Caroline John, who played former companion Liz Shaw.

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