Monday 9 July 2012

594 Mawdryn Undead Part One

EPISODE: Mawdryn Undead Part One
TRANSMITTED: Tuesday 01 February 1983
WRITER: Peter Grimwade
DIRECTOR: Peter Moffatt
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 6.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment

Schoolboys Turlough & Ibbotson "borrow" a vintage Humber belonging to one of their Schoolmasters' and take it for a spin becoming involved in a road accident. Turlough gazes down on the scene in a dream like state where he is joined by the Black Guardian, who bargains with him. For Turlough to achieve his desire and leave Earth he must kill the Doctor..... The damage to the car is surveyed by it's owner, an ex-army officer Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart. Turlough is taken to Brandon School's sickbay where he finds a crystal in his jacket pocket. The Tardis is drawn off course by a warp ellipse and in order to avoid collision with a huge spaceship the Doctor is forced to materialise inside it and the Tardis crew explore their opulent surroundings. Turlough escapes from the sickbay and, directed by the Black Guardian through the crystal, walks towards the obelisk on a nearby hill accompanied by Ibbotson where he finds a disguised Transmat capsule that takes him to the ship where he finds his way to the Tardis and meets the Doctor, Nyssa & Tegan. Ibbotson fetches the Brigadier, who is dismissive of the story saying that "a solid object just can't de-materialise!" The Doctor has determined that the transmat is interfering with the Tardis' ability to leave so he & Turlough journey to Earth in the Transmat capsule to deactivate the Transmat link there and sets the Tardis to follow them when it is free. As he works Turlough seizes a stone and prepares to strike the Doctor's head with it.....

Ah that's much more like it. A mysterious spaceship, a schoolboy who wants to leave Earth to get home in league with the Black Guardian and a Brigadier claiming that things don't just dematerialise. And if anyone knows that they do it should be this Brigadier, yes our old friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is back for the first time since 1975's Terror of the Zygons and teaching in a boy's public school, not in itself an unusual role for an ex army officer. Judging by his choice of car, his time spent with the Doctor had some effect on him. Of course if you'd not seen the Brigadier all those years ago you'd have probably seen him a year and a bit previously when The Three Doctors was repeated as part of the Five Faces of Doctor Who. It's funny how that one repeat has so much influence over Doctor Who at this point, that's the third time I've cited it in two weeks! We ain't done with it yet either oh no..... Back too is the Black Guardian who we last saw swearing vengeance on the Doctor at the end of 1979's The Armageddon Factor for preventing the Key To Time from falling into th Black Guardian's hands. Judging by the out of body experience that Turlough has, he's now running a rave party! Though why he has a dead bird on his head is never revealed.....

Thankfully Nyssa gets a new costume this episode. Yes it looks like something that the female crew members might have worn in Blake's 7 season 4, but it's a big improvement on the previous one!

Reprising their roles as the Brigadier & Black Guardian are Nicholas Courtney and Valentine Dyall respectively but we've seen two of the school staff before as well. Angus MacKay, playing the Headmaster, was the first Borusa in The Deadly Assassin, and Roger Hammond, Dr Runciman, was Francis Bacon in The Chase. Mark Strickson, introduced here as Turlough, is another Who actor with hospital soap Angels as prior form on his CV. Born in 1959, so aged 23 at the time of filming, he's possibly slightly too old to be playing a schoolboy. However I suppose he could be a particularly old looking sixth former. The actor playing Ibbotson, Stephen Garlick, was also born in 6th April 1959 so the illusion works while they're on screen together but unfortunately several of the background artists are obviously of proper school age and that breaks the illusion somewhat.

Stephen Garlick has a rather interesting line on his acting CV: he was Dan, one of the two human children, in the 1971 Look and Read story "The Boy from Outer Space" which I remember vividly seeing odd bits off when I was a child and off school ill. The cast list of this reveals several other who've been in Doctor Who: Dan's sister Helen was played by Sylvestra Le Touzel (b 1958) who was one of the children in The Mind Robber. The Thin Space Man was John Woodnutt (Spearhead from Space: Hibbert, Frontier in Space: Draconian Emperor, Terror of the Zygons:Broton/His Grace, the Duke of Forgill and The Keeper of Traken: Seron) while the Father of Peep Peep, the Boy from Outer Space of the title, was played by Gabriel Woolf (The Pyramids of Mars: Sutekh & The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit: The Beast)

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