Saturday 13 October 2012

690 Battlefield Part Three

"....and gold tipped bullets for you know who!"

EPISODE: Battlefield Part Three
TRANSMITTED: Wednesday 20 September 1989
WRITER: Ben Aaronovitch
DIRECTOR: Michael Kerrigan
SCRIPT EDITOR: Andrew Cartmel
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 3.6 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Battlefield

The Doctor frees Ace by having her catapulted out the tube into the lake where she rises to the surface, still clutching Excalibur. The device controlling the spirit is destroyed by the arrival of Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart who is pleased to see his old friend. Mordred, sent away in disgrace by his mother, has been trying to drink the hotel bar dry when the Brigadier's pilot arrives looking for a phone. Morgaine interrogates her as to the enemy's strength, killing her in the process. She pays her son's bar bill by restoring the sight of Elizabeth Rowlinson before leaving with her son. The Doctor assists UNIT evacuating the area by persuading the reluctant Walmsley and Rowlinson onto the bus. As the Doctor & Brigadier continue their investigations in Bessie, Morgaine summons the Destroyer from another dimension. Ace & Shou Yuing shelter with Excalibur in the hotel, a chalk circle protecting them but uncharacteristically start arguing between them. The Doctor halts a fight between Mordred & his forces and Ancelyn & the UNIT troops but Mordred tells him it was all a diversion as Morgaine & the Destroyer appear in the hotel to claim Excalibur.

Ugh. Just all a bit flat really, and doesn't really work. Why bring Bessie back? Just because they can? Honestly the bit I liked the most was the Doctor convincing Walmsley & Pat Rowlinson to leave, once again using the hypnotic powers he suddenly seems to be developing just like what the Master has always had.

The scene with Sophie Aldred's Ace in the water tank has gone down in BBC history: As it was being filmed Sylvester McCoy noticed the glass front to the water tank was cracking - you can see the crack in footage early in the new material for episode 3, ordered his co-star be pulled out which she was just before the crack expanded flooding the studio causing it to be evacuated. McCoy's actions almost certainly saved Aldred's life and probably many of those in the studio given the amount of electrical cabling on the floor. The cameras were running so the entire incident is preserved for posterity and was for many years used as part of a BBC internal safety film. The footage is on the Doctor Who - Battlefield DVD along with the recollections of the stars of this incident.

Battlefield is the first story of this season broadcast but it was the second recorded. The original production order was:

7M The Curse of Fenric
7N Battlefield
7P Survival
7Q Ghost Light

while the broadcast order is

7N Battlefield
7Q Ghost Light
7M The Curse of Fenric
7P Survival

There's no real continuity clangers like in the previous season due to the change of order but you get the feeling from the dialogue that Curse of Fenric is meant to occur before Ghost Light. The main effect of the change of order is that we get to see Marek Anton as The Destroyer before his first recorded role in Doctor Who as Vershinin in The Curse of Fenric.

One final bit of location work for the story: Wothorpe Towers in Cambridgeshire is used for the exterior shots of the abandoned house that Morgaine uses as her base.

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