First on this tape, after a few seconds of the Movie Channel ident, we have part of an episode of Tomorrow’s World, Howard Stableford looks at the restoration process for the Doctor Who story The Daemons, some episodes of which were wiped from the archive, and which had only existed as black and white film recordings, and poor quality NTSC videotapes. The experts at the BBC restoration department devised a way to take the black and white film, and to overlay the colour signal from the videotape (ignoring the luminance information, which was not as high quality as the film) and combine them to get a re-coloured result.
After this clip, recording switches to BBC2 and the end of The Man From Unclefollowed by a trailer for the episode of Funny Business we looked at yesterday.
Then, we get episode one of The Daemons, one of the earlier Doctor Who stories I remember watching. It opens in fine Hammer Horror style, with a dark and stormy night in a small village, and a man seeing something terrifying and dropping dead.
Miss Hawthorne, played by the marvellous Damaris Hayman, thinks he died of fright, but the local doctor doesn’t agree. She’s the archetypal doomsayer. “If Professor Horner opens up that barrow, it’ll bring disaster on us all.”
The BBC are reporting on the historic opening of an ancient druidic barrow near the village, and signs and portents are int he air. Even Jo Grant of UNIT sees them. “But it really is the dawning of the age of Aquarius” she tells the Doctor. “I’m obviously wasting my time trying to turn you into a scientist” he tells her rather patronisingly. “Well how do you know there’s nothing in it?” she asks. “Well I just know, that’s all” replies The Doctor, failing to exhibit even the first sign of being a decent scientist himself.
But Jo wants to watch the coverage of the opening of the barrow. The Doctor dismisses it as more unscientific nonsense, but as the programme progresses, and Miss Hawthorne turns up to protest against the opening, saying that all manner of dark things will appear if the barrow is opened, the Doctor is suddenly interested, and they head towards the village, Devil’s End.
Miss Hawthorne wants to speak to the vicar. Their regular vicar has gone away, and his replacement is Mr Magister, who looks terribly familiar.
That’s right, behind those glasses and the dog collar, it’s Roger Delgado as The Master, the original and best. This was from the period of the show when the Master turned up in virtually every story. And I don’t think anybody complained, because he’s just great.
Down in the church crypt, he’s performing some kind of ritual, and the Doctor gets to the barrow on the stroke of midnight, just too late to prevent the professor from opening it, and unleashing a strange storm of fake snow, freezing the professor and the Doctor.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th November 1992 – 19:15
When I first watched this story, I was utterly gripped. I loved the mix of science and superstition, and only later would I appreciate the heavy Quatermass vibe. I don’t think I’d seen Quatermass and the Pit yet. The opening of the barrow now seems quite tame and anti-climactic, but my memory of it was of a terrifying storm of ice and snow, my six year old self was thrilled.
The next episode opens with the obligatory cliffhanger recap, then Sergeant Benton and Captain Yates have just finished watching the Rugby – for some reason the theme music to Rugby is Berlioz’ March to the Scaffold from his Symphonie Fantastique – so they turn over to watch the dig, only to see Jo trying to revive the Doctor, then a temporary fault caption for BBC3 – yet more proof that the UNIT stories were supposed to be set in the future.
The local policeman is enjoying his flask of weak lemon drink when a huge shadow falls over him, and he sees something terrifying. Cut to The Master, nodding contentedly at something.
Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton are flying the UNIT helicopter to the village when they see what looks like giant hoofprints on the ground. No CGI here, someone had to put those marks on the ground.
It’s something of a thrill to see the UNIT regulars out of uniform. Fans talk about the ‘UNIT Family’ and it absolutely was. A regular supporting cast for the first time in the programme’s history. One of my prized possessions as a child was a UNIT badge that came free in a packet of breakfast cereal. Unlike the other badges in the range, which only had pictures of the monsters or characters, this was a genuine UNIT badge which would give you access to any secret installation in the world. Well, that’s what I thought at the time.
I don’t quite understand the timing of this episode. The dig happened at midnight, at the end of April. Benton and Yates arrive by helicopter in full daylight. But then, after meeting with Jo (who has probably been up all night tending to the still unconscious Doctor) they say they have to contact the Brigadier. We then see the Brigadier, still in bed, on the phone, but to someone other that Benton or Yates. Is this from earlier in the night? And he seems to be making a call to find the Doctor, rather than answering a call. So why’s he making it from his bed? I’m going to assume this scene is slightly earlier in the night. But extra points for the Brigadier in bed.
Benton is looking around the village for anything untoward when he hears a voice shouting for help. It’s Miss Hawthorne, who is in the church, inside an apparently unlocked wooden chest. But she is tied up, so I guess that sort of explains why.
They hide in the church crypt to avoid the evil verger who locked up Miss Hawthorne, and she notes that the gargoyle is missing. We saw its head moving last episode when The Master was doing his ritual, so it’s up to no good.
Hawthorne tells Benton that the vicar, Magister, is the head of a black magic cult. So now it’s channelling Dennis Wheatley.
The verger comes back, with a shotgun, but Benton has some Kung Fu moves, and a fight ensues which Benton is winning until he steps on a strange design on the floor and starts convulsing. The Verger brings them outside, and then there’s some very confusing special effects. We see them leaving the church from a high vantage point, and there’s a bright light superimposed on the picture, wind blowing everywhere. The verger stumbles, and Hawthorne helps Benton to run away. The camera zooms in on the verger, who panics and shoots his shotgun at whatever is looming at him, and he then vanishes and the bush next to him catches fire.
The light and wind even reach over the the pub where Jo and Yates are waiting in the Doctor’s room. When it finally subsides, the Doctor wakes up shouting “Eureka”.
Hawthorne and the injured Benton to the pub, and the Doctor tends to him, while hearing Miss Hawthorne’s account of what happened. She’d glimpsed a giant feature she swears was the devil himself. “20, 30 feet high, but the horns were there, and that face.”
She tells him that the leader of the satanic cult is the new vicar, Mr Magister. The crash zoom tells up that The Doctor has had a realisation, but Jo doesn’t understand, giving The Doctor another chance to patronise and belittle her. “Did you fail Latin as well as Greek?” It’s easy to see why modern Doctor Who fandom has a dislike for Pertwee’s doctor. I do cut him some slack, because he was my first Doctor.
Out of town, the Brigadier approaches the village, but a man flags him down. You can tell it’s the Brigadier because his car has a little flag on the front. The man tells him not to go any further, pointing at his crashed van.
I don’t know why people are surprised that bad things are happening, when the two villages in the vicinity are Devil’s End and Satanhall.
The Brigadier asks “Is that Devil’s End over there” pointing with his stick. It’s a good thing he has a stick, because the end of it bursts into flames. There’s some sort of heat barrier surrounding the village.
The Doctor goes back to the barrow to investigate, and the Master, discovering he’s still alive, sends someone to deal with him, It’s the missing gargoyle.
Inside the barrow, the doctor has found something which looks like a tiny model of a spaceship, but which weighs hundreds of tons. Before he can explain to Jo, they’re threatened by the gargoyle (whose name is Bok). Cue the end titles.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 27th November 1992 – 19:15
Episode Three, and the Doctor fends off Bok with a small hand trowel. It’s afraid of iron, “an old magical defence”. “But you don’t believe in magic.” says Jo. “I don’t, but he did” replies the Doctor.
The Master is holding forth to a villager. “All this talk of democracy, freedom, liberty. What this country needs is strength, power and decision.” He sounds frighteningly like Donald Trump, and it’s surprising now that it took until the 2000s before the Master realised politics was the best way into power.
UNIT have surveyed the heat barrier, learning that it’s ten miles in diameter, one mile high, and centred on the church. To explain his theories, the Doctor gives a slideshow, on a lovely old fashioned slide projector. I wonder where he got his slides from. He explains that creatures with horns have been seen throughout human history. They’re “Daemons from the planet Daemos” he says. They’ve been affecting mankind’s progress over the centuries, and now the Master has made contact with them. “What worries me is the choice. Domination by the Master, or total annihilation.” “This demon could destroy the world?” “What does any scientist do with an experiment that’s failed? He chucks it in the rubbish bin.”
Meanwhile, the Master has gathered the villagers to talk to them. Then he proceeds to tell each of them the dark secrets he knows. “And you Mr Grendel, has your wife come back from her sister’s yet? Will she ever come back do you suppose?”
“If you all do what I say, you can all of you get whatever you want in this world, when you want it.” He is Trump. But the locals aren’t all falling for his pitch, so he calls up Bok to make one of them vanish. Then they’re all listening.
After a nice chase between the Doctor and Jo in Bessie, and a villager in the UNIT helicopter, ending with a satisfying helicopter explosion, the Master summons the demon for the second time, and the programme strangely ends on a cliffhanger of the Master being threatened by the demon, which is an interesting choice.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th December 1992 – 19:15
While the Doctor tries to guide the UNIT technician through setting up his device to defeat the heat barrier, the Master is talking to the demon, telling him that he should rule. But the Demon knows the Doctor is also of the same race as The Master. “I would speak with him.”
Jo and Yates go to the crypt to find out more. Then the villagers threaten UNIT with the most hideous weapon available to them. Morris Dancing.
As the dancers are dancing towards the village green, mothers are seen taking their children indoors and closing the doors, others are closing windows. It’s clearly not meant to be a friendly dance.
They grab the Doctor, and the leader threatens him with a gun. Benton goes out to assist, but another morris man attacks him with his stick, and almost overpowers him, but Miss Hawthorne takes him out. “I hit him with my reticule.” I love this story.
She’s even got a plan to help the Doctor. The villagers have him tied up, and are going a bit Monty Python on him. “Burn the Witch” Miss Hawthorne comes out an berates them for tying up the great sorcerer Quee Qui Quod, and gets him to shatter a streetlamp with his mind. Then he makes a weathercock spin. We see that it’s Benton with a silenced pistol, but the villagers are impressed.
But the Master is busy in the crypt, summoning the demon Azal one last time, with the fate of the world in the balance, and Jo looking on, leading to a cliffhanger which traumatised me as a small child – the appearance of Azal, growing from nothing into a huge, terrifying figure
I can’t overstate how much this scared me as a child. So much so that, when I watched the next episode, the next Saturday, I knew they’d replay that scene, with Azal growing, and I was too scared to watch it again, so I stood outside my Grandma’s house, listening to it on the TV, until I could hear that the reprise of the cliffhanger had finished, then I went in to watch the rest of the episode. Well, I wasn’t so scared that I wanted to miss it.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 11th December 1992 – 19:15
In the final episode, the Master has summoned Azal, and demands he give him all the power. The Doctor’s machine draining the heat barrier energy weakens him, and the barrier, just long enough for the brigadier and his men to get through, but it overloads, leaving the Doctor with no real bargaining power. But he tries to bargain with Azal, asking him not to destroy the world. Azal says he’ll grant all his power to the Doctor, but the Doctor doesn’t want it. “My instructions are precise. I bequeath my powers, or I destroy all.”
Azal agrees to give the Master his power, and says the Doctor must be destroyed, but Jo jumps in front of him and pleads for his life. “No, he’s a good man. Kill me, not him.”
This simple act of self sacrifice is clearly a new one to Azal, who gets so confused he blows up, taking the whole church with him (luckily after everyone was able to get out). Nice miniature explosion.
Then they all celebrate the end of the demon with a jolly morris dance.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 18th December 1992 – 19:15
This is, quite deservedly, considered one of the classic stories, certainly of Pertwee’s era, and I would argue for the whole series. It’s a shameless mash-up of Nigel Kneale, Dennis Wheatley and John Wyndham that really works. The writer credit is misleading – Guy Leopold is a pseudonym standing in for Producer Barry Letts and writer Robert Sloman, who wrote the script, but Letts couldn’t take a credit for contractual reasons, hence the pseudonym. It’s possibly most beloved among fans for the classic Brigadier line, when faced with the gargoyle Bok he orders one of his men “Chap with wings. Five rounds rapid.”
After this, there’s a Red-Dwarf heavy advert for BBC Videos.
The recording ends after this.