Doctor Who – tape 1802

This tape opens with the end of Thunderbirds.

Then, we have some more Doctor Who with The Awakening. Tegan and Turlough are in the Tardis, trying to visit Tegan’s Grandfather, and they land in an English village in 1984 that’s re-enacting the civil war, rather too enthusiastically for the local teacher, played by Polly James (off of The Liver Birds).

Polly James

One of the head soldiers is played by Glyn Houston

Glyn Houston

The other main player is the local magistrate, played by Denis Lill (off of Survivors). He’s a bit more of a dick here than he was in that show.

Denis Lill

The local church is falling down, and the Doctor investigates, finding a boy from the 1600s. Something alien is definitely affecting the area.

It’s the Malus, a poorly explained evil force that’s hidden inside the church, and starts pumping out smoke at the end of the episode to give us an underwhelming cliffhanger.

The Malus

Tegan has been dressed up to be Queen of the May – that probably isn’t a good thing.

Tegan

On the plus side, her grandfather has turned up.

This is a rare two-parter and the story resolves itself quite quickly, without too much pointless running around and getting captured, which is a breath of fresh air.

Next, it’s Frontios. The Tardis has gone quite far in the future, and has found an outpost of some of the last humans, led by James Onedin himself, Peter Gilmore.

Peter Gilmore

He seems to report to Jeff Rawle

Jeff Rawle

Also on the team is Lesley Dunlop.

Lesley Dunlop

The show reuses federation helmets from Blake’s 7.

Federation helmets

There’s not a bad cliffhanger to episode one, with the destruction of the Tardis, even if it does happen off screen.

They threaten to kill The Doctor, but somehow Turlough keeps they at bay by brandishing the Tardis’ hatstand, one of the few things left after the Tardis was destroyed.

Hatstand

Tegan is helping another of the outpost with their batteries. Power is a big problem, because all their technology is slowly failing.

She finds a strange folder in his filing cabinet, adding to the mystery of the outpost.

Deaths Unaccountable

Turlough and Lesley Dunlop investigate why the people on Frontios no longer go underground.

Then Jeff Rawle, who’s been suffering from a heart problem, falls off his cot and gets sucked into the ground. It’s The Hungry Earth all over again (for the first time).

Then, underground, first Turlough, then the Doctor and Tegan find out who’s lurking there – they’re called the Tractators.

Tractators

Before episode three there’s the end of another episode of Thunderbirds.

Turlough knows all about the Tractators because they infected his planet. Their main lair actually looks quite impressive, by the standards of the show.

Tractator Lair

It’s a pity they themselves aren’t quite as impressive.

The end of episode three finds the Doctor meeting one of the Tractators’ drilling machines – complete with a living human mind controlling it. That’s why they sucked people into the ground.

Captain Revere

The Tractators’ plan is to burrow waveguides into the rock of Frontios so they can use their gravitational powers to ply the planet anywhere they want.

The Tardis is rediscovered partially fused with the rock of the planet.

Rocky Tardis

They solve the problem, once the Tardis has ben repaired by the head Tractator’s gravitational powers, by taking him to an uninhabited planet, leaving the humans and the other, harmless Tractators, to live happily ever after.

After this, recording stops (just as another programme starts which I don’t recognise (and there’s no continuity announcer).

Underneath there’s a film, Soft Beds, Hard Battles, a Peter Sellers film I’d never heard of before that looks rather strange. It features a brief appearance by Dr Who’s Nicholas Courtney too.

Nicholas Courtney

The tape ends after a few minutes of this.

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One comment

  1. Apparently Frontios was completed in a dreadful hurry, with no time for more than one take at the end of the final day’s filming. At one point Jeff Rawle staggers back and puts his foot through the set (the stagger was rehearsed, the hole in the set was not). His co-stars instinctively reached out to stop him from falling over, and everyone kept on acting. There was no time to do a retake, so it wound up in the episode. The documentary with the DVD is one of the best of the whole range, and well worth a watch.

    It’s a pity the execution was so uneven – it’s not a bad story, and could have been one of the best serials of the 1980s if it didn’t look so slapdash.

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