Doctor Who – tape 2732

Sticking with the turn of the century for a while, with these tapes, and it’s over to UK Gold, where the tape opens with the end of an episode of Blake’s 7.

I’m assuming that, at this stage, UK Gold (and UKTV is general) was still somewhat controlled by the BBC, because the channel branding was very much in line with the BBC branding of the time. They might even have used the same typeface for logos and captions. This was around the same time that the BBC changed their logo from the slanted BBC to the blocks version of the logo. Maybe they were all being advised by the same graphics designer?

The tape has some classic 1960s SF action with Doctor WhoPlanet of Giants.

I’m a very poor Doctor Who fan. I can’t name all the episodes, I’ve never done a chronological rewatch, and aside from the pilot, and possible The Daleks, I’ve never really taken to William Hartnell’s era.

The Tardis doors open before the Tardis has properly materialised. I did worry that having William Russell and Jacqueline Hill barging the doors of the set might actually break them. I don’t think my disbelief is properly suspended.

Given the title of this story, do you think this shot was supposed to look like an actual miniature? Is it actually much cleverer than I’m assuming. In fact, later, there’s a pull back to reveal that the Tardis is actually nestled among paving slabs in a suburban garden.

The Doctor discovers a giant worm.

Susan and Ian discover an ant. It’s dead, so it doesn’t have to be puppeteered.

They also find a dead bee.

Meanwhile in the giant garden, two men are talking about a new pesticide. One of them wants to go into production, the other, a scientist, says it’s not safe. So the other bloke shoots him.

Some of the miniaturised effects are fairly simple. This effect, with the actors on a black set, and the top half of the picture soft matted with a still photo, is used several times.

I’m really enjoying all the oversized sets. Here’s some giant peanuts. Or probably seeds.

And a giant fly. So frightening that Barbara faints. Ian doesn’t think this is unusual, and when, as the story continues, Barbara is showing more and more signs of tiredness and weakness, and the others keep ignoring her. This is despite them all knowing that there’s a dangerous insecticide all over the place, because they’ve found all the dead insects.

I’m loving the telephone operator who’s rumbled the evil people in the cottage. They’re pretending to be the guy who was shot, and she’s recognised their voice. There’s a whole series in this.

They have a plan to light a match, ignite a gas tap and explode an aerosol can. This is like a Michael Bay film.

This was actually a lot of fun. And a strangely structured story, too, where the regular crew never actually meet any of the other characters, but manage to avert an ecological disaster.

After this, there’s the start of an episode of Goldmaster, a UK Gold quiz show presented by Mike Read. This one is a Star Trek special, but only one of the contestants comes in uniform. He’s called John and he’s a big Red Dwarf fan.

Sadly, there’s only a few minutes of this, although the questions in the first round are punishingly hard – this was definitely a quiz for the true experts.

The tape ends during the first round.

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7 comments

  1. Planet of Giants is somewhat under-rated. I love the bit where Barbara carelessly handles the deadly peanut and then realises from what Ian’s telling her that she’s “made a bit of a faux pas”.

    Also amusing that the bad guy turns up in Who Framed Roger Rabbit more than 20 years later!

  2. The only comment about this is my memory of a “Doctor Who” fan writing in “Starburst” when its TV critic was a firm champion of “Land Of The Giants,” over “Quantum Leap” and the letter-writer was convinced Irwin Allen had ripped off “Planet of Giants.”

  3. I must admit I find Hartnell’s stories a bit boring, I know, heresy, but I haven’t seen all of them so maybe I should check out more. Troughton’s my favourite black and white Doctor.

    1. I know what you mean. Revisionism makes a great play of this darker, more mysterious Doctor who could be quite frightening – and it’s understandable that anyone who grew up with him as ‘their Doctor’ would feel this way. But the reality is little more than a belligerent grandfather figure who fluffs his lines an awful lot and plots that move at a snail’s pace. I enjoyed how they tried to put some of this more sinisterly enigmatic Hartnell touches into Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, but he was saddled with some appalling scripts after – on the whole – an admittedly impressive first season. Troughton on the other hand remains one of my favourite Doctors, jostling for the top spot between Tom Baker and, my own Doctor, Sylvester McCoy.

      1. Yes, Troughton seems to be the template that most Doctor Who stars adopt, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m in the minority in thinking that Capaldi really settled into the role in his final series, and that’s my favourite of his tenure. All credit to Hartnell, though, if he hadn’t clicked with the 1960s viewers we’d have forgotten the show decades ago.

      2. I think Capaldi was great in the role, but the majority of his first season served him better storyline wise. The only stuff I hated about that season was the stupid Missy arc which culminated in the most irritating and offensive two-part finale I’ve ever had the misfortune to witness. Moffat gets a lot of flak for his Who tenure, and quite rightly so in my opinion, but I have to say that he gave us two of the rebooted series highlights in both Matt Smith and Capaldi’s first seasons. Just a shame he only ever delivered inanely written, convoluted plotlines that had characters who served the plot, rather than plots that served the characters.

  4. The BBC had definitely become the major stakeholder in UK Gold at that point, introducing sister channels with the UK brand too. The major difference around this time was the increasingly obvious lack of ITV programmes that had previously been a mainstay of the channel. Asides from The Bill, almost everything from commercial TV had fallen by the wayside, whilst the BBC began pushing more recent stuff they had produced and dropping ‘niche interest’ programmes like old game shows or virtually forgotten, one-series sitcoms like Mornin’ Sarge. But yeah, the graphics at this point were all rather dull in comparison to the previous gold bar idents and they’d rid the channel of continuity announcers like Glen Allen whose scripts actually suggested he’d watched the programmes or at the very least read a synopsis, making each intro special to whatever episode to show you were about to view. By this stage, you just had the same bland off-screen patter intro’ing each ep, for example ‘gambling with more than just his money now, Ray Brooks stars in Big Deal’

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