Friday, 14 November 2014

Saturday 14 November 1964

Tonight's Doctor Who is an odd one: the current story was recorded in four episodes, but prior to broadcast it was decided there wasn't enough going on in the last two.  So they were edited into a single instalment, meaning the equivalent of an entire episode was cut.  While the pace may have been improved, we're left with several events which are only fully explicable by reference to the excised material.  The actual footage is long lost, but the DVD of the story includes an illuminating reconstruction made up of redubbed and newly shot scenes, as well as some CGI effects that are as pointless as they are terrible.  I'll let you know where tonight's episode suffers from the loss.

We ended last week with the miniaturised Susan and the Doctor in danger of drowning as Smithers (blissfully unaware of their existence) pulled the plug out of a full sink.  Fortunately they've managed to hide in the overflow pipe.  But they're not safe yet, as the plug is put back in and the sink filled once more...

Forester's turn at the sink has been cut, as has a scene with Ian and Barbara hiding from the cat which reappears from the last episode.   The next thing we see is Ian and Barbara swinging down into the sink to see what's become of their friends (Barbara's increasingly unsteady after her exposure to DN6 last week).

The Doctor and Susan, alive and well, crawl out of the plughole to greet them.  Dudley Simpson's glockenspiel-heavy score is here so loud it drowns out the characters' dialogue.

Forester's made the necessary changes to Farrow's report and phones through to Whitehall pretending to be the late man from the ministry (He disguises his voice via the ingenious method of putting a handkerchief over the speaker.

This might be enough to fool simple-minded civil servants, but busybody local telephone operator Hilda Rowse (Rosemary Johnson) can tell at once he's not Mr Farrow.  The bad news for Forester is that Hilda's husband Bert (Fred Ferris) is the local police constable.  The good news is that he's not terribly competent.

A long scene with the time travellers discussing the deadly insecticide and arguing about whether to do anything to prevent it originally followed here.  In a way it's removal's a good thing as it was pretty tedious - without it, however, our heroes' sudden determination to intervene rather than head straight back to the TARDIS seems a bit mystifying.  In the broadcast version we cut straight to Ian and Susan finding Smithers' notebook, with the DN6 formula handily displayed for all to see.  "We might even find a cure!" enthuses Barbara.  As she's still keeping her condition to herself nobody knows what she's wittering on about.  At their present size they can't read the formula, so the Doctor suggests they each pick a bit of it and build up a map of the gigantic piece of paper.  The actual doing of this is cut from the broadcast version, and we go straight to the Doctor recoiling in horror at the result: "The inventor has made this insecticide everlasting!" It could have devastating effects on all animal life.

The others become increasingly aware of Barbara's distress, but she still won't discuss the reason for it, making out she's simply hungry.

The Doctor spots a telephone, and decides they should try to let the outside world know about the problem pesticide.  So they head off in the direction of the gargantuan device.

Susan and Ian climb the mountain of flex to the receiver, and the whole gang combine their strength to lift it (even weak-as-a-kitten Barbara has a go).  Propping it up with corks they all shout into it together.  After all that it proves useless: Hilda can't hear them and her voice is just an indistinguishable bellow to them.

The loud noises coming from the receiver cause Barbara to collapse.  The Doctor realises her hanky's covered in insecticide she wiped from her hand.  The poor woman comes round to a scolding from the old man.  Happily, he thinks he knows how to cure her: "Her protective cells are too small to cope with the molecules of poison in her bloodstream" - so the only thing for it is to get her back to normal size, making the dose of poison 70 times weaker.

Ian asks the Doctor to confirm he can get them back to normal size.  His answer doesn't inspire confidence: "Oh yes, of course I can, dear boy.  Yes, of course I can.  I hope."  Barbara, however, is determined that the need for the world to be notified of the danger of DN6 is more important than her survival.

Forester, trying to make a phone call, has been alerted to the phone in the lab being off the hook.  He's understandably puzzled to find it propped up by corks.  Smithers, meanwhile, is alerted to the smell of DN6 [in the unedited version it's clearer what he's smelling: the cat, who's died after coming into contact with the deadly spray].

The travellers may not have got the message through as they'd hoped, but nonetheless Hilda is very puzzled by the strange goings-on at Smithers' cottage, and calls up especially pretending to have a call for Farrow.  Forester does his hanky trick again and Bert listens in, agreeing that it's not Farrow and heading off to investigate (Fred Ferris's helmet appears to be too small: he can't get the strap past his nose).

The Doctor's decided the best course of action to alert people to what's happening at the cottage is to start a fire, which the adventurers achieve by switching on a gas tap then taking a run at a matchbox with a match.  There's a can of insecticide nearby which will make a convenient explosion, though the Doctor warns his companions to steer clear as to them it'll have the effect of a thousand pound bomb.  "It'll be just like the air raid, Grandfather, do you remember?" asks Susan, as she and her grandfather reminisce over a visit to World War Two.

Smithers has discovered to his horror that DN6 has killed every living thing in his garden.  He warns Forester, but the businessman simply points a gun at him.  Happily he's then blinded by the exploding DN6.

Bert Rowse arrives on the scene, and will no doubt find out what's going on, but the focus now is on our inch-high private eyes and their return to normal size.

The return trip to the TARDIS did not survive the editor's shears, instead we're back in the ship just as the Doctor prepares to set everything right.  He's brought a giant grain of wheat with him to confirm their change in size, and as the ship grows it slowly dwindles to the size you'd expect a grain of wheat to be.

Suddenly Barbara feels much better, but the Doctor's peeved that the scanner's broken again [he fixed it before they took off, but that was cut], and he can't see where they've landed...

The opening sketch of this week's Arthur Haynes Show sees the show's regulars (including Nicholas Parsons, back after his week's sabbatical) as factory workers clocking off: Arthur makes the clock pay out like a fruit machine.

Next, Arthur and Dermot are bin men whose assault on the knocker of 10 Downing Street draws the attention of Constable Nicholas Parsons.  His insistence that they desist draws a typically belligerent response: "That house belongs to the country, mate.  He's only in there cos it goes with the job."  As there's now a "working class" government in power, Arthur suggests that for all Parsons knows he and Dermot could be members of the cabinet.

The real cabinet choose that moment to arrive: "And did you notice, not one of them was wearing a flat cap," Arthur huffs.  Fellow bin man Leslie Noyes arrives from round the back with the PM's rubbish.  It's full of empty wine bottles, which Arthur examines with disgust: "German Hock... French Chablis... Italian Chianti... There's not one bottle of British wine been drunk in there!" So they refuse to take any of them, pleading import duties.

If you've ever wondered what people did on trains before the advent of laptops, Parsons can be seen clacking away at a portable typewriter, much to the irritation of fellow passenger Arthur.  In response to learner typist Parsons' insistence that "people can practice on trains if they want to", Arthur whips out his trumpet.

Which seamlessly moves us on to tonight's musical guest, the late Mr Acker Bilk (late in 2014, rather than 1964, I should clarify), who gets an unprecedentedly lengthy slot that takes up a third of the episode's running time.  Near the beginning there's a curious effect that makes it look like Bilk and his colleagues are taking their turn at being trapped in the space-time vortex.

The final sketch sees Arthur and Dermot, and respective wives Patricia Hayes and Rita Webb, lowering the tone on the Cote d'Azur.  "It's much more posh than it is at Southend, grumbles Patricia, but Rita's mind is elsewhere: "Cor, look at them men!"

The men are similarly taken with the local talent: "You know something, Dermot? My missus never looked like this."

It's this kind of insensitivity from the blokes that eventually leads to Rita bursting into tears: "We'd just as well have stayed in Southend and get wet without her splashing her tears all over the place," grumbles Arthur."  But she's quite happy once she's got a lollipop in her hand.

Arthur orders some beers from a nearby waiter: "Beer!" "Oui, oui" "No, just beer!" as well as egg and chips all round: "Understandy eggy?!" Of course the waiter turns out to actually be English.

We conclude with an excited Rita changing into her swimming cossie to take a dip, her leap into the water rendering the menfolk drenched.

Next, Redcap.  Tonight's episode of the globetrotting military thriller series is set in Cyprus, where Sergeant John Mann is competing for the attention of the ridiculously busy Colonel Morris (John Ringham).

The titular Corporal has disappeared along with three British army rifles, and Mann is in town to find him.  McCann, it emerges, had a lucrative sideline in nudie photos, and the Colonel speculates that he might have been killed by a local angry that the Corporal was using his daughter as a model.  McCann's room is entirely decorated with his work, and his bed is covered in blood.  He hasn't taken his toothbrush or razor.

Mann's investigation is interrupted by the arrival of Intelligence man Lovelock (Jerome Willis) and his sidekick Jenkins (Arthur White).  Lovelock's treating McCann's disappearance with the guns as a political matter ("A sparrow can't tweet on this island without someone, somehow, somewhere making political capital out of it) and doesn't take kindly to Mann's involvement.

Unbeknownst to Lovelock, Mann has copied down the address of a woman named Ariane, which he found in the room.  He goes to visit, but is obstructed by a gun-wielding youth (Kurt Christian - full title Baron Kurt Christian von Siegenberg) who he nonetheless makes short work of, dumping him in a cupboard.

Ariane (Maria Andipa, nowadays owner of a gallery in Knightsbridge) also has a gun ready for anyone who tries to get in her door, but Mann climbs up via the balcony and takes her from behind.

Ariane claims that a local villain named Orestes and his gang assaulted McCann while he was photographing her, then ran away, leaving the wounded Corporal behind.  She claims they stole McCann's gun because they wanted to kill someone and make it look like a British officer was responsible.

UN duty officer Colonel Mahadi (Lloyd Reckord) tells Mann that this is exactly what he was afraid of - there's clearly a major diplomatic incident brewing.  He mentions to Mann that there was a fight the previous evening between Northern and Southern Irish soldiers, and as McCann's an Ulsterman, Mann wonders if he might have been involved.

Mann meets with seedy local police Inspector Gregoriou (Warren Mitchell), who admits that McCann was one of the three men arrested.  His possessions were returned to him on his release, but he left some photos behind which Gregoriou is very much enjoying.

Windsor Davies plays a Quartermaster Sergeant, who gave McCann a gun in error, not realising he was already in possession of one: "He was a nice chap," he says of the Corporal.  "Mind you, he was nutty about women's chests."  He's got one of McCann's photos.  "Can I keep it?" asks Mann.  "Aye, but bring it back.  Don't bend it, like."

Lovelock tells Colonel Morris that McCann was mixed up with a Greek far right organisation who want to incriminate the British in an assassination.  Mann shares his reconstruction of the night of McCann's vanishment: He had his first gun taken while photographing Ariane, lost the second in the fight that caused the bloodstains on his bed, then stole a third while the Quartermaster was distracted.

The Colonel gives Mann till morning to find McCann: if he doesn't succeed the Corporal will be reported to the Greek government for gun-running.  Mann and Lovelock visit the last place Orestes was known to reside, but instead, in an extremely grim scene, discover two dead bodies, crawling with flies.  And a note: "So Die All Traitors" (given the content of tonight's Doctor Who it seems appropriate that the flies are summarily dispatched with DDT).

But there are three chairs, and Mann speculates that there was a third victim, who's since been removed.  He's right - a girl (Barbara Bennall) was shot too, but has been removed to the home of her parents (Dallas Cavell and Mercia Mansfield) by Corporal McCann (Ian McNaughton).  The girl dies, and her father entreats the wounded McCann to help avenge her death - but McCann's only interested in getting the guns back.

As Colonel Morris helpfully sums up for any viewers who've got a bit lost: "So McCann and his Communists are out looking for Orestes and his Anarchists, who are going to assassinate the devil knows who with a British gun!" It turns out that the aim is to kill as many UN operatives as possible, and the whole thing ends with a lot of fisticuffs.  In the end McCann's charged with going AWOL but everything else is dropped.

That was all a bit too breakneck.  I'm craving Emergency Ward 10 and its rows about shift patterns now.

No comments:

Post a Comment