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Doctor Who: Colony In Space by Malcolm Hulke (dvd review).

Jo Grant (actress Katy Manning) has a hard time believing that all the tinkering the Doctor (actor Jon Pertwee) is doing has any real meaning, until she is finally allowed to see inside the TARDIS. Unknown to the Doctor, the Time Lords have need of him as the Master (actor Roger Delgado) had stolen the plans for a doomsday device and so they shift the TARDIS to the planet Uxarieus.


The Doctor and Jo discover that the colonists there have problems with failed crops and their survival as they live amongst the primitive inhabitants and the sudden appearance of giant lizards. Added to this is the arrival of a spaceship from the Interplanetary Mining Company, whom some members of which are going to ride roughshod to evict the colonists by any means necessary, especially as the planet is rich in ore that is useful for making spaceships from. Things aren’t helped when the company decides that the Doctor is a troublemaker and needs to be removed as well.

Of course, they don’t succeed in doing that and in the meantime, the IMC spaceship lands next to the colonisers’ main dome, alledging they just arrived, and coloniser leader Robert Ashe (actor John Ringham) convinces IMC Captain Dent (actor Morris Perry) to call in an adjudicator to make a judgement on who has the rights to the planet. While they wait, Jo and Winton (actor Nicholas Pennell) enter the spaceship looking for evidence of IMC duplicity and get captured. Left in the ruins tied to a bomb, Dent tells the returned Doctor to keep quiet about telling things to the adjudicator or they bomb with kill them. Jo and Winton succeed in breaking free but only the latter can escape and although pursued, is helped by the IMC mine surveyor Caldwell (actor Bernard Kay), who objects to the way Dent does his work. Winton returns and prepares the colonisers to attack the IMC spaceship. The Doctor finding he can’t stop them, at least helps them so they don’t have a bloodbath. After their capture, he and Dent discover that the guard keeping an eye on Jo isn’t responding and when the Doctor investigates, discovers the natives have killed the guard and kidnapped his companion.

While the Doctor is off rescuing Jo from the forbidden city, the adjudicator arrives and after a hearing, sides with the IMC. Succeeding in rescuing Jo and realising that the forbidden city once belonged to an advanced civilisation, they arrive back and discover the adjudicator is the Master (actor Roger Delgado) who, unlike the Doctor, has the right paperwork, albeit deceitly forged. They can only wonder what he’s up to.

The Master decides in favour of the IMC and later Winton leads a further revolt and the Interplanetary Mining spaceship, with a weaponless crew, is forced off-planet. Dent discovers that the adjudicator is a fake and they return and regain their status, forcing the colonisers to get ready to leave in their rocket which is likely to explode on take-off.

While all this is going on, the Doctor and Jo get inside the Master’s TARDIS to discover what he is up to but inadvertently get captured by his defence precautions. The Doctor is forced to help the Master to get into the forbidden city while Jo is kept captive. The discovery that the ancient race had built a doomsday weapon that can destroy any star and the Master wants to rule the galaxy with it and offers the Doctor half and…well, now’s the time to get your own copy.

Keep an eye out for actress Helen Worth who went on to be in the soap ‘Coronation Street’, actor Ray Skelton who plays Norton as he is normally voiced one of the Daleks, not to mention actor Pat Gorman in multiple parts this time.

The audio commentary features a 2012 musical chairs of actors Katy Manning, Bernard Kay, Morris Perry, director Michael Briant, script editor Terrance Dicks and the then assistant floor manager Graeme Harper with only a light moderation by Tony Hadoke and a reminder that they’d all watched an advance DVD so better prepared. As such, this ended up being mostly a party discussion, allowing not only personal recounts but talk between them as to things they missed. Key points are things like Katy Manning having a change of pullover in the first episode and wishing she had Helen Worth’s hair. Then Michael Briant complaining about the damage made to the TARDIS on location caused by Graeme Harper, who didn’t have the budget for a paint job.

Morris Perry has a surprisingly dry wit and gave some rare insight into underplaying an evil character makes them all the more sinister. There is much discussion on how a musical cue can enhance an otherwise potentially dull scene. Graeme Harper also points out the difference in directing in the 70s to the current time. The most significant thing being now is that also there is no rehearsals, the actors have to act with less interference in their interpretation. Casting now is done by the producers than the director.

There’s a twenty-five minute extra, ‘IMC Needs You!’, about the making of this story. The most surprising thing for me here was director Michael Briant explaining that the TARDIS sudden appearance and disappearances were because he had forgotten about the slow fade out. So much for us all thinking it was the Time Lords using a finer control although I think it makes for a better distinction in continuity. The planet Uxarieus’ exteriors were filmed at the kaolin clay pits down Cornwall. I saw them myself back in the 1960s, although not as close as they obviously did but they must have missed the kaolin hills which are beautiful at a distance.

‘From The Cutting Room Floor’ obviously covers scenes that didn’t make the final cut but also how stunts were performed. The icing on the cake is seeing the stunt rockets being filmed. They bring a whole new dimension to lighting the blue touch paper.

This is a superb DVD, covering so many bases and some great chuckles with the audio commentary and you’ll be grateful for the porto-loos of today.

GF Willmetts

(region 2 DVD: pub: BBC BBCDVD338. 1 DVDs 146 minutes 6 * 25 minute episodes with extras. Price: about £ 8.00 (UK) if you know where to look)
cast: Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning, Roger Delgado, Bernard Kay, John Ringham, Morris Perry, Tony Caulter and David Webb

check out website: www.bbcshop.com


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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