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Doctor Who: Delta And The Bannermen by Malcolm Kohill (DVD review).

April 8, 2021 | By | Reply More

‘Delta And The Bannermen’ is literally a roller-coaster plot with everything in three and later four different places at once before combining in a 1950s holiday camp. Garvok (actor Don Henderson) and his Bannermen have nearly committed genocide against the Chimerons, with only its queen, Delta (actress Belinda Mayne) escaping with a package.

Elsewhere, the Doctor (actor Sylvester McCoy) and Mel (actress Bonnie Langford) have arrived at what appears to be a spaceport and informed by the Tollmaster (actor Ken Dodd) that as the 10 billionth visitors they get a free holiday to 1959 Disneyland rather than pay a toll fee that they haven’t got the money to pay. The Doctor is a bit suspicious, remembering this tourist firm’s reputation and let’s Mel go on the bus but he will follow in the TARDIS. Delta arrives at the station and is the last passenger on the interstellar bus.

In 1959, in South Wales, two Americans, Weismuller (actor Stubby Kaye) and Hawk (actor Morgan Deare), have been tasked to watch an American satellite in orbit and then crash-landed prematurely.

That was caused by the interstellar bus colliding with the satellite in Earth orbit and the Doctor has to rescue them. However, instead of going to Disneyland, they crash-land at the holiday camp Shangri-La in South Wales ran by Burton (actor Richard Davies) who think they are another group he’s expecting. It will take the Doctor 24 hours to re-grow a power crystal for the bus so the passengers will stay there overnight.

Mel slowly befriends Delta, who in turn has made a friend of Billy (actor David Kinder) and, late night, he takes the birth of a new Chimeron princess better than her.

Elsewhere in the camp, the Doctor and Ray (actress Sara Griffiths), Billy’s maybe-girlfriend, discover Keillor (actor Brian Hibbert, whom you might recognise as belonging the The Flying Pickets band at the time) sending a message to Gavrok before being held by gunpoint by him. They escape simply because Gavrok would rather kill than pay a finder’s fee. This allows the Doctor time to convince Burton to evacuate his workers and for the bus passengers to flee. Except Gavrok and his Bannermen arrive and destroys the bus and hold Mel and Burton as bait to get Delta, whom the Doctor and Ray have been trying to locate as Billy has taken Delta and the baby to see one of the beauty spots in the area.

Ray finds the two Americans locked with a joint neck-tie when Gavrok orders the two Bannermen to locate where Delta has gone. The Doctor successfully rescues Mel and Burton, not knowing that they are going to be tracked. Gavrok also puts a cone of silence on the TARDIS that will incinerate anyone touching its surface. The Doctor joins the rest of them at the house of beekeeper Garonwy (actor Hugh Lloyd) as he needs some honey and beeswax to lay a trap at the new princess continues to grow. For how that works out, you’ll have to watch for yourself.

With all the outside filming and running…er…motorcycling around, it has an almost pantomime effect and yet it works. You do get caught up in the action which is going to make the audio commentary about it all the more interesting.

The audio commentary is between actors Sylvester McCoy and Sara Griffiths, script editor Andrew Cartmel and direction Chris Clough and how much of a delight it was filming in South Wales, missing teeth and celebrity cast. Interestingly, this was Griffiths second acting job and, despite her name, she isn’t welsh and had a week’s lessons in driving a Vesper motorcycle before her episodes. In the ‘Dragonfire’ audio commentary, actress Lynn Gardner had been previously chosen for the role but broke her leg and Griffiths was brought in at short notice. Clough explains how producer John Nathan-Turner by cutting stories to 3 episodes instead of six episodes gave them a bigger budget and an extra story a season. I did wonder and nice to see if confirmed here that Ray and Ace were being considered as companions as their stories were recorded. Griffiths says Ace was the better choice. McCoy makes a powerful comment that the roof of the TARDIS was very heavy and potentially lethal if it had fallen in when they stepped inside at that time.

Whatever happened to the light on top of the TARDIS? Even the Doctor thinks it’s there but it clearly isn’t. No one also seems to note that the bus driver’s real form backview/frontview? looks like a Zygon neither come to that. There is no comment that the green Chimerons look awfully like the tiny green plastic soldiers you could buy when young.

The first two extras, the 6 minute ‘But First This’ and the 2 minute ‘Wales Today’ – although actually 1987, are interviews on location with the cast. Both Sylvester McCoy and Ken Dodd admit to being SF fans. The third called ‘Interview Rushes’ made 16 minutes with extended interviews with Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford and Ken Dodd and were quite depthy.

The unedited version 30½ minutes of the first episode does give some insight in what 8 minutes had to be cut out. Oddly, some of the scenes omitted would have seen the development between Mel and Delta make a lot more sense. There were fewer sound effects and, in the dance hall, the music a lot quieter although that was probably to ensure the dialogue could be balanced later. There was a lot more detail about the bus changed from a spacecraft and we get to see a couple quips Ken Dodd made to the passengers as they boarded. Oh, Delta declares what species she belongs to. I could go on but I suspect it would make a great game to play with your friends working out the edits.

‘Hugh And Us’ paraphrases his 87 episode successful sit-com ‘Hugh And I’ and Hugh Lloyd (1923-2008) reveals Sophia Loren was a fan while filming over here. He goes over his own history as an actor and thinks his character Garonwy had some Time Lord elements. I pondered that in the story with the casual giveaways to the Doctor things he needed and letting events run its course.

‘Clown Court’, running at 6 minutes, has Sylvester McCoy in court about how he fluffs his lines and we see all of them from ‘Delta And The Bannerman’ and one with Sophie Aldred. Even this skit isn’t immune from this and we see them here as well.

‘Stripped For Action’ at 21 minutes is about the seventh Doctor’s life as a comicstrip in ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ and for one more juvenile story, ‘Hulk Comic’, from 1987-1996 with a few backtracks to earlier Doctors as the TV series was effectively dead. There is a lot of commentary from the various creators involved.

Finally, the ‘Photo Gallery’ runs at 8 minutes with colour and black and white stills. I did wonder about the latter but figured this was to match the 1950s.

Quite a bulky lot of extras this time around but with three episodes a story more space to fill.

GF Willmetts

April 2021

(pub: BBC, 2002. 1 DVD 3 * 25 minute episodes and extras. Price: I pulled my copy for £ 6.99 (UK). ASIN: BBCDVD2599)

cast: Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford, Don Henderson, Belinda Mayne, Ken Dodd, Stubby Kaye, Morgan Deare, Richard Davies, David Kinder, Sara Griffiths, Brian Hibbert and Hugh Lloyd

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Category: Doctor Who, TV

About the Author ()

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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