OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 278
STORY NUMBER: 054
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 20 June 1970
WRITER: Don Houghton
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield (and Barry Letts - Uncredited)
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
RATINGS: 5.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Inferno Special Edition
EPISODE FORMAT: 525 video RSC
"Stop this drilling and start filling up that shaft!"
The Doctor is found lying in a coma on the floor of his hut. As Liz treats him members of staff at the site are becoming increasingly concerned to the safety of the drilling. The Doctor wakes and attempts to explain to Liz & The Brigadier what has happened.
LIZ: Doctor, where did you go? Where did the Tardis console take you?Sir Keith Gold, his arm in a sling arrives, and together they try unsuccessfully to convince Stahlman to stop drilling. The Doctor tries to damage the drilling apparatus but Stahlman has the Brigadier arrest him. The Doctor escapes and confronts the Primord Bromley.
DOCTOR: Same time, same place, only a different dimension. It was a parallel world, Liz. Terrible things are happening there. Terrible things. It wasn't this Earth, and yet it was. I didn't go backwards into the past, or forwards into the future. I slipped sideways.
He returns to the control room to find that Stahlman has sealed himself in the drillhead and inside Stahlman completes his transformation into a Primord.
The Doctor tries to convince everyone to shut the drilling down but nobody will take responsibility for doing so. When the Primord Stahlman emerges the Doctor & Sutton restrain him with fire extinguishers as Petra begins the shut down procedure. Realising that the drill will keep going for a while yet the Doctor overrides the safety procedures and shuts it down with seconds to spare before penetration. The shaft is ordered to be filled. Later Sir Keith comes to bid farewell to the Doctor. Petra Williams and Greg Sutton have already left - together. The Doctor then bids farewell to Liz and dismisses the Brigadier with a few curt remarks as he dematerialises the now working Tardis console. However it rematerialises just a few yards away on the rubbish dump and the Doctor is forced to contritely ask the Brigadier for help retrieving it as Liz watches them leave together.
DOCTOR: Er, Brigadier, my dear fellow, I wonder whether I could borrow a couple of your stalwart chaps to give me a hand in bringing the Tardis back? It's landed in rather an inaccessible position.
BRIGADIER: Pompous, self-opinionated idiot, I believe you said, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Yes, well we don't want to bear a grudge for a few hasty words, do we? No, not after all the years that we've worked together. Now come long, my dear fellow, put on a smile. Just remember .....
This episode is driven by you knowing what will happen if the Doctor fails: you've seen it during the last few episodes and were reminded in the reprise as the lava approaches the door. But for the start of the episode he's unconscious: Will the Doctor recover in time? And when he does will people heed his warnings? Disaster is of course averted with moments to spare. In many ways this episode is just a coda to the Alternate Universe episodes: having gained knowledge there the Doctor must use it here. It needs the previous episodes to back it up which is why it didn't really work when it was released in The Pertwee Years VHS along with The Dæmons part 5 and Frontier in Space 6 in March 1992. It was chosen because I suspect they knew they had a good story and went for the final episode to give it closure. (in many ways Frontier 6 is also an odd choice: That's there because Pertwee thought the Draconians were his favourite monster. They're hardly in 6, 5 would have been a much better choice showing the Emperor's court). I very much suspect though that any other episode of the story seen in complete isolation would have suffered (but if pushed I might have gone for episode 3) Inferno really is a whole tale spread over the seven episodes. It's the longest Doctor Who story I'm happy sitting down to watch completely and can, given the time, watch all seven episodes on the bounce.
At this point in my writing of the original Episode A Day blog I needed to reduce the lead my writing has over publication so I can watch a certain story due out in a short while on DVD. I intended to spread Inferno out over a good few days. I ended up watching it in a day and a half, I just wanted to keep coming back for more.
I said at the top of the story it was one of my favourites and I stand by that view now. Even despite some monsters that, while adequate, aren't quite from the top drawer and some not wonderfully inspiring cliff hangers it is brilliant stuff unlike any other Doctor Who story. Buy a copy on DVD NOW!
A quick bit of familiar face spotting from this last episode: The pair of UNIT Soldiers escorting, and then immobilised by, The Doctor are regular Havoc stuntmen Derek Martin and Terry Walsh, who were also UNIT soldiers in episode 2.
The UNIT Soldiers in the studio this episode are Alan Chuntz, who was a UNIT Soldier on location in episode 2 as well as various other roles in the story, and Ian Elliot, making his Doctor Who debut. He returns as a Daffodil Man in Inferno, a UNIT Soldier in Mind of Evil, a Colonist in Colony in Space, a Villagers (inc Mr Greville) in The Dæmons, a Guard Warrior in The Mutants, a Stuntmen/UNIT Trooper in The Time Monster, one of the Army Patrol with Norton & a UNIT Soldier in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, a Villager in Planet of Spiders, an Android Villager in the Android Invasion, a Guard in Seeds of Doom and a Haemovore in Curse of Fenric. In Doomwatch he's an Ambulance Driver in Tomorrow, the Rat, a Man in You Killed Toby Wren, a Man in No Room for Error, a Man in Flight Into Yesterday, a Manservant in High Mountain and a Man in Flood.
It might be the final episode of the story but there's still some new technicians:
Sue Patterson is making her only Doctor Who appearance and I can't find her on IMDB.
In addition the following have, up till now, only played a technician in the Alternate Universe: Cy Town in episodes 3-4, Barry Ashton in episodes 3-5, and Judith Pollard & Steve Tierney, both episode 5 only.
These were Technicians in our universe in earlier episodes and technicians in the Alternate Universe. From episodes 1-4 we have: Sheila Knight, Patricia Matthews, Joan Harsant, Alan Clements, Keith Norrish, Richard Lawrence, Derek Hunt, Norton Clark & Keith Ashley From episode 3 we have Marcelle Elliott & Colin James. And finally, from episodes 1-4 but not appearing in the Alternate Universe we have Robert Birmingham & Corinne Skinner, who are both black actors. Their absence in the Alternate Universe is a sobering reflection on the regime there.
So which Technician is in which episode in which Universe? In order to squeeze the information into the space available I've adopted the terminology used during the production, which I'm not that fond of! The Real Universe is referred to as Warp 1, the Alternate Universe as Warp II.
This episode marks the departure of Caroline John from the series, without a proper leaving scene! She just disappears between series. Some have argued it makes more sense if you watch Inferno before Ambassadors of Death because at the end of that story she stays behind to help at the space research centre. Her departure was instigated by Barry Letts, who felt the character didn't work, but has been very keen to stress that he liked Caroline John as an actress and indeed later cast her in the classic serial production of Sherlock Holmes' Hound of the Baskervilles opposite Tom Baker.
The end of this serial also sees Douglas Camfield take another absence from the program. His imdb entry seems to indicate he did little work for the rest of 1970 but was working again in early 1971 and pretty constantly after that. We've already seen that he didn't get on with Pertwee and wouldn't return to the program till after he left but there's also stories of his wife, Sheila Dunn (who makes her last Doctor Who appearance in this episode) forbidding him to do any more due to the stress it caused him.
This is also the last seven part Doctor Who story. Seven parts was the longest format the show attempted regularly: The Daleks & Marco Polo in it's first season, Evil of the Daleks in it's Fourth then Silurians, Ambassadors of Death & Inferno in it's Seventh. From here on in it's mainly four and six parters with a few notable exceptions. This season used three seven parters partly to fill an odd number of episodes but also as a budgetary matter: The same sets stretched over a seven parter cost less money. This story uses the same five sets in nearly every episode: Control room, drill head, Brigadier's office, Reactor Room and Doctor's Warehouse. However the success of this season, reaping higher viewing figures in the winter months before tailing off slightly in the summer, insured the show's survival and gave the production team a budget increase that allowed them to do more stories in the next season which had the same number of episodes.
Having reached the end of Season Seven there an interesting observation: This is the first season since the first not to feature a returning Monster. We've seen no Daleks, Cybermen, Yeti or Ice Warriors. In fact we've not seen the inside of the Tardis either or even the exterior since the first story. The only elements used in this series from previous stories are The Doctor, Brigadier, Sergeant Benton, UNIT and the Tardis console, albeit outside of it's usual location. Recurring elements become more common, and indeed we'll get one of this season's monsters returning in the first story next year. It's not until Season 13 that we get another whole season with no recurring monsters (though UNIT appear) a trick repeated several time subsequently. For all Tom Baker's fame as the Doctor and his association with the role in the public mind he only faces a familiar alien foe on five occasions and three of those are in his first season!
In addition to the final episode of Inferno showing up on the Pertwee years, the whole story was released on video in 1994 including an extended cut of episode 5 with a scene not present on the UK broadcast copy. The story was originally released on DVD on 19 th June 2006 and a Special Edition DVD with improved picture quality and additional special features was released on 27th May 2013.
When I started buying the Doctor Who books four Pertwee stories remained unnovelised: Ambassadors of Death, Mind of Evil, Time Monster & this one. Inferno was the first of them to print getting published in 1984 four years after the previous Pertwee tale, Monster of Peladon, had appeared.