Friday, 17 October 2014

042 The Reign of Terror Episode 6: Prisoners of Conciergerie

EPISODE: The Reign of Terror Episode 6: Prisoners of Conciergerie
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 12 September 1964
WRITER: Dennis Spooner
DIRECTOR: Henric Hirsch
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 6.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror

"The events will happen, just as they are written. I'm afraid so and we can't stem the tide. But at least we can stop being carried away with the flood!"

LeMaitre tells Jules & the Tardis travellers that he arranged Ian's release: he is James Stirling. He promises no harm will come to Susan but wants their assistance. Ian passes the message from Webster on to him and tells him to return to England. Robespierre has ordered Lemaitre/Stirling to follow a Paul Barras: Ian recognises the name: Webster had mentioned the name in conjunction with a meeting at the Sinking Ship, which is an Inn on the Calais road. Ian & Barbara, along with Jules, agree to attend the meeting for Stirling and obtain the information. They lock the Inn Keeper in the cellar and substitute for him. Barras arrives, wondering where the Inn Keeper is but Ian tells him that he's sick. He is expecting one guest for the meeting. The guest arrives after the inn empties, he and Barras meet in the back room. The guest is General Napoleon Bonaparte. They discuss arresting Robespierre at the meeting the next day and using Bonaparte as a leader. Bonaparte accepts Barras' plan. Ian & Barbara pass the information to an astonished Stirling and The Doctor & Barbara go to rescue Ian while Stirling & Ian go to warn Robespierre. Soldiers have come to arrest Robespierre who is shot & wounded trying to escape: Ian & Stirling have arrived too late and history takes its course as The Doctor & Barbara knew it would. The Doctor confronts the perpetually intoxicated jailer spinning him a story which he falls for, again, claiming that LeMaitre was shot in the removal of Robespierre and was in league with the Jailer He has the jailer seized by his own guards and coerces him into releasing Susan to him. The Doctor sees Robespierre being delivered to the prison. Ian tells Jules that Bonaparte will be the next ruler of France. The travellers escape Paris together, leaving Stirling & Jules speculating where they are bound for. They return to the TARDIS and depart Earth.

vlcsnap-2014-06-07-09h23m59s245 vlcsnap-2014-06-07-09h24m25s239


DOCTOR: Well, it's hardly fair to speculate, is it? No, I'm afraid you belittle things. Our lives are important, at least to us. But as we see, so we learn.

IAN: And what are we going to see and learn next, Doctor?

DOCTOR: Well, unlike the old adage, my boy, our destiny is in the stars, so let's go and search for it.

vlcsnap-2014-06-07-08h55m57s67 There's a jarring moment at the start of this episode where everyone stands still in the middle of a dramatic scene while the episode title and writer credit are displayed! A production device much of it's time!

The episode then takes a turn into subterfuge and almost spy drama territory as Ian & Barbara disguise themselves in the Inn to observe Barras and his guest, with the stormy weather acting as a dramatic backdrop to the importance of the meeting taking place....

Both of the characters meeting in the Inn are known historical figures:


The more famous one is General Napoleon Bonaparte, on the left, played by Tony Wall. The Doctor's not present for this encounter but later claims to have met Napoleon in Day of the Daleks.

The man on the right is Paul Barras, a lesser known figure but one who was known to be involved in the downfall of Robespierre. Their encounter at the Inn is a fictional invention, but the use of the name The Sinking Ship is a nice metaphor for the Robespierre administration at this point!. Barras is played by John Law who, like Jules' actor Donald Morley, has a Doomwatch appearance to his name as Pegg in The Devil's Sweets.

vlcsnap-2014-06-07-09h13m09s148 Thanks to certain events in this episode this is the first episode, and thus story, we can accurately date with any certainty. At the Inn Barras mentions that

"Robespierre will be arrested after tomorrow's convention meeting."

We know the date of Robespierre's arrest: it's 27th July 1794 So the events of this serial must all occur in the run up to that day. In fact we see the arrest on screen, which becomes the first documented historical event shown in the series.

This then provokes some discussion between The Doctor & Barbara:

DOCTOR: What is it? What do you find so amusing, hmm?
BARBARA: Oh, I don't know. Yes, I do. It's this feverish activity to try and stop something that we know is going to happen. Robespierre will be guillotined whatever we do.
DOCTOR: I've told you of our position so often.
BARBARA: Yes, I know. You can't influence or change history. I learnt that lesson with the Aztecs.
DOCTOR: The events will happen, just as they are written. I'm afraid so and we can't stem the tide. But at least we can stop being carried away with the flood! Now, Susan and the prison.
A nice little call back to the Aztecs there!

vlcsnap-2014-06-07-09h19m19s238 As the episode progresses we're treated to a final encounter between between The Doctor and the Prison Warder

Hartnell's disguise as an authority figure and his encounters with the Jailer have been one of the highlights of this serial!

Towards the end Jules talks about finding Jean: there's no mention of his sister Danielle who disappears without trace mid serial not to be seen or mentioned again!

It really is another cracking episode this, neatly rounding off the story and resolving all the outstanding plot points. Dennis Spooner's experience & talent in writing for Television is obvious here, and Hartnell has obviously risen to the script and the opportunity for comedy presented to him with the chain gang master and the drunkard jailer. An Unearthly Child remains my favourite episode this season but I think Reign of Terror may be my favourite story. It gets better every time I see it!

This is the first story that the Doctor visits Paris in, but he'd be back several times making Paris the Doctor's second most visited place on Earth. He would return in The Massacre, set in 1572 as opposed to Reign of Terror's 1794, but a few years later for the Doctor. At some point he meets Napoleon, or at least he claims to have in Day of the Daleks ("Do you know, I remember saying to old Napoleon. Boney, I said, always remember an army marches on its stomach." Presumably this encounter, if it took place is also in Paris. He returns to Paris in 1979 to foil the plot of Scaroth, the last of the Jagaroth in City of Death and has various visits from 1727 onwards during the course of the new series story The Girl in the Fireplace.

There's a little gem tucked away in this story that will raise a giggle with latter day Doctor Who fans. James Sterling, the British Spy (echoes of James Bond?) has adopted the alias LeMaitre which in French means The Master!

Reign of Terror marks the close of Doctor Who's first season. 33 of it's 42 episodes still exist for us to watch. By the time the series ended it was an obvious success. But the Doctor Who team didn't stop filming here, two more stories were filmed for the start of to the next series. One was an idea that had been on the table since day 1 of the series, and indeed had originally been intended to launch Doctor Who. The other would bring back a favourite villain from the first year of Doctor Who and in the process change the show forever.

I had it in my head that the first season was the longest in Doctor Who's history: It isn't:

Season Episodes Missing Remaining
1 42 9 33
2 39 2 37
3 45 28 17
4 43 33 10
5 40 18 22
6 44 7 37

It's the fourth longest behind Series 3, 6 & 4.

Season 7 onwards has a drastic reduction in the number of episodes. It's also the point where the series starts to be made in colour and from where we have all the episodes.

On the missing episodes front, Season 1 is missing just 9 episodes, behind the 7 of Season 6 and just 2 of series 2.

Orange=Partial/Some episodes exist

(STORIES Stories)
An Unearthly Child 4 1,2,3,4 - 4 0 COMPLETE
The Daleks 7 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 - 7 0 COMPLETE
The Edge of Destruction 2 1,2 - 2 0 COMPLETE
Marco Polo 7 - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 0 7 MISSING
The Keys of Marinus 6 1,2,3,4,5,6 - 6 0 COMPLETE
The Aztecs 4 1,2,3,4 - 4 0 COMPLETE
The Sensorites 6 1,2,3,4,5,6 - 6 0 COMPLETE
The Reign of Terror 6 1,2,3,6 4,5 4 2 PARTIAL
(8 Stories)
    33 9 78.58%

Following the broadcast of this episode Doctor Who was off the air for the next six weeks returning on 31st October 1964 with Planet of Giants part 1.

Episode 6 of the Reign of Terror was missing from the archives but was recovered from an unnamed film collector by Ian Levine & collector Bruce Campbell in May 1982. The copy they recovered is a stored field recording. Some years later in 1984 a second copy of episode 6 along with the then missing episodes 1-3 was recovered from a TV station in Cyprus. These prints were found to be lesser quality suppressed field recordings. Following these recoveries the film collector made contact again because he was now in possession of a copy of episode three that, while damaged, was again a superior stored field recording. So although six episodes of the Reign of Terror have been returned to the BBC, sadly two of these are duplicates and two episodes - four and five - remain missing to this day.

Reign of Terror was novelised by former Doctor Who companion turned writer Ian Marter and was released in 1987 a few months after his death.

The Reign of Terror is the last story in Doctor Who's first season and also one of the last pair of VHS releases (The other was Invasion of the Dinosaurs iirc). I bought the VHS set this was in in the shops the day it came out (Blackstar didn't find me a copy in time). The other tape in the box, the remaining orphaned Troughton episodes, went straight in the player and was loved & cherished. Reign of Terror however sat on the shelf. When I finished work due to ill health in 2005 one of the first things I did was polish off the last four Doctor Who stories that existed that I hadn't seen. Keys of Marinus was one, this was the second. The remaining two were the Romans, which we'll come to shortly, and the Dominators, which is some way in the future.

As I've said the VHS release of this pack completed the remaining orphaned Troughton episodes but it also marked the point where every episode of Doctor Who was available on VHS. Less than 2 months later, in January 2004 another episode was returned to the BBC, Dalek Masterplan 2: Day of Armageddon, meaning the VHS releases of the episodes were now no longer complete. In the intervening years a further 11 missing episodes of Doctor who have been found.

Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror was released on DVD on 28th January 2013.

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