Friday, 26 June 2015

077 The Chase Episode 6: The Planet of Decision

EPISODE: The Chase Episode 6: The Planet of Decision
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 26 June 1965
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Richard Martin
SCRIPT EDITOR: Dennis Spooner
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 9.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Space Museum/The Chase

"I shall miss them. Yes, I shall miss them, silly old fusspots."

The travellers ascend in the lift with the Mechanoid to it's city. The Daleks fetch equipment from their ship to cut through the wall and follow. The travellers are herded into a room but the Doctor isn't happy. Inside the room is a bearded man: He is astronaut Steven Taylor, marooned when his ship crashed. He assumes they are rescuers sent from Earth and is overcome. He has been a guest of the Mechanoids for two years, robots who were sent from Earth to prepare the world for colonisation. They await a command code that never came. The Mechanoids are holding them as specimens monitoring all they do and say. The Daleks summon the lift and prepare to confront the Mechanoids. There is a way out from the cell onto the roof of the city 1500ft above the ground. The travellers see this as an escape route: Ian finds some power cable which he thinks they can lower and climb down. The Daleks enter the city and confront the Mechanoids.

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Neither side will back down and a pitch battle ensues. Vicki is overcome by the height so the others lower her as the city catches fire in the battle. Steven charges inside to retrieve his cuddly panda mascot. The travellers make it to the ground but there's no sign of Steven. They shelter in the Tardis as the city is destroyed. Emerging later they find the Dalek time craft empty and abandoned. Ian & Barbara realise that since it works properly they would be able to get home. While they go into the machine to talk with the Doctor, Steven stumbles out of the jungle and into the Tardis. The Doctor isn't keen on Ian and Barbara leaving, claiming it could kill them, but Vicki talks him into it. He programs the machine for one flight to London 1965 and then sets it to self destruct. The machine dematerialises leaving the Doctor and Vicki together. Ian & Barbara materialise in a warehouse opposite White City Tube Station and leave just before the time machine is destroyed. Ian and Barbara are overjoyed to have returned home to London and then wonder how they will explain their absence. The Doctor and Vicki watch on the Time Space Visualiser, as the Doctor admits he will miss his friends. The Tardis leaves Mechanus, with it's remaining crew unaware that they have a guest.

After a five episode build up in many ways this episode is a bit of a let down. The Doctor effectively lets the Mechanoids solve their problem for them.

We do get to find out who & what these robots are as marooned astronaut Steven Taylor explains:

DOCTOR: You mean there's no other human beings here on this planet?
STEVEN: No, nothing except the Mechanoids.
BARBARA: Where do they come from, do you know?
STEVEN: You don't know? But this is Mechanus.
IAN: Sorry?
STEVEN: Look, about fifty years ago Earth decided to colonise this planet. Well, it landed a rocket full of robots programmed to clear landing sites, get everything ready for the first immigrants.
VICKI: And they didn't arrive?
STEVEN: No. See, Earth got involved in interplanetary wars. I suppose this place was forgotten.
Be interesting to know when this is and what interplanetary wars Earth has got involved in.....

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Steven is played by actor Peter Purves, then aged 26. His short acting career to that point had most of the usual suspects on it including Z-Cars and Dixon of Dock Green. He'd already appeared in The Chase episode 3 Flight Through Eternity as American tourist Morton Dill. As far as the Tardis crew knows he perishes in the city while retrieving his panda mascot HiFi but the viewer gets to see Steven on the ground evading a Fungoid, presumably Ken Tyllsen the only "WITH" credited on this episode. So we know he's got out the city. What we don't know is his final fate..... and for that you'll need to come back next episode!

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We get a new Dalek arm attachment this episode the electrode unit which they use to cut their way into the lift shaft. The seismic detector, seen in earlier episodes, also features. The Doctor's box of tricks, created in episode three and carries around since then, finally gets used against the Daleks invading Steven's living space and is what causes the fire that destroys the Mechanoid city.

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The Mechanoids are another attempt, like the Vrood and the Zarbi, to repeat the success of the Daleks and find the next big Doctor Who monster. This time they're little more than a Dalek rip off, another race of machine creatures. A shell, with a weapon projecting from it, in this case their flame thrower.

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How they ever got away with that in the studio I'll never know but next story the Daleks get one too!

215198_10150271382443438_563333437_9274064_4639539_nIn fact there's a very famous publicity image of producer Verity Lambert lighting her cigarette off of the Mechanoid's flame thrower!

In fact there's a large number of publicity shots & off screen photos existing for The Chase, some of which can be found on the DVD but, like this one, there's even more out there on the internet if you look!

Mechanoid Merchandising exists in the form of plastic toys in several sizes and appearances in the Daleks TV21 comic strip, long overdue for a new collection as the previous one 1994's Dalek Chronicles goes for a pretty penny on eBay!

If you're a Doctor Who fan you'll be able to hazard a pretty good guess as to what the next big monster was, but they're not due to show up for another season and a half yet!

There's three Mechanoids in this episode: Murphy Grumbar, who was in the previous episode and Jack Pitt & John Scott Martin. Both were Zarbi in the Web Planet. Scott Martin was Dalek operator in episodes 1-4 while Pitt was the Mire Beast in episodes 1 & 2 and the cabin steward in 3. Both then were the mysterious "WITH", probably Fungoids, in episode 5..

Director Richard Martin has reused several of the cast of his previous story the Web Planet over the course of this story:

ACTOR Web Planet The Chase EPISODES
John Scott Martin Zarbi Dalek
Jack Pitt Zarbi Mire Beast
Cabin Steward
Ian Thompson Hetra Malsan2
Arne Gordon Hrostar Guide 3
Roslyn DeWinter Vrestin Grey Lady 4

The battle between the Daleks and the Mechanoids is over by the 18 minute mark of the episode leaving the rest of the time top deal with the departure of the Doctor's last two initial companions. Very little has been made of trying to get them home recently, in fact I don't think the subject has come up since Susan left. But it's obvious they want to go home when the chance, in the form of a working time machine, presents itself:

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BARBARA: Ian, do you realise we could get home?
IAN: Home? Yes. Do you want to?
BARBARA: Yes. I never realised it before.
IAN: Neither did I. We may never get another chance.
BARBARA: Do you think we could work it?
IAN: Well, would the Doctor take us?
BARBARA: Let's ask him.
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DOCTOR: I don't want to know! I want none of this! I've never heard such nonsense in my life! You'll end up as a couple of burnt cinders, flying around in space. You idiots! You are absolute idiots!
I wonder how much of this is the Doctor being serious about the risks of travelling in an alien time machine, which has seemed to have served the Daleks very well, and how much is overstatement because he doesn't want to loose Ian & Barbara, his last link to his Granddaughter Susan.

Years later, in Talons of Weng Chiang, we meet the hideously deformed Weng Chiang who has had an accident with a time machine!

But Ian & Barbara are insistent....

BARBARA: We are not idiots! We want to go home!
IAN: Yes, home! I want to sit in a pub and drink a pint of beer again. I want to walk in a park and watch a cricket match. Above all, I want to belong somewhere, do something, instead of this aimless drifting around in space.
DOCTOR: Aimless? I've tried for two years to get you both home!
IAN: Well, you haven't been very successful, have you?
DOCTOR: How dare you, young man. How dare you, sir! I didn't even invite you into the ship in the first place. You both thrust yourselves upon me!
BARBARA: Oh, Doctor, stop it!
DOCTOR: Oh, for heavens sake, I've never heard such nonsense.
BARBARA: Look, I know we thrust ourselves upon you, but we've through a great deal together since then. And all we've been through will remain with us always. It'll probably be the most exciting part of my life. Look, Doctor, we're different people, and now we have a chance to go home. We want to take that chance. Will you help us work that machine?
In the end it's Vicki assuring the Doctor that she will stay that persuades him to let them try:
VICKI: Doctor? Doctor, you've got to let them go if they want to. They want to be back in their own time.
DOCTOR: Don't you want to go with them, child?
VICKI: What for? What would I want to be back in their time for? I want to be with you. Doctor, you've got to help them.
DOCTOR: Don't you realise, child, the enormous risks?
VICKI: But it's up to them.
vlcsnap-2014-10-14-15h23m02s113 But Vicki herself is evidentially sorry to see the two older companions leave when they do go.

Ian and Barbara do make it home safely, materialising in a garage in sight of White City Tube station with a car tax disc confirming when they arrived. The garage is on the lot at Ealing Film Studios where the filmed battle sequence for this episode were shot and this sequence was shot on 10th May 1965.

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At this point this sequence is directed by Douglas Camfield who was due to take charge for the next story with a series of still images shot on 6th May 1965:

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Ian & Barbara visit Trafalgar square then Albert Embankment & Westminster Bridge. Both previously featured as locations during episode 3 of Dalek Invasion of Earth.

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We've seen Barbara stand in that spot before: she and resistance fighter Jenny were pushing the crippled Dortmun as Daleks crossed the bridge!

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We then see a real life Police Box in Bayswater Road before they visit Kensington Gardens. As you can see they're very happy to be home together.

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Their final stop is Regent Street where they board a Routemaster bus and get a shock at the fares going up in the two years they've been away!

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The Bus Conductor they encounter is played by regular series stunt man, and regular Camfield associate, Derek Ware. He made his d├ębut on the first Doctor Who story An Unearthly Child (Production Assistant: Douglas Camfield) as the uncredited fight arranger, a role he repeated on The Aztecs: Temple of Evil. He finally gets an on screen credit both as a Saracen Warrior and the fight arranger in Camfield's previous story, The Crusade. vlcsnap-2014-10-14-15h27m09s23 Ware's group HAVOC would provide stunts for many Doctor Who stories. He returns as an uncredited Trojan Soldier as well as the Fight Arranger in Myth Makers 4: Horse of Destruction before fight Arranging Dalek Masterplan 7: The Feast of Steven and appearing in episodes 9 & 10, Golden Death & Escape Switch, of the same story as Tuthmos. He's the Spaniard in episodes 1, 3 & 4 of The Smugglers - he fight arranges that last episode too, fight arranges episodes 1 & 4 of Camfield's Web of Fear as well as appearing in episode 4 as a soldier. He's The Ambassadors of Death: Episode 2 as a UNIT Sergeant and Episode 7 as a UNIT Soldier before playing Private Wyatt in episodes 1-3 of the next story, Camfield's Inferno. He fight arranges the fist episode of the story after that, Terror of the Autons before making his final, and possibly most famous, on-screen appearance in The Claws of Axos: Episode One as Pigbin Josh!

This is the last time we see Ian & Barbara on screen but apparently the powers that be wanted to give them a brief cameo at the end of the Massacre, witnessing the Tardis depart from Wimbledon Common. Many years later we came so close to getting Ian back during 1983's Mawdryn Undead. William Russell was unavailable for filming as teacher Ian Chesterton so the function was filled by Nicholas Courtney's Brigadier having retired to teach maths.

If you want my opinion then yes, Ian & Barbara did go off together, get married and live happily ever after!

As I write William Russell is alive and well, if advancing in years, and has regularly contributed commentary to Doctor Who DVDs. Jacqueline Hill, who played Barbara, took a break from acting to raise a family, returning to the trade in the late 70s when her appearances included a guest role in the Tom Baker story Meglos. Sadly she was taken ill with cancer and died in 1993. A tribute to her can be found on the recently released Doctor Who - Meglos DVD.

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Ian & Barbara's trip round London has been watched by The Doctor and Vicki, using the Space Time Visualiser for the last time so they know their friends are home safe:
VICKI: Doctor, they made it! They made it!
DOCTOR: I shall miss them. Yes, I shall miss them, silly old fusspots. Come along, my dear, it's time we were off.

We also bid farewell to two members of behind the scenes staff. Script Editor Dennis Spooner takes leave of his post with this story. His tenure on staff was brief but he'll be back writing the next story as well as a good proportion of next year's Dalek Masterplan. This is the last Doctor Who directed by Richard Martin. Popular with the cast he seemed to get lumbered with technical monster stories which perhaps weren't quite his forte. It's interesting contrasting the Daleks under his direction to that of Christopher Barry in their first appearance and Douglas Camfield in their next. He had a long career in television working on a variety of programs.

The audio of this episode was edited together with new narration by Dalek Voice artist David Graham and as a record by Century 21 Records in the UK during 1966. The Chase was one of the last Target Books to be released, novelised by John Peel. It was released on VHS in 1993 as part of Doctor Who's 30th anniversary in a limited edition Dalek tin with Remembrance of the Daleks then on DVD in 2010 when it was packed with the Space Museum.

Friday, 19 June 2015

076 The Chase Episode 5: The Death of Doctor Who

EPISODE: The Chase Episode 5: The Death of Doctor Who
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 19 June 1965
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Richard Martin
SCRIPT EDITOR: Dennis Spooner
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Space Museum/The Chase

"We will take no prisoners. Eliminate on sight!"

The episode title appropriateness meter is out again but suspects, due to the presence of the robot Doctor, that we're gonna get conned here!

The Doctor, Ian & Barbara explore the jungle on the planet Mechanus examining the plants which are surprisingly mobile. Ian thinks it's the perfect place to fight the Daleks. Vicki sneaks out of her hiding place in the Daleks' time machine. The Doctor and his group follow some lights to a cave where Vicki finds what looks like a weapon. Vicki hammers on the Tardis door but nobody is there to let her in while the plants continue to attack her. Vicki's screams are heard by the others so Ian & The Doctor leave to find her. The Daleks engage the attacking plant life. Meanwhile the robot Doctor finds Barbara and tells her Ian is dead. The real Doctor and Ian, carrying the unconscious Vicki return to the cave to discover Barbara gone. Ian searches for her but when Vicki wakes she thinks the Doctor is the robot but when Ian returns she is convinced and tells them of the robot. Ian finds Barbara who is attacked by the robot. The robot flees the scene, returning when the real Doctor arrives. There's an argument but they figure out which Doctor is the robot when he gets Vicki's name wrong and calls her Susan. The real Doctor defeats the robot. The Daleks guarding the Tardis decide to search the jungle at daybreak. The travellers spend the night in a cave during which they are monitored by a mechanical eye. In the morning, with clearer skies, the travellers are able to see a city raised high above the jungle they are in. The Daleks approach them, so the Doctor pretends to be the robot duplicate but fails and the Daleks attack. A door opens at the back of the cave revealing a strange, almost spherical Mechanoid which invites them to enter.....

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Yeah this episode struggles. It's main problem is that for most of the time it's obvious which is the Doctor and which is the double due to a different actor playing the duplicate in most of the scenes. So when the robot Doctor gives himself away by calling Vicki Susan, the name of the Doctor's now departed granddaughter, it doesn't come as a surprise.

ROBOT DOCTOR: Chesterton, now's your chance. Destroy it. Destroy it with a rock! Susan, don't look this way, it'll be nasty.
BARBARA: Ian, don't. That's the Doctor!
There again it's not unknown for the real Doctor to get someone's name wrong is it?

The eventual fight is quite effective and the confrontation beforehand is realised by using Hartnell twice. I think lessons are learnt here and the next time there's a duplicate of the Doctor the two are kept apart allowing Hartnell to play both roles.

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Doubles is a repeated theme in Doctor Who: we meet a real double of the First Doctor in the form of the Abbot of Amboise in The Massacre while the Second Doctor's double is the villainous Salamander in Enemy of the World. we don't meet a double of the Third Doctor but he meets duplicates of all his UNIT friends in the alternate universe of Inferno. The fourth makes up for it by meeting his twice: an Android Duplicate in The Android Invasion (Writer: Terry Nation. Don't waste a good idea Tel) and the shape shifting Meglos in the story of the same name. His companions meets doubles a few times too: Harry Sulivan is duplicated by a shape shifting Zygon in Terror of the Zygons and then, like the Doctor , his other Companion Sarah and Sgt Benton is duplicated in the Android Invasion. Romana then models her second body on Princess Astra someone she met in the Armageddon Factor. The Fifth Doctor's companion Tegan meets doubles of herself in the realm of the Mara while Nyssa meets her double Ann Talbot in Black Orchid. Omega models a new body on the Fifth Doctor in Arc of Infinity before the Doctor, Turlough and Tegan are duplicated by The Daleks in Resurrection of the Daleks.

Following the defeat of the robot the Doctor tries to impersonate the Robot Doctor to deceive the Daleks which strikes me as one of the more unselfish things he's done!

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The movie Daleks we spotted last episode can be seen again: there's one in the middle of the group of 3 on the left, and one in the background of the right photo between the middle Dalek in the foreground, our old friend with the broken neck ring, and the Tardis.

No sign of the silver eye or the holes for the neck hinge since episode 3 has he been repainted?

Sadly there's more Dalek silliness here. We get a case of nodding eye stalks in agreement with their leader's command and then some very odd dialogue:

DALEK 2: Move to position. On my command, advance and attack.
DALEK 5: Align and advance!
DALEK 6: Advance and attack!
DALEKS: Attack and destroy! Destroy and rejoice!
Destroy and Rejoice? Rejoicing isn't a very Dalek thing to do. Surely something more like
Attack and Exterminate! Conquer and Destroy!
would have been more appropriate?

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Three very odd credits at the end of the titles this week "WITH" and then three names: Jack Pitt, a Zabri in Web Planet, Mire Beast in episodes 1 & 2 and Cabin Steward in 3, John Scott Martin, also a Zarbi in the web Planet and a Dalek in the first four episodes here and Ken Tyllsen, one of the Sensorites in the story of the same name. I'm assuming that they're the Fungoids we see in the forest and, perhaps, one or more of the Daleks at times. I count four moving on screen at one stage yet only three operators are credited this week: Robert Jewell, Kevin Manser & Gerald Taylor. The WITH comes immediately after the credit for the Mechanoid initially making me think they played Mechanoids here, Pitt & Scott Martin do next episode, but there's only one Mechanoid on screen.

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The one we see is occupied by Murphy Grumbar, a Dalek Operator from the first two stories who's not been required here yet. The Voice is provided by David Graham, also doing some of the Daleks here.

The design of the Mechanoids, and their city, is fabulous and makes for a really good reveal just as the episode finishes.

Friday, 12 June 2015

075 The Chase Episode 4: Journey Into Terror

EPISODE: The Chase Episode 4: Journey Into Terror
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 12 June 1965
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Richard Martin
SCRIPT EDITOR: Dennis Spooner
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 9.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Space Museum/The Chase

"Our next landing will be our battle ground and we shall fight. We shall fight to the death!"

The episode title appropriateness meter says we should hope to be terrified this episode!

The Tardis has materialised in an old dark house. The Doctor & Ian explore upstairs, while Vicki & Barbara examine the huge carved face fireplace whose eyes light up scaring them. Ian sees apparitions while Doctor finds a laboratory with SOMETHING on the table. As they approach it sits up and they realise that they're in the lair of Frankenstein's Monster. Meanwhile Vicki & Barbara encounter a dinner suited gentleman with long canines who introduces himself as Count Dracula before vanishing as does Vicki. A screaming woman comes onto the balcony as Barbara falls through a section of wall. Ian & the Doctor think there's something familiar about the house, it's what they'd expect in a Nightmare. The Doctor wonders if they've wandered into the realm of dreams. The Daleks arrive as Ian & The Doctor search for Barbara & Vicki. A Dalek encounters Frankenstein's Monster which attacks it, while another is distracted by Dracula. Vicki shouts a warning and is separated from the others who've not noticed she is gone and dematerialise. The monster destroys a Dalek allowing Vicki to hide in the Dalek's time machine. The Tardis crew speculate on where they'd been as the camera pulls back revealing they've been in a House of Horrors at the futuristic Festival of Ghana. Barbara notices Vicki has gone. The Daleks observe the Tardis is nearing the planet Mechanus. The Daleks use their reproducer program to begin to make a double of the Doctor. Vicki tries to contact the Tardis for help and manages to find the double. The Doctor is blaming himself for Vicki being left behind. Ian suggests capturing the functional Dalek time machine and returning to find Vicki. The next time they land they will stop and fight the Daleks. The Daleks meanwhile activate their robot Doctor as the Tardis amaterialises in swampy terrain that Ian thinks looks alive. The double is sent to infiltrate and kill the Tardis crew.

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I remarked about the Scooby Doo element to Keys of Marinus episode 3. Well Terry Nation's done it again by providing us with a near perfect Scooby Doo like setting by materialising the Tardis in the typical Scooby Doo haunted house. Creaking, cobwebs, thunder & lightening and even the regular cast splitting up and each encountering something nasty - the works. Roiks!

Of course what that really gives us is Dracula & Frankenstein's monster vs the Daleks!

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Then after 15 minutes, including the a proposed theory that we may be in a land of dreams (not as silly as it sounds as we find out later!) we discover that this location is nothing but a disused funhouse, set in the futuristic year of 1996!

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Oh dear a Dalek/stairs joke from Ian, how funny:

BARBARA: I'm not wild about this place.
IAN: I don't know. Ideal place to fight Daleks, you know. Good stout walls, an upper storey, stairs. Daleks don't like stairs.
We refer you to the Dalek on the upper deck of the ship last week! Ian, of course, didn't get to see that. He could be in for a shock later.

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Sadly there's more Dalek silliness in this episode starting off with an on screen mistake: As The Doctor and Ian descend into Frankenstein's Laboratory, before the Daleks' ship arrive what do we glimpse through the archway at the base of the stairs? A Dalek waiting for it's moment in the next scene!

Then the er-ing Dalek we heard last episode makes it's return

Er, er, in earth time, er, four minutes.
The vaguely apologetic hesitancy makes him sound a bit like Blake's 7 Slave!


As I remarked last episode The Chase & the aforementioned Keys of Marinus have certain similarities: If you change the travel bands of Keys of Marinus to time machines here as the means of transport and add in a pursuing force, something that Marinus lacked, and they're not dissimilar. An early sign of Nation's recycling policy, perhaps noticing as I did that having the Vrood appearing occasionally as pursuers of the Tardis crew in the earlier story would have added something. For more recycling see also: Most other Nation written Dalek stories. In fact The Chase is strongly rehashed in later episodes of the Dalek Masterplan that throughout continues Terry Nations frequent trick of changing the setting as often as possible.

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This episode is the first appearance of a double of the Doctor. Unfortunately for most of this episode it's transparently obvious he's a double due to it being played by another actor who looks nothing like William Hartnell! Thankfully Hartnell himself dubs the robot double's main speech and a brief on screen close up of Hartnell with a Dalek at the end helps the illusion. But the damage is done.

Playing the robot Doctor is Edmund Warwick. He'd previously been Darrius in The Screaming Jungle, the fourth episode of The Keys of Marinus and then obtained his main qualification for this role by doubling for William Hartnell in The End of Tomorrow, the fourth episode of The Dalek Invasion Of Earth, while Hartnell was resting following an on set injury the previous week.

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The screaming woman in this episode, credited as The Grey Lady, but what is probably meant to be a banshee is a return appearance by Roslyn DeWinter who choreographed the Web Planet and appeared as the Menoptera Vrestin in the same story.

Count Dracula is played by Malcolm Rogers he'll return as a Policeman in The Dalek Masterplan 7:The Feast of Steven

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John Maxim is credited as Frankenstein (it's Frankenstein's Monster - Frankenstein is the scientist who creates it!). He'll be back in The Moonbase as a Cyberman where he's credited as John Wills.