Friday, 9 October 2015

086 Mission to the Unknown

EPISODE: Mission to the Unknown Episode 1: Mission to the Unknown
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 09 October 1965
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Derek Martinus
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 8.3 million viewers
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection No2 - 1965-1966

"The Daleks are planning the complete destruction of our galaxy!"

In a jungle a man lies on a jungle floor and wakes remembering that he must kill! Nearby Marc Cory and Gordon Lowery are attempting to repair their damaged rocket ship. They wonder where Jeff Garvey, the third member of their party is. Garvey arrives and threatens them but Cory shoots him and pulls a thorn from his body: He has been infected by a Vaaga plant. They enter the spaceship, not seeing Garvey's body begin to twitch, grow hair and Vaaga thorn spines. Cory is a member of the Space Security Services who is on Kemble because the Daleks are believed to have established a base here - the Vaaga plants are proof as they grow on Skaro, the Dalek's home planet. In the city on Kemble the Dalek Supreme waits for representatives of the seven planets. He instructs the Daleks to exterminate the humans. Lowery is constructing a rescue beacon, but Vaaga plants are moving towards the ship. Noticing a disturbance they hide as the Daleks arrive and destroy the ship, but in the process Lowery pricks himself on a Vaaga thorn. The Dalek Supreme meets with his allies, who fear the humans and announce that they have agreed to invade Earth. Cory overhears this but is forced to kill Lowery who is transforming into a Vaaga plant. He records a message but is found and exterminated by the Daleks. His message survives on the jungle floor however.... The Dalek's allies pledge allegiance to the Dalek cause and chant Victory.

As Frankie Howard's Lurcio would say: The Prologue. Essentially a trailer for the forthcoming epic the Dalek Masterplan. One episode, without Doctor or Companions which instead showcases the Daleks. Made to fill the gap left by the merging of episodes 3 & 4 of Planet of Giants the usual cast are absent as a measure to save the cost of paying them for an extra week's work. But does Mission to the Unknown work as an episode? Well ..... hmmmm. I suspect with the visuals of the city, jungle and alien delegates it would work better.

Virtually the only visual record we do have is a number of publicity photos of the delegates. Some new ones came to light recently on the Mirrorpix website: 1 2 3 4 5 6

The production team for Galaxy 4, including director Derek Martinus, mind this episode by regular Dalek scribe Terry Nation and reuse one of the cast from that story Robert Cartland, who voiced the Rills and here plays Malpha, the one alien delegate with a speaking part here.

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Barry Jackson, Jeff Garvey, had previously appeared as the mute Ascarius in the first two episodes of the Romans. For years Jackson was a jobbing actor and occasional stuntman whose CV included another Doctor Who role as the Doctor's classmate Drax in the Armageddon Factor. He found a measure of fame late in life as Pathologist Doctor George Bullard in Midsomer Murders.

Jeremy Young, who plays Gordon Lowery, was in the very first Doctor Who story An Unearthly Child as the caveman Kal while Edward de Souza, Marc Cory, would have been familiar to audiences for his role in the sitcom The Marriage Lines. You can hear Toby Hadoke interview him in Who's Round 88.

It's a Dalek story so you effectively get some performers automatically: David Graham & Peter Hawkins as the Dalek voices and Robert Jewell, Kevin Manser, Gerald Taylor and John Scott Martin as the Dalek operators

varga plantsThat's the end of the credited cast but the IMDB Cast List reveals more. There's three Varga plants listed: Roy Reeves as Varga Plant and Leslie Weekes, both of whom are making their sole listed appearances, and Tony Starn who'll return in The Mind of Evil: Episode Three as a UNIT Soldier, Revenge of the Cybermen: Part One as Vogan, The Masque of Mandragora: Part One as a Peasant villager and Part Three as a Brother. All his Doctor Who appearances are uncredited.

It's then time to enter the murky world of the Delegates.

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The problem is for the most part we have no idea who played which delegate on screen and which delegate on screen has which name. Malpha, played by Robert Cartland is credited above and multiple sources at the time confirm him as the heavily veined Michelin man. I can remember owning an old Starlord annual as a child with a large picture of him in. We know that Trantis is played by Ronald Rich who was Gunnar the Giant in The Time Meddler part 2: The Meddling Monk - he's the Viking with the eye patch if you want to look and quite a big chap. He's almost certainly the tall alien with the white padded hood. This will cause problems when you see the recovered Day of Armageddon because Trantis there looks more like the humanoid alien with spikes out of his chin!

Pat Gorman, Doctor Who extra extraordinary, is the Planetarian. Most Who fans can pick Gorman out of a crowd scene by sight, so we can be sure he's either made up or covered completely up. Of those credited as Alien Delegates Johnnie Clayton isn't in any other Doctor Who and Len Russell's only other Who appearance is as a Parisian Man in The Massacre Episode 3: Priest of Death. Sam Mansary returns as a Journalist in The War Machines: Episode 1 and an African Diplomat Day of the Daleks: Episode Four. Mansray is the only one of these extras who is black and photos show the alien with the silver space helmet as being black so we know which alien he is while the spikey faced alien looks a lot like Johnny Clayton. So Gorman & Russell are the big black thing and the egg headed alien.

Apparently, according to those who remember, Mission to the Unknown has little name plates for each alien round a table identifying which is which. No photo of this has ever emerged so we'll never know for sure which is which!

For more educated guesswork on this matter have a look at Delegate Detective which attempts to match names to faces to actors for all the delegates in both stories. Things get a little confusing!

The chances of a recovery of Mission to the Unknown are very slim: although it was telerecorded no sale of this episode or of the 12 that make up the Dalek Masterplan were ever made abroad. The UK remains the only country to show it and then but once.


Here we officially bid farewell top Verity Lambert who has been withdrawing from operational command of Doctor Who for a while now. She goes on to a long and glorious career in television including heading Euston films and being responsible for Jonathan Creek (surely the longest ever audition for the role of Doctor Who). Verity Lambert died on the 22nd November 2007, a day before Doctor Who's 44th anniversary.

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Novelised by John Peel as part of the first of two Dalek Masterplan novels, Mission to the Unknown was released on CD on 22nd October 2001 as part of Doctor Who - The Daleks' Master Plan. These CD were re-released as part of Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: No. 2 (1965-1966) on 3rd February 2011.

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