Friday, 13 November 2015

091 The Daleks' Master Plan Episode 1: The Nightmare Begins

EPISODE: The Daleks' Master Plan Episode 1: The Nightmare Begins
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 13 November 1965
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield
PRODUCER: John Wiles
RATINGS: 9.1 million viewers
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: No. 2

"I am honoured to be here, and to be part of your plan to conquer Earth and all the planets in the solar system."

The Tardis arrives on the Planet Kembel, which we saw in Mission to the Unknown, and the Doctor leaves the Tardis to seek medical for the wounded Steven whom he has left with Katarina. Nearby are two space Agents, Kurt Gantry and Bret Vyon seeking the missing Marc Cory. Gantry has been injured and Vyon tries in vain to contact their control. On Earth the communications staff watch a report about Mavic Chen, guardian of the solar system, who is leaving for a well deserved holiday and fail to see the communication light signalling. Gantry tells Vyon to leave him but soon after his friend's departure he is found by the Daleks and exterminated.

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Vyon finds the Doctor, knocking him out and taking the Tardis key. He demands Katarina and Steven take him off the planet but they can't work the Tardis and a briefly recovering Steven ends up knocking Vyon out. The Doctor returns and restrains Vyon before leaving again finding Cory's body and with it the tape that he made. He then witnesses the arrival of a Spaceship at the nearby city. The ship is bearing Mavic Chen who has come to join the Daleks' alliance. Returning to the Tardis he finds it surrounded by Daleks.

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We left the story in Kemble five weeks ago, before the trip to Troy, with the alien delegates assembling and the Earth agent who discovered their plot exterminated. The story picks up here, with no real need to have seen the previous episode as everything is quickly explained. But it delivers a huge shock: the leader of the solar system is in league with the Daleks!

We always like to make a fuss over prominent members of the supporting cast and in Doctor Who terms they don't get bigger than this. Ladies and Gentlemen, a big hand please for the great Nicholas Courtney, on Doctor Who debut here as Bret Vyon. He was born William Nicholas Stone Courtney on 16 December 1929 in Cairo, Egypt, the son of a British Diplomat, and educated in France, Kenya & Egypt. He took up acting during National Service and afterwards trained as an acting and then acted in repertory theatre in Northampton before moving to London and cracking television. As we've seen Douglas Camfield has a habit for reusing actors and liking his performance in The Daleks' Master Plan decided to cast him as Captain Knight in Camfield's next directed story, The Web of Fear. Events transpired otherwise and Courtney ended up playing a different part instead.....

Given that it's Nicholas Courtney playing him it is somewhat appropriate and fitting that Bret Vyon becomes the first supporting character in Doctor Who to enter the Tardis during this episode!

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Also featuring briefly playing Kurt Gantry at the start of the story is Brian Cant, shortly to find fame as the narrator of Camberwick Green, Trumpton & Chigley. By this point he was already appearing in Play School, the role that made him famous. He'll be back in Doctor Who a little later and he won't be the only member of the Play School team to guest star in the series..... (see also: Colin Jeavons, Chloe Ashcroft, Chris Tranchell and others) Brian's son Richard has appeared in the new series of Doctor Who as Malcolm Wainright in Blink.

Another of the Doctor Who greats makes a debut in this episode: Kevin Stoney, playing Mavic Chen. He'll be back in the Invasion (Camfield again) and Revenge of the Cybermen. His death was reported in 1985, but he appeared on stage at a Doctor Who convention in 1987, eventually passing away in 2008.

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Because it's a Dalek story we get back the familiar names assocxiated with the monsters: Robert Jewell, Kevin Manser, Gerald Taylor and John Scott Martin are inside the shells with Peter Hawkins & David Graham again supplying the voices. This episode, like most of the firsthalf of the serial, is written bytheir creator Terry Nation but directing them for the first time is Douglas Camfield who'd previously been assistant floor manager on An Unearthly Child & Marco Polo before directing the last episode of Planet of Giants and all of The Crusade & the Time Meddler.

One of the uncredited, bald headed, Technix is played by Hugh Cecil who joins with the ranks of Myth Makers extras by reappearing in The Massacre: The Sea Beggar as a Priest, The War Machines: Episode 3 as a Worker and Doctor Who and the Silurians: Episode 6. He was also in the Blake's 7 episode Ultraworld as a Menial and regularly played a platoon member in Dad's Army and a Transylvanian in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

In 1991, a mute copy of the pre-filmed inserts for the first two episodes of this story was discovered on 35mm film in a film can in the BBC archive, which were later combined with the soundtrack. For this episode we see shots of Gantry in the jungle and his extermination, the Tardis materialising and Chen's Spaceship landing at the Dalek City. Due to the high quality of the film stock they remain some of the clearest views we have of the Hartnell era and the Daleks.

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This footage has also been colourised by YouTube's Babelcolour and BBC Engineer James Russell and included as part of The Dalek Tapes featurette on the Genesis of the Daleks DVD.

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