Friday, 25 December 2015

097 The Daleks' Master Plan Episode 7: The Feast of Steven

EPISODE: The Daleks' Master Plan Episode 7: The Feast of Steven
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 25 December 1965
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield
PRODUCER: John Wiles
RATINGS: 7.9 million viewers
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: No. 2

"I suppose you might say I'm a citizen of the Universe, and a gentleman to boot"

The Tardis has materialised in the north of England. The Doctor goes outside to fix the scanner but is arrested where he meets a man complaining about the theft of his greenhouse who the Doctor thinks he recognises from a market in Jaffa before being questioned about his identity.

Steven steels a policeman's uniform from a car and infiltrates the police station to gain the Doctor's release while Sara fixes the scanner.

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The Tardis then lands on a 1920s silent movie lot where a film is being made at saw mill. Chaos ensues before the Tardis crew are able to sneak away and dematerialise at which point the Tardis crew celebrate Christmas with a drink.

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The Doctor then turns towards us and says

"Oh and incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home."
Hah ! You thought David Tennant's debut, the Christmas Invasion, was the first Doctor Who Christmas Special! Think again and marvel at the Doctor Who panto 1965. You can argue that Horns of the Nimon is a bit of a pantomime too. We get a Z-Cars tribute, originally intended as a crossover until Z-Cars production staff withdrew permission, we get playful hijinks on the movie set and we get Hartnell breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience. Even the title is a bit of a joke The Feast of Stephen was a religious festival celebrated on what is now Boxing Day while the Doctor has a companion called Steven Taylor. Because the episode is missing the Daleks & Mavic Chen it becomes a just a harmless romp and doesn't pretend to be anything else so I'll sit back and enjoy it as such :-) The CD version features some lovely tongue in cheek narration from Peter Purves during this episode which only serves to reinforce that view. I wouldn't want my Doctor Who to be like this every week but this is a superb little festive bit of fun.

But in the middle of this episode is a little revelation that might go unnoticed:

SARA: Oh, I see. We've landed on your own planet.
DOCTOR: Oh, nonsense, child. We're back on Earth.
This is I think the first time that the Doctor admits that he's not from Earth!

Of all the episodes missing from the BBC archive this episode is the most unlikely to be found. It was never sold abroad when Dalek Masterplan was offered for sale and BBC records indicate that a telerecording was never made. It seems the BBC regarded it very much as a bit of disposable Christmas fun. So Feast of Steven is as close as we can get to "Never coming back" But during this period of the program no Telesnaps were being taken by John Cura, Producer John Wills' deciding they were an unnecessary expense depriving us of pictures for Galaxy Four, Mission to the Unknown, Myth Makers, Dalek Masterplan, The Massacre, The Ark and The Celestial Toymaker. In that period just 9 out of the 33 episodes survive and just one complete story, the Ark. So Doctor Who fans had little hope of seeing any visual record of this episode.

There also appears to have been a photocall for new Companion Jean Marsh in this episode: a number of photos of her in costume and on the Tardis set with bits of other sets from this episode visible turned up in a Daily Mirror photo special The Doctors - The Archive: An unofficial guide to 50 years of time travel which is well worth getting.

However the actor Robert Jewell, usually inside a Dalek casing, makes a rare on-screen appearance in The Feast of Steven as the Clown (who we're led to believe is Bing Crosby). Jewel had some photos of the broadcast of this episode taken as it was a rare appearance of him on-screen and they are now the only visual record of this missing never to be returned episode. I didn't know these existed at the point when I originally blogged the episode but you can see them on the internet at to catch just a glimpse of this missing episode.

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Making her Doctor Who debut in this episode is Sheila Dunn, appearing as starlet Blossom Lefevre in the silent movie studio segment. At around this time she becomes Mrs Douglas Camfield and crops up in several of her husband's productions appearing as the Computer Voice in The Invasion Episodes 1, 5 & 4 and Petra Williams in Inferno

The man who the Doctor thinks he recognises from a market in Jaffa is a neat in-joke: Reg Pritchard, the Man in Mackintosh, was was the merchant Ben Daheer in The Lion, The Knight of Jaffa & The Wheel of Fortune, the first three episodes of the Crusade, another story directed by Dalek Masterplan's director Douglas Camfield

Royston Tickner plays Steinberger P. Green, who I think is in the photo with Sheila Dunn above, returns in The Sea Devils Episode One as Robbins. One of the Policemen, Clifford Earl, later returns in the last two episodes of The Invasion, directed by Camfield, as Major Branwell while another Policeman, Malcolm Rogers, was previously in The Chase episode 4: Journey Into Terror as Count Dracula. Camfield also reuses several actors from earlier in the serial: "Buddy Windrush" is the Prop Man: he appeared in episode 2 as Malpha under the name "Brian Edwards" before reprising the role in episode 11 under his real name: Brian Mosely, later famous as Coronation Street's grocer Alf Roberts. Jack Le White appears as Knopf's Cameraman while M.J. Matthews is the Charlie Chaplin Lookalike: both were criminals in episode 3 of this serial: Devil's Planet.

So, in the words of the late great William Hartnell 48 years ago today:

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"A Happy Christmas to all of you at home."

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