Saturday, 17 December 2016

141 The Highlanders: Episode One

EPISODE: The Highlanders: Episode One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 17 December 1966
WRITER: Elwyn Jones & Gerry Davis (uncredited)
DIRECTOR: Hugh David
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 6.7 million viewers
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes volume 3 (1966-1967)
TELESNAPS: The Highlanders: Episode One

"The clans are broken, shot to pieces by the English guns!"

Culloden, 16 April 1746. The injured Colin MacLaren, Laird of the clean MacLaren flees the lost battle with his son Alexander, daughter Kirsty and their piper Jamie McCrimmon. The newly arrived time travellers stumble upon them hiding in a cottage. While Kirsty & Polly seek water for Colin's wounds,Ben accidentally discharges a musket alerting the attention of nearby English redcoats under the command of Lieutenant Algernon ffinch. Alexander is killed defending the cottage and the others are captured despite the Doctor posing as the German Doctor von Wer. The Redcoat sergeant is ready to hang them, but they are approached by Solicitor Grey, Royal Commissioner of Prisons, and his clerk Perkins who bride the soldiers into releasing them to him. He sends the prisoners off to Inverness, where they will be put on a slave ship to the West Indies. Grey takes the Doctor with him, after the Doctor quotes a point of law to save him from the gallows. Kirsty & Polly hide in a cave and consider what to do. Polly wants to sell Kirsty's ring for money but Kirsty won't let her: her father entrusted it to her. Polly, frustrated, goes off by herself and falls into an animal trap which is then approached by someone holding a dagger.

This is my fourth encounter with the Highlanders: The last three times it's failed to grip me but this time, with the aid of the telesnaps, has worked a bit better. However based on past experience I don't hold out much hope for the next three weeks!

The main historical event in this episode is over and done with before we even arrive: The Battle of Culloden effectively marking the end of the Jacobite uprising. Credited writer Elwyn Jones & Script Editor Gerry Davis, who did a lot of work on this script, use the battle as the starting point for the story rather than the culmination.

This episode marks the second appearance of the "I would like a hat like that!" gag as the Doctor finds a Tam O Shanter by the abandoned cannon.

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A HUGE cheer please for Frazer Hines, making his debut here as Jamie McCrimmon. An actor since childhood he was initially contracted for four weeks work on this serial. However the powers that be liked what they saw and asked him to join the show as a companion, necessitating, as we'll see later, some adaptations to scripts already in progress. Jamie appears in ALL the remaining Troughton stories. That's 110 episodes between his first and last appearances making him by some distance the companion to have been in the most episodes of Doctor Who. He then reprises the role many years later in the Five Doctors and Two Doctors! The runners up are Ian & Barbara and Jo Grant were in 77 while Sarah Jane Smith was in 76 (who's also in the Five Doctors).

William Dysart, who briefly appears as Alexander in this episode, returns in the early Pertwee story Ambassadors of Death. He can been seen in a clip from this episode, which was excised by the Australian censor and recovered by Australian fan Damian Shanahan in October 1996.

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Also recovered at the same time is a few shots from the hanging scene.

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There's also an off cut of film showing production assistant and future director Fiona Cumming calling action before the travellers emerge from the Tardis.

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As you can see from those pictures this episode marks the first trip on location Patrick Troughton's Doctor. So did the Doctor Who team get a nice trip to Scotland to authentically location film this story? No. They went to Frensham Ponds, in Surrey for three days on the 14th, 15th & 21st November 1966. As far as I can recall Doctor Who has never been to Scotland to film despite three of it's leading men and one companion having hailed from that part of the United Kingdom. For why they returned to the location a week later, come back for episode 4!

Amongst the uncredited cast is Reg Dent as an English Horseman. Dent's IMDB entry shows him someone who specialised in this sort of role, indeed his only Doctor Who reappearance is as a Confederate Horseman in The War Games: Episode Three. I can see at least one horse on location in the telesnaps, but I think Ffinch is riding it!.

Other extras in this episode, presumably Redcoat soldiers include actor Anthony Lang, a very recognisable face in later Doctor Who stories. He'd already been an Egyptian Slave in Golden Death and Escape Switch, the ninth and tenth episodes of the Dalek Masterplan. He'd return as Airport Personnel on Plane in The Faceless Ones episode 1: that exists so I'll try to screencap him there. He's then a Time Lord in The Three Doctors and a Kaled Councillor in Genesis of the Daleks: look out for the tall thin gentleman with the prominent nose! He played Imperial Dignatory Sim Aloo in Return of the Jedi, so has an action figure made of him, but IMDB's credit for him as Bo Shek in Star Wars is in error. Peter Roy had already been a Greek Soldier in Temple of Secrets and Death of a Spy, first and third episode of the Myth Makers. Likewise he returns in The Faceless Ones episode 1 as an Airport Police Sergeant. He's then a UNIT / Bunker Man in The Invasion episode 1, a Guard in The Seeds of Death episode one, a Space Guard in The Space Pirates episode 1, an uncredited extra in Doctor Who and the Silurians episode 6, Technic Obarl in The Hand of Fear part one, a Guard in The Face of Evil part one, an Extra in The Sun Makers part one, a Gallifreyan Guard in The Invasion of Time part one, a Gracht Guard in The Androids of Tara part one, a Guard in The Armageddon Factor part one, a Policeman in Logopolis part one, an Ambulance Man in Castrovalva part one, a Man in Market in Snakedance part one and a Walk on in Resurrection of the Daleks part one, He's got two Doomwatch to his name as a man in Project Sahara and Flood, and a number of Blake's 7 as a Citizen / Prisoner in The Way Back, a Prisoner in Space Fall, an Alta Guard in Redemption, an Albian Rebel in Countdown and a Federation Trooper / Rebel in Rumours of Death plus an appearance as the Limousine Chauffeur in the second TV episode of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Like Anthony Lang, he too is in Return of the Jedi playing Major Olander Brit.

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