Friday, 21 September 2018

216 The Mind Robber: Episode Two

EPISODE: The Mind Robber: Episode Two
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 21 September 1968
WRITER: Peter Ling
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Derrick Sherwin
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
RATINGS: 6.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Mind Robber

"Where in time and space am I?"

Jamie & Zoe each find themselves in a maze like series of rock columns. Jamie is attacked by a soldier turning into a picture. Zoe finds a large wooden door but falls into pit. They are watched by an observer who searches for the Doctor. The Doctor wakes up and calls out for his friends, but quickly realise there are soldiers searching for him, life size toy soldiers. The Doctor is confronted by a stranger speaking a foreign tongue, but he persuades him to speak English. He says he set sail Bristol on May 4th 1699 and lost his companions on voyage before he leaves the Doctor. Next The Doctor finds a group of children, who ask him riddles. He finds Jamie's picture but the face is missing. He has to re-assemble the face from puzzle pieces but gets it wrong giving Jamie a new face. They find Zoe and answer another riddle freeing her. When Zoe stops for a rest, Jamie climbs a column for a better view and discovers he's standing on a letter, in a forest of words. He reads the words to the Doctor who deduces they are proverbs. The stranger returns but speaks loudly giving them away to the soldiers who find them and the take time travellers away. They find themselves in black void where they are charged by the unicorn from Jamie's dream.

2y 2z

That's certainly the oddest episode for a long while. In many ways it's similar to the Celestial Toymaker trapping the Tardis crew in a very strange environment with some echoes of childhood thrown in, in the form of the characters The Doctor meets and the large Toy Soldiers.

2 Toy Soldiers 2a

The tests too are similar to the Games in Celestial Toyroom and very similar to the "pass the tests to reach your goal" repeating plot line that shows up in the seventies.

And over all this a mysterious figure is watching the Doctor from a high tech control room: that's he most familiar element to this episode!

2j1 2j2

The stuff with Jamie's face was inserted at the last minute: Frazer Hines went down with the Chicken Pox. The brief scene at the start of the episode with him Hines playing Jamie was filmed later in the story when Hines returned to work. Really the production crew got lucky here: Any other story Jamie would have just had to go missing for a few episodes, it's only the mad nature of this tale that lets them pull something like this and even then it's a bit unclear as to why Jamie's been turned to cardboard and lost his face!

2j3 2j4

The actor that replaces Frazer Hines is Hamish Wilson and is not Frazer's cousin, as is frequently claimed, although Frazer's Hines brother Ian,does appear in this story! You can hear Hamish Wilson interviewed by Toby Hadoke in Who's Round 51.

2 Hamish Wilson 2 Stranger

The Stranger, identity to be revealed later in the series, is a first Who appearance for Bernard Horsfall. If you want some clues as to who he is, there's some in his dialogue which apparently is completely taken from the work of fiction he appears in:

Sir, my birth was of honest parents in an island called England.

I spoke in as many languages as I have the least smattering of. High and low Dutch, Latin.

I said, beware false traitor, highwayman, robber, pickpocket, murderer.

We set sail from Bristol on May the 4th, 1699.

What became of my companions I cannot tell. They were all lost.

Indeed that date is enough to give away his identity!

Bernard Horsfall will be back later this season for the War Games, then Planet of the Daleks and The Deadly Assassin, all three directed by David Maloney. He'd already been in Out of This World, playing Dr. Arthur Bailey in Divided We Fall, and would feature in the third season of it's successor Out of the Unknown, playing John Stewart in 1+1=1.5. Sadly both episodes are missing. Unseen until recently is his Doomwatch appearance in Sex and Violence, which was unbroadcast! It's available to watch on The Doomwatch DVD set. He's in the George Lazenby James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service as Campbell. In later years he has appeared in Agatha Christie's Poirot as Harrington Pace in The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge.

One of the children in this episode is Sylvestra Le Touzel went on to have an extensive acting career. This is her first TV role but she can be also seen in Look and Read (TV Series): The Boy from Space as Helen along with several other Doctor Who actors and that's now out on DVD! She can be seen in The Professionals as Patricia Buchanan in The Gun.

2SLT 2 Children

Sadly none of the rest of the children, Barbara Loft, Timothy Horton, David Reynolds and Martin Langley have anything like as extensive a career.

The Redcoat who we see briefly at the start of the episode who shoots Jamie is played by Philip Ryan who was a soldier in Web of Fear episode 4 and returns as a Primord in Inferno.

2 w soldier 2 x horse

The Unicorn in this story is, of course, a horse with a horn attached to it's head. It was filmed at night on location at Kenley Aerodrome in Surrey. Unfortunately the wrong colour horse was supplied. So the horse made up using white Blanco!

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