Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Rescue

By Sophie Iles

This week it’s time to look at The Rescue, it’s a really sweet two parter, with some wonderful character moments and an introduction to a new companion. Not only that, but this was the first for a lot of people. Dennis Spooner starts his role as script editor (though he isn’t credited and didn’t do as much on this one as he does the rest.) It’s the first time the Doctor suggests the TARDIS materialises, the first time the Doctor suggests having been to this planet before, before snatching Ian and Barbara from 1963, which obviously opens avenues of questions of what his stories with Susan were before they come along.

As well as this, during its initial release, the second part Desperate Measures was one of the top ten programs to be watched that week, which is something that isn’t a regular occurrence until the show come back in 2005.

Lastly, but certainly not least, it’s the first time that a main companion has been replaced by another. We’ll talk more about Vicki later, but let’s get to the bones of the story and take it from there.

Our first time meeting Vicki Pallister, future Doctor Who companion.

Read More

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Dalek Invasion of Earth

By Sophie Iles

It’s that time of year. Here in Britain it’s a sign of mad Christmas shopping, families fighting to not have the heating turned on by wearing an overload of Christmas jumpers, and preparing for their disastrous Christmas work parties. That means it’s almost time for the Doctor Who Christmas Special, almost time for most to sit around a tv screen and watch things that make them feel childlike.

So I think it’s a good time to review a wicked serial of the classic series, The Dalek Invasion of Earth and sadly say goodbye to the wonderful Carole Ann Ford as she moves on to pastures new. Let’s have a look shall we?

Read More

Soph Watches Classic Who: An Interlude: When K-9 met K-9

By Sophie Iles

Before I press on to share with you my thoughts next week on Dalek Invasion of Earth, I wanted to tell a story about something very special that happened to me at LI WHO 5 that holds a place in my heart and probably always will.

It all starts with how I got into Doctor Who in the first place. You see, muggins here didn’t get into Doctor Who until she was nineteen years old. This was in 2008. I had heard of Doctor Who, most British people have, in one way or another, but I had never actively watched it. I had seen the end of some episodes before something else was about to be on that my parents were going to watch but that was it. I was too into Harry Potter, Anime, Lord of the Rings and Gothic Horror to worry about another fandom. ​

Sophie, First Day of Uni. Look at those frosted tips….

So, let me paint a picture for you: It’s Autumn 2008, I had just started university, nineteen and buzzing to start my animation course (I was going to be the world’s greatest animator for Disney, just you wait!) I was for the first time really meeting a load of like minded people, people with blue and pink in their hair, wearing cool fandom t-shirts and owned toys and models. Something that I had attributed to about three people before this and I was in my element.

And then as friendships formed and university got under way I started to show my worth when computers needing problem solving, or someone needed something set up to do with the wifi, that sort of thing. I was able to cotton onto the problems fairly quickly and I always have had a bit of a knack for it.

That’s when it happened, a fellow friend in the Anime Society gave me a big smile, “You’re like K-9. Good job, Soph.”

Now I don’t remember the ins and outs of the conversation, but it ended with me learning about this tin dog from Doctor Who who was a technical support to the Doctor. I was intrigued and the nickname stuck.

That all sounds fun, I said and his other friend said to me with sheer delight, “Oh, you’ve never watched it? Come over this weekend, there’s a new one on!”

And so I did.

My first Doctor Who episode was The Waters of Mars. I was struck by the story, the intensity, and the use of time travel, something that I loved because of Back to the Future in my preteens. Suddenly, I become what’s called a whovian, and in dribs and drabs over the last decade my love for the show in its totality has increased to what it is today:

Utter obsession about covers it.

So, speaking of today, flash forward to nine years later, Autumn 2017. I get to go to my first full Doctor Who Convention. Long Island Who 5 was a wonder, in the nine years of being a fan, I fell in love with the classic series, with the companions. I particularly fell in love with the Twelfth Doctor, and his world and it was something i could explore in the hotel walls with so many others.

Sarah Jane & the Doctor have a heart to heart whilst fixing K-9

But because of that nickname at university, I always had a soft spot for the wonderful K-9 who once I met in School Reunion, I also fell in love with him too.

I found out that John Leeson was going months after I had bought the three day pass. I had had the opportunity to meet him a month before the big New York Trip in my current city of Cardiff but I had wanted to meet him during the big event. After all, it would make our meeting far more unique.

And gosh, it really was as unique as I hoped. When he signed the picture I picked out I told him the story of how I came to be called K-9. This bright twinkly old man who could have been my grandfather who used his K-9 voice to greet me seemed taken aback with joy by my story.

“One K-9 to another, I hope you enjoy this autograph.”

I thought that was the end of it, a little emotional, a little shaky, but boy was I wrong. As the day continued, I found myself going to the bar to find my friends and one particular friend had spotted John Leeson at the bar.

“Should I go over and say hello?” she asked me nervously, and I assured her there was nothing to be worried about, John had been very pleasant to me when I had gotten my autograph after all.

When he saw us approach, he waved, and I introduced my friend, and he shook her hand, and then did something I had never expected.

“Would you lovely ladies care to join me for a drink?”

So here I was, sat with the voice of K-9, partaking in a drink from the bar he insisted on paying, listening to him talk to me about his airplane trip, his opinions on my hometown, and then how much he loved cats and wine, being that they were the other two loves in his life. Honestly, I’ve never felt so blessed to be in a place at a particular time. The only reason why our conversation was halted was because he was discovered by an old friend’s sister, and he excused himself so politely.

Even after that, whenever we ran into each other for the last two days he always greeted me fondly, hand in a wave, twinkly eyed. “Hello friend!”

I’ve never been so touched by an interaction, particularly a celebrity.

The day after the con was over, as our friends gathered to say goodbye and drive off their separate ways, myself included I ran into him one last time. John was also standing in the lobby, and other fans were getting selfies with him as they left the hotel. I decided to say hello one last time and wish him a safe trip home.

And he was of course happy to have a picture with me. “I’ve been waiting for you to ask!”

They say meeting your heroes can be a burden, they can be what you not expect, they can damage your expectations. But I would be mindful to remind others that celebrities are human too, and not every celebrity you meet is going to have the same mindset. If this is the only time I ever run into John Leeson again, I won’t be disappointed. For the rest of my life I will always remember the time the man who my nickname sake, as it were, the reason I got into this lovely sci-fi show in the first place, bought me a drink, and treated me as an equal.

Yes, meeting your heroes are a burden, but it’s always wonderful when you find new ones where you least expect it.

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – Planet of Giants

By Sophie Iles

It’s not secret by now that I am a fan of Ian Chesterton, and without a doubt his relationship with Barbara Wright. If you haven’t noticed, I suspect you might have to go back and read between the lines, but it’s all there in black and white. So, as today is William Russell’s birthday I’m very glad to be writing about one of my all time favourite Doctor Who stories.

Yes, you heard it here first. Please note upfront, I really struggle finding faults in this story, so I might just be gushing over my favourites for the rest of this article.

You have been warned.

Read More

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Reign of Terror

By Sophie Iles
 
So, time to try out something different. For the entirety of this series, I’ve been doing parts to talk about these adventures in Doctor Who. From today’s article, I will be writing just one article per episode. I want to talk about the full story and what I liked about it in more depth, instead of describing the episode which I found so easy to do with the other articles.
 
So, let’s go through the fine details of the Reign of Terror, and see from my perspective how we feel about the story, and as a personal note; what does the animated revisions bring to it.

Read More

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Sensorites (Part 3 of 3)

By Sophie Iles

As per my article last week week, I’m going to try writing these articles a little differently. After this last episode, I’m going to stop splitting it into parts and instead of trying to cover every moment. I’m going to summarise what happens in the story, before moving onto the aspects that I find particularly interesting!

So, today we look at the end of the Sensorites, finally finishing it’s six parts and just see where for me, the story fell flat. I also want to see how we feel about our antagonists, the first time Susan ever talks about Gallifrey, and the wonderful Barbara Wright. So, lets kick this off shall we?

What happens exactly?:

Kidnap begins with Ian and Susan saving the Doctor after being left unconscious from what is supposedly a monster in the aqueduct. He’s found the source of the poison, a deadly nightshade, that he believes has been planted there for the Sensorites to use the knowledge. The City Administrator and his ally, The Engineer, has kidnapped the Second Elder. They have been using his power and his sash for own ends. The Second Elder tries to foil the plan, but gets killed in the process, and so they try to frame the Doctor. It doesn’t work and the City Administrator’s ally is imprisoned, though only to be released again in secret. The Doctor suggests that the City Administrator be promoted is indeed the Second Elder is the enemy that was against them and now dead whilst John, the man who the sensorites made sick is finally coming back to full health to his fiancee Carol’s relief. He tells everyone that it was the New Second Elder who was plotting to kill them all. Meanwhile, Ian and Doctor tell the First Elder they want to go into the Aqueduct again to stop the poison and deal with the monsters and ask that Barbara now join them. The episode ends with Carol being kidnapped and Ian and The Doctor being given faulty weapons and a manipulated map by the newly appointed Second Elder so they are lost in the dark.

The Desperate Venture then begins with Carole having to write a fake letter, claiming she went back to the ship, when everyone knows that Barbara being back means that someone would have seen her. They deduce she must be in a room in the palace that isn’t used, and save her from the Engineer. Barbara also demands the First Elder tell them where the Doctor have gone and finally he admits that it is the aqueduct. Even though he was sworn to secrecy not to tell. Susan uses her physic abilities that the Sense-Sphere amplified, to guide Barbara and John into the aqueduct to find the Doctor and Ian. Whilst the pair have found the cause of the problems in the Aqueducts. It’s humans who were going completely insane, believed they were at war with the Sensorites. With Barbara and John turning up to save them, they trick the humans out of the dark to , and were then allowed to be taken home with John, Carol and Maitland, whilst the Second Elder, due to the treachery of the map was also banished to the out-lands. The TARDIS team were given the lock back to the TARDIS so they could finally get away from the Sense-Sphere and start their adventuring anew, though not without Ian making the Doctor mad and ending with the time lord promising to leave Ian wherever they landed next.

What didn’t work:

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first shall we, and rip it off like a plaster. The entire serial had some wonderful moments, but personally so much of the story fell flat and could have been reduced to less episodes to build tension. It could have easily have been a four parter episode. I struggle with the way the serial ended, having humans being the enemies all along in regards to the poison. It added an element to the story that wasn’t necessary. I personally had liked that the City Administrator was the main antagonist in a society built so heavily on trust. To add the element of the insane crew under the aqueduct felt like a very last minute decision. Only put in there so that they don’t have to create an actual monster when the City Administrator was already enough of a threat.

In fact, the villain that we are still used to seeing in this piece doesn’t even get a visual end, we are just told he will be banished.

Sadly, with that it left me a little disappointed that there wasn’t more done with the serial, after such a glorious set up to the story.

What worked:

Despite what I said, there are some lovely moments in this serial making it worth watching in full. I must admit stem from Susan Foreman really growing into a character for me. As mentioned last week, her argument with the Doctor had left more than a sobering tone with me. Still trying to decide if this was because of the 60s or an actual character decision due to what was to come. Even at the end of this serial, she relates to wanting somewhere to belong again. My favourite moment with her is when she is talking to the First Elder about her home. We know that it will later be known as Gallifrey, the only way we as an audience know the Time Lord’s planet:

SUSAN: Grandfather and I don’t come from Earth. Oh, it’s ages since we’ve seen our planet. It’s quite like Earth, but at night the sky is a burned orange, and the leaves on the trees are bright silver.
1ST ELDER: My mind tells me that you wish to see your home again, and yet there is a part of you which calls for adventure. A wanderlust.

Part of what makes that part so wonderful, is how much Carole brings to the reading, I genuinely felt sorrow that she was taken away from. This is obviously at a time when the histories of these characters weren’t established, so Susan seems less sad to leave, and as excited to explore the universe. It brings for me, a new dimension to why Susan left with her grandfather.

And, whilst we’re speaking of characters that have grown since the beginning of the series; as an audience member, you really don’t realise how much balance and reason Barbara brings until she’s missing as she has been for almost three full episodes. Within her first moments in the last episode, she’s already making herself useful:

SUSAN: She couldn’t have gone up to the spaceship.
JOHN: Either you’d have seen her, or passed her on the way.
SUSAN: Yes.
BARBARA: She was obviously forced to write this. Whoever made her do it had no idea that I was being brought down here.
SUSAN: I bet the City Administrator had something to do with it.
JOHN: But why kidnap her?
BARBARA: I should think the why’s fairly obvious, wouldn’t you?
JOHN: No, I don’t think it is, Barbara. We’re on good terms with the First Elder, the Doctor’s discovered an antidote for the poison and now he and Ian are tracking down the cause of the trouble.
BARBARA: Look, I’ve been away in the ship so maybe I can see things more clearly. And I think we’re being used by one of the Sensorites who wants to gain power.

And this is why ladies and gentleman, Barbara Wright is my favourite female companion. I will probably say it in my dying breathe. I also loved the moments with Ian and the Doctor as well. When they are both in the aqueduct together exploring it goes to show how they have come along in the series, which is almost at an end. I still can’t believe that my next article is the last serial of series one!

Alas, that is all left to say about the Sensorites. Next week, we look at the Reign of Terror and see just how serious the Doctor’s threat is about leaving Ian behind in 17th Century France.

This week’s doodle is brought to you from the Iles from the household, but not from myself, but my husband, who thought it would be fun to try and doodle the City Administrator now appointed as the Second Elder in his new sash.

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Sensorites (Part 2 of 3)

By Sophie Iles

This week, I’m going to try something a little different, a little unorthodox to what I’ve been attempting before. Hopefully, you’ll hear me out. For the length of time I’ve been doing these articles, I’ve been splitting it into parts. I’ve wanted to cover everything in every moment that sometimes it feels that I start to lose what it is that makes these episodes magical to me.

So, whilst I will summarise briefly what happens in these episodes, Hidden Danger and The Race Against Death, I want to draw attention to aspects to the serial that I find important. I will also start doing an article per serial once i’ve finished writing about the Sensorites. Unless it’s an incredibly long serial that warrants some more talking!

Hidden Danger is basically splitting the team up. This leaves Barbara up on the spaceship, with Maitland, whilst everyone else goes to the Sense-Sphere to meet the aliens and see their way of life. They meet the wise leaders, The Second and First Elders, and also meeting corrupted and evil one out to kill them, aka the City Administrator. It turns out they don’t like humans because the last time they had humans, it started a disease which was spreading around their planet. At the end of the episode, Ian succumbs to this disease after drinking different water to Susan and the Doctor. This leaves them to have to look urgently for a cure and with the hope of curing the others suffering too. They discover it’s poison and have a remedy to cure Ian. The Doctor believes the source of the poison is coming from the Aqueduct and goes to investigate. Despite the warning he wasn’t expecting to be attacked. This leaving a cliffhanger at the end of Race Against Death as a recovering Ian and Susan go looking for him…

For forty minutes of Doctor Who, very little happens over the two episodes. What I want to focus on this week is Susan. In particular, I want to focus on something that carries into the rest of Susan’s appearance in the show: how her and her grandfather’s relationship has developed.

This was sparked because of the first ten minutes of Hidden Danger. The cliffhanger included Susan offering herself to be taken away from her grandfather and friends so that the others would live; to stay on the Sense-Sphere alone. It’s a brave choice for her. Despite my fears for her safety, it was never because I didn’t think she could handle herself. Why, in The Daleks she was the central figure to saving her grandfather’s and her teachers lives!

So seeing the Doctor so livid actually made me as an audience member quite tense. He’s fuming, shouting at the Sensorites before they can take her away. He’s also unknowingly causing the sensitive aliens pain. She listens to his commands but it’s not smooth sailing.

Ian and Barbara summarise the moment after, much better than I ever could.

BARBARA: Sorry, I was thinking. You know, I’ve never seen the Doctor so angry.
IAN: Oh, yes. Susan set him off, didn’t she. The Sensorites must have hypnotised her in some way.
BARBARA: No, I don’t think so. She’s just growing up, Ian.

Susan has done much in the short time we’ve gotten to know her, and that goes for Ian and Barbara too. This glorious teenager is growing up with the children watching the show. We can now see her worth within the team, and really being apart of it.

But even with such progression, is it still the feeling in this era that men still think they know better than women? Or is it just her youth? “Children should be seen and not heard?” Perhaps it is due to these ideas that Susan’s attempts at independence is shot down by the Doctor.

And when I say shot down, I mean shot down:

DOCTOR: What is all this, setting yourself against me, hmm?
SUSAN: I didn’t, Grandfather.
DOCTOR: Oh, I know you thought you were doing your best, child, in the circumstances, but I think I’m a better judge of that.
SUSAN: Well, I have opinions too.
DOCTOR: My dear girl, the one purpose in growing old is to accumulate knowledge and wisdom, and to help other people.
SUSAN: So I’m to be treated like a silly little child.
DOCTOR: If you behave like one, yes.

The Doctor is unwilling to let her explain why she is right in this situation, or listen to her point of view. We know that the First Doctor is a stubborn old fool, but even in the case of Ian and Barbara at this point, he has let them take direction, or listened to them both.

Susan on the other hand, perhaps because of her youth, is always treated with kid gloves. The poor kid can’t express herself without being chided by her Grandfather in this moment. Even when she offers advice with the Sensorites with his way of speaking, he barely listens.

It’s almost heartbreaking to watch, the way Susan finally relents and submits. The Doctor is constantly blaming the Sensorites for their argument but actually, if he had listened instead of barked orders, or spoke to her with a different tone of voice, the teenager that she is might have in fact been able to explain herself without sounding like she’s whining. The ongoing issue of most worried parents, not listening.

At least Barbara has the foresight to explain to Susan how this works, and why she is such a good figurehead for the show.

BARBARA: Susan.
SUSAN: Yes?
BARBARA: Look, I know how you feel, but your grandfather loves you.
SUSAN: Yes, I know.
BARBARA: Be patient. We’re all on your side really, you know.

Even as this episode progresses, Susan has a good head on her shoulders as she starts to see things the Doctor hasn’t noticed. John  being healed by the Sensorites being able sense the good and evil within a person. She can also seem to have more links to the aliens because of her telepathy. The Doctor is finally impressed with her and seems to have actually taken Barbara’s advice himself, be patient.

It’s a really interesting place to be, watching Susan and the Doctor’s relationship develop over these two episodes. Just in our first serial, Susan couldn’t bare to be apart from her grandfather, screaming for his safety. Now she’s standing on her own two feet, willing to take on large tasks to help their team.

And now of course, taking care of Ian as they go looking for her grandfather in the aqueduct with the hopes he’s not hurt, whilst Ian is not really in a good enough state to take care of himself. Who’s the teenager now? Who’s having to take control? The wonderful Susan Foreman that’s who. Susan is one of my favourites. If not for the lack of good stories to continue this for her after this point, she could actually be my favourite.

And that’s why, today, you get a picture of Susan as my doodle. Next week, I’ll look at the end of The Sensorites, and see just what sort of story it ended up telling….

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Sensorites (Part 1 of 3)

By Sophie Iles

It’s that time of the week folks, today I’m writing live from the outskirts of Devon to bring you my take on The Sensorites. A story with some flaws but with some great moments, and lets Susan shine for the first time in the series. 

Let’s take a look! 

We left the team confused about how the TARDIS could have stopped, but the instruments show they still moving. Everyone has changed clothes. It’s been at least a few hours, even a sleep, for our humans before they all return together to the console room. It’s Ian’s turn to wear a polo neck jumper, Barbara’s in a pretty dress and Susan’s in a dress. With this change of dress comes a fresh attitude to their next adventure. In fact, the conversation they have before they leave the TARDIS to explore is one of my favourites!

Our content TARDIS team, Susan, Barbara, The Doctor and Barbara.

IAN: There’s one thing about it, Doctor. We’re certainly different from when we started out with you.
SUSAN: That’s funny. Grandfather and I were talking about that just before you came in. How you’ve both changed.
BARBARA: Well we’ve all changed.
SUSAN: Have I?
BARBARA: Yes.
DOCTOR: Yes, it all started out as a mild curiosity in a junkyard, and now it’s turned out to be quite a, quite a great spirit of adventure, don’t you think?
IAN: Yes. We’ve had some pretty rough times and even that doesn’t stop us. It’s a wonderful thing, this ship of yours, Doctor.

Look at that development! It’s lovely to watch how this four before used to really despise the idea of being together and having to rely on each other (see Edge of Destruction). Now, not only are Ian and Barbara so willing to leave the TARDIS for adventure, they accept there is danger. It still appears that they still have hope the Doctor will still get them home, one day. 

So, off the TARDIS they go and they find they are on a spaceship, and the two crew are dead. Except they’re not. Suddenly, one of them wakes and asks for a heart resuscitation device, which they use on him and his colleague. The two members of crew, Maitland and Carol explain they were not dead but in a deep sleep. They said they were put there by The Sensorites; aliens who live on the planet The Sense Sphere. They have been orbiting the planet for as long as they can remember, as it appears the aliens are using mind control to attack them.

One of the more fun moments in this episode is finding out that the crew are from 28th Century Earth. Excited about this knowledge, Ian and Barbara want to learn about their future. They then learn not only is there no more Big Ben but that London is now part of ‘Central City’. It’s the first time the series dealt with the future of Earth before, even though we had a futuristic sense of time from Marinus and The Daleks. It’s a good clip to watch these humans of the 20th Century get excited about the future they will never live to see, unless the Doctor has his way of course…  They also learn that Maitland and Carol have another crew member called John. He’s somewhere else on the ship, having been the most affected the most by the Sensorites and could be temperamental. The team decide they shouldn’t get involved or learn too much about the future; but when they go back to the TARDIS to leave the lock has been completely removed! They haven’t got a choice now but to get involved in this mystery.

The Crew and the TARDIS team in the Observation Deck.

Moments later the Sensorites attack the group telepathically again rendering them hopeless. Luckily, it doesn’t affect the Doctor or his companions. The affect on the crew causes the ship to try and go out of orbit and crash which fortunately the Doctor stops. These creatures being able to make such a difference without being present is quite a powerful thing. When the situation has solved itself, Barbara and Susan go looking for water but find John instead. He’s moving around in a zombie like state and terrifies them. Also, as the door shuts behind them it can’t be opened again. Now Ian and The Doctor can’t go to help them so they have to deal with John themselves.

The whole sequence is actually quite creepy. Despite the reuse their corridors in this episode, Barbara and Susan do a wonderful job of convincing us of the threat. They hold hands and stand their ground together against the threatening, deranged crew member. Finally, John breaks down in front of them, weeping at the horror of being controlled. Always the mother figure, Barbara strokes his hair as he lays in her lap, comforting him in their predicament. She’s hoping that the others will break through the door so they can all be reunited.

Meanwhile as Maitland is trying to cut through the door to get to them, they here another sound. It’s the the transport the Sensorites use to get onto the ship makes a low whining noise, which they can all hear. This is our first cliffhanger of the serial ends, with the Sensorites finally being introduced outside the window, peering through the observation deck.

So this is how we meet the Sensorites. As a NuWho fan, you might recognise this look from somewhere. If you look at a picture of an Odd from the Tenth Doctor era you’ll see resemblances. The mild mannered poses, the larger heads and the eyes being small are all comparable. In fact, The Tenth Doctor tells us that the races planets revolve around the same sun, which is a cool piece of canon that Russell T Davies created when he made them. 

Either way, though the Odd can appear a evil at times, the Sensorites don’t appear as threatening as their actions have been. They disappear from the observation deck window to enter the ship. The Doctor and Ian have to wake up the crew again as they have been made to fall asleep. Once awake, they can continue to cut through the door. Meanwhile, poor John is still being affected by the Sensorites as they closer to him. This time, Barbara and Susan are there with him. They tell him, to build his confidence, so that they feel safe with him now he’s on their side. This moment is when Susan shows a beautiful moment of intelligence and cunning that I wish we had seen more often in her character development. She tells Barbara about how they should try and use mental telepathy of their own to fight back against the Sensorites. She suggests that if they think about something clearly in their mind they could then defend themselves together, with the same thoughts. 

SUSAN: He’s quiet now, but we can’t be sure the Sensorites won’t make him help them. Look, if they can use their brains, why can’t we use ours?
BARBARA: To defend him?
SUSAN: Yes, and ourselves. Grandfather and I landed on a planet once called Esto. The plants there used thought transference. If you stood in between two of the plants, they set up a sort of screeching noise. Grandfather said it was because they were aware of another mind.
BARBARA: Breaking in on their communications.
SUSAN: Yes, exactly. I thought if we both tried together.
BARBARA: Well anything’s better than just sitting here.

It works! The Sensorites crumple and can’t fight back. Though it causes Susan faints it means that there probably is a way to keep themselves safe. This happens just in time for Ian and Maitland to be able to cut through the door to save them and bring them back to the observation deck to safety.  

It cuts from that scene to later on in time. The Sensorites appear to have left them to their own devices for now. Ian puts John to bed, who mumbles the phrase “the dreams of avarice.” Ian shares this with the others. This leads to the team to try and figure out why John’s reaction to the Sensorites is bigger than everyone else by seeing what he was doing before the Sensorites affected him. The Doctor puts his finger on it. He notices that John’s job, studying minerals in the Sense Sphere, meant he saw that the planet is rich in molybdenum. This is a precious material and it could make them all rich! All the intentions of the Sensorites make sense. This is why they’re keeping them hostage, but not wanting to hurt them but not wanting them to leave. 

Once that happens, the Sensorites attack telepathically at the crew again. This time, Ian and Barbara go running through the corridor to go looking for them but when they do. Ian orders Barbara to find a way to lock the doors, rushing towards the observation deck but Maitland can’t help. Meanwhile, Ian raises a hammer to defend himself from them as they move backwards as they move after him. It’s a horrendously tense moment that made me shiver to watch. Barbara runs to get John who could help her instead at the Doctor’s request but she observes when they return to him that Ian is never attacked by the Sensorites. John closes the door, it’s a relief but a wonder as to what they will actually do now they are on the ship….

Back on the observation deck when they are all back together with all the doors locked. Now, the Sensorites try something new… Susan gets a message from them, asking if they can talk. Clearly, she is more telepathic with her than the other TARDIS team in this moment. The two aliens enter the room to speak to the Doctor and the crew for the first time and they give their demands. With the discovery of the material on their planet they can’t let the Doctor go or the crew, as predicted, but they don’t want to hurt them. They offer instead to give them a place of their own to live on the Sense Sphere.

The Doctor refuses. In fact, it leads to one of the first time that we see how the Doctor is with another alien race when threatened. Something that he wasn’t like previously except with perhaps the Daleks, and even then he was their prisoner standing his ground. Now, in this moment, despite not knowing how to defeat them, he is in his element here that we recognise more in future episodes. 

DOCTOR: Now listen to me, both of you. You’ve taken the lock of my ship and I want it returned immediately.
SENSORITE 1: You’re in no position to threaten us.
DOCTOR: I don’t make threats. But I do keep promises. And I promise you I shall cause you more trouble than you bargained for if you don’t return my property!

The Sensorites leave, temporarily to ‘decide’ on what they want to do next. Meanwhile, The Doctor has noticed more things about his enemy. Their possible weaknesses with dealing with darkness could be a help to them. Also, there was a really interesting comment made by the Doctor in regards to telepathy…

BARBARA: Well, how can you be sure that the Sensorites will be frightened of the dark?
DOCTOR: My dear Barbara, wouldn’t you be afraid if you couldn’t see your enemies, hmm? Thank you for your admiration, dear boy. Thank you.
IAN: I never said a word.
DOCTOR: Telepathy. You know, telepathy isn’t only a prerequisite of the Sensorites. I know sometimes what you’re thinking.

Now is this intentional to suggest that The Doctor, like Susan are telepathic. They are aliens after all, and not humans, perhaps there was an intention here to show the difference again. After all The Doctor and Susan as opposed to the rest of the crew are supposed to be more alien. This telepathic streak is played on before in the future with NuWho and the Classic Who era, so it’s really awesome to again speculate if this was the intention or not. I wonder if this was what led to the use of telepathy with the Doctor later on… 

And speaking of telepathy…

Susan with the Sensorites…

It’s then when Susan is getting another message for the Sensorites. Worriedly, they watch as she listens and replies to them out loud before moving away from her friends and towards the door. Turns out that they told her if she didn’t go live in the Sense Sphere, they would kill them and she couldn’t have that on her conscience. This left us with a cliffhanger, both for the following week in the past all those years ago and now with this article. 

So! Part Two will show us the best parts of Susan Foreman, The Sense Sphere and just how much the crew need Barbara Wright. This week I don’t have a doodle because I’m actually away from home.  

But have a picture of my brother in law watching the Sensorites with me instead.

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Aztecs (Part 2 of 2)

By Sophie Iles

Welcome back Whovians! We are into the second part of this serial and already we’ve had everything you could possibly want. There’s danger, there’s history, there’s hints of a romantic subplot and now there’s this bone chilling cliffhanger that we were left on as Ian is about face death at the hands of his rival Ixta. It’s up to Barbara Wright to save the day, as she often seems to do…

Before I start laying down the groundwork of the next two episodes I must say out of all of the episodes, this one has such a variety of things going on. Lots of threads being neatly sewn together for the climatic ending of episode four. I really think David Whitaker was a very good script editor to make this serial as good as it is!

So, without further ado let’s find out how our foursome get out of their sticky situation in The Bride of Sacrifice and The Day of Darkness!

Barbara saves the day, because she’s awesome.

Barbara saves the day obviously. She snatches a knife and uses it to threatens the life of Tlotoxl if they don’t let Ian live. They do as their told. Her fierceness sincerely got my back up as I watched this sequence. As this is the end of the fight, no one is given the victory; Ian is unconscious and Ixta ‘cheated’. When Ian next wakes up, Ixta promises to kill him next time (foreshadowing Ixta’s last scene in the serial). Ian also learns that Ixta’s promise to give The First Doctor drawings was false, as there were none. Imagine my frustration as I shake my fist at the screen. I want this dude dispatched as soon as possible.

Ian also learns that Tlotoxl is plotting something, but he doesn’t know what, and he goes straight to Barbara to tell her. It’s strange, but up until this moment in the series, Ian has never been this physically active to me. He was always an action man surely, but he really does feel like a man who trained in the National Service in this series with how well he handles himself and even how he speaks to Barbara about how Autloc is the only good man here willing to see her point of view about sacrifice; it all seems clearer cut than Barbara’s idealistic wish to stop the Aztecs from destroying their civilisation.

Meanwhile, with Barbara having threatened Tlotoxl he’s even more suspicious of her than he already was. Planning with another man, Tonila, to see if poison will kill the goddess, a way of proving she is false.  When both he and Tonila go to her with a poisoned chalice, Ian is hiding waving his hands suggesting she shouldn’t drink it after his warning, and Barbara calls them out on it trying to make them drink it first. Obviously they don’t.

TLOTOXL: I only meant to test you.
BARBARA: With poison?
TLOTOXL: Yetaxa would have lived. The gods are immortal.
BARBARA: Well I would have died. I am not Yetaxa.
TLOTOXL: False. False! I knew.
BARBARA: And who will believe you? I warn you, Tlotoxl, you say one word against me to the people and I’ll have them destroy you. Destroy you!

She’s so upset and angry by the whole event that once he’s gone she just begins to cry into Ian’s arms and her really at her weakest point. This adventure just seems to get rougher and rougher for Barbara with every passing minute and I would personally hate to be in her shoes.

Whilst all of this is going on, Susan and The Doctor have their own problems, though in the case of the Doctor, it’s his eagerness and clear misunderstanding of reading the signs that gets him into trouble. Perhaps, you can call this the good kind of trouble? His relationship with Cameca reaches a new level, when she brings cocoa beans to him when they’re spending time together in the Garden of Peace. In Aztec custom, if you make someone a drink of cocoa beans, you offer them a marriage proposal due to their importance in use as currency.

She wishes to see if the Doctor feels the same way about her, by bringing the beans, which, out of what is probably just politeness and excitement to have a hot chocolate he insists on making a drink for her. To Cameca this is a massive moment, to be made a marriage proposal, and for her feelings to be reconciled. For the Doctor, he’s barely aware of the meaning and just can’t wait to share a drink of hot chocolate with her as a distraction from the chaos around him.

As a viewer you basically know this information before he does, it’s only when she announces the truth that you see William Hartnell react to the news, and it is one my favourite scenes of the serial.

The Doctor gets engaged….accidentally.

DOCTOR: Happy days, my dear.
CAMECA: The happiest of my life, dear heart. Was ever such a potion brewed? In bliss is quenched my thirsty heart. 

DOCTOR: Very prettily put, my dear.
CAMECA: Oh, sweet-favoured man, you have declared your love for me, and I acknowledge and accept your gentle proposal.

It does make you wonder just how much the First Doctor felt about Cameca, bringing in that thought again about previous adventures he had with Susan before we are introduced to them and what ideas William Hartnell had about the Doctor’s past.

Whilst this is going on Susan is still training to be a good Aztec housewife. With Tlotoxl now wanting to destroy Barbara he decides to put pressure on Susan after hearing how defiant she had been before and tells the Perfect Victim to visit her. Of course, being that he is considered the Perfect Victim he can marry who he chooses before he is sacrificed and he chooses Susan. She’s outraged of course! She refuses. This gets her in a hell of a lot of trouble, as even Barbara, not knowing this was Susan who made the mistake, clearly insists that their teachings must be stuck to.

Whoops. That Tlotoxl is a real sneaky git isn’t he?

Susan’s due to be punished, Ian’s unable to be truly helpful to anyone because Ixta is always watching him, and the Doctor has his own issues, but he’s finally found an idea thanks to his new “fiancee”. She offers him a gift of a stone with Yetaxa’s mark on. The Doctor strikes on an idea that there’s another stone, a large tablet in the garden he had been sitting behind. Perhaps that will lead to the tomb.

He tells Ian about this and they decide to meet in secret in the Garden of Peace to check it out for themselves, though this isn’t without the Doctor admitting “he got engaged”, which is hilarious to watch Ian find that funny, a proper belly laugh at that. When they do finally meet, The Doctor can’t take the stone off out of the wall on his own, and Ian has to do it as it’s too heavy. He uses a flashlight to climb into the tunnel, hoping this is an entrance to the tomb. Of course, it’s never that simple with Doctor Who. Ixta was following and tells the Doctor he must put the stone back because it will flood the Garden. He knows full well Ian is in there, trapped in the dark as water floods the tunnel and The Doctor even tells him that Ian is trapped in there but it just means Ixta has defeated Ian again his mind!

Of course, it’s a perfect moment for a cliffhanger too, but luckily, we all know Ian is a smart cookie. He finds another symbol of Yetaxa’s in the tunnel, and he pushes it to find another to crawl through, reaching back into the tomb just as he and the Doctor hoped.

Now, just to find a way to keep the door open so they can get back in the tomb, all of them safe and sound.

It would be easy to say it was as simple as Ian made it look, tying some old cloth from the tomb so the door could be opened on the other side whenever they want it. Alas, even when all four of them are reunited after Ian rescues Susan from waiting to be punished they have difficulty getting into the tomb. Ian’s trick with the cloth just causes it to get snapped before they can open it again. The Doctor concludes they need a pulley of some sort, in a time when the wheel didn’t exist.

Ian and Susan go back to the Garden, with the hope of climbing through the tomb tunnel again, but little do they know Ian is being set up to be framed for an assault on Barbara’s only ally Autloc (Oh, Doctor Who loves setting Ian up for murder don’t they?) so Susan and Ian are locked away to be punished during the eclipse, Tlotoxl is hoping to bind Barbara and get rid of her, and The Doctor is creating a pulley device of his own.

It’s in this moment, that Cameca has realised that the Doctor doesn’t really intend to marry her, and this sad subplot makes me feel so much for the Doctor, he clearly has enjoyed her company, smiling at her and comfortable. They have been sat together looking quaint. Even discussing a garden of their own. We all know that the Doctor can’t do that. Even in this early in the life span of the show, we know he needs to go off with the others.

She’s no fool, she tells him she knows he plans to leave, and he confirms them, not unkindly, but not apologetically either but he doesn’t even meet her eye. It is a sad moment to watch and William Hartnell does so well to pull you into the moment.

DOCTOR: There you are, my dear, it’s nearly finished.
CAMECA: As is our time together. I do not know what its purpose is, but I’ve always known it would take you from me.
DOCTOR: Yes. I’m sorry, my dear.
CAMECA: Tomorrow will truly be a day of darkness.
DOCTOR: For both of us.
CAMECA: Tlotoxl is determined to destroy Yetaxa?
DOCTOR: He must do to safeguard his own beliefs.
CAMECA: We are a doomed people, my dear. There’s no turning back for us.
DOCTOR: You’re a very fine woman, Cameca, and you’ll always be very, very dear to me.  

Cameca’s part of the story isn’t over, and has in fact saved them all with her wisdom in all matters and her influence. She, aided by the Doctor before she realised the truth asked Autloc who survived his attack go to see Barbara. Their friendship isn’t quite the same, but still believes that Ian did hit him round the head with the club. Barbara tries to explain to him that there would be no reason why her servant will attack him, but even then, his faith is shaken. Poor Autloc decides that it would be better to disappear into the wilderness and find his own way.

But not before asking Cameca to bribe the guard protecting Ian and Susan so Susan can get away. Though Ian uses the opportunity to knock the guy out so he can also escape.

This also makes for one last time for Cameca and The Doctor to meet, he thanks he for giving him back Susan, but you can see the heartache. The first time we ever see someone ask to be taken with them wherever she is heading and he doesn’t even face her. Truly heartbreaking to watch, and again both William Hartnell and Margot Van der Burgh do it all beautifully before she rushes away.

This leaves the climatic ending of the whole serial now they have the means to escape into the tomb because of the Doctor’s pulley. Ian — dressing in the guard’s head dress is on hand to protect Barbara at the sacrifice of the Perfect Victim when Tlotoxl tries to stab her. Tlotoxl and Tonila move to the side calling for Ixta to fight Ian, which leads to a really wonderful tense final fight between Ixta and Ian, and we know it’s to the death this time.

Ian and Ixta face off for the last time…

It’s not the best fight scene (my favourites are within The Romans) but it does make for a dramatic climax, whilst Barbara Susan and the Doctor get the tomb open. Ian and Ixta’s finally stand is tense and the matte painting to show the rest of the Mexico  really gives depth to the situation when Ian finally uses his feet to throw Ixta down the steps to his death.

Ian finally joins them in the tomb, to get back into the TARDIS, where Barbara removes the jewellery and the headdress of the goddess and place it back from where it once came, on the bones of the high priest she had taken them from before.

BARBARA: We failed.
DOCTOR: Yes, we did. We had to.
BARBARA: What’s the point of travelling through time and space if we can’t change anything? Nothing. Tlotoxl had to win.
DOCTOR: Yes.
BARBARA: And the one man I had respect for, I deceived. Poor Autloc. I gave him false hope and in the end he lost his faith.
DOCTOR: He found another faith, a better, and that’s the good you’ve done. You failed to save a civilisation, but at least you helped one man.

Her heart to heart with the Doctor leads to the realisation that at least Autloc, the man she trusted can now find his own faith and not be restricted to the forced Aztec traditions and it really nice to see how NuWho echoes this in the future. Of course, personally, I think this serial did it better.

Next week it’s time for The Sensorites an adventure though I have already seen before can’t wait to revisit, and personally, one of the best stories to depict Susan so we’ll talk about that next week.

Here’s my fanart for the week. Barbara in her Yetaxa garb, and an extra bonus, I’m adding this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNgxtnBHxRs where you can watch me draw and colour it too!

Soph Watches Classic Doctor Who – The Aztecs (Part 1 of 2)

By Sophie Iles

The Aztecs is a masterpiece. There, I said it. You can shout at me all you like later, you can tell me there are better serials out there in the world of Who, and I will listen, but the levels this serial goes to really is wonderfully thrilling to watch. There’s some dodgy fighting, and some of the dialogue is a little stuffy — but overall, it’s a thrilling watch and one of the few I could probably watch all over again after getting to the end of the episode. I can now also see where Dreamworks got some of their ideas for The Road to Eldorado…

Funnily enough, The Aztecs was the first episode of Classic Who I ever saw. It was on Netflix, and it cut like the first five minutes so i didn’t know what was going on. I was expecting the legendary Tom Baker at the time, to suddenly see it in black and white and his grumpy old man shouting at a woman about not changing history. Unfortunately, teenage Soph wasn’t impressed and switched off after the first episode. This time couldn’t have been further from the truth, I absorbed it like a sponge.

Lets look this week at the intro to this tale: The Temple of Evil and The Warriors of Death!

First we see Barbara and Susan exit the TARDIS after landing in a tomb, which Barbara correctly identifies as an Aztec tomb, of a high priest no doubt, as we discover it’s her favourite historical period — her specialism — which is pretty lucky if you ask me. Barbara and Susan become interested in a door after some exploring and putting on the priestess’s jewellery, Barbara leaves the tomb despite Susan saying she’ll get the others and she walks right into the clutches of the Aztec outside. Susan returns with the Doctor and Ian to tell them Barbara found a door, but obviously can’t find her. The Doctor is furious with her, and Ian is obviously a little worried, which escalates when they too run into the attendants outside.

DOCTOR: You know where we came from?
AUTLOC: The tomb.
DOCTOR: Tell me, is there a way through from this side?
AUTLOC: The tomb is sealed. Go now with these attendants, and soon you shall meet the one who wears the bracelet of Yetaxa.
DOCTOR: What’s he talking about now?
SUSAN: He must be talking about Barbara. She picked up a bracelet from the tomb.
IAN: Well, perhaps we’d better go and meet her.

Whilst behind them, the entrance to the tomb, and their escape is closed and no entrance can be made from the outside. Which, is a big problem, but at least for now, everything appears safe.

Barbara shows the TARDIS team the high priestess’s bracelet.


Barbara has been dubbed the reincarnation of the High Priest Yetaxa, due to the fact she was wearing their bracelet. The company are in good spirits, except for being unsure how to get back to the TARDIS, but Ian and the Doctor are given permission as the ‘Servants of Yetaxa’ to wander the city, which Susan, her handmaiden, is to stay with her.

We meet two priests who are in complete contrast to each other. Autloc, the High Priest of Knowledge, and Tlotoxl, the High Priest of Sacrifice, who Ian labels the “local butcher” before he even announces his title. The latter is wonderful, played by John Ringham, who brings a creepiness to his performance, claiming that Ian should be the commander of their armies, as the chosen one of Yetaxa, to which our friendly neighbourhood science teacher can’t possibly refuse, and that he must challenge the current man fighting for that honor, Ixta.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is taken to the Garden of Peace, which is where the residents over the age of fifty three are given a place of solitude to spend their final years. This is where he meets the beautiful elder Cameca, who he decides to question about the tomb when he finds out she knows of the father and son in regards to whom built Yexata’s tomb.

For a few good moments, perhaps possibly Ian having to deal with the jealous Aztec warrior, the crew seem to be enjoying their stay. Barbara and Susan enjoy wearing the Aztec headdresses, observing how the Aztecs had both beauty and horror, which the Doctor seems overwhelmingly charmed by Cameca in the garden. It’s not until Ian rushes to Barbara to tell her that he has to hold down a sacrifice in her honor that Barbara decides she, as the Goddess Yetaxa, would not allow it.

She wants to meddle with history, remove the sacrificing all together, and protect the Aztec civilisation before it gets destroyed by the Spanish. The Doctor is furious but Barbara as she often does stands her ground. The whole moment completely opening up a discussion on why the Doctor is so set on not meddling with time. The whole dialogue in that scene, and the delivery made me wonder, as I often do, what William Hartnell’s mind had concocted as we know he and Carole Ann had their own ideas of their family background just what the First Doctor meant by that final appeal:

BARBARA: There will be no sacrifice this afternoon, Doctor. Or ever again. The reincarnation of Yetaxa will prove to the people that you don’t need to sacrifice a human being in order to make it rain.
DOCTOR: Barbara, no.
BARBARA: It’s no good, Doctor, my mind’s made up. This is the beginning of the end of the Sun God.
DOCTOR: What are you talking about?
BARBARA: Don’t you see? If I could start the destruction of everything that’s evil here, then everything that is good would survive when Cortes lands.
DOCTOR: But you can’t rewrite history! Not one line!
SUSAN: Barbara, the high priests are coming.
DOCTOR: Barbara, one last appeal. What you are trying to do is utterly impossible. I know, believe me, I know.

In other words, what the hell did you try to do before now One?

As the time for sacrifice comes, Barbara stands her ground, informing them all she does not wish the sacrifice to go ahead, but insulted and dishonoured, the victim instead throws himself off the top of the tomb at Tlotoxl’s suggestion. And just then the rain arrives just as Tlotoxl said it would. Susan also tried to stop the sacrifice too when she was not permitted entrance, which gets her sent away to learn their customs, better than to be punished. Poor Barbara trying to protect everyone, just gets people dead anyway or in more trouble than it’s worth. Not to mention, Tlotoxl is now absolutely sure that she’s a false goddess.

The Doctor is really harsh with her when he sees her alone again, shouting and now even more upset that Susan is somewhere they can’t reach. It’s a good moment, strongly acted, Barbara trying to show her strength of will is still crushed at the thought that Susan could not come to any harm to which she starts to cry. The Doctor does apologise to her, comforting her, and tells her that they’ll be fine, he has plans to find out to get into the temple with his new found friend in the Garden of Peace.

Yexeta and Tlotoxl

It’s after this that Barbara gets to face off against Tlotoxl, who tries to trick her into giving knowledge she wouldn’t know, but her knowledge on the Aztecs and her quick cunning words give her time and space to speak to them. She’s great here, both actors spar with each other expertly, and when it is said and done, Barbara has asked that Autloc challenge her divinity as the High Priest of Knowledge, whilst Tlotoxl informs her, Ian is to fight Ixta over the command of their armies.

Ian and Ixta trading barbed words.

Ian seems to not be out of place though next to Ixta, the young man who is his rival to command is a try hard, desperate to prove himself, and is obviously good with weapons. Ian though, cool as you please suggests that the only he only needs his thumb to defeat him and proves as such, putting said thumb on the pressure point at the back of Ixta’s neck that renders him unconscious in front of a lot of influential people. (Go Ian Go!)

This only makes Ixta hate Ian further, he’s determined to defeat Ian and he’s about to get his chance. Cameca approaches Ixta, asking about his father’s plans for the tomb, claiming the older servant of Yetaxa is after information. He says he will speak to him, and tricks the Doctor, by claiming that he needs his help to defeat his rival in combat. The Doctor is unaware that it’s Ian that Ixta is facing, gives him a poisoned thorn from one of the plants in the garden, and tells him that if he scratches his opponent with it it will drain them of his strength. So by giving Ixta the tool to defeat Ian once and for all.

Susan meanwhile seems to be doing well learning the customs of the Aztecs, but still is in refusal to accept some of their traditions. It’s a very strong serial for her in that regard, considering the smaller part she plays, and showing that defiance to Autloc is going to get her into a lot of trouble, and she, taking after her other female role model Barbara, won’t take no for an answer.

The Doctor goes to tell Barbara about Ixta and the plans for the tomb, but Barbara informs him that she’s not allowed to see anyone but their own priests whilst Tlotoxl is challenging her divinity — and informs the Doctor that he’s assisted in Ixta defeating Ian which clearly the Doctor is troubled about, and though he rushes out to help, he’s taken away to be punished!  Barbara tells Autloc he had not known of the denial of entry, and was ignorant and she tells him also that the fight between Ixta and Ian should not end in death and she forbids it with the hope that it’s not too late.

So the fight between Ian and Ixta begins at sunset, Susan blissfully unaware still learning away in the city, whilst the pair fight on. As an observation, Ixta who’s supposed to be well trained does do badly against the science teacher. This is surprising as a new viewer but actually there’s a Big Finish Audio that does explain this Ian trait (It’s Farewell, Great Macedon check it out if you like this serial!) but Ixta finally uses the thorn on Ian and it’s not good news.

It’s terrible to watch as The Doctor rushes forward towards the fight, newly released, trying to warn his friend but it’s too late, Ian Chesterton’s reflexes slows down, fighting hard all the while as he’s slowly poisoned. It’s only when Ixta is ready to give the final blow when Barbara turns up in her beautiful headdress every bit a goddess — determined to make sure it doesn’t end in blood shed and left in a chilling cliffhanger that I don’t think I could have handled to wait a week for…

TLOTOXL: A false goddess forbids it. Destroy him.
BARBARA: Stop!
TLOTOXL: Your place is in the temple.
BARBARA: I am loyal to those who serve me.
TLOTOXL: If you are Yetaxa, save him.

And so next week, we look at what happens to Ian, what will Susan’s modern views mean for her safety, and how far will Tlotoxl go to prove Barbara isn’t a goddess. Find out next week with The Bride of Sacrifice and The Day of Darkness….

Sadly, I don’t have a picture today, due to having been at Cardiff Comic Con this weekend, so instead, have a picture of men, dressed like a miniature sized twelfth doctor who left his real jacket at home and stole Ace’s badges….. I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend and see you next week!

Me with a mondasian cyberman!