Which One : Maggoty environmental shocker.
Cast : The Doctor : Jon Pertwee
Jo : Katy Manning
Brigadier : Nicholas Courtney
Captain Mike Yates : Richard Franklin
Sergeant Benton : John Levene
Professor Clifford Jones : Stewart Bevan
Stevens : Jerome Willis
Nancy : Mitzi McKenzie
Hinks : Ben Howard
Fell : John Rolfe
Elgin : Tony Adams
James : Roy Skelton
Voice of BOSS : John Dearth
Minister of Ecology : Richard Beale
Dave : Talfryn Thomas
Bert : Roy Evans
Dai Evans : Mostyn Evans
Hughes : John Scott Martin
Milkman : Ray Handy
Cleaner : Jean Burgess
Written By : Robert Sloman & Barry Letts.
Produced By : Barry Letts
First UK Broadcast : 19 May – 23 June 1973.
Length : 6 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : UNIT are called in to investigate a number of strange deaths at a Welsh mine, now run by a big chemical conglomerate called Global Chemicals (GC).
The Doctor discovers that GC have been dumping hazardous chemical waste down the mine, tainting the local fauna.
Whats good : An early ode to environmental concerns : pollution, alternate energy and food source. The green death. The maggots. Pertwee gets a chance to be humourous. Jo’s touching goodbye. The Brigadier.
Whats bad : The fly.
Review With Spoilers : The Green Death is the season 10 finale and marks the departure of companion Jo.
It features an early nod to environmental concerns, mirroring a growing movement in the 1970s; that the planet was being polluted by (amongst others) – big industry.
In the way that only Who could, it responded to this by bringing out an ecological shocker, featuring two-foot long (deadly to the touch) giant maggots. A problem very much of Earthly making, with no hint of alien influence.
Bringing in the character of Nobel prize winning – Dr Clifford Jones, who serves as a love interest for Jo and a mouth piece; to clarify the environmental concerns facing humanity.
The Green Death also allows Pertwee a rare opportunity to flex his comedy muscle, with undercover turns as a fake Milkman and Doris the cleaning lady – as he attempts to infiltrate GCs HQ.
“Giant maggots? What kind of insects are they going to turn into?” Jo
The Green Death also marks the departure of companion Jo. In a touching scene, where the Doctor finally realises he has lost Jo – to Dr Jones’ cause.
It’s handled well though – with Pertwee cleverly underplaying his disappointment at Jo’s decision – to goto Wales on an eco mission; rather than accompany the Doctor to (finally) see Metebelis 3 (Jo never does get to see it!).
The maggot SFX deserves a mention, especially the maggot puppets movement, which gives them a “real” fluid quality. The fly though is not a good piece of SFX and looks like a stiff kite on a string. Thankfully, there is only 1 fly and it is mercifully shortlived.
The Green Death is an ecologically aware piece, which is at least 20 years ahead of its time. Especially its comment on the need to regulate big industry and produce renewable and sustainable energy and foodstocks.
The Green Death also sets up the future events of Pertwee’s swansong – Planet Of The Spiders with the Doctor stealing a blue crystal from Metebelis 3, for Jo.
When Who takes tentative steps into making comment on societies issues then it usually does it cleverly and within a sci-fi remit. The Green Death boldly dispenses with this for an Earthly bound tale.