Number : Season 4, serial 1 of 9.

Which One : 17th century Cornwall.

Cast : The Doctor : William Hartnell
Polly : Anneke Wills
Ben Jackson : Michael Craze
Jacob Kewper : David Blake Kelly
Joseph Longfoot : Terence De Marney
Cherub : George A. Cooper
Josiah Blake : John Ringham
Captain Pike : Michael Godfrey
Tom : Mike Lucas
The Squire : Paul Whitsun-Jones
Spaniard : Derek Ware
Jamaica : Elroy Josephs
Gaptooth : Jack Bligh

Written By : Bryan Hayles

Produced By : Innes Lloyd

First UK Broadcast : 10 September – 1 October 1966.

Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.

Plot : The Tardis land in 17th century Cornwall and the Doctor, Ben and Polly encounter a vicious group of Smugglers.

Whats good : An interesting period setting. Nice on-location scenery. Some supporting characters are well played.

Whats bad : It’s a bit dull. Never really builds – to anything substanial. Could have been shorter.

Review With Spoilers : The Smugglers is the first serial of season 4 – and features a period story – set in 17th century Cornwall.

The Tardis lands on a beach and Doctor, Ben and Polly travel to a local Church; where a frightened Church Warder – imparts a secret on the Doctor; about some hidden treasure.

Later on, the Warder is killed by a group of Smugglers, who learn of the Doctor’s new found secret and kidnap him; in an attempt to learn – where the treasure is buried.

The Smugglers follows hot-on-heels – of a number of previous Hartnell period-dramas; all of varying quality. One thing that The Smugglers does have going for it, is the unique 17th century Cornish setting – the time of the fearsome Smugglers.

Coupled with some nice ‘on-location’ shooting, of real Cornwall locations, this gives The Smugglers; a unique period feel.

“If you should come this way again and find me gone, remember these words. This is Deadman’s secret key: Smallwood, Ringwood, Gurney! It’s a secret worth remembering…!”Joseph Longfoot

The Smugglers also sports a couple of memorable performances, from George A. Cooper; as the fearsome Smuggler assassin -called ‘Cherub’; and Michael Godfrey – as Captain Pike.

Ben and Polly, also provide some usefully interspersed light-hearted moments. Especially, the running gag of Polly being mistaken for a boy; (as she wears trousers) and Ben being told to shut-up – all the time; due to being perceived – as a young squire – to the Doctor.

On the whole though, The Smugglers feels like an unnecessary harkback to the earlier bland talky period dramas. Where little happens, except a lot of talking.

This is despite a number of other – much better period dramas, which have a nice blend of action, drama – and talking, including; The Crusade and The Gunfighters; for example. Additionally, viewing figures for The Smugglers, were the lowest of any Hartnell adventure.

It was also the story, where it finally becomes apparent that William Hartnell’s health, had deteriorated to the point – where he was able to continue playing the role of the Doctor. Therefore, the decision was made to recast – after the following serial; The Tenth Planet.

The Smugglers can best be summed up, as an authentic looking – but ultimately insipid smuggling yarn; that could have benefited from a sci-fi angle – to give it a bit of a kick. Sadly, it was just another straight-up period romp, with little memorability.

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Old Doctor Who

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