Number : Season 26, episode 1 of 4
Which One : Brigadier’s last appearance -v- space knights.
Cast : The Doctor : Sylvester McCoy
Ace : Sophie Aldred
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart : Nicholas Courtney
Brigadier Winifred Bambera : Angela Bruce
Shou Yuing : Ling Tai
Morgaine : Jean Marsh
Mordred : Christopher Bowen
Ancelyn : Marcus Gilbert
Doris : Angela Douglas
Sergeant Zbrigniev : Robert Jezek
Flight Lieutenant Lavel : Dorota Rae
Major Husak : Paul Tomany
Pat Rawlinson : Noel Collins
Elizabeth Rawlinson : June Bland
Peter Warmsly : James Ellis
Knight Commander : Stefan Schwartz
The Destroyer : Marek Anton
Written By : Ben Aaronovitch
Produced By : JNT
First Broadcast : 6 – 27 September 1989
Length : 4 x 25 minute parts
Plot : The Doctor is drawn to a UNIT operation at lake Vortigern, in the English Countryside. The lake is the final resting place of King Arthur. Camelot staples; Morgana and Mordred have also followed the trail aswell. As the odds rise and the skirmish gets bloodier. UNIT call out retired Lethbridge Stewart, to direct proceedings.
Whats good : It’s good to see the Brigadier back in action – one more time. Nostalgic retread of the classic Pertwee UNIT adventures
Whats bad : It’s kind of silly and dated now, in places. The Destroyer is another bad man-in-a-costume.
Review With Spoilers : Battlefield had some interesting moments. Aside from the return of the Brig and previous Who regular; Jean Marsh – as the sorceress Morgaine.
It also hints that the Seventh Doctor, (or a future incarnation) has undertaken some Camelot adventure yet to happen. Involving being mistaken as Merlin himself. The Doc has no knowledge of this, so assumes it involves a future adventure – or incarnation.
There is also a nice moment, when the Doctor produces an ID card with the Third Doctor’s (Pertwee) face on it; when challenged by UNIT soldiers at a checkpoint. Talking of Pertwee, his antique car Bessie is also brought out of retirement for a good run-out in the countryside.
Battlefield is a nostalgic tribute to the Earth-based Pertwee UNIT adventures of 20 years – previous. This is in direct contrast with the modern UNIT, who are now a multi-national European NATO force under the command of a tough black female Brigadier; called Bambera.
It’s a clash of old and new, especially Lethbridge-Stewart’s clashes with Bambera, (and Ace) over the best way to deal with the space Camelot menace.
“He has many names, but in my reckoning, he is Merlin…. …….it is not your aspect, but your manner that betrays you. Do you not ride the ship of time? Does it not deceive the senses by being larger within than without? Come, Merlin, cease these games!” Ancelyn
The characters of King Arthur’s legend have also had an interesting makeover in this; as inter-dimensional, lazer gun toting, space knights. King Arthur himself, is entombed in a spaceship at the bottom of lake Vortigern.
Battlefield is not without its problems though, even small things like the appearance of “The Destroyer” in the final act is problematic. We’ve been built up throughout – of the coming of this all powerful, all knowing – destroyer of worlds. When it arrives though, it is just another bad ‘man-in-a-wobbly-rubber suit’ turn.
In summary though, Battlefield succeeds in what it sets out to do. Give the Brig one last airing and homage the Pertwee UNIT years.
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