Number : Season 26, serial 1 of 4

Which One : Brigadier’s last series 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 episodes.

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 skirmishes 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 is the opening episode of season 26 and had some interesting moments, contained. Aside from the return of the Brigadier (and previous Who guest-star Jean Marsh) – as the sorceress Morgaine.

Nicholas Courtney and Jean Marsh have a few god scenes together as the Brigadier and Morgaine. Which is a nice homage and harkback, to the their competing roles in Hartnell’s Dalek’s Masterplan, as Brett Vyonn and Sarah Kingdom.

It also hints that the Seventh Doctor, (or a future incarnation) has undertaken some Camelot adventure, yet to happen. Involving being mistaken (or having chosen to masquerade) – as the wizard Merlin. The Doctor (currently) 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 an interesting clash of old and new approaches, especially Lethbridge-Stewart’s clashes with Bambera, (and Ace) over the best way to deal with the space Camelot menace. As each, has a different view-point and opinion – on how to deal with it.

“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 third act – is problematic. We’ve been built up throughout the story of the coming – of this all powerful, all knowing – destroyer of worlds. However, when it arrives, 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 Brigadier one last airing and homages the Pertwee UNIT years. The inclusion of Jean Marsh, gives a nice additional nostalgic counterpoint.

🔵🔵🔵⚪⚪ (3/5)

Old Doctor Who

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