Number : Season 24, episode 2 of 5.
Which One : 50’s holiday camp and the green alien baby.
Cast : The Doctor : Sylvester McCoy
Mel : Bonnie Langford
Gavrok : Don Henderson
Delta : Belinda Mayne
Burton : Richard Davies
Weismuller : Stubby Kaye
Hawk : Morgan Deare
Billy : David Kinder
Vinny : Martyn Geraint
Rachel ‘Ray’ Defwydd – Sara Griffiths
Goronwy : Hugh Lloyd
Tollmaster : Ken Dodd
Keillor : Brian Hibbard
Murray : Johnny Dennis
Adlon : Leslie Meadows
Bollit : Anita Graham
Callon : Clive Condon
Arrex : Richard Mitchley
Chima : Tim Scott
Chimeron : Jessica McGough, Amy Osborn, Laura Collins, Carley Joseph
The Band : Robin Aspland, Keff McCulloch, Justin Myers, Ralph Salmins, Tracey Wilson, Jodie Wilson.
Written By : Brian Kohll
Produced By : JNT
First UK Broadcast : 2 – 16 November 1987.
Length : 3 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : The Doctor takes Mel on an intergalactic time-travelling bus trip, to 1950’s Earth and a Welsh Butlins style holiday camp. Unknown to the Doctor, the “Chimeron Queen” – Delta has also stowed away aboard the bus, with a precious cargo in an attempt to survive an attack by Gavrok and his deadly Bannermen.
Whats good : On paper, it’s a good story.
Whats bad : In execution, it’s a bad story.
Review With Spoilers : A recurrent theme in McCoy’s Doctor Who – is that most, if not all of the stories have good premises and interesting potential pay-offs, at least in the writing (character development aside).
The issues seem to begin in the execution and direction of the story and this is where things begin to fall down. The overly tongue-in-cheek slant on much of McCoy’s Who, doesn’t lend itself to serious sci-fi.
Delta And The Bannermen is no different, in that respect. Overly contrived, silly and more than a tad childish pantomime.
Delta And The Bannermen mostly takes place in a 1950’s Earth holiday camp, called Shangri-La and “camp” would be a more than fitting description for this episode.
Whilst a story like this benefits from a bit of fun injected into it. Especially one set in a 1950’s rock-and-roll holiday camp. It seems that the directors, producers and actors went into overdrive, in an attempt to remake an intergalactic Hi-De-Hi.
Gavrok and his Bannermen should be at least a little bit menacing. After all, they are supposed to be genocidial maniacs who have just murdered all of the Chimerons. But in practice, they just come across as pantomine baddies – in paintball outfits.
“Now are you telling me that you are not the Happy Hearts Holiday Club from Bolton….. but instead….. are spacemen in fear of an attack from some other … spacemen?” Burton
Some of the characters have sudden inexplicable motivational changes for no reason. Mechanic Billy’s sudden pursuit of Queen Delta and willingness to risk his life and health by ingesting Chimeron feed capsules to become Chimeron himself, makes no sense.
He also witnesses the hatching of the Chimeron egg but doesn’t flinch in the slightest at the appearance of a squidgey green alien baby. Unless he is under some kind of alien mind-control or just in love – it is not clear.
The camp leader; Burton – agrees to evacuate the whole camp immediately on the say-so of the Doctor. Due to an impending intergalactic assault and all it took was a quick peek into the Tardis as proof of alien life.
Likewise, what the point of the two elderly American spies is, loitering around the Welsh countryside looking for downed satellites – is not made clear either.
There is a backstory to the hatching of the Chimeron Princess which paraphrases the lifecycle of bees, which are a plot device used later as the Doctor employs a swarm to attack the Bannermen.
Cameo’s by Ken Dodd (annoying) as the Tollmaster and Flying Picketts Singer – Brian Hibbard, as an assassin smack more of “spot the guest star” than serious star cameo. And McCoy’s era did over-rely on the disposable guest stars, like a bit of a production line.
A silly and sometimes baffling episode, that does contain some camp charm but tries too hard to mimic 70’s sitcom.
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