DELTA AND THE BANNERMEN

Part One

Sue: What an odd title.

The episode begins with a gunfight.

Delta and the BannermenSue: This paintballing game is breaking all the rules. They are covered in green paint. They should be dead!
Me: They’re supposed to be green. They’re aliens.
Sue: They look like those little green soldiers that Gary used to play with when he was a boy. But bigger.

The aggressors in this battle are very distinctive.

Sue: What are those things on their backs?
Me: Banners. That’s why they are called the Bannermen.
Sue: Oh, I thought they were playing Capture the Flag.

Delta, last of the Chimerons, escapes by stealing one of the Bannermens’ spaceships.

Sue: It’s not bad, this. It’s quite exciting for what it is. It’s just a shame about the music, but what can you do?

The TARDIS materialises at Tollport G715.

Sue: Is Mel dressed for a job interview? She’s looking very smart. Whatever it is, I hope she gets it.

The Doctor and Mel are greeted by the Tollmaster.

Delta and the BannermenSue: Eh? What? That can’t be… Is that Ken Dodd?
Me: Yep.
Sue: **** off!
Me: It is.
Sue: But Ken Dodd isn’t an actor!
Me: Well, that’s not strictly true. He did quite a bit of Shakespeare before this.
Sue: Did he?
Me: No, Doddy.

Mel wants to get on a bus going to Disneyland.

Sue: Or she could just go in the TARDIS. Wouldn’t that be easier? Or is it broken again?

Meanwhile, in Wales, we meet two CIA agents, Weismuller and Hawk.

Sue: If these two are really American, I’ll eat my hat.
Me: Would you like some ketchup with that?
Sue: Honestly? I thought they were sending it up.

Nostalgia Trips is the most notorious travel firm in the five galaxies.

Sue: Hang on a minute… I thought Time Lords were the only people who are allowed to travel in time? Shouldn’t the Doctor be stopping this lot or something?
The Doctor: It was a Nostalgia Trip cruiser that got stuck with the glass eaters of Tharl.
Sue: Did he just say Thal?

Poor Sue. What have I done?

Gavrok vows to hunt Delta down.

Sue: I definitely recognise him, but I couldn’t tell you who he is.
Me: It’s Don Henderson.
Sue: He always plays the hard bastards, doesn’t he? I like his eyebrows.

Bonnie and Delta end up boarding the same bus. It doesn’t take long for the 1950s karaoke to begin.

Sue: Bonnie should be in her element this week. She can show off some of her singing and dancing skills instead of her screaming skills.

Delta and the BannermenA passenger on this bus just happens to be a bounty hunter named Keillor.

Sue: Wasn’t he in The Flying Pickets?
Me: No, it just looks like him.

Okay, okay, CALM THE **** DOWN. I MADE A MISTAKE. I’LL FIX IT LATER. GIVE ME A BREAK.

The space bus hits an American satellite, which sends it wildly off course. The Doctor uses the TARDIS tractor beam to land it outside a holiday camp in Wales.

Sue: So it’s Hi-de-Hi meets Doctor Who this week?
Me: Pretty much.
Sue: Excellent. So is it a Pontins or a Butlins?
Me: I have no idea.
Sue: And you call yourself a fan?
Me: There isn’t a documentary on the DVD. It’s not my fault. I’m not an expert on Delta and the Bannermen. Sorry.
Sue: I’ll let you off. This takes me back to all those holidays I spent in places just like this. It reminds me of my childhood. Butlins in Skegness was the best.

The Doctor examines the damage to the bus.

Sue: I love the idea of a time travelling bus. If you had to make the TARDIS anything other than a police box, it should be an old-fashioned bus.

A young woman named Ray arrives on her motorcycle.

Sue: ACE!

Ray takes off her helmet.

Sue: Oh, no. I wish Ace would hurry up. Mel should stay behind at Butlins. She could be the new entertainments manager.

Mel and Delta end up sharing a chalet together. Delta is carrying a case which contains a strange ball-shaped object.

Delta and the BannermenSue: It’s the Sontarans!

Seriously, what have I done to her?

Gavrok arrives at the tollport, looking for Delta.

Sue: Actually, Ken Dodd’s not too bad in this but his costume isn’t really doing him any favours. It looks like he’s walked off the set of a pantomime. It’s ridiculous.
Me: It’s a classic example of stunt casting.
Sue: Don’t be so rude. He’s not that much of a…
Me: Stunt, Sue. Stunt.
Sue: Oh.

Later, at the camp’s Get To Know You dance.

Sue: You don’t see enough dancing in Doctor Who. It’s a breath of fresh air, this. I hope it like this all the way through.

Ray has the hots for Billy, but Billy ain’t interested.

Ray: I even learnt all about motorbikes in the hope it’d make him notice me, but it doesn’t seem to have made a blind bit of difference.
Sue: Maybe he’s gay? Have you ever considered that?

Delta and the BannermenThe Doctor has to console Ray in the laundry room after Billy dedicates a song to Delta instead.

Sue: Aww, bless him. This is a very new series sort of thing to do. That was quite sweet. I don’t know what Billy sees in the alien woman, though. She looks like she’d be very hard work.

Meanwhile, back at Mel’s chalet, Delta’s silver sphere begins to open.

Sue: Why is Mel screaming? Nothing’s actually happened yet.

A green face emerges from the cracked shell.

Sue: That looks great. Completely ****ed up, but great. It looks like a big green jelly baby.

The episode ends with the Doctor and Ray facing an alien bounty hunter.

Sue: I’m sure he’s in the Flying Pickets… You know, I really enjoyed that. That was fun.

 

Part Two

This particular bounty hunter really loves his job.

Delta and the BannermenKeillor: I don’t just kill for money. It’s also something I enjoy.
Sue: It’s the hit-man from Utopia. Even his voice is the same. This is clearly where they got the idea from.
Me: Yeah, clearly. Incidentally, he was in The Flying Pickets. I was wrong yesterday.
Sue: Is it too late for me to do this with somebody who actually knows stuff about Doctor Who?

When Billy sees Delta’s baby for the first time, he doesn’t bat an eyelid.

Sue: Wow. He’s taking this very well. His first words should have been: “What the **** is THAT? Sod this, I’m going off with the woman with the spanners.”

Delta’s baby is growing up quickly.

Delta and the BannermenSue: Is that supposed to be the baby’s skin or is it dressed in a green baby-grow? It’s bloody weird, whatever it is.

The Doctor is worried about the safety of the locals.

The Doctor: Organise an evacuation of the camp. The Bannermen are on their way.
Sue: It could be worse. It could be the Barrowmen.

Billy, Delta and her daughter take a bike ride to the river.

Sue: Bloody hell, now the music sounds like something you’d hear on a game show. It couldn’t be less appropriate if it tried.

It’s at this point that Nicol decided to join us. My toes curled with embarrassment when she entered the room. I really didn’t want her to see this.

She points at Ray.

Delta and the BannermenNicol: Is she the new companion?
Sue: No, it just looks like her.
Nicol: That’s a lucky escape. Her accent would have driven you mad.
Sue: Keffing hell! It’s turned into the music to The Benny Hill Show, now!
Nicol
: What is this? Is this Doctor Who? What is that music?
Sue: It’s basically Hi-NRG Disco meets 1950’s Rock n’ Roll.
Me: It makes Jive Bunny sound like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Murray, Nostalgia Trips’ bus driver, is preparing to leave Wales.

Sue: Is the driver played by Eamon Holmes’ dad?

But just as the bus is about to depart, Gavrok’s Bannermen atomise it.

Mel: You killed all those innocent people!
Sue: I bet their travel insurance doesn’t cover that.

The Bannermen stick their tongues out.

Sue: And now it’s a really cheap version of V.

So Keff ramps it up to 11.

Sue: They’ve gone too far now. I was enjoying this to begin with, but the soundtrack is torturing me now. It would be so much better with some decent music.
Nicol: It’s never going to be that good, but it could be less bad.

Delta and the BannermenThe Doctor confronts Gavrok. There’s quite a lot of ham in this scene.

Sue: This is making me feel sick. That’s one of the most disturbing images I have ever seen in Doctor Who. Seriously, this is making me feel nauseous.

The Doctor lays down the law.

Sue: He’s really good, isn’t he?

It’s official. Sue has fallen for Sylvester McCoy.

The episode ends when the Doctor is forced to admit that he may have bitten off more than he can chew.

Sue: It’s going downhill fast.
Me: It’s circling disaster in a rapidly decaying orbit.
Nicol: It’s shit.

 

Part Three

Delta and the BannermenSue: It sounds like an episode of Pointless. It’s ****ing quiz show music!

Meanwhile, Weismuller and Hawk (“What is the point of these two, exactly?”) are captured by the Bannermen and placed in an elaborate metal collar.

Sue: Kinky. And speaking of kinky, it’s The Benny Hill Show theme again!

Weismuller and Hawk are eventually rescued by Ray.

Sue: You can’t beat a girl with an Allen key and some spanners. That’s just the kind of companion you want.

The Doctor goes for a ride.

Delta and the BannermenSue: That shot was completely out of focus. It wasn’t even close!

Meanwhile, an elderly beekeeper named Goronwy is showing Delta and Billy his hives.

Sue: I feels like we are watching three different programmes at once. And none of them are any good.

And then she feels sorry for Bonnie Langford, who is bouncing over a field in a motorcycle sidecar.

Sue: Her buttocks must be severely bruised – there’s no suspension on that bike at all. Look, she’s not very happy about it. No acting required.

The Doctor and Mel return to Goronwy’s cottage.

Sue: It just looks cheap. It doesn’t look like a BBC drama production. It looks like a student video. It’s so flat – there’s no atmosphere at all.

Inside the cottage, Delta’s daughter stands up to emit a high-pitched scream.

Sue: So she’s like Carrie? I hope she doesn’t start bleeding everywhere.

The Bannerman’s ship arrives in a nearby field.

Sue: The goats aren’t that bothered by the arrival of an alien spaceship.

Billy takes Delta and her daughter to safety before the Bannermen can arrive.

Delta and the BannermenSue: He must have the serious horn to go to all this trouble. I just don’t see what she’s got that Ray hasn’t. Except for an alien kid and a face that doesn’t crack a smile.

Gavrok and his Bannermen attack Goronwy’s house but the only casualty is a radio set.

Sue: What a shame. I really liked that radio.

Gavrok and his men search the cottage but the Doctor has set a trap.

Sue: That shelf must be possessed – it’s actually throwing boxes at them! What the ****?

Billy tells Delta that he wants to become a Chimeron.

Delta and the BannermenSue: (singing) “You’re the one that I want. Ooh ooh ooh, honey.” Seriously, what does he see in her?

And then Sue thinks she recognises one of the Bannermen.

Sue: Gangnam style!

And then she loses her patience.

Sue: It’s as if somebody has been given the keys to Doctor Who and they thought, I know, let’s take it as far away from what Doctor Who is normally like and let’s see what happens. And what happens is basically shit.

When the Bannermen attack, the Doctor amplifies Delta’s scream into a weapon.

Sue: Butlins wouldn’t let them break the windows. What a shame.

Delta and the BannermenThe Chimeron’s scream is far too much for the Bannermen to take.

Sue: This is what I look like when I’m listening to Keff McCulloch.

Gavrok stumbles into a sonic cone, and the music sting that accompanies his death makes us howl with laughter.

The Doctor gives Weissmuller and Hawk their satellite back.

Sue: What was the ****ing point of those two?

Billy prepares to leave the planet with Delta. The radio plays Who’s Sorry Now? in the background.

Sue: He’ll be the one who’s sorry when he finds out she has a penis. All the women from her planet have one.

When Billy bids Ray farewell, Sue’s jaw is on the floor.

Delta and the BannermenSue: Not only is he the most unconvincing character ever to appear in Doctor Who, it’s one of the worst performances, too.

Before he leaves, Goronwy gives the Doctor a jar of hibiscus blossom.

Me: You know, I’m sure the old beekeeper is supposed to be a Time Lord.
Sue: Eh? Are you mad? He’s just a bloke who like bees.
Me: I’m sure there’s a reason for it. I definitely read it somewhere. Maybe we missed something?
Sue: You fans need to give your heads a shake.

 

The Score

Sue: That was Doctor Who made for 7 year-old children with very low attention spans. It’s a shame because I really liked the idea and the first episode wasn’t that bad. But it felt apart really quickly and in the end, it just got on my tits. That’s why there isn’t a documentary on the DVD; no one wants to admit responsibility for it.

2/10

 

Next Time

 

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Comments

  1. Dave Sanders  February 21, 2013

    …And the bus needs Katy Manning on it doing her best Stan Buter impression.

  2. Simon Harries  February 21, 2013

    My memory of this show when I first saw it, aged 16, was that it was my second favourite of the season. I liked the cast – well, I liked Ken Dodd, Hugh Lloyd and Richard Davies – and I thought Billy was good (!) and that some of the jaunty tunes were good, compared to what Keff had done before. But I haven’t watched it since the 90s. Maybe I should give it another look and I might draw the same conclusions as you both!!

  3. BWT  February 21, 2013

    This one is still something of a mystery to me. Due to work commitments I missed every single episode of this one on original broadcast. I once caught a repeat with the Ken Dodd bits. Later I caught the Doctor’s “Love has never been known for it’s rationality” speech, which did little to sell the depth of McCoy’s portrayal. And since then…? I’ve never seen it since. Is it work me looking again?

    • BWT  February 21, 2013

      Sue: “Is Mel dressed for a job interview? She’s looking very smart. Whatever it is, I hope she gets it.”
      Bwahahahaha!

  4. matthewkilburn  February 21, 2013

    I’ve always thought this really wanted to be shot on film and shown as a self-aware Screen One, or possibly Screen Two where it could have been shown greater indulgence. There is something salvageable in there, but no-one seems really sure about what they are doing, there are too many characters rushing about without development in script or performance, and the music is of course a giant step backwards. My sixteen-year-old self would have agreed with Sue more than my forty-two-year-old self does, but it’s a close-run thing.

    • Dave Sanders  February 21, 2013

      Never mind Screen Two, a lot of it could have used a Take Two.

      • Matthew Kilburn  February 21, 2013

        Yes…

      • Wholahoop  February 22, 2013

        Whereas it ended up as a great big number 2, hence the score it got

  5. Lewis Christian  February 21, 2013

    I love this one. It’s an RTD ‘romp’ 20 years early, essentially. Flying bus, Wales, poppy/light hearted style and music…

    • Dave Sanders  February 21, 2013

      …and the second-worst moment of the season, when the bus is blown up. “You killed all those innocent people!” jarred horribly with the rompiness then, and it doesn’t feel any less wrong now.

      • Lewis Christian  February 21, 2013

        It’s handled badly but I like that. It’s done better in Dragonfire, but it adds a touch of menace to the proceedings. It just fails to strike the right balance, but it’s good to see they weren’t all about fun and games – they did still want decent menace.

      • Daru McAleece  February 24, 2013

        Does jar yeah – the comedy and ‘rompiness’ doesn’t mix well with the serious moments attempted.

    • Matthew Kilburn  February 21, 2013

      Up to a point, but RTD and team would have realised the concept much less heavy-handedly.

      • Dave Sanders  February 21, 2013

        *cough* GRIDLOCK *cough*

        • Dave Sanders  February 21, 2013

          *wheeze* VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED *asthma attack*

          • Matthew Kilburn  February 21, 2013

            My sympathies… genuinely, as I agree Voyage overdoes it. (RTD seems to agree too, hence the atonement for it in the shape of Midnight.)

        • Matthew Kilburn  February 21, 2013

          That would be my example too – I’m very fond of Gridlock…

          • encyclops  February 21, 2013

            I love Gridlock too. I’ve never thought of it as a “romp,” though. That word makes me break out in hives.

          • Matthew Kilburn  February 21, 2013

            I wouldn’t call Gridlock a ‘romp’ either. It’s a different beast to Delta, certainly, though Delta is more a meander than a romp (no, ‘romp’ isn’t really applicable to Doctor Who, I agree).

    • DPC  February 21, 2013

      RTD is a copycat who applied thick gobs of bombastic music and visual f/x to help compensate for how disjointed the underlying stories were. “Delta” is not an RTD story done 18 years early, RTD’s era is “Malcolm Kholl and Keff McCulloch on steroids”.

      Malcolm Kholl deserves the real praise, as do the 1987 production team, for giving the ideas and feel for RTD to pinch almost two decades later. I prefer creators to “innovators” when possible… and RTD did do some great work (e.g. “The Waters of Mars”), but he doesn’t deserve credit for a style when everyone points to x or y story that heavily influenced him…

      • encyclops  February 21, 2013

        I’m not the biggest fan of the new series, but I can’t think of too many RTD episodes that don’t beat this in almost every respect. If RTD stole everything from “Delta and the Bannermen” (I don’t think so), he at the very least bettered and perfected the formula.

  6. Antti Björklund  February 21, 2013

    “Sue: Is it too late for me to do this with somebody who actually knows stuff about Doctor Who?”

    Neil, you got BURNED!!

    • Dave Sanders  February 21, 2013

      Tat Wood claims he was saying that for at least three books.

  7. Chris  February 21, 2013

    Love the design of the Chimeron soldiers, love Ken Dodd, love the whole alien package tour idea (very Voyage of the Damned), love the 50’s costumes and setting, love McCoy starting to take shape. But the story is all over the place and there is a weirdly unreal and artificial vibe to proceedings. 2/10 is fair. Still – this much, much better than the next story…

    PS Loving Glen’s puns in the Next Time trailer – he’s really HORSING about.

    • DPC  February 21, 2013

      Except “Voyage of the Damned” wasn’t made first. VotD was as derivative (of Delta, Robots of Death, Enlightenment) as it gets but had none of the intellect of the writing. Yes, even “Delta” had more intellect put into it, and that’s saying something…

  8. Longtime Listener  February 21, 2013

    “Maybe he’s gay? Have you ever considered that?”

    More to the point, isn’t she kind of sending the wrong signals? I mean, a woman who calls herself Ray and appears to be mad keen on motorbikes isn’t exactly broadcasting “heterosexual” on all frequencies, is she?

    • DPC  February 21, 2013

      He’s gay, she’s lesbian, or it was just unrequited love.

      Billy was too doe-eyed over Delta… there’s nothing Ray could have done, except for getting a facelift and look just like Delta…

    • Matt Sharp  February 23, 2013

      Well, if Garonwy’s royal jelly analogy is correct, what the Chimeron ‘special stuff’ will have done is transform Billy into another Queen…

      Not quite sure what that says.

      • chris-too-old-to-watch  February 25, 2013

        What do you mean “transform…into another Queen”. He was already there sweetie…

  9. Paul Mudie  February 21, 2013

    “It’s as if somebody has been given the keys to Doctor Who and they thought, I know, let’s take it as far away from what Doctor Who is normally like and let’s see what happens. And what happens is basically shit.”

    Sue hits the nail on the head, with a mallet!

    • John Miller  February 21, 2013

      Oh no, but they were “making the Doctor more mysterious” by having him riding a motorcycle through Wales out-of-focus.

  10. John Miller  February 21, 2013

    It is interesting that Sue and posters here have compared this trainwreck of an episode to the RTD Era. I think the “It’s going downhill fast” comment doesn’t just refer to this one story.

    The comment “It just looks cheap. It doesn’t look like a BBC drama production. It looks like a student video. It’s so flat – there’s no atmosphere at all.” however, can be used later on with far more ffect than here.

    Lastly, I agree about “That’s just the kind of companion you want.” meaning Ray. The one positive thing about this absolutely terrible story, and they just leave her there, as a worthless spare part. She would certainly have been preferable to the horror that we got instead.

    • DPC  February 21, 2013

      Just like when people were awed by the f/x in 2005, many re-watch those and saw how cheap they look!

      Which is more proof it’s about the story and how it’s sold rather than how pretty the eye-candy is being used as substitute for a story.

      And, as I said below, people paralleling DatB to RTD’s era only do a disservice – his era is as much lumped together and polished with bombastic music as well…

      Ray was interesting, but she wasn’t the sort of “modern day street-cred thug” Cartmel wanted. Ray wears leather but half the time she whines about not having a man. Ace, despite occasional issues with the writing, is indeed far better – and more consistent – as a companion…

      • John Miller  February 22, 2013

        But nobody in 1987 was in total awe of the effects in the Season 24. In fact, that was one of the very many criticisms against Doctor Who…how cheap and nasty it looked at the time, let alone today.

        And many people back in 2005 saw through the whole RTD thing as just effects and hype, with no real substance. At least the effects were topnotch for 2005, but then they had the budget and BBC backing that 80’s Who never had.

        As far as the Ray/Ace thing, well a)being consistent doesn’t mean anything if you’re consistently crap and b)let’s wait for Sue to watch Ace before I pass comment on some of the numerous things that are wrong with her.

        • Thomas  February 22, 2013

          Oh, please- I’m not a huge fan of the RTD/Tennant years but to say they’re without substance is just wrong. Particularly the first season is practically organized by its thematic content as much as anything else.

          • John Miller  February 23, 2013

            Er. If you mean that RTD had already decided on an endpoint, and crowbarred references in, then I agree.

          • Thomas  February 23, 2013

            No, I mean that many of the episodes are governed by an underlying thematic point, with Series 1 being the most obvious example of that.

          • John Miller  February 23, 2013

            The Trial Of A Time Lord is also governed by an underlying thematic point. Far more so than Series 1, in fact…

          • Thomas  February 23, 2013

            Really? In what sense- because the only bits of Trial that are really connected are the ‘past-present-future’ idea. I don’t really see a lot of thematic convergence between Mindwarp and Terror of the Vervoids.

          • seanalexander41  February 23, 2013

            Absolutely. The ‘arc’ in ToaTL is by necessity, not design.

          • Dif K. Bastallien  February 23, 2013

            I actually think Survival is closer to RTD-era Who than DatB. DatB has the superficial similarities of Welsh silliness; but Survival sets up the more mournful tone that RTD adopted (it’s easy to forget, for example, how sad Love + Monsters actually became in between the larking), the iconic-looking alien invaders is more in line with RTD, and Survival is as far as I remember the first and only classic-era Who largely set in modern suburbia, the mainstay of Davies’ era.

          • seanalexander41  February 23, 2013

            Excellent point, again. You can even forget the TV Movie and there’s clear linkage between ‘Survival’ and ‘Rose’.

  11. DamonD  February 21, 2013

    “Seriously, what have I done to her?”

    Reminds me of a line from one of the Discworld books, where Pratchett describes someone sharing the look of a mad scientist that has stitched together the body parts, attached the electrodes, blasted the thing with lightning and is now watching slightly nervously and uncertain as the monster lumbers its way towards the village in the distance.

    I’m pretty okay with ol’ Delta these days. The commentary track helped. Taken as a kind of prototype of one of RTD’s romps, it breezes along nicely. There’s just not enough solid here to make it a favourite, and it’s really hurt by Delta/Billy.

  12. Auntie Celia  February 21, 2013

    Still, hibiscus blossom honey can be jolly tasty.

  13. Mark  February 21, 2013

    I agree with all of Sue’s negative comments about this, but what is impressing me is her ability to see past all that and still see how good McCoy was; I don’t think I saw it until the following season – or did I? Tell a lie there might have been that bit where he discusses existential philosophy with the guard in Dragonfire where he might have started to win me over. But very few casual viewers ever saw past the crapness to see how good McCoy was, and the show tarnished his reputation for years to come. Seriously did him a disservice. One commenter said this was his second favourite of the season … by way of an endorsement. What kind of accolade is that? There were only four stories a season from here on in, and one of them was Time and the Rani! Yes, I should think this is probably my second favourite of the season, might even be my favourite of the season – there was nothing in this season that I’d want to watch a second time to help me make my mind up!

  14. jwerees  February 21, 2013

    Couldn’t agree more about Keff mcculloch’s abysmal music but so glad Sue likes Sylv even though he hasn’t been given the material he deserves yet. I can’t wait for Ace to show up either. 🙂

    • Anonymous  February 21, 2013

      ALL synth-cockrock was abysmal in 1987.

      • jsd  February 21, 2013

        No way. Keff was clearly listening to a lot of New Order and Pet Shop Boys. I loved all that sort of music that was coming out then. Unfortunately, Keff did not have the talent to do a good job at that style, and even if he did, it wasn’t the right style choice for Doctor Who at all.

      • DPC  February 21, 2013

        New wave and synth felt more real in the early 80s. By 1986 it had petered out for sure… even the final album Devo did in the 1980s (“Total Devo”) is their worst, by a very large margin as well…

        • jsd  February 21, 2013

          Devo did an album two years ago called Something For Everybody, it’s actually really good in places.

  15. Richard Lyth  February 21, 2013

    Sue’s right about this being basically a daft kids show – it’s kind of fun but utterly shallow, with bad guys who just want to kill everyone for no apparent reason and the least convincing romance in screen history. Ray’s a decent character though – I’m surprised Big Finish haven’t got round to bringing her back for a “What if Ray had become the new companion instead of Ace?” alternate-history season of audios. They’re bound to eventually…

    • Wholahoop  February 21, 2013

      The novelisation proved how much this was aimed at kids when the Bananamen became intergalactic carpet weavers after Gavrok’s death

  16. Warren Andrews  February 21, 2013

    The extended edit of part 1 on the dvd, minus music and sound effects is really good. The pacing is so much better. I hope to get around to scoring it one day.

    Delta and the Bannermen felt weird at the time. I wasn’t sure about it. It really does come over as written by a new writer (whose a successful producer these days) being guided by a novice script editor. Andrew Cartmel had ambition that went beyond the budget. The alien men seen at the beginning, Cartmel complained about them looking bad but they only feature in one scene – no make up artist would spend loads of time and money on something barely seen. It’s an issue that pops up a few times in the McCoy era.

    The ideas in this script are so much fun, it’s a great pity that it wasn’t given to a director with more vision and creativity. It’s a production where you can really tell that the camera crew did Sports programmes most of the time. There really is no artistry on show, some shots are like CCTV footage. Chris Clough is a great producer but his direction here is easily his weakest.

    I like Ray but thankfully we were spared that accent!

  17. Colin John Francis  February 21, 2013

    To answer Sue’s question, the holiday camp was neither a Butlin’s or Pontin’s site – it was Majestic Holiday Camp, Friars Road, Barry Island (it has now long since been demolished – as I found out when I went to visit a few years later).

    And a common spelling mistake that everyone seems to make (only annoys me, as it’s one of my favourite shows), it’s “Hi-De-Hi!”, not “Hi-Di-Hi!”.

    • Neil Perryman  February 21, 2013

      OK, OK, CALM THE **** DOWN. I MADE A MISTAKE. I’LL FIX IT LATER. GIVE ME A BREAK.

      • Colin John Francis  February 21, 2013

        🙂 Point taken.

  18. solar penguin  February 21, 2013

    This story is great fun, if you know enough about old-time BBC radio shows to get all the in-jokes and references. It’s definitely one of my favourites. But if Sue can’t even recognise the “Dick Barton, Special Agent” theme, there’s no way she was ever going to appreciate it. Shame.

  19. jazza1971  February 21, 2013

    It isn’t great, but I do rather enjoy D&TBM!

  20. David Brunt  February 21, 2013

    The holiday camp was built by Butlins in the 1950s and was only sold to Majestic the year before the recording. It was still in a really run-down state at the time. Still was at the time they closed down too…

    The rear entrance/exit gate and the street beyond (with grass roundabout) are still unchanged and recognizable.

    The DVD production notes by Lord Pixley of Nottingham does have details of all the things that would have been in a documentary.

    • Colin John Francis  February 21, 2013

      Thanks for the history of the holiday site 🙂 . I used to work at the Pontin’s site in Brean Sands (a few miles from Burnham-on-Sea), and my customers/guests there were always saying what a dump Majestic was – which must have been bad, because Brean Sands was in need of repair itself (even after just having new accomodation built whilst I was there).

    • David Embery  February 21, 2013

      I went to Barry Islands Butlins in 1986 as they prepared to sell it/close it. The cable car kept stopping for no reason in mid air…

      It made a change to visit somewhere before Doctor Who used it, I also saw the rusting steam trains in the area The Empty Child filmed at 19 years or so later.

  21. gavinio  February 21, 2013

    I guess, like with Paradise Towers, before it I’m in a minority of people who enjoyed this story. I’ve always found it to be quite fun really and the music reflects that. Yes, there’s some serious moments in it but overall it’s a nice little romp that for once meant you didn’t need to know about the series continuity – unlike a fair bit of 1980’s Who.

    I am glad Ray wasn’t the new companion because I don’t think the actress playing her is that good really.

    Like Sue though I never really got what the point of the American agents was.

  22. encyclops  February 21, 2013

    This is probably my second favorite of the season as well, but I too found it profoundly embarrassing at age 13. Thinking about it now (I haven’t dared to watch it again since then), I kind of appreciate the departure from the usual that the basic idea represents, but execution is so important and from what I recall this should have been executed.

    American accents invariably sound awful in Doctor Who, and I don’t know why — even when they’re real. It’s a big part of the reason I’ve never been able to take Captain Jack seriously, and why Peri just edges out Mel as my least favorite companion. If Nicola Bryant had just been allowed to use her normal accent things might have been different.

    • Warren Andrews  February 21, 2013

      Foreign accents sound wrong in any programme. English accents in an American show sound ridiculous. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I thought how awfully fake an english accent sounds only to discover that the actor is actually English. I just reckon accents don’t translate.

      • encyclops  February 22, 2013

        I dunno — I never thought Anthony Head and Alexis Denisof sounded out of place on Buffy; ditto James Callis on Battlestar, just to name a few examples. I think to my ears there’s a Mid-Atlantic accent (maybe the counterpart to RP, I wouldn’t know) I think of as generic that just always sounds false and somehow overly stiff. In the extreme, Sigourney Weaver and John Malkovich both have it, and as much as I like them and the work they’ve done, their accents always just scream “I’m just an actor, everyone” to me. Peri’s accent and Jack’s both sound pretty close to this to me.

    • jsd  February 21, 2013

      “American accents invariably sound awful in Doctor Who, and I don’t know why.”

      They don’t get real Americans to voice them, that’s why. I can’t think of any example of an American character being played an actual American actor. Oh, wait, Ben Browder in the western episode last year – that was probably the best one.

      John Barrowman just has a weird voice, end of story 🙂 I’ve heard his Scottish accent and it sounds great to me, but I’m not from the UK so maybe it sounds off to a real Scot.

      • David Brunt  February 21, 2013

        “I can’t think of any example of an American character being played an actual American actor.”

        There’s two in ‘Delta and the Bananamen’, for a start…

        • bestestbrian  February 21, 2013

          This reminds me of that horrible Youtube clip of David Tennant doing the WORST American accent in a pilot episode of an unmade tv series called “Rex is Not Your Lawyer”. Don’t. Just don’t.

          • Polariy Reversed  February 22, 2013

            I think the problem with “doing accents” is that too few people realise there isn’t any such thing as a generic national accent. Even actors, who are supposed to undergo rigorous training.

            Dialect isn’t as much as an issue in the US as the UK, but regional accents vary widely. So a Brit who can’t even hear the basic difference between, say, Mid-Western, Southern, New Jersey, etc, etc tends to mangle them all together. This must sound as silly to an American listener as a Yank skipping randomly from Cockerney to Geordie to Scouse to Mancs to Dublin Irish in the space of a single sentence sounds to a Brit.

            Yrs, Henry Higgins

            As for Delta – once saw about ten minutes of it and still wish I’d spent the time boiling two eggs one after the other instead.

  23. Kris Overstreet  February 21, 2013

    Well… all I can say is, Neil and Sue have stronger guts than I do. I rented this last year, tried to watch it twice, and bonked both times about five minutes into the first episode. I made it all the way through “The Web Planet” and “The Horns of Nimon,” but this story absolutely defeats me. It’s everything I despise about the J N-T years, distilled.

  24. Eric Haddleton (@EricHaddleton)  February 21, 2013

    The more I hear it, the more I want a “Keffing hell!” mug.

    I really hope Sue starts liking McCoy soon. He’s not my favorite Doctor, but I do have a soft spot for his stories. Including Happiness Patrol.

  25. P.Sanders  February 21, 2013

    Agree with many comments here. I watched Delta again last night, and while I think a lot of the whimsy has aged quite well (even poor Dodd who received no direction and was left to just “be Doddy”), it’s true that sometimes the late 80s location work looked more like someone filming the action with a video camera from the side of a proper film shoot (like if Doctor Who Confidential’s behind the scenes footage ended up being used in a Matt Smith story). Some of the ideas feel a bit more Red Dwarf than Who (blobby alien tourists on nostalgia tours in a space-bus) but they work quite well as does the simple 1950s sci-fi feel, but it’s the nuts & bolts plotting and Keff that let this down. But it’s still fluffy, inconsequential fun. Ray seemed better at the time than she does now, but then when I watched Dragonfire recently Ace’s “street-talk” was embarrassing when it once seemed a breath of fresh air, but Aldred soon got to shine once the writers toned it down. Delta is forgettable but not too offensive.

    • DPC  February 21, 2013

      An extra on the DatB disc shows what the scene might have looked like when filmed. It looks much better filmed…

      And I will praise Keff’s arrangement of the 50s music – it works great. (his regular incidental music still shows why he’s not lauded; this is his worst story by far…)

  26. DPC  February 21, 2013

    Although his 50s music bits were great, “Keffing Hell” is a phrase I now endorse, because every other bit of incidental music redefines ‘hideous” to a new level.

    Stubby Kaye was an American, much to my surprise…

    Don Henderson steals the show, but the talent is horribly wasted on a group of guys that look like they came out of “Back to the Future II”…

    Everyone calls the egg “Sontaran” for some reason…

    Ray flip-flops between being butch and being whiny and pining over a guy that never notices her. Except the end when he gives her an expensive motorcycle, oddly…

    And it’s the 1950s. Nobody’s gay in the 1950s…

    How did the bounty hunter know of Delta in the first place, since Gavrok hadn’t put out his convenient APB yet?

    The “a worker bee eats white fluff and becomes a bee queen” isn’t quite the same parallel as “human eats alien goo and turns into alien”. With that logic, it’s just as plausible to give Ray a glass of milk and then watch in awe as she turns into a cow, not to mention why Billy doesn’t turn the same shade of green as the Chimeron who had been protecting Delta’s egg all that time in part 1…

    Delta praises the Doctor for saving her people and planet, but he never went to the Chimeron planet, and Billy deserves more praise for saving her people – she’s the only one left, he wants to boink her, and she didn’t seem to mind. Probably because, unlike Mel, he never one screamed when she had shown him her baby at full frontal before telling him gently to close the door… and Mel went from screamer to being very placid as well… ugh… the writing is bad.

    The direction was good as there were some great moments, but as the director came back to do more stories but the writer didn’t… =D

    Gangam Style is derivative of numerous styles that were popular 12 years ago… I never understood how that took off in America, and hopefully all the licenses for ripping off those musical styles were paid for properly…

    And Sue, FAR BETTER stories are coming up in the next few weeks. Please hang in there; the worst of it is pretty much over at this point.

    2/10 is being generous as well. This story, which everyone loves to laud because it’s oh-so-similar to the new show (other way around people, “Delta” existed first and somebody decided THAT was the format that would win over new fans some 18 years later: Slop as much nonsense as indiscriminately as possible and hope people blindly swallow it… yeesh…)

  27. RetroWhoGal? (@DrWho7Freak)  February 21, 2013

    Another one I have yet to buy – maybe I’ll save this one to fairly last. I love Ace by the way, she was the companion I grew up with!

  28. DPC  February 21, 2013

    I forgot about the horn as well — I know they were trying to be alien with the types of noises made, but – bless them for trying – it does not work. It comes across too campy, or at least something one of Charlie Brown’s teachers would say, good grief…

  29. Dif K. Bastallien  February 21, 2013

    I HATE this one with a passion, this is pretty much the nadir of Who for me. It combines the worst of both worlds – the silliness/cheapness of early McCoy with the baffling multiple story threads, excess characters and lack of breathing space of later McCoy – on top of an awfulness all its own. I hated it at the time, and I hated it a few years ago when I tried it again. The worst examples of other eras sort of have a charm; even Twin Dilemma at least looks like it was made professionally. DatB is soulless and amateurish.

  30. Cookey  February 21, 2013

    Cheap, much like the holiday camp they went to, couldn’t be any cheaper if they went to a caravan park! But damn it Mccoy still shines for me, always has.

  31. jsd  February 21, 2013

    “Is it too late for me to do this with somebody who actually knows stuff about Doctor Who?” made me laugh hysterically. And yes this entire story is complete shit. 1/10.

  32. John G  February 21, 2013

    “Oh, no. I wish Ace would hurry up. Mel should stay behind at Butlins. She could be the new entertainments manager.”

    Hmm, not sure Sue will be so enthusiastic about Ace after the next story, but her suggested exit for Mel would have been far better, and more appropriate, than the one she got!

    I don’t actually mind Delta and the Bannermen. It is possibly the most lightweight, inconsequential Who story of all time, but it is also harmless enough fun and I feel no hatred for it. I rather enjoy Doddy’s performance, and Don Henderson is pretty good, though I have to agree with Sue that Billy and Delta are one of the worst screen couples of all time, such is their palpable lack of charisma and personality. The music didn’t really bother me, but then again I have a knack of very rarely paying attention to it – I’m surprised though that nobody has mentioned Keff’s little cameo in the dance scenes.

    By the way, Sue’s Barrowmen comment cracked me up – I could just imagine Captain Jack in this episode, perhaps giving Ray some alternative love interest (and maybe Billy too)…

  33. Thomas  February 22, 2013

    Oh, hush. Ya’ll just need to lighten up a bit. 😛

    In all seriousness, I adore this story. It’s obviously not great, but it’s absolutely bonkers and loads of fun. The central concept is ridiculous but also strangely inventive in a way Who hasn’t been for a few years, and the disparate story threads are strange enough that it all oddly coheres- the only outright naff part would be the explosion of the tour bus- not that it was a bad idea,it’s just dealt with so offhandedly as to almost be a bit cruel. It does help the villain work better considerably, and there’s a lot of menace to him that I think comes off better because of that happening.

    Part of the reason I do love it, though, it partly because of my own experience with it- I was watching the show chronologically and was about halfway through the Colin Baker years when I skipped ahead to watch this one. And after 3-4 years of these bleak “gritty” action stories, it was a complete breath of fresh air to see something that was just completely silly and reveled in its utter lunacy. Would I like Who to be like this all the time? Perhaps not, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of fun every now and then.

    Also, no mention of Stubby Kaye whatsoever? Really? Guess he’s just too American for anyone to pick up on him…

    • encyclops  February 22, 2013

      What I like about the new series is that most of the time it strikes a pretty-much perfect balance between “gritty” and “bonkers,” drama and comedy, horror and humor.

      What I don’t like about the new series is that there are times when this tonal mastery is all it has going for it. Witness the distressing number of recent episodes that are only watchable because Matt Smith is so utterly charming.

  34. David Staples  February 22, 2013

    “Nicol: It’s shit.”

    Harsh but fair!

    To be charitable this season is at least trying to ring the changes after a very stale few years but the whole tone is just wrong. At times more Galloping Galaxies/Space Vets than Doctor Who.

    • seanalexander41  February 22, 2013

      I think ‘Galloping Galaxies’ had a bigger budget than Season 24. And was at least an attempt to engage the audience. A sort of ‘Whodunnit’ for the CBeebies. ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ is the nadir of ’80s Doctor Who. Malcolm Kohll has never been heard from since. At least Kevin Clarke moved on to The Bill.

  35. jonathan inge  February 22, 2013

    How can someone hate this story? I can see falling asleep or being confused, but not hate.

    Some folks mark this story, series 24, or all of the Seventh’s tenure as a blueprint for New Who. I agree with each notion. Not just for RTD era, but even for The Moff’s. One can find parallels in maudlin/irreverent tone quickchanges, past/future mash-up art direction, and prolonged story arcs.

    Despite all the silly stuff, DaTB feels like it would fit better in the Moffat era rather than RTD’s. At story’s end, the audience is left with questions but a feeling these will be answered later. Of course, we know now they’re never answered.

    A little more on Sue’s earlier comment about similarities between Doctors:

    The Seventh and Eleventh are akin to the Second. However, the Second wasn’t so zany. His goofing always seemed like an act, to diffuse tense situations. But watch how the Seventh quizzically analyzes/plays with his food in this story and even how the Eleventh bites his hand in the recent Christmas episode. Not an act in either case. The latter Doctors are a bit wonky.

  36. seanalexander41  February 22, 2013

    I’ll keep this one VERY brief. Part One is fine (in spite of Doddy) and Keff, naturally. It’s even quite charming at times and Sylvester is taking further strides.

    It goes tits-up from then on.

    It really should have been called ‘Flight of the Chimeron’, as Starburst revealed in the summer of ’87.

    Apart from that I’d just like to move on. Sue’s best review yet with not a single misplaced opinion. I was still in the spare bedroom for this one.

  37. Matt Sharp  February 22, 2013

    “Sue: What an odd title”

    It is, isn’t it? It looks so much like a sort-of pun based placeholder working title that it’s shocking to discover the actual working title was the much more evocative ‘Flight of the Chimeron’.

    • Dif K. Bastallien  February 22, 2013

      I find it really interesting how much more evocative working titles of that era were passed over for clunkier broadcast titles. I’d much rather have watched Flight Of The Chimeron, Strange Matter, Storm Over Availlion, The Crooked Smile and Catflap.

      • encyclops  February 22, 2013

        I’m with you on all of those except maybe Catflap. 🙂

        Going back a bit further, “The Planet that Slept” is a great title but I don’t see how it describes the story that became “Full Circle” at all. Maybe it changed quite a bit more than I thought.

      • seanalexander41  February 22, 2013

        There were some excellent titles dumped. And the new series ones aren’t much better on the whole. If they call the Anniversary Special ‘The Eleven Doctors’ I shall block the switchboards at BBC Wales.

      • Lewis Christian  February 25, 2013

        Not to mention ‘The Day God Went Mad’ (Face of Evil).

  38. Matt Sharp  February 22, 2013

    It’s no coincidence it looks like a Sontaran ship, by the way – obviously, it’s an oblique reference to Brian Hibbard’s one time Flying Pickets band mate, Christopher Ryan, who played Sontarans General Staal and Commander Stark.

    Furthermore, Murray is reading a copy of the Eagle (vol 9, no 16, dated 18 April 1958), which features the final episode of ‘The Ship That Lived’, which itself is a coda to ‘The Reign of the Robots’. This particular story involved head of Space Fleet, Sir Hubert Guest, using Dare’s ship the Anastasia to rescue a badly wounded Colonel Dare following a last ditch effort to destroy the Mekon’s secret satellite, which in turn looks remarkably like the Death Star from Star Wars, which featured Don Henderson.

    The last time the Eagle (vol 16 no 12, dated 20 March 1965) appeared in Doctor Who, it was being read by Peter Cushing in Dr Who and the Daleks. In that episode of ‘The Moonsleepers’, Dan Dare used the Anastasia to rescue a badly injured Sir Hubert after his escape from the evil alien Xel, who first appeared in a story called ‘The Web of Fear’ and does in fact look remarkably like a Sontaran.

    If Peter Cushing had been reading The Eagle vol 16 no 9, dated 27 February 1965 (just four issues earlier), the ‘most exciting’ thing he refers to could have been a short story by a certain D. N. Adams (12) of Brentwood, Essex. The story is about a man who goes to a Lost Property Office because he’s lost a… thing that’s like a sieve on a bus. Adams uses this gag again in Shada, where the punch line is drowned by an entirely inappropriate dramatic sting of incidental music composed by Keff McCullough.

    Keff McCullough is a member of the Lovells who appear as the band in Delta and the Bannermen. Among the songs they sing during episode one is ‘Mr. Sandman’. The Sandman is of course a comics character created by Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman wrote ‘Don’t Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ which includes young D. N. Adams in full…

    So, there you have it. I suspect that either Douglas Adams or Keff McCullough may have been a mere month away from achieving infinite improbability with Delta and the Bannermen.

    Bearing all that in mind, I have a question:

    Are you going to include Doctorin’ the TARDIS by the Timelords between stories 7G and 7H?

    • Wholahoop  February 22, 2013

      I read all you wrote with great interest but I swear when you said “I have a question” I was expecting you to ask ” Would you like some toast?”

    • seanalexander41  February 22, 2013

      I bloody well hope so. It was the best thing Who-related in 1988. And made me hate Bros. even more when they knocked if off the top spot. The only thing that taints it now is its partial roots in a Gary Glitter song.

  39. Jon  February 23, 2013

    Funny thing, at the time, I thought it wassn’gt too bad at the time, certainly not as bad as anything I had seen in the program for some time. And yes, McCoy really clicked in this stiry. maybe that is what made me overlook the bad bits. I think the tide began to turn with this story, for me at least.

  40. frankymole  February 23, 2013

    Keff himself is actually on screen in this one, complete with anachronistic pony-tail. I think he’s the keyboard(?) player in the holiday camp band.

    • John Miller  February 23, 2013

      The ponytail was actually the Timewyrm. The Doctor had lured it to Shangri-La, and deliberately blew up the bus full of people as part of his master plan on the grand chessboard. The Timewyrm is actually extremely vulnerable to bees, you see, and they stung it back into the void.

  41. frankymole  February 23, 2013

    The novelisation might be for kids but it does have that brilliantly embarrassing typo involving a shelf…

    • frankymole  February 23, 2013

      Hmm, that was in reply to Wholahoop’s comment but for some reason the replies don’t embed any longer.

      • Wholahoop  February 23, 2013

        Could you elaborate, my copy of the novelisation of Delta and the Bananamen is somewhere in Kent, and I am in Australia at the moment

        • Matt Sharp  February 23, 2013

          Page 54 of the novelisation of Delta and the Bannerman (sic):

          ‘The Doctor suddenly realised that the shelf he was peeing over was an inch-deep in dust… despite his awesome self-control, he couldn’t withhold… Keillor stiffened and drew his weapon, staring hard…’

          It’s actually the very moment caught by the first screen grab for part two up there…

  42. David Brunt  February 23, 2013

    When the Bannermen attack the cottage, the Doctor hides in the barn and pees at them over a shelf.

    • seanalexander41  February 23, 2013

      In what reality if this?!?

    • DPC  February 24, 2013

      Much kind thanks for reminding me of the novelization… whose cover cannot make up its mind if it’s “DELTA AND THE BANNERMEN” or “DELTA AND THE BANNERMAN”…

      😀

  43. frankymole  February 23, 2013

    The main reason the motorbike shots are out of focus is to try to hide McCoy’s spectacles, I believe!

    • seanalexander41n  February 23, 2013

      I read that story too. They should have let him keep the specs. It would have helped him look Time Lord-y. Like Tennant.

    • Lewis Christian  February 25, 2013

      A bad move, really, considering you can still see them. Shoulda just let them be the Doctor’s specs.

  44. Daru McAleece  February 24, 2013

    This was around the time for me as a teen that I gave up watching. Just did’t work for me as a kid when it aired.

    Since re-watching last year I thought yeah some parts just did not hang together story-wise, but liked the overall concept and love Sylvester.

    • DPC  February 24, 2013

      McCoy rocks, absolutely, and the story’s premise is pretty solid.

      It really is the execution, but the “season 24 was made under very erratic and rapid conditions” defense is accepted as well. WHO got a raw deal in 1987-1989…

  45. chris-too-old-to-watch  February 25, 2013

    Having watched this several times, I still seem to have missed them.
    Whicvh scene did Bananarama appear in??

    • Matt Sharp  February 25, 2013

      You’ve ‘watched it several times’?!? Heavens, man…

      Anyway, I think you may be thinking of Dramarama not Banananarama, which, of course, included the first TV role of a young chap called David Tennant, who’s birthday is the 18th April, which just so happens to be the date on the copy of the Eagle Murray is reading in part two.

      It’s all joined together if you look hard enough!