Part One

Sue: This had better be good.
Me: What are you going to do if it isn’t? You can’t give up now.
Sue: Wanna bet? I could still do a Scanapanasky.
Me: Schapansky.
Sue: Whatever. I’m just saying.

Once Sue has gotten over the fact that the theme music isn’t in 5.1 surround sound, she latches onto the writer’s name.

Sue: Aaronovitch.
Me: You almost pronounced that correctly. Well done.
Sue: I like him, don’t I?
Me: Well, you liked Remembrance of the Daleks quite a lot, so yes.

BattlefieldBattlefield begins in a garden centre.

Sue: We’re outside and everything looks normal. Lovely.

A man and his wife are browsing for shrubbery.

Sue: Nice moving camera. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Me: And?
The Brig: Sergeant Benton, tree planting party, at the double!
Me: I can’t believe it took you that long.
Sue: Sorry, I was looking at the plants.

Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart is married and retired.

Sue: Is that his wife?
Me: Yes.
Sue: Is she the one who used to be his fancy woman?
Me: Erm, yes.
Sue: Really? I was joking. Naughty Brig. Anyway, does this mean UNIT are finally coming back?

BattlefieldJust as Sue says this, we cut to a UNIT Range Rover.

Sue: UNIT!

Sue claps eyes on the new Brigadier – Winifred Bambera.

Sue: She’s a bit young, isn’t she?
Me: You know you’re getting old when UNIT Brigadiers look like they’ve walked straight out of college. It’s the same with the police.

Aside from this anomaly, Battlefield gets off to a cracking start.

Sue: It’s a fabulous location. I think I’m going to like this one.

Meanwhile, in a crystal ball/light fitting, a sorcerer named Morgaine is very pleased with herself.

Sue: Will there be flying monkeys in this?
Me: Not quite. Wait and see.

Meanwhile, in the TARDIS.

Sue: They’ve turned the lighting down. That’s nice.

BattlefieldThanks to the low light, Sue doesn’t notice the wallpaper roundels, and I don’t have the heart to point them out to her. I also forgot to tell her that this is the last time she will see the traditional TARDIS interior. She’ll find out when she reads this blog entry. Sorry, love.

The Doctor slaps Ace’s hand away from the TARDIS controls.

Sue: If I were him, the first thing I’d do when I got a new companion is I’d teach them how to fly the TARDIS. You never know when that might be handy. Like, all the time.

The TARDIS materialises in England in the near future. The Doctor and Ace flag down a Range Rover.

Sue: This isn’t Mark Ayres, is it?
Me: No.
Sue: This is Keff, isn’t it?
Me: Yes.

I really wanted her to say “Shame” at this point. But she didn’t. Instead, she put her head in her hands and wept.

Sue: At least the direction is good.

She’s particularly impressed with the camera that has been mounted to the front of the Range Rover. She is much less impressed with the strange objects heading towards Earth.

Sue: That looks shit. Who’s throwing spoons at the planet?

Sue finally notices that the Doctor is wearing a new jacket.

BattlefieldSue: Did he change his jacket because that one has bigger pockets? I like it, I just wish he would get rid of his question-mark jumper. Not only is it completely stupid, it must stink.

Meanwhile, a knight in armour has emerged from a crater in the ground.

Sue: Is he on his way to a Game of Thrones convention?

At UNIT’s mobile HQ, Bambera learns about the Doctor.

Sue: How does she not know this? How can she be the Brigadier without reading the Doctor’s file first? I’m telling you, she’s too young for this job.

Bambera’s version of Benton has a dire warning:

Zbrigniev: whenever this Doctor turns up – all hell breaks loose.
Sue: (In her best Russian accent) And all my friends die horribly. It’s a pain in the arse, actually.

The Brigadier is forced out of retirement.

BattlefieldSue: Is that the Brigadier’s house?
Me: Yes.
Sue: He’s done very well for himself.
Me: The last time we saw him, he was living in a shed.
Sue: Doris must be minted. Or his military pension paid for it.
Me: The United Nations probably paid him off. You know, to keep him quiet.
Sue: Yeah, he knows where all the aliens are buried.

The Brigadier reminds us that this story takes place in the near future.

The Brig: I don’t care if it was the King. I’m still retired.
Sue: Is that a reference to Charles?
Me: Probably.
Sue: Is this revenge for the Queen not appearing in the 25th anniversary story?

BattlefieldMeanwhile, at Carbury’s local hotel.

Sue: Nice upside down pram.
Me: What?
Sue: That 2CV. Very nice.

The spoons being hurled at planet Earth turn out to be knights.

Sue: Okay, I’m confused. Who are these people and why are they fighting each other? How am I supposed to tell them apart? They all look the same to me.

These knights are equipped with swords and laser guns.

Sue: Why would you fight somebody with a sword if you could just shoot them in the face?
Me: Something to do with honour, probably.
Sue: So why carry the guns at all? It makes no sense. What is going on?

Bambera drives out to see the TARDIS for herself.

BattlefieldBambera: Shame.
Me: Do you like her catchphrase?
Sue: I’m just going to replace shame with shit. That’s what I’m supposed to do, isn’t it? It’s like frell and frak all over again.

Bambera is set upon by knights.

Sue: It looks and sounds like a corporate video for a historical reenactment society.

But it’s not all bad news.

Sue: Where is this hotel in real life? It’s rather nice. I’d quite like to stay there.

UNIT have sent a helicopter for the Brig.

Sue: Look at the size of his lawn! His pay-off must have been enormous. He’s got a rock star’s garden.

Sue is disappointed when she discovers that neither Mike and/or Benton are flying the chopper. Seriously.

Meanwhile, Ace has made a new friend – Shou Yuing. They retire to the beer garden to discuss terrorism.

BattlefieldAce: BOOM!

Just as Ace shouts this, the explosion from a nearby grenade sends a knight flying into the air.

Sue: ****ing hell! It’s kid’s TV again. That was rubbish.

The injured knight is found unconscious in the brewery. His name is Ancelyn.

Sue: Hmmm… Dishy.
Me: You know you aren’t supposed to tell your husband stuff like that, don’t you?

Ancelyn believes that the Doctor is none other than Merlin.

Sue: Right, so either the Doctor has a double, he becomes Merlin in the future, or his memory is worse than mine. So which is it?
Me: Wait and see!

Bambera wants to apprehend the Doctor and Ace.

BattlefieldBambera: You’re all under arrest. You and your freaky friends.
Ace: Who are you calling freaky?
Sue: That is so unrealistic. You wouldn’t talk to someone like that if they were pointing a machine gun at you. This reminds me of Scooby ****ing Doo.

The episode concludes with more knights turning up to complicate things.

Sue: Well, at least the Brig is in it, the location is nice and the director is trying. I’m not sure about these knights, though.


Part Two

BattlefieldBambera shoots at the lead knight but her bullet bounces off his armour. Modred laughs his head off.

Sue: Aim for his teeth. That would wipe the smug look off his face.

Mordred believes that the Doctor is Merlin as well.

Sue: Has the Doctor been appearing in other franchises?
Me: Are you familiar with the legend of King Arthur?
Sue: Not really. Everything I learned about King Arthur I learned from Prog Rock and Monty Python.

The Brigadier is a passenger in a helicopter. He asks the pilot if the new Brigadier is a good sort of chap.

Sue: Sexist pig. But I’ll let him off – he’s the Brig.

Ancelyn flirts with Bambera.

Sue: He’s like the blonde one from Game of Thrones.
Me: Jaime.
Sue: Yeah, but even better looking. Actually, there’s a lot of eye candy in this one. The bad knight is quite tasty too.
Me: Bring back Dee Sadler!

Ancelyn and Bambera start wrestling on the grass.

Sue: That would never happen in a million years. Fun, though.

Modred opens up a portal. Keff turns it up to 11. Asleep in his helicopter, the Brig suddenly awakens.

BattlefieldSue: Keff’s woken the Brig up! This music is so inappropriate. It should be less dancey and more mystical. They should have got Rick Wakeman in to do it.

Jean Marsh arrives as Morgaine.

Sue: Ah, now she is excellent. She’s the Upstairs, Downstairs lady.

I pause the DVD to probe Sue’s memories of Jean Marsh’s involvement with early Doctor Who, but I just end up confusing her.

Sue: So the Brigadier is her brother?
Me: No, she shot her brother in a William Hartnell episode. He wasn’t the Brigadier then.
Sue: So they aren’t related?
Me: Oh, just forget I said anything.

The next day, the Brigadier is still stuck in a helicopter.

BattlefieldSue: Where the hell were they flying him from? Los Angeles?
Me: They stopped in London overnight.
Sue: WHY?
Me: Maybe he has a weak bladder? How the hell should I know?

Meanwhile, at Carbury’s archaeological dig, a man named Warmsly is overseeing the excavation.

Sue: It’s Rob Shearman meets Tony Robinson.

The Doctor finds a carving which tells them to dig in a specific place. This carving written is in the Doctor’s handwriting. Sue doesn’t bat an eyelid at this.

Meanwhile, in a ****ing helicopter.

Sue: What is this? Treasure Hunt?
Me: It’s the little known spin-off, Challenge Alistair.

BattlefieldMorgaine decides to make her presence felt.

Sue: I love her costume. And the direction is really good. Lots of tight, dramatic close-ups.

Morgaine attacks the Brigadier’s helicopter with magic.

Sue: That looks great. That’s a very impressive stunt.

The helicopter crashes. As the Brigadier flings himself away from the explosion, he desperately covers up his bald patch with his hat. Sue finds this endearing.

The Brig: Five million pounds worth of aircraft, and we’ve lost it. We’ll be poor for the rest of our lives.
Sue: The script is very good. It has just the right balance of humour and excitement. I like really like Aaronaranovitch.

Lavel, the helicopter pilot, has hurt her leg.

Sue: She’s very attractive for a helicopter pilot. Actually, it’s a very attractive cast all round.
Me: What? Even him?

I’m pointing at Warmsly, who is suddenly quoting Tennyson at anyone who’ll listen.

Warmsly: Take the sword and fling him far into the middle mere. Watch what thou seest and lightly bring me word.
Sue: Has he been taken over by the bad guys? Has he turned evil? What’s going on?

The Doctor and Ace enter a tunnel which has been buried in the ground.

Sue: Lovely pipe work. Doctor Who are really good at making circular tunnels during this period of the show.

BattlefieldBut the interior disappoints.

Sue: It looks like a bloody fun fair ride.

The Doctor opens the entrance to a spaceship with his voice.

Sue: So the Doctor must be Merlin in this body, otherwise that wouldn’t have worked. If he’d have been Jon Pertwee, he would have had a lisp when he said it. That’s interesting.

The Doctor and Ace walk into an ancient spacecraft.

Sue: Now this is more like it. Nice crane shot, too. Yes, this is very good.

Ace pulls a sword from a stone plinth. And then all hell breaks loose.

The Doctor: I only hope you haven’t disturbed anything else!
Sue: I think screaming at her might disturb something else. Keep your voice down!

The ship’s automated defence system results in Ace getting trapped in a water tank, while the Doctor is rendered helpless by a CGI snake. Cue credits.

BattlefieldSue: Great cliffhanger. The snake was terrible but the thought of Ace drowning is quite disturbing.

When this episode finished, I showed Sue the Water Tank feature on the DVD. Her eyes glazed over during the first couple of minutes, but when she realised that things were about to go dangerously pear shaped, she was suddenly gripped.

Sue: It turns out that Sylvester McCoy was a hero in real life, too. That’s nice.


Part Three

BattlefieldSue: Oh look, they’ve left the crack in the tank in shot. Oh well, I suppose they had to make the most out of almost killing her.

Ace is propelled out of the tank and she eventually emerges from Lake Vortigen with Excalibur in her hand.

Sue: Clever. Corny, but clever.

The Brigadier rescues the Doctor. He doesn’t seem bothered that his old friend has changed his face once again.

Sue: He’s seen it all before. Nothing phases the Brig. He doesn’t need to read a file to know what’s what. He never should have retired in the first place.

Back at the hotel, an inebriated Mordred taunts the landlord and his blind wife.

Modred: With your aspect, it is well that she is blind! Ha ha ha!

Morgaine arrives at the hotel, and then she proceeds to confuse the hell out of Sue by a) killing a helicopter pilot and b) healing a blind woman. All in the same scene.

Elizabeth: I can see. Patrick, I can see!
Sue: (as Elizabeth) Oh Christ, you really are butt-ugly. I thought he was kidding. Shit.

Ancelyn and Bambera enjoy their own mini-adventure in a 2CV. You can cut the sexual tension with a sword, but Bambera doesn’t appear to be interested in the pan-dimensional beefcake.

BattlefieldSue: Right, so they’ve got a black lesbian in to front UNIT? That ticks a lot of boxes.

As Bambera and Ancelyn get involved in a firefight, Sue starts to sing-along to Keff. Ironically, I think. I say this because by the time she sung the final sting, she seems to be really, really angry.

Bambera uses the 2CV’s open roof to pepper the countryside with bullets.

Knight: Magnificent!
Sue: You need to get out more, love.

And then Bambera finally sees the light:

Bambera: So, you married or what?
Sue: Hallelujah!

Back at the Gore Crow Hotel, UNIT are in charge. Elizabeth isn’t very happy when a solider helps her to evacuate.

Patrick: You’ll have to excuse my wife. Half an hour ago she was blind.
Sue: He sounds annoyed that she can see again.
Me: She’s been on the phone to her solicitors. He told her that he looked like Robert Redford.
Sue: He’s not that bad. He’s just in an episode full of really attractive men.
Me: For ****’s sake!

Warmsly and Patrick are pacified with a quick stare from the Doctor.

BattlefieldSue: Did he just hypnotise them?
Me: Pretty much.
Sue: So the Doctor is becoming the Master? Hmm. I’m not sure how I feel about that. It also begs the question – why hasn’t he done this a million times before? Like every single time he’s been arrested for something he hasn’t done?
Me: Maybe he’s been practising in his room?
Sue: It’s lazy.

The Brigadier tells the Doctor that UNIT are prepared for an alien invasion:

The Brig: We’ve got high-explosive rounds for Yetis and very efficient armour-piercing rounds for robots. And we’ve even got gold-tipped bullets for you know what.
The Doctor: No silver?
The Brig: Silver bullets?
Sue: Yes, just in case you get attacked by the werewolf from the last story. It could happen.

I’m just annoyed that Sue didn’t pick up on the fact that Yetis are robots.

The Brigadier has a present for the Doctor.

The Doctor: Bessie!
Sue: I never liked Bessie. It’s a toff’s car. It won’t suit him at all. He’d be better off in a Morris Minor.

And then we cut to the Doctor running through a field, his arms outstretched.

Sue: What the ****?

BattlefieldIn December 2008, when I bought Battlefield on DVD, I got ten minutes into Part One when my PS3 went tits up on me. There was no way to eject the disc and I had to sent the hardware back to Sony. They sent us a new PS3 a few days later, and 18 months after that, they finally sent me Battlefield Disc One back in the post. They must have knackered the disc in the process – there’s a whopping great scratch running through it. I was tempted to break out the Special Edition on Disc Two, but I managed to resist.


The next day, thanks to the Internet, we picked up where we left off.

Ace takes the piss out of the Doctor’s car, but Bessie leaves at such a speed, it leaves burning tyre tracks in its wake.

Sue: There was no need for that. This feels like a Sarah Jane Adventure. It’s very childish. It doesn’t feel like proper Doctor Who, somehow. It feels like a cheap knock-off.

Morgaine can’t believe that the Doctor has been stupid enough to leave Excalibur with a child.

Sue: At least she’s taking things seriously. She’s the best thing in this by a mile.

BattlefieldIn the hotel, Ace draws a chalk circle around her and Shou Yuing.

Sue: Draw it closer to the bar. You might get thirsty.

And when they end up sitting on a cold stone floor:

Sue: You should have drawn it around the sofa, chick. You didn’t think this through, did you?

Outside, a battle is raging. At one point, a UNIT solider fires a rocket that manages to take out a knight and one of his colleagues at the same time.

Sue: Oppps! Friendly fire! You know, they did this sort of thing so much better in the 1970s.

Mordred and Ancelyn prepare to fight to the death.

Sue: They had excellent dental care in King Arthur’s time. Lovely teeth, the pair of them.

The Doctor places himself between the knights to stop the fighting.

BattlefieldThe Doctor: Stop! I command it! There will be no battle here!
Sue: That was a bit over the top. He sounds like he did when he was trying to stop Ace from drowning. I think it’s gone to his head.

The episode ends with Morgaine summoning the beast known as the Destroyer.

Sue: That looks really good, actually. Funny colour for a monster, though. Shouldn’t it be green?


Part Four

BattlefieldThe Doctor threatens to decapitate Modred with his umbrella.

Mordred: We know you of old, Merlin. You will not kill.
The Doctor: I wouldn’t count on it.
Sue: Yeah, he blows up planets now. I’d watch out if I were you.

Morgaine sacrifices her son for the greater bad.

Sue: Well, I didn’t expect that! What a bitch!

The battle continues to rage on a misty field.

Sue: More mist! More mist! That way we won’t be able to see how naff these fight scenes are. The director can handle the big speeches and character moments, but he can’t direct action. This is pretty shoddy.

The Doctor would rather give Excalibur to Morgaine than lose Ace.

The Doctor: Exotic alien swords are easy to come by. Aces are rare.
Sue: He really cares about her. It’s a different relationship to what we’ve seen before. It’s definitely more caring.

The Doctor enters an interstitial vortex and Ace follows him, despite being told to stay put.

Ace: Geronimo!
Sue: That’s interesting. Ace wore a fez the other week as well. I think Ace must have had a big impact on the Doctor. He keeps copying her in the new series.

BattlefieldThe Brigadier enters the fray, and he shoots the Destroyer in the chest without so much as a “Hello!”

Sue: The Brigadier hasn’t learned anything, has he? He just barges in and starts shooting. The Doctor has had absolutely no impact on him at all.

The Destroyer throws the Brigadier out of a window.

The Doctor: That was uncalled for!
Sue: And shooting that thing without so much as a warning was okay, was it? That’s a bit hypocritical.

The Destroyer is freed.

Morgaine: Too late, Merlin. The gateway is open. I am gone and you have lost.
Sue: I have to honest with you – I haven’t got the faintest idea what’s going on any more. I’m totally lost.

The Destroyer promises to devour our world.

Sue: How long will that take, exactly? He’ll need a very large plate.

The Doctor prepares to face the beast with a gun loaded with silver bullets, but the Brigadier knocks the Time Lord out so he can take on the job himself.

Sue: There was no need for that. I’m sure the Doctor would have agreed if he’d just asked him. That’s the Brig’s job – to do the Doctor’s dirty work for him.

BattlefieldThe Brigadier faces down the Destroyer.

The Brig: Get off my world!
Sue: You go, Brig!

The Brigadier does the best he can. And his best is pretty good, actually, because the Destroyer is destroyed. Unfortunately, the Doctor believes that his old friend has been killed in the process.

The Doctor: You stupid, stubborn, pig-headed numskull. You were supposed to die in bed.

I tell Sue that they planned to kill the Brigadier off, but they bottled it at the last-minute.

Sue: Good. Why would you want to kill the Brig? That would have been stupid.
The Brig: I’m going home to Doris.
The Doctor: Doris?
The Brig: Yes, my wife.
The Doctor: So she caught you in the end.
Sue: Does he mean that his first wife caught him having an affair and she kicked him out?

The Doctor finds a note which he left to himself in the future/past.

Sue: That’s the sort of thing the new series would do. It’s very timey-wimey. This Doctor is very crafty.

But it’s not over yet.

Sue: This would be so much better without the music and the fight scenes. Unfortunately, that’s all there is.

The Doctor talks Morgaine out of launching a nuclear missile.

Sue: Great speech – I really liked that. He really meant it.

Morgaine is overcome with emotion when the Doctor tells her that Arthur died years ago.

Morgaine: We were together in the woods of Celadon.
Sue: Yeah, I bet you bloody were.

BattlefieldThe episode is wrapped up back at the Brigadier’s mansion.

Sue: This is a nice, sweet ending.
Me: Are you joking? It’s a ****ing sitcom ending!
Sue: Yeah, the music is very sitcom, but at least it’s appropriate for a change.


The Score

Sue: I didn’t really like that very much. It was very slow. The only decent thing about it was the Brig and the witch. The director couldn’t handle the action scenes, and I didn’t understand the plot at all. You know, ever since we saw that one with the Daleks, I thought Doctor Who was going to be good again. But it’s not. It’s all over the place. I was hoping we would finish this blog on a high. It’s very disappointing.
Me: Go on. Say it. Please.
Sue: Shame.



Next Time




  1. Chris JC  March 18, 2013


  2. Anonymous  March 18, 2013

    Shame indeed. I was holding out for a 6 from the comments. Ah well

  3. Headferry Rawdog  March 18, 2013

    I watched this one again over the last couple of days, for this very occasion. It actually starts off quite promising, but goes downhill rapidly once the knights arrive. There seems to be lots of pointless to-ing and fro-ing in vehicles (why exactly do they all take that drive into the countryside?), and these guys *really* can’t write for teenage girls. It was a little better than I remember, but not by much.

  4. Headferry Rawdog  March 18, 2013

    Also, Glen has excelled himself this week! 🙂

    • Jazza1971  March 18, 2013


      • Glen Allen (@GlenAllenTV)  March 19, 2013

        Don’t start that again 🙂

        • Anonymous  March 19, 2013

          Sorry, couldn’t resist it. 😉

        • Jazza1971  March 19, 2013

          Sorry, couldn’t resist it. :o)

  5. Chicanery  March 18, 2013

    It’s a real sh- pity that this serial doesn’t come together, as there are many interesting ideas. Magic as an alternate science in a different universe, the incomprehensible morality of Mordred, U.N.I.T. being a credible military force, the Doctor’s future affecting his present, The Destroyer… There’s so much good, yet it’s all ruined by some ropey acting (oh Brig II, why can’t you be more like Brig I?) poor direction, bad production design, and some non-sensical moments (Tennyson at the trench, while lovely to hear is confounding). Oh, and that ending, that horrific inconsequential ending, undermining the serial.

    Still, everything after this is more or less excellent, if over ambitious and a bit confusing. Onwards and upwards!

    • Chicanery  March 18, 2013

      Argh, make that Morgaine!

    • Headferry Rawdog  March 19, 2013

      I actually think Angela Bruce does a pretty decent job, she’s just badly written.

      • tom jones  March 19, 2013

        It doesn’t help that she’s having to do a posh accent; she’s actually a Geordie.

        • John G  March 19, 2013

          There’s nothing wrong with her performance. The trouble is, I always think of her as Female Lister from Red Dwarf, which makes it a bit hard to accept her as another character!

          • Nick Mays  March 19, 2013

            I know what you mean! Every time I see Angela Bruce I always say “Oh Smeg!”

            How about as the Wife In Space 2 it be a Red Dwarf blog? 😉

    • Anonymous  March 22, 2013


  6. Thomas  March 18, 2013


    I really hope things pick up for her over the next three stories- though I’m worried about her reaction to the next one, if she felt this plot was hard to understand…

  7. Darryl Gillikin  March 18, 2013

    Now, you DID remember to tell Sue that this was Keff’s last score for the series, didn’t you? 🙂

  8. Jez Noir  March 18, 2013

    Only 4? Harsh! If Sue had trouble following this one then it certainly doesn’t bode well for the next entry (which is a….. oh, shame)

    Great trailer by Glen!

    • matt bartley  March 19, 2013

      I’m not too worried about that. Ghost Light is intentionally complicated, Battlefield is just muddled – and if nothing else, Sue will surely love the upcoming carpentry.

      Anyway, Battlefield’s not bad – it’s just that it’s ideas are too big for the budget and some iffy moments drag it down a bit further. Still, it’s nice to see the Brig back and get a decent farewell story, the Destroyer’s great and Sylvester gets another lovely speech – they’re writing really well for him by now.

      And at least it gets the worst story of the season out of the way with. Hopefully Sue will think the show managed to go out on some kind of a high. Hopefully.

  9. Ben Herman  March 18, 2013

    Hmmmm, only four out of ten? Battlefield is one of my favorite Sylvester McCoy stories. I also thought Sue would at least give it a six. Ah, well. I should re-post my old review of this serial on WordPress some time soon.

    • Neil Perryman  March 18, 2013

      She was hovering around a five for ages if that’s any consolation.

      • Pete Galey  March 18, 2013

        Re my comments on the last entry – oooooh, so close!

    • Broton  March 20, 2013

      Yeah, I like Battlefield – unusually for post 1st season McCoy the Doctor hasn’t a clue what is going on and is making it up as he goes which makes for much better Doctor Who than all that “making sure everything goes to plan” stuff

  10. Anonymous  March 18, 2013

    I’ve got a soft spot for Battlefield. Ben Aaronovich writes characters well – you really get to LIKE poor Lavel (even more so in the book) and then Morgaine casually kills her, yet heals a blind woman. Just because she can.

    The whole Arthur-the-Freeze-Dried bit is clever and timey-wimey, but like all the good ideas and characters in this story the actual execution of it – i.e. the direction – lets it down. Thankfully, Aaronovich addresses a lot of these points in the novelisation and it works a lot better. But definitely a case of “less is more” in action.

    Incidentally, the whole Arthur/Doctor/Merlin thing made me think very fondly of ‘The Tides of Time’ comic strip in DWM, and I often wonder if Aaronovich piked up on several aspects of this, including its prequel,’The Neutron Knights’. This includes Merlin the Wise being a key player and a member of the Council of High Evolutionaries, which includes Rassilon. Certainly, Battrlefield was significant enough for DWM to link into the fact that Merlin is absent from the reconvened Council of High Evolutionaries in a later 7th Doctor strip.

    • Jamie  March 19, 2013

      You can say that again….

    • Ed Jolley  March 19, 2013

      The novelisation was by Marc Platt, not Ben Aaronovich.

  11. Nick Mays  March 18, 2013

    I’ve actually got a very soft spot for Battlefield. Ben Aaronovich writes excellent characters, even tge fairly minor ones that you get to believe in. You can feel for poor Lavel, who is casually killed by Morgaine, who then goes on to heal a blind woman for no other reason than because she can.

    There’s lots of clever concepts at work here, but the whole thing is let down in the actual execution, i.e the direction. All I can say is, Aaronovich’s operation in a lot better!

    On watching battlefield at the time I was very reminded of DWM’s excellent comic strip ‘The Tides of Time’ from 1982, and its prequel ‘The Neutron Knights’. I wonder whether Ben Aaronovich was inspired by this and picked up on several of its plot points and the whole Doctor/Merlin/Arthur thing. In the comic strip, the Fourth and later Fifth Doctors meet Merlin the Wise, who is a member of the Council of High Evolutionaries, which includes Rassilon. KIng Arthur also figures, his knights and their foes being dressed in armour, armed with swords and laser gns.

    Some years later, the plot of Battlefield obviously informs a subsequent strip in which the Council of High Evolutionaries appears but Merlin is absent.

  12. Warren Andrews  March 18, 2013

    It’s a mess but there’s imagination and colour to it that appeals to me. Imagine if Graeme Harper had been available when JNT asked him. Kerrigan’s style is too whimsical for the story and it ends up feeling very superficial (not helped by the least mystical looking lake they could find). The book by Marc Platt was excellent.

    Sue: That looks really good, actually. Funny colour for a monster, though. Shouldn’t it be green?

    Surely she means “gween”:)

    I’m working my way through rescoring Battlefield if anyone’s interested (using the special edition edit) 🙂

    • Anonymous  March 18, 2013

      Ooops! Of course, Marc Platt novelised it with Aaronovich’s blessing!

      • Jamie  March 19, 2013

        You can say that again…

        • Nick Mays  March 19, 2013

          I probably will.

          I probably will.

          Seemed to have been a problem with the Reply field yesterday!

          Seemed to have been a problem with the Reply field yesterday!

    • Nick Mays  March 18, 2013

      Ooops! My mistake – I forgot that Marc Platt novelised this one with BA’s blessing.

      • David J Richardson  March 19, 2013

        Oh, I remember cursing loudly when that announcement was made. Platt may have some interesting (if often flawed) ideas, but his prose is horrible. Whereas Aaronovitch wrote what is widely accepted to be the best novelisation (Remembrance) — I note it is the only “old” book being republished this year as part of the “one Doctor’s story every month” campaign.

        • Paul Greaves  March 19, 2013

          Not sure about ‘widely accepted’ as the best novelisation. Even Aaronovitch apologies for it in his foreword to the recently released edition. I would argue that many of the early Target books are far better written than Remembrance. I think people got all excited at the time because he was the first author for a while to develop ideas and character beyond what was scripted – but the early novelisations did that quite a bit too.

          As for it being the ‘only old book being republished this year’ that doesn’t mean a lot either when you consider they’ve already reprinted 12 Targets in the last couple of years. I suspect it was the only half decent Dalek story in the novel ranges that didn’t require reading fifteen related books beforehand! 🙂

          • Ben Herman  March 19, 2013

            My al-time favorite novelization is probably Day of the Daleks by Terrance Dicks, which very effectively developed ideas, characters, and action sequences far beyond what was in the actual television serial.

          • Nick Mays  March 19, 2013

            I’d certainly put Day of the Daleks up in the Top Ten Target novelisations, possibly even at No 4 or 5 (now THERE’S an idea for a Blog!)

            I think possibly my faves would be ‘The Auton Invasion’ [aka ‘Speahead From Space’] again by Uncle Tewwance and The Cave Montsers [DWA The Silurians] by Malcolm Hulke. Probably because at the time they came out (1974) I had memories of the TV strories (1970) but when you are 11, just 4 years ago can seem like the dim and distant past. And back then, the novelisations were the nearest thing to repeats and VHS recordings that any of us had!

            Likewise, I love ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ as it was the first Pat Troughton story to be novelised by TD.

            Later on though, I really did enjoy the novelisation of ‘Remebrance of the Daleks ‘ by Ben Aaronovich.

  13. Perry Armstrong  March 18, 2013

    I always feel like watching John Boorman’s Excalibur after this one: Nicol Williamson IS The Doctor 😉

    • Nick Mays  March 19, 2013

      Too right!

      I love ‘Excalibur’, even for it’s daft bits, like Arthur and his Knights all sitting down to eat in their armour! 😉

  14. Alex Reed  March 18, 2013

    But. I LOVE BATTLEFIELD “collapses into heap and sobs”

  15. Lewis Christian  March 18, 2013


    Yeah, this one is dodgy and all over the place. Fun though.

  16. DPC  March 18, 2013

    RIP, 80s console room set. 🙁

    Doris was first mentioned in “Planet of the Spiders” if I recall, so it’s a nice bit of continuity that actually works…

    “Sue: I’m just going to replace shame with shit. That’s what I’m supposed to do, isn’t it? It’s like frell and frak all over again. ”


    Morgaine steals the show… Mordred’s cackling when he beckons her is embarrassing…

    “Sue: Draw it closer to the bar. You might get thirsty.”


    Ep 3 is the story’s best, IMHO – especially the cliffhanger…

    And the Destroyer is great, if you can ignore it’s garish blue plastic. The plastic look wouldn’t be as bad if it weren’t for the day-glo blue…

    And I’m looking forward to how “Ghost Light” is perceived… =D

  17. Mat Joiner  March 18, 2013

    I do like this story, but the novelisation’s better. Always wanted to see the ginger Doctor in the Afghan coat you get in the prologue.

    • Dave Sanders  March 21, 2013

      So has the actual Doctor since 2005.

  18. encyclops  March 19, 2013

    I have the opposite of a soft spot for Battlefield. There are bits and pieces I like, but it doesn’t really come together — proper lighting and direction could have helped so much, or at least that’s how I remember it from COUGH years ago. The Doctor being Merlin is one of those bits I can’t decide if I like or hate; it feels somehow too on-the-nose. I love Sue’s insight about how Merlin had to have been THIS incarnation, though.

    It’s the next two stories I’m excited for now. I used to hate them, largely because everyone loved them and I found them wildly overrated, but now that we’re well past the hype I can see why there was so much of it. They could each go either way, so this is really pins and needles time.

    • Nick Mays  March 19, 2013

      I’d have to agree with Sue about the voice-print and the ‘Merlin’ Doctor being this one… I thought that at the time I saw this story, as the Doc’s voice changes with each regeneration.

      Unless of course it’s a Time Lord thing and the mechanism recognises the Doctor’s aura or bio-print of whatever and the voice activation is just a password protocol, i.e. “Open Up.”

  19. Owen Wildish  March 19, 2013

    hmmm, In one of Matt Smith’s episodes, the Doctor and Amy talk about a robot King Arthur… I wonder… could the 11th Doctor been the incarnation that left a message to his 7th, it’s a “shame” they didn’t do this as a full story, as a follow up, it might have been intresting, though “Battlefield” is hardly the best I did enjoy it I’m not surprised by it’s score 😉 (P.S. are you looking forward to the 50th anniversary episode later this year… I know I am.)

    • Anonymous  March 19, 2013

      The reference is from The Doctor’s Wife, but there is no mention of him being King Arthur. The Doctor simply talks about a robot king, he doesn’t say what he was called.

  20. Lewis Christian  March 19, 2013

    ‘Tis interesting now… the next three stories are often held up by fans as proof that the show was getting better, and it was killed at the wrong time. It’ll be interesting to see Sue’s reactions to GL, TCoF and S.

  21. Anonymous  March 19, 2013

    18 months is too long to wait….

  22. Rob Shearman  March 19, 2013

    Awww. Well, by comparing me to a character in the sublime ‘Battlefield’, Sue has made me very happy.

    Oh. Hang on.

  23. Mark Wright  March 19, 2013

    “Ever since we saw that one with the Daleks, I thought Doctor Who was going to be good again. But it’s not. It’s all over the place.” – my feelings circa 1989 precisely. The falling knights always reminded me of a slapstick routine from the Goodies.

  24. Damon  March 19, 2013

    I think this fan-made trailer sums up Battlefield rather nicely:

    Show Sue, please. 🙂

  25. Damon  March 19, 2013

    Oh, and PLEASE show the movie version of Fenric. We all know it’s a bazillion times better than the episodic version.

    • Charles Norton  March 19, 2013

      Isn’t Andrew Cartmel a twitter follower of the wife in space? Why don’t you ask Andrew Cartmel which version of Curse of Fenric you should watch? I bet I know which version he’ll suggest too. The director, producer, writer, script-editor, musician – none of them were happy with the heavily edited broadcast version of Curse of Fenric. The SE really is so much better and close to what th production team actually wanted the audience to see.

      • Neil Perryman  March 19, 2013

        I don’t think he reads the blog. He just likes the cartoon cat on the homepage 😉

      • Neil Perryman  March 19, 2013

        Tell you what – I’ll run a poll to see what we should watch when the time comes.

        • Charles Norton  March 19, 2013

          Good idea.

  26. Marty  March 19, 2013

    All the ideas in this are good, as it is with much of Doctor Who. It’s just the execution is a little ropey in places.

    Shame. Shame is a very odd swear word.
    Maybe the King’s Britain doesn’t like sweary people.

    The camera work, models, props and everything is working well, even the CG snake isn’t…okay, that is a bit bad.

    In I think “The Dying Days” it’s explained that the house is Doris’ not the Brigadier’s because Doris is good at investing or something.

    Did Sue pick up that the Brigadier is still a Brigadier? At some point he gets a knighthood and becomes a General.

    The TARDIS in this story is also an odd shade of blue, it’s fixed by the next story but in this (maybe it’s the lighting) it’s a very light blue.

    The “boom” sequence just goes on for too long and Shou Yuing’s info dump also doesn’t make sense unless you watch the Special Edition.

    For the amount of good actors in this and the good camera work, outside shooting and other good things surely it was worth a 5 or a 6? Those things can raise a story up can’t it?

    • Anonymous  March 19, 2013

      “For the amount of good actors in this and the good camera work, outside shooting and other good things surely it was worth a 5 or a 6? Those things can raise a story up can’t it?”

      I’d agree with you on this one Marty. Overall, I’d score the story 6, possibly 7.

      But of course all our own ‘scores’ are subjective, the same as Sue’s scores for every story in classic Who. I think some of my favourite stories deserve far more in the way of points than Sue gave them, but then I’m not coming to them from Sue’s perspective, and I’ve often nodded my head in agreement with Sue’s assessment of a so-called ‘Classic’ which seems to be simply a classic because the Fanboys say it is. Ditto companions, even Adric was “rehabilitated” because Sue wasn’t following the tedious Fanboy “I should have been Adric not Matthew Waterhouse” line.

      Just a couple of the reasonswhy I’ll miss ‘Wife In Space’ when in finishes! (Sobs)

  27. chris-too-old-to-watch  March 19, 2013

    Ah yes, we have Arthurian knights; we have lots of explosions, we have UNIT, we have her-from-Upstairs-Downstairs-who-was-also-Sarah-Kingdom, and best of all we have the Brig.

    Something missing though.

    Oooh yes, a plot

  28. Gavin Noble  March 19, 2013

    What a shame this was the last appearance by the Brig in Doctor Who. He was the best thing in this story by miles. Rest of it is a bit of a mess.

    Best trailer form Glen for a while too.

  29. Dave Sanders  March 19, 2013

    “Everything I learned about King Arthur I learned from Prog Rock and Monty Python.”

    And yet Sue didn’t pick up on how much Ancelyn looks like Justin Haywood?

    Chin up Sue, you’re On The Threshold Of A Dream now – a dream with no more Classic Who in it.

    • John G  March 19, 2013

      Just a shame Ancelyn wasn’t a knight in white satin…

    • Headferry Rawdog  March 23, 2013

      In fairness, other than the blonde hair, he doesn’t look much like Justin Haywood. I’d say more like Chesney Hawkes.

  30. Cookey  March 19, 2013

    I can’t actually remember this story, all i remember was the Brig being in it and the Destroyer was an awesome looking beast, it wouldn’t look out of place in the new series.

  31. FrPip  March 19, 2013

    Until a couple of days ago, I hadn’t seen this one since it went out – barring a few times when I had it on Video recorded from the telly – and I can remember thinking “I don’t like it very much but can’t work out why”. It’s got all the right ingredients, good plot, bit of myffic stuff, good actors and dialogue, some great scenes from McCoy (this was the first story since Remembrance when I warmed to him); but it somehow doesn’t add up to a good story. I still don’t know why. Maybe it was trying to do too much.

    • chris-too-old-to-watch  March 19, 2013

      But it hasn’t got a plot. Some characters turn up looking for someone and or something. No explanation is made who, what or why. For no apparant reason, a sorceress brings in a demon to destroy the world, but she could just as easily started a nuclear war. So why summon the demon?
      This is all “sound and fury signifying nothing”. At no point does the viewer ever suddenly guess the convoluted plot before it’s explained. This (and the dreadful Ghost Light) epitomises all that is wrong with McCoy’s last season. Obfiscation and confusion ISN’t post-modern or clever. It’s just lazy.

      • Thomas  March 19, 2013

        I’ve not finished the story yet, but so far there’s definitely a plot. Morgaine and co. arrive in modern-day London to claim Excalibur and finish their fight against Arthur. Certainly nothing confusing about that (I also take dispute with Ghost Light being incomprehensible, though I’ll admit it suffers from being cut down so much and from the really poor sound mixing).

        If anything, the problem I’m seeing in Battlefield is a lack of cohesion- there’s a lot of really good bits, but no one’s quite on the same level (especially McCulloch, who’s firing away as if it’s business as usual and totally missing the mythic aspects of it).

        • charles yoakum  March 22, 2013

          the sound mix is, and always has been, one of the biggest culprits of people not getting Ghost Light. Very difficult to follow a convoluted plot when you can’t hear what they’re saying! also, moodily lit which results in a lot of blurry videotape.

  32. Anonymous  March 19, 2013

    “The Brig, The Witch and the Hormones”.

    Yeah, pretty much sums this up. Doesn’t rate much on my “give-a-shit-ometer”, either…

  33. BWT  March 19, 2013

    Wha…?! Where’s me name gone…

  34. David Staples  March 19, 2013

    I remember a lot of anticipation for this one after “Remembrance” had been so well received but somehow it didn’t quite pan out. It had a lot of the right ingredients but somehow the mix wasn’t right.

    Still, there are two absolute classics to follow. I shall be very interested to see what Sue makes of “Ghostlight”. I’d give it at least a 9/10.

  35. Chris  March 19, 2013

    Battlefield is a frustrating one – SO much good stuff to love, but disjointed and inconsistent. It has a ton of great moments but as a whole it’s a bit weak. Not bad at all – just not hitting the heights it had the potential to.

  36. Ben Herman  March 19, 2013

    I think Battlefield works somewhat better on screen via the extended cut which is available on disk two of the DVD. The restored scenes do a better job rounding out the Brigadier’s character via his initial frosty reception from Ace, and his reaction to Lavel’s death.

    In either verssion of the story, Jean Marsh (one of my favorite actresses) is superb as Morgaine. She is one of the few subtlely-written, morally ambiguous villains from the show’s original incarnation. I really think the final scene between the Doctor and Morgaine when he appeals to her sense of honor to stop her from detonating the nuclear missile is wonderfully done.

    One thing that never made sense to me, though: what precisely did UNIT do with Morgaine and Mordred? How exactly do you “lock up” a sorceress from another dimension? It’s too bad that no one at Big Finish ever wrote a sequel, because Marsh has said was interested in reprising the role of Morgaine in the audio format.

  37. DamonD  March 19, 2013

    Ahh Battlefield. It’s a mess, but the ideas are good.

    The Special Edition does a bravura job of doing the best it can as well, even if it can’t make it into a silk purse. Definitely an improvement though.

    It seems funny to think I was one of the mere (relatively speaking!) 3.1 million sat there watching episode one…

  38. Rassilon  March 19, 2013

    I’d have gone for a 5 or 6 possibly a 7 for trying really hard, it doesn’t quite work (only seen the episodic version), .

    The Destroyer (Sorry I keep getting a mental image of Remo Williams) is too similar to The Haemavore, the BTTF burning tyre tracks & corny ending, I actually thought Jean Marsh was overacting on this one (& I’d forgot that she had shot Nick Courtney in TDMP) are the downside. Morgaine disowns her son, then pops up to pay his bar tab?

    Ace clearly has not got the concept of personal space when she draws the circle, nor the basics of life required, food, water & a pot to….you get the idea. I hadn’t considered including the sofa till now, but you would need a comfy chair while you try to outsit Remo waiting to take you to hell (Damn now I have a mental image of Scumspawn in DW.

    Ghostlight next being one of my favorites for being of a darker theme.

  39. Richard Lyth  March 19, 2013

    I’ve dug out my old notepad from 1989 to see what I thought about this season when it was first broadcast, and for Battlefield I wrote “Well, that was quite a good story overall, well up to Silver Nemesis standard. 8 out of 10.” Nowadays I’d give it more like a 6 or 7, and I’m quite bemused by the idea of Silver Nemesis being the gold standard that all Doctor Who stories should aspire to…

    • Nick Mays  March 19, 2013

      Hey! Good old fashioned blogging with a 1980s Laptop! Nice one! 🙂

  40. Nick Mays  March 19, 2013

    LOVE Glen’s ‘Next Time’ trailer! Now why am I thinking of ‘The War Games’? Does ‘Ghost Light’ link into Season 6B?
    Or ‘Exodus’ in the New Adventures? 😉


  41. Longtime Listener  March 19, 2013

    ‘in her best Russian accent’

    Polish, surely. I mean, assuming she’s imitating Zbigniew rather than putting on a pre-prepared Russian accent in spite of him having a Polish accent. And assuming that he actually does have a Polish accent, which I can’t be sure of, because I’m not confident of my ability to distinguish the two and I haven’t seen the story for a while. But it ought to be Polish. Unless he’s a Russian with a Polish name. Which he could be.

    Everyone else has been in the pub for the last ten minutes, haven’t they?

    Oh, and I’m assuming that the reason the first ‘r’ is missing from Mordred about half the time is because there was a shortage due to McCoy rrrrrrrrrolling too many of them.

    • Neil Perryman  March 19, 2013

      She cant do a Polish accent so she compromised.

    • Anonymous  March 20, 2013

      ‘Polish, surely. I mean, assuming she’s imitating Zbigniew rather than putting on a pre-prepared Russian accent in spite of him having a Polish accent.’

      Ah, but in Doctor Who, Russians have Polish accents anyway, except for Space Russians, who sound almost-but-not-quite-entirely-unlike-Welsh.

      To complicate matters further, he’s played by Robert Jezek, whose surname is the Czech word for hedgehog.

    • Matt Sharp  March 20, 2013

      ‘Polish, surely. I mean, assuming she’s imitating Zbigniew rather than putting on a pre-prepared Russian accent in spite of him having a Polish accent. ‘

      Nonsense, every native English speaker knows this is exactly the same thing, despite what any Poles or Russians might tell you. Russians in Doctor Who speak with Polish accents, anyway; except for Space Russians, who have the traditional ‘almost-but-not-quite-entirely-unlike-Welsh’ accent.

      • John Miller  March 20, 2013

        And yet nobody pointed out the significance of Zbigniev as two fingers up to JNT, Perhaps because nobody cared? 🙂

        • Polarity Retired but Lurking  March 20, 2013

          Haven’t seen this one, but always interested in “two fingers up to JNT” references. Care to elaborate as to why?
          Djenkuye (or Spasibo, or even Diolch, if you prefer)

          • John Miller  March 21, 2013

            It’s the much-loved UNIT Dating Again(feel free to stop reading now 🙂 )…

            Zbrigniev states “When I served under Lethbridge Stewart, we had a scientific advisor called the Doctor. ” But this story is set in the late 90’s(ie. about a decade in the future, and even the “Invasion in ’68” squad say Battlefield is 1997). Zbrigniev is about mid-30’s. Therefore he would only have been 18 or over(old enough to serve in UNIT) in…the 1980’s. JNT had actually lost his rag when one fan pointed out the usual Mawdryn problem. JNT either didn’t notice or had lost interest by this point. It also speaks volumes that Aaronovitch was more interested in putting in UNIT Dating references, and having the Doctor carrying Liz’s ID, then actually writing a proper story with plot, well-rounded characters etc. People blast the Colin Baker era for the “Shopping List” scripts, but this is far more guilty of that approach. “UNIT, The Brigadier, Bessie, references to the Pertwee Era, sneaky UNIT Dating line, reference to when Courtney and Marsh appeared together back in the 60’s, Arthurian references by the truckload, new euphemism, references to the Doctor’s mysterious past/future, er have I forgotten anything?” How about a decent plot?

          • Warren Andrews  March 21, 2013

            In fairness to Aaronovitch, the original script outline for the four part expansion has a very clear plot but it seems that in cutting it down (probably for budget reasons as his original ideas were waaay tooo ambitious) the plot details got lost – and Cartmel never noticed like he didn’t notice with Ghost Light.

          • Anonymous  March 21, 2013

            Ben Arronovitch’s view is that Battlefield is set in 1997, but it’s never actually specified in the story to be a decade after Ace’s time, just a few years. On the strength of what’s said or shown in the teleplay, the implication is only that it’s at some unclear stage in the 90s.

          • Polarity Confused  March 21, 2013

            Thanks for that. The stick doesn’t exist that I wouldn’t use to poke JNT and my imagination is running riot at the thought of him losing his rag at the fans…
            F**** the fans, I’ll give em crappy incidental music made by one of my mates on a Palitoy keyboard, because I’m in charge – so there.
            Boss, do you think that’s a good…
            And now the Cybermen can be destroyed by throwing overdue library books at them! We’ll have a big monster made of sweets too! Get me Bonnie Langford on the phone!
            Um, boss?
            Don’t interrupt! And paint all the daleks purple, then write me a script that changes the Tardis exterior to a pissoir. Permanently! That’ll teach em who’s in charge!

            Sorry if I’m stirring a Zarbi nest here, but couldn’t Zabaglionovsky have served in UNIT in the “sort of in the future” Tom era?

          • John Miller  March 21, 2013

            A quick scan of the early chapters of the novelisation states “Britain in the late 1990’s” and refers to 1995 in the past tense. I think it was one of the Guide Books that specifically stated “1997”.

            Of course, Liz’s UNIT ID is said to (have) expire(d) on 31 December 1975, which is consistent with the Pyramids of Mars “I’m from 1980” dating. So basically, the 70’s UNIT stories WERE set in the future. Whether it was about 5 years or about 10 years is up to the fan to decide for themselves(in fact 1997 is 8 years ahead of 1989, which is an even split between the 2) . But only an idiot in a bad Hawaiian shirt would think the early 70’s.

          • Nick Mays  March 21, 2013

            Two points:

            1) JN-T would have been oblivious to the UNIT dating piss-take because he clearly never read any scripts.

            2) Q: Got pesky UNIT dating problems? Dating problems? A: Time War/Timewyrm. Take your pick. 😉

          • Nick Mays  March 21, 2013

            “JNT had actually lost his rag when one fan pointed out the usual Mawdryn problem.”

            Gulp!!! I think that was me! I have the letter from the irate Producer in my possession! 😀

          • Anonymous  March 21, 2013

            The books don’t amount to evidence as regards the TV stories though, they just reflect the preferences of their authors. Otherwise, we’d have to conclude that they must have added a set of missing adventures between The Dominators and The Mind Robber (the book of the former has a different ending to the screen version, whereas the book of the latter follows straight on from the TV one, and the television stories are clearly supposed to be continuous), or indeed that Jo somehow joined UNIT twice, again for The Doomsday Weapon, and as for The Daleks book, with Susan English, Ian never having met Barbara before, and Barnes Common…

          • John Miller  March 21, 2013

            1)The original three sixties Hartnell books are separate from the Target books.
            2)Things like introducing Jo in Doomsday Weapon are because that was the first book to feature Jo, and young readers may have been unfamiliar with her.
            3)Setting stories between The Dominators and The Mind Robber is no worse than setting stories between Planet Of Fire and Caves Of Androzani, or between The Time Warrior and Invasion Of The Dinosaurs, or between The War Games and Spearhead From Space or…..
            4)For many people them Target books are the definitive versions. We didn’t have DVD players, repeats etc. back then. if you missed an episode, that was it. The books were the only permanent record of the events(some people had recorded the audio, but those were much harder to come by, and much more expensive). The original authors often wrote the books, and had to clarify a lot of points, by either referring to other stories, and/or giving background on characters. That additional info as every bit as “canon” as anything else you consider.
            5)If people vote for the extended version of Curse of Fenric, will you point out how the additional scenes “don’t count”?

          • Nick Mays  March 21, 2013

            Anonymous: Oh dear! I think we havea “fade to black” moment here!*

            * Readers of DWB will “get” this…

          • Roundel  March 21, 2013

            Points 1, 2 and 3 are all irrelevant. I have no interest in discussing the reasons, still less in trying to apply some spurious criteria for assessing whether this or that one has more weight or validity than another, for the various deviations between the books and TV stories. The fact remains that they are there. And the fact that they are there means that the books, cannot, collectively, amount to a coherent and self-consistent continuity, either between themselves, or in relation to the TV series.

            Point 4 is also irrelevant, because it’s based on personal preference. They are alternative versions to the TV stories by definition – ie they were adapted for different media, and with many kinds of differences to the originals – some minor, some major. As such, the fact that they contained many rewrites, means that they have no automatic weight when it comes to adding background or information to anything in the TV series. They are simply new versions, revised in some cases, whether written by the original author or not (which, in any case, the Battlefield novelisation wasn’t). Arguments based on what the experience was like for fans in the days when they couldn’t get videos of the stories have no bearing on that. If there were fans who felt so starved of material that they decided this was a sufficient basis for assuming that anything in the books automatically applied to the TV series even if it wasn’t within it, then they were simply wrong, because they were employing faulty reasoning – that being, that a substitute for the teleplay which was the nearest thing that could bring them the pleasure they craved from the series therefore somehow equalled it. It doesn’t. They’re separate. Very similar in some cases, and can be enjoyed in the same sort of way if you like both, but still revised alternatives.

            And yes, alternative edits of stories are also, by their very natures, alternative versions of them, that being because the material contained in them is not identical.

            One other point – there is not, there never has been, and there never will be, such a thing as “canon” in respect to Doctor Who. It’s a meaningless concept. There is no such thing as a definitive and self-consistent Doctor Who continuity, whether in TV alone, or via the books. It doesn’t matter that some Doctor Who stories contradict each other, just as it doesn’t matter that some of the books contradict both parts of the TV series or other books. It’s pointless to even look for consistent world-building in a series – either of Tv stories or books – stretching through the decades. It’s impossible to “prove” anything which isn’t directly stated, and if this or that book puts one idea forward about something, all it means is that that was what the author thought. The same is true throughout. With Doctor Who, you have dozens and dozens of different authors and creative people working over a long period, and the sum total of their works includes many contradictions of different kinds – and indeed I wouldn’t expect anything else. All you can really say about any continuity debate in Doctor Who, in relation to authorial intent, is note what any of the authors, or producers etc concerned believed. If different ones of those people had different beliefs from some of the others, it’s

            A. Not my problem, or indeed anyone else’s.

            B. Completely unimportant as to which of them you might agree with, if indeed you feel a need to agree with anyone anyway.

          • John Miller  March 21, 2013

            So, you are basically saying that there is no canon, but then stating that the books don’t count?

            And you are saying that the authors’ original intents count, but when they actually write them down, their original intents don’t count?

            Are you by any chance an admin on a well-known website?

          • Anonymous  March 21, 2013

            “So, you are basically saying that there is no canon, but then stating that the books don’t count?’

            No, I am not saying that. I am saying that the books are not part of the TV series. The books are a part of Doctor Who, just as the Big Finish plays are a part of Doctor Who, the story on the Nestle wrappers in the 70s is a part of Doctor Who, the annuals are a part of Doctor Who, the comic strip stories in the Doctor Who Adventures comic are a part of Doctor Who. But none of those things are part of the TV series of Doctor Who, they’re separate branches. There’s Doctor Who, the multimedia phenomenon, which takes in all those things, and there are the various elements which make up that. And there’s Doctor Who, the TV series, which is one of them, the novelisations are another, the novels not based on Tv stories are another, and there’s all the examples I listed. The novelisations are closer to the series in that they’re adaptations based on them, but the very act of adapting makes them a separate element from the series.

            “And you are saying that the authors’ original intents count, but when they actually write them down, their original intents don’t count?”

            I am saying that if one writer has a different intent from another’s, there is no particular need, for me or for anyone else, to treat either as having more weight than the others, outside of personal preference.

            Consider, for example, that William Emms novelised Galaxy Four in 1985, twenty years after it was first televised. He made a few additions based on hindsight, such as the Doctor reflecting about regeneration and wishing he’d chosen a younger body. That’s not something he would have been likely to have put in, had he novelised the book in 1965. There’s also the strong likelihood that, had he written the book twenty years earlier then, even ignoring the business about regenerating bodies, it would probably have read differently to at least some extent. Different choice of words, different pacing etc. The same applies to other authors who adapted their TV stories as books about twenty years later. John Lucarotti’s book of The Aztecs also rewrites a few details, such as Ixta becoming the grandson of the architect who designed the pyramid – he’s the son in the television story – and pushes the story further in the future, by dating it to 1507. The TV story doesn’t give an exact date, although if Ixta is the son of someone who designed the pyramid for someone who was buried there around 1430, that would imply a much earlier date, probably at least a generation.

            There’s an example of how even authorial intent isn’t always straightforward. Are we talking about the intent of the author at the time the original was made, or in retrospect, when adapting their work for another medium, in some cases, many years later? What if someone changed their mind about something, or had a new idea, in the interim? What if the change concerned is something which did not appear, is not evident simply from viewing, the television version?

            I am not purporting to offer a definitive answer to this because part of my point is that there isn’t one, it has to come down to personal preference to a large extent in the end. When is The Aztecs set? All we can say is that the TV story is probably meant to be circa the 1460s or so, and that the book of it is set in 1507. Whichever one any of us might prefer is our own business.

            Similarly, Barry Letts later chose to set the book of The Ghosts of N-Space, which is supposed to be around the time of Invasion of the Dinosaurs, in 1975. I am not trying to propose that the book should be regarded a ‘canon’ if you’re thinking in terms. I am simply saying that it illustrates Letts’ own apparent opinion on the subject by the mid-1990s. It doesn’t matter what his reasons might have been – if you think he was just doing that to keep some fans happy or whatever – fine, it’s not important. Because, after all, we can easily say that Barry Letts in 1996 did not have the authority to over-rule anything established even in his own era, simply because his book postdates it by years. Also, by the same token, neither Robert Holmes, nor Peter Grimwade, nor Ben Aaronovitch, nor Marc Platt, nor Steven Moffat, by implying a 1967 date for The Web of Fear in The Snowmen, have the power to retrospectively decide when the UNIT stories of the Pertwee era were set because they’re all coming at it after the event. So, in other words, if the important element to you is what the makers of the Pertwee era intended at the time – and only at the time – then, it’s only what Sherwin, Letts and Dicks put into the early 70s stories when they were working on them that counts. Neither Mawdryn Undead nor Battlefield nor The Snowmen can affect that, so if any of them contradict it, then they contradict it, and can just be ignored if that’s your inclination. As it happens, there is dialogue in Three Doctors and Carnival of Monsters which, taken together, contradict dates given or implied in the Troughton stories, but then again, the same can apply here – if some Pertwee era information seemingly contradicts some Troughton era information, then it’s not necessarily changing anything retrospectively, just contradicting it.

            Which, as I’ve already tried to suggest, is no big deal. The series is full of contradictions of some sort,a and widening the scope to include novel adaptations merely adds to the number of those.

            No, I am not an admin on any board.

          • Neil Perryman  March 21, 2013

            Yay! UNIT Dating. This is what I set this blog up for. Thanks for making my day. Now excuse me while I get back to my book chapter which just happens to be dedicated to this very issue.

          • Roundel  March 21, 2013

            “So, you are basically saying that there is no canon, but then stating that the books don’t count?”

            No, I am not saying that. I am saying the the books are ultimately a separate product from the TV series, just as the annuals, the comic strips of Doctor Who Adventures, the Nestle chocolate wrapper story of the 70s, and so on. They’re all part of Doctor Who, the multimedia phenomenon, but separate branches,
            and as such all additional to the original series, without being part of the TV series.

            “And you are saying that the authors’ original intents count, but when they actually write them down, their original intents don’t count?”

            I am saying that it isn’t even straightforward to refer to authorial intent, which itself is only a part of analysing fiction anyway. Hence with the books, John Lucarotti chose to change some details of The Aztecs, by making the architect who designed the pyramid Ixta’s grandfather than his father, and altering the date by extension. The television story is probably intended to be circa the 1460s or a bit later, given Ixta’s age, the book gives a specific date of 1507.

            So which is right? Which should take precedence? The answer – in my view – it doesn’t matter. Maybe Lucarotti changed his mind, maybe he was returning to an original idea that had been altered sometime before the story went into production – I don’t know. It just means that there are alternative versions of the story in existence. I don’t feel any need to think in terms of one ‘counting’ or not, or some kind of precedence, because I just don’t find it an important issue.

            Similarly, with the UNIT stories – Barry Letts retrospectively dated his Ghosts of N-Space novel to 1975, which is supposed to be around the time of Invasion of the Dinosaurs. Was it because he had never had any opinion on the subject before, or had he changed his mind, or was he just trying to keep some fans happy? I’m not inviting speculation as to his reasons, I don’t care. The point is that if you’re going by authorial intent you could argue either way – that Letts’ attempts to retrofit the alleged date of the Pertwee stories comes years after the event so doesn’t have any weight – or that, as he was the producer at the time, his opinion on it has more substance than any of ours. Or indeed, that his opinion on the subject doesn’t matter any more than anyone else’s does.

            The TV series was inconsistent to itself, the books are inconsistent within themselves and in relation to the TV Series, and their authors could sometimes change their minds about different things over tie for various reasons, so it’s a mistake to think of anything as being “provable” in this kind of way. Contradictions are inevitable, so there’s not much point in arguing over them.

            “Are you by any chance an admin on a well-known website?”


  42. Longtime Listener  March 19, 2013

    So, judging by Sue’s response to “shame”, there’s no prospect of Adventures With the Wife in the Uncharted Territories or Adventures With the Wife in, er, Somewhere in the Vicinity of a Rag-Tag Fugitive Fleet.


    Remind me, how many rels are there in a centon?

  43. P.Sanders  March 19, 2013

    Sue, if you actually read this far down: the next story is brilliant, if a bit… challenging. But remember how much you enjoyed Warrior’s Gate (the white one with the lion-faces and Romana left at the end) and that one was totally hatstand too. And ask Neil to repeat any lines you can’t make out in the muddy sound mix.

    Regarding Battlefield, it’s fun but suffers compared to the rest of the season. A score of 4 is a shame (no pun intended), but Sue’s criticisms are fair. I remember Aaronovitch saying how depressing this one was to watch being made compared to Remembrance. Whereas that one was produced with great care throughout, on this one there was a sense of a technical team who couldn’t be arsed. An example was that King Arthur’s armour was meant to be lying flat but when the piece of set arrived in the stiudio it was too short so they just had him hunched over it. It occasionally suffers from that same OB “making-of” look as Delta and Silver Nemesis too. But Jean Marsh is brilliant, especially her honour-based morality (you kill your enemies to get what you want, but if your son takes someone’s beer then you repay them out of courtesy!).

  44. John G  March 19, 2013

    Interesting that Sue picked up on “shame,” as I don’t think she has commented on any of Ace’s “swearing” up till now (“bilge bag” is my favourite, I think). Given her Red Dwarf past, Angela Bruce should just have said smeg…

    There seem to be quite a few warm feelings for Battlefield among the comments, but I don’t share them. It is a real rag-bag of a story that becomes very childish in places, and I think 4 is about right. Courtney and Marsh inevitably lend some class to proceedings, but it’s a shame that their first joint appearance in Who since Master Plan is a story so palpably inferior in every way – on the upside, at least the Brig does get treated with dignity in his final outing. I’m glad Sue called McCoy out on his “angry” performance when the Doctor tries to stop the battle – it is highly embarrassing, and perhaps the worst-acted Doctor moment ever, with the possible exception of a scene in the next story…

    • Dave Sanders  March 19, 2013

      The bulk of this comments page is basically “THERE! WILL! BE! NO! BELITTLING! HERRRRE!!!”

    • Thomas  March 19, 2013

      If the scene you’re talking about in Ghost Light is the one I’m thinking of, yeah, it’s really awful. I really really like McCoy as the Doctor and think he’s massively underrated as an actor, but he could never really get over-the-top shouting or anger down.

      Now brooding anger…that’s a whole other story.

      • John G  March 20, 2013

        Yes, we are definitely thinking about the same scene!

        • Nick Mays  March 22, 2013

          Paul: Good job he wasn’t the Doctor for very long then, eh? They’ve all been SUCH better actors since!

      • Paul Mudie  March 22, 2013

        Sorry, but if an actor can’t shout angrily in a convincing (ie non-cringeworthy) way, then he or she is not a good actor.

        • Thomas  March 22, 2013

          No, it just means they have a weakness as an actor. Doesn’t make them bad.

          There’s a number of actors who can’t cry convincingly but are extremely good at other emotions. Does that make them bad actors?

          • Paul Mudie  March 22, 2013

            I suppose that would depend on whether the part they were trying to play required them to cry or not. Since McCoy’s part required him to shout angrily from time to time, and he couldn’t do this effectively, I’d suggest that he was miscast.

          • Thomas  March 22, 2013

            Shouting angrily is by no means a requirement of the Doctor, and considering he can do pretty much everything else very well, I would’ve just said “don’t make him do over-the-top angry shouting” and continue on as normal. Miscast? Definitely not.

        • Nick Mays  March 22, 2013

          Paul: Good job he wasn’t the Doctor for very long then, eh? They’ve all been SUCH better actors since!

          • Paul Mudie  March 22, 2013

            Better by several thousand Gallifreyan miles, I’d say.

          • Nick Mays  March 23, 2013

            But possibly you could say that gurning and saying “Whoa!” and “Alonzay” and belching every five minutes might not be YOUR preferred acting style.

            Sylvester McCoy’s long career as an actor in many different genres would seem to disprove your dismissal of him as a bad actor. But obviously you have your own opinion of what makes a good or bad actor.

            Besides, the “reality” of the series itself, what’s to say that in his different incarnations the Doctor “does” emotions differently? Perhaps the 7th Doctor just did anger in a different way to, say, the Third Doctor.

  45. Dave Sanders  March 19, 2013

    Is Scanapanasky anywhere close to Bugs Bunny’s left turn at Alberquerque?

  46. Kirk  March 20, 2013

    “You stupid, stubborn, pig-headed numskull. You were supposed to die in bed.”

    Don’t worry, Doctor, you’ll get that wish. But you won’t be very satisfied with it.

    • Frankymole  March 21, 2013

      Old soldiers never die… and the Brig isn’t going to fade away, either.

  47. charles yoakum  March 20, 2013

    I think that sue is about right with the 4 on this one. It does have ideas, but its all over the map and never stays on target to develop a sense of rhythm. They did get some ideas of how to do Doctor Who, but not across the board. The stories were’n’t consistant. Love or hate the Letts or Hinchcliffe regimes, but there was a solid standard of quality across the board. This era of Who is almost more like the later Hartnell era, where things could be good one week and utterly dodgy the next. Not sure if anyone has quite picked up on that. As well, there are essentially no plots the same during the McCoy years like there were from the Pertwee to Davison era. once you dispense with the first couple McCoys, the Doctor ends up showign up knowing far more about what is going on with most if not all the stories, which literally almost never happened. For the last 20 years, he either stumbled upon the plot in progress and had to catch up, or showed up and tried to avoid getting involved with the plot! McCoy’s era is utterly different in regard to that. It did allow the writers to short cut a lot of boring exposition scenes and the Doctor getting locked up and escaping, but it was, lets face it, a short hand.

    Can’t wait for the next story….

  48. John G  March 20, 2013

    I’d certainly agree that there is more story variety in the McCoy era than at any time since the Hartnell years, but I do think Season 3, for all its wild variations of subject matter and tone, is far more consistent in quality terms than Seasons 25-26. I’d much rather watch The Celestial Toymaker again than Battlefield or Ghost Light.

    • Nick Mays  March 20, 2013

      Not being funny John, this is a genuine question… Did you ever watch all of Season 3 “back in the day” or the little snippets of film and audio that exist today for most of the stories?

      • John G  March 21, 2013

        I wasn’t born until 1979, so my Season 3 experience is sadly limited to surviving episodes, the complete audio soundtracks and telesnaps. However, I am strongly of the view that you can still get a very good sense of a story from the soundtrack alone, and I think that’s particularly true of the Hartnell era where dialogue generally takes precedence over action. Mind you, I’d imagine The Web Planet would be extremely disconcerting to sit through if you could only hear it rather than see it – it’s weird enough with the visuals!

  49. Neil Perryman  March 21, 2013

    Looking ahead, which version of Fenric should we watch? You can vote here:

    • Dave Sanders  March 21, 2013

      Original of course, it’s good enough that Sue may even WANT to watch the SE again later. Have you lost your faith?

  50. David Staples  March 21, 2013

    Ben Herman I absolutely agree with you regarding the “Day of the Daleks” novelization. It made the TV story itself seem a bit disappointing when I finally got to see it again (on VHS).

    • Ben Herman  March 22, 2013

      During the very long stretch of time between Day of the Daleks coming out on VHS and DVD, there was a four year period when my VCR was busted, so I couldn’t re-watch the serial. So all I had was the novelization. When it did finally come out on DVD and I viewed it again for the first time in several years, I was genuinely surprised that a handful of things I honestly thought I had remembered from the televised version were actually added later by Terrance Dicks in the book.

  51. chris-too-old-to-watch  March 21, 2013

    Delighted to see that the dating discussion has turned up again. I always find it amusing when people claim to have found definitive proof that Baker’s seasons (either Tom or Colin) are set in the 1980’s (or 1890’s for that matter).
    Listen vairy cairefully, I shall zay theez only wernce:

    However much the most rabid fan wants there too be, there was not some secret department in the BBC keeping score and making sure stories didn’t contradict each other over dating. None of the writers had any intention (save a few) of setting their story at a particular time in the 1970/80’s. THEY DIDN’T CARE!
    Any information over dating, whether derived from the television series, novelisations or free gifts from breakfast cereals is irrelevant.
    Because there isn’t a coherent time-line
    There never was
    And incidentally, it’s a fictional story, not a documentary……

    • John Miller  March 21, 2013

      Did you actually read what was posted? The point is that Aaronovitch deliberately wrote in a line of dialogue that meant the UNIT stories were set in the future. That’s it. There are very very many smartarse comments like that in the books and audios, and yes in the new series.

      The point was that because there was no huge Continuity Department, these problems arose(although you would have to be rather dim NOT to notice certain points that were contradicted later). And since these issues now do exist, many people drop these sort of lines in to “show” that their stance is the “correct” one. Certain books are little more than a collection of these references posing as a story.

      Certain people delight in these sort of lines. Others groan. However, most of us have one position that seems to be the right one for us. And it does indeed grate when some imbecile writes some clever-dick line that contradicts decades of established storyline.

      And no one ever said it was a documentary.

      • Nick Mays  March 21, 2013

        Ahem… once again…


        Take your pick.

        Does it MATTER???

        • Anonymous  March 21, 2013

          What about the whole Spiral Scratch/Zagreus(/Campaign?) idea where there are thousands of parallel continuities all lying side-by-side, and any story with a continuity error therefore takes place in a separate continuity? That way Peter Cushing, Richard E. Grant and the redhaired Angleedees Doctor are all every bit as valid as Mccoy or Troughton?

        • John Miller  March 21, 2013

          I think it only matters when

          a)someone crowbars some non sequitur “continuity reference” into the script to “prove” that their position is the correct one

          b)if something has been obvious for ages, and even people with a limited knowledge of Doctor Who can tell you something, then someone doing something contrary does scream laziness and couldn’t-care-less.

          Of course there’s always the Zagreus/Spiral Scratch(Campaign?) solution, where there are thousands of separate continuities lying side-by-side, and any story with a continuity error can therefore take place in a separate continuity. So this planet-destroying Doctor may not even be the same Doctor as the one played by William Hartnell. It also helps with those &^#@s who go directly from saying “There is no canon!” to “Story x doesn’t count because it contradicts Story y”. They both count, in their own way. And Cushing, Grant and the redhaired Angleedees Doctor all count, in their own continuities.

          • Roundel  March 21, 2013

            I posted a reply to your other post earlier, addressing those points at length, but cos it had been rendered anonymous it must still be awaiting – if it doesn’t turn up later, I’ll try again.

            But if the comment about “there is no canon” was a reference to me, then I’ll reiterate that I am not arguing that no story “doesn’t count”. I am saying that because any contradictions are basically unimportant, it’s a null argument to try to establish that something in a book, or in some other story, “proves” anything other than the author’s preference. The only reason why I mentioned ‘canon’ was because you chose to bring the term up.

            So the TV series isn’t consistent within itself, the books aren’t consistent, either with each or the series… it has nothing to do with anything “counting” or not, it just means that the different media formats of the series – TV, books, comic strips etc all have separate identities, and there is no need, or even point, in to trying to enforce a internal consistency on them.

      • chris-too-old-to-watch  March 21, 2013

        Yes I did read all that was written re. dating in this story. My comment didn’t refer to this directly, so wasn’t posted under it directly.
        Your further comments just underline what I was saying.
        There is no timeline. Any mention of a date is correct within the context of that story. Any exercise in trying to construct a timeline throughout the series is pointless because contradictions aren’t placed there to annoy fans as you seem to think, but because there is no collaboration over the original series to have a dated history of the stories.
        Please don’t think I’m saying you are right or wrong over your dating scheme: I just couldn’t give a damn about any dating scheme, because there isn’t one.

        • Anonymous  March 21, 2013

          Agreed. That’s basically my position.

        • Roundel  March 21, 2013

          Agreed, that’s essentially my position.

        • Polarity Redated  March 22, 2013

          The dating stuff doesn’t bother me either, really. After nigh on 50 years (with x yrs spent off-air and surviving in various other forms), they’re bound to have painted themselves into corners here and there.

          Not sure about the current era tactic of spending a season or so deliberately painting yourself into a corner, then suddenly discovering the ability to fly…

    • Ben Herman  March 22, 2013

      Regarding the whole UNIT Dating Controversy, nowadays I take the attitude espoused in the opening credits to Mystery Science Theater 3000: Just repeat to yourself “It’s just a show, I should really just relax.”

      • Headferry Rawdog  March 23, 2013

        Yes. Disparate producers and writers just trying to make a low-budget TV show against a deadline. It all means nothing. I daresay “sly” references to the show being set in the future are for more for sci-fi texture/colour that trying to annoy anyone or deliberately throwing a spanner in the works.

  52. John Miller  March 21, 2013

    Er. The original point before all this was that Aaronovitch had more interest in inserting continuity references than in crafting a proper storyline. And that this extended to the novelisation. Somehow this turned into a lengthy piece about how the novelisations don’t “count”, there is no “canon”, and that nothing ever takes place in any definite time., presumably even when this is explicitly stated onscreen.

    The actual point was that the Colin Baker era comes under attack for being more obsessed with continuity and getting certain ideas/references in than with plot and character, but Battlefield takes the cake for that. And the Zrbigniev point was to show the detail Aaronovitch went to to prove his position, while ignoring things like plot development. What a shame.

    • Jazza1971  March 21, 2013

      I think sometimes though we have to be less precious about continuity. Remember that the destruction of Atlantis has been explained at least three different ways on screen in three different stories…

      • Cookey  March 21, 2013

        That’s the route i’ll gladly take! In a show about time travel it’s wiser to think fourth dimensionally than to figure it all out in a straight and coherant line. (My thanks to Dr Emmett L Brown for reminding me of that)

        • Nick Mays  March 22, 2013

          “That’s the route i’ll gladly take! In a show about time travel it’s wiser to think fourth dimensionally than to figure it all out in a straight and coherant line. (My thanks to Dr Emmett L Brown for reminding me of that)”

          Well said! Many futures influenced by the events of the ‘present’ and all that!

      • Frankymole  March 21, 2013

        Luckily all three are reconcilable…

        • Thomas  March 21, 2013

          I was under the impression Time Monster and The Daemons weren’t.

          • Jazza1971  March 21, 2013

            When it comes down to it you can come up with answers to any lack of continuity (other than the fact that they were made by people who didn’t have “a history of ‘Doctor Who’ and all it’s previous mythos” to work from and so just didn’t know…) by use of some imagination, but in the end it doesn’t really matter.

      • Polarity Contrite  March 21, 2013

        Cough – life on earth – cough.
        Off the top of my head – Adric’s Terry & June moment; spaghetti-heads’ careless driving; giant goats in tights lab experiment (conducted in baffling ignorance of the superpowerful jackal and horseheads who thankfully confined their intergalactic warring to the region of the Nile delta); some boring bllx involving a skull. And all of this going on with a great big spider thingie as the core of the planet which should surely have thrown off the daleks’ drilling schedule somewhat, even though they seem not to have woken up any Silurians/Eocenes in the process. Yet retasked mineshafts have twice roused entire cities of the things.

        All best left as is, really. I mean what kind of stoopid story would have all the baddies getting together on MonstersReunited and flashmobbing the Doctor, perhaps in Roman Britain? I ask you.

        I really didn’t mean to spark a UNIT riot. Genuinely didn’t know about the Zbigniev thing or any purported poke at JNT. FWIW, my own view is that while Liz and Jo were probably a few years ahead of their time and Sarah was definitely stated as being from 1980 in 1975 (I think – don’t shoot me), all the ’70s UNIT stuff is set in the sort of meh…future. If they’re going to strand a time and space traveller on earth, they might as well give themselves a bit of loose future to play with. Otherwise it’ll just turn into Midsomer Murders with latex and lasers, won’t it? Oh – wait a minute…

        Tom’s Doctor was still, reluctantly, UNIT’s scientific advisor into his second season, and there’s no reason that Zygons, Androids or Seeds couldn’t have been further into SJS’s future. So Zbllztye-thing could have been a young buck during those.

    • Thomas  March 21, 2013

      I didn’t even realize Battlefield *had* any continuity references when I watched it, so to argue it places those above the actual storyline (which I found quite clear and relatively easy to follow) is a bit silly.

      Meanwhile, calling an author imbecilic for getting a piece of continuity wrong (especially one that’s already been screwed up many times by now) is a bit rude.

    • Anonymous  March 21, 2013

      Well, I agree that Aaronovitch’s continuity references are rather gratuitous and fannish, and not really much different in principle, if at all, from the various references in dialogue that turn up throughout Saward’s era.

      • Thomas  March 21, 2013

        I think they’re a bit different, in that Aaronovitch’s references are just that- references that are meant to be extra fun for those who will catch them. Saward’s (or more accurately, Levine’s) references seemed to be an end in themselves.

        • Nick Mays  March 22, 2013

          Well, on that very note, let’s compare ‘Battlefield’ with ‘Attack of the Cybermen’. (Well, let’s not!)

          Even as an avowed lifelong Dr Who follower (if not fan) back in 1985, even I found the continuity fest that was ‘Attack’ to be embarrassing. Oh yes, look, how funny – it’s Totter’s Lane! And how very clever all the Halley’s comet stuff in 1985, with the plan to allow Mondas to get through in 1986 so the events of ‘The Tenth Planet’ could play out differently. Oh and look – Cybermen in the sewers! Just like in ‘Invasion’! And yes! Tombs that the Cybermen sleep in, just like in ‘Tomb of the Cybermen’, along with the Fat Controller and… OMG! It was PAINFUL! How the hell it was ever passed as fit for purpose let alone fit for production is beyond me!

          Never mind that it completely bamboozled ‘casual’ and ‘regular’ viewers alike, it didn’t even please the fans. It was just an enormous New Adventures-type meta-fan-wank for Ian Levine. Or Paula Moore. Allegedly.

          Whereas a few well chosen and rather sly little ‘continuity’ references in ‘Battlefield’ plus the return of the Brig, getting to see Doris at long last and even getting Bessie out of the garage (and what’s so terribly wrong with that? After all, the Doc left her behind!) are small potatoes in comparison. It won’t alienate casual viewers, the regular viewers may ‘get’ some of it and the fans will ‘get’ all of it. Although in the latter’s case, some of them will still be rabidly frothing at the mouth about it 25 years later!

          I think the big problem here with some of the posters’ arguments is that Ben Aaronovich was/is a Dr Who fan and, like Andrew Smith, his story made it to the screen (well – two of them did!). So in the same way as some of them carp and bitch at fanboy Matthew Waterhouse because THEY should have been Adric, it should have been THEIR story/stories that got made. And what’s to say how much continuity wank they’d have contained?

          FACT: Ben Aaronovich is a talented, experienced and PUBLISHED writer/author who doesn’t just ‘do’ Who.*
          FACT: ‘Battlefield’ suffered, like most of ‘Classic’ Who did many times, from dodgy direction, bad editing and sloppy production values, invariably caused by lack of money and time.
          FACT: ‘Remembrance’ worked so well because it had more money, time and resources and a far better director on it, as well as better editing. Even then it has it’s silly bits. (The Dalek’s just followed you up the stairs! Don’t stand outside the frigging basement door yapping! It’ll fire its gun at you!)
          FACT: The show IS about time and space travel. It’s cod Sci-Fi/Fantasy. There never WILL be any ‘continuity’. There’s loads of stuff we, the viewers, will never know about the Doctor and his origins, his plans, his motives, or why there were three Atlantises. Why even bother trying to get it all put down neatly and trainspotter-like in a little book with all he ‘facts’ underlined? Why not just… shock horror – ENJOY it? At least when it comes together reasonably well!

          * – The same applies to RTD and the Moff. Sorry boys, it’s a fact!

          • Roundel  March 22, 2013

            Have you got any evidence for the contention that it bamboozled casual viewers when, by your own admission, you weren’t one at the time? And if you’re going to cite ratings that would be a pretty hollow argument considering that Battlefield barely managed much above 3 million during its duration.

            You seem to me to be proceeding from the fact that you like one story and dislike another to infer that this means there’s some kind of difference in principle between what was done.

            If someone who didn’t know the past history tuned into Attack, what would they have watched? A story about some Cybermen on a base in London and on their own planet trying to prevent a former planet of theirs from being destroyed. How exactly would someone have been able to tell whether anything in there was referring to a previously televised story or not? Think about it. Someone who didn’t know the history could just as easily have assumed that the entire scenario, including the backstory alluded to, was just invented by the writer for the purposes of that story.

            It’s not a story I like, or one I’ve much inclination to defend. I find it dull, uninspired, not very well written or thought out, and lacking in plot logic. But when it comes to the fannish elements, these things only loom in importance – either positively or negatively – if you happen to be a fan yourself. If you’re not, then the story is going to stand or fall on its own merits or lack of.

            To a non-fan, exposition is exposition is exposition – the distinction between whether it’s referring to events in previous series, or events made up for the purposes of this story, barely exists, because it may not be clear what category it belongs to.

            “It didn’t even please the fans!’

            Neither did Battlefield, by and large, in that the story probably has at least as many critics as Attack.
            A similar thing applies with Battlefield, in that only a part of the audience will be interested in seeing the Brigadier, UNIT or Bessie, or care about whether he ever got married to Doris again. The story doesn’t explain who Liz Shaw, whom it names, was either. Does it need to? Perhaps, perhaps not, but it’s just as much an example of being self-indulgent as of any kind of continuity reference you can find in the series. There’s only some to whom this will mean anything. It doesn’t necessarily mean that those who don’t would find the story unwatchable, but then that would be the case for anything which had some kind of vaguely followable storyline.

            “FACT: Ben Aaronovich is a talented, experienced and PUBLISHED writer/author who doesn’t just ‘do’ Who.*

            * – The same applies to RTD and the Moff. Sorry boys, it’s a fact!’

            ‘Talented’ is an opinion, not a fact, no matter whom it is applied to. Otherwise, the same applies to just about every other writer who has ever worked on the series, albeit not always published, but that in itself means little in assessing someone’s talent – there are some absolutely appalling books in existence after all. I’d also point out that we are talking here about a very early product from his career, when he had barely anything other than a previous Doctor Who story to his name, so his subsequent record is an irrelevence in relation to this story.

            I’m not going to insult your intelligence by assuming you would require it pointing out to you that even some of the most successful authors have their detractors, nor do I think that commercial success – not that this story enjoyed much of that anyway – is much of a basis for a personal assessment of something’s quality, so your point is ultimately otiose.

            “FACT: ‘Battlefield’ suffered, like most of ‘Classic’ Who did many times, from dodgy direction, bad editing and sloppy production values, invariably caused by lack of money and time.
            FACT: ‘Remembrance’ worked so well because it had more money, time and resources and a far better director on it, as well as better editing. Even then it has it’s silly bits. (The Dalek’s just followed you up the stairs! Don’t stand outside the frigging basement door yapping! It’ll fire its gun at you!)”

            I actually agree with both of these points, in terms of the relative production differences between the two stories. But they are still only opinions, not facts.

            I’ll also state these opinions.

            I do not like Attack of the Cybermen. I think it’s boring worthless rubbish, and I think Doctor Who would have a better track record as a programme (for me) if it had never been written.

            I do not like Remembrance of the Daleks. I think it’s boring worthless rubbish, and I think Doctor Who would have a better track record as a programme (for me) if it had never been written.

            I do not like Battlefield. I think it’s boring worthless rubbish, and I think Doctor Who would have a better track record as a programme (for me) if it had never been written.

          • Nick Mays  March 22, 2013

            Good points, well made.Obviously YOUR opinions, just as my opinions are, well…mine.

            I did watch ‘Attack’ when it was broadcast in January ’85 btw.

          • Thomas  March 22, 2013

            ” And if you’re going to cite ratings that would be a pretty hollow argument considering that Battlefield barely managed much above 3 million during its duration.”

            Just comparing the individual numbers, yes, Attack comes out on top. But looking at the numbers in context (which is what you should always do with ratings), Battlefield starts with 3 million viewers and rises to 4 million by the end- which, given that the McCoy years had an absurdly low number of people watching them in general, is actually fairly impressive- this is when the show is being pretty much hidden by the BBC and scheduled opposite Coronation Street.

            Attack of the Cybermen, however, starts high but lost 1.7 million viewers by Part 2. And this is at a point where Doctor Who had returned to it’s ‘ideal’ family slot, on the cusp of a brand-new Doctor (which always sparks new publicity for the show). That’s a massive loss of viewers in that context- and it’s a loss the rest of the season never recovers from. Battlefield, for what it’s worth, also consistently scored a higher AI index.

            Which is of course not to say that ratings themselves indicate one story’s quality over another, just that examining the context of the ratings is beneficial to trying to understand a general consensus on what people at the time thought of the episode.

          • Roundel  March 22, 2013

            “Just comparing the individual numbers, yes, Attack comes out on top. But looking at the numbers in context (which is what you should always do with ratings), Battlefield starts with 3 million viewers and rises to 4 million by the end- which, given that the McCoy years had an absurdly low number of people watching them in general, is actually fairly impressive- this is when the show is being pretty much hidden by the BBC and scheduled opposite Coronation Street.”

            I would dispute that that qualifies as ‘impressive” – 3.1 million was an unusually low figure for the McCoy era to a large extent, so it’s something of an outlier. As it is however, 4 million isn’t that special a figure by the standards of the era, where several stories or episodes still managed above or around 5 million. As it is, the other three episodes got 3.9, 3.6 and 4, so even then it zigzagged to some extent, one episode still lost nearly a tenth of its viewers, and even the latter episodes of the story still came in some way below episodes from nearly all of his other stories, which, I would mention, were also all scheduled against Coronation Street.

            It would also follow that it got a higher A.I. A.I. is measured by how much enjoyment it got from its audience, and as, by this stage, a higher percentage of the audience would have been the die-hards ie people with an unusually high enthusiasm for Doctor Who – that would be reflected in the figures. Whereas the score for stories in earlier eras would be heavily diluted by a wider number of non-fans being included.

            It’s not unusual for a first episode of a season to get a higher than average score either, and for it to then dip a bit over the next few weeks. The same thing happened in 2005 – huge novelty for the series to come back, and so on, very high figure for ‘Rose’, not quite as good a figure the following week. I suspect it’s happened a few times since too, although I’ve not checked just now.

            But I agree that ratings aren’t an indicator of quality, and I don’t have a dog in this fight, insofar as it isn’t important to me whether one prefers Attack of the Cybermen or Battlefield, as I don’t think that, artistically, there is much between them.

          • Roundel  March 22, 2013

            One other thing that perhaps I ought to try to make clear – when talking about ratings in relation to Attack of the Cybermen, my intention wasn’t to argue that the story was popular. It may well not have been. But we would still need to be clear on the reasons why that was, and if it was, for example, that people found the story, boring, confusing etc, that would also leave the question of which specific elements of it left that impression. Which scenes, or characters, plot lines, or dialogue, etc? Because if you could remove all or most of the continuity references etc and still leave various other things in it that didn’t appeal to viewers, that would indicate that dislike for it at the time would have been based on a combination of factors. As is usually the case with any story. Now as I am only discussing one specific element of said story, and then only because someone else chose to bring up that one in particular, it makes little difference to me whether people may have liked the overall package or not, or in relation to other stories.

        • Roundel  March 22, 2013

          I don’t think that distinction means anything in practice, it’s still a writer dropping in references that those “in the know” can pick up on. There’s no real difference in effect, and in any case, it could just as easily be said that “extra fun for those who can catch them” more or less was the “end in itself” intended with the earlier ones.

          • Thomas  March 22, 2013

            I think it’s usually helpful to examine the story’s overall purpose in understanding its role in continuity. Battlefield’s clear interest as a story is the King Arthur stuff, and the brunt of story and characters are centered around that- the Pertwee homaging and UNIT stuff comes secondary to that.

            Whereas Attack’s entire existence as a story seems to be built around emulating past Cybermen stories and tying up loose ends of continuity- so stuff like Totter’s Lane and the Telos scenes really seem to be “look at how inherently interesting all this continuity is!”.

            I mean, I’ll admit this is totally subjective here, but I can take a story like Battlefield and sum up the basic plot as “The Doctor and co. fight mythic villains from Arthurian legend”. I still can’t tell you what the actual premise of Attack of the Cybermen was.

          • Roundel  March 22, 2013

            First, why are we fixating on Attack of the Cybermen so much, when I was talking about continuity references in the dialogue? I was thinking as much of eg the Brigadier and Nyssa talking about how many regenerations they’ve witnessed in Mawdrun Undead, or the Doctor saying “It’s times like this I wish I still had my scarf” in Time-Flight, and all that sort of thing. Not specific stories, still less their themes.

            “Whereas Attack’s entire existence as a story seems to be built around emulating past Cybermen stories and tying up loose ends of continuity- so stuff like Totter’s Lane and the Telos scenes really seem to be “look at how inherently interesting all this continuity is!”.”

            Only someone who is already a fan is going to think of it that way though. Someone who isn’t will just judge it on whether the content interests or appeals to them or not. To them, the Telos scenes would just be generic Doctor Who alien planet Cybermen stuff. Not necessarily interesting, they could still dislike it and get nothing from the story. But if they did, that would be because the story didn’t have, at least for them, a strong or interesting enough plot or contents.

            Does the story have a theme? Possibly, or bits of one, in that the Bates and Stratton stuff might count as something along the lines of the Cybernisation concept.

            But if it lacks one, then that’s a fault of that particular story, and if the problem is that it lacks a theme, then that would remain so whether or not it had references to past stories in it. I don’t care for the self-indulgence in the story, it’s one reason why I don’t rate it much, just as the self-indulgence in Battlefield doesn’t appeal to me. If the argument is simply that Battlefield is a better story than Attack of the Cybermen in that it has a more identifiable theme, then:

            The theme of Battlefield doesn’t appeal to me, or at least the way it’s handled doesn’t. So this gives it a negligible advantage over Attack for me, which I find similarly unappealing.

            The continuity material in neither stories has any appeal for me either. And regardless of which story has a stronger thematic core, the way it handles the continuity is one that does nothing for me, so if I’m concentrating on that element, then considerations about different elements of the stories are neither here nor there, as far as my feelings on the former are concerned.

  53. Dave Sanders  March 21, 2013

    Far as I’m concerned, ‘UNIT dating’ means Bambera copping off with Anselyn AND NOTHING ELSE.

  54. Roundel  March 21, 2013

    Well, I agree that the continuity references in both this and Remembrance are somewhat gratuitous and fannish, and not all that different from the kind of thing that sometimes turned up in Saward’s era.

    And as I’ve already said, I wasn’t arguing the books “didn’t count”, just that they weren’t part of the TV series but an add-on. Anyone is free to incorporate some of the extra things they add onto the internal continuity of the series if they like, eg the epilogue to the Pyramids of Mars book where Sarah visits a Library to research how the events of the story were reported. It doesn’t happen on screen, hence is not part of the TV series, so it can only be a matter of individual choice or preference as to whether anyone wants to assume it happened off screen in the programme. I’m not prescribing either option, it doesn’t matter, just saying there is nothing that can compel anyone either way.

    • John Miller  March 23, 2013

      Sigh. The point was that this undoubtedly set years ahead of broadcast date, which was indeed an intentional decision by the writer, regardless of what someone said earlier. The book gives a more definite date, and interviews/press releases etc. give the definite date. It is indeed 1997. The reason for setting it in 1997 was what my earlier comment was all about. But somehow this has turned into how arrogant and know-it-all some “fans” believe they are. There are instances where certain concepts are stated in tv episodes, in books, in press releases, and have been confirmed by the actual production team at the time who actually made the fucking thing…..and yet some “fans” insist that none of that counts. Because they as “fans” know better than the people who actually made the show, and explicitly put certain ideas into dialogue and into print.

      Yes, there are loads on things that don’t fit together in Dr Who. But that doesn’t mean that every detail ever can be chucked out the window. Especially the Doctor’s essential character traits of the Doctor.

      • Roundel  March 23, 2013


        Less of the passive-aggression, thank you. No need to get so frustrated simply by dint of believing that other people don’t necessarily conceptualise the series in the same way as you.

        “The point was that this undoubtedly set years ahead of broadcast date, which was indeed an intentional decision by the writer, regardless of what someone said earlier.”

        Which I agree with. It was.

        “The book gives a more definite date, and interviews/press releases etc. give the definite date.It is indeed 1997”

        And, like the alleged dates for Power of the Daleks and The Ice Warriors, 2020 and 3000 respectively (although the year 5000 has also been favoured for the latter in more recent years, I understand), it is also not given in the teleplay. All that this means, in the case of all three stories mentioned, and any others which might be in a similar category, is that we have information of what someone – whether the writer, producer, or whoever, intended for it but which, for whatever reason, didn’t make it into the teleplay. The fact that it didn’t make it into the teleplay means that it is not part of the televised story, even if it is for other versions.

        The same applies to any kind of additional detail added to something which isn’t evident or visible in the original. Like when Matt Graham talks about what Sam Tyler was thinking during the last few scenes of the last episode of Life On Mars. What that tells us is what the author intended, but if he didn’t actually put it into the material, then it is not in the material, and remains absent from it even after the author’s stated intentions have become public. The author’s view of it is effectively another opinion in those circumstances, as the text isn’t his exclusive possession any more, it belongs to anyone who watches it. Some of whom may read it differently from the author. If he didn’t want there to be any doubt on the matter, any possibility of people holding different opinions about this or that aspect, then he had the capacity to ensure that no doubt could be left on the question.

        To get back to the subject as it relates to this thread, yes, Battlefield was set in the then-future, but the TV story doesn’t specify a date. That’s simply a fact. If the novelisation adds a date then that simply means the novelisation is specifically setting itself at that time. It isn’t retrospectively dating the TV story, because it isn’t the same thing as the TV story. One is a recorded production with actors, sets, locations etc, the other is a bound set of paper with a story printed onto it. They are physically different objects. I already mentioned the book of The Aztecs, which gives a different date to the period roughly implied by the television version. In addition to that, there’s The Rescue, a story which is generally agreed by consensus to be set in 2493, yet the book instead dates itself to 2501.

        All of which serves to illustrate that the books have an independent identity from the TV series, they exist in their own right, and some of them, like The Cave Monsters and The Massacre are intensive rewrites of the teleplays. They may be much better than the originals in some cases, and they are still Doctor Who, but they are also independent. So if a book adds a detail or concept to its adaptation of a TV story, it doesn’t mean that said addition has now magically appeared in the TV story, it remains a part of the book, and the TV story remains what it was before. Two different developments of the same story. There is also no need to be bound by hierarchical thinking, which is what you seem to be alluding to, whereby one text somehow outweighs another or can take precedence over it. Neither do, they are what they are. One a TV product, the other a book. Trying to synthesize them in the hope of producing “facts” about the series is useless. There aren’t any “facts” in Doctor Who, just invented ideas, and if a story’s different versions in these media aren’t exactly the same it’s unimportant, because all they’re doing is adding to the range of what’s available. The TV series doesn’t provide a definitive and consistent continuity for Doctor Who, neither do the books, and nor do both of them put together.

        So, Battlefield, the television story, is set sometime after 1989 but with no date specified within the teleplay. The novelisation, written by Marc Platt, is set in 1997, and if memory serves there is also evidence, which Lance Parkin referred to in his History of the Universe book, that some of the people involved in the original story viewed the same year as being when it was meant to be set. There is nothing factually incorrect in any of the preceding statements in this paragraph.

        “There are instances where certain concepts are stated in tv episodes, in books, in press releases, and have been confirmed by the actual production team at the time who actually made the fucking thing…..and yet some “fans” insist that none of that counts. Because they as “fans” know better than the people who actually made the show, and explicitly put certain ideas into dialogue and into print.’

        Impossible to comment in detail on any example of those without going into specifics as to what any of them are, but given that in many of these cases, the production teams themselves weren’t always consistent about it, and not everyone involved always had the same exact opinion either, it’s not only unreasonable but also unnecessary to expect anyone else to be either.

        Also, unless anything is actually stated in the TV episodes, then further TV episodes which say otherwise aren’t actually contradicting the Tv series, they’re contradicting other people’s intentions, which is a different matter. Similar to how if, say, a hypothetical Doctor Who story on television somehow contradicted the idea that Power of the Daleks is set in 2020 eg if there a story set that year in which someone mentioned that no human colonies yet existed in space, then it wouldn’t technically be contradicting the TV story, as the latter makes no such claim.

        “Yes, there are loads on things that don’t fit together in Dr Who. But that doesn’t mean that every detail ever can be chucked out the window. Especially the Doctor’s essential character traits of the Doctor.”

        I think it might be more accurate if you had said “should be chucked out of the window” instead. “Can be” is certainly possible. I don’t claim that that’s a good or bad thing, it’s just inevitable that it remains a potential possibility, whatever anyone would actually think about it in the event.

        • Jazza1971  March 23, 2013

          RTD made a similar points to the ones you do in an article in DWM (I think it was in one of his production notes) when he states that once one of his stories are “out there” then they no longer belong to him but to the viewer and that no matter what his intentions were when writing the script it no longer matters as the interpretation belongs to the viewer based on what they have seen on screen. And quite right too.

  55. chris-too-old-to-watch  March 23, 2013

    Just to put another spoke in the wheel.
    Everybody is assuming that all the dates given (1979, 2020, 148610 etc) are all AD – which ain’t necessarily so…..

    • Nick Mays  March 23, 2013

      Not to mention the fact that it doesn’t take place in “our” Universe at all, because Charles didn’t become King by 1997, nor did we we have road signs in Kilometres.

      Personally, my take on it is that the Tardis crosses different realities in the Time/Space Continuum all the time, because events taking place in one “present” influence the development of the “future” and thus create another reality. Possibly even events that take place in one “future” actually change the events of the “past”? Perhaps the Doctor’s difficulties in returning companions to their own time and place is simply because he has to make sure the Tardis arrives in the “right” reality for them.

      Think of how the Daleks were in their very first story. Very different to their later incarnations (and I don’t just mean slats or no slats). Perhaps those that he first encountered in ‘The Dead Planet’ (or whatever) were created by Yarvelling and not Davros? Or they were the products of a divergent reality.

      Here’s a hypothesis: When the Time Lords sentenced the Doctor to exile on Earth in the “late Twentieth century” they obviously put him in a fixed “reality”, around 1975/1976/1977 which leads into Sarah Jane’s “1980”. When eventually the Doctor was given his freedom to travel again, he crossed into different realities where he was exiled to Earth in 1969/1970, or the 1980s.

      He’s probably long since given up trying to “fix” it in his own mind or personal chronology . Besides, to a Time Lord, surely the difference of a few Earth years is neither here nor there.

      And then of course there’s the Tine War…

      • Nick Mays  March 23, 2013

        Or even the Time War. Duh!

        Maybe the Tine War is another diveregant reality…?

        • Polarity Reversed  March 24, 2013

          Tine War – forks in reality…

          • Cookey  March 24, 2013

            Fought by the Tine Lords, the biggest dairy producers in Norway

            I love a good google 😀

          • Nick Mays  March 24, 2013

            Good one! Is that a spoonerism? 😀

  56. John Miller  March 24, 2013

    That’s all very nice, but there have to be certain facts that are absolute. As an example, he Doctor blowing up planets upset a lot of people, because that is completely against the Doctor’s very character.

    Then there are story-specific facts. Many of these contradict other stories of course. But in the context of that one story those facts are absolutely true. Such as Battlefield being set in the late 90’s. Other stories may contradict it, but in its own “universe”(or whatever you call it) it is the late 90’s.

    And many “future” stories contradict the actual future that is now in our past. Because people in 1966 wouldn’t be able to create an absolutely perfect replica of 1986 for obvious reasons. But, as the next story will show, even stories set in the past don’t get all the details correct. But again, it’s Marc Platt’s view of 1883. it may bear little resemblance to the 1883 that actually was, but that doesn’t mean we can start saying “Oh, then it could just as easily have been set in 1989!” because he wrote it to be 1883. Just as Aaronovitch wrote Battlefield to be 1997. His 1997.

    • Roundel  March 24, 2013

      “That’s all very nice, but there have to be certain facts that are absolute. As an example, he Doctor blowing up planets upset a lot of people, because that is completely against the Doctor’s very character.”

      That’s an appeal for consistency in the ethics one believes the series should uphold rather than anything to do with facts. In this case, the view expressed is one I agree with too, for similar reasons, but this is ultimately an argument based on the moral principles one wishes the writers of the series to practice. It is essentially an ideal one can argue for the series to remain faithful to.

      “Then there are story-specific facts. Many of these contradict other stories of course. But in the context of that one story those facts are absolutely true. Such as Battlefield being set in the late 90?s. Other stories may contradict it, but in its own “universe”(or whatever you call it) it is the late 90?s.”

      If the TV story doesn’t claim to be set in the late 90s (and it doesn’t) then, rather than an absolute or a fact, it’s simply an inference one can potentially make from other sources, outside of the said television story, if one chooses to, but if we insist on considering a story as being within “its own universe”, there is nothing to oblige anyone to add those extra outside details onto it.

      “And many “future” stories contradict the actual future that is now in our past. Because people in 1966 wouldn’t be able to create an absolutely perfect replica of 1986 for obvious reasons. But, as the next story will show, even stories set in the past don’t get all the details correct. But again, it’s Marc Platt’s view of 1883. it may bear little resemblance to the 1883 that actually was, but that doesn’t mean we can start saying “Oh, then it could just as easily have been set in 1989!” because he wrote it to be 1883. Just as Aaronovitch wrote Battlefield to be 1997. His 1997.”

      I realise this is probably addressed to Nick Mays, but neither he nor anyone else here has argued that either Battlefield or Ghost Light should be thought of as being set in 1989 (As it happens, in theory, one could construct a case for the former potentially being so if you chose to interpret the Doctor’s phrase about being in Ace’s future as referring to the future relative to when she first left Earth, meaning they’re a few years after 1986. However, they’ve already visited 1988 without apparently thinking of it as “the future”, rendering this hypothesis somewhat unlikely. But no-one here has made such an argument anyway). Plus of course, Ghost Light gives a direct date on screen so there’s no scope for argument about when it’s meant to be set.

      Incidentally, just to expand a little on the earlier remarks on TV stories and books, the same applies either way. That is, if the TV story includes some information which isn’t retained in the book, then it just means it’s not in the book. So a TV story might have a date given or implied, and if the book doesn’t, and there are a few examples in the range where this happened, it just means the book doesn’t have a definitive date in that respect, as it’s left unclear.

      • Nick Mays  March 24, 2013

        “I realise this is probably addressed to Nick Mays, but neither he nor anyone else here has argued that either Battlefield or Ghost Light should be thought of as being set in 1989…”

        No, indeed I haven’t Roundel (and thanks for that) and I can’t for the life of me see why it’s such a bloody big deal to John Miller and some other posters.

        I got really wound up in 1981 when ‘K9 and Co’ made a reference to the Doctor dropping K9 Mk3(?) off in Sarah’s loft in 1978, and I got even more would up a couple of years with Mawdryn Undead and all the 1977/1983 dating crap, which was when I wrote to JN-T and berated him for it and got his snooty reply. (If anyone wants to see a scan of that by e-mail, do let me know 😉 )

        But I was just a kid of 19/20 then. Over the years since then I developed a bit more objectivity to things, especially when it comes to chronological dating in TV shows, add especially in Dr Who.

        Take ‘Heartbeat’ for example. When that started in 1992, it was a pretty gritty drama set specifically in 1964, and the production team went to great lengths to ensure that it was 1964, which then led into 1965. Even the background music was carefully selected to be nothing anachronistic. BUT… a few series on and the new production team threw all that out of the window. In fact, one story had PC Nick Rowan referring to a case he dealt with in Aidensfield “seven years before” which totally contradicted the fact he’d only been there a couple of years at that point!

        I got fed up with Heartbeat by then anyway, because it had become a frothy, comedic-soap style mish mash. But I didn’t bother writing to the Producer by then because (a) I wasn’t a fan of the series any more, (b) I’d grown up a lot and (c) Life’s too short for that sort of self-induced angtz about a fictional TV series!

        You could apply the same to Gerry Anderson’s ‘UFO’ being set in ‘1980’ and ‘Space 1999’ being set You-Know-When. Did we all drive Gull-Wing cars in the early 1980s? Had racism burnt itself out by 1984? Did we have a lunar base in 1999?

        As for Dr Who, RTD has gifted fans a brilliant Get Out Of Jail Free card on the series dating malarky with the Time War (or even the Tine War if you want to get your teeth stuck into it). The Moff also added to this with the Crack In Reality and whatever-the-hell-the-exploding-Tardis-resetting-the-Universe was all about.

        So WHY get so bloody steamed up about whether a TV programme from 24 years ago was set in a fictional, parallel 1997 or not? I love most discussions in ‘Wife In Space’ but when the dating bollocks is used as a stick to beat other people with and try to prove a ‘superior fan’s’ point of view well, it’s just all rather childish, really.

        Not to mention a colosal waste of time.

  57. Matt Sharp  March 24, 2013

    Interestingly, in the Arthurian legends, Merlin is trapped in the Crystal Cave by the sorceress Nimue, who’s name means… Song.

    It doesn’t really, but I had your eyebrow raising for a moment there, didn’t I? It actually means ‘alive’ or possibly ‘great queen’…

    • Nick Mays  March 24, 2013

      Nice one Matt! 😉

      I actually had a huge sense of relief when you said what it actually meant, because anything that can stop the Moff giving any more air time to River-Sweetie-Bleeding-Song is fine with me.

      Then a again, ‘Great Queen’ would be all he needed… and as for ‘Alive’, a way for Sweetie Pie to cheat death?