This story begins on the snowy wastes of Necros.
Sue: I see Peri is wearing sensible clothes again. I bet a million dads all switched off at once.
Peri clambers across a frozen wasteland in order to reach a nearby pond.
Sue: What the **** is she doing? Are the toilets backed up on the TARDIS and she has to relieve herself outside?
When the Doctor joins his companion he is wearing a bright blue cloak (blue being the colour of mourning on the planet Necros).
Sue: What the hell is that?
Me: I thought you’d like it. It hides his coat.
Sue: It’s not as loud, I suppose, but it’s still yelling at me. He looks like he’s going to a fancy dress party dressed as a jester.
When Peri complains that her blue coat is much too tight for her, the Doctor tells her she eats too much.
Sue: Hark at chubby chops over there. What a cheek!
The action shifts to Tranquil Repose, where a funeral is being arranged.
Sue: This is a nice set. It’s very Art Nouveau. Nice camera movement, too. And the guy who’s in charge of things is very famous. I recognise his voice.
Me: That’s Clive Swift. He’s a lovely bloke and one of Doctor Who’s finest ambassadors.
A young couple tiptoe across the screen. They are Natasha and Grigory, and they are seriously tooled up for a visit to a funeral parlour.
Sue: Their theme music is a bit weird. It’s a cross between The Professionals and Teletubbies.
Meanwhile a snarling mutant menaces the Doctor and Peri.
Sue: Oh no. Even though the Doctor has taken off his cloak, he still hasn’t scared it off.
The Doctor tries to hypnotise the deformed mutant, but he only succeeds in making it angrier.
Me: You won’t believe who they almost got to play this part.
Sue: Michael Caine?
Me: Think bigger.
Sue: Brian Blessed?
Me: Bigger as in more famous.
Sue: Laurence Olivier?
Sue: **** off! I was only joking!
When the mutant grabs the Doctor by his throat, Peri whacks him over the head with a branch.
Sue: I don’t think I can imagine Laurence Olivier appearing in a zombie film. This is very intense for its time slot. It’s basically Tea-Time of the Dead.
Sue: What the ****?
Yes, it’s Tranquil Repose’s resident DJ.
Me: Do you recognise him?
Sue: Is it Ozzy Osbourne?
Apropos of nothing, a white Dalek glides down a corridor.
Sue: What a crap entrance! I like the new colour scheme, though. If Apple ever made Daleks, that’s what they’d look like.
Peri tries to come to terms with the fact that she’s accidentally killed a man to death.
Sue: Don’t blame yourself, love. You only tapped him on the shoulder. He must have been suffering from a pre-existing condition to die from that.
The Mutant seems quite pleased to be put out of its misery.
Sue: Tell me why Olivier didn’t do this again, Neil.
The Mutant claims he acted in self-defence. If only the Doctor hadn’t tried to hypnotise him!
Sue: WHAT? Why didn’t you just say, “Hello!” when you first wandered onto the scene? You can speak, can’t you?
Anyway, Davros has definitely slimmed down since Sue last saw him.
Sue: I thought he was supposed to be dead? And what’s he going in that thing? Where’s the rest of him gone?
Sue is finding it hard to process all the revelations in Revelation of the Daleks.
Sue: I’m very confused; there’s a lot to take in. I’m a bit lost to be honest. How did Davros end up here, exactly?
Davros contacts a glamorous factory owner named Kara.
Sue: More new characters? Are they on the same planet? Does this all come together eventually?
Kara’s secretary, Vogel, is a past master at the double entry.
Sue: Yeah, I bet he is!
Davros is only interested in one thing, and that thing is money.
Sue: So Davros wants cash? Is it because he’s running a funeral home now and he’s got bills to pay? I can’t imagine Davros hiring an accountant to make sure his payroll is up to date. It’s all a bit weird, this.
The Doctor and Peri continue their long slog to Tranquil Repose.
Sue: The Doctor is hardly in this story. I’m not sure how I feel about that. William Hartnell did more than this when he was on holiday.
The Doctor and Peri clamber over a wall, but Peri accidentally steps on something “precious” in the process.
Sue: Cock innuendoes? Really? At this time of night?
The Doctor jumps off the wall and Peri is left to fend for herself.
Sue: The Doctor obviously doesn’t give a shit about her. I bet a single day doesn’t go by when she doesn’t wish he was still Peter Davison.
Deep in the catacombs, Natasha and Grigory discover a Dalek made entirely from glass.
Sue: So Davros is sticking all the frozen bodies into Daleks? Is that it? It makes sense, I suppose. I see he’s decided to bling-up the Daleks as well. You can practically see your face in that one.
Sue finally recognises Alexis Sayle as the DJ. Now if only she could understand a word he was saying…
Sue: Warriors, come out to play!
Me: You know, I’ve never picked up on that reference before now. Well done.
Sue: This is what would have happened to Chris Moyles if he’d stayed in hospital radio.
The head in the glass Dalek belongs to Natasha’s dad, Arthur Stengos. He begs his daughter to kill him before the Dalek side of his nature takes control.
Sue: What a fantastic scene. Proper grim, but really good.
Kara has employed an assassin to eliminate Davros.
Sue: It’s Champions man!
Orcini is accompanied by his squire, Bostock.
Sue: Is that his Baldrick? Is he a sex slave? It looks like he’s wearing a collar.
The Doctor and Peri still haven’t reached Tranquil Repose yet.
Sue: He’s parked several miles away from the entrance. I know he wants to lose some weight but this is ridiculous.
Davros follows the Doctor’s progress on a monitor screen. He cackles uncontrollably at what he sees.
Sue: Is he laughing at the Doctor’s clothes?
Davros decides to promote Tasambeker, a put-upon employee of Tranquil Repose, to the role of personal assistant.
Sue: The giant W on her head isn’t a great look for her. Actually, I don’t know what a good look for her would be.
Me: A paper bag?
The Doctor and Peri finally reach Tranquil Repose. Yay!
Sue: This episode will be over by the time they get involved.
A Dalek glides past them and Peri freaks out. If only she knew what it was…
Sue: She was a bloody expert on them last week!
The Doctor is horrified when he finds a statue of himself in the Garden of Fond Memories.
Sue: Of all the Doctors to erect a statue to, they actually picked this one…
The statue has convinced the Doctor that he will die during his current incarnation.
Sue: Hey, it might be a monument to how bloody wonderful you are. Don’t be so pessimistic.
The Doctor believes that the gravestone must be genuine because of how much it must have cost.
Sue: It can’t have cost that much. It’s rubbish. It’s got a bloody great crack in it for a start. Hang on, is it supposed to be moving like that?
The episode concludes with the Doctor being crushed to death by his own enormous face.
Sue: It’s only polystyrene! What a bloody awful cliffhanger.
The credits roll.
Sue: I’m not sure how I feel about this. The direction is very good, and some of the acting is excellent, but the Doctor hasn’t done anything yet, and I don’t have a bloody clue what’s going on. The music is too loud as well. I’m not enjoying this one as much as I thought I would.
The Doctor may have been crushed to death, but at least Jobel is on hand to comfort Peri.
Sue: She must be used to this by now. She’d probably be more concerned if the first person she met didn’t come on to her.
The Doctor emerges from the rubble, unharmed but covered in blood – all part of an elaborate theatrical effect.
Sue: If by elaborate you mean completely stupid, yes.
Jobel and the Doctor don’t hit it off.
Sue: He’s known the Doctor for less than 10 seconds and he’s hurling insults at him. The PR at this place is atrocious.
The Doctor and Peri reach Tranquil Repose’s reception area. It’s only taken them 48 minutes.
Sue: Hang on a minute… They’re not wearing the colour blue any more. Where’s their so-called respect now, eh?
Meanwhile Orcini is advancing on Davros’ lair.
Sue: I love his performance. He has such a lovely voice. He’d have been a good Doctor, I think.
Me: William Gaunt will always be a grumpy sitcom dad to me.
Sue: Really? He’ll always be a Champion to me.
Orcini obliterates a Dalek with a volley of bastic bullets.
Sue: Plus he doesn’t **** about.
Elsewhere on Necros, Peri is introduced to the DJ.
Sue: Why have they smeared Vaseline over the camera lens? What’s that all about?
The DJ wants to know if that’s Peri’s real accent.
Sue: Oh dear. This is a bit awkward…
Meanwhile Davros seduces Tasambeker. No, not like that.
Sue: She’s a terrible actress. Absolutely appalling. Why didn’t they hire Pauline Quirke instead?
The Daleks have come to take the duplicitous Kara away, and Vogel is powerless to stop them.
Sue: He made a mountain out of his death scene. One minute this is gritty and realistic, the next it’s summer season at Great Yarmouth.
When Davros offers to turn Tasambeker into a Dalek, she readily agrees.
Sue: You never know, her acting might improve.
Tasambeker tries to warn Jobel about Davros’ plans, but he spurns her advances once again.
Sue: It’s a good part ruined. Seriously, this could have been wonderful with a decent actress in the role. What a shame.
Tasambeker stabs Jobel and he keels over.
Sue: Was his wig supposed to fall off like that?
Me: Yes, they did it on purpose.
Sue: It’s a nice touch. He was a vain tosser. You know, there are moments of brilliance in this.
When Orcini and Bostock reach Davros’ lair, they pepper it with bastic bullets.
Sue: Davros is definitely dead. There’s no way back from that. His head is all scrunched up!
But no! His head was just a decoy!
The mercenaries fight back but Orcini loses a leg in the process.
Sue: Davros can fly! He really has been busy, hasn’t he? Do you think he started to make a full-size dummy of himself but he got bored when he finished the head?
The DJ plans on using music against the Daleks.
Sue: This is the sort of shit music you listen to, Neil. Is he going to bore the Daleks into submission?
Kara tells Orcini that the beacon she gave to him was actually a bomb. So Orcini repays her with a skewer to the heart.
Sue: Good Lord! This is vicious!
The DJ defeats the Daleks with concentrated sound waves. However, the DJ celebrates too soon and he is exterminated before he can take any further requests.
The Doctor is escorted to Davros’ lair.
Sue: I like the strategically placed ferns in this dungeon. They really brighten the place up.
The Doctor and Davros come face to face once again.
Sue: Davros is great, although there’s one thing I still don’t understand.
Me: What’s that?
Sue: Why has Davros lured the Doctor here? Was he bored? Does he want someone to stop him? What?
As luck would have it, Orcini’s squire isn’t as dead as we first thought.
Sue: Come on, Baldrick, blow his head off!
Bostock blows Davros’ hand off instead.
Sue: Why didn’t he aim for his head? It’s bigger! Oh my, are those Davros’ fingers on the floor? It’s a bit full-on, this.
A henchman tells Davros that he’s called for backup.
Sue: Even this bloke with the beard has done more to sort things out than the Doctor. I mean, why is the Doctor even in this story?
As Davros is arrested by some old-skool Daleks and taken away to stand trial on Skaro, the Doctor grabs a machine gun and blasts a Dalek that’s been left behind.
Sue: Finally! The Doctor actually did something!
The Dalek’s vision is impaired and it cannot see.
Sue: And the Weeping Angel in the corner looks on in embarrassment.
Orcini sacrifices himself because it’s the honourable thing to do.
Sue: He’s going to die cuddling his best friend. Aww, bless him. That’s a real hero’s death, that is.
But Davros gets away in the nick of time.
Sue: Oh, for ****’s sake! His death was pointless!
The explosion rocks Tranquil Repose.
Sue: Hey, that looked pretty good.
When things calm down, Peri asks the Doctor to take her somewhere fun. Somewhere beginning with B…
Sue: That was a game of two halves; there were moments of excellence and moments of stupidity. But the thing that really annoyed me is the Doctor did bugger all. He was just a bystander. If he hadn’t turned up, that would have turned out exactly the same way. So what was the point? Champions man saved it for me. He was the real hero. And Davros was good, too. The direction was okay, but the sound mix was so bad I couldn’t understand half of what was being said. I’m very disappointed. I don’t know what that was, but it wasn’t Doctor Who.
Later that night I subjected Sue to a compilation of news stories that covered the 1985 hiatus announcement. I know. I’m crazy, right?
Sue Lawley: The Doctor Who Appreciation Society is up in arms. They’ve called the decision “horrifying and staggering”.
Sue: Horrifying? That’s a bit extreme, pet. No one died. I can’t believe this actually made the news.
Me: Do you think the BBC was right to rest the show?
Sue: Not really. If they weren’t happy with it, they should have got another producer in.
And then I tested our marriage – and the experiment – to the max by showing her the video to the protest single Doctor in Distress.
Sue: I listened to the radio a lot in 1985 – I spent half my time driving up and down the A1 selling posters – but I don’t remember hearing that.
Me: So, what did you think of it?
Sue: I’ll have to watch it again. There was too much naffness for me to take in all at once. I thought it was a spoof at first.
Me: You actually want to see it again?
Sue: Yes, let’s see who I can recognise this time.
There now follows some time-coded comments from Sue. You’ll have to find the video on YouTube yourself because it keeps being taken down (by Hans Zimmer, probably).
Sue: (00:24) That’s Bobby G from Bucks Fizz, after the accident. He doesn’t look too well, bless him. Is Cheryl there? People used to say I looked like Cheryl from Bucks Fizz.
Sue: (00:32) I have no idea who she is. Is she one of the Human League?
Me: It’s Hazell Dean.
Sue: Wasn’t she already a has-been by this point?
Sue: (00:39) That’s Justin Haywood. We’re going to see him tomorrow night.
Me: He’s not doing the War of the Worlds live tour any more.
Sue: Oh yeah, it’s Gary Barlow now, isn’t it?
Me: (After pausing the DVD) He’s not doing it, either.
Sue: Who is doing it, then?
Me: Marti Pellow.
Sue: You didn’t tell me that when you bought the ****ing tickets!
Sue: (00:48) No, sorry, not a clue.
Sue: (01:11) Pepsi from Pepsi and Shirley? I don’t ****ing know!
Sue: (01:16) That’s Colin Baker. Oh dear…
Sue: (01:25) I don’t know who that is but they can’t sing for toffee.
Sue: (01:35) Nik Kershaw?
Sue: (01:41) Is that Faith Brown?
Me: Yes. They couldn’t get the real Tina Turner.
Sue: (01:49) The bloke from ABC?
Sue: (01:49) Sorry, I don’t know who that is.
Me: That’s Hazell Dean! I told you that less than two minutes ago!
Sue: Hazell Dean again? Have they run out of celebrities already?
Sue: (01:56) A woman from Man About the House! Er… why?
Sue: (02:01) Is it the lead singer from Imagination?
Me: I think he’s a member of Tight Fit. Or Hot Gossip. I forget which.
Sue: And you call yourself a fan?
Sue: (02:33) That’s David Van Day from Dollar. He’s really going for it. Didn’t he try to take over Bucks Fizz after this?
Sue: (02:41) I have no idea but somebody is holding a gun to her head.
Sue: (02:50) Is it the Master? Oh my God. What is he doing?
Sue: (03:02) The woman from Ace of Base? How am I supposed to know?
Sue: (03:17) The Brig isn’t singing, I notice. He’s no fool. And Bobby G looks depressed. (Pointing) Is that man in the dark glasses a Bunnyman?
Sue: (03:29) Colin’s trying to hide his face. He’s ashamed, probably. And who can ****ing blame him?
She declines the offer of a third listen.
Sue: So did that thing actually help?
Me: Not really. It still came back 18 months later.
Sue: So does this mean I’ll get some time off as well?
Me: Yes, about 18 hours.