Thu, 11 June 2009
On an alien planet the genocide of the Chimeron by the merciless Bannermen led by Gavrok is almost complete. The last survivor, Chimeron Queen Delta, escapes by the skin of her teeth clutching her egg, the future for her species. She makes it to a space tollport where the Navarinos, a race of shape changing tourist aliens, are planning a visit to the planet Earth in 1959 in a spaceship disguised as an old holiday bus. She stows aboard, as does Mel, while the Doctor follows them in the TARDIS. The Doctor and Mel have won the trip as a prize for arriving in the Navarino spaceport at the right time to be declared the ten billionth customers. No sooner has the tourist vehicle blasted away than the Bannermen turn up, ruthlessly hunting down the fugitive, and they kill the Tollmaster when he refuses to co-operate.
The holiday vehicle from Nostalgia Tours meets an unfortunate collision with an American space satellite and is diverted off track, landing at a holiday camp in South Wales rather than Disneyland. However, the basic but cheerful Shangri-La holiday camp is happy to accommodate the visitors led by the ebullient Burton, who assures the travellers of a warm welcome while they wait for the driver, Murray, to repair their innocuous seeming transport. Mel gets close to Delta and uncovers the truth of her situation, including the hatching of the egg into a bright green baby that starts to grow at a startling rate. The Chimeron Queen supports this development with the equivalent of royal jelly given to bees.
Delta tries to take her mind off the situation and goes to the Shangri-La dance, instantly capturing the heart of Billy, the camp’s mechanic – and making an enemy of the smitten Rachel (or Ray), who loves Billy herself. Ray confides her situation to the Doctor, and they both stumble across a bounty hunter making contact with the Bannermen to tell them of the Chimeron’s whereabouts. It is only a matter of time before Gavrok and his troops arrive. Delta and Billy head off on a romantic countryside ramble the following morning, but the Doctor wastes no time in persuading Burton to evacuate the camp, helping Murray repair the ship, and then heading off to find the young lovers while there is still time. Once they are found, everyone returns to the camp but the situation has become dire. The Bannermen have destroyed the Navarino bus with all its official passengers inside, taking Mel as a hostage, as Gavrok tries to work out how to capture the Chimeron. The Doctor’s early attempts to intercede are futile, but he does rescue Burton and Mel from the Bannermen.
Two Bannermen are holding prisoner two aging American agents, Hawk and Weismuller, who were tracking the missing satellite when they first arrived. The Bannermen were instructed by Gavrok to wait for the Doctor, Burton and Mel on the side of the road. Just before they left the Americans, they place a joined head lock device to prevent them from escaping. While the two Bannerman were placing a tracker on the Doctor, riding Billy's motorbike with Burton and Mel, in an attempt to disguise an ambush attempt, Ray manages to rescue Hawk and Weismuller head locks with an Allen key. They all make contact with the mysterious beekeeper Goronwy, who hides them for a while in his house.
As the two Bannerman find that the Americans have been set free, they track the Doctor’s party to Goronwy House. As they were closing in to the house, the Chimeron child Princess made a high pitched scream of warning which traumatised the ears of the two Bannermen, allowing Delta was able to shoot one of them, while the other escaped to inform Gavrok of the location of Delta and the Princess. At Shangri-La, before leaving to attack Goronwy House, Gavrok booby-trapped the outside of the TARDIS in an attempt to kill the Doctor. As Gavrok and his Bannermen approached Goronwy House shooting, and crashing into the rock-and-roll-music-filled house, only to have honey broken over them in the process. This then set Goronwy's bees on the honey-covered Bannermen. In the meanwhile, the Doctor and his party made it to Shangri-La to set up a defence. Billy rigged up the Shangri-La sound system to amplify the perfectly pitched scream of the Chimeron child Princess – a sound which is excruciatingly painful to Bannermen.
Goronwy explains to Billy the purpose of royal jelly in the lifecycle of the honeybee, provoking the mechanic to consume Delta's equivalent that she has been feeding her daughter, in the hope of metamorphosing into a Chimeron.
As Gavrok and his band of Bannermen attack Shangri-La, the amplified scream of the Chimeron princess traumatised the attackers, including Gavrok, who becomes so stunned that he falls into the beam of the booby-trap he placed on the TARDIS and is incinerated. Other Bannermen are so traumatised that they are easily rounded up. Delta and Billy leave together with the child and the prisoners, heading for an intergalactic war crimes tribunal. To their delight, The Doctor shows Hawk and Weismuller the missing satellite nearby. All is well and the next bus of holidaymakers, this time human, arrive at Shangri-La as the Doctor and Mel slip away.
The story was released on VHS in March 2001 in the UK and June 2002 in North America, but music clearance issues prevented the release of the serial in Australia. A commentary by Sylvester McCoy, Sara Griffiths, Chris Clough and Andrew Cartmel has been recorded for the DVD release. The DVD will be released on June 22 2009.