Doctor Who: Tin Dog Podcast
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TDP 40: The Time Meddler

Special Features

 

  • Commentary
  • Verity Lambert Obituary
  • Photo Gallery
  • Subtitle Production Notes
  • Subtitles
  • pdf files of Radio Times billings
  • "The Lost Twelve Seconds" - 12 lost seconds recreated using off-air audio recording and the script
  • Stripped for action - a look at the first Doctor's comic strip adventures
  • Restoration featurette


The TARDIS arrives on an English coastline in the year 1066. Exploring, the Doctor discovers that one of his own people, the Monk, is conspiring to wipe out the Viking fleet and thus allow King Harold to face the forces of William of Normandy with a fresh army at the Battle of Hastings. The Doctor succeeds in thwarting the Monk's plans and leaves him trapped in England.

Synopsis

The Doctor, Vicki, and new companion Steven Taylor arrive in Saxon Northumbria on the eve of the Viking and Norman invasions. It is 1066, a pivotal moment in British history, and the hand of a mysterious Monk is at work in the nearby monastery. The Monk is actually a time/space traveller from the same planet as the Doctor, and is attempting historical alterations. The Doctor prevents this and traps the Monk in 1066 by removing a critical component of his TARDIS.

Plot

The First Doctor and Vicki are surprised to find Steven Taylor aboard the TARDIS. In a disorientated state on Mechanus, he stumbled aboard the ship and has stowed away. They are grateful he survived the collapse of the Mechanoid city and help nurse him back to health, but when the TARDIS lands on a rocky beach and they all step outside Steven takes some convincing that the TARDIS has really been able to travel in space and time.

They have in fact arrived in 1066 on the coast of Northumbria, and their arrival has been witnessed by a Monk who does not seem fazed by the materialisation. The TARDIS is soon after spotted by a Saxon villager called Eldred who runs to tell the headman of his village, Wulnoth, about it. The Doctor establishes the century from a discarded Viking helmet and heads off to the village while Steven and Vicki explore the cliffs above. The Doctor encounters Edith, Wulnoth’s wife, and convinces her he is a harmless traveller while probing her for more information. He soon finds out it is 1066, since Harold Godwinson is on the throne and has not yet faced Harold Hardrada at Stamford Bridge let alone William the Conqueror in the Battle of Hastings. He then turns his attention to the nearby monastery, at which monks are chanting despite only one of them ever being seen, especially after the chanting seems to slow down as if played back from a recording at the wrong speed. He determines to visit the building. When he gets there the Monk lets him in without revealing himself and then allows the Doctor to prowl around. He finds a gramophone playing the monastic chanting, and the Monk also has modern conveniences such as a toaster and a manufactured teapot. The Monk soon has the upper hand and manages to trap the Doctor in a makeshift cell.

Steven and Vicki have meanwhile encountered Eldred and noticed his possession of a wristwatch that the Monk dropped earlier. They spend the night in a clearing and the next morning head off back to the TARDIS, little realising Wulnoth has overheard them. Within minutes they are ambushed by the Saxons and taken to the village council. After a heated discussion they convince Wulnoth they are but travellers and are given some provisions to travel on, though Vicki is equally heartened to hear from Edith that the Doctor passed by her hut on his way to the monastery. Steven and Vicki decide to visit the monastery next to try and find their missing friend. The Monk tries to dissuade them from entering but gives himself away deliberately by describing the Doctor too accurately, and so Steven and Vicki decide he must be a prisoner inside the monastery. They decide to break in after dark, which delights the Monk as he prepares the same trap for them that caught the Doctor.

The Monk has meanwhile been surveying the seas with binoculars and is pleased to finally sight a Viking ship on the horizon. Soon the Vikings land and two small groups are sent to search the area, with one group of three heading toward the Saxon village. One of the Vikings finds and attacks Edith, leaving her traumatised, and in response some of the Saxons go hunting for the invaders. The three Vikings are drunk when they are found and the giant that attacked Edith is cut down, though his companions Sven and Ulf manage to flee. Eldred too has been badly wounded and Wulnoth takes him to the monastery for help.

At the Monk’s lair Steven and Vicki have stolen in under cover of darkness. They too find the gramophone and are stunned. The Monk has his trap prepared but cannot spring it due to the arrival at the door of Wulnoth and the injured Eldred, whom Wulnoth insists be taken into the Monk’s care. Steven and Vicki have meanwhile found the cell empty bar the Doctor’s cloak and they then manage to leave the monastery via a secret passage.

The Doctor has actually taken the same passage himself and returns to Edith in the Saxon village. He soon hears of the Viking invasion scouting party and, upon leaving Edith’s house, decides to head back to the monastery to track down Steven and Vicki, having learned they have gone there. Steven and Vicki have meanwhile found to their dismay that the TARDIS has been submerged beneath the incoming tide. Afraid that the Doctor may have had to leave in it, they resolve to check for him at the monastery anyway, especially after they discover an atomic bazooka trained out to sea from the clifftop near where the TARDIS was.

The Monk is intent on using the Vikings for his own ends and, once Wulnoth has departed his monastery, produces an elaborate checklist that builds to a meeting with King Harold himself. There is another knock at the monastery door and this time it is the Doctor who has the upper hand when the door is answered. Fooled into thinking he is being held at gunpoint, the Monk is marched back inside and is about to answer a few questions when there is yet another knock at the door. When the Doctor and Monk answer, they are overpowered by the two Vikings, Sven and Ulf. In the ensuing confrontation the Monk is able to slip away, leaving the Doctor as the Viking prisoner. It is a state of play that does not last long. The Doctor knocks out Sven and elsewhere the Monk does the same to Ulf and securely ties him up.

The Monk uses his freedom to persuade the villagers to light beacon fires on the cliff tops, lying that he is expecting materials by sea to enhance the monastery, when in fact he wishes to lure the Viking fleet to land nearby. Wulnoth says he will light the fires, but does not do so as he realises the danger.

Steven and Vicki return to the monastery via the secret passage and investigate the crypt, where a heavy power cable emanates from a sarcophagus. When they look inside, they discover that it is a TARDIS of the Monk's very own – he must come from the same place as the Doctor (though the term Time Lord is not used). The Monk has meanwhile returned to the monastery and is once more under the Doctor’s control. He reveals his plan is not to help the Vikings but to lure them to the coast where he hoped to destroy the invasion fleet with atomic bazookas. This would prevent the Viking invasion and thereby shore up King Harold to such an extent he would not then lose the Battle of Hastings. In short, the Monk is a Time Meddler who left his and the Doctor’s own planet some fifty years after the Doctor himself. Steven and Vicki have found further evidence of his meddling in his TARDIS: a journal recording his meeting with Leonardo da Vinci to discuss powered flight, providing anti-gravitational discs to help the ancient Celts build Stonehenge, and using time travel to collect a fortune in compound interest from a bank. The Doctor denounces the Monk for seeking to alter history and forces him to reveal his TARDIS, where they find Steven and Vicki. Together the time travellers piece together the Monk’s immoral plot, which the Monk insists is intended to stabilise England and benefit Western civilisation.

The Vikings have meanwhile freed themselves from their bonds and decide to avenge themselves on the monks who have imprisoned them. Eldred spots them and, despite his injuries, flees to the village where he raises Wulnoth and a squad of Saxons to deal with the marauders.

At the monastery the tables have turned. Ulf and Sven have formed a contrived alliance with the Monk and have tied up the Doctor’s party while the three of them take the bazooka shells down to the cannon on the beach. The scheme is foiled however when the Saxons arrive and engage the fleeing Vikings in a nearby clearing, presumably killing Sven and Ulf in battle.

The Monk hides while this fighting rages, little knowing that the Doctor and his friends have been freed and are tampering with his TARDIS. With his scheme in ruins, the Monk decides to leave and returns his TARDIS, though the Doctor has gone and left a note assuring the Monk his meddling days are ended. When the Monk looks inside his TARDIS he realises the Doctor has taken the dimensional control and the interior of his ship has shrunk beyond use, leaving him stranded in 1066 with an angry band of Saxons nearby. The tide having gone out, the Doctor and his friends are free to leave this primitive time in their TARDIS, and journey onward to the stars.

Cast

Cast notes

  • Features a guest appearance by Peter Butterworth - see also Celebrity appearances in Doctor Who.
  • William Hartnell does not appear in episode 2 as he was on holiday. A pre-taped recording of his voice is played when the Doctor is locked in a cell.

Continuity

  • Vicki and the Doctor discuss Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright's departure as seen in The Chase and the Doctor refers to Susan's departure as seen in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. The Doctor later misses Barbara's knowledge of history.
  • Vicki reveals she would like to return to New York after seeing it briefly from the Empire State Building during the events of The Chase. The Doctor, and the Daleks, would return to New York and the Empire State Building onscreen, but without Vicki in the two-part story "Daleks in Manhattan" and "Evolution of the Daleks".
  • The Time Meddler is the first example of what is known in Doctor Who as the 'pseudo-historical' story, which is one that uses the past as a setting for a science fiction story, as opposed to the pure historical stories, which are set in the past but have no science-fictional elements attached to them besides the presence of the regular characters.
  • This is also the first time we meet another member of the Doctor's race (although they are not yet identified as Time Lords), from a time 50 years after the Doctor left his homeworld (which is not named in this story). The spin-off novels, which are of debatable canonicity, establish that the Monk and the Doctor attended the Academy as schoolmates.
  • As the Monk has his own craft much like the Doctor's, and it is referred to by the same name, this story appears to contradict Susan's original claim to have invented the name 'TARDIS' from the craft's initials (in An Unearthly Child episode one). All future references likewise seem to belie Susan's claim.
  • For that matter, this is the first story in which the acronym TARDIS is said to stand for "Time and Relative Dimensions in Space", rather than the singular 'Dimension' as had been used in An Unearthly Child. This was an error made by Maureen O'Brien during recording, but was retained throughout much of the series' history, with occasional exceptions. The original 'Dimension' was firmly re-established in the first episode of the revived 2005 series, "Rose" and so far maintained thereafter.
  • The Monk's name, as given in later novels - Mortimus - is not revealed in this story. He is simply The Monk, The Meddling Monk or the titular Time Meddler. The canonicity of non-broadcast stories is unclear. The character would make one return appearance on televsion, however, in the epic The Daleks' Master Plan.

Production

  • The working title for this story was The Monk.
  • The four episodes of the serial had individual titles. They were, respectively, "The Watcher", "The Meddling Monk", "A Battle of Wits", and "Checkmate".
  • During production of this story, new producer John Wiles began taking over production duties.
  • William Hartnell, displeased at the number of changes undergoing the production, play-acted throwing a temper tantrum during the rehearsal of this story.
  • Episodes one, three, and four were reported missing from the BBC Film and Videotape Library following an audit in 1978 (see Doctor Who missing episodes). Edited telerecordings of all four episodes were returned to the BBC from Nigeria in 1985, and complete copies of episodes one and three were returned in 1992. A short sequence from episode four remains missing from the otherwise complete print of all four episodes; the announced 2008 Region 2 DVD release is scheduled to include a recreation of this missing sequence, which was removed by censors and runs 12 seconds in duration, depicting an act of violence.[1]

In print

Doctor Who book
Book cover
The Time Meddler
Series Target novelisations
Release number 126
Writer Nigel Robinson
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Jeff Cummins
ISBN 0 491 03337 0
Release date 15th October 1987 (Hardback)

March 1988 (Paperback)

Preceded by Terror of the Vervoids
Followed by The Mysterious Planet

Broadcast,VHS and DVD releases

  • This story was repeated on BBC2 in 1992.
  • It was released on VHS in November 2002.
  • It will be released on Region 2 DVD in the United Kingdom on February 4, 2008.
Direct download: Meddler_wip.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 1:00pm UTC