Doctor Who: Tin Dog Podcast
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TDP 172: Lis Slayden a collection of  tributes

Elisabeth Claira Heath Sladen[2] (1 February 1946[3][4][1][5] – 19 April 2011) was an English actress best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith in the British television series Doctor Who. She appeared as a regular from 1973 to 1976, opposite both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, and reprised the role many times in subsequent decades, both on Doctor Who and its spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures.



[edit] Early life

Sladen was the only child of Tom Sladen, who fought in World War I and served in the Home Guard during World War II.[citation needed] Her mother Gladys' maiden name was Trainor,[3] which is a Northern Irish name commonly seen in Liverpool.[citation needed]

Sladen developed an interest in performing at an early age, beginning dance lessons when she was five, and dancing in one production with the Royal Ballet. She was a primary school contemporary of future politician Edwina Currie (née Cohen), appearing in at least one school production with her; and a grammar school contemporary of Peter Goldsmith, the future Attorney-General, when both attended Quarry Bank School (now Calderstones School).[6]

[edit] Career

[edit] Early career

After attending drama school for two years, Sladen began work at the Liverpool Playhouse repertory company as an assistant stage manager. Her first stage appearance was as a corpse. However, she was scolded for giggling on stage, thanks to a young actor, Brian Miller, whispering the words, "Respiration nil, Aston Villa two" in her ear while he was playing a doctor. Sladen was so good as an assistant stage manager that she did not get many acting roles, a problem she solved by deliberately making mistakes on several occasions.[citation needed] This got her told off again, but she started to get more on-stage roles.

Sladen made her first, uncredited, screen appearance in 1965 in the film Ferry Cross the Mersey as an extra.

Sladen eventually moved into weekly repertory work, travelling around to various locations in England. Sladen and Miller, now married, moved to Manchester, spending three years there. She appeared in numerous roles, most notably as Desdemona in Othello, her first appearance as a leading lady. She also got the odd part on Leeds Radio and Granada Television, eventually appearing as a barmaid in 1970 in six episodes of the long-running soap opera Coronation Street. In 1971, Sladen was in two episodes of Z-Cars. Then, in 1972, she was appearing in a play that moved down to London, and they had to move along with it. Her first television role in London was as a terrorist in an episode of Doomwatch. This was followed by guest roles in Z-Cars (again),[7] Public Eye, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em and Special Branch.

[edit] Sarah Jane Smith

In 1973, Doctor Who actress Katy Manning, who was playing the Third Doctor's assistant Jo Grant opposite Jon Pertwee, was leaving the series. Producer Barry Letts was growing increasingly desperate in his search for a replacement, when Z-Cars producer Ron Craddock gave Sladen an enthusiastic recommendation.

Sladen arrived at the audition not knowing it was for the new companion role, and was amazed at Letts's thoroughness. She was introduced to Pertwee, whom she found intimidating at the time. As she chatted with Letts and Pertwee, each time she turned to look at one of them the other would signal a thumbs-up.[8] She was offered and accepted the part of investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith.

She stayed on Doctor Who for three and a half seasons, alongside Pertwee as the Third Doctor and Tom Baker as the Fourth, receiving both popular and critical acclaim for her role as Sarah Jane. When she left the series, in the 1976 serial The Hand of Fear, it made front page news,[citation needed] where previously only a change of Doctors had received such attention. In October, 2009, Sladen paid tribute to her boss and friend, Barry Letts, after he died. She said Letts was her closest friend on Doctor Who.

Sladen returned to the character of Sarah Jane Smith on numerous occasions. In 1981, new Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner asked her to return to the series to ease the transition between Tom Baker and new Doctor Peter Davison. She declined but accepted his second offer of doing a pilot for a spin-off series called K-9 and Company, co-starring K-9, the popular robot dog from Doctor Who. However, the pilot was not picked up for a series. Two years later Sladen appeared in the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors.

She reprised the role in the 1993 Children in Need special Dimensions in Time, and in the 1995 independently produced video Downtime alongside former co-star Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Deborah Watling as Victoria Waterfield. This was her last on-screen appearance as Sarah Jane Smith for some time.

Sladen played Sarah Jane in several audio plays. Two of them were produced for BBC Radio, The Paradise of Death (Radio 5, 1993), and The Ghosts of N-Space (Radio 2, 1996), together with Jon Pertwee and Nicholas Courtney. Big Finish Productions has also produced two series of Sarah Jane Smith audio adventures set in the present day, released in 2002 and 2006. Her daughter Sadie has also appeared in the audios.

In later years, Sladen had also participated re-visiting a few classic Doctor Who serials on DVD in doing audio commentaries and interviews (in the stories she starred in), but as of 2008 she stated in an interview that she was no longer doing them due to "contractual reasons with 2entertain".[9]

Following the successful revival of Doctor Who in 2005, Sladen guest starred as Sarah Jane in "School Reunion", an episode of the 2006 series, along with John Leeson, who returned as the voice of the robot dog K-9, and David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. Sladen was ever faithful to the character and worked a lot of the characterisation herself, in the lead-up to the broadcast of "School Reunion" she was quoted in The Daily Mirror as saying: "Sarah Jane used to be a bit of a cardboard cut-out. Each week it used to be, 'Yes Doctor, no Doctor', and you had to flesh your character out in your mind — because if you didn't, no one else would." She also spoke favourably of the characterisation in the new series.[10]

Following her successful appearance in the series, Sladen later starred in The Sarah Jane Adventures, a Doctor Who spin-off focusing on Sarah Jane, produced by BBC Wales for CBBC and created by Russell T Davies. A 60-minute special aired on New Year's Day 2007, with a 10-episode series commencing broadcast in September 2007. The programme was nominated for a prestigious Royal Television Society award[11] and was recommissioned for a second 12-episode series which was broadcast in late 2008.[12] The third series was broadcast in Autumn 2009, and again achieved audience ratings well in excess of the usual average figures for the time slot (sometimes even double). A fourth season began airing in October 2010.

Sladen also read two original audio stories for The Sarah Jane Adventures,[7] which were released in November 2007 on CD: The Glittering Storm by Stephen Cole and The Thirteenth Stone by Justin Richards. This was the first time that BBC Audiobooks have commissioned new content for exclusive release on audio.[13] Two new audio stories ("Ghost House" and "Time Capsule") were released in November 2008, both read again by Sladen.[14]

Sladen appeared in the final two episodes of Doctor Who’s 2008 series (season 4) finale "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End" and was credited in the title sequence of both episodes.[15] Her final appearance in Doctor Who was a cameo in the concluding part of "The End of Time", Tennant's last episode as the Doctor.[16]

[edit] Other work

After Doctor Who, Sladen returned to Liverpool with her husband and performed in a series of plays. This included a two-hander with Miller in Moonie and his Caravans. Notable appearances following that include a two-year stint as a presenter for the children's programme Stepping Stones, a lead role with Miller playing her husband in ITV drama Send In The Girls, a BBC Play For Today, a role as a stand-up comic's spouse in Take My Wife, and a small part in the movie Silver Dream Racer as a bank secretary in 1980, only her second motion picture appearance. In 1981, former Doctor Who producer Barry Letts cast her as the female lead in the BBC Classics production of Gulliver in Lilliput.

She continued to appear in various advertisements and in another Letts production, Alice in Wonderland (playing the Dormouse), as well as attending conventions in the United States. After the birth of her daughter Sadie Miller in 1985, Sladen went into semi-retirement, placing her family first, but finding time for the occasional television appearance. In 1995, she played Dr Pat Hewer in 4 episodes of Peak Practice. In 1996, she played Sophie in Faith in the Future, and appeared in 15 episodes of the BBC schools programme Numbertime, which was repeated annually for around ten years. This was her last television acting appearance until the 2006 Doctor Who episode "School Reunion".

In 1991, she starred as Alexa opposite Colin Baker in The Stranger audio adventure The Last Mission for BBV Audio. Sladen also appeared in a Bernice Summerfield audio drama, Kate Orman's Walking to Babylon.

In 2008–09, Sladen appeared in a panto production of Peter Pan at the Theatre Royal Windsor, playing Mrs. Darling and a beautiful mermaid.[17]

[edit] Personal life

Sladen married actor Brian Miller in 1968 in Liverpool;[18] the marriage lasted until her death. Their daughter, Sadie Miller, appeared with her in the range of Sarah Jane Smith audio plays by Big Finish Productions. As a child, Sadie appeared alongside Sladen in the 1996 documentary, Thirty Years in the TARDIS, wearing a replica of the Andy Pandy overalls Sladen wore in The Hand of Fear.

Sladen died early on 19 April 2011,[19] after having cancer for several months.[20][21][22] The first episode of series six of the revived version of Doctor Who "The Impossible Astronaut" aired on the Saturday following Sladen's death. The episode started with a screen announcing that it was dedicated to the memory of Elisabeth Sladen. Straight after 'Doctor Who', a special tribute called 'My Sarah Jane: A Tribute to Elisabeth Sladen' was aired on CBBC.[21] Sladen had also been interested in being involved in the Doctor Who Fourth Doctor Big Finish series.[23]

[edit] References

Direct download: TDP_172_liz_slayden_trib.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 12:00am UTC

TDP 171: Smith 2.01 The Impossible Astronaut

"The Impossible Astronaut" is the first episode of the sixth series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. Written by show runner Steven Moffat, and directed by Toby Haynes, the episode was first broadcast on 23 April 2011 in the United Kingdom, as well as the United States and Canada. It will also air in Australia on 30 April 2011. The episode is the first of a two part story, which will conclude with "Day of the Moon". The episode was seen by 6.52 million viewers in the United Kingdom, the lowest rating for an opening episode since the show's revival, but received positive reviews from critics.

This episode was dedicated to Elisabeth Sladen who played The Doctor's former companion Sarah Jane Smith, who died of cancer earlier in the week of broadcast.




An astronaut from the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. A replica of this suit was created for the episode.

Amy and Rory, not having seen the Doctor for two months but aware of his recent exploits in history, receive a "TARDIS blue" coloured envelope. The envelope contains a date and time along with a set of physical coordinates that lead the couple to Utah, where they rendezvous with the Doctor and River Song. From the Doctor's perspective, it has been nearly two centuries since his last adventure with Amy and Rory (he left them when he was aged 908 and is now 1103). The Doctor now carries a diary identical to the one carried by River Song, and it is apparent that River and the Doctor have shared many adventures together as the two time travellers compare notes at a diner.

The Doctor takes the group on a picnic at a nearby lake where he tells them he is taking them on a trip to "Space 1969". There, Amy sees a mysterious figure in the distance, but it then vanishes and Amy appears to immediately forget what she saw. The picnickers are soon joined by an older man named Canton Everett Delaware III, who had also received an envelope. Suddenly, a figure in a space suit emerges from the lake, and the Doctor warns the others to stay back and not interfere while he goes forward to talk. The Doctor appears to recognize the person in the suit when it raises its visor. They talk for a while, after which the Doctor stands still, his head bowed. Before anyone can react, the astronaut raises an energy weapon and twice shoots the Doctor, who begins to regenerate. A third shot disrupts the regeneration process and kills the Doctor. The astronaut then retreats back into the lake, leaving the Doctor's companions stunned and horrified. Assured the Doctor is dead, they give the Doctor a Viking-style funeral using a can of gasoline Delaware brought.

Regrouping at the diner Amy, Rory, and River discuss the sender of the envelopes when the Doctor—a younger version of himself now aged 909—emerges from the restroom, revealing he also was given an envelope. Hesitant to tell the Doctor of his pending death, they explain the situation so far, and the Doctor uses Delaware's name and "Space 1969" in the TARDIS, ending up at the Oval Office of the White House in 1969. They watch as President Nixon takes a call from a mysterious young girl named "Jefferson Adams Hamilton" asking for help while a younger Delaware looks on. The Doctor reveals himself and gains Delaware's trust, convincing Nixon to give him a few minutes to locate the child. While he works out her location, Amy again sees a mysterious figure, and excuses herself to the restroom. There the figure, a Silent,[2] waits for her, and destroys an innocent woman despite Amy's pleas. Amy realizes the alien figure is wiping her memory of her encounter when she looks away, and takes a photo of the alien on her mobile phone. By the time she returns to the Oval Office, having no recall of the events, the Doctor has found the girl's location —a building near Cape Canaveral, Florida at the intersection of streets named Jefferson, Adams, and Hamilton. The Doctor and his companions leave in the TARDIS, followed closely by a curious Delaware.

In the building, they find pieces of a space suit as well as ancient alien technology. Alone, River warns Amy that though they may encounter the astronaut that killed the future Doctor, attempting to stop the astronaut now may create a time paradox. River and Rory explore a vast network of tunnels under the building and spreading throughout the planet, encountering and forgetting other Silence. They eventually come on a control room similar to the one seen in "The Lodger", unaware that they are being surrounded by more Silence. Behind Rory, there is a flashing similar to the flashing a Silent had made as it was killing the woman in the bathroom near the Oval Office. River turns to see him, and shouts his name. We do not see what has happened. Above ground, the Doctor, Amy, and Delaware hear the cries of a girl. Delaware gives chase, but Amy, suddenly in pain, realizes she must tell the Doctor something as they follow. They find Delaware nearby, unconscious, and Amy finally lets the Doctor know that she is pregnant. Before they can react, the astronaut appears. Amy reaches for Delaware's gun, while the astronaut lifts its helmet, revealing the face of a young girl. Before she can stop herself, Amy fires upon the astronaut.


  • The envelopes each contain the date 22 April 2011 (the day prior to the first broadcast of this episode), and coordinates (37°0′38″N 110°14′34″W / 37.01056°N 110.24278°W / 37.01056; -110.24278).
  • River Song tells Rory that she and the Doctor are travelling through time "in opposite directions." She comments that a day is coming when "he'll look into my eyes, and not have the faintest idea who I am. And I think it's going to kill me." In the Series 4 episode "Silence in the Library", the Tenth Doctor meets River for the first time (from his perspective); at the conclusion of that story, River is killed saving people trapped inside the Library's core.
  • The control panel River Song and Rory find in the underground tunnels is the same control panel that was found in the upstairs flat in the Series 5 episode "The Lodger".[citation needed]
  • The TARDIS had been previously turned invisible in the Second Doctor story The Invasion.
  • When Canton first leaves the TARDIS, the Doctor remarks, "Brave heart, Canton." This is a reference to the Fifth Doctor's recurrent statement to Tegan, "Brave heart, Tegan." [3]
  • The older Doctor is seen with a diary similar to River Song's at the beginning of the episode, swapping notes with River.

Outside references

  • In Amy and Rory's home, Rory is watching the Laurel and Hardy film The Flying Deuces. The Doctor then runs up and waves at the camera.
  • In the White House toilets scene, Joy believes the alien to be something from Star Trek.
  • River notes that the Easter Island statues were created in the Doctor's honour, laughing and talking about Jim the Fish.
  • The Doctor calls River Song Mrs. Robinson. That is a reference to a book called The Graduate from 1963 by Charles Webb. In the film from 1967 Anne Bancroft plays the older Mrs. Robinson. She seduces the young Dustin Hoffman.


On 25 March 2011, a short exclusive scene serving as a prequel for the first episode was released on the show's official website. The prequel depicts Richard Nixon[4][5] (Stuart Milligan) receiving a recorded phone call of a girl's voice while sitting in the Oval Office. The girl, whose voice the president appears to recognize from a previous call, begs him to "look behind you", warning him that there is something there. The president angrily refuses and the line goes dead; the camera then pans around him to show an out-of-focus, inhuman figure standing to the president's right.



Show runner and episode writer Steven Moffat (pictured) created the Silence to compete with other creatures in the past in terms of "scariness."

The episode was written by Steven Moffat, who took charge as show runner since 2010. Having also written the following episode, "Day of the Moon", Moffat wanted the 2011 season to start with a two-part story in an attempt to begin with more gravity and a wider scope in plot. In the Doctor Who Confidential episode following the broadcast of "The Impossible Astronaut", Moffat states it was one of the darker episodes of the series, but it still maintained the same level of humour. The inclusion of the Doctor getting killed felt like a series ender for some of the producers, but was actually there to "kick it off."[6] In writing the death scene of the future Doctor, Moffat wanted to acknowledge to the audience that Time Lords are not invincible, and could still die permanently if killed before regeneration, a fact the series previously acknowledged in The End of Time. In creating the Silence, the alien antagonists of the episode, Moffat wanted them to challenge other monsters in past in terms of "scariness."[6] He felt these creatures are a "much bigger deal."[6] Amy Pond's pregnancy will be involved in a story arc as the series progresses.[6]

Cast notes

In October 2010, it was announced that Mark Sheppard, who appeared in other past science fiction series including Battlestar Galactica, Supernatural and Warehouse 13, would make a guest appearance on the series. Sheppard described playing Canton as a "dream job," and wished to appear in another of Moffat's works, including Sherlock.[7][8] Even though Sheppard is an English actor, it was his first appearance on British television.[9] For the scene depicting the older Canton Delaware, it was planned that Sheppard would appear older using makeup effects; he successfully suggested instead that his father, William Morgan Sheppard, play the role. American actor Stuart Milligan was cast as President Nixon, which he found exciting, having played other presidents in the past including Dwight D. Eisenhower. Prosthetic pieces were applied on his cheeks, nose and ears to resemble Nixon as much as possible. He also practiced how Nixon would speak, but initially found it difficult since he had to wear fake teeth.[6] Milligan previously appeared in the animated Tenth Doctor special Dreamland as the voice of Colonel Stark.[10]

Filming and effects

Karen Gillan (centre) was genuinely upset filming the death scene of the future Doctor.

This pair of episodes marks the first time that Doctor Who has filmed principal photography footage within the United States;[11] the American-produced TV movie of 1996 was filmed in Canada. Some second-unit establishing shots of New York and the Statue of Liberty were filmed on Liberty Island for the episode "Daleks in Manhattan", but none of the cast of the episode were involved in the shoot.[12] Filming took place in the state of Utah. For the opening shot for the location, director Toby Haynes wanted it to be epic so that the audience could recognise where the episode was set. The crew wanted to add as many American icons as they could into those shots, including a Stetson hat, a 1950s Edsel Villager and a yellow school bus. Moffat, having enjoyed writing episodes featuring River Song, wanted to give her an impressive entrance. Haynes had Alex Kingston block the Sun light from the camera angle and blowing smoke from her revolver. The scenes involving the picnic and the future-Doctor dying took place on the shore of Lake Powell. The suit worn by the future-Doctor's killer was a fabricated replica of an Apollo space suit. It was waterproofed as the killer came out of the water, and in real life space suits were not designed to be used in water. In filming the death scene the filming crew noticed that Karen Gillan was genuinely upset and "was acting her heart out."[6] In filming the "Viking funeral" scene, Haynes wished to film it during the sunset. However, the sun set over the desert, so was instead filmed during sunrise, as the sun rose over the water.[6]

Kingston had to genuinely slap Matt Smith several times in a scene because it was difficult to fake. Kingston recalled that after a few takes, Smith got red cheeked and grew frustrated at having to do the sequence over and over again. The Oval Office set was constructed at Upper Boat Studios in South Wales. Because the production crew had access to several pictures and plans of the real office, they were able to replicate it in almost every detail. The main problem for building the set was the plastering; the crew normally plaster one wall at a time for normal rooms, but because the Oval Office was round, they had to do the entire set at once. The American-style diner scene when the companions reunite with the Doctor in this episode is actually located in Cardiff Bay.[13] The Laurel and Hardy film the Doctor intruded was done by Smith dancing in front of greenscreen.[6] The episode opens with a still-caption tribute to actress Elisabeth Sladen, who died from cancer on 19 April 2011. Sladen had previously appeared in the series as companion Sarah Jane Smith, and as the same character on the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures.[14]

Broadcast and reception

Broadcast and ratings

"The Impossible Astronaut" was first broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom on 23 April 2011 at 6 pm.[15] The episode also aired on BBC America in the United States and Space in Canada on the same day.[16][17] It aired on ABC1 in Australia on 30 April.[18] After its original broadcast in the United Kingdom, "The Impossible Astronaut" received preliminary overnight ratings of 6.52 million viewers, a 36.7% audience share in its timeslot. Despite winning its timeslot, ratings were down by 1.2 million from the previous series premiere "The Eleventh Hour", meaning it has the lowest ratings of all the opening episodes of the series since the shows revival in 2005. The episode became the second highest rated programme of the night, behind Britain's Got Talent, which attracted 8.99 million on ITV1.[19]

Critical reception

The episode was met with positive reviews from television critics. Dan Martin of The Guardian reacted positively towards the episode, believing the cast performed better than the previous fifth series. He stated "Steven Moffat has thrown away the rule book and made Doctor Who as, you imagine, he's pictured it should be his whole life. Killing the Doctor leaves the shape of the series mapped out, raises the bar so that no one is safe, and sees Amy, Rory and River facing a terrible dilemma."[20] Martin liked that "Amy's numbed horror ramps things up to a series-finale level on intensity from the off," and then switches "into an Oval Office comedy of manners," and "morphs into gothic horror and finally flings you to the ground with its cinematic cliffhanger."[20] He was also positive towards the American setting, and "our eccentric British foursome bumbling through it," believing the series raised its game with this."[20] With regards to the Silence, Martin believed it was "a standard Moffat psychological trick, but the most refined to date."[20]

Morgan Jeffery of Digital Spy called the episode "a fantastic launch for the sixth series," adding "the Doctor Who team's US location shooting has certainly paid off, lending these early scenes a grand scale that the series could scarcely have expected to achieve in 2005, let alone in 1963."[21] Commenting on the future-Doctor's death, Jeffery said "seven minutes in, a nation's collective jaw dropped as The Doctor — this show's lead — is mercilessly gunned down. This plot twist is simply stunning, and it's difficult to imagine even casual viewers not sitting up to pay attention at this point."[21] Jeffery also believed that the series regulars were on "top form," adding "the more abrasive aspects of Amy Pond's personality seem to have been toned down this year, and Karen Gillan responds with her best, most sympathetic performance to date. Arthur Darvill also lives up to his recent promotion to full-time companion. His comic timing is simply superb, but he excels too in the episode's darker moments."[21] Jeffery rated the episode five stars out of five.[21]

Gavin Fuller of The Daily Telegraph believed it was "a cracking start to the first part of the 2011 series, with the shocking ending of Amy seemingly shooting a girl making one keen wait for the conclusion next week to see how it all resolves itself," as well as enjoying the concept of the Silence.[22] Rick Marshall of MTV believed that "Steven Moffat and the Doctor Who crew offer up yet another great episode," but also said the "big cliffhanger will likely cause more than a few fans' heads to explode."[23] In addition, Marshall believed the alien antagonists "give the Weeping Angels a run for their money in scare factor."[23] Simon Brew of Den of Geek thought the episode was "a triumphant return for Doctor Who, bubbling with confidence and throwing down story strands that hint at an engrossing series."[24] Brew liked Sheppard's performance as Delaware and Darvill's increasing presence as Rory. Brew also complimented Haynes' work in the United States, saying it was an improvement from "Daleks in Manhattan", which featured British actors attempting to play with American accents.[24] Tom Phillips of Metro said the 1969 US setting were "beautifully used," and enjoyed the "spookiness" of the Silence. However Phillips felt the episode would be "a bit hard to get into" for new viewers.[25]

Direct download: TDP_171_Smith_2_01_final_version.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 10:01pm UTC

Elisabeth Sladen has died

Twitter and Facebook are alight with rumours that Elisabeth Sladen has passed away.

The Doctor Who star, who is best known as Sarah Jane Smith and also stars in the spin off CBBC show The Sarah Jane Adventures, is said to have passed away earlier today.

Sources say the 63 year old star died because of complications arising from a battle with cancer.

The actress was a regular on BBC’s Doctor Who with both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, and has reprised her role many times. She first joined the sci-fi show in 1973 and stayed on for three and a half seasons, before leaving in 1976.

After numerous appearances through the 80s and 90s, Elisabeth returned in 2006, acting opposite the then Doctor David Tennant in an episode titled “School Reunion”.

Following her successful appearance in the series, Sladen was then asked to front The Sarah Jane Adventures, written by Russell. T Davies for CBBC. The show ran for four series, with a fifth scheduled to air later in 2011.

Sladen was amazing on screen and a real fan favourite, she was welcomed back for two episodes of Doctor Who’s 2008 series finale “The Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End” and was credited in the title sequence of both episodes. She also had a cameo in the concluding part of The End of Time, Tennant’s last episode as the Doctor. This was her last appearance on the show.

This has not yet been confirmed, so more news to follow.

Direct download: TDP_170_SJS_RIP.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 8:10pm UTC

TDP 169: Planet of the Spiders

Planet of the Spiders is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in six weekly parts from May 4 to June 8, 1974. It was Jon Pertwee's last serial as the Doctor and marks the first, uncredited appearance of Tom Baker in the role. It also marks the last appearance of Mike Yates.



[edit] Synopsis

Mysterious goings-on at a meditation retreat run by Tibetan monks are linked to the blue planet Metebelis III, and a colony of monstrous, evolved spiders. The Doctor must reflect on his past and reconcile with his present to defeat a deadly and possibly fatal challenge...

[edit] Plot

Following the events of Invasion of the Dinosaurs, Mike Yates was discharged from UNIT and is now attending a Tibetan meditation centre in rural England. He is visited by Sarah Jane Smith and they witness some curious happenings at the centre, seemingly organised by a resident called Lupton, a middle aged former salesman, and his cronies. Mike and Sarah stumble across Lupton performing an incantation, which conjures up a giant spider into the middle of the basement room. It jumps on Lupton’s back and then disappears. The spider manifests itself in Lupton’s head, telling him to seek out and locate a certain blue crystal.

The Third Doctor has developed an interest in psychic ability, but his testing of a clairvoyant called Professor Clegg backfires when his subject has a heart attack. It is triggered when Clegg comes into contact with a blue crystal from Metebelis Three (sent back from the Amazon by Jo Grant), which caused him to see the image of deadly spiders. Sarah returns from the retreat, having left Mike to watch things there, and she and the Doctor swap spider tales. Meanwhile Lupton has also arrived at UNIT HQ and steals the crystal from the Doctor’s laboratory. A multi-vehicle chase ensues which Lupton escapes by teleporting himself back to the monastery. Once there, the spider reveals that it is plotting against some of its sisters back on Metebelis Three. The spiders and the crystal originate from the same blue planet in the Acteon Galaxy, which was none too hospitable to the Doctor the last time he visited (during The Green Death).

The Doctor and Sarah now make for the monastery and tell the deputy abbot, Cho-Je, that something is very amiss. The crystal now strays again when it is taken by Tommy, the simple-minded handyman of the retreat, whose mind is opened and improved by the power of the crystal. Lupton is teleported to Metebelis Three, unconsciously allowing Sarah to follow him. She soon meets the human slave inhabitants of the planet, a generally dispirited bunch, other than the rebellious Arak, who flees to the mountains.

The planet is ruled by the Eight-Legs or giant spiders, and their Queen is the supreme ruler. They govern using guards chosen from among the planet's Two-Leg (human) population and their own phenomenal mental powers, amplified by the blue stones of the planet. The Doctor arrives on the planet and he makes contact with Arak, who explains that the Metebelians are the descendants of the crew of an earth space ship, which crashed hundreds of years before. A spider on board found its way to the Blue Mountains where, through the effect of the crystals, its progeny grew larger and larger and cleverer and cleverer. The Doctor works out that a “negative” stone can absorb and reject the power of the blue crystals and starts a revolt among the humans, but this is defeated and the Doctor ventures to the Blue Mountains. There he encounters the Great One, a giant spider which controls the world of Metebelis and desires power over other domains too. She knows the crystal is still on Earth and sends the Doctor there to get it for her. He flees back to Earth with Sarah – not knowing the Queen spider has now implanted itself in his companion's mind.

Tommy has given the crystal to the abbot, K’anpo Rinpoche, who is an elderly Time Lord and the one-time hermit mentor of the Doctor. He now lives in peaceful exile on Earth. He tells the Doctor of Sarah's control and they work together to expel the Queen Spider. A fight breaks in the monastery between Lupton’s cronies and the Abbot’s men. The Abbot advises the Doctor to take the crystal to the Great One: the Doctor started this chain of events by removing the crystal in the first place, and it is up to him to put it back. He departs in the TARDIS with the crystal.

On Metebelis Three, Lupton has been killed by the spiders after falling out with the Spider Queen. When the TARDIS lands, the Doctor heads to the cave of the Great One and gives her the crystal, which she uses to complete a lattice that begins to magnify her mental powers. However, the forces unleashed are too strong for the Great One and the positive feedback kills her and the other spiders. A vast wave of deadly radiation floods the cave. The Doctor, now very weak, staggers back to the TARDIS and teleports away.

Three weeks later, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Sarah are in the Doctor's laboratory when the Doctor returns and promptly collapses, and the Doctor dies. The abbot K’anpo arrives in his new body, having regenerated into the form of Cho-Je, who was a sort of forward projection of his soul. He tells them that the Doctor will change too and before their eyes the Doctor starts to regenerate into the Fourth Doctor.

[edit] Cast notes

  • This story marks the final appearance of Richard Franklin as Captain Mike Yates. Franklin would reprise his role in The Five Doctors (1983) and Dimensions in Time (1993), although on both occasions they were illusory versions of Yates. After his departure from the series, Franklin would go on to become a stage and television director.
  • Kismet Delgado, the widow of Roger Delgado, who had played the Master during the Third Doctor's era, was one of the voices for the Spiders.
  • Gareth Hunt, who would go on to play Mike Gambit in The New Avengers, appears here as a human rebel on Metebelis III.
  • Carl Forgione would later play Nimrod in Ghost Light.

[edit] Production

Serial details by episode
EpisodeBroadcast dateRun timeViewership
(in millions)
"Part One" 4 May 1974 (1974-05-04) 24'40" 10.1 PAL 2" colour videotape
"Part Two" 11 May 1974 (1974-05-11) 25'02" 8.9 PAL 2" colour videotape
"Part Three" 18 May 1974 (1974-05-18) 24'58" 8.8 PAL 2" colour videotape
"Part Four" 25 May 1974 (1974-05-25) 23'53" 8.2 PAL 2" colour videotape
"Part Five" 1 Jun 1974 24'01" 9.2 PAL 2" colour videotape
"Part Six" 8 Jun 1974 24'43" 8.9 PAL 2" colour videotape
  • The final story of Season 11 (to have been titled The Final Game) was originally intended to write out the character of the Master, with the villainous Time Lord sacrificing his life to save the Doctor's. Due to the death of actor Roger Delgado, script editor Terrance Dicks abandoned the project in favour of a new story, which eventually evolved into Planet of the Spiders. Coincidentally, Kismet Delgado, Roger's widow provided her voice to one of the spiders.
  • The train station Sarah Jane arrives at in Part One is Mortimer railway station, near Reading.

[edit] Continuity

  • This story was the second and last appearance of the "Whomobile".
  • The character of Surgeon-Lieutenant Harry Sullivan, the UNIT medical officer, is referred to by the Brigadier who calls for him when the Doctor falls into a daze after staring into the crystal. Sullivan would not actually appear on screen until Robot, where he was played by Ian Marter.
  • The Spiders of Metebelis Three make further appearances in the short story "Return of the Spiders" by Gareth Roberts (in the collection More Short Trips) and a brief appearance in the Eight Doctor Adventure The Eight Doctors by Terrance Dicks. They also have a full encounter with the Eighth Doctor in the Big Finish audios The Eight Truths and Worldwide Web by Eddie Robson.
  • The Eighth Doctor Adventures novels Interference: Book One and Two by Lawrence Miles has the time-travelling voodoo cult Faction Paradox changing history so that the events of this story never happen and instead having the Third Doctor regenerating on a planet named Dust after being shot. A later novel in the series, The Ancestor Cell by Peter Anghelides and Stephen Cole, resolves this paradox and restores the Doctor's timeline to its previous state. The canonicity of the novels is unclear.
  • It is unclear how long it takes the Doctor to return to Earth in the TARDIS from Metebelis Three, although three weeks have passed for Sarah and the Brigadier. Paul Cornell in the Virgin New Adventures novel Love and War established that the TARDIS was lost in the time vortex for the equivalent of ten years. This is revealed during a sequence in cyberspace where agents of the alien race called the Hoothi are attempting to trap the Seventh Doctor in a virtual recreation of the worst moments of his life, of which this regeneration is the most painful for the Doctor to re-live.
  • This story includes the character of K'anpo Rimpoche, the previously unnamed Time Lord hermit from the Doctor's childhood, first mentioned in The Time Monster. K'anpo has the power to travel through time without the use of a TARDIS, to make a corporeal projection of a potential future incarnation (Cho-Je) of himself, and to stimulate the regeneration process of another Time Lord. K'anpo was referenced again in the Fourth Doctor serial State of Decay as the man who told the Doctor about the legends of the Great Vampires.
  • The Doctor regenerates due to radiation poisoning a second time when the Tenth Doctor allows himself to absorb a lethal dose of radiation to save his current companion Wilfred Mott in The End of Time.

[edit] In print

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Doctor Who and the Planet of the Spiders
Series Target novelisations
Release number 48
Writer Terrance Dicks
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Peter Brookes
ISBN 0-426-10655-5
Release date 16 October 1975

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in October 1975 as Doctor Who and the Planet of the Spiders. The novel's prologue shows Jo Grant and her husband Professor Jones in the Amazon jungle following the events of The Green Death. Harry Sullivan is referred to as Doctor Sweatman.

[edit] Broadcast, VHS release & DVD Release

  • This story was repeated on BBC One as a 105-minute omnibus on 27 December 1974 at 14:46.[4]
  • The serial was released on VHS in April 1991 as a double pack.
  • It will be released on DVD in the UK on DVD on 18 April 2011.[5] It will be released in the USA and Canada on 10 May 2011.[6]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "Planet of the Spiders". Outpost Gallifrey. Retrieved 2008-08-30. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Planet of the Spiders". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  3. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "Planet of the Spiders". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ Howe, David J.; Walker, Stephen James (1996). "Planet of the Spiders (ZZZ)". Doctor Who The Handbook - The Third Doctor. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 162. ISBN 0 426 20486 7. 
  5. ^ "April 2011 DVD - Planet of the Spiders". Doctor Who Online - Release Guide. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  6. ^ Lambert, David (26 January 2011). "Doctor Who - BBC Announces 'Terror of the Autons' and 'Planet of the Spiders'". para. 3. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
Direct download: TDP_169_Planet_of_The_Spiders.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 7:55am UTC


Direct download: TTZ10_spring_2011.pdf
Category:general -- posted at: 10:54am UTC