Sunday, 22 November 2015

414 The Android Invasion: Part One

EPISODE: The Android Invasion: Part One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 22 November 1975
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Barry Letts
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
RATINGS: 11.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - U.N.I.T Files: Invasion of the Dinosaurs and the Android Invasion

"No one about. Let's try the pub!"

A UNIT soldier walks jerkily through some woods. The Tardis materialise nearby. The Doctor is suspicious.

SARAH: Well, come on, make your mind up. Has the Tardis brought us home or not?
DOCTOR: Possibly.
SARAH: What do you mean, possibly.
DOCTOR: Well, the coordinates were set for your time, but the linear calculator, well. Ginger pop?
SARAH: Can't stand the stuff, thanks all the same. So we could be anytime, anywhere?
DOCTOR: I really must get the Tardis seen to. She's way overdue her five hundred year service.
SARAH: Well, at least we're on Earth. I mean, just taste that air. I love that fresh smell just after a rain shower.
DOCTOR: Yes, it does have that peculiar earthy smell. Which is odd when you look at the ground.
DOCTOR: It's bone dry. Can't have been any rain here for more than a week.
DOCTOR: Now I wonder what could be causing that.
SARAH: What?
DOCTOR: Some enormous release of energy.
SARAH: We are on Earth, aren't we?
DOCTOR: Well, unless someone's started exporting acorns. Oak trees don't grow anywhere else in the Galaxy.
His worries are confirmed when they are attached by white spacesuited figures with guns built into their index fingers.

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They escape but witness the soldier throw himself off a cliff into a quarry.

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Investigating the body the Doctor has further concerns.

DOCTOR: He must have died instantly.
SARAH: Look. He's from UNIT.
DOCTOR: Look at these.
SARAH: They're all new.
DOCTOR: Freshly minted. No scratches, tarnish.
SARAH: And all dated the same year.
DOCTOR: What are the odds against finding a pocket full of coins all dated the same?
SARAH: I don't understand it.
They find a burnt object nearby that the Doctor thinks reminds him of something but the white suited figures find & attack them. Seeking sanctuary in the nearby village they find themselves in Devesham, where Sarah has been before on a story.

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The village seems deserted so The Doctor & Sarah enter the local pub which they discover is empty, but with half drunk glasses left sitting on tables.

DOCTOR: What's this pub called?
SARAH: Er, Fleur de Lys, wasn't it?
SARAH: Fleur de Lys.
DOCTOR: Marie Celeste, more like it.
SARAH: It's weird. A whole village full of people can't just disappear.
DOCTOR: Here it is again.
SARAH: What?
DOCTOR: Freshly minted money, all the same year. Sarah?
DOCTOR: What was that story you came here on?
SARAH: There was a bit of a brouhaha at the Space Defence Station. It's about a mile from here.
DOCTOR: Is it. If we've landed in a prohibited area, then those people who shot at us were possibly guards.
SARAH: Trespassers are prosecuted in England, not killed. Anyway, they weren't dressed like guards.
DOCTOR: Protective clothing? Some kind of radioactivity? Remember, I detected an energy source. The soldier who went over the cliff was possibly affected by it.
SARAH: Radiation sickness?
DOCTOR: Something like that.
SARAH: And this place, the village?
DOCTOR: Evacuated.
SARAH: Then it must've been done in a hurry.
DOCTOR: If some dangerous substance leaked, it would be an emergency.
SARAH: That's great. And we've been walking around in the middle of it like a couple of 'narnas.
DOCTOR: It's only a speculation.
SARAH: It's a nasty one. What about the money?
DOCTOR: Contamination precaution. Money changes hands. In a place like this, it might be necessary to bring in clean currency every few months.
They observe the white suited figures walk through the village accompanied by the soldier who they saw fall off the cliff, now seemingly restored to life.

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A truck arrives outside the pub with a number of immobile villagers sat in the back. They get down from the truck, Sarah identifying the pub Landlord, with several entering the pub, and as the clock strikes the hour they resume their normal activities & conversations. The Doctor goes to the Space Centre to contact UNIT leaving Sarah in the pub where she is quickly detected and treated with suspicion by the locals. The Landlord thinks she might be part of the test and asks her to leave. Sarah catches sight of one of the white suited figures with it's visor up and discovers it's a robot. Arriving at the Space Centre the Doctor is ignored by the stationary guard. Sarah returns to the Tardis, but as she puts the key in the lock she discovers another of the burnt pods and investigates. As she does the Tardis dematerialises. The pod opens and an arm emerges grabbing at Sarah and attempting to strangle her. At the space centre Crayford is contacted by his unseen superior Styggron who has detected movement in the complex. The Doctor enters the Brigadier's deserted office and is captured by Crayford.

CRAYFORD: Keep your hands where I can see them.
DOCTOR: Those are the first friendly words I've heard since I got here.
CRAYFORD: Yes, I dare say. And just how did you get here, incidentally?
DOCTOR: Oh, I dropped in. You know, I do from time to time.
CRAYFORD: I can easily get the truth from you.
DOCTOR: You're getting it. Who are you?
CRAYFORD: I'm asking the questions and I have the gun.
DOCTOR: I just wondered. You're in someone else's office. It says Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart on the door.
CRAYFORD: You know the Brigadier?
DOCTOR: Mmm. I'm his unpaid scientific advisor.
CRAYFORD: Oh yes. Yes, I see. I see, you're the Doctor.
CRAYFORD: Yes, I've heard of you.
DOCTOR: Good. Who are you?
CRAYFORD: I'm the Senior Defence astronaut, Guy Crayford.
DOCTOR: Well, how do you do.
CRAYFORD: Get your hands up, Doctor, thank you. You could be an impostor, couldn't you.
DOCTOR: Look, I've got a suggestion. My arms are beginning to ache. Why not call Lethbridge Stewart and get him to identify me?
CRAYFORD: Lethbridge Stewart is in Geneva. Colonel Faraday is in command.
DOCTOR: If you're calling the butler, I'm very partial to tea and muffins.
CRAYFORD: You're going to have to stay in detention until your identity's been verified.
vlcsnap-2015-04-28-11h28m07s13The Doctor escapes, being shot at by UNIT troops but is recaptured by the white suited robots. Sarah sees and follows at a discrete distance. The Doctor is locked in a cell where Sarah attempts to free him. However they are observed by a hideous alien face.....

Oh that's fabulous stuff that is! Doctor Who doesn't do "little country villages with something not quite right" as often as you think (the only previous example is the Daemons) and here it works superbly with the villagers behaving very oddly, the UNIT corporal coming back from the dead and the odd sight of the white space suited figures wandering through woods, fields and country lanes. Something's going on but what is it? Set the mystery up in the first episode and let it run. Top Episode, best first episode for a long while.

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The androids are an odd mix of UFO's aliens and the Autons, with their gun barrel fingers. As we'll see the hand guns aren't the only thing that makes you think of the Autons.

path5 It was only when I saw the reprise of this episode in the next did I twig where I'd seen the Android's helmets before!

They first appeared in the 1960 BBC serial Pathfinders in Space where you can see they have an air hose attached to the bottom of the helmet:
They then return as the delegate probably called Beaus in Mission to the Unknown & The Dalek Masteplan. Beaus' hose is now attached to the middle of his faceplate.

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When the hose is removed that leaves a hole that's easy to spot when they then crop up in consecutive Pertwee stories as various spacesuit helmets in Frontier in Space and Planet of the Daleks. Somewhat amusingly the spacesuit the helmet is paired with there, which originally appeared with a different helmet in Ambassadors of Death, will pop up later in this story!

Note the two holes under the helmet from the original Pathfinders airhoses on the photo bellow:

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vlcsnap-2015-04-29-10h20m52s39 These holes can clearly be seen on the Android Invasion version. It appears the faceplate with the hole has been removed and replaced with a new differently shaped faceplate that doesn't quite cover the front of the helmet necessitating the insertion of some silver gauze at the bottom!

So although the round faceplate, which is the distinguishing feature of the helmet, that had made me think UFO is new the bulk of it is a prop built in 1960 and had survived in the BBC costume store for over 14 years!

The locations for Android Invasion are all located in Oxfordshire not that far from each other.

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The village scenes were filmed in East Hagbourne.

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Just four miles from there is The National Radiological Protection Board in Didcot which serves as the Space Centre.

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Good use is got out of this building going up on the roof and it even serves as itself in long shot, albeit with a CSO'd addition.

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Tubney Wood, close to the A420 which links Oxford & Swindon, provides the woodland locations seen in this episode.

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This is the second story on the trot that the Doctor and Sarah have spent time wandering around woods. Last time they were being stalked by Mummys in The Pyramids of Mars.

Incidentally the Doctor's Ginger pop guzzling at the start of the episode does mark the start of something of an obsession for him in the story and a little bit of Chekov's Gun:

DOCTOR: Ginger pop?
SARAH: Can't stand the stuff, thanks all the same.
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Worsham Quarry, 11 miles to the North, provides the quarry location where the dead UNIT Corporal was found.

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The locations really contribute to this story making it seem believable and add real atmosphere to the deserted atmosphere in this episode, a technique used in lots of Doctor Who stories but notably the first episodes of The Daleks, Keys of Marinus & Dalek Invasion of Earth, all prior Terry Nation contributions. His next story Destiny of the Daleks again virtually has virtually nobody else in it at the start with much of the opening episode serving as a virtual 2 hander between Doctor and companion.

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