Sunday, 31 January 2021

552 The Keeper of Traken: Part One

EPISODE: The Keeper of Traken: Part One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 31 January 1981
WRITER: Johnny Byrne
DIRECTOR: John Black
SCRIPT EDITOR: Christopher H. Bidmead
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7.6 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - New Beginnings (The Keeper of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalva)

"Traken Union, famous for its universal harmony. A whole empire held together by people just being terribly nice to each other."

The Doctor & Adric are visited by the all powerful but ailing Keeper of Traken, ruler of the Traken Union. He explains how the evil Melkur was attracted to their planet but stands immobile calcifying in a grove where Kassia is appointed to tend it as it dies. Years later Kassia is appointed as one of the five consuls to the Keeper and marries one of her colleagues, Tremas, who shortly after is appointed Keeper nominate with his daughter Nyssa being given Kassia's previous duty of tending the Melkur which has lasted far longer than expected. Fearing the events that will occur in the run up to and following his death the Keeper asks the Doctor to come to Traken to aid them. Kassia, grief stricken at the prospect of loosing her new husband, pours her heart out to Melkur who unexpectedly responds. The Tardis materialises in the Grove and the Doctor & Adric are quickly arrested by the Fosters who tend it, already worried due to a recent murder. The Doctor tells his story to the five consuls: Tremas, Kassia, Seron, Katura & Luvic. However he is unable to corroborate it due to Melkur making the Tardis vanish from the grove. The Keeper is summoned to verify their story but as he materialises Melkur, unseen by anyone but the keeper, enters the chamber. The Keeper proclaims that their is evil among them and vanishes as the Doctor & Adric find themselves surrounded.

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Oh that's rather good. Some fabulous design work beefs up what the script provides with the Keeper, an old bearded man in a chair, playing up to the stereotypical depiction of God and typical futuristic set & costume problems being solved by the use of stone effect sets & plush period costume style clothing, taking us into an area where the BBC traditionally excels.

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This looks good, in a different way to how Warriors' Gate looked good. Warrior's Gate played with flashy visuals & effects but Keeper of Traken is much more lavish & solid and credit for this needs to go to Production Designer Tony Burrough, later to be Oscar nominated for his work on Richard the Third, and costume designer Amy Roberts.

I'm not sure the Tardis has ever had a visitor while in flight before, so you imediately know that The Keeper is rather powerful and it adds weight to the rather lengthy piece of exposition he delivers to The Doctor, Adric and us, the audience, to set the story up:

DOCTOR: Hello.
KEEPER: How do you do.
DOCTOR: It's all right, Adric. The Keeper of Traken.

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KEEPER: Well guessed, Doctor. The reports I hear of your intelligence are true, I see.
DOCTOR: Oh, well, it wasn't difficult to guess who'd taken possession of the Tardis. I mean, there can't be many people in the universe with the capacity of just dropping in like this.
ADRIC: Well, you could have told me.
DOCTOR: Shush. Time reveals everything, Adric. What can we do for you, Keeper?
KEEPER: Listen closely, Doctor. As you see, the passing ages have taken toll of me.
DOCTOR: Yes, yes, I know that feeling.
KEEPER: But unlike you, my time of Dissolution is near and the power entrusted to me is ebbing away.
DOCTOR: Oh, come on. It's still fairly impressive. I mean, I couldn't flit around the universe in an old chair like this.
KEEPER: I have all the minds of the Union to draw on. I am only the organising principle. It is on that count I ask you to come to Traken.
DOCTOR: Right!
KEEPER: Think carefully before you agree. There is great danger in this for you and your young friend.
DOCTOR: How so, Keeper?
KEEPER: I fear that our beloved world of Traken faces disaster.
ADRIC: Universal harmony, you said.
DOCTOR: Shush.
KEEPER: The Doctor does not exaggerate. Since the time of the Keepers, our Union has been the most harmonious the universe has ever seen. Does the boy not know of this?
DOCTOR: Oh, he's not local. E-space, wasn't it? Where's he gone?
KEEPER: How vain one can still be. I thought the whole universe knew the history of our little empire.
DOCTOR: Yes. They say the atmosphere there was so full of goodness that evil just shrivelled up and died. Maybe that's why I never went there.
KEEPER: Rumour does not exaggerate, Doctor.
ADRIC: The screen.
KEEPER: Oh, forgive me. May I borrow it for a moment?
DOCTOR: Oh please, Keeper, please.
KEEPER: Yes, we have indeed been visited by evil many times. Our compassion for these poor distorted creatures seems to attract them like moths to a flame. Sometimes they are redeemed.
KEEPER: The Fosters are the guardians of the spiritual welfare of our capital.
KEEPER: They name such creatures Melkur.
DOCTOR: Melkur?
KEEPER: Melkur. Literally a fly caught by honey. The Fosters know there's nothing to fear from these visitations.
DOCTOR: So what becomes of this Melkur?
KEEPER: It's baleful influence will not extend beyond the grove, and even here it will only produce a few weeds. Like others before it, the creature will calcify and pass harmlessly into the soil. But the demise of any living thing is painful to us.

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KASSIA: And how are you today, you poor Melkur? The Fosters have appointed me to look after you. There isn't much I can do. It must be awful being rooted to the spot like a tree. If you weren't quite so evil, you might be able to move a bit, just around the grove. Being so evil, you can't even speak. Never mind. I'll come and visit you again soon. Oh. By the way, my name's Kassia.
DOCTOR: Well, that particular evil seems to be well under control.
KEEPER: Seemed, Doctor. That was many years ago. Young Kassia is now grown up. Such was her purity of spirit that she became a consul, and the day of her marriage to Tremas has become, somehow, the turning point for Traken.

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KEEPER: Now it begins. My certain knowledge of the coming Dissolution. No Keeper lasts forever, and the period of transition is always difficult. But I sensed more than that, even as I came to name Tremas as my successor.
DOCTOR: Sense what, Keeper?
KEEPER: All-pervading evil, and somehow nurtured in those three good people standing before me to receive the blessing of the Keeper. Doctor, my time is close. I need your help.
DOCTOR: Anything I can do, Keeper.
ADRIC: That goes for me, too.
DOCTOR: Shush. Well, we'll see. We'll see.
KEEPER: I am fearful even to involve the Doctor. He will face unimaginable hazard, confront power that would obliterate even a Time Lord. Even you, Doctor. Goodbye, my friend. Farewell.
ADRIC: Well, that's a funny way of going about things.
DOCTOR: Yes, isn't it. What do you make of it?
ADRIC: I don't know. But I do hope we know what we're doing.
DOCTOR: So do I. We?

In retrospect you can make a good arguement for The Keeper himself bringing on a lot that follows by naming the newly married Tremas as his successor....
KASSIA: You listen so patiently, and who else could I speak to of my unhappiness? To be Keeper Nominate, they regard it as a great honour, but when the Keeper's Dissolution comes it will take Tremas from me forever. And I know his time will be soon. I know it will be soon.

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KASSIA: You spoke to me!

Alhough the Keeper could have taken into account the strength of Kassia's feelings he had no way of knowing what she was falling in league with .....

Two significant figures join us in front of the camera for the first time here:

Playing Tremas is Anthony Ainley. The son of actor Henry Ainley, the Godfather of third Doctor Jon Pertwee. By this stage in his career he was able to select work as he pleased, preferring to spend his time playing & watching cricket (he is, to the best of my knowledge, the first Doctor Who actor to have got his obituary in Wisden). His character's name is the first, but by no means the last, anagram to be associated with his time on the program.

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Playing Tremas' daughter Nyssa is Sarah Sutton. The role, initially just for this story, was liked by the producer and he decided to have it expanded into that of a new companion.

The actors playing the Fosters, Traken's police force/gardeners, contain some familiar names and we'll start with those who are in all four episodes: In all four episodes as a Foster is Michael Gordon-Browne who had been in Doctor Who before as a Time Lord in Invasion of Time, a Mute in the Armagedon Factor, a Tigellan in Meglos and a Tharil in Warriors' Gate/ He would have been a Cyberman in Earthshock but for his Claustrophobuia and later returns as a Guard in Arc of Infinity. I can also see a Michael Gordon as a Xeron in The Space Museum which might be the same person. In Blake's 7 played a Laboratory Technician in Seek-Locate-Destroy and a Hi-tech Patient in Powerplay.

Mark Middler had be a member of the Pangol Army and a Rebel in State of Decay.

Pat Judge was a Passenger in Nightmare of Eden. He returns as a man with a metal detector in Resurrection of the Daleks. He also appears in Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. as a Captive and in the Dad's Army film he's a Townsman. In The Sweeney he was the Barman in Big Spender. He's in two Sean Connery James Bond film: Dr. No as Le Cercle Waiter and Thunderball as a Casino Patron. He's also in two Carry On Films: Carry On Jack as a Pirate and Carry On Cleo as a Senator.

Barney Lawrence was a Marshmen in Full Circle and a guard in State of Decay and returns as a Kinda Hostage in Kinda, the Male Android Silhouette in Earthshock, Air Steward Dave Culshaw in Timeflight, Tanha’s Bodyguard in Snakedance, a member of Striker's crew in Enlightenment, a Marine Guard in Warriors of the Deep, and a Trooper in Resurrection of the Daleks. He was in Blake's 7 as a Federation Trooper in Time Squad & Bounty, a Guard in Traitor and Zukan's Technician in Warlord.

Colin Thomas was a UNIT Soldier in Doctor Who and the Silurians, Sole in The Face of Evil, a Mentiad in The Pirate Planet, a customer in Cafe in The City of Death, a Don in Shada - is he the only persion apart from Tom Baker in all three Douglas Adams stories? He returns as a Logopolitan in Logopolis, a Gallifreyan in Arc of Infinity, an Elder in Planet of Fire and a Pallbearer in Remembrance of the Daleks.

Playing a Foster in just this episode are:

Jim Morris, who I can't find on IMDB, returns as the Station Master in Black Orchid and a Businessmen Passenger in Time Flight.

Fred Redford was in The Leisure Hive earlier this season as Visitor Loman, plays a Citizen in part of this story and returns as Male Passenger in Time Flight and in Snakedance as a Ceremonial Attendant Demon.

Donald Groves had been a Skonnan Elder in Horns of the Nimon and also plays a Citizen in part 2 of this story. He returns as an Elder in Planet of Fire. He'd been in Porridge as Trevor, Lukewarm's other half, in Men Without Women. He was in Doomwatch as a man in No Room for Error & Flight Into Yesterday.

Barry Summerford had been Invasion of the Dinosaurs as a Operation Golden Age Man, The Ark in Space as a Body in Pallet, Genesis of the Daleks as a Elite Guard, Revenge of the Cybermen as a Vogan, Terror of the Zygons as a Private Thurston, The Seeds of Doom as a UNIT Soldier, The Hand of Fear as a Security Guard, The Sun Makers as a IR Guards in Exchange Hall, The Ribos Operation as a Shrieve, The Armageddon Factor as a Guard, The Creature from the Pit as a Guard, and would have been in Shada as Nero. He was in the Doomwatchepisode Tomorrow, the Rat as a Man, Moonbase 3 as a Technician in Castor and Pollux & View of a Dead Planet and in Blake's 7 he plays a Federation Trooper in The Way Back, a Rebel in Pressure Point, a Rebel in Voice from the Past, a Customer / Gambler in Gambit, a Federation Commando in Volcano, a Monster in Dawn of the Gods and Tando in Blake, making him one of four actors to appear in the first and last episode of the series. He can also be seen in the Douglas Camfield adaption of Beau Geste as a Legionnaire.

Stuart Myers made his debut in the Silurians where he was a Plague Victim, UNIT Soldier & Technician. He then played a Unit Soldier in Ambasasdors of Death, an Axon in Claws of Axos, a Draconian in Frontier in Space, the Photographer in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, a Titan Base Crewman in Invisible Enemy, one of the Pangol Army in The Leisure Hive and a Foster in Keeper of Traken. He returns as a Bucaneer Oficer in Enlightenment, a Citizen/Unbeliever in Planet of Fire, a Resistance Fighter/Alphan in Trial of a Timelord 5-8 Mindwarp and a Customer/Mercenary in Dragonfire. In Blake's 7 he was a Crewman in Space Fall and in Moonbase 3 a Technician in Outsiders and Castor and Pollux. In Monty Python's Flying Circus he's a Water Rat in Spam and a Tour de France Man in Bed / Man in Computer Hamlet. He plays a briefly seen human Mos Eisley denizen in Star Wars: there's a picture on his Aveleyman entry which also lists an unnamed role in The Sweeney episode Payoff.

Tony Snell was a UNIT Soldier in Seeds of Doom, a Guard in Invasion of Time, a Levithian Guard in Ribos Operation and a a Gracht Guard in Androids of Tar. He returns as a Passenger in Time Flight. In The Prisoner he was a Party Guest in A. B. and C. and a Villager in Dance of the Dead. In Blake's 7 he's an Albian Rebel / Federation Trooper in Countdown. In The Sweeney he's a Parent in Jigsaw and in the Diamonds Are Forever he's an Assistant.

Ralph Morse was in Blake's 7: Animals as an Animal, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as a Young Scientist in the second episode, the fourth season of The Sweeney as a suspect in the opening credits and The Professionals as a SAS Officer in Lawson's Last Stand. He's in three successive Roger Moore James Bond film as a Skier in The Spy Who Loved Me, an astronaut in Moonraker and a Skier in Lift in For Your Eyes Only. Elsewhere on the big screen he is an Arborian in Flash Gordon, a Stormtrooper / Imperial Comms Officer / Rebel Soldier in The Empire Strikes Back and a Stormtrooper in Return of the Jedi.

Doug Roe was a Guard & security Guard in Seeds of Death, a Military Policeman and Prisoner in The War Games, a UNIT soldier in The Ambassadrs of Death, a globby Axon & Unit Soldier in Claws of Axos, a Technician/Guard/Citizen in Pirate Planet and a Pangol Body Part and one of the Pangol Army in The Leisure Hi e Maurice Connor had been a Guide in The Leisure Hive and a Gundan in Warriors' Gate. <-- Foster in Keeper of Traken --> In Blake's 7 he was a Space Princess Guard in Gold. In Gerry Anderson's Doppelgänger / Journey to the Far Side of the Sun he's the Suit Technician.

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Onto the Citizens:

Mary Rennie was a Kitchen Hag in The Time Warrior, a Villager in Planet of the Spiders, a Peasant & Traveller in The Masque of Mandragora and a guide in The Leisure Hive. She returns as one of the crowd in the Marketplace in Snakedance and as a Citizen/Unbeliever in Planet of Fire

Her Husband John Tucker also plays a Citizen: he had been the Double for Balan's corpse in The Dominators and an Old Time Lord in Invasion of Time. He returns as a Logopolitan in Logopolis. In Doomwatch he's the Shopkeeper in Friday's Child.

Anne Higgins was an Other in The Sunmakers and returns as a Passenger in Time Flight. In Blake's 7 she was a Passenger in Gold.

Mary Eveleigh returns as Trooper Seaton in Earthshock. She's the Woman on Stairs at Milliway's in episode 5 of the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: you can see a picture of her in that role as Watching Blake's 7 who thinks she's in also in Blake's 7 Moloch as one of the women on Sardos.

Joy Burnett had been in The Faceless Ones as an Airplane Passenger and Spearhead from Space as a Waxwork Visitor/Auton Replica. She was in the 1965 The Wednesday Play (TV Series) of Up the Junction as a Lady in pub.

David Enyon had been a Scientist in The Time Warrior, a SRS Bouncer/Officer/Audience Member in Robot, and a an Executive Grade in The Sunmaker. He returna as a Time Lord in Trial of a Time Lord: Mysterious Planet & Mindwarp, and an Orange Time Lord in Trial of a Time Lord: Terror of the Vervoids & The Ultimate Foe. He played Gold Six pilot Hol Okand in Star Wars.

Colin Cook was a Citizen in Full Circle. He returns as a Castrovalvan Man in Castrovalva

Steve Whyment is on his Doctor Who debut: he returns as a Security Guard in Logopolis, a Kinda in Kinda, Trooper Brooks in Earthshock, all three directed by Peter Grimwade, and is in the Crowd in the Marketplace in Snakedance. In Blake's 7 he was in Stardrive as a Space Rat, Warlord as a Federation Trooper and Blake as a Plantation Bounty Hunter. who's back in Snakedance as Man in Market and appears in Blake's 7 as a Space Rat in Stardrive, a Federation Trooper in Warlord and a Plantation Bounty Hunter in Blake.

Margaret Leggett & Jimmy Goldston are both making their only Doctor Who appearances.

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