Tuesday, 3 January 2023

586 Arc of Infinity: Part One

EPISODE: Arc of Infinity: Part One
TRANSMITTED: Monday 03 January 1983
WRITER: Johnny Byrne
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7.2 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Time-Flight/ Arc of Infinity

"I am not of your dimension, Time Lord. I have the means to enter, but without the physical imprint of bonding, I cannot remain among you."

A Time Lord communicates with a robed being confirming that their plan can take place and the Doctor has been chosen. However while information is transmitted to the being from Gallifrey it is detected and the Tim Lord is forced to go to the computer room and murder the technician monitoring the situation. In Amsterdam two youths Englishman Robin Stuart, who has lost his passport, and Australian Colin Frazer, who expects to meet his cousin tomorrow, spend the night in a pumping station adjoining a crypt. As the Doctor works on faults in the Tardis it is invaded by the being which seemingly merges with the Doctor before he collapses. Colin is woken in the night by a wheezing & groaning sound and a bright light. Investigating he is confronted by an alien creature which fires a gun at him causing him to disappear. Robin flees the premises, returning the next morning to retrieve his gear where he is confronted by a zombie like Colin performing tasks for the alien. The Doctor determines the region of space they are in, the Arc of Infinity, contains quad radiation which is able to bridge our universe and that of anti matter where he believes the creature was from. He is forcibly summoned back to Gallifrey and confined to the security zone but with aid from the dead technician's colleague, Damon, he & Nyssa escape only for the Doctor to be shot down by the head of the Chancellery Guard, Commander Maxill.

Am I allowed to say who the villain is? No? I can't remember if we knew at the time or not but watching it now and seeing a figure projected in negative automatically makes me think anti-matter, which is confirmed later in the episode. Now if you're a long term Doctor Who fan, or at least one who can remember back to the the Five Faces repeats less than 15 months earlier, anti matter and Time Lords mean just one thing......

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The identity of the traitor Time Lord is a little harder to work out but we're given a clue:

DAMON: The analysis checks out.
TALOR: You're sure?
DAMON: Yes, it's the Doctor's biodata extract. What did the Castellan have to say?
TALOR: In spite of the urgency of my request, he chooses not to be available until tomorrow.
DAMON: You realise only members of the High Council could have transmitted that data?
TALOR: I know. We just have to wait.

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We get to meet a new High Council of the Time Lords this episode, headed by The Doctor's former teacher Borusa. Just Thalia and Cardinal Zorac are named in this episode but I can remember being completely sure I knew who it was from the first few episodes!

We're on location in Amsterdam this episode. What? You couldn't tell? All the shots of canals & bridges with "Tulips from Amsterdam" playing in the background on an organ wasn't enough of a clue?

This is Doctor Who's second set of overseas filming: they had filmed in Paris for the 1979 story City of Death, in a trip organised by now producer John Nathan-Turner. With an eye on generating publicity for the show and knowing that going abroad would generate photo opportunities and a few column inches, off to Amsterdam the crew went for a filming session lasting from 3rd to 5th May 1982, exactly three years after their Paris visit.

The first location filming we see takes place at the Muntplein which Wikipedia tells me means "Mint Square", named after the tower we see, the Munttoren, or "Mint Tower", once part of one of the three main medieval city gates which in the 17th century temporarily served as a mint, giving the tower & square it's name.

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The bridge where we first see Robin is part of the Muntplein and crosses the Singel Canal. The telephone box Colin is using at the same time is located as the base of the Munttoren.

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The boys are then seen crossing Middenweg to Frankendael Park within which lies Frankendael House, the location of the Fountain and in whose cellars they intend to spend the night.

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The Police Station which Robin visits to report his friend missing is on Lijnbaansgracht, which is a back filled canal.

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Bob's Youth Hostel, where they intend to stay, is on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal which is another back filled canal and means 'New Side Front Bastion Wall'

` The BBC was used to filming in Holland as their Soap Opera Triangle regularly used the country as a location. Several actors in Doctor Who have the stain of working on this show on their CV including TWO in this very story!

So a quick raid on Triangle's IMDB entry gives us the following list:

Michael Craig - Captain John Anderson (78 episodes, 1981-1983) is Commodore Travers in Trial of a Time Lord 9-12
Paul Jerrico - Charles Woodhouse (78 episodes, 1981-1983) is the Castellan in Arc of Infinity & The Five Doctors.
George Baker - David West (52 episodes, 1982-1983) was Decider Login in Full Circle
Kate O'Mara - Katherine Laker (27 episodes, 1981-1982) will be the Rani in Mark of the Rani & Time of the Rani
Scott Fredericks - Tom Kelly (26 episodes, 1983) was Boaz in Day of the Daleks & Stael in image of the Fendahl
Nigel Stock - Wally James (15 episodes, 1981) was Professor Hayter in Time Flight
Glen Murphy - Engineer (4 episodes, 1981) will be Dibber in Trial of a Timelord 1-4
I also spot Sandra Dickinson as Penny Warrender (52 episodes, 1982-1983): she was Peter Davison's wife when he was Doctor Who. We also have Peter Arne (Kevin Warrender in 12 episodes during 1982). In 1983 he made newspaper headlines by being murdered while preparing for a role in the Doctor Who story Frontios.

Behind the camera we find Doctor Who directors Darrol Blake, Terence Dudley & Andrew Morgan working on the show.

Our protagonists in Amsterdam are Robin Stuart, played by Andrew Boxer, and Colin Frazer, played by Alastair Cumming. I've not seen either actor in anything else but Cumming has gone on to quite a lengthy career.

c1a Robin c1b Colin

Hmmm, Colin Frazer is Australian and has a cousin who's arriving tomorrow. I wonder who that could be?

The more fortunate of the two Gallifreyan technicians is Damon played by Neil Daglish He appeared in Educating Marmalade as the Gondolier in Marmalade in Venice.

c1c Damon III c1d Talor

Is "impulse laser?" the worst final line anyone has ever had? Deary me. The ill fated Talor is played by John D. Collins who would shortly find fame in 'Allo 'Allo as Flt. Lt. Fairfax. But before that he had quite a track record in sit-coms playing a Naval Officer in the 1971 Dad's Army film, Dr. Boyde in two episodes of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, Squadron-Leader Baker, the medical officer in Get Some In!, an Army Officer in the Citizen Smith episode The Glorious Day, a BBC Interviewer in Yes Minister: Jobs for the Boys, 4 appearances in It Ain't Half Hot Mum, a Bailiff in Hi-de-Hi!: Trouble and Strife, 3 roles in Are You Being Served? and 2 in Only Fools and Horses Post Allo Allo there's an appearance in The Brittas Empire as Mr Kitson in An Inspector Calls, a regular role as Jerry in You Rang, M'Lord%3F and two appearances as a passenger in Oh, Doctor Beeching!. He also has 8 episode of Triangle on his CV where he played Geoff Brooks.

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