Sunday, 27 February 2011

097 The Daleks' Master Plan Part 7: The Feast of Steven

EPISODE: The Daleks' Master Plan Part 7: The Feast of Steven
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 097
STORY NUMBER: 021
TRANSMITTED: 25 December 1965
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield
SCRIPT EDITOR: Donald Tosh
PRODUCER: John Wiles
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: (1965-1966) No. 2

The Tardis has materialised in the north of England. The Doctor goes outside to fix the scanner but is arrested where he meets a man complaining about the theft of his greenhouse who the Doctor thinks he recognises from a market in Jaffa (a neat in-joke:Reg Pritchard, playing this man, was the merchant Ben Daheer in the Crusade) before being questioned about his identity:

"I suppose you might say I'm a citizen of the Universe, and a gentleman to boot"

Steven steels a policeman's uniform from a car and infiltrates the police station to gain the Doctor's release while Sara fixes the scanner. The Tardis then lands on a 1920s silent movie lot where a film is being made at saw mill. Chaos ensues before the Tardis crew are able to sneak away and dematerialise at which point the Tardis crew celebrate Christmas with a drink. At this point the Doctor turns to camera and says

"Oh and incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home."

Hah ! You thought David Tennant's debut, the Christmas Invasion, was the first Doctor Who Christmas Special! Think again and marvel at the Doctor Who panto 1965. You can argue that Horns of the Nimon is a bit of a pantomime too. We get a Dixon of Dock Green tribute, originally intended as a crossover until Dixon's production staff withdrew permission, we get playful hijinks on the movie set and we get Hartnell breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience. Even the title is a bit of a joke The Feast of Stephen was a religious festival celebrated on what is now Boxing Day while the Doctor has a companion called Steven Taylor. The episode is a bit of fun, and doesn't pretend to be anything else so I'll sit back and enjoy it as such :-) The CD version features some lovely tongue in cheek narration from Peter Purves during this episode.

Of all the episodes missing from the BBC archive this episode is the most unlikely to be found. It was never sold abroad when Dalek Masterplan was offered for sale and BBC records indicate that a telerecording was never made. It seems the BBC regarded it very much as a bit of disposable Christmas fun. So Feast of Steven is as close as we can get to "Never coming back"

Making her Doctor Who debut in this episode is Sheila Dunn, appearing as starlet Blossom Lefavre in the silent movie studio segment. At around this time she becomes Mrs Douglas Camfield and crops up in several of her husband's productions.

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