Monday, 26 September 2011

308 The Curse of Peladon: Episode One

EPISODE: The Curse of Peladon: Episode One
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 308
STORY NUMBER: 061
TRANSMITTED: 29 January 1972
WRITER: Brian Hayles
DIRECTOR: Lennie Mayne
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Peladon Tales: Curse of Peladon & Monster of Peladon
Episode Format: 525 video RSC

On the planet Peladon Chancellor Torbis is murdered as the delegates from the Federation arrive to access the planet for membership. The Doctor & Jo are taking the Tardis for a test flight: it materialises half way up a mountain and falls off the ledge just as Jo & the Doctor leave. They find their way into a tunnel which leads into a secret passage into the Peladon Citadel where the Doctor is mistaken for the chairman delegate from Earth by the other members of the commission: Alpha Centauri, Arcturus and Izlyr, the Ice Warrior delegate from Mars and his bodyguard Ssorg. The Doctor & Jo, who is pretending to be a princess, are presented to King Peladon and his high priest Hepesh. Leaving the throne room the delegates have a statue pushed off a ledge towards them.

Yeah, not bad at all. A nice variety of aliens all with well defined personalities and a planet struggling between sticking to it's traditions and improving itself on the galactic stage..... but there's no escaping it we have to talk about Alpha Centauri's costume. The story has it that when the production team saw the costume they weren't 100% happy with it due to, and there's no other way of saying this, it looking like a green penis with six arms. So they added a cloak..... and now when you see the costume from behind it looks even worse. It's not helped by the obvious veins in the head or by the bobbing up & down motion as it moves either!

Inside the Alpha Centauri costume is regular stunt man Stuart Fell. This is his first credited appearance and he'll return as the same character in The Monster of Peladon, Planet of the Spiders as the tramp that Pertwee runs over with a hovercraft, The Ark in Space as a Wirrn, The Android Invasion as a Kraal, The Brain of Morbius as the Morbius Monster, The Masque of Mandragora as an entertainer, The Invasion of Time as a Sontaran & State of Decay as Roga. He's been in Blake's 7 and worked as a film stuntman on productions including Superman, Aliens and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Meanwhile the voice of Alpha Centauri is provided by Ysanne Churchman who also returns in the same role in The Monster of Peladon then voices some of the eponymous monsters in the Planet of the Spiders. She's most famous for voicing Grace Archer, the character killed off in the Radio Soap Opera the night ITV was launched. Also returning in Monster of Peladon is Nick Hobbs, playing the royal beast Aggedor in both stories, who also has a Wirrn in The Ark in Space to his name before returning in New Doctor Who as Mr Nainby in Amy's Choice. Alan Bennion as Izlyr and Sonny Caldinez as Ssorg have both been in previous Ice Warrior stories and return for Monster of Peladon, but here Ssorg's voice is provided, uncredited, by series producer and equity card holder Barry Letts. The only members of the cast playing non humans not to return for Monster of Peladon are Murphy Grumbar, an experienced Dalek Operator, who was inside Arcturus and Terry Bale, providing Arcturus' voice who'd previously been a Soldier in the Reign of Terror.

Playing King Peladon is David Troughton, the son of Patrick, who we've seen previously as a Guard in Enemy of the World & Private Moor in the War Games. He'll return years later as Professor Winfold Hobbes in Midnight. Among his many acting achievements is Bob Buzzard in A Very Peculiar Practice alongside fifth Doctor Peter Davison & Horns of the Nimon guest actor Graham Crowdon. Geoffrey Toone, here playing Hepesh, was Temmosus in the film version of Dr. Who and the Daleks while Henry Gilbert, briefly playing Torbis, is one of the few actors involved in this serial not to have another Doctor Who credit on their CV ! Gordon St. Clair, playing Grun, appears to not have appeared in anything else at all but it has recently emerged, thanks to Toby Hadoke's observations in Running Through Corridors, that he's actually Gordon Stothard who played a Robot Yeti in The Web of Fear and a Cyberman in The Wheel in Space, and was an extra in the Invasion & Mind of Evil.

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