Doctor Who: The Invasion (part one)

It’s back to animation for tonight’s episode, the first in a longer-than-usual serial called “The Invasion.” The animation for this was done by Cosgrove Hall, the company best known for Danger Mouse, in 2006. This was the first time that one of the missing episodes of Doctor Who was done as a cartoon, and there was a lot of hope, then, that Cosgrove Hall would do everything that was missing. They did a really fine job with this, even if there’s a lot of mid-2000s lens flare. Parts one and four of this story are missing; the others were, thankfully, held by the BBC Film Library.

Anyway, this story has a few interesting firsts, and the most important one is behind the scenes. The screenplay is by the program’s script editor of the time, Derrick Sherwin, from a rough six-part outline by Kit Pedler. Since BBC regulations stated that you couldn’t take staff pay for what should be freelance writing, the script editor for this story is Terrance Dicks, making this the writer’s first of dozens of contributions to this series. And he only has a couple of lines and we don’t know who he is yet, but the passenger in the car watching the Doctor and Jamie visit International Electromatics is a character called Benton, played by John Levene, and we’ll get to see a lot more from this character over the next seven seasons of the show.

Apart from extending the story into an eight-parter, Sherwin and Dicks had to make a last-minute change and remove a couple of characters. In the previous season, Sherwin and producer Peter Bryant had toyed with the idea of creating an occasional earthbound supporting cast for Doctor Who to visit, led by Professor Travers and his daughter Anne. These characters had been created by the writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, who had a falling out with the production team over edits to “The Dominators,” so the Travers family were shipped off to America and a Professor Watkins and his thoroughly mod photographer daughter Isobel moved into their flat. The idea of the supporting cast was not abandoned, and we’ll see what happened with that idea next time.

We’ll also get to see more of the villains and their peculiar “science machine,” as our son termed it. He was pretty restless and bouncy tonight. I’m afraid he was promised a new toy for a week’s good behavior at school and was really distracted. International Electromatics’ managing director is an eerie man played by Kevin Stoney, and his head of security a loose cannon played by Peter Halliday, making his first of six Who serials. Stoney’s character, called Tobias Vaughn, keeps his clearly alien “science machine” behind a large panel in the wall. “That was so cool,” he said.

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