Terror of the Autons

Written by Robert Holmes

Directed by Barry Letts

I feel like I’m starting to get a bit cliched every time I compare a member of the government to a Doctor Who villain, but when one of the colossal cunts declares that they want to completely cut benefits to people under 25, while simultaneously describing themselves as the party of hope, the only conclusion is that they are either remarkably stupid or downright evil. I’m not sure about some of his cabinet, but David Cameron is far from stupid. Meanwhile, some wee gobshite, who this time is clearly remarkably stupid, wants to force people to work for benefits, thus forcing the people who had been doing those jobs out of work, onto benefits and ultimately back into the jobs they had, but this time without a wage. Unless they’re under 25, and then I guess  that they’re just expected to starve.

All of which is so fucking disgusting that this upstart villain, some bloke in a beard called the Master, looks a bit petty. After all, all he really wants to do is use an army of aliens to take over the earth and kill everyone on it.

The origins of the master came, I believe, from a conversation between producer, and this time director, Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks, who thought that the Doctor was a bit like Sherlock Holmes*, and decided that he needed a Moriarty. I’ve no idea why: Moriarty was shit. But it seemed to work. The Master is pretty much the third part of the Doctor Who villain trinity, along with the Daleks and the Cybermen. The main things that make the Master stand out are that he is an individual, rather than a whole species, and that he has no real motive. Much like villains from comics of that era, the Master is pretty much motivated by being evil. Which would be dreadful if it were not for one factor – Roger Delgado. His slightly camp, very dapper and slick performance takes all the aspects of a victorian mad scientist, and brings them together to create something entirely new. I always got the impression that he rather liked the Doctor, but was a bit anti-social, and didn’t really know how to show it, so kept just trying to kill shit to get his attention.

The Master’s not the only important new character to show up in this story though: the production staff were clearly fed up with having a companion who was more than something for the Dads to oggle. While recent companions Zoe and Liz had both been as attractive as anyone could possibly ask for, they were also capable of at least keeping up with the Doctor intellectually. Unfortunately, the same can not be said of Jo Grant. I’d be shocked if she were capable of keeping up intellectually with half a ham sandwich. Still, she comes across as quite nice, and does get into trouble quite well.

With the arrival of the Master and Jo all of the elements were in place for the classic U.N.I.T era. For the next three years or so you could generally expect to find similar types of stories from Who – the doctor and the Brig bickering, Benton getting confused, Yates being bashed on the head, varios car chases around the Home Counties, Jo in a short skirt and the Master trying to kill everyone. It is fair to say, in other words, that Who was in a bit of a rut. That’s not to say that all the stories were the same though. Some had other alien threats. Like evil munching brain leeches. Fun? Find out just how much, next time in Mind of Evil.

*He’s not, the only things they have in common is that they’re constantly explaining things to less clever people. I’ve not idea what the fuck they were thinking.

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