The Chase **

The Daleks pursue the Tardis through eternity, taking in the Mary Celeste, Dracula, Mechonoids, the Beatles and Peter Purves twice...

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Doctor Who story guide
Patrick Mulkern
Patrick Mulkern
The Chase **

Season 2 – Story 16

"The assassination group will embark at once in our time machine. They will pursue the humans through all eternity. They must be destroyed. Exterminate them. Exterminate. Exterminate! Exterminate!!" - Dalek Supreme

Storyline
The Daleks have developed their own time machine and are determined to track down and exterminate the Doctor and his companions. After an encounter on the desert planet Aridius, a chase ensues that leads to the Empire State Building (in 1966), the Mary Celeste (1872) and a House of Horror exhibition in Ghana (1996). The final battle takes place on the jungle planet Mechanus, where the Doctor's party befriends marooned space pilot Steven Taylor, and the Daleks find their firepower matched by the droid-like Mechonoids. Ian and Barbara use the Dalek timeship to return home…

First transmissions
1. The Executioners - Saturday 22 May 1965
2. The Death of Time - Saturday 29 May 1965
3. Flight through Eternity - Saturday 5 June 1965
4. Journey into Terror - Saturday 12 June 1965
5. The Death of Doctor Who - Saturday 19 June 1965
6. The Planet of Decision - Saturday 26 June 1965

Production
Location filming: April 1965 at Camber Sands, East Sussex; May 1965, a garage at Ealing Studios
Filming: April/May 1965 at Ealing Studios
Studio recording: April-June 1965 in Riverside 1
Ian and Barbara photoshoot: May 1965, central London and White City

Cast
Doctor Who - William Hartnell
Barbara Wright - Jacqueline Hill
Ian Chesterton - William Russell
Vicki - Maureen O'Brien
Morton Dill/Steven Taylor - Peter Purves
Abraham Lincoln - Robert Marsden
Francis Bacon - Roger Hammond
William Shakespeare - Hugh Walters
Queen Elizabeth I - Vivienne Bennett
The Beatles
Malsan - Ian Thompson
Rynian - Hywel Bennett
Prondyn - Al Raymond
Mire beast/cabin steward - Jack Pitt
Guide - Arne Gordon
Albert C Richardson - Dennis Chinnery
Capt Benjamin Briggs - David Blake Kelly
Bosun - Patrick Carter
Willoughby - Douglas Ditta
Frankenstein's monster - John Maxim
Count Dracula - Malcolm Rogers
Grey lady - Roslyn de Winter
Robot Dr. Who - Edmund Warwick
Dalek operators - Robert Jewell, Kevin Manser, John Scott Martin, Gerald Taylor
Dalek voices - Peter Hawkins, David Graham
Mechonoid operator - Murphy Grumbar
Mechonoid voices - David Graham

Crew
Writer - Terry Nation
Incidental music - Dudley Simpson
Story editor - Dennis Spooner
Designers - Raymond P Cusick, John Wood
Producer - Verity Lambert
Director - Richard Martin

RT Review by Patrick Mulkern
With Britain's nippers in the grip of Dalekmania, with Dalek merchandise of every description in the shops and the first movie (Dr Who and the Daleks) due for release in August 1965, we should really forgive Terry Nation for having fun with his lucrative creations.

More than any story I can think of, The Chase has an air of summer holiday TV. It's unashamedly childish and comic-strip in tone and pace. Rather like a bag of pick 'n' mix sweets, one moment it produces a surprisingly mouth-watering morsel, the next something abominable. So let's rifle through that bag, shall we?

First up: the Daleks. They’re at their most impressive yet. They've mastered time travel, a fully fledged Dalek Supreme debuts and at last they sound and look (with a few design enhancements) as they would for generations. In a comical touch, Nation (or perhaps story editor and fellow wit Dennis Spooner) even makes one of them retarded.

An inordinate stretch of episode one shows the Tardis occupants at leisure, using a space/time visualiser to dial up moments from Earth's history. Here again Nation indulges himself (certainly more than the viewer) with an exchange between Elizabeth I and Shakespeare. It's redolent of the jokey asides common in late-70s Who under Douglas Adams. Worse, in a series that prides itself on bringing history alive, he delivers a deadly dull, minute-long extract from the Gettysburg Address. Next, in a moment of levity, Vicki selects the Beatles playing the then-current Ticket to Ride. To the 25th-century girl, this is "classical music" - but she don't care.

There's much to enjoy on Aridius: a delightfully funny scene with the Doctor and Barbara sunbathing that shows just how far their characters have come; as well as the extraordinary sight of a youthful Hywel Bennett camping about as a reptile man. He’s one of the Aridians who resemble refugees from Lost in Space. Their enemy the Mire Beasts, supposedly fearsome, exhibit all the menace of vexed, flatulent Spacehoppers.

The Chase necessitates our first glimpses of the police box in flight – a combo of photo cut-out, kaleidoscopic swirls and a groovy tune from Dudley Simpson. Pursued by the Dalek timeship (named "Dardis" in the scripts but mercifully never on screen), the Doctor's party pauses for a comedic encounter with Peter Purves atop the Empire State Building - no more convincingly realised than it would be in Daleks in Manhattan 40 years later.

Next up, a landing on the Mary Celeste. Again this sequence is played for laughs as, with an extraordinary lapse in taste, the boat's crew - including a mother and baby - jump overboard at the sight of the Daleks.

If Flight through Eternity with its dodgy American accents was your bubble gum selection from the pick 'n' mix, episodes four and five must be the pork scratchings. Journey into Terror, despite a haunted house setting with Dracula and Frankenstein's monster, disappoints like a damp firework. Indeed, the ineptitude of this production is something to behold. You may even spot a Dalek "concealed" on set minutes before their timeship has landed.

And on to fifth episode The Death of Doctor Who, the content of which matches its ludicrous title. Depending on your mood, the production team's failure to realise the "identical" Robot Doctor scenario will either be a hoot or a knuckle-gnawing embarrassment. With William Hartnell and his "double" Edmund Warwick alternating between both Doctor and Robot at a moment's notice, a nadir in the series is achieved. You have to wonder if Doctor Who’s creator Sydney Newman and producer Verity Lambert were on their summer hols too.

Last out of the bag, the sixth instalment should be your sherbet flying saucer. Remember those? Sleek sci-fi design with an explosive, eye-watering finish. In their elegant city on stilts, the appealing Mechonoids engage the Daleks in fiery battle (filmed expansively on a sound stage at Ealing). Stirring stuff for 60s kiddies. Plus Peter Purves returns in a completely new role as Steven Taylor, having impressed the cast three weeks earlier. (More of him next week.)

More importantly, we bid a bittersweet farewell to William Russell and Jacqueline Hill. They've been mainstays for the past 20 months but probably quit at the right time. Ian and Barbara are allowed a joyous return to London, albeit 1965 ("What's two years amongst friends?") – leaving the Doctor despondent. "I shall miss them. Silly old fusspots." How ever would he cope without them...?

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Radio Times archive material

Introductory feature looked briefly at "Dalekmania" and let out a bit of a spoiler, revealing Ian and Barbara's departure, six weeks early. 

RT billings
1. The Executioners
2. The Death of Time
3. Flight through Eternity
4. Journey into Terror
5. The Death of Doctor Who
6. The Planet of Decision

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[Available on BBC DVD]

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