The Two Doctors ★★

The second Doctor, Jamie and Sontarans return – in a food-obsessed jaunt to Seville. Plus, a meeting with Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines...

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Season 22 – Story 140

“I think your Doctor’s worse than mine” – Jamie

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Storyline
The second Doctor and Jamie are sent by the Time Lords to Space Station Camera to prevent dangerous time experiments. Head of projects, Dastari, is a genetic engineer who’s been augmenting his Androgum servant, Chessene, into a higher life-form and “mega-genius”. Colluding with the Sontarans, they take the Doctor to 1980s Spain where they intend to extract a gene from him that makes time travel possible. Meanwhile, the sixth Doctor and Peri rescue Jamie from the space station and follow to Spain. Dastari’s Androgum chef, Shockeye, is determined to sample some prime human flesh. He sets his sights on the Doctors’ companions, but ends up befriending the second Doctor when the Time Lord becomes part-Androgum…

First transmissions
Part 1 – Saturday 16 February 1985
Part 2 – Saturday 23 February 1985
Part 3 – Saturday 2 March 1985

Production
Location filming: August 1984 in Spain at Rio Guadiamar; Dehera Boyar hacienda, near Gerena: cathedral and Santa Cruz district, Seville
Studio recording: August 1984 in TC1 and September 1984 in TC6

Cast
The Doctor – Colin Baker
The Doctor – Patrick Troughton
Peri Brown – Nicola Bryant
Jamie McCrimmon- Frazer Hines
Shockeye o’ the Quancing Grig – John Stratton
Chessene – Jacqueline Pearce
Joinson Dastari – Laurence Payne
Doña Arana – Aimee Delamain
Oscar Botcherby – James Saxon
Anita – Carmen Gomez
Group Marshal Stike – Clinton Greyn
Major Varl – Tim Raynham
Technician – Nicholas Fawcett

Crew
Writer – Robert Holmes
Designer – Tony Burrough
Incidental music – Peter Howell
Script editor – Eric Saward
Producer – John Nathan-Turner
Director – Peter Moffatt

RT Review by Patrick Mulkern
So Robert Holmes, one of the series’ classiest writers, returns to the crease, but even he seems etiolated by the demands of mid-80s Doctor Who. Given a menu of old characters, old monsters and New Orleans, he focused on the city’s culinary reputation for inspiration. A last-minute location switch to Seville demanded only a few tweaks, which is a blessing – as is perhaps the fact that the Sontarans haven’t suddenly developed an obsession with marmalade!

But food, hunger and, more broadly, predation are the themes Holmes toys with. The sixth Doctor and Peri start the adventure fishing for gumblejacks (“the finest fish in this galaxy… ambrosia steeped in nectar”) but end it vowing to become vegetarians. The second Doctor and Jamie turn down a meal on the space station (because they ate yesterday!) while their hosts Dastari and Chessene display a hunger only for scientific advancement and power.

Restaurateur Oscar Botcherby is first seen hunting for moths in Spain. He feels no compunction at gassing and mounting them and is later skewered himself (by Shockeye). His violent death scene may be misjudged, played for laughs and pathos, but, in the scheme of things, the lepidopterist gets his just deserts.

Then there’s cleaver-wielding Shockeye, so obsessed with food that even his species name Androgum is an anagram of “gourmand”. His space-station kitchen is festooned with carcasses. He and the second Doctor feast in Oscar’s restaurant (running up a bill of 81,600 pesetas), but he spends the whole story craving human meat. Having killed poor old Doña Arana, he complains she’s “nothing but bone and gristle”.

He tosses Peri over his shoulder like a snared rabbit. “Steady, my little beauty… Oh, what a fine, fleshy beast. Just in your prime and ripe for the knife!” He drools over Jamie, pawing his “saddle and haunches”. Later, he even tenderises the Highlander’s ribs. In a period when companions are presented as little more than succulent meat, or bleating lambs, none of this is surprising.

Most disgustingly he catches a rat, snaps its neck and chews a chunk out of it. Shockeye is such an unpleasant character that you can almost forgive the sixth Doctor snaring him in Oscar’s abandoned moth net, killing him with cyanide, and leaving him with the parting pun “Your just desserts”.

Holmes’s scripts deliver their big moments rather like courses in an understaffed restaurant – at long intervals. Part one repeatedly grinds to a halt with long, waffly scenes; flabby writing and nonexistent script-editing allied to flaccid direction.

Peter Moffatt proves yet again that while he’s actually deft at lining up film shots on location, he seems to have passed out in the studio. His greatest gaffe is the re-introduction of the Sontarans. Unseen since 1978, they need properly establishing for the audience. The build-up, as their spherical craft approach the space station, is tense, boosted by a rousing march from Peter Howell. A tantalising arm comes into shot, training a gun on the second Doctor…

But a long while later the full costume is revealed in an extreme long shot that’s more concerned with establishing the hacienda. Then Moffatt cuts to a closer group shot and just as the Sontaran is removing his helmet – the big dramatic moment for any Sontaran – Moffatt cuts away. What a botch up.

It reinforces the almost superfluous nature of the two Sontarans here and the lack of care in their presentation: they’re too tall, ridiculous in ill-fitting collars and their masks allow less expression than their 1970s and 21st-century cousins.

The main selling point, of course, is the return of the second Doctor and Jamie. They get the opening shot: in their Tardis (older control room set and sound effects) and, sweetly, it starts in black-and-white; otherwise the scene is blandly directed with no attempt to frame the returning stars properly.

The Doctor looks like he’s been sleeping in an ashtray, and the use of this incarnation as a Time Lord agent jars with continuity. Jamie has matured physically, but is still laddish and often redundant. But it’s just wonderful to have Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines back in the programme. So I shouldn’t grumble. And they fall back into their roles with ease, adding a lot of comedy business themselves, always to be treasured.

I’m warming to the sixth Doctor and Peri (the bickering duo even end this adventure on a smile), but am I alone in wishing that after the events in Spain the programme had pursued the second Doctor and Jamie’s travels instead?

Though I’m stomaching these mid-80s episodes better now than I did at the time, it would be a stretch to say I’ve found an appetite for the period. The Two Doctors wasn’t dire, but the actors and audience deserved better.

I don’t remember much of The Two Doctors in studio – only Troughton’s badly lined-up transformation from Androgum to Time Lord in the restaurant, Hines tied to a kitchen table and interminably dull tracts with Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant exploring the space station infrastructure. The highlight for me was meeting Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines between the production’s two recording sessions.

It was 3 September 1984 and my chum Richard Marson was interviewing them for Doctor Who Magazine and asked me to come along. Gary Downie (production manager on The Two Doctors) greeted us at the Acton “Hilton”, the BBC’s rehearsal block in west London, and sat us in a green room where we waited nervously.

Hines came first – affable, blokish and in a humorous mood, despite the fact he was then going through a divorce from Gemma Craven. Working with Colin Baker was fun: “He tells more jokes than Patrick.”

Troughton eventually came in, fresh from a canteen lunch, dismayed he wasn’t being interviewed with Frazer. He was enthused to be back on Doctor Who and had a wonderful time filming in Spain: “Seville is fantastic. It was very hot but we had a lovely swimming pool we fell into. We had a ball!” However, he was clearly uncomfortable being interviewed and startled to be facing two teenagers.

Listening back to the tape now (for the first time in 28 years and with huge pleasure), I think he sounds less grumpy and vague than he seemed at the time. He rambles and harrumphs quite genially in response to Richard’s probing questions about his 1960s episodes. “Youthful at the time? You’re the experts in time travel. The future is in the past!” he ejaculates, unhelpfully. And later, “The past is in the future!”

During our hour together he became gregarious – and beamed when I interjected with praise for his ITV series, The Feathered Serpent. If only we’d had time to cover other areas than Doctor Who.

I must emphasise it was a delight and privilege for us to meet an actor we so admired, and when it was all over, he relaxed like a child finished at the dentist. Troughton hugged us and posed for photographs that we will always treasure.

Two Doctors Hines Troughton 1984

Radio Times archive material

RT billings for the three episodes

two doctors billings
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[Available on BBC DVD]