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The Enemy of the World ★★★★

Patrick Troughton is superb in dual roles as the Doctor and megalomaniac Salamander

Published: Monday, 29th June 2009 at 11:00 pm

Season 5 – Story 40


"You must find this man who impersonated me. The dangers are obvious. He could walk in anywhere at any time pretending to be me and ruin everything" - Salamander

The Tardis arrives on a beach in Australia in 2018, where the Doctor is immediately mistaken for his identical double, Salamander - a powerful figure known to many as the saviour of the world. However, a discredited former ally Giles Kent and his action-woman sidekick Astrid insist that Salamander is a ruthless megalomaniac. He is engineering natural disasters and political coups in a bid for world domination. Kent asks Jamie and Victoria to infiltrate Salamander's retinue in Hungary, and tries to persuade the Doctor to pose as his villainous doppelganger…

First transmissions
Episode 1 - Saturday 23 December 1967
Episode 2 - Saturday 30 December 1967
Episode 3 - Saturday 6 January 1968
Episode 4 - Saturday 13 January 1968
Episode 5 - Saturday 20 January 1968
Episode 6 - Saturday 27 January 1968

Location filming: November 1967 at Climping beach, West Sussex; Ealing, West London
Filming: November 1967 at Ealing Studios
Studio recording: December 1967/January 1968 at Lime Grove D

Doctor Who - Patrick Troughton
Salamander - Patrick Troughton
Jamie McCrimmon - Frazer Hines
Victoria Waterfield - Deborah Watling
Giles Kent - Bill Kerr
Astrid Ferrier - Mary Peach
Benik - Milton Johns
Alexandre Denes - George Pravda
Donald Bruce - Colin Douglas
Fariah - Carmen Munroe
Fedorin - David Nettheim
Anton - Henry Stamper
Rod - Rhys McConnochie
Curly - Simon Cain
Griffin the chef - Reg Lye
Swann - Christopher Burgess
Colin - Adam Verney
Mary - Margaret Hickey
Guard captains - Gordon Faith, Elliott Cairnes
Guard on Denes - Bill Lyons
Benik's sergeant - Andrew Staines

Writer - David Whitaker
Incidental music - library recordings of Bela Bartok pieces
Designer - Christopher Pemsel
Story editor - Peter Bryant
Producer - Innes Lloyd
Director - Barry Letts

RT Review by Patrick Mulkern
The Enemy of the World… There's something arresting and indefinably great about that title. If only the same could be said of the six episodes it encompasses. Coming midway through a season rich in classic monster tales, it does what it sets out to do: provide a breather and some contrast. But…

It purports to be a political thriller and is far from thrilling. It's written on a grand-ish scale to which the budget cannot stretch, so we're left with tracts of dull, repetitive dialogue. Action switches abruptly from Australia to Hungary then back again, but we never really get the sense it's set in either. Caravans may have been the in-thing in the late 60s, but a tedious amount of time is spent in Giles Kent's tiny trailer on the outskirts of a research centre. And are we seriously expected to believe Salamander's subterranean dwellers Down Under can set off volcanoes in Hungary? Please!

The Doctor's companions are shoehorned into episodes two and three with material quite unsuited to their characters. Perhaps we might have bought the contemporary, more grown-up Ben and Polly being taken seriously in Salamander's court, but not the Hansel and Gretel figures that are Jamie and Victoria. Indeed, so superfluous are they, they make no appearance at all in part four - the only companionless episode until 1977's The Deadly Assassin - and have barely a handful of scenes in parts five and six. (Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling were given a lighter workload over the Christmas/New Year period.)

On the positive side, David Whitaker gives us a police state, large videoscreens, talk of natural disasters and geographical Zones reminiscent of Orwell's 1984. He also provides striking characters for whom director Barry Letts has assembled a decent cast. Swooping in by helicopter, Mary Peach lands a meaty role as Astrid, and is clearly influenced by Emma Peel and the Bond girls. Better known for comedy, Bill Kerr plays the duplicitous Aussie Giles Kent. Carmen Munroe imbues Salamander's food-taster Fariah with passion, and Milton Johns is perfectly vile as sadistic Benik.

But this is Patrick Troughton's showcase. Much as I dislike the preposterous notion of doppelgangers (cf The Massacre), this is the USP of The Enemy of the World. It almost goes without saying that Troughton excels himself. He's fully in character as the Doctor - paddling with glee in a Victorian bathing suit; being enigmatic with Astrid about his "Doctorate"; taking the moral high ground and refusing to help Kent until episode five. He is also completely convincing as sinister Salamander, with darker complexion, hair in a neat parting, and unwavering Mexican accent. (The Doctor deduces Salamander is from the Yucatan.)

Even more impressive are the many scenes where Troughton shows the Doctor getting into character as Salamander, pretending to be him in front of various people, but still showing us, the viewers, it's really the Doctor underneath. In the finale, we even get the fourth combination, as Salamander hoodwinks Jamie and Victoria into thinking that he is the time traveller to gain access to the Tardis. Sadly, this dramatic (and only) head to head between Salamander and the Doctor was drastically curtailed after a filming cock-up.

What interests me most about The Enemy of the World is the sense of old-school Who making way for the new. In places, Whitaker's sedate, wordy script is given a thorough workout. Episode one is vastly rewritten with more than half opened out into action sequences, involving chases, a chopper and a hovercraft, filmed along the dunes near Littlehampton. The tyros responsible were Barry Letts and Derrick Sherwin, who in the next few years would completely change the landscape of Doctor Who. I'd love to see part one now (it's been junked) as the first showcase of their talents.

The coming and goings in the production office in late 1967 are too complex to detail here, but the most significant change was the departure of Innes Lloyd. In his two-year tenure he remoulded the series - kicking out history stories, introducing four vivid companions and classic foes (Cybermen, Yeti and Ice Warriors). In recasting the lead actor, he ensured the programme's longevity. For this bold move alone, he deserves his place high among the Doctor Who greats.

- - -

Writing in 2013, after the fabulous and unexpected return of this serial to the BBC, I have to say I am thrilled to be able to watch it now. I probably wouldn’t revise a word of what I wrote above in 2009. The story looks almost as entirely as I imagined, arguably better in places, especially the film sequences, and is as much a success for Letts and Sherwin as it is for Troughton and Whitaker. The performances are strong and the weaknesses in the plotting and setting remain. Above all, it presents something very different and very appealing in the rolling timeline of Doctor Who. Many thanks to everyone who played a part in bringing back into existence.


Radio Times archive material


Slightly out of context, in the middle of this monster-free story, RT gave Doctor Who its first full-colour cover, showing Patrick Troughton on the set of The Ice Warriors, to accompany a two-page article on monsters. There was a mini-feature introducing guest star Mary Peach and an article on the costumes of Peach and Bill Kerr, which for a long while was the only existing indication of the year the action was set in. Also below the six episode billings. And what would life be without a gratuitous photo of Frazer Hines?

[Available on DVD]

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