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The Borad Serial 6Y:
Timelash

Starring: Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown).

Plot
Accompanied by Peri and a young HG Wells, the Doctor returns to the planet Karfelon, which is now secretly being ruled by the Borad, a scientist horribly mutated into a cross between a human being and a reptilian Morlox. The Borad intends to provoke a war with Karfelon's neighbours, the Bandrils. In the wake of the conflict, he will start a new race on Karfelon -- a race of mutants like himself, of which Peri will be but the first.

Production
Glen McCoy had written several short stories and episodes of the TV series Angels when he submitted a storyline featuring the Daleks to the Doctor Who production office in early 1983. Script editor Eric Saward rejected McCoy's idea, but told him that he might reconsider his decision if it were rewritten without the Daleks. McCoy complied, and the first episode of Timelash was commissioned on June 24th. One of the gimmicks of the serial was that it would feature a young HG Wells (referred to until the very end of the story simply as "Herbert" to preserve the surprise). McCoy included a number of references to Wells literature -- most obviously The Time Machine ("Vena" is a corruption of the Eloi name Weena, the monstrous Morlocks became the Morlox, and of course the TARDIS itself owes a great debt to the Wells novel) but also The Island Of Dr Moreau (the hybrid nature of the Borad) and The Invisible Man (the Doctor becoming essentially invisible using the Kontron crystals).

There was a lengthy delay until part two was commissioned on November 23rd; this is apparently because Saward had developed concerns over the quality of the scripts and McCoy's limited experience in television. Nonetheless, it seems producer John Nathan-Turner was reluctant to waste the fees already paid to the writer, and so Timelash proceeded forward. Saward made a variety of modifications at this point; for example, Maylin Tekker undergoes no change of heart in McCoy's original script and is instead murdered by the Borad in the process of shooting the Doctor. Bizarrely, McCoy also had the Borad reject his earlier inclination of mating with Peri toward the end of the serial (because he can now make as many clones of himself as he desires), a reference Saward deleted entirely.

The director assigned to Serial 6Y was Pennant Roberts, who had last worked on Warriors Of The Deep at the start of the previous year. Nathan-Turner hoped that pairing the veteran director with the novice writer would help make up for any of the shortcomings of McCoy's script, but Roberts was dismayed by what he perceived as a poor-quality offering. He insisted that Saward perform further rewrites on Timelash which Saward -- then working on completing the next serial into production, Revelation Of The Daleks -- agreed to undertake. Of particular concern to Roberts was the antagonist nature of the Doctor and Peri's relationship, and the generally mean-spirited attitude of the Doctor; Saward softened much of their dialogue as a result. The original scripts had been set over the course of several days, and Saward pruned this down to a matter of hours. Both Saward and Roberts were concerned that episode one would overrun while episode two would be too short, so Saward attempted to rebalance both scripts to account for this. Saward ensured that only one android would ever be present in a given scene, so that only one actor would have to be hired for the role. And bizarrely, Saward took out the scripted explanation for the destruction of the Bandril (originally "Gurdel") missile -- that the bendalypse was neutralised via contact with the TARDIS's time field -- to replace it only with the Doctor's vague assurance that he will explain it to Peri later (and off-screen).

Another hook for McCoy's storyline was that the Doctor had visited Karfel (the script also refers to the planet as "Karfelon", and to its inhabitants as both "Karfelons" and "Karfelites") during his third incarnation. In the original scripts, Katz's amulet -- given to her grandfather by the Third Doctor -- was to contain a reference to Gallifrey, which Peri identified as the Doctor's home planet in order to gain Sezon's trust. Saward replaced this with a picture of Jo Grant (actually a publicity still taken during the making of Day Of The Daleks). Tekker at one point notes that the Sixth Doctor is travelling with "only one" companion, suggesting that somebody else (presumably one of the UNIT team) accompanied the Third Doctor and Jo.

Saward's rewrites complete, production on the studio-bound story began with the first three-day block on Tuesday, December 4th, 1984. Recording concluded with a second three-day session from Wednesday, December 19th. Amongst the cast was Paul Darrow, who had risen to fame as Avon on Blake's 7; his role as Tekker was Darrow's second on Doctor Who, having played Hawkins in The Silurians fifteen years earlier. A late change was the decision to have the Bandril ambassador be represented by a hand puppet, voiced by Martin Gower who also played Councillor Tyheer. This was essentially a cost-saving move, reducing the number of actors needed by one. One of the more unusual set requirements was the portrait of the Third Doctor unveiled in part two. This was painted by an American fan artist named Gail Bennett, based on an image of Jon Pertwee from Invasion Of The Dinosaurs. Even before taping ended, it became apparent to Roberts that Saward's efforts to correct the lengths of the two installments had been unsuccessful: part one was six minutes too long, while part two underran by four minutes. Roberts suggested simply shifting the cliffhanger back to the Guardoliers' attack on the rebels, inserting reaction shots to imply that Peri had been killed instead of Katz. However, Nathan-Turner rejected this notion. Instead, it was decided to move some of the material involving Peri being taken to the Morlox cave ahead to episode two. Minor scene cuts would then shorten the first installment to its proper length. To prop up part two, Nathan-Turner authorised a remount in order to record extensions to the two TARDIS scenes in that episode, which were written by Saward. David Chandler, who had played Herbert, was rehired and the material was taped on January 30th, 1985, at the start of the second studio block for Revelation Of The Daleks.

Timelash was McCoy's only Doctor Who serial, and also marked Roberts' final contribution to the programme. Roberts has continued to work in television, directing episodes of a variety of series such as Juliet Bravo, Tenko and Howard's Way.

Details
Original Transmission Details
Episode Date Time Duration Viewers Audience App.
1 9th March 1985 5.23pm 45'00" 6.7m (69th) 66%
2 16th March 1985 5.21pm 44'36" 7.4m (79th) 64%

Principal Crew
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Script Editor Eric Saward
Writer Glen McCoy
Director Pennant Roberts
Designer Bob Cove
Costume Alun Hughes
Incidental Music Liz Parker

Principal Guest Cast: Dicken Ashworth (Sezon), Robert Ashby (Borad), David Chandler (Herbert), Jeananne Crowley (Vena), Paul Darrow (Maylin Tekker), Eric Deacon (Mykros), Martin Gower (Tyheer, Bandril Ambassador), Neil Hallett (Maylin Renis), Dean Hollingsworth (Android), Tracy Louise Ward (Katz).

Novelisation: Timelash by Glen McCoy (book 105), December 1985; cover by David McAllister.

Video Release: None.

Rankings: 159th (45.38%, Doctor Who Dynamic Rankings website, 22nd June 1999); 157th (45.26%, DWM 1997 Annual Survey).

Sources


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