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Lady Peinforte Serial 7K:
Silver Nemesis

Working Titles: The Harbinger, Nemesis.

Starring: Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace).

In the year 1638, the Doctor sent a statue called Nemesis, made out of deadly living validium which was once Gallifrey's last line of defense, into orbit around the Earth. In 1988, the Nemesis statue's orbit decays and it returns to Earth, where it is pursued by three factions -- the Cybermen; a Neo-Nazi named De Flores; and the mad, time-travelling Lady Peinforte, who nearly gained possession of the statue in 1738 and who knows the darkest secrets of the Doctor's past.

In March 1987, Doctor Who script editor met with a fledgling writer named Kevin Clarke, who had inquired about the possibility of contributing to the programme. After meeting with Cartmel again in September, Clarke was offered the chance to write a three-part serial which would serve to celebrate Doctor Who's imminent twenty-fifth anniversary. Like Cartmel, Clarke was interested in reintroducing the Doctor as a more enigmatic figure, and so they decided to make the question of the Doctor's identity a key point of Clarke's serial. Clarke also devised the concept of the contents of a meteor affecting Earth's history; with Cartmel, this was fleshed out into a weapon-bearing silver figure, named Nemesis after the Greek god of retribution. It was producer John Nathan-Turner who added the final element, observing that the obvious enemy to include in a silver anniversary adventure were the silver giants themselves, the Cybermen.

Episode one of The Harbinger was commissioned in October. In scripting, Clarke drew heavily from the precepts of Jacobean theatre, particularly in crafting the character of Lady Peinforte (whose name came from the 17th century torture peine forte et dure -- literally "long and hard trauma" -- in which increasingly heavy weights are placed on the body). De Flores' name was a reference to the 1622 play The Changeling by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley. As with Season Twenty-Four, the final six episodes of Season Twenty-Five in production would be divided into two three-part stories, one made entirely on location and the other totally in studio. The Harbinger would be the year's location-only serial, and so Clarke rewrote his scripts so that the TARDIS console room would not be needed, introducing Ace's souped-up ghetto blaster to replace the scanner screen. The director assigned to the six episodes was Chris Clough, who had handled the tandem of Delta And The Bannermen and Dragonfire the season before.

By mid-January 1988, Serial 7K had been retitled Nemesis; in mid-June, this was expanded to Silver Nemesis. Shortly before this, at the end of May, the previous serial into production, The Greatest Show In The Galaxy, experienced a major crisis when an asbestos scare at BBC Television Centre forced the cancellation of its studio sessions. Nathan-Turner had managed to rescue the production at the last minute by arranging to have it completed in a tent erected on a BBC parking lot, but the resulting delays meant that Silver Nemesis lost the majority of its rehearsal period. Because of this, Clough was left with only a vague idea of the timing of Clarke's scripts. Meanwhile, the character of American tourist Milton P Remington had been replaced by "Miss Hackensack" when Nathan-Turner learned that Hollywood and Broadway musical star Dolores Grey was available; the name was later switched back to "Mrs Remington". Another late change was the modification of the element "makarianite" to "validium".

Recording began on June 22nd at the Greenwich Gas Works in London. Joining the cast at this point for his fourth Doctor Who engagement was David Banks as the Cyber Leader. He was reunited with Mark Hardy, playing the Cyber Lieutenant; Hardy had acted alongside Banks in Earthshock and The Five Doctors, but had been unavailable for Attack Of The Cybermen. Cast and crew were to remain at the Gas Works for a total of three days, but as work progressed, delays began to build up. Things hit the fan on the 24th as scenes were rewritten and went unrehearsed throughout the day in order to complete all the required material. To make matters worse, actors Dave and John Ould -- playing the Cybermen's servants, nicknamed the "Walkmen" -- were not available on this day, despite the fact that they were due to appear in some of the scenes. Clough was forced to proceed without them, meaning that the Walkmen's inclusion in the finished serial is haphazard at best.

The production then moved to Arundel Castle in West Sussex, standing in for Windsor Castle. Clough had originally hoped to film at Windsor Castle itself, but was told by Buckingham Palace that only documentary crews were permitted to shoot there. Clough had also hoped to engage Prince Edward for a cameo appearance, but the thespian royal had just begun work with Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Company. On June 27th, a number of familiar faces returned to Doctor Who to play some of the tourists at Windsor Castle. The lone actor amongst them was Nicholas Courtney, who had played Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart since the Sixties; this was his first Doctor Who appearance since The Five Doctors a half-decade earlier. Others in the crowd included directors Fiona Cumming (with her husband, production assistant Ian Fraser), Peter Moffatt and Andrew Morgan, writer Graeme Curry, and production unit manager Kathleen Bidmead. Also appearing was Clarke himself; in other scenes, he played a pedestrian while Lady Peinforte and Richard wander the streets of Windsor, and a motorist who passes by the hitchhiking Peinforte. Taping wrapped up on July 5th with one day at Black Jack's Mill Restaurant in Harefield, at which time the cast were joined by well-known saxophonist Courtney Pine.

Partly because of the lack of rehearsals, all three episodes of Silver Nemesis did indeed overrun badly, requiring a number of trims. Included amongst these were the Doctor hypnotising the Windsor Castle guards, the Doctor explaining about getting the bow to the Nemesis statue, Karl rescuing De Flores from a Cyberman, and -- perhaps most famously -- a scene in Windsor Castle in which Ace notices a 19th century portrait of herself which (from her perspective) she has not yet posed for. Episode one of Silver Nemesis debuted on the very day of the silver anniversary, November 23rd. On the 25th, Television New Zealand screened the entire serial, making this just the second occasion on which Doctor Who episodes had their first broadcast outside of the UK. The first such instance, ironically, was the November 23rd, 1983 broadcast in parts of North America of the twentieth-anniversary story, The Five Doctors two days before its British transmission.

Original Transmission Details
Episode Date Time Duration Viewers Audience App.
1 23rd November 1988 7.35pm 24'31" 6.1m (76th) 71%
2 30th November 1988 7.36pm 24'12" 5.2m (94th) 70%
3 7th December 1988 7.35pm 24'36" 5.2m (98th) 70%

Principal Crew
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Script Editor Andrew Cartmel
Writer Kevin Clarke
Director Chris Clough
Designer John Asbridge
Costume Richard Croft
Incidental Music Keff McCulloch

Principal Guest Cast: David Banks (Cyber Leader), Anton Diffring (De Flores), Leslie French (Mathematician), Dolores Gray (Mrs Remington), Mark Hardy (Cyber Lieutenant), Gerard Murphy (Richard), Fiona Walker (Lady Peinforte), Metin Yenal (Karl).

Novelisation: Silver Nemesis by Kevin Clarke (book 143), November 1989; covers by Alister Pearson (1989, 1993).

Video Release: Silver Nemesis, episodic format, April 1993; PAL (BBC Video cat.# 4888) and NTSC (Warners cat.# E1269) formats available; photomontage cover. Numerous deleted scenes are included, along with a documentary, The Making Of Doctor Who produced during the production of the serial for PBS stations in North America. The documentary is edited slightly due to rights problems involving clips from stories written by former script editor Eric Saward.

Rankings: 121st (59.54%, Doctor Who Dynamic Rankings website, 22nd June 1999); 115th (61.37%, DWM 1997 Annual Survey).


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