The Underwater Menace
When the TARDIS lands on a volcanic island, the time travellers are
kidnapped and taken through a passageway to the lost city of Atlantis.
While Ben and Jamie are sent to toil in the mines, Polly is fated to
undergo an operation to turn her into a water-breathing Fish Person.
Meanwhile, the Doctor meets the famous scientist Professor Zaroff, who
has convinced the Atlanteans that he can raise their city back above the
waves. But the Doctor realises that Zaroff is insane and, if he isn't
stopped, his plan to drain the ocean's waters into the planet's core
will doom the Earth.
Around the start of 1966, veteran writer Geoffrey Orme began working on
a Doctor Who storyline called “The Evil Eye”. This was
eventually rejected by story editor Gerry Davis on April 4th, but the
two men continued to discuss ideas and, on August 16th, Orme was
commissioned to write a new serial entitled “Under The Sea”.
This narrative was set in Atlantis, a lost city referenced in two
dialogues written by the philosopher Plato; although Atlantis was likely
allegorical in nature, it had nonetheless endured in popular folklore.
It was planned that “Under The Sea” would be the second
adventure to feature Patrick Troughton's new Doctor, immediately
following The Power Of The Daleks. The
director originally assigned to it was Hugh David. However, David
complained that the story would be impossible to make on a standard
Doctor Who budget. On October 12th, it was decided that David
would instead direct The Highlanders,
previously the third Troughton serial, which would now change places in
the production order with “Under The Sea”.
Soon thereafter, “Under The Sea” was dropped from the
schedules entirely, although Orme would continue to make revisions. Its
spot was taken by “The
Imps”, commissioned on October 17th from William Emms, who had
written the previous season's Galaxy 4. The
director assigned to “The
Imps” was Julia Smith, who had been responsible for The Smugglers at the end of the previous
recording block. Emms worked quickly on his scripts, but fell ill during
mid-November and was unable to complete necessary rewrites to the
satisfaction of the production team. With recording due to start in the
middle of December, it was decided to resurrect Orme's serial, which
would now be made before “The
Imps”. The Atlantis adventure was renamed “The Fish
People”, having also borne the title “Atlanta”.
Jamie generally shared dialogue originally written for Ben
A key change that now had to be made to Orme's scripts was the addition
of Jamie McCrimmon, a character introduced in The
Highlanders who was made a series regular in late November. With
little time to restructure the adventure to accommodate an extra
companion, Jamie generally shared dialogue originally written for Ben or
Polly. Some details of the storyline were altered or deleted: the cause
of Zaroff's insanity was intended to be the death of his wife and mother
in an automobile accident, while Ara's role was expanded by merging her
with another character called Ebon (and it was likewise thought that Ara
might replace the carpet seller, Nola, in Episode Three). Zaroff was at
one point assisted by a female scientist called Steen. In late November,
the serial's title was finalised as The Underwater Menace.
On December 9th, a new title sequence was recorded for Doctor Who
by graphics designer Bernard Lodge, the first since the programme's
debut three years earlier. Although consideration was given to
introducing it with The Underwater Menace, this was eventually
delayed for two serials until The Macra
Terror. It was around this time that producer Innes Lloyd
decided to write Ben and Polly out of Doctor Who. He and Davis
felt that Polly was not working well, and they did not believe that Ben
would succeed without her. Additionally, they found that Jamie was
proving to be the more interesting of the three companions.
The Underwater Menace was accorded two days of location filming,
on December 12th and 13th. The venue was Winspit Quarry, near Worth
Matravers in Dorset, which posed as the volcanic island. Now that he
would be continuing on Doctor Who, Frazer Hines decided to begin
modulating the Highland lilt he had employed in his debut story,
achieving a more conventional Scots accent. From December 14th to 16th,
filming took place at the BBC Television Film Studios in Ealing, London.
This included model shots, as well as material involving the Fish
People; although the facility's water tank was used (and was also
required for Zaroff's death scene), many of the “swimming”
shots were actually performed in mid-air using Kirby wires.
The last studio recording for The
Highlanders was followed by a week off over Christmas, pushing
back the start of work on The Underwater Menace to January 7th,
1967. This meant that Doctor Who was now being taped just one
week ahead of transmission, a precarious situation which afforded the
production team little room for error. As usual, The Underwater
Menace was recorded on consecutive Saturdays at Riverside Studio 1
in Hammersmith, London. Episode Four, recorded on January 28th, was the
final episode to feature the Doctor's Paris beau hat. The more overtly
clownish elements of Troughton's costume had been gradually reined in
since his debut in The Power Of The Daleks.
Likewise, The Underwater Menace was the last story to emphasise
the new Doctor's fondness for disguise.
The broadcast of Episode One on January 14th sparked an angry letter the
following Monday from Mrs N Safford, of the National Society for the
Welfare of Children in Hospitals. Safford was concerned that the sight of
Polly undergoing an operation to turn her into a Fish Person would scare
children with upcoming surgeries, who might become convinced that they
would wake up to find themselves transformed into monsters. Lloyd
refuted this argument, noting that the fantastical nature of The
Underwater Menace made it clear to viewers that the story's events
were not realistic.
- Doctor Who Magazine #209, 16th February 1994, “Archive:
The Underwater Menace” by Andrew Pixley, Marvel Comics UK Ltd.
- Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #4, 4th June 2003,
“Good Vibrations” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing
- Doctor Who: The Complete History #9, 2016, “Story 32:
The Underwater Menace”, edited by John Ainsworth, Hachette
- Doctor Who: The Handbook: The Second Doctor by David J Howe,
Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1997), Virgin Publishing.
- Doctor Who: The Sixties by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and
Stephen James Walker (1992), Virgin Publishing.
||14th Jan 1967
||21st Jan 1967
||28th Jan 1967
||4th Feb 1967
|Patrick Troughton (bio)|
|Anneke Wills (bio)|
|Michael Craze (bio)|
|Frazer Hines (bio)|
|Geoffrey Orme (bio)|
|Julia Smith (bio)|
|Title music by|
|Ron Grainer and|
|the BBC Radiophonic Workshop|
|Incidental Music by|
|Fights arranged by|
|Gerry Davis (bio)|
|Innes Lloyd (bio)|
|Episodes 1, 4|
|Episode 1 (0'14" in 1 clip)|
|Episode 4 (0'03" in 1 clip)|
|Episodes 1, 4|
|Under The Sea|
|The Fish People|