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Doctor Who story number 9

This story is quite interesting, and is the first story where the TARDIS returns the travellers to contemporary Earth, though it doesn't count for much due to the plot complication. The idea came about in the original planning session for the series, where the format guide proposed having a story set in the school science lab, placing the main characters at risk from the students the teachers taught in their everyday life.

The story itself is inspired by Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, and presents a "how would you like it" angle to viewers keen to spray insecticide everywhere.. The motivation of Forrester is interesting, he says he just wants to help mankind, but that might be a lie to his researcher to make the man keep working on the lethal toxins.

The thing that stands out in this story are the special effects, with the set designer pulling off some of the best work in the first two seasons of the series - old black and white footage helps keep you convinced.

Writer
Louis Marks

Episodes
This story has 3 episodes with individual titles:

  • Planet of Giants
  • Dangerous journey
  • Crisis

Plot Overview
The doors of the TARDIS open in mid-flight. The Doctor rights the ship and it lands, but due to "differences in pressure" (and possibly the relative dimensional stabiliser having a fit) the ship and the people inside are shrunken to one inch in height. The travellers do not realise this at first, and explore a series of canyons (crazy paving), splitting up as per usual. The Doctor and Barbara find giant dead insects, and beleive they are on an alien world, while Ian and susan come across a matchbox and think they have landed in some kind of exhibition where everyday items have been scaled up. Then they see the gigantic body.

The TARDIS has landed in a cottage garden in England, in the 60's again. The dead insects are the result of the experiments being carried out in secret to produce a powerful insecticide called DN6. The industrialist running the programme, Forrester, kills the government inspetor and orders his pet scientist to keep working, despite the fact that the DN6 is so stable it will never break down, and eventually everything on the planet would die from use of it.

The Doctor and his companions try to get into the house to raise some kind of alarm about the murder, and on finding the laboratory notes (viewed by taking a survey of the huge papers and scaling it all down, as they are too large for them to read) he realises what has been killing the wildlife.

Unknown to anyone else, Barbara has been in contact with some DN6 and is in danger of dying unless she is returned to normal size. She insists she is fine for as long as possible, rather than tell them the truth. They manage to get the local constable to come to the cottage - lifting a phone off the hook and putting a cotton reel under the receiver, thus raising the attention of the village telephone operator. To get him to investigate they light a bunsen burner and push an aerosol can into the flame, exploding it. Forrester is trying to move the aerosol and is injured in the blast, and production of DN6 is prevented.

When they return to the TARDIS the Doctor takes a seed from the laboratory bench, so that they will be able to tell when they have returned to normal size. On dematerialisation the seed seems to shrink as they all return to normal proportions, and the lethal dose of DN6 Barbara received is now small enough to not matter.

Main Cast


Cast
  • Alan Tilvern - Forester
  • Frank Crawshaw - Farrow
  • Reginald Barratt - Smithers
  • Rosemary Johnson - Hilda
  • Fred Ferris - Bert
  • Notes

    • the story was originally going to have four episodes, but was reduced because the head of serials at the BBC wanted the story to only run for three episodes. Removed scenes included the sight of the cat dying from DN6 poisoning, which would have probably added to the impact of the story
    • The title for the fourth episode would have been The Urge to Live.

    'Do you know why I'm a success, Mr Farrow? Because I've never allowed the word "can't" to exist.' - Forrester

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