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Delta and the Bannermen

Production Code: 7F

First Transmitted

1 - 02/11/1987 19:35

2 - 09/11/1987 19:35

3 - 16/11/1987 19:35

Plot

A Chimeron queen called Delta, the last surviving member of her race, is being pursued by the evil Gavrok and his Bannermen, intent on a mission of genocide. Delta finds herself on board a space bus of tourists en route to Earth when it is knocked off course by an American satellite and ends up at a Welsh holiday camp in 1959.

The Doctor and Mel, having won a holiday with the tourists, help Delta to evade the rampaging Bannermen long enough to allow her child to hatch from its egg and grow to maturity. She, her daughter and a young man named Billy - who sacrifices his humanity to be with her - then escape to start a new life and ensure the continuation of the Chimeron race.

Episode Endings

The Doctor and a young woman named Ray are held at gun point by an alien bounty hunter, Keillor, who has given away Delta's location to the Bannermen in return for a promised reward. The Doctor tells Keillor that he should let Ray go as she is of no use to him. He replies: 'I don't just kill for money. It's also something I enjoy.'

The Doctor confronts Gavrok and warns him that he will be brought to justice for his crimes. He demands the release of Mel and the holiday camp manager Burton, who have been held prisoner by the Bannermen, and starts to leave with them. The Bannermen prime their weapons for firing, and the Doctor worriedly speculates that he may have gone a little too far.

The American secret service agents Hawk and Weismuller are astonished as the TARDIS dematerialises. The mysterious beekeeper Goronwy glances up at the sky and gives a knowing smile and wink.

Roots

Hi De Hi!

Echo and the Bunnymen.

Akira Kurosawa's films (Bannermen).

50s nostalgia films (American Graffiti, Peggy Sue Got Married, Back to the Future).

Steve Parkhouse's Doctor Who strips.

Herod Murray reads The Eagle.

Dialogue Triumphs

The Doctor : "Many a slap 'twixt a cup and a lap."

The Doctor : "Love has never been known for its rationality."

Burton : "You are not the Happy Hearts Holiday Club from Bolton, but instead are spacemen in fear of an attack from some other spacemen?"

Continuity

Goronwy is, the tone of this script suggests, just a wonderful and charming old man, open to the wonders of the universe. [However, he and the Doctor have enough instant rapport for the Doctor to hand him an alien baby without a second thought, as if the two of them are in the same business. Goronwy gives the Doctor a very secretive wink: perhaps he is a Time Lord.]

The Doctor's question mark umbrella makes its first appearance. There exists an authority who, if hearing about it, would punish the Bannermen for their genocide of the Chimerons [possibly the Time Lords].

The Navarinos are squat, wrinkly purple creatures who can shapechange and time travel. They have a high metabolic rate, and seem to have a lot in common with Time Lords. [Perhaps the Navarinos are one of the few races permitted to travel in time, since they're so peaceful. The toll money therefore goes to Gallifrey.] Chimeron males and infants are green, their females humanoid. They've been nearly wiped out by the Bannermen in some undisclosed conflict.

Location

The Shangri La holiday camp, near Llandrudnod Wells, 1959.

A toll point in the future [obviously near Navaro, and probably put on one of the Navarinos' main routes to tax their expeditions].

Untelevised

Mel's very scared of the Bannermen without being told who they are [She's met them before?].

Trivia

Don Henderson, well known for his role as George Bulman in The XYY Man and its spin offs, and latterly for his co-starring role as Frank Kane in the BBC drama The Paradise Club, appears here as Gavrok.

There are guest appearances for a number of popular actors better known for their comedy and variety work, including Ken Dodd, Hugh Lloyd, Stubby Kaye and Richard Davies.

The scenes set in the Shangri-La holiday camp were filmed at Butlins in Barry Island, South Wales.

The Doctor's distinctive question-mark handle umbrella makes its first appearance.

Sylvester McCoy can be seen wearing his glasses - normally removed before recording - in some long shots of him riding a motor bike.

Keillor, the alien bounty hunter, is never referred to by name in the story's dialogue; his name is given only in the closing credits.

Goofs

The rubber bodies on the ground during the initial battle.

The unsatisfying bus explosion.

The Doctor says the explosion of the sonic cone will destroy everyone, so why doesn't it?

Why isn't Billy poisoned by the alien food? (Why does it, instead, turn him into a Chimeron?)

Fashion Victim

Ray's bow makes her look like a Mouseketeer.

Mel's pyjamas are rather woeful.

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - Sylvester McCoy

Melanie - Bonnie Langford

Adlon - Leslie Meadows

Arrex - Richard Mitchley

Billy - David Kinder

Bollitt - Anita Graham

Burton - Richard Davies

Callon - Clive Condon

Chima - Tim Scott

Chimeron Princess - Laura Collins

Chimeron Princess - Carley Joseph

Delta - Belinda Mayne

Gavrok - Don Henderson

Goronwy - Hugh Lloyd

Hawk - Morgan Deare

Keillor - Brian Hibbard

Murray - Johnny Dennis

Ray - Sara Griffiths

The Lorells - Robin Aspland

The Lorells - Keff McCulloch

The Lorells - Justin Myers

The Lorells - Ralph Salmins

Tollmaster - Ken Dodd

Vinny - Martyn Geraint

Vocalist - Tracey Wilson The vocalists are seen on screen only in Part One; they are heard in Parts Two and Three in the story's incidental music.

Vocalist - Jodie Wilson The vocalists are seen on screen only in Part One; they are heard in Parts Two and Three in the story's incidental music.

Weismuller - Stubby Kaye

Young Chimeron - Jessica McGough

Young Chimeron - Amy Osborn

Crew

Director - Chris Clough

Assistant Floor Manager - Christopher Sandeman

Assistant Floor Manager - Kim Wilcocks

Costumes - Richard Croft

Designer - John Asbridge

Film Cameraman - William Dudman

Incidental Music - Keff McCulloch

Make-Up - Gillian Thomas

OB Cameraman - Alastair Mitchell

OB Cameraman - Chas Snare

Producer - John Nathan-Turner

Production Assistant - Rosemary Parsons

Production Associate - Anne Faggetter

Script Editor - Andrew Cartmel

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Stunt Arranger - Roy Scammell

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Keff McCulloch

Visual Effects - Andy McVean

Writer - Malcolm Kohll

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

Confident, slick, and hugely enjoyable from beginning to end, Delta and the Bannermen isn't grim, gritty or cynical, and is thus tremendously adult. It roars with new style. This is the first real hint of McCoy's Doctor, dancing awkwardly with Ray, hugging a Stratocaster, confronting Gavrok and threatening the Bannermen. Langford is actually great in this, a very human story of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Even Ken Dodd's OK. But who told Don Henderson to play it so straight?

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

Delta and the Bannermen is even more whimsical than the story that immediately preceded it, but in this case the scripts by Malcolm Kohll and the direction by Chris Clough are perfectly in tune with each other and the end result is much more successful. 'Even during the dark days of season twenty-three,' wrote Brian Willis in Muck and Devastation Issue Three, dated December 1987, 'if somebody had told me that the next season (if there ever was such a thing) would feature such luminaries as Ken Dodd, Stubby Kaye and Hugh Lloyd, I would have laughed in that somebody's face. And if that somebody had then gone on to suggest that I would actually enjoy a story featuring the said personalities, I would probably have screamed with mirth. The very idea... Actually, I rather liked Delta and the Bannermen.'

The story has a very 'fifties sci-fi' feel to it, recalling films of the I Married a Monster from Outer Space variety - an impression greatly enhanced by the setting of the main action in that very era and by more specific touches such as the use of period songs both in the performances of the holiday camp group, the Lorells, and in the incidental music score. The light-heartedness of the holiday camp atmosphere contrasts nicely with the grimness of the Bannermen's intentions and their genocidal hatred of the Chimerons.

'The whole thing had the air of a Hi-de-Hi! episode directed by James Cameron...,' continued Willis. '[The] script was not by any means a classic,... it had an air of unashamed absurdity and - dare I say it - silliness that made it, in parts, extremely memorable. The idea of a group of extraterrestrial rock and roll fans on a trip to Disneyland but having to land at Barry Butlins instead because their bus-shaped spaceship has hit a US satellite is one that could have come from Douglas Adams.'

The story boasts a good collection of supporting characters, the most intriguing of which is the beekeeper Goronwy, well played by Hugh Lloyd, who seems so unfazed by all the strange events going on around him that some commentators have been led to suggest that he might actually be an alien, or even perhaps a Time Lord living in 'retirement' on Earth.

The regulars also come over well in this story. Bonnie Langford seems much more comfortable than usual in the familiar holiday camp setting, and Sylvester McCoy is also by this point starting to settle into his role. 'For my money the seventh Doctor really came of age in this story,' wrote Mark Stammers in The Frame No. 5, dated February 1988. 'McCoy was in his element and so was his Doctor, and apart from a couple of duff lines I enjoyed his performance throughout. He was less manic than in the preceding tales; the misquotations were still there, but more in the background, as was the continual hat-doffing which had been so much a part of Paradise Towers.'

Delta and the Bannermen is another step in the right direction for the seventh Doctor and, all in all, a highly enjoyable romp.

< Paradise TowersSeventh DoctorDragonfire >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.



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