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24 September 2014

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Fury from the Deep

Production Code: RR

First Transmitted

1 - 16/03/1968 17:15

2 - 23/03/1968 17:15

3 - 30/03/1968 17:15

4 - 06/04/1968 17:15

5 - 13/04/1968 17:15

6 - 20/04/1968 17:15

Plot

The TARDIS lands on the surface of the sea, just off the east coast of England. The time travellers use a rubber dinghy to get ashore, where they are shot with tranquiliser darts and taken prisoner by security guards as they have arrived in the restricted area of a gas refinery.

At the refinery base, run by a man named Robson, the Doctor learns that there have been a number of unexplained problems with the pressure in the feed pipes from the offshore drilling rigs. It is later revealed that one of the rigs has sucked up a parasitic form of seaweed, which is capable of releasing poisonous gas or a strange kind of foam that allows it to take control of the minds of those it touches.

The weed spreads rapidly and seems set on establishing a huge colony centred around the rigs. The Doctor makes the chance discovery that it is very susceptible to high pitched noise; consequently he is able to use the amplified sound of Victoria's screams to destroy it. Victoria elects to stay with the family of one of the refinery workers, Harris.

The Doctor, although sharing Jamie's sadness at her departure, understands her decision to settle down to a quieter life.

Episode Endings

Victoria, trapped in a store room at the base, screams as foam pours in through an open grille and advances toward her. Within the foam are fronds of animated weed...

Supported by the base's Chief Engineer, the Dutch consultant van Lutyens makes a renewed attempt to persuade Robson that the heartbeat-like sound that they can hear emanating from the pipeline is made by something alive. 'It's down there. In the darkness. In the pipeline. Waiting...'

Maggie Harris and Robson, both infected by the weed creature, meet on the beach. The former tells the latter that he will obey his instructions. Then she turns and walks straight out into the sea, eventually becoming completely submerged beneath the waves...

'The advance guard,' mutters the Doctor as a mass of weed creature is seen writhing inside an observation pipe. Motioning his companions and the base personnel to remain where they are, he advances toward the pipe...

The Doctor and Jamie enter the central area of the control rig to find themselves confronted by the terrifying sight of Robson standing in the middle of a mass of weed and foam. 'Come in Doctor,' he whispers. 'We've been waiting for you.'

As the image of Victoria waving goodbye recedes on the TARDIS scanner screen, the Doctor reminds his forlorn companion, 'I was fond of her too, you know, Jamie.'

Roots

Day of the Triffids (the plant monster).

Quatermass II (the installation setting).

The Troubleshooters (the technical challenge of exploration for natural resources).

Victor Pemberton's radio play The Slide (mind controlling mud with a heartbeat).

The Kraken Wakes.

Dialogue Triumphs

Van Lutyens : "Whatever it is that's in the pipeline, that's jamming the impeller, that's taken over the rigs, is a menace and a threat to us all."

Megan Jones : "What's happening?"

The Doctor : "The first part of the invasion."

Victoria : "Doctor, don't go near."

The Doctor : "It's begun. The battle of the giants!"

Victoria : [To Jamie] "Why can't we go somewhere pleasant? Where there's no fighting, just peace and happiness?"

The Doctor : "It's down there. In the darkness. In the pipeline. Waiting."

Double Entendre

"He's beginning to give me the willies."

Continuity

The TARDIS can hover and float [perhaps the Doctor got his drift control sorted out: see The Time Meddler] and can take off like a rocket. It also contains a laboratory. This story sees the first appearance of the sonic screwdriver which the Doctor uses to open a release valve on an outlet pipe.

The drug U4 is used as a neural stimulator.

The refinery supplies all of the Euro Sea gas for Wales and the south of England.

The Doctor finds a reference to the weed creatures in a book of 18th Century marine legends.

The Doctor has terrible trouble flying a helicopter, having to be directed by radio. Victoria, having grown weary of being scared witless five times per episode, elects to stay with the rather wet Frank and Maggie Harris.

Location

Euro Sea Gas Corporation refinery and an oil rig, [South coast, possibly Dover - the Doctor refers to white cliffs. Robson mentions pre-decimal currency, so possibly a late 60s setting?].

Links

Trivia

Episode 1 features the debut appearance of the Doctor's sonic screwdriver, used to unseal a pipeline inspection hatch.

The scene of the weed-infected technicians Quill and Oak attacking Maggie Harris is one of the most terrifying in the show's history.

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - Patrick Troughton

Jamie - Frazer Hines

Victoria - Deborah Watling

Carney - John Garvin

Chief Baxter - Richard Mayes

Chief Engineer - Hubert Rees

Guard - Peter Ducrow

Harris - Roy Spencer

Maggie Harris - Jane Murphy

Megan Jones - Margaret John

Oak - John Gill

Perkins - Brian Cullingford

Price - Graham Leaman

Quill - Bill Burridge

Robson - Victor Maddern

van Lutyens - John Abineri

Crew

Director - Hugh David

Assistant Floor Manager - Margot Hayhoe

Costumes - Martin Baugh

Designer - Peter Kindred

Film Cameraman - Ken Westbury

Film Editor - Colin Hobson

Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson

Make-Up - Sylvia James

Producer - Peter Bryant

Production Assistant - Michael E Briant

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Story Editor - Derrick Sherwin

Studio Lighting - Sam Neeter

Studio Sound - David Hughes

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Visual Effects - Peter Day

Visual Effects - Len Hutton

Writer - Victor Pemberton

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'I hate the stuff, it's so slimy and horrid!' Take one omnipresent foam machine, add the sound effect of an amplified heart beat, and several terrifying moments of mutant seaweed menacing characters through ventilator grills. A real 'behind the sofa' job, but an unusual story, with strong women characters (Megan Jones) and no deaths.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

Few threats can be more potent than that of mental and physical possession by an alien entity. Fury from the Deep plays on this fear to great effect in its depiction of the menace posed by the latest monster to be introduced to Doctor Who - a monster that, as Mathew Prince noted in Cloister Bell 10/11, dated March 1985, neatly sidesteps all the cliches of adventure stories featuring undersea creatures: 'What saved Fury from the Deep from the depths of banality was the total failure of gigantic (model) squids, lobsters, octopi or reptiles to surface with seemingly random stealth and/or shock-horror ferocity. Here the aggressor was seaweed... silent, unobtrusive and above all disturbingly commonplace... the threat proved to be more psychological and therefore more frightening than that.'

Director Hugh David pulls no punches, either, in his treatment of Victor Pemberton's story (which was heavily based on an earlier BBC radio serial of his entitled The Slide), creating some truly terrifying and horrific scenes. Amongst the most memorable of these are Victoria trapped in the store room as the weed creature breaks in behind her; Maggie Harris being attacked by the mysterious Oak and Quill and subsequently walking impassively into the sea as if to commit suicide; van Lutyens coming to grief in the impeller shaft and the Doctor and Jamie going in after him; and the final gripping confrontation on the control rig.

This must be, all in all, one of the most frightening stories ever to be presented by Doctor Who. As Gary Hopkins put it in Doctor Who - An Adventure in Space and Time in 1984, 'If viewing figures were judged by the number of people who watched from between parted fingers or behind the settee - Doctor Who is never better than when it causes sleepless nights - then Fury from the Deep would surely have found its way into the Guinness Book of Records!'

Chief Robson and his colleagues are excellently characterised and well-portrayed throughout by a fine cast. Particularly memorable is Robson himself, of whom Hopkins wrote: 'Victor Maddern plays the stubborn, hard-boiled Chief Robson who, like most stereotyped work-obsessed commanders, cracks under the strain in the second reel. To his credit, though, Maddern rises above the stereotype by giving Robson a human side during his lapses into gibbering hysteria.'

Prince considered that 'large, isolated complexes with impractically long corridors were becoming a shade too predictable [by] this stage... along with the tough, no-nonsense Northerners like Hobson - sorry, I mean Robson - who run them until events prove too much for them and their cool 'n collected seconds-in-command have to take over.'

Paul Clifton, however, writing in DWB No. 119, dated November 1993, considered this aspect of the story a particular asset: 'It may be set in a technological complex, but this is a simple industrial facility, piping natural gas from offshore rigs to the rest of Britain, not some top-secret scientific base. The people running this facility are ordinary men and women, concerned with office protocol and keeping their jobs. The whole thing seems based in the real world in a way that few other stories are...' And therein lies the key to much of its very considerable impact.

The story ends with a nice change of pace, too, as the poignant closing scenes of Victoria bidding farewell bring a distinct lump to the throat. The Doctor and Jamie travel on alone again - but only for the time being...

< The Web of FearSecond DoctorThe Wheel in Space >

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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