Production Code: JJ
1 - 11/03/1967 17:50
2 - 18/03/1967 17:50
3 - 25/03/1967 17:50
4 - 01/04/1967 17:50
The time travellers visit a human colony that appears to be a happy place run along the lines of an enormous holiday camp but has in fact been infiltrated and taken over by a race of giant crab-like creatures - the Macra. The brainwashed inhabitants are forced to mine a gas toxic to themselves but vital for their oppressors' survival. Ben at one point comes under the Macra's malign influence and turns against his friends. He eventually regains his senses, however, and under the Doctor's guidance destroys the gas pumping equipment, thus killing the Macra and restoring the colony's freedom.
The rebellious colonist Medok looks on in disgust and the Doctor in amazement as a Macra appears in the moonlight in a ruined building...
Polly realises with horror that the Macra are in control. The Pilot summons Ola and a guard and angrily orders that the prisoners be taken away. Polly cries out again that 'The Macra are in control!'
Jamie is trapped in a mine tunnel as two Macra approach...
The Doctor is horrified on learning from Ben that the colonists want to make him their next Pilot. Determined to avoid this fate, he leads his companions away in a dance through the celebrating colonists.
The Time Machine.
1950s bug movies.
The Avengers episode 'The Master Minds' screened five months before.
The Prisoner - The Macra Terror foreshadows a lot of its imagery (Stuart Black, after all, was one of the creators of Danger Man and heard Patrick McGoohan's ideas on a number of occasions).
Echoes of B F Skinner and Franz Kafka.
The Doctor : [To Polly] "It's just possible that you've been given a series of orders while you've been asleep. You know, "Do this", "Do that", "Do the other thing". My advice to you is: don't do anything of the sort. Don't just be obedient. Always make up your own mind."
The Doctor : [Interrupting an argument between Ola and the Pilot.] "Oh, come now, we can't have bad temper and differences of opinion in this happy-type colony! Say you're sorry, Ola. Say you're sorry, Pilot."
Control Voice : "This is an emergency! Control must be believed and obeyed! No-one in the colony believes in Macra! There is no such thing as Macra! Macra do not exist! There are no Macra!"
The Doctor : "You can't arrest us now we've given ourselves up!"
The Doctor : "Bad laws were made to be broken"
Pilot : "The colony is in the hands of grotesque insects!"
Controller : [The Controller echoes Stingray] "Stand by for action!"
Medok seems to have named the creatures 'Macra', or heard the name from rumour, but the word catches on. The creatures are variously called insects, crabs and huge bacteria, and we never learn anything of their origins or organisation. The gas they depend on is like their own atmosphere.
Jamie does the Highland Fling to avoid his pursuers.
The Colony on an unnamed planet.
The ancestors of the colony came from Earth many centuries ago, and they retain the title of 'Pilot' for their leader.
This story is the first to use a new title sequence incorporating an image of Patrick Troughton's face, designed by Bernard Lodge and realised by Ben Palmer. The series' theme music was also rearranged slightly at this point by Delia Derbyshire, with assistance from Dick Mills.
Ken Sharp's sets are uniformly excellent.
The Macra seen to be in charge in the last episode is white rather than black (a scene for which the sole Macra prop had to be repainted).
The character Chicki was played by two different actresses. Sandra Bryant, who took the role for Episode 1, asked to be released from her contract so that she could accept another, more attractive offer of work. This was agreed, and so for Episode 4 (the only other episode in which Chicki appears) the part was recast, going instead to Karol Keyes.
The image of the Controller seen on the screen in the Pilot's office was a photograph of story editor Gerry Davis. (It was a photograph of Graham Leaman, who played the Controller.)
When Medok is called to provide the Doctor's alibi, the Doctor tells the Pilot not to believe everything that Medok is going to say.
How the atmospherically challenged Macra could take control (even with the charming voice one seems to possess) is never explained.
Scenes such as the Macra standing around the old Pilot, threatening him and pushing a microphone in his face, are hard to imagine.
The Doctor's hair is styled by a grooming machine, as are his shoes: 'But who wants to see their face in a pair of suede shoes?' He throws himself into a muscle-toning machine to get messed up again.
Cast & Crew
The Doctor - Patrick Troughton
Ben Jackson - Michael Craze
Jamie - Frazer Hines
Polly - Anneke Wills
Alvis - Anthony Gardner
Barney - Graham Armitage
Broadcast Voice/Broadcast and Propaganda Voice - Richard Beale
Cheerleader - Roger Jerome
Cheerleader - Terry Wright
Cheerleader - Ralph Carrigan
Chicki - Sandra Bryant
Chicki - Karol Keyes
Controller - Graham Leaman
Control Voice - Denis Goacher
Drum Majorette - Maureen Lane
Guard - John Caesar
Guard - Steve Emerson
Guard - Danny Rae
Macra Operator - Robert Jewell
Medok - Terence Lodge
Officia - John Harvey
Ola - Gertan Klauber
Pilot - Peter Jeffrey
Questa - Ian Fairbairn
Sunnaa - Jane Enshawe
Director - John Davies
Assistant Floor Manager - Anne Faggetter
Costumes - Daphne Dare
Costumes - Vanessa Clark
Designer - Kenneth Sharp
Film Cameraman - Peter Hamilton
Film Editor - Eddie Wallstab
Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson
Make-Up - Gillian James
Make-Up - Jeanne Richmond
Producer - Innes Lloyd
Production Assistant - Chris D'Oyly John
Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson
Story Editor - Gerry Davis
Studio Lighting - Frank Cresswell
Studio Sound - Hugh Barker
Studio Sound - Gordon Mackie
Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire
Writer - Ian Stuart Black
Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide
Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion
The Macra Terror is on the surface a relatively straightforward tale about alien invasion and control of an apparently idyllic human colony. On consideration, though, it can be seen to have far deeper levels. Writer Ian Stuart Black later said that he had wanted to explore the idea of a substance being poisonous to one life form but vital to the survival of another. This is certainly apparent in the transmitted episodes. Perhaps even more readily discernible, however, are themes of indoctrination, propaganda and unquestioning obedience to authority. This has caused some commentators to draw not unreasonable parallels with weighty literary sources such as Kafka and Orwell - the televised addresses of the Controller being likened to those of Big Brother in the latter's Nineteen Eighty-Four, for example. Others, however, have taken the view that this attempt at social comment falls rather flat, and that the story comes across as being simply pretentious.
It is also undoubtedly true that The Macra Terror's more serious aspects are somewhat undermined by the presence of the Macra themselves, which tends to take it into traditional monster mayhem territory. Having said this, the Macra, although neither the most interestingly characterised nor the most convincingly realised of monsters, are undoubtedly a very creepy concept, making for a number of extremely suspenseful scenes - particularly in the earlier parts of the story when the viewer catches only the occasional, mist-swathed glimpse of them.
The story's production values are generally fine, and another plus point is that the guest cast (in keeping with the regulars) are all excellent, bringing to life some interesting and well-drawn characters. On the minus side, the denouement is perhaps rather less dramatic than it might be. That, though, is a relatively minor quibble.
All things considered, the story must certainly be adjudged a success - albeit, as Tim Robins suggested in Doctor Who - An Adventure in Space and Time in 1983, perhaps only a partial one: 'Doctor Who is a versatile programme. Doubtless the bizarre, the symbolic, the satirical can all be encompassed in its timeless theme. However, what The Macra Terror does show is that if you want to attempt a subtle story, it's best not to include large, alien crabs roving around a holiday camp...'