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The Time Meddler

TV Review by Graham Howard

This story has somewhat surprisingly been scheduled in place of Day of the Daleks. Although it quite an entertaining tale with a number of good points, it is at times somewhat ponderous and is not the most enthralling story the BBC could have offered as a replacement.

Nonetheless, The Time Meddler does contain a number of 'firsts' for Doctor Who. It is the first 'pseudo-historical', ie a historical that contains science fiction elements (aside from the Doctor and his companions' presence). It is the first time that the viewer is introduced to another person who is a member of the Doctor's own race (although of course the name of that race is not revealed until The War Games). The Time Meddler is also the first full story in which Steven Taylor appears, having secretly entered the TARDIS at the end of The Chase. Indeed one of the more interesting scenes in this story is Steven's bafflement - and the Doctor and Vicki's bemusement - as Steven attempts to grapple with the capabilities of the TARDIS and the concept of time travel. Of note the Hartnell was 'on holiday' during the filming of episode two, his voice providing the only 'appearance' of the Doctor in that episode.

The Time Meddler is set in the year 1066 on the Northumbrian coast. The story itself concerns the efforts of a Time Lord, the 'Meddling Monk', to alter Earth's history. Specifically, the Monk is intending to reverse the outcome of the Battle of Hastings by ensuring that King Harold rather than the Norman invader William the Conqueror wins the battle. We also learn that the Monk has been tampering with Earth's history prior to this latest scheme. The Doctor attempts to foil the Monk and prevent the Monk from engaging in any further meddling.

The Meddling Monk himself, wonderfully played by Peter Butterworth with just the right amount of humour, is actually a rather likeable character in that he seems more mischievous than evil. One of the story's appeals is the verbal double act between the Doctor and the Monk which indicates that the Doctor does not view the Monk as a serious threat - more like an irritating child.

This item appeared in TSV 33 (April 1993).

Index nodes: The Time Meddler