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Doctor's Dilemma

By Jon Preddle

If the Vervoids adventure never really happened, at least not as it appeared on-screen in The Trial of a Time Lord as the Doctor would know what was going to happen, what did happen to the Hyperion III and the Vervoids, and what did the Doctor do when he received the distress signal? And please, no mind-wiping. [David Ronayne]

The Master said that most of what was seen at the trial was the truth, but changed in parts by the Valeyard. The Doctor had viewed the Matrix (off-screen between Parts Eight and Nine) in preparation for his defense so he must have viewed several other 'adventures' before selecting the Vervoid incident as the most suitable with which to present his case. The Vervoids was but one adventure in the Doctor's 'future', the future he would have had if he wasn't put on trial. It hasn't happened yet; the images seen at the trial were only a projection of what might happen. So, in answer to David's question, I have five alternative ways in which we can regard the adventure:

1) Assuming the Hyperion III does actually exist, none of what we see actually happened; it was all fabricated by the Valeyard.

2) The Hyperion III does exist and everything we saw at the trial (bar the scene with the Doctor smashing the radio) happens just as we saw it earlier. Except that when the Doctor and Mel leave the trial ship the Time Lords wipe their... ooops!

3) The Hyperion III does exist and everything we saw at the trial (bar the scene with the Doctor smashing the radio) happens just as we saw it earlier. Except that when the Doctor and Mel leave the trial ship the Doctor chooses to 'forget' what happened and he just plays along with the scenario as it slowly unfolds around everyone else, acting innocent so as not to draw attention to himself. When Travers asks for his help he knows exactly what to do because he has already seen it twice: the first viewing and then the repeat in the trial room! (This may explain why the Seventh Doctor knows everything that is going to happen - the Sixth Doctor viewed that far into his own future in the Matrix during the recess!)

4) The Hyperion III does exist and after leaving the trial ship the Doctor anxiously awaits the day that Hallett's signal comes through. When it does, he lands on the ship and goes straight to Travers and tells his old friend of the danger lurking in the seed pods and of Doland's treachery, and also of Rudge and the Mogarians' hijack plans. The villains are all quickly apprehended and locked in the brig, and the ship arrives safely on Earth and the Vervoids are destroyed by the authorities.

5) The Hyperion III does exist but the Doctor never receives Hallett's SOS. Since Mel is not there to lead Edwardes to his death and therefore reanimate the pods the Vervoids never awaken. But the ship is still hijacked by Rudge and the Mogarians. The crew is unable to stop the traitors, and the ship is destroyed as it plunges into the Black Hole of Tartarus!

Why doesn't Mike Yates appear in The Three Doctors? [Guy Blythman]

It may have been the production team's intention to include Yates in the serial but it is more than likely that actor Richard Franklin was unavailable for the recording dates and so his lines were given to Corporal Palmer, who makes his one and only appearance. In terms of the story, Yates was probably on leave or of on a secret mission for UNIT.

According to the tenth anniversary Doctor Who Radio Times Special the IMC used robot lizards to attack the colonists in the story Colony in Space. What did the lizards look like? [Guy Blythman]

Actually, the description of 'robot' lizards in the special is wrong, and oddly enough the same error has crept into Jean-Marc Lofficier's Programme Guide, which anyway mostly copies the text from the Special. The effect of the single giant lizard was nothing more than specially shot footage of a four-foot iguana hired by the BBC from London Zoo. A suitable 'growl' sound-effect was later added. In terms of the story the IMC projected this image near the colony domes, and by equipping their own mining robot with large fake claws they made the necessary physical damage, such as the holes in the walls, to complete the horrifying effect.

What can you tell me about Wartime? [Daniel Spragg]

Released on 10 August 1988 Wartime could be regarded as the first video-only special for Doctor Who fans, long before the 'Stranger' series.

The 35-minute drama was produced and directed by Keith Barnfather, one of the people behind Reeltime Video who make the MythMaker series of interview tapes. It was written by New Adventures author Andy Lane, with Helen Stirling. Wartime is basically a ghost story which sees Benton in charge of a mission to deliver a top-secret consignment to UNIT HQ. While driving through the countryside of his childhood, Benton leaves the convoy after it breaks down and sees eerie visions of himself as a boy with his brother Chris, who died in the same woods. The ghostly image of his long-dead father also appears. Through this haunting Benton comes to terms with his tragic loss, and begins to understand why his father blamed him for Chris's death...

John Levene reprised his popular Doctor Who role, with Who-veteran Michael (Davros) Wisher as his father, Mary Greenhalgh as his mother and Peter Greenhalgh as Chris, with Steven Stanley, Peter Noad, Paul Flanagan and the ubiquitous Nicholas Briggs in supporting roles.

The story is quite atmospheric if rather complicated with its flashback approach. One annoying aspect is that the story's grounding in accepted series continuity is not very sound; in The Android Invasion Benton speaks with his 'kid sister' on the telephone but in Wartime it is said he is the younger of only two boys. One solution is that following the death of his father during the Second World War, his mother remarried, and Benton's younger sibling is actually a half- or step-sister.

And, before anyone asks, Wartime is best not considered canonical!

This item appeared in TSV 43 (March 1995).

Index nodes: Doctor's Dilemma, Terror of the Vervoids, The Three Doctors, Colony in Space