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Extended Edit: Frontios

Just over eight minutes of footage had to be removed from the first edit of Frontios to bring the four episodes down to the standard duration. This excised material survives as a time-coded version.

Part One

The first episode over-ran by around four minutes (duration 28:58) and a number of scenes had to be cut to bring it down to its broadcast 24:39 running time.

Although the opening scene where Captain Revere is lost was retained, a number of shots were pruned from this sequence, removing anything that wasn't essential to the scene.

The first complete scene to be removed featured Tegan and Turlough returning to the TARDIS to fetch the argon discharge globes:

Curiosity draws a small group of orderlies and colonists around the TARDIS. But as Turlough runs back towards it, followed by Tegan, the group withdraws to a distance, whispering.
TURLOUGH: I thought we weren't supposed to be interfering on this planet. Time Laws, and all that
TEGAN: You know the Doctor. Once he gets interested...
They go inside the TARDIS.

The scene was chopped immediately after Brazen emerges from the ship, guided by an orderly who points in the direction of the TARDIS. Ironically, the loss of this scene made Turlough's later remark to Tegan about losing their news value nonsensical.

Several of the scenes cut from the story involved Cockerill's character. This early scene laid the ground for his later defection, and featured him standing guard outside the doors to the state room:

Brazen walks along the corridor, looking for Plantagenet.
COCKERILL: He's in the state room.
BRAZEN: He?! Plantagenet, if you please, Cockerill. We'll use his name with respect. A leader is a leader. [Cockerill snaps to attention.]

Shortly afterwards, another major edit also took out material involving Cockerill. Hiding from the guards aboard the out-of-bounds ship, Tegan, Turlough and Norna dart into the state room, unaware at first it is not unoccupied:

Norna closes the door just in time. The three friends lean against the door, holding their breath as footsteps recede down the corridor. They become aware of the menacing presence of Cockerill. When he feels he has teased them enough he relaxes. He munches on his food.
COCKERILL: Security must be at an all-time low if a bunch of kids can just wander into the state room.

Directly following Plantagenet's arrival with a squad of guards, the action would have cut back to the exterior of the state room.

Cockerill puts his head out of the state room door and looks up and down the corridor. Then he signals the all clear. Norna, Tegan and Turlough slip out of the state room. Norna hesitates and turns back to Cockerill.
NORNA: Why are you doing this?
COCKERILL: [Shrugging] If I understood long words like “why”... I wouldn't just be an orderly.

Another scene was cut featuring the rebellious Cockerill:

Brazen is passing the blocked up entrance to the research room when he hears a tuneless whistling approaching down the corridor. Cockerill is walking towards him, his hands in his pockets.
BRAZEN: Are you on duty, Cockerill?
BRAZEN: Then conduct yourself like an orderly. You look more like one of those hope-forsaken retrogrades. [Cockerill snaps to attention with an exaggeration that a keener mind than Brazen's would recognise as an insult]
BRAZEN: Where are you off to anyway?
COCKERILL: I was on my way to assist Kernigan and Ritchie. There's an alert.
BRAZEN: I initiated it, Cockerill. The hull, man. On your way.

The final significant edit to the opening episode was, again, what have been a significant demonstration of Cockerill's changing loyalties. Out on the hull, the orderly catches sight of Turlough over the bulwark. Their eyes meet, just as a whistling sound is heard in the air, signifying another bombardment is about to begin. Unwilling to arrest Turlough, Cockerill distracts his fellow orderlies long enough for Turlough to squeeze back through the hatch.

Part Two

The middle two episodes were not nearly so badly in need of editing. Part Two lost a brief shot of the acid jar frothing, some ladder descending footage and some of the shots when Brazen's men are battering down Tegan's barricaded door.

Part Three

The third episode lost what was to have been a series of cross-faded shots of the tunnels as the Doctor begins describing the Tractators in a voice-over sequence. The final sequence in this montage would have been a shot into the main cave, focussing on the Gravis who is clearly somehow listening to the Doctor's speech. The loss of this segment creates the mystery as to how the Gravis knows about the Time Lords.

Part Four

The fourth episode had to lose a lot of material. The lengthy exchanges between the Doctor, Tegan and the Gravis suffered a number of deletions, starting with the Tractator leader's own introduction which should have continued:

GRAVIS: I am called the Gravis. At last, after millennia as outcasts of the universe, we have found a home. But of course you Time Lords must know that by now.
DOCTOR: Must we?
GRAVIS: Why else would the rulers of Gallifrey have sent you on this fruitless mission to interfere?

Another edit took place a few moments later, just after the creature has expressed an interest in seeing the Doctor's TARDIS:

DOCTOR: Of course, Gravis. I'd be graceful for your opinion. You're a creature of fine judgement, obviously.
[Tegan gives the Doctor a sharp look, not pleased by this flattering turn of the conversation. The Doctor smiles pleasantly back at her, but manages a covert signal to her to stay out of it. The Doctor is pretending to inspect the carvings round the walls as an excuse for a whispered conversation with Tegan]
DOCTOR: Fascinating map of the tunnel system... [Dropping voice] We're in grave danger here, so please leave this to me.
TEGAN: [Aside] May be, but what's the idea of jollying him along? He's disgusting.
DOCTOR: Greedy too, and responds to flattery. We'll have to work on that
TEGAN: Work on it?
DOCTOR: Sssshh.
TEGAN: It's a matter of principle.
GRAVIS: What are you whispering about?
DOCTOR: [Aloud] I was saying you've done a lot of work on the tunnel system. Using the toroidal principle... as my assistant points out.

Another scene in the tunnels was lost just before Cockerill's fight with the orderly guiding Noma:

[Brazen and his orderlies, and accompanied by Mr Range, have paused at a junction]
BRAZEN: Well, Mr Range...?
RANGE: I think I remember the way...
BRAZEN: I'll need more than guesswork if I am to lead my men into danger.
RANGE: [Irritated] You lead them then, if you're not happy with my directions.
BRAZEN: My job is carrying out what has to be done, Mr Range. I leave the business of directions to wiser heads.
RANGE: I can't carry responsibility for this whole expedition.
BRAZEN: You're Chief Science Officer, as you're fond of telling me, Mr Range. “Chief” means “in charge of”. “Science”, as I understand it, means “knowing”. And “officer” means that the men are looking to you. Sir.
RANGE: [Looking from one to the other of the two junctions. He still doesn't know which direction to go, but he responds wearily to Brazen's challenge] This way, I suppose.

A large section of dialogue was lost straight after the Gravis's offer that the Time Lord might want to watch the Tractators fitting Captain Revere's replacement into the excavating machine:

DOCTOR: Remarkably ingenious, Gravis, I'm certainly looking forward to seeing... [The Doctor is patting himself, looking for something in his pockets] My glasses... I've left them with the android. Would you mind if I just... [With a nod to the other Tractators, the Doctor hurries back the way he has come]
[Tegan is pinioned against a wall by the guard Tractator, as we last saw her]
TEGAN: Can't you turn it off, whatever it is? I can hardly catch my breath. [She catches sight of the Doctor returning] Doctor!
DOCTOR: Sorry about this, but it's the only way. [To the Tractator] Came to get... a pair of... glasses. Spectacles. Jolly good. [The Doctor beams amiably at the Tractator and mimes a pair of glasses to it, as though it were some poor, uncomprehending French waiter] Listen... Quick. You're an android...
TEGAN: I certainly am not.
DOCTOR: Because if they think you're alive they may get the idea of adding you to their human meccano set.
TEGAN: I am an android.
DOCTOR: And I'm President of the Tractators' Fan Club. Just making an adjustment. I hate deception, but at the moment we've no other weapon. And the Gravis certainly responds to flattery.
TEGAN: I know they're dangerous, Doctor, but...
DOCTOR: We haven't even begun to know how dangerous they are. [With a glance at the map on the wall] This tunnel system isn't just for transportation and accommodation. I've an idea they're up to something of cosmic proportions. Now, here's what we're going to do...

Back in the central cave, the Doctor returns from visiting Tegan in another trimmed scene:

GRAVIS: You found your spectacles, Doctor?
DOCTOR: [The Doctor stops in his tracks. He has clearly forgotten all about the alibi. Plantagenet is being dragged along in his cage by one of the Tractators. The Doctor wishes him a pleasant, distracted ‘Hello’ as he searches his pockets] They're here somewhere. That's the trouble with being a Time Lord. There's so much to remember, and only one small head to put it all in. I think... Yes... [The Doctor finds a spectacle case in one of the inner recesses of his coat. He waves it triumphantly] The eyes have it, Gravis. [The Doctor puts on the spectacles, which turn out to be his half-frame reading glasses. He peers through them at the Gravis] A world of difference. Thank you.
GRAVIS: [Suspiciously] These devices help your vision?
DOCTOR: Poly-directrix lenses with circular, polarizing filters. Reduce spectral reflection as much as seventy-five percent, without any perceptible deterioration of resolution. Gallifreyan technology... like the TARDIS.

Just after Brazen's suicidal attack has demolished one of the excavation machines and the Gravis is screeching with fury, the Doctor notices a new cave passage has been revealed by the machine's collision with the cave wall. He decides to help the survivors:

DOCTOR: Come on. I think it's time we left.
TEGAN: Up there???
DOCTOR: Tell you what, Tegan. You stay here and patch things up with the Gravis?
[Tegan leads the scramble out into the new tunnel]
GRAVIS: You cannot escape, Doctor! You will see!

The very last significant edit once again reduced Cockerill's on-screen presence. As the ground shakes, and Norna wonders if this might be an end or a beginning for Frontios, in another scene Cockerill's retrograde followers demand he tell them what is happening. Unable to explain he merely shakes his head, all remnants of his messianic status now gone.

In-Vision 73: Frontios
Archive: Frontios in Doctor Who Magazine 220

This item appeared in TSV 55 (October 1998).

Index nodes: Frontios