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Delta and the Bannermen

Reviewed by Michael Mayo

If Paradise Towers was bad, then Delta and the Bannermen must be one of the worst stories in the history of the show. If you can stomach the awful title, you then have to put up with bad acting, a poor script, and awful costumes. Even Sylvester McCoy, brilliant in Paradise Towers, seemed to be having a bad day Thankfully Ken Dodd (the Toll Master) was killed off in the first episode.

Not a story seems to go by these days without some stupid gimmick in it - this time the Doctor wins a trip to Disneyland in 1959, but ends up in a Welsh Hi De Hi style camp instead. Here, a remarkable series of coincidences occur. Mel happens to share the same chalet as the lead character, Delta; the Doctor happens to have a rare crystal needed for the Galactic Nostalgia Tours flying bus; by chance the space tourists are mistaken as a group of holidaymakers yet to arrive, and Delta just happens to have a high frequency receiver behind her ear! Well, the only good thing I can think of about these three episodes is the location filming, which is a large chunk better than Paradise Towers. Other than that, the story was rubbish - move over The Twin Dilemma and Timelash!

A few questions were left unanswered, such as why was the chief villain Gavrok so intent on killing the Chimeron Queen in the first place? Also, when Gavrok appears on a scanner screen, Delta blasts it to pieces - why not just switch it off? Another gripe about the new Doctor - why does he carry that blasted umbrella everywhere he goes? He has no use for it and other Doctors have had umbrellas, but only used them when they were needed. This story rates 1/10, and that's probably being kind.

Reviewed by Paul Scoones

Now is the time to submit that storyline for a Doctor Who serial to the BBC - story ideas sent in by fans are usually rejected on the grounds that they are not of a high enough standard. Well, quite honestly, if Delta and the Bannermen was good enough to be turned into a script then anything any fan with any writing talent sends in has got to be better. The much maligned The Trial of a Time Lord looks like some sort of classic compared to this tripe. It's not just bad Doctor Who, it's bad television drama. Nothing about it deserves any commendation whatsoever. The acting was generally atrocious, the music used to overkill and distinctly unsubtle, the prone dreadfully tacky, and the whole plot was riddled with holes and was so incredibly shallow. The direction was rather bland, but then good direction would have been wasted on this banal amateur pantomime.

The Doctor has turned out to be disappointingly weak and ineffectual. He lacks any sort of commanding presence or dignified Time Lord superiority as displayed by the previous Doctors. I only place him above Colin Baker's regeneration because at least the new Doctor isn't aggressive and violent by nature. McCoy is a very poor imitation of Troughton - Pat's Doctor acted the fool, but beneath his exterior bluff, there was always the burning intellect; McCoy somehow fails to convey this adequately, and instead we are left with the fool. To give McCoy the benefit of the doubt, it is highly probable that this was exactly how he was instructed by JNT to play the part. He will be lucky though, if fans don't start calling for his resignation as well as that of JNT.

Stories like this one makes me ashamed to be associated with Doctor Who. I find it tragic that the JNT production team is totally incapable of turning out serials like Earthshock, The Caves of Androzani, Logopolis and many others from the first four JNT seasons anymore. I lament the loss of the many talented writers and directors of these seasons. If Doctor Who ends tomorrow or JNT resigns, it will not be a moment too soon to save Doctor Who from completely loosing its reputation as what is usually a reasonably good drama series; stories like Delta and the Bannermen only serve to destroy such an image. Eric Saward once said that JNT was a producer of pantomime, not drama. Here he is proved right.

Reviewed by Murray Jackson

Delta and the Bannermen was one I enjoyed. Yes, it has a pantomime atmosphere and bad acting performances but one person saved the entire production from sinking. Don Henderson as Gavrok was brilliant. He delivered an excellent performance. Because of this extremely versatile actor, I enjoyed Delta and the Bannermen. Another plus was the fifties music used, which set the scene well, and enhanced the production somewhat. The weaknesses were the plot, the inept acting (vacuous Mel strikes again!), and comic atmosphere.

This item appeared in TSV 6 (April 1988).

Index nodes: Delta and the Bannermen
Reprinted in: Special Reprint Edition