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Doctor's Dilemma

By Jon Preddle

Once again Jamas Enright is dissatisfied with one of my answers. He disputes my reasoning that Romana was using her practice bodies (based on Jamas' own theory) in Destiny of the Daleks (see Doctor's Dilemma, TSV 25). Jamas claims that Romana had graduated - with a Triple First no less. Fair enough, but I must point out a comment Romana made in The Ribos Operation about her using the Doctor as a case study in her thesis. This rather implies that she has not yet completed her studies. She also had no TARDIS experience, nor had she been on other worlds - hardly the qualifications of a Time Lord. Therefore, Romana is not a fully-fledged Time Lord, but likes to think that she is!

Warwick Gray has presented me with a doozy, finishing his poser with "OK, Mr Preddle, I'm waiting!" Warwick's question concerns Earthshock (brilliantly represented by your cover for TSV 25, by the way Wick). In Part Four, the Doctor has trouble locking the TARDIS on to the freighter because it is in warp-drive. The Doctor says the freighter will still hit Earth because it is still locked on to the same spacial co-ordinates. This, says Warwick, is impossible because the Earth wasn't at the same spacial co-ordinates 65 million years ago!

Correct - and for the mathematicians out there, here are some sums: Earth is moving through space at some 43,000 mph. Therefore 65 million years ago the Earth would be 43000 x 24 x 365 x 65002526 miles away from its spacial co-ordinates of the 26th Century. The freighter therefore should have arrived in empty space (unless of course something else occupied that point in space).

But of course the freighter did hit the Earth, so how can this sloppy script writing be explained? Not being particularly clued up on astronomy, I think it is accepted by scientists that space itself moves. Also, the TARDIS is a fairly complex machine - when a Time Lord programmes a TARDIS to go to say, Earth 1887, the ship's computers calculate exactly where the planet will be in space at that time. Therefore, if the device that the Cybermen connected to the freighter's flight computer is capable of placing the ship in a time warp then it probably also makes the calculation for distance as well as time. I'm only theorising of course. Anyone else with a different idea?

Next up, Jeff Stone wants to know what The Ambassadors of Death is all about! He is confused by the complex - and muddled - plot, and has asked specific questions about the storyline. To answer these, Jeff, here is a brief summary of events:

Mars Probe 6 landed on Mars; Carrington and Daniels encountered the aliens and Daniels was killed, an act which sent Carrington a bit bonkers. Carrington informed the Government about the threat of the aliens and so the newly-formed Ministry of Space Security secretly made contact with the aliens and launched Mars Probe 7. They tricked the aliens into agreeing to come to Earth.

When Mars Probe 7 reached Mars Michaels and Lefee were replaced by three of the aliens. Recovery 7 was subsequently launched. Van Lyden entered Mars Probe 7 capsule and he was placed under hypnosis. The three aliens transferred to Recovery 7 and flew to Earth. Van Lyden was taken from Mars Probe 7 to the alien mothership, where he joined Michaels and Lefee.

The aliens were removed from Recovery 7 by the Space Security men before UNIT arrived. They were placed in a secret lab, but later abducted by Reegan and taken to a bunker. Carrington was behind it all in an attempt to make the alien ambassadors appear evil by killing people and stealing isotopes. He planned to unmask one of them on live TV and provoke a war. The aliens needed radiation to survive, so they had no choice but to obey.

If you're still in doubt, Jeff, try reading Terrance Dicks' novel. And in answer to your other query, no, the Krarg seen on the existing Shada clip does not speak. The Krarg dialogue - by actor James Coombes - would have been treated and dubbed on during one of the lost studio sessions. I would guess that they had 'hissy' voices like Nimons.

Paul Roper of Katikati has been reading Graham Williams' novelisation of The Nightmare Fair, and is puzzled by the Doctor's use of the Sonic Screwdriver on page 77. Paul correctly points out that this device was destroyed in The Visitation and also notes that Williams' description of it as "trusty" suggests it is the same one he always had.

A very good point. Williams produced the mid-Tom Baker seasons and was thus familiar with the Sonic Screwdriver, but was unaware of its destruction at the hands (claws?) of the Terileptils, and included it in his Season 23 script. It must be pointed out that Williams based his novel on an unedited draft script, and it is likely that had the serial been made, then reference to the screwdriver would have been deleted, and another tool used instead. Or they may even have indeed made a new sonic screwdriver!

Alexander Ballingall of Rangiora writes: "In Spearhead from Space, the Brigadier tried to open the TARDIS with the key to no avail. The Doctor said it was keyed to his own metabolic print. Then why, in The War Machines, were Ben and Polly able to enter the TARDIS with the key?"

The TARDIS lock is rather peculiar. Over the years it has changed, as has the key. In The Daleks Susan explains that the TARDIS has a special lock that can only be opened with the key in a certain way. If the incorrect combination was applied, the inner mechanisms would melt. In The Daleks' Master Plan the Monk did just this, locking the Doctor out of his ship. The Doctor used his ring to temporarily repair the lock, and in doing so had to forfeit this special system and use an ordinary lock instead. This is what enabled Ben and Polly to gain easy access a few stories later.

When the Doctor was exiled to Earth, the Time Lords removed his control of the ship and installed a new lock that only the Doctor could open - thus preventing any human from learning the secrets of the TARDIS by gaining entry.

Jonathan Park from Christchurch asks of the recently screened The Seeds of Death "Why didn't Slaar use his own sonic gun to kill people?" and "One of the places that a pod arrived was Canberra (Australia). That's a warm place so why did the Ice Warriors send a pod there?"

In answer to the first question, all I can say is I don't know. It could be that being a Commander meant he did not want to get his claws dirty so let his soldiers do all the killing; or maybe his gun was broken? I am somewhat stumped by your second question though, Jonathan. T-Mat was linked to Australia, but I do not recall, nor can I find in the book any reference to a pod being sent to Canberra. Can you be a bit more specific?

And lastly, Tony Platts, also of Christchurch, asks: "How did the Silurians and Sea Devils in Warriors of the Deep change their appearance from the originals?"

At the end of Doctor Who and the Silurians, the only survivor of the three main Silurians is the Scientist. In Warriors of the Deep, the Doctor refers to these three as the 'Triad', and the same scientist is in charge of the attack on the base. The Silurians is set circa 1969 and Warriors of the Deep circa 2084, and it is clearly stated in The Silurians that the shelter would revive in 50 years: around 2019. The shelter may have provided a regenerative process and this is how the Silurians appear to look different.

As for the Sea Devils, the ones seen in The Sea Devils were amphibious, with fins that enabled them to breathe on land. The Warriors of the Deep versions do not have these fins and must therefore be a different breed; one that cannot live on the surface without breathing devices - perhaps the helmets they wear perform this function, enabling them to breathe inside the base. The Sea Devils were not wearing the helmets when they were revived, which supports this idea.

That's it for this issue, keep them rolling in...

This item appeared in TSV 26 (December 1991).

Index nodes: Doctor's Dilemma, The Ambassadors of Death, Earthshock, Warriors of the Deep, The Nightmare Fair