Doctor Who - The Rescue, Desperate Measures - Vicki played by Maureen O'Brien (c) BBC
Doctor Who – The Rescue, Desperate Measures – Vicki played by Maureen O’Brien (c) BBC

The Rescue: Desperate Measures

Broadcast on January 9th 1965 @ 5.40pm (13m viewers)

The Rescue is one of only six Doctor Who stories to be made up of two 25 minute episodes, points to those who can correctly name the other five. All of them work well, the shorter duration adding to the pace and dynamism of the story which, by design, is simple and efficient. In this story the TARDIS materialises, the first time that word is used to describe the method of landing, on the planet Dido and the Doctor, Ian and Barbara try to help the survivors of a crashed spaceship. Simple enough to follow. But their task is made more difficult by the mysterious creature Koquillion.

Doctor Who - Desperate Measures, Barbara, Bennett and Vicki (c) BBC
Doctor Who – Desperate Measures, Barbara, Bennett and Vicki (c) BBC

Vicki, played by Maureen O’Brien, joins the TARDIS crew at the end of the episode, serving as a replacement for original companion Susan, who had departed in the previous story ‘The Daleks Invasion of Earth’. Hartnell’s portrayal of the Doctor was intended as a grandfather figure and, therefore, required a younger companion which members of the audience could relate to. As a result, those viewers could see the First Doctor as a grandfather to them also. With Susan gone, Vicki filled that void. A perfect example of this is when the Doctor tries to comfort Vicki, telling her to blow her nose and wipe her face, the two immediately strike up a relationship which is truly touching. Vicki even forgives Barbara and from being an orphan finds a new family aboard the TARDIS.

The Doctor (William Hartnell) and Koquillion - Doctor Who - Desperate Measures (c) BBC
The Doctor (William Hartnell) and Koquillion – Doctor Who – Desperate Measures (c) BBC

Koquillion is a fantastic creature, possibly one of the best ever realised for Doctor Who, with a mask unlike anything seen before or since. A clue that things are not always as they seem occurs when Barbara shoots and kills ‘Sandy’, a less convincing creature than Koquillion but looking sufficiently alien to unnerve. However, with the Doctor investigating the truth is finally revealed.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler warning)

Scenes where the Doctor finally confronts the villain are often some of the most memorable in the Doctor Who’s history, who can forget the Fourth Doctor and Davros on Skaro, for example. On this occasion, the Doctor is also playing the role of detective, unraveling the truth behind Bennett’s deception. Initially, he confidently challenges Koquillion, but when the reality of Bennett’s crimes begins to sink in the Doctor is pushed onto the back-foot by the desperate man. It is fascinating how the dynamic develops across the scene before a final physical battle brings justice.

Also first aired On This Day…

  • Terror of the Autons: Episode 2 (1971)

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