The Enemy of the World: Episode 6
Broadcast on January 27th, 1968 @ 5.25pm (8.3 million viewers)
Season 5 of Doctor Who is the era of the monsters, boasting two battles with the Cybermen, two adventures with the Yeti, the Weed creature and the introduction of the Ice Warriors. ‘The Enemy of the World’ provides the only departure from this strategy but does have a very familiar villain. Thanks to the work of episode hunter Philip Morris the story has been re-evaluated by fans after it was returned to the BBC and released on iTunes before becoming one of the final DVD releases from the classic range.
The story showcases the limitless scale of ambition familiar to 1960’s adventures with the TARDIS landing on an Australian beach. In the minds of the production team that is easily achievable by filming in West Sussex, with the action then moving to Central Europe and underground. The production, particularly the set design and costumes are very good, even down to the peculiar monitor screens and the underground bobble walls, giving the story a visual signature which makes it look futuristic. Astrid Ferrier, played by the wonderfully stylish Mary Peach, is another strong female role following Kaftan in ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ and Miss Garrett in ‘The Ice Warriors’ earlier in the season. These roles pave the way for new companion Zoe Heriot who would provide a new take on an assistant for the Doctor and join the TARDIS at the end of the season.
Sadly you can track the moment where the plot of this story completely falls apart; when Salamander ventures underground and reveals that he has ‘saved’ a group of people, in fantastic costumes, from a nuclear war which he has invented. The reasoning behind this is never fully explained other than those people are responsible for controlling the natural disasters which have triggered the food shortages that have allowed Salamander to gain power. Who exactly the group of survivors think they are targeting, described as “the enemies of truth and freedom”, is also open for debate as they don’t seem to have any political leanings. Despite the yarn which Salamander tells of a world devastated by nuclear radiation the frankly irritating Colin is still determined to venture onto the surface and his constant moaning about being alive underground makes the viewer wish he would die of radiation sickness. However, if they are creating natural disasters to combat these enemies then surely that is proof that there still remain plenty of surface dwellers. This departure of logic and sense is a real shame because the story up until that point is a genuinely interesting thriller but Episode 6 does manage to tie it all together.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler warning)
Salamander and the Doctor finally come face to face. Of course, this posed a technical challenge to the production team as there is, was and always be only one Patrick Troughton but the effect achieved works well. Doppelgangers continue to be a popular plot device, such as the 1998 film ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ and is only the second time in Doctor Who that it is used after William Hartnell played the role of the Abbot of Amboise in ‘The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve’. Its usefulness is found in the way in which it develops our perspective towards another character. In this instance it is because we learn that Salamander is a power-hungry manipulator and an uncompromising cold-blooded murderer, that the viewer gains a new fondness for the far more agreeable Doctor.
Doctor Who – Patrick Troughton
Jamie – Frazer Hines
Victoria – Deborah Watling
Giles Kent – Bill Kerr
Astrid – Mary Peach
Bruce — Colin Douglas
Director – Barry Letts
Producer – Innes Lloyd
Writer – David Whitaker
Also first aired On This Day…
- Carnival of Monsters : Episode 1
- The Armageddon Factor : Part 2
- Frontios : Part 2