The Wheel in Space : Episode 6
First Broadcast 1st June, 1968 @ 6.05pm (6.5m viewers)
This episode brought to a conclusion a six-part Cybermen story, Patrick Troughton’s third encounter with the creatures and introduced a new travelling companion for the Doctor, replacing Victoria who had departed in the previous story, ‘Fury from the Deep’. The story concerns the Cyberman’s attempts to capture the Space Station nicknamed ‘the Wheel’ in order to use it as a beacon for their invasion plans. It fits neatly into the traditional ‘base under siege’ format from this era, stretched over six episodes, simply concluded with the Wheel shooting the Cybership out of existence. The episode feels quite flat with no incidental music to convey the drama, only electronic sound effects, but does feature some excellent use of lava lamps! The Cybermen themselves also look particularly powerful, with pneumatic supports for their limbs and new helmets featuring the ‘teardrop’ motif for the first time which would reappear in their 2006 redesign.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
“I imagine you have orders to destroy me”.
The scene in the power room during which the Doctor confronts two Cybermen showcases Troughton at his very best. He remains calm, not intimidated by their physically imposing threat, carefully explaining the Cybermen’s intentions to the viewer at home. The character’s brilliance has set a trap however and he neatly dispatches one of the Cybermen. Although a simple scene Troughton demonstrates the Doctor’s powers of deduction and his ingenuity skilfully. More so it is a perfect example of how the ‘cosmic hobo’ appearance led to his enemies underestimating him, to their cost.
Zoe is a new interpretation of a companion. A brilliant astrophysicist from the future her character was created to be an intellectual equal to the Doctor, largely to appease an irritated Troughton who, as the lead, had extraordinary amounts of technical waffle to learn on a weekly basis. As a result, Zoe could share the burden of some of that line-learning. Her friendship with Jamie also develops very quickly and he is not downhearted in the slightest to see her joining the TARDIS. She was also a deliberate departure from her predecessor Victoria, memorable for her screams in the face of terrifying monsters. Zoe however, was designed to be more analytical and practical, a positive response which matched the developing women’s liberation attitudes building through the late 1960’s. That said however even she gulped at the prospect of the Daleks!
Doctor Who – Patrick Troughton
Jamie – Frazer Hines
Zoe – Wendy Padbury
Enrico Casali – Donald Sumpter
Jarvis Bennett – Michael Turner
Tanya Lernov – Clare Jenkins
Director – Tristan De Vere Cole
Producer – Peter Bryant
Writer – David Whitaker
Also First Aired On This Day…
- Planet of the Spiders : Part Five