Carnival of Monsters: Episode 2
Broadcast on February 3rd 1973 @ 5.50pm (11 million viewers)
‘Carnival of Monsters’ is another brilliant script from prolific Doctor Who legend, Robert Holmes. The concepts presented are wildly fantastical for 1973, with creatures trapped inside a machine as a form of voyeuristic entertainment. A similar machine would be seen again in 1979’s ‘Nightmare of Eden’. Producer Barry Letts also sits in the Director’s chair and is the perfect candidate with his enthusiasm for the CSO (green screen) technique and other visual effects proving vital to the successful execution of the show. Effects such as the cliffhanger for Episode 1 where a hand reaches in and picks up the TARDIS succeeded or failed on how realistic they appear on-screen.
Of course, viewers can look back and point to the fringing on the outline, overexposed as we are to the clinical CGI effects of the 21st Century but in 1973, it must have been a mind-blowing and spectacular effect. Also, the set used for the internal workings of the mini-scope, which the Doctor and Jo navigate through, is stunning and even the Time Lord has to acknowledge its magnificence.
This story would also see the first involvement with Doctor Who for Ian Marter, playing Andrews the sailor, but he would later be cast as companion Harry Sullivan for Tom Baker’s first season as the Doctor, appearing in a total of seven serials. Marter would also write nine novelisations of Doctor Who stories for Target books which were an enormous success, long before video recorders, DVD’s and on-demand services. Very sadly he died on his birthday in 1986 at the age of only 42 but still remains fondly remembered.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
The Drashigs are simply wonderful. Enormous creatures with six eyes, jagged teeth, and a segmented snake-like body, with a blood-curdling roar, they are even strong enough to withstand machine gun fire and to break through metal. Admittedly, the name Drashig was Robert Holmes’ amusing anagram of ‘dishrag’ but actually, they are one of the most alien creations in Doctor Who. They are not humanoid in shape, something which so few monsters in Doctor Who manage to achieve even now in the modern show. They move effectively, which also improves their realism, and look unlike anything else seen before or since. As a result, when the creatures burst forth from the swamp at the conclusion of the episode they are memorably terrifying. Behind the scenes, they were constructed around the skulls of small dogs and were operated as a glove puppet. With the triumphant return of Doctor Who to our screens has come one of the best pieces of merchandise ever created, a Drashig puppet from Character Options, which allows kids of all ages to recreate the scenes from the story.
Doctor Who – Jon Pertwee
Jo Grant – Katy Manning
Vorg – Leslie Dwyer
Major Daly – Tenniel Evans
Shirna – Cheryl Hall
Pletrac – Peter Halliday
Orum – Terence Lodge
John Andrews – Ian Marter
Claire Daly – Jenny McCracken
Kalik – Michael Wisher
Director – Barry Letts
Producer – Barry Letts
Writer – Robert Holmes
Also first aired On This Day…
- The Web of Fear: Episode 1
- The Armageddon Factor: Part 3
- Frontios: Part 4