The Green Death : Episode Six
First Broadcast June 23rd, 1973 @ 5.50pm (7m viewers)
‘The Green Death’. The Third Doctor story notable for those giant maggots. It is also a tale which features a blatant ecological message, scaremongering that toxic waste will kill you and that we should be more conscious about sustainable sources of food. The story showcases Doctor Who at it’s very best, a memorable monster which would stick in the minds of the audience and a deeply intelligent story which makes us consider the world around us. Like a number of stories from this era of the programme, this episode includes some CSO (green screen) sequences which are modern sensibilities cringe at. However, I’m sure in 1973 few viewers criticised the scenes of the giant fly attacking the Doctor and Benton in Bessie. Amazingly the fly still exists and is currently in the possession of the Prop Gallery website. The giant maggots prove memorable because they are simply so effective, brilliantly brought to screen by the visual effects team.
Capt. Yates would suffer heavily during this story, brainwashed into obeying the BOSS, pulling a gun on the Doctor and this episode opens with him at the mercy of the sinister Stevens. He would also be shaken by the impact humanity was having on planet Earth which would lead to the events of ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’. The character of Capt. Yates, ably brought to life by Richard Franklin, was only a semi-regular in the show but thanks to the intelligence of script editor and all-round genius Terrance Dicks, he received proper character development, something a number of companions would have benefited from. Jo Grant had been poised to go on a date with Capt. Yates at the beginning of ‘The Curse of Peladon’, whether they managed to have a date or not we don’t really know, but his disappointment at the end of the episode on learning of her engagement would land another blow to the character.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
Jo Grant’s decision to venture up the Amazon with Cliff Jones is also a body blow for the Doctor. Despite her lack of scientific knowledge, not passing her general science A Level, the Doctor had developed a strong friendship with Jo, growing fond of her youthful innocence and bravery in the face of a variety of monsters. His stoicism on realising she no longer needed him to look after her, slipping out quietly, unable to join in with the celebrations, glancing behind he cuts the forlorn figure of a broken man before finally driving off as the sun sets. It is one of the saddest endings to an episode of Doctor Who ever. Katy Manning rarely gets praised for her acting ability but her torment at saying goodbye to the Doctor, no doubt drawing on her personal despair at leaving the show she loved being a part of and barely holding her emotions together, is truly heartbreaking.
Doctor Who – Jon Pertwee
Jo Grant – Katy Manning
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart – Nicholas Courtney
Captain Mike Yates – Richard Franklin
Sergeant Benton- John Levene
Clifford Jones – Stewart Bevan
Nancy – Mitzi McKenzie
Stevens – Jerome Willis
Boss’s Voice- John Dearth
Guard – Terry Walsh
Director – Michael E. Briant
Producer – Barry Letts
Writer – Barry Letts
Writer – Robert Sloman
Also First Aired On This Day…
- The Sound of Drums
- Doctor Who Confidential : The Saxon Mystery