Robot: Part 3
Broadcast on January 11th 1975 @ 5.30pm (10.10m viewers)
The beginning of Tom Baker’s reign as the Doctor places the new Time Lord into familiar surroundings, an Earth-based story written by departing Script Editor Terrance Dicks and marking Barry Letts’ final assignment as producer. UNIT, headed up by the Brigadier and ably assisted by Benton, are investigating the theft of secret plans and equipment. This style of story formed the foundation for the Jon Pertwee era of the show and so presents the new Doctor in an established format. As a result, Tom Baker takes centre stage and what a spectacular piece of casting he would prove to be, cementing his place as perhaps the most popular and recognisable incarnation of the character, supported by the costume created for him.
Another superb creation designed by James Acheson, who would later go on to win three Oscars, is the K1 Robot. Scenes, where the Robot has to move are a bit less convincing as poor Michael Kilgariff struggles to manoeuvre with his oversized and segmented feet. However, in static shots, it dominates the frame and quite rightly became a popular exhibit on display at a number of Doctor Who exhibitions over the years and still is to this day. In addition, to the spectacular design the Robot draws empathy from Sarah and, therefore, the viewers as it struggles to deal with the internal conflict caused by being instructed to do things which go against it’s programming. This script is a brilliant example of how good a writer Terrance Dicks was for Doctor Who, understanding the show in a way few have before or since, and delivering depth as well as entertainment.
The Scientific Reform Society are a throwback to the organisation seen in ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ (1974) but this group are headed up by Hilda Winters who is terrifyingly intense, a powerful speaker capable of rallying her supporters and a very strong female character at a time when those roles were not as common. The way in which the Doctor infiltrates the SRS meeting is highly entertaining, using his iconic long scarf to disable the guard it immediately stands out as a tool and not just a fashion statement. Once inside he is very amusing, drawing the attention of those in attendance and concluding with him sprawled across the table in a truly bizarre and alien manner. From this sequence alone the new Doctor is established as an engaging character, whimsical and mischievous, delighting those in the audience as borne out by the increasing popularity that the show would enjoy in subsequent years with Tom Baker in the role.
Also first aired On This Day…
- The Daleks: The Ambush (1964)
- The Krotons: Episode 3 (1969)
- Castrovalva : Part 3 (1982)
- Arc of Infinity: Part 3 (1983)