Mawdryn Undead : Part 1
Broadcast on February 1st, 1983 @ 6.50pm (6.5 million viewers)
‘Mawdryn Undead’ is an interesting story which presents concepts that had up until that point not been explored in as much detail by the programme as they would be here. For instance, we have an individual posing as the Doctor claiming he has regenerated again but his companions hadn’t been present for and that individual is also planning to steal the Doctor’s remaining regenerations in order to achieve immortality. Also, there is the exploration of what can happen to the timeline if two individuals from different time zones were to meet. Written by Peter Grimwade, who had been Production Assistant and Director on a number of serials, his first script ‘Time Flight’ had also dealt with the potential of time-hopping and would be repeated as the Doctor’s companions would be separated between different time zones.
The story opens with a pair of mischievous schoolboys commandeering a classic car and taking it for a little joyride, which of course does not end well. From the accident we see our first returnee to the series, the Black Guardian, who had been previously thwarted by the Fourth Doctor in his attempt to capture the Key to Time at the conclusion of ‘The Armageddon Factor’ in 1979 and declared “Doctor, you shall die for this!” Now it seems his threat is coming to fruition. In the same way as the Trickster would later do in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’, the Black Guardian appeals to Turlough when at his most desperate. In exchange for transportation away from Earth Turlough is tasked with killing the Time Lord known as the Doctor. The fact that Turlough is so keen to escape Earth intriguingly reveals his alien origins despite the English schoolboy attire.
The vehicle which was involved in the accident is revealed to have belonged to a very familiar face, Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart…
“In 30 years of soldiering I’ve never encountered such destructive power as I have seen displayed here and now by the British schoolboy.”
This was Nicholas Courtney’s first appearance in Doctor Who since ‘Terror of the Zygons’ in 1975, the actor unavailable to reprise his role in ‘The Android Invasion’ or ‘The Seeds of Doom’ later that season, and marked the personal milestone of working with all five Doctors. His first role in Doctor Who was as Bret Vyon in the epic adventure ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’ but since 1968 had played the role of the Brigadier and would rack up appearances in 23 different stories as that character culminating in ‘Battlefield’ in 1989. Original plans were to have seen William Russell reprise the role of Ian Chesterton for the story but when he was unavailable the Brigadier became a more than suitable replacement. No longer sporting his infamous ‘stick on’ moustache and seemingly having left UNIT to become a teacher, for sketchy reasons which highlight the intended use of teacher Ian, it is a delight to see this muchloved character once again.
The Doctor – Peter Davison
Nyssa – Sarah Sutton
Tegan Jovanka – Janet Fielding
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart – Nicholas Courtney
Mawdryn -David Collings
Black Guardian – Valentine Dyall
Vislor Turlough – Mark Strickson
Headmaster – Angus MacKay
Hippo Ibbotson – Stephen Garlick
Director – Peter Moffatt
Producer – John Nathan-Turner
Writer – Peter Grimwade
Also first aired On This Day…
- The Daleks : The Rescue
- The Seeds of Death : Episode 2
- The Ark in Space : Part 2
- Kinda : Part 1