March 16th is a significant day in the history of Doctor Who with FOUR momentous moments!
The King’s Demons: Part 2
First Broadcast March 16th, 1983 @ 6.45pm (7.2m viewers)
The second and final part of ‘The King’s Demons’ introduces the character of shape-shifting robot Kamelion and concludes the adventure set in 13th Century England. Back from the dead once again is the Master with the reveal providing the cliffhanger reprised at the start of this episode. The plot of the story is appealing, recapturing the theme originally seen in 1965’s ‘The Time Meddler’ and surprisingly not explored as frequently as one might think as time travel narratives exploring the issue of what happens when historical events are tampered with are fascinatingly entertaining. It seems that the Master’s attempts to rob the world of the Magna Carta is purely to amuse himself rather than the typical plan of global conquest, another subtle deviation from anticipated tradition.
Kamelion was brought on board the TARDIS to become only the second non-humanoid companion and a direct replacement for K9. Sadly, Kamelion lacked the agreeable personality of the robotic canine and would prove an even more problematic prop. The robot was presented to producer John Nathan-Turner and impressed enough to warrant inclusion in the series, giving it the potential to provide the show with an alternative variation on the popular C-3PO character seen in Star Wars. However, the robot proved to be unreliable in studio, difficult for actors to work with and failed to live up to expectations, such as its total inability to walk. Even these days the prospect of a fully automated robotic companion is a little far fetched for our technologies let alone in the 1980’s. Unsurprisingly when Data was included in the first episode of a new Star Trek series (The Next Generation) a few years later the role was filled by actor Brent Spiner, not by a machine. Despite this when Kamelion is revealed he does look impressive.
As the Doctor opens the door to the King’s chambers he comes face to face with the silver robot, seated in a chair and strumming a lute. On addressing the Doctor Kamelion tilts its head subtly and throughout the other scenes it has enough animation to appear to the viewer as a fully functional android. Fortunately, it benefits from being a shapeshifting creature which allows for actors such as Gerald Flood to cover the majority of the dialogue and similarly Janet Fielding allows for the swift escape into the TARDIS. However, the difficult reality for the production team limited Kamelion’s onscreen appearances and a scene with it filmed for ‘The Awakening’ was cut due to the episode overrunning. Tragedy also struck as Mike Power who was responsible for the robot’s software was killed in an accident. As a result, Kamelion was a short-lived companion for the Fifth Doctor and never achieved it’s full potential but its inclusion should be celebrated as the show attempted to try something new and groundbreaking, a quality which Doctor Who doesn’t receive credit for as often as it should.
The Doctor – Peter Davison
Tegan Jovanka – Janet Fielding
The Master – Anthony Ainley
Turlough – Mark Strickson
Ranulf – Frank Windsor
The King – Gerald Flood
Isabella – Isla Blair
Hugh – Christopher Villiers
Sir Geoffrey – Michael J. Jackson
Director -Tony Virgo
Producer – John Nathan-Turner
Writer – Terence Dudley
Also first aired On This Day…
- Fury from the Deep: Episode 1
- Death to the Daleks: Part 4
- Earthshock: Part 4
- The Caves of Androzani: Part 4
- Timelash: Part 2