Doctor Who – The Daleks’ Master Plan. Part Seven – The Feast of Steven

For many years it was a widely held fan-myth that Nation and Spooner had penned alternate episodes of DMP – each installment ending on a “now get out of that” cliffhanger for the other one to deal with.

The reality (Nation writing 1-5 and 7, Spooner 6 and 8-12) was a little different, although at the start of Coronas of the Sun Spooner did have to resolve Nation’s previous cliffhanger which saw the Doctor surrounded by Daleks and apparently defeated.

When Spooner ended Coronas of the Sun with the Doctor warning Steven and Sara not to go outside, since the atmosphere was deadly, was this a challenge for Nation or just a gag at the Doctor’s expense?

Because for once they’ve not landed on a jungle planet, but instead have arrived in Britain during the mid sixties. The TARDIS has materialised outside a police station, which causes the boys in blue some consternation. Were the cast of Z Cars really due to appear in this sequence, before someone decided that it maybe wasn’t a good idea? Possibly it’s one of those drawing board ideas which progressed no further than that.

The appearance of Reg Pritchard as a man who’s come to report the fact that someone keeps moving his house (his greenhouse that is) enables the Doctor to tell him that he’s seen him before, in a market in Jaffa. Any fan who knows his Jethrik from his Jablite will be aware that Pritchard played Ben Daheer in The Crusade. Today, an in-joke like that would be picked up instantly by a section of the audience, but back in 1965 Doctor Who fans like that didn’t exist (a sobering thought I know). So this gag seems to have been put in (either by Hartnell or possibly Camfield) as something to amuse the crew. It’s an early sign there’s an “anything goes” feel about this Christmas Day episode.

There’s one lovely scene though, with Hartnell on sparkling form.

DETECTIVE-INSPECTOR: I’ve heard of a housing shortage, but I never knew it was so bad you’d have to spend Christmas in a Police Box.
DOCTOR: Oh, Christmas! Oh, is it? Of course, yes, yes, yes, yes! That accounts for the holly in the hall.
DETECTIVE-INSPECTOR: You mean you didn’t know?
DOCTOR: Well, of course I didn’t know! I travel about too much.
DETECTIVE-INSPECTOR: And why is that?
DOCTOR: Well, a quest of knowledge, dear boy. I mean, you have a saying in this country, have you not, er… “travel broadens the mind”?
DETECTIVE-INSPECTOR: You mean you’re not English?
DOCTOR: No, good gracious no!
DETECTIVE-INSPECTOR: Scottish?
DOCTOR: No.
DETECTIVE-INSPECTOR: Are you Welsh, then?
DOCTOR: Oh, you’ll have to think in a far bigger way than that! Your ideas are too narrow, too small, too crippled!
DETECTIVE-INSPECTOR: All right, all right. What are you then?
DOCTOR: Well, I suppose you might say that I am a citizen of the universe…and a gentleman, to boot!

Peter Purves gets to put on a Scouse accent (another nod to Z Cars) which is also good fun. It’s when they leave for Hollywood in 1920’s that things really get odd ….

The lack of visuals makes it impossible to know exactly how effective the Doctor’s misadventures in the film studio were, but with Camfield directing it almost certainly looked good. The dramatic piano music and silent inter-titles (another unusual meta textual joke) sound amusing and there’s some decent lines. Sara complains that a strange man keeps telling her to take her clothes off, whilst the Doctor succinctly sums the whole situation up. “This is a madhouse. It’s all full of Arabs.”

The Daleks are conspicuous by their absence though. Presumably it was felt that their brand of exterminating mayhem would have been a bit of a downer on Christmas Day. So instead Feast of Steven works (or not, depending on your point of view) as a stand-alone episode that has no connection at all to the rest of the serial.

Oh, and Hartnell’s Doctor ends by breaking the fourth wall years before Tom Baker did it …..

6 thoughts on “Doctor Who – The Daleks’ Master Plan. Part Seven – The Feast of Steven

  1. I put the following post on you previous reveiew of The Feast of Steven:

    There was an article on The Feast of Steven in a Christmas issue of Doctor Who Magazine. The person who wrote the article reckoned that if Daleks’ Master Plan had been a standard six part serial, then the last episode would have been broadcast on December the 18th, there would have been no Doctor Who on Christmas Day, and a new story would have started on January the 1st.

    In a DWM interview Pater Purves said that they had a custard pie fight in Daleks’ Master Plan, but he couldn’t remember it. But that’s because they didn’t do it. He did read the audio book of Daleks’ Master Plan and that included the pie fight. When John Peel did the novelisations of The Chase and Daleks’ Master Plan he put in elements from the original scripts which didn’t make it into the televised version, and the pie fight was one of them.

    The Doctor Who Magazine article states that the visit to 1920s Hollywood was going to end with a custard pie fight, but it was dropped from the final version.
    If Children In Need had been going in 1965 they might have included a mini-episode of Doctor Who in which the Tardis land in Newtown Police Station, and the Docctor Who team meet the Z-Cars team, and then they g back to 1920s Hollywood and have a custard pie fight.

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  2. And speaking of Christmas cross-overs. At one time I thought it would be rather good if Doctor Who did a crossover with Robin Hood (Jonas Armstrong version) for Christmas. They’ve never done a medieval Christmas episode.

    One of Martha’s siblings is studying medieval history, so the Doctor takes them to the middle ages. It’s the middle of July in Martha’s time, but when they arrive in Medieval England it’s Christmas. And they meet Robin Hood.

    Of course doing a crossover with another series, other than a Doctor Who spin-off would stretch the credibility of both series. Certainly an episode of Robin Hood where the Tardis, or any other alien spacecraft, lands in Sherwood Forest, would be stretching the series’ credibility.

    (The Guardian did a series of articles called Jump the Shark, looking at when various tv shows jumped the shark. In the last article they looked at Happy Days, and according to the writer Happy Days didn’t jump the shark in the episode where the Fonz jumped the shark, but in the episode where they go a visit from Mork from Orc.)

    But then I thought it would be fun to do a Doctor Who/Robin Hood crossover episode for Children in Need.

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  3. I cannot be quite sure where I heard this, but at some point in the 1980s/1990s it was being reported – in print – that the original intention was to cast some of the ‘Z-Cars’ actors in ‘The Feast of Steven’, for the scenes set in the Liverpool police station, so that it was explicit that the script was spoofing ‘Z-Cars’, and it was said that it was the Producer of ‘Z-Cars’ (or possibly the Controller, Television) who vetoed the idea, on the grounds that it might appear as if Dr Who was sending-up ‘Z-Cars’ (rather than vice versa).

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  4. I’m surprised that the BBC left Hartnell’s comment in the Hollywood studio (which I understand was an ad-lib) uncut in the audio release.

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  5. At the end of 1972 every episode of Doctor Who made up to that point existed, with the exception of The Feast of Steven. But oddly it’s the episode I’m least bothered about being returned to the BBC.

    Top of the list of episodes of Doctor Who I’d most like to see returned would be Marco Polo, the first missing serial. Next would be part four of The Tenth Planet. No explanation needed. Then I would choose the two missing episodes of The Crusade to complete the second series, and the missing episodes of The Reign of Terror to complete the first.

    I’d better choose some Troughton stories next, starting with the missing episodes of Evil of the Daleks, and Power of the Daleks. Next I’d choose the missing episode of The Web of Fear, and the missing episodes of The Abominable Snowman. And while I’m at it, I’ll choose the missing episodes of The Ice Warrior, and the outstanding Cybermen stories, The Moonbase, The Wheel in Space and The Invasion.

    Next up I’d choose the other missing historical stories. I’ve heard good things about The Massacre, so I’ll start with that one, and then The Myth Makers, The Smugglers and The Highlanders.

    Next I would pick The Celestial Toymaker because it’s unusual. I’ve also heard good things about Fury From the Deep, so that would be next, and I’ve seen the two surviving episodes of The Faceless Ones and thought it was an intriguing story, so I would pick that one next.

    Next I would choose Galaxy Four because I like the style, and then the rest of the Troughton stories, the two missing episodes of The Underwater Menace, The Macra Terror, and The Space Pirates.

    And lastly I’d pick Mission to the Unknown, episodes 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11 & 12 of Daleks’ Master Plan, and last of all The Feast of Steven.

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