Bradley’s Basement’s Strange Love – ‘Logopolis’


Tim Bradley:
“Hello everyone!

And welcome to the second ‘Bradley’s Basement’s Strange Love’!

I’m Tim Bradley of ‘Bradley’s Basement’ and I’m joined by Wolfie…”

Wolfie:
“Hello, all. It’s a pleasure to be here, Tim!”

Tim Bradley:
“WilliamsFan92…”

WilliamsFan92:
“Hiya, folks!”

Tim Bradley:
“And Timelord007.”

Timelord007:
“Thank you, all! Please form an autograph queue later.”

Tim Bradley:
“I had hoped we’d get Whiskeybrewer on board for this discussion on ‘Logopolis’ and he said he would have liked to have joined us. Sadly, he’s had to bow out due to being busy where he is. A shame really, but hopefully we can invite him again for a future ‘Strange Love’ discussion or a future ‘BB’ project, whatever it may be.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I respect Whiskeybrewer’s decision.”

Timelord007:
“He’s abandoned ship? Good! That means no more chin jokes at my expense.” (Pause; realises) “Actually, I’m going miss those chin jokes.” 😦

Wolfie:
“Godspeed, Whiskey. We’ll keep the cabin warm for you.”

Tim Bradley:
“Anyway, thank you, WF92, Timelord and Wolfie for saying ‘yes’ to coming back to doing another one of these ‘Strange Love’ discussions!”

WilliamsFan92:
“Anything for you, Tim!”

Wolfie:
“I had a lot of fun doing ‘The Keeper of Traken’. I don’t think wild Melkur with savage eye-beams could have kept me away.”

Timelord007:
“And this story – ‘Logopolis’ – is going be an emotional one for me.”

Tim Bradley:
“I’m sure it will be, Timelord. And I think it’s fair to say that WF92 suggested we do a discussion on this particular ‘Doctor Who’ story!” (jokingly) “So, it’s his fault in case anyone wants to complain.”

WilliamsFan92:
“You may all lock me in the TARDIS after we’re done here.”

Laughter ensues.

Tim Bradley:
“I hoped we could do a ‘Strange Love’ discussion on 1989 ‘Batman’, but I’ve decided to postpone that for another occasion. Perhaps sometime in 2022, if everyone’s okay with that! And I hoped to do this one before Christmas comes along as everyone will be busy by then.”

Timelord007:
“Ah! I have fond nostalgic memories of August 1989 and seeing ‘Batman’ on the big screen, but that’s a story for another time.”

WilliamsFan92:
“An absolute gem in comic book films and films in general.”

Wolfie:
“Oh, it’s been years and years. I’m looking forward to revisiting it to see what memories shake loose.”

Tim Bradley:
“And before I forget, we’re sharing this discussion on Sarah Sutton’s birthday today! So…Happy Birthday, Sarah!”

Timelord007:
“Happy Birthday to the wonderful Sarah Sutton!”

Wolfie:
“Happy birthday to Sarah Sutton!”

WilliamsFan92:
“Many happy returns Sarah! I’m glad to have finally met you at a convention.”

Tim Bradley:
“So, today, we’re talking about ‘Logopolis’, the final story of Season 18 in ‘Doctor Who’ and the last story for Tom Baker’s era. This was transmitted on BBC TV from the 28th of February to the 21st of March 1981.

Um, I don’t know about you, but I had to watch ‘Logopolis’ a number of times in order to understand it, since it’s quite complicated on a first viewing. Over the years, I comprehend the story more, but back then, I was pretty baffled. Did you have to do that with re-watching the story in order to understand it?”

Wolfie:
“Tricky to say, Tim. I came to ‘Logopolis’ well and truly on the coattails of fanlore. It’s definitely one that relies on the audience to be paying attention. Normally, our companions are in the know enough to translate some of the more complex ideas of a story. If not, then the Doctor will explain to us via them. Trouble is, I think in ‘Logopolis’, he doesn’t quite know what’s happening either. It operates almost like a mystery. We’re piecing together components of the story ourselves while the Doctor’s own suspicions grow. We only get one major clue before we arrive with the Logopolitans. “A chain of circumstances that fragments the laws, which hold the universe together!” Some kind of Domino effect that’s started from… From where? Well, Traken, actually. Not Earth. But, more on that later.”

Timelord007:
‘Logopolis’ is an emotional story for me to watch. Tom Baker looked tired throughout Season 18, due to being ill, and JNT and Chris Bidmead wanted him gone. However, the six-year-old me remembers watching this story, being terrified of the Watcher and running to tell my mum that ‘Doctor Who’ had changed into the vet from ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ to which she looked at me puzzled. Then again, she still looks at me like that even today.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I have to admit to only seeing this story once and I can’t remember all of the technical stuff, but I certainly got a lot of enjoyment from it in terms of characters, story and set design.”

Tim Bradley:
“I have to say, I have mixed feelings about ‘Logopolis’ as a finale to Season 18 of ‘Doctor Who’ and as a swansong for Tom Baker’s Doctor. On the one hand, the concepts Chris Bidmead introduces are intriguing, especially with block transfer computation and the idea of a TARDIS within a TARDIS situation. I’m not a science expert like he is, but it’s intriguing how he incorporate the ideas he introduces in his stories.”

However, I don’t think ‘Logopolis’ is a story that defines Tom Baker’s era well as a whole. With a story like ‘The End of Time’ from the new TV series, it defined David Tennant’s Doctor well in a heroic sense and it gives him a dramatic, emotional exit in terms of his self-sacrifice. Here, there’s not much of that and it’s like the energy that used to be in Tom Baker’s Doctor seems to have been drained away by this point.

Do you agree or disagree with that?”

WilliamsFan92:
“It’s understandable. Maybe that was meant to be reflected in the story. Tom had been going for a record seven years as the Doctor, so who knows how long he lived for in-universe. It’s a shame to a degree. He does however get to die doing what he loved, saving people. And in this case, he was trying to save all people, which he sadly didn’t manage completely, but I’d say he had a heroic send-off by the end of the story.”

Wolfie:
“Good thought, WilliamsFan92. Yeah, I agree with the above statement, Tim. ‘Logopolis’ doesn’t really capture the energy of the Fourth Doctor’s previous two eras. Mind you, if I think about it, it fits well with the theme of the season though, doesn’t it? “Entropy increases.”

Tim Bradley:
“Okay, if you can elaborate on that, Wolfie, that’d be much appreciated.”

Wolfie:
“I’ll give it a go. Well, ‘Logopolis’ has an eerie quality to it like the calm before the storm. Where the air is charged with static and you can hear the rumble of a cloudburst in the distance. It makes for a curious bookend. The debut of the Fourth Doctor, ‘Robot’, was just as non-indicative of what his tenure on the show would be like. If I had to pick a point of comparison, using only the past 17 years of the show, the closest to this might just be first episode of ‘The Space Museum’ from the First Doctor’s years. We’re seeing the effects of an action before their immediate cause (the ka-boom before the lit fuse). Something is awry with the universe in quite a fundamental sort of way. The watch and its watchmakers are beginning to slow down and miss beats in time. And in the ‘Doctor Who’ universe, things slip through those gaps…”

Timelord007:
“I personally think it wasn’t dramatic enough. Tom’s seven-year-stint builds towards this average finale. The foreboding is a great build-up when the Doctor sees the Watcher and realises who he is, but I guess at the time, Tom, in his own words ‘wanted to be gone’ and there were a lot of changes tonally to the show, which annoyed him along with tensions between him and JNT, and his on/off relationship with Lalla Ward. I guess Tom felt the series wasn’t his baby anymore.”

Tim Bradley:
“Yeah, in as much that ‘Logopolis’ isn’t as great a swansong for Tom Baker’s Doctor as I would like, there is a lot going on in this story for everyone to enjoy. I mean, you have the departure of the Fourth Doctor, the introduction of Tegan, the re-introduction of Nyssa, the re-introduction of the Master, the coming of the Watcher and the regeneration from Tom Baker into Peter Davison itself. It’s all go in this adventure, isn’t it? I’m amazed Chris Bidmead was able to balance all that out in the storytelling.” 😀

WilliamsFan92:
“He must have had fun thinking all that up.”

Timelord007:
“The story has to set up a new companion in Tegan, address the return of the Master, re-introduce Nyssa, and try to deliver an emotional swansong for my favourite Doctor. Where’s Russell T. Davies when you need him?”

Wolfie:
“Oh, attaching jumper cables to his brand new TARDIS for another jaunt around the cosmos, I’ll wager. It’s a tall order getting a shopping list like ‘Logopolis’ all sorted out and telling a good story. You need a deft hand.”

Tim Bradley:
“Timelord has already said that he saw this story when it came out in 1981 when he was six years old. I first saw ‘Logopolis’ on DVD as part of the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy when it was released in 2007. I must have seen ‘Logopolis’ more times now since then, both on DVD and Blu-ray and through the Target novelization/audiobook read by Chris Bidmead. I’d like to think I know the story off by heart now.” 😀

Timelord007:
“The Target novel/audio does flesh out the story better, giving it a better explanation. However, one shouldn’t have to listen to an audiobook to get a better understanding of the story, as the televised episodes should have done that.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I first saw this story on Britbox with ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and ‘Castrovalva’. I will soon re-watch the story again in ‘The Collection’ Season 18 Blu-ray box set and I’ve also got the Target audiobook as part of the first Master collection on Audible.”

Wolfie:
“I think it would have been the ‘New Beginnings’ box set from the local library, yeah. I think I’ve also got the novelisation somewhere as well. I’ll have to dig around.”

Tim Bradley:
“The word ‘sombre’ is a word that keeps being used whenever to describe ‘Logopolis’ as a ‘Doctor Who’ story. Would you say that’s a fair assessment and summary of how the story turned out?”

Timelord007:
“Yes! As soon as the Watcher calls to the Doctor on the bridge and you see from a distance, the Doctor lowers his head. It’s like he’s just seen a ghost.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I can certainly say ‘Logopolis’ is very sombre, especially towards the end, both with the destruction of the universe and when the Fourth Doctor meets his demise.”

Wolfie:
“I was looking up the broadcast dates for these stories to check a few details and found something interesting. ‘Logopolis’ reminds me an awful lot of ‘The Neverending Story’, released about three years later. Fantasy worlds up against a ‘terrible nothing’! A sense of forbidding gloom crawling up over the whole thing! Season 18 from ‘The Leisure Hive’ to ‘The Keeper of Traken’ has circled around the theme of decay and renewal. From the Argolins to the Vampires to the Tharils to the Logopolitans! Here, that pervading energy becomes a literal antagonistic force. ‘Logopolis’ is almost the ‘Doctor Who’ equivalent of a disaster film with the entropy wave sweeping across the universe in a blanketing abyss. And the Doctor only stops it late. He doesn’t prevent it. Half the universe is engulfed in that corrosion we see eat away at the Monitor. Even the Master’s appalled. Fitting the crisis of cause and effect being out of balance! It’s a funereal sort of tale, but we see the wake before the funeral itself.”

Tim Bradley:
“On a side note, maybe I should check out ‘The Neverending Story’ sometime.” 😀


Christopher Hamilton Bidmead

Tim Bradley:
“Like ‘Logopolis’, I have mixed feelings about Christopher H. Bidmead as a script editor as well as a writer in ‘Doctor Who’. On the one hand, he’s clearly a clever guy. He’s into his science-fiction and he seems to come up with these mind-boggling ideas for his stories involving recursion and such.

However, I don’t think Chris Bidmead quite understands character drama. He seems to imply he knows how to develop characters, but I don’t think that’s reflected in the stories he tells which can often be more plot-focused than character-focused. There’s not even enough time for Tegan and Nyssa to reflect on their deaths of their loved ones. This includes Tegan’s Aunt Vanessa as well as Nyssa’s father and her home world of Traken.”

Timelord007:
“This was a problem for a lot of stories, especially with companion exits back then. Christopher Bidmead is no Russell T. Davies, who wrote great characters and emotional arcs. Bidmead’s idea was Aunt Vanessa and Tremas have been murdered by the Master; look upset for a minute; and then move on so his script can waffle on about block transfer computations.”

Wolfie:
“He likes his big concepts as a writer. The characters are used more as implements to tweeze apart ideas on recursion, causality and similar. Then they are for their psychology and reactions. Nyssa probably gets the most effective moment as a companion with the Traken Union annihilated before her very eyes. It is telling though, that one of Nyssa’s most prominent character traits became that she didn’t grieve. It just wasn’t in her nature. With the benefit of hindsight, we can say, “Well, it’s too big. How does one grieve for what are potentially millions of planets?” But, Tegan? She gets the same treatment and her loss is arguably a lot more immediate and human. She saw her aunt only minutes or hours ago by her time.”

Tim Bradley:
“Just to say, Wolfie, the reaction Nyssa had to Traken being blotted out forever. That’s something you mentioned when we were editing one of my stories for an upcoming Divergent Wordsmiths anthology recently, wasn’t it?”

Wolfie:
“Indeed! Something which you, dear readers at home, will be able to peruse at your leisure in ‘The Paul Spragg ReCollections, Volume 2′!”

Tim Bradley:
“The story I mentioned is called ‘Girl Out of Nowhere’ by the way.”

Wolfie:
“We revisit Nyssa’s reaction in a sense. It’s a great scene for Sarah Sutton and for the character as well in ‘Logopolis’. Something I noticed when reviewing the story was she doesn’t shed a tear. Her eyes water, her voice breaks, but she’s resolutely stoic. It becomes something of a signature moment for her moving forward.”

Tim Bradley:
“It’s very interesting how Bidmead devises a story and how it’s executed on-screen. Whether that was true to his original vision or not is yet to be determined.”

Wolfie:
“One of my favourite stories actually comes from Bidmead, but it’s not a typical outing for him. It’s ‘Frontios’. A story that has his positive, intellectually-engaged Fifth Doctor in surroundings influenced much more by his successor, Eric Saward’s, sensibilities. It’s a grim planet with the human survivors clinging on through cynicism, secrets and paranoia. Frontios is not a good place to be, it buries its own dead, but we get the emotional weight and reactions that are otherwise light in these stories. However, and this is a big however, ‘Logopolis’ does have one catch. Credit where credit’s due! While no other character gets to deal with their emotional content, those first two episodes give the Fourth Doctor enormous space to emote and ponder. Almost all the major character beats come from Tom Baker, reacting to the Watcher and coming to realise that he might not have tomorrow this time.”

Tim Bradley:
“That’s an interesting insight you have there about Chris Bidmead’s writing, Wolfie. Thanks for sharing that.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I don’t have much of an opinion on Chris Bidmead. I enjoyed both ‘Logopolis’ and ‘Castrovalva’, haven’t yet seen ‘Frontios’ and I certainly have a soft spot for Season 18 in general.”

Tim Bradley:
“It’s interesting that Chris Bidmead did only one season for ‘Doctor Who’ as script editor. Had he been paid more and had the BBC listened to his demands, would anyone have coped with a second season under his reign as script editor? Would it make things better or would it make it worse? I somewhere in the middle about it.”

Wolfie:
“Ooh, interesting question. I don’t actually know. It would’ve certainly been different to what we got under Saward. His version of ‘Doctor Who’ was one that leant more towards the tropes of crime and used future sci-fi like ‘Alien’. A grungy, punkish vision of travels in time and space that eventually came to a head with ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’ and ‘The Caves of Androzani’. Both of which, alongside ‘Earthshock’, which ended up being the template for many of the changes made to Season 22! Bidmead’s stories are, in terms of tone, a lot more technical and theoretical. A universe built on mathematics, rather than a bedrock of corrupted institutions.”

WilliamsFan92:
“Well, Season 19 was great under Anthony Root and later Eric Saward. It might have been good under Bidmead, but we can’t be sure, so I think it’s better with who took over from him.”

Timelord007:
“I can’t say I was too excited by Bidmead’s time on the show. He had some good ideas which were poorly executed. Thankfully, Andrew Smith, Terrance Dicks and Johnny Bryne wrote a great set of stories, which were my favourites of the season.”

Tim Bradley:
“We’ve talked about Chris Bidmead’s televised stories in ‘Logopolis’, ‘Castrovalva’ and ‘Frontios’ as well as Season 18 overall. He also wrote stories for Big Finish – ‘Renaissance of the Daleks’ – technically a story by him, although Nick Briggs rewrote most of it, I believe – and ‘The Hollows of Time’. I’ve enjoyed those stories, but do you think Chris Bidmead’s stories on audio work better compared to his TV stories?”

Wolfie:
“Difficult to say in the case of ‘Renaissance of the Daleks’, as it was so heavily reconstructed for its eventual release. ‘The Hollows of Time’… It’s not my cup of tea, unfortunately. The technical aspects override the storytelling and it’s all the more apparent when slotted between its bookends: ‘Leviathan’, a superb Sixth Doctor and Peri story that uses both leads to extremely good effect, and ‘Paradise 5’, a character study that Peri never really got on television. It’s a shame about ‘Hollows’, I rather like the Tractators and Professor Stream makes for an interesting mystery.”

Timelord007:
‘The Hollows of Time’, I quite liked on some level. Would it have worked in the Eric Saward era of stories? I’m not so sure it would have. ‘Renaissance of the Daleks’ is an enjoyable audio drama, but is more Nick Briggs’ story than Bidmead’s.”

Tim Bradley:
“Just to share something with you. I purchased Chris Bidmead’s ‘Myth Makers’ interview from Reeltime Pictures this year. From watching that and other DVD/Blu-ray interviews with him, it’s interesting how he viewed writing and script-editing ‘Doctor Who’ and working with other writers. It’s also interesting how he often praised certain writers and directors and how he often criticised certain ones. Names like Lovett Bickford and Paul Joyce come to mind.”

Wolfie:
“Lovett Bickford did ‘The Leisure Hive’, from memory. Looking at it now, it has an eerie future shock to it. The production values are almost like the revival series transplanted into the 1980s. Apparently, he went severely over-budget, unfortunately, so I understand why he was dropped, but stunning work all the same. The irony of ‘Warriors’ Gate’, the production with Paul Joyce, was, I believe, the first time we got Graeme Harper stepping up into the director’s chair on the programme. So, out of all that chaos, we ended up with one of the show’s most innovative and compelling contributors behind the camera.”

Timelord007:
“Don’t get me started on ‘Warriors’ Gate’. It looks well that it took nearly 40 years for the Target audiobook to be released for me to get a clearer narrative of that story. Blame Paul Joyce all you like, but Bidmead was the script editor. The buck stops with him.”

Tim Bradley:
“I’m pleased the Target audiobook of ‘Warriors’ Gate’ not only improved the story but was also reshaped by its original author Stephen Gallagher. I think the ‘Warriors’ Gate’ Target audiobook might be confirmation that Chris Bidmead and Paul Joyce did more of the tampering and included more of their egos whereas they should have allowed more of Stephen Gallagher’s original writing to come through. I think it’s fair to say that the stories by Bidmead including ‘Logopolis’, ‘Castrovalva’ and ‘Frontios’ showcase his ego.”

WilliamsFan92:
“It should really be down to the script editor to choose the right stories and tweak them where necessary, but then if the writer did a bad job, that doesn’t let them off the hook. Of course, most of Season 18 has been a joy to watch, so I don’t know if there is anything for people to be blamed for.”

Tim Bradley:
“Do you think it was right under Chris Bidmead’s era as script editor to tone down the humour that was prevalent in the Douglas Adams era or do you think there should have been more humour?”

Wolfie:
“Hmm! The overpowering comedy aspects, yes! Douglas Adams was apparently of the opinion that his scripts should be played straight. You can see that in ‘The Pirate Planet’ and the Fourth Doctor’s explosive outburst at the Captain when he’s asked to appreciate mass slaughter. It’s a stunning, dangerous moment. The humour, though… ‘City of Death’ strikes a perfect balance, for me, because the parts that amuse don’t upstage the parts that thrill. The core of the story is about an attempted genocide. That’s pretty dire business. However, it doesn’t become suffocating, one way or the other. And I think there were moments later on that required a bit of a light touch. Not under Bidmead, but definitely later on with the Sixth Doctor and such. ‘Battlefield’ with the Seventh Doctor is a great example of pathos and fun in the same story without either undercutting one another.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I do get quite a few laughs from certain ‘Doctor Who’ stories, but there are times where I haven’t laughed at all and that comes from stories that aren’t a part of this era a lot of the time. So I think it’s safe to say that drama over humour does often work.”

Timelord007:
“Yes, I agree with the toning down of some of the more overt humour which took place throughout Season 17, but Tom Baker’s performance here doesn’t fit with his character over the last six years. He seems more sombre and subdued. You need a balance when humour is needed and when it’s not. It’s well-known that JNT wanted a younger Doctor and Bidmead shut Tom out of ad-libbing lines. I think it shows in Tom’s performance. He’s annoyed at these changes and just wanted to leave the show, which he thought wasn’t his anymore.”

Tim Bradley:
“Incidentally, the concept that Chris Bidmead puts into his story about flooding the TARDIS interior with the Thames to flush out the Master. I’m not sure how that would have worked, if they actually dared to do it, but I imagine the Earth would be sucked dry of water if the Doctor attempted that.” 🙂

Timelord007:
“Not on the BBC special effects budget. Can you imagine the CSO? Urgh! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when the Doctor suggested this. It sounded utterly ridiculous.”

Wolfie:
“At the very least, there’d be a rare opportunity to make sandcastles at the bottom of the Thames.”

WilliamsFan92:
“The Doctor, Adric and the Master would probably drown if that occurred, so not a good idea there.”

Tim Bradley:
“Chris Bidmead also likes to make use of the TARDIS a lot in his stories, especially with the Cloister Room in ‘Logopolis’, the Zero Room in ‘Castrovalva’ and destroying the TARDIS up in ‘Frontios’. I know there might be a lot of time devoted to that angle in his stories, but I appreciate the effort Chris Bidmead used to explore more about the TARDIS than what we might already know. Especially when he comes up with the idea of deleting or jettisoning TARDIS rooms, like with deleting space and storage on a computer somewhat.”

Timelord007:
“The jettisoning of TARDIS rooms: I never understood that, because the TARDIS has regenerative powers. So, surely jettisoning one room would immediately defeat the objective.”

WilliamsFan92:
“Yes, but maybe the jettisoned rooms did regenerate at some point or they built them again as we sometimes see or… Argh!!! You’re rubbing off on me, Timelord! Thanks to that line, I’ll never look at ‘Logopolis’ and ‘Castrovalva’ the same way again!”

Laughter ensues.

WilliamsFan92:
“Just kidding, I’ll be fine. I can stick to my own interpretation of jettisoning TARDIS rooms. It makes sense to me.”

Wolfie:
“You know… I think Bidmead may have started the trend of us viewing the TARDIS as a malleable space. Something with defined parameters. Sleek and polished. Computer-controlled, rather than thumped together, in the style of A. A. Milne, with a hammer and nails (and a small eternity in one’s back pocket).”


Logopolis and its Significance in the Universe

Tim Bradley:
“In the story, Chris Bidmead introduces the concept of Logopolis being like the centre of the universe…or as the Monitor says, the ‘keystone’. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t buy that at all. I’m sure other writers like Robert Holmes, Terrance Dicks, Stephen Gallagher, Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat have their own take on what they consider to be ‘the centre of the universe’ in ‘Doctor Who’. It’s interesting how Chris Bidmead tackles the concept, but it’s also astonishing how these various versions of what is essential as the ‘keystone’ in the ‘Doctor Who’ universe don’t collate with each other.”

WilliamsFan92:
“Since when has ‘Doctor Who’ ever had any sort of continuity? The centre of the universe isn’t the only thing that changes between eras. And not to mention, it might have changed, especially since it’s destroyed by the end.”

Wolfie:
“The running of the universe in ‘Doctor Who’ has a pair of unusual similes you can use to describe it as a whole. It’s all stabilised by forces that work quite a lot like a symphonic orchestra. You have the strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion and conductor. Without all working in concert, parts of the music sound hollow and empty.

‘Logopolis’ started a fascination with places of power which upheld, in ancient political terms, what’s called the body politic. Another metaphor, which works rather well! If organs such as the heart or the lungs fail, then the body goes into convulsions. Steve Parkhouse, a writer of the ‘Doctor Who’ comics, leant into a similar frame of thought with his Fifth Doctor story ‘The Tides of Time’ just a couple years later in 1982.

The cataclysm that emerged there was because another keystone, the Event Synthesiser, played by the Prime Mover, struck the wrong note and let something malevolent through the gap. If all of these places; spaces and entities work in harmony, perhaps even unaware of one another, then the universe putters merrily along its way. Disrupt even one of those keystones, though, like the Master does on Logopolis.”

Timelord007:
“But imagine travelling to the centre of the universe, you’re excited to meet new civilizations, and then you’re introduced to the most boring race of aliens.”

Tim Bradley:
“Yeah, I imagine life would be pretty boring on Logopolis if I had to live there for a couple of days. I mean, what would the Logopolitans’ every day topics of conversation be about? Would it all be about mathematics and mathematics? Then again, the Logopolitans don’t tend to speak a lot when they’re using their abacus beads; which is outdated compared to using iPads and android tablets.”

WilliamsFan92:
“Probably not a great living place for non-Logopolitans then!”

Tim Bradley:
“I don’t think I would have coped there for very long.”

Timelord007:
“It’d be very boring conversations with the Logopolitans. “Oh today, I did some wonderful block transfer computations. And then for afternoon tea, I had fruit scones and crumpets. And then it was back to more block computations.” It’s jolly fun old mathematics.”

Wolfie:
“At first glance, it reminds me an awful lot of a cloister of monks in a monastery. I imagine the day-to-day conversations would be very similar. A study of mathematics and discipline in their computations! I wonder where the Logopolitans themselves come from. Do they recruit new members or are they an immortal people who have ‘always’ been this way (i.e. longer than people can remember)? The Monitor notes that block transfer computations can’t be fed into a computer without altering the computer itself, so the process is done in a purely organic fashion. However, I suspect there’s another reason why they don’t use machinery. If you cast your mind back to ‘The Deadly Assassin’, the Matrix is a marvellous piece of equipment to us. Stunning in its applications! The Doctor, though, says that there are some civilisations where it could be considered ‘obsolete junk’. An abacus is certainly primitive in terms of calculation tools, but the Logopolitans never need to worry about technology advancing. They never need the latest tablet, service update or storage device. Their software is their hardware. Their methods can remain the same forever. Never changing! Never vulnerable to internal error from changing systems! All threats come from without, rather than within.”

Tim Bradley:
“It’s funny. I did a degree in Information Systems when I was at Cardiff University from 2007 to 2010. From doing that degree, I was able to appreciate the concepts Chris Bidmead introduced in stories like ‘Logopolis’ and ‘Castrovalva’ (especially with recursion). The Logopolitan society does reflect how a computer would function with its CPU, monitor and internal innings. In fact, that’s why the Monitor’s called the ‘monitor’ since he’s the ‘head’ of the particular society. I’m curious as to whether people would get that and have a vast knowledge of computers, since computers back in the 1980s weren’t as sophisticated as they are nowadays.”

Timelord007:
“Well, this planet’s about to get a very unwelcome visitor.”

Tim Bradley:
(puzzled) “What, the Internet?”

Timelord007:
“It seems Christopher Bidmead created the Internet nine years before Tim Berners-Lee did.”

Tim Bradley:
“Hmm. Well, Chris Bidmead did write for the ‘New Scientist’. That must have revolutionised computers.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I’ve actually done a couple of computer-based courses in my time and done pretty well. How clever of you, Tim, to point out that the Monitor parallels a computer’s monitor in that he is the head of things. I wonder if there were other positions under or even above him.”

Wolfie:
“Another interesting thought. I suppose if we extend the metaphor a bit further, then the Doctor functions as essentially the user. The Monitor acting as a means of output between the otherwise invisible or unknowable Logopolitans! He’s a user interface, so to speak. It’s interesting. His rapport with the Doctor strongly implies that they’ve met before. Indeed, they act very much like old friends, but it’s not clarified when or how they encountered one another. One assumes on Logopolis. The conversation they immediately have together on arrival implies that the Doctor might have been invited to join them. Instead, he continued his wanderings and the Monitor, his calculations.”

Tim Bradley:
“It’s shocking when the Logopolitans are erased once the Master unleashes the entropy wave across the universe. In ‘Parts Two and Three’, we see the Logopolitans in their cells working away at their abacus beads. By the time ‘Part Three’ ends, they’re no longer there. I can’t imagine what entropy would look like, but like Covid-19, it’s bound to be an invisible enemy if I may use that from another ‘Doctor Who’ title.”

Timelord007:
“It certainly adds a bit more suspense to the plot. That one person’s evil murderous actions can change the whole course of the universe. Something we, as humans, have sadly found out with Covid-19.”

WilliamsFan92:
‘Logopolis’ predicted the future in a way, only on a much larger scale, given that the entropy doesn’t just destroy people, but the planets they live on as well.”

Wolfie:
“Plague describes it well. We see it take on multiple forms over the course of the story. In the case of Logopolis, it’s a grotesque, almost jaundiced static. Across the universe, it’s a typhoon of night racing to engulf the stars. Face-to-face on the ground, its decay is an invisible force like dark matter that cripples on a dimensional level. We never get a sense of the full picture, though, and I think that helps keep it a compelling menace. It’s like an earthquake. The image is uncertain, but the destruction it wreaks is incalculable. We know only one thing for certain. It kills.”


Farewell Tom Baker

Timelord007:
(sobs uncontrollably) “I need a few minutes, guys! “It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for.”.”

Timelord007 goes in a corner and does some Soldeed sobbing acting.

Wolfie:
“Is Timelord going to be alright?”

Tim Bradley:
(reassuringly) “He’ll be fine. He quickly recovered during our ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ review.”

Wolfie:
“I hope you’re collecting the insurance premiums on that Zero Room…”

Tim Bradley:
(laughs; continues) “I have to say, despite Tom Baker being a difficult actor to work with and not being his 100% bonkers self as he had been in previous seasons, he still gives a good performance as the Fourth Doctor here. It’s also intriguing how he played the Fourth Doctor dealing with his demise.”

Wolfie:
“Well, following his time on ‘Doctor Who’, Tom Baker would frequently be cast in roles that can often be described as sagely outsiders. Puddleglum, the Bendu, and so on! It begins in ‘The Leisure Hive’, but that same wearied acceptance is on display in full force for ‘Logopolis’.

As uneven as the pacing for this serial can be, it can’t be denied it gives Baker ample opportunity to portray a ruminating, overcast Doctor. It makes me wonder, actually, how different his departure might have been if it were, say, ‘Shada’.

Would he have approached his final story with the same gravitas? Delivered that final speech about himself as ‘such a nice old man’ in the same way? Or would he have hung up his scarf in a manner with more whimsy? It’s food for thought, certainly.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I’m not sure how I’d have felt if I worked with Tom Baker during his time on the show. He is said to have gotten on well with Elisabeth Sladen, Philip Hinchcliffe and John Leeson (although in ‘The Leisure Hive’ documentary, Tom claimed to have hated K-9). I presume he got on with Ian Marter. When Louise Jameson came along, he didn’t warm to her and this continued on with Mary Tamm. I wonder what he and Lalla Ward saw in each other. However, that’s all in the past because he, Louise Jameson, Lalla Ward and Matthew Waterhouse are all working together again, Janet Fielding was his agent at some point in her life, and before his death, even John-Nathan Turner made up with Tom. Regardless of all that, Tom is still a great actor both on TV and audio. He is and always will be, one of the greatest icons of ‘Doctor Who’.”

Tim Bradley:
“I’m sure Tom and Mary Tamm got on well with each other when they made ‘The Key to Time’ season together. Also, I didn’t realise Janet represented Tom Baker as his agent one time.”

WilliamsFan92:
“Okay, I guess I should watch ‘The Key to Time’ saga and anything related to it to get knowledge on the relationship between Tom and Mary. Janet also represented Paul McGann as his agent when he went up for the ‘Doctor Who’ TV movie.”

By this point, Timelord007 has returned.

Tim Bradley:
“Tom Baker said in a DVD interview that it comes across that there’s something worrying the Fourth Doctor throughout ‘Logopolis’. This is particularly the case when he tries to fix the TARDIS’ chameleon circuit to avoid another confrontation with the Master as well as seeing the Watcher and meeting up with him, knowing what’s to come for him.”

Timelord007:
“From the get-go, you sense the end is coming. The mysterious Watcher and the eventual realization as to who he is and how the Doctor bows his head, knowing he’s about to die, does add an emotional impact to this regeneration story. Tom Baker was my Doctor and my personal favourite. It’s just a shame that his final season is a somewhat subdued season, no doubt due to the behind-the-scenes clashes with JNT and Christopher Bidmead; his on/off relationship with Lalla Ward and his dislike of Matthew Waterhouse as Adric. It contributed to Tom feeling he was being pushed out of a show he adored and I think that’s why he didn’t return for the 20th Anniversary story ‘The Five Doctors’, basically giving a two finger salute of defiance to JNT.”

Wolfie:
“Premonition is a big component of the Fourth Doctor’s final journey. His previous two regenerations were, for all intents and purposes, sprung on him spontaneously. One an execution, the other a slow death by radiation! His first regeneration, however, casts a different set of dice. There’s a strong implication that he knew precisely what was going to happen as it occurred. That sounds much closer to his fourth incarnation’s experiences, so it’s entirely possible he’s reminded of the frightening uncertainty behind that change.”

Tim Bradley:
“Are you saying Chris Bidmead might have been inspired from William Hartnell’s regeneration into Patrick Troughton from ‘The Tenth Planet’?”

Wolfie:
“Huh, I hadn’t thought of that. There’s an idea. Maybe that approach was an inadvertent influence of John Nathan-Turner with his own appeals to fandom? It fits with a few other ‘back to basics’ approaches of the following season, like a rota of four aboard the TARDIS and a return to the series’ science fiction roots.”

Tim Bradley:
“Well, it’s an interesting theory to go on, most definitely. There needs to be that fine balance of addressing pure historical stories as well as sci-fi fantasy in ‘Doctor Who’.”

Wolfie:
“I also have another theory. One to do with the machinations of the Guardians from two seasons previous! It’s possible that the quest for the Key to Time was specifically to do with the growing volume of entropy in the cosmos. An artefact that could stop the universe seems ideal to handle such a crisis. Unfortunately, when the Doctor broke the tracer to scatter the segments from the Black Guardian’s clutches, he inadvertently doomed half the universe to annihilation. Now, he couldn’t possibly have known that. The Master’s arrival on Logopolis was unpredicted by everyone save, perhaps, the Watcher. His egotism led him to become a mass murderer on a scale that’s almost unfathomable. But, the Doctor brought him to the Logopolitans. Smuggled aboard the TARDIS! It’s plausible that he holds himself responsible for the cataclysm, for actions taken then and now!”

WilliamsFan92:
“I wonder how different Season 18 would have turned out if Graham Williams and Douglas Adams had stayed on. I won’t have watched Season 17 until its Blu-Ray release date at least, but I’m sure I will enjoy it, like I have with Season 18 as well as Seasons 12 and 14. I’ve seen enough of Tom Baker on TV and heard enough of him on audio to enjoy his era. Even though I can’t rank him in the top three which is taken up by Patrick Troughton, Peter Davison and David Tennant, I can rank him quite fittingly in fourth place.”

Tim Bradley:
“I recall in the latest Blu-ray making-of documentary that Chris Bidmead was rather critical on Tom Baker not all being there and not looking at fellow cast members, e.g. when the Doctor and the Master shook hands at the end of ‘Part Three’ and the beginning of ‘Part Four’. Whilst there is an element of truth to that, I think Bidmead might be unfair on Tom. As far as I’m concerned, Tom’s temperament and mood reflects how the Fourth Doctor could be feeling sombre about his departure, as he knows he’s on his way out and sometimes not looking at people in the eyes makes his somewhat noble sacrifice less painful when he’s about to pull the plug, so to speak, out of the Master’s latest evil scheme in order to save the universe.”

Wolfie:
“I think that points out an important facet of ‘Logopolis’ we’re overlooking slightly. Whatever problems behind-the-scenes, the supporting cast do quite well, don’t they? Everyone is treating the story with the same gravitas as Tom. It’s a tough gig. Everything is so conceptual and theoretical. When we get those crucial, visceral moments of emotion though, like Nyssa meeting ‘Tremas’, the actors seize the opportunity with both fists. All hands on deck. The final crescendo! It really does feel like the end of an era.”

Timelord007:
“You’ve made an excellent point, Tim! I don’t know why, but I always struggle to watch this story, especially the regeneration, which is brilliantly done. I find it sad, knowing my favourite Doctor is about to die, as he gave up his fourth life to save the universe. As a six-year-old, I didn’t know anything about ‘Doctor Who’ regenerating. So when it happened, it came as a huge shock to me. Watching it over the years on VHS and DVD, and now personally having lost people, I love the Fourth Doctor’s ending. It truly pulls at my emotions, as it deals with life, death, sacrifices and new beginnings. It’s all very powerful stuff!”

WilliamsFan92:
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Tom Baker’s Doctor died doing what he loved, which perfectly caps off one of the best eras of ‘Doctor Who’. Tom Baker is essentially the Michael Schumacher of ‘Doctor Who’. Yay, I got my Formula One reference in!”

Laughter ensues.

Tim Bradley:
“Where would we be without your Formula One reference?”

WilliamsFan92 shrugs, as laughter continues.

Tim Bradley:
“Incidentally, do you think Tom Baker and David Tennant’s departures as the Doctors could have been similar, as they both didn’t ‘want to go’ from playing their characters and had enjoyed playing them for so long? ‘Logopolis’ could have had the same emotional intensity as ‘The End of Time’ had more time been devoted to the emotional dilemmas and the character journeys featured in the story.”

Timelord007:
“David said he left because he could have stayed forever, and Tom was basically shoved out. However, both those regenerations are for two of my favourite Doctors, as they’re emotional and very well done, and I didn’t want them to go either.”

WilliamsFan92:
“The different style of music used for both regeneration scenes in ‘Logopolis’ and ‘The End of Time’ fitted them and added to the emotion.”

Wolfie:
“The two stories do share some similarities, don’t they?

Hypothetically, restructuring ‘Logopolis’ – there are four episodes, right? Three companions? Why not start on Logopolis, keep the Doctor’s moribund musings, but have an episode each deal with the emotional turmoil of each new TARDIS traveller? Tegan is logical for the introductory episode. We already have the sets, costumes and characters for Nyssa on Traken. And… Huh! There would also be space for something else. Something I don’t think I’ve really considered before this review.

Adric is from E-Space – the Doctor saves our universe by funnelling the entropy wave into E-Space. That’s the young mathematician’s home. Quite a big decision and moment for the both of them! I would’ve thought Adric would have something to say on the subject. At the very least, that he accepted the choice that was no choice at all.”


Hello Tegan

Tim Bradley:
“And now let’s talk about Janet Fielding as Tegan, who makes an impressive debut in ‘Doctor Who’ here. I think it’s fair to say that Tegan is the archetypal ‘Doctor Who’ companion of the John Nathan-Turner era. She’s certainly someone who’s very memorable from the TV series.”

Wolfie:
“And here’s the Australian from Brisbane…talking about the Australian from Brisbane! This should prove interesting.”

Tim Bradley:
(mock-surprised) “You an Australian from Brisbane?! What a surprise?!”

Wolfie:
(mock gasps) “I never knew!”

Laughter ensues.

Wolfie:
(continues) “Recently, I found out that Tegan’s choice of nationality was part of an ongoing gambit by producer John Nathan-Turner to expand the series’ budget. He spent a number of years attempting to court the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the national public broadcaster, for funding and potential use of Australian locations for Season 19. Interesting concept, right? And it very nearly worked, too. The ABC were quite friendly to ‘Doctor Who’. Aside from their production assistance on ‘The Five Doctors’, the organisation were lobbied by viewers at one point for showing ‘too many’ reruns of the series. If you wanted something ‘Who’-related, your typical port of call for decades was the ABC Shop and, when they gained control over their own censorship, all the banned serials saw the light of day.”

Tim Bradley:
“Oh yeah. I suppose we have a lot to thank Australia for with some of the black-and-white episodes of ‘Doctor Who’ returning to the BBC Archives.”

Wolfie:
“Oh, we do our part. Helped keep the torches burning, at least. It’s why I kind of wince when I say what comes next. Picture me saying this as gently as the Fifth Doctor. If JNT wanted to appeal to Australian audiences, he missed the mark with Tegan Jovanka. Specifically, the one-note intensity of her personality.

The character did not have a good reputation and it’s a shame because Janet Fielding is a fine actress. Her turn as the Mara is still frightening and otherworldly and Big Finish have given her the opportunity to expand Tegan’s persona on audio to wonderful effect. The character’s been allowed to breathe; enjoy herself and hone a playful edge to her sarcasm. She’s a lot of fun there.

If this was how she’d shown up on television, I reckon they would’ve had a solid chance with the ABC in the early to mid-1980s.”

Tim Bradley:
“Yeah, I think those are fair points you’ve made, Wolfie.”

Timelord007:
“Argh! That Australian accent of hers! What is that strange noise she’s making?”

Wolfie:
“Can you believe she was asked to dial up the accent for television by JNT? I bet you can.”

Tim Bradley:
“Now come on, Timelord! She did have a posh Australian accent when being interviewed on TV in the 1980s, so it can’t have been all that bad.”

Laughter ensues.

WilliamsFan92:
“Well actually, I always thought Janet spoke with an English accent in the 1980s. I believe that’s what Peter Davison said in an interview. He said that Janet only spoke with an Australian accent when the cameras were rolling. I’m sure she then spent some time down-under in her homeland which is why she speaks with an Australian accent all the time.”

Wolfie:
“Fun fact, actually. Apparently, during her time as an agent, Janet Fielding was able to modify her accent to suit her clientele. Upper class or lower class, as fit. It helped her actors trust her and her intentions without social barriers getting in the way. All in all, pretty clever.”

Timelord007:
“To be honest, I never warmed to Tegan. She did moan a lot! She was always grumpy about wanting to leave the TARDIS in Season 19 to the point I wished the Doctor would just return her to Earth. I think the show would have worked fine with just Nyssa and Adric as companions, which is why I enjoyed the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa audio dramas, especially ‘The Stockbridge Trilogy’.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I hate to break it to you, Timelord, but you’re in a bubble and I’m about to burst it. I’ll save my thoughts on Tegan for my response to Tim’s next point.”

Tim Bradley:
“I must admit, Tegan sometimes can be a mixed bag for me as a ‘Doctor Who’ companion. Not to say Janet Fielding’s at fault here. On the contrary, she does well with the material she’s given and Chris Bidmead defines her character well, based on the outline he and JNT wrote up. But there are times where I’ve found her character inconsistently written. The same can be said for Adric, and I can get behind the journey she’s going on with wanting to go back to Heathrow before realising she enjoys being a travelling companion in the Doctor. I would have liked that to be explored in a manner where we could sympathise with her character more. But very often, Tegan is the argumentative type who won’t stop criticising the Doctor’s piloting of the TARDIS and can quite often bring the happy atmosphere down to a low level with her cynicism and rudeness. This is especially when she returned in ‘Arc of Infinity’ and continued to be a companion until ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’. Donna Noble at least wanted to be there in the TARDIS and was very good friends with the Tenth Doctor, whilst at times Tegan was at loggerheads with the Fifth Doctor. It’s not a very ideal role model of a ‘Doctor Who’ companion for me.”

Timelord007:
“Oh Tegan did seem to be the ultimate party pooper. With moaning, being rude, being tetchy, being grumpy! I never understood why the ‘Doctor Who’ production team created a character who spent so much time complaining.”

Wolfie:
“Yeah, this is where the restriction on levity became something of a handicap. A forthright character isn’t a problem (and it doesn’t have to be out-and-out comedy), but there needs to be a release valve between the characters for their differences. If there isn’t, then it has a tendency to boil over from banter into bickering.

I will say though, I actually prefer the later days of Tegan than her earlier appearances. There’s an unfortunate tendency in her initial appearances for her to overreact. Something that Eric Saward ended up tempering by the time of ‘The Visitation’ and ‘Earthshock’ with a self-aware pragmatism! She gets a really nice moment in ‘Mawdryn Undead’, when all is said and done, where she makes a point of thanking the Doctor for risking his life for her and Nyssa.

More – not necessarily gentleness, but empathy – might’ve helped shift the character towards an ultimately happier median.”

WilliamsFan92:
“Okay, I shall begin my case for Tegan. I know what I’m about to say won’t be agreed by Tim and Timelord at least and I may also contradict myself saying in our ‘Keeper of Traken’ discussion that I placed Nyssa above other Fifth Doctor companions. But after experiencing more of Nyssa and Tegan on TV and audio, I can’t decide between them and will have to place as not just my joint favourite Fifth Doctor companions, but my favourite companions in all of ‘Doctor Who’. Tegan may not have been the nicest character, but I don’t find her to be as bolshie as you guys do. I know some of these points you will agree with me on, but I’ll say them anyway. There are stories where Tegan doesn’t whine at all and is friendly. When she is negative, I feel as though one third of the time she is reasonable, the second third she is right just out of line and for the final third she does cross the line with what she says.”

Tim Bradley:
“I know a lot of people won’t agree with me on this and everyone is entitled to how they feel about Tegan since she’s become a popular companion over the years, but I feel Nyssa is a better ‘Doctor Who’ companion than Tegan. Nyssa at least wanted to be there in the TARDIS compared to Tegan. I would have liked it if Nyssa and Tegan’s friendship was explored further if Tegan calmed down and relaxed by the time she became a seasoned traveller in the TARDIS. Nyssa’s gentle nature could have rubbed off on Tegan in that regard to a greater degree compared to what we’ve seen and heard so far in ‘Doctor Who’.”

Timelord007:
“For me personally, I only warmed to Tegan as a character when actress Janet Felding reprised the role for Big Finish. The writers have at least given Tegan more of a personality and have shown a slightly softer side.”

Wolfie:
“See, I find it tricky to make an assesssment one way or the other. Looking across the show’s history, companions have ranged from… Let me think, off the top of my head… Shoreditch school teachers, Scottish highlanders, Cambridge scientists, Sevateem warriors, tin dogs, Trion political exiles, Xenon whifferdills, Beta Caprisis archaeologists, Oblivion princesses, Edwardian adventuresses and everyone we’ve had after and in-between. It’s difficult to measure what makes a better or worse companion personally.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I agree that Tegan is better written on audio in general than on TV, but so far, I have enjoyed her on both. Maybe if I watched her in Season 20 and heard her a bit more on audio, I could understand what you think of her. But I’m sure my opinion on her won’t change no matter what. Not to mention, it might not be down to how JNT and Chris Bidmead envisioned her as some writers might take it the wrong way. Or better yet, it could even be down to how fans perceive Tegan.”

Tim Bradley:
“According to Peter Davison, JNT preferred the more combative companion whereas he preferred the companion who complimented and supported the Doctor as his best friend like Nyssa did. I would agree with Peter’s viewpoint on how a ‘Doctor Who’ companion should work as opposed to how JNT saw how a companion worked.”

Timelord007:
“Nyssa was always one of my favourite companions during the Fifth Doctor era. She complemented the youthful adventurous Fifth Doctor by wanting to explore the universe and was selfless to help others. Tegan, on the other hand, would go out of her way to be rude and passive aggressive. Which begs the question, why did she return to rejoin the TARDIS in ‘Arc of Infinity’?”

Wolfie:
“Ah, this is a common thing in creative writing. The lesson that often gets taught is that ‘characters in conflict are inherently interesting’. Somewhat correct, but not entirely. What’s much more effective in writing, and truer to life, is that ‘characters in meaningful conflict are inherently interesting’. How the Doctor’s fellow travellers compliment their character can vary quite substantially.

Looking at the Fifth Doctor alone, Nyssa is effective as she and the Doctor are often on the same page. In simpatico! However, the same effectiveness can also be said of other companions with less gentle natures. Vislor Turlough, for instance, offers quite a nice contrast. He’s sly, morally dubious and from the ‘Vila Restal’ school of lovable coward, but with the Doctor, there’s an effort to overcome those instincts and be better. Peri and Erimem are different again. They’re much more like the stepdaughters of an adoptive guardian. They let a decidedly burnt out and wearied Fifth Doctor have fun and climb out of his growing cynicism.

Where Tegan succeeds on audio is not too dissimilar to Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton with the First Doctor. They held him to account. Tegan is able to cut through all the Fifth Doctor’s deflections and get to the heart of the matter. There are questions that she can ask, which no other companion accompanying her really could. Questions that needed to be asked of the Doctor to help him grow. Questions like the shadow of Adric.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I’ve seen the Doctor get annoyed at Nyssa sometimes, such as in ‘The Visitation’. In that story, Nyssa often stood up for Tegan as well. I know that might be invalidated by other stories they appear in, but it stands for something. Also, Tegan isn’t the first companion that didn’t want to be with the Doctor. Look at Ben Jackson. Granted, he wasn’t bolshie like Tegan, but still.”

Tim Bradley:
“Speaking of Tegan’s introduction in ‘Doctor Who’, it’s rather amusing and coincidental how she starts off on her first day to be an air stewardess or hostess before she walks into the TARDIS on the Barnett Bypass and ends up swept into a big adventure. I think it’s fair to say Tegan gets more than she bargained for when she wanted to travel.”

Timelord007:
“Can you imagine if the car hadn’t broken down and she actually became an air stewardess? Those poor passengers who dared to ask for a drink or snacks would be met with aggressive sarcasm.”

Wolfie:
“Oh, given some of the stories that come out of that profession, Tegan might have turned out to be a perfect fit. To protect the other stewards and stewardesses, if nothing else. Some flights can be absolute hell on airline staff. “You hear? We have Jovanka on this flight.” Best behaved passengers in the international terminal, guv. And honestly, quite right, too.”

Laughter ensues.

WilliamsFan92:
“To be fair, Tegan could have been stressed out and worried that she wouldn’t make it to her job on time. We can’t say for sure what she would have done if she had actually made it. Her worry if being late was probably further compounded when she got lost in the TARDIS and unfortunately for the Doctor and Adric, they got the short end of the stick. I also remember Adric saying to Tegan, “It’s not the Doctor’s fault you just wandered in here” which I suppose is a fair point, but then again, the Doctor probably should have had an inkling that someone might wander into the TARDIS, given that it’s happened before.”

Wolfie:
“So…many… times… We’ve a sizable demographic of companions who have either sneaked (deliberately or accidentally) or outright forced their way aboard the TARDIS over the years. Many of our favourite and fondest would not have found their way aboard if they hadn’t taken the initiative. You’ve got me thinking, actually. It’s wild how much detail we’ve gotten on Tegan’s character since her three years on the show.

From her biography: Born in Brisbane, she’s descended from British (her mother’s side) and Serbian (her father’s side) immigrants. She grew up not far outside of Toowoomba, the garden city, on one of the cattle stations. Alongside a gaggle of brothers (suddenly a lot makes sense) and cousins by varying degrees of familiarity. One of her strongest memories is flying her father’s Cesna plane. At some point during her teens, her father had an affair and her mother took the both of them away in the separation. Upset, Tegan managed to get expelled from boarding school and ran away to Sydney. Her father tracked her down to one of the train stations, unwilling to go back to either parent, and sent her to live with her aunt, Vanessa, in London. That’s before we even get to the TARDIS.

Amazing, isn’t it? ‘Doctor Who’ writers with their own block transfer computations. Never ones to let things sit! It’s like a massive Jenga tower of creativity. ‘Logopolis’ is where we start with all of this.”

Tim Bradley:
“Those are details about Tegan I never discovered before. Thanks for sharing that with us, Wolfie.”

WilliamsFan92:
“Here’s something else I thought I’d say and it’s to do with the fact that Janet Fielding isn’t at fault for how Tegan is and it’s down to how she’s written. Quite a few ‘Doctor Who’ fans say that Janet is exactly like Tegan. Although I expect most of them are saying that in jest. Janet did have a break from ‘Doctor Who’ in the 1990s and 2000s and was critical of it. She, of course, returned to play Tegan for ‘The Gathering’ in 2006 and then gradually became more involved in the franchise again as the years progressed. I’d say that Janet has a ‘no BS’ attitude similar to Tegan, although she isn’t quite as bolshie. Do any of you guys think that Janet is just like Tegan?”

Tim Bradley:
“Well, Janet certainly gives the impression she’s like Tegan whenever she’s being interviewed; doing DVD audio commentaries and ‘Behind the Sofas’ with fellow actors like Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton, and when she’s at conventions doing a panel or perhaps a comedy sketch with fellow actors like Peter, which you WF92 and I have witnessed at Bedford recently. But whether that’s playacting and Janet’s a gentle soul in real life, I’m not entirely sure. I doubt it, but then again, I don’t know Janet that well.”

WilliamsFan92:
“Are you serious, Tim?! After all these years of watching Janet at conventions, in interviews etc. you haven’t been able to come to a conclusion on her personality! I’m sure Janet is a gentle soul. She often makes fun of Peter as a joke and Peter does it to her as well. Janet isn’t out to hurt anyone. I really doubt Peter and Sarah, etc, would be laughing with her so much if she was saying those things on ‘Behind the Sofa’, at conventions, etc, maliciously. Janet once said in a podcast interview that she and Peter have a sibling relationship due to Janet herself growing up with a gaggle of brothers whilst Peter grew up with a gaggle of sisters. I’m certain Janet is a nice person as well as a toned-down version of Tegan. Also, we mustn’t forget that she beat cancer.”

Timelord007:
“I reckon Janet would make it clear to anybody who upset her. She comes across as outspoken in the interviews I’ve seen.”

Tim Bradley:
“Hmm, especially when she whacks people on the head with a stick whenever they want her to do the Mara laugh!”

Laughter ensues.

Wolfie:
“She knows her own mind, I think. Someone who doesn’t need her own opinions told to her. She knows them already.”


Nyssa Returns

Tim Bradley:
“It’s quite amusing that Nyssa appeared at the end of ‘Part Two’ of the story and was only in it for about 51 seconds (Trust me, I counted the amount of time she was in ‘Part Two’ of ‘Logopolis’). I suppose Chris Bidmead found it a challenge to insert Nyssa into ‘Logopolis’ after she became popular in ‘The Keeper of Traken’.”

Timelord007:
“Ah, the lovely Nyssa, played wonderfully by Sarah Sutton. Although she appears in the second half of this story, she discovers her father’s been murdered by the Master and soon that Traken no longer exists, which I never could wrap my head around, because it makes the events that happened in the previous story quite redundant now.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I’m sure it was worth it considering where Nyssa’s return got us to nowadays.”

Wolfie:
“Ah, now, here’s something I think the story does rather well. One of the big critiques we’ve had of ‘Logopolis’ so far is that it’s been a bit theoretical, right? The emotional content isn’t as impactful as it could necessarily have been. That aforementioned scene aboard the TARDIS with Nyssa and Adric, the one that I think pretty much establishes her character going forward, works because the failure is close to home for us.

We know Traken. We know its people, culture, some of its history. And we know that when it disappears forever, everything the Doctor did ends up becoming to no benefit. It gets us to think just how many other worlds were hit by the entropy wave as well. It was half the universe. There’s a goodly chance that some of the casualties were worlds that we were familiar with. Nowadays, with a well and truly established history, we’d probably get a litany of familiar names, if not faces.”

Tim Bradley:
“I’m pleased Sarah Sutton said ‘yes’ to coming back to play Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’ after she was meant to be in only one story as a guest character. It’s good that Nyssa ended up being the referee between the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Adric whenever there seemed to be arguing in the TARDIS and she’s the reasonable one.”

Timelord007:
“I love Sarah as Nyssa! Such a likeable character! Selfless and always putting other people’s troubles before her own! Her audios with the Fifth Doctor are some of my favourite audio dramas. Just don’t mention ‘Winter For The Adept’ to Tim though.”

Timelord007 laughs maniacally, whilst Tim cringes.

Tim Bradley:
(groans) “Ugh, you had to go mentioning that story, didn’t you?!”

WilliamsFan92:
“Is now a bad time to bring up ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’?”

Tim Bradley:
“Don’t you start!”

Laughter ensues.

WilliamsFan92:
“It makes you wonder if Tegan would have become a companion if Sarah hadn’t been asked to return. Then again, I believe Janet was already cast. But anyway, I have Sarah Sutton as well as Janet, Peter and Tim to thank for getting me into this era and having it as my favourite.”

Wolfie:
“Nyssa’s great. It’s ironic that she was chosen essentially as a last-minute addition, a la Jamie McCrimmon, as she’s become pretty synonymous with the Fifth Doctor on audio these days. Here, she’s introduced directly to events on Logopolis by the Watcher. In a very sort of ‘off-hand’ fashion! She’s dropped into events without much ceremony. Almost as if she were meant to be there in the first place, but got sidetracked.

A lot of ‘Logopolis’ is about cause and effect misaligning. Sometimes we see the latter before the former (as with the Watcher), but there also seems to be a few beats in Planck time (the spaces between ‘the now and the now’, as Sgt. Benton once put it) which have gotten lost along the way. Lost moments! The Keeper in the previous story assured the Fourth Doctor he had a long time of life yet. There are a few possibilities. Either he was talking about the Doctors, as a whole, or the final leg of his fourth self was severed by the entropy wave.

I almost get the impression that Nyssa may have been a person intended for the original journey, but wasn’t picked up because of how bad things got in the stability of the cosmos. Bringing her into the fold closed the gap in history.”

Tim Bradley:
“I feel sad how things have turned out for Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’. Even though Chris Bidmead writes well for her in ‘Logopolis’, how could he do such terrible things to her? 😀 It’s upsetting when Nyssa is reunited with her father, only to find it’s the Master walking around in her father’s body. It’s also disturbing to think about and it’s a shame it’s never explored enough in the TV series compared to how it’s explored in the Big Finish audios. If Anthony Ainley was alive today, a Nyssa/Master story featuring Sarah Sutton and Anthony Ainley would be tremendous. Thankfully that confrontation is sort-of made up for in ‘The Orphan’ episode in ‘Killing Time’ with Sarah Sutton and Sir Derek Jacobi.”

Timelord007:
“It’s heartbreaking for Nyssa! I’d say her story is one of a Greek Tragedy. She’s lost so much, and yet her selflessness and willingness to help others defines her as a truly likeable companion. And I was thrilled Big Finish continued her story arc, which lead to a very emotional but satisfying conclusion.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I felt as though Nyssa didn’t show much emotion when she found out the Master had killed her father. In fact, she looked a bit like she was smiling. I want to say Sarah Sutton isn’t to blame because she did manage to show some emotion when Traken was destroyed and Peter Grimwade, the director, could have asked her to do a second take. Sarah has been shown to express Nyssa well, so I doubt it was her fault, at least not entirely.”

Wolfie:
“Nyssa takes the circumstances of her arrival aboard the TARDIS extraordinarily well. The tragedy of her life is softened somewhat by the book called ‘Cold Fusion’, which helps provide a reason why she isn’t too distraught, but there’s a sense that she’s always carrying it with her. Sarah Sutton does a terrific job of keeping the character on an even-keel. The Trakenite has a sense to her that there’s more going on below the surface than what we initially see. It’s almost like she carries the harmony her people are meant to represent within her.”

Tim Bradley:
“Another bad thing that happens to Nyssa is of course the destruction of her home planet Traken by the entropy plague unleashed by the Master. If it weren’t for Sarah Sutton’s performance in that TARDS scene she has with Adric where she realises her home world is gone, it could have easily been a blink-and-you’ll miss it moment and you wouldn’t feel sympathy for her. I’m glad Sarah put the emotion of heartbreak in her performance by that stage, especially when things like the death of her father and the destruction of her home planet were quite fleeting on TV as Sarah suggests. Nowadays, a meal of those moments would have been made if ‘Logopolis’ was a story made for contemporary TV audiences.”

WilliamsFan92:
“If it was fleeting with emotion from Nyssa, how would it be if we hadn’t witnessed any emotion?”

Timelord007:
“I liked how Nyssa pulled the Doctor up on Adric’s death in ‘Spare Parts’, reminding him his actions sometimes have shocking consequences. I like that Nyssa still struggles with the character’s death and later names her son Adric. I like how those ramifications play out in other audio dramas.”

Wolfie:
“It’s a very telling moment. I believe it’s one of the very few times she loses her temper with the Doctor. Rather than getting defensive, he softens and there’s an almost wistful tone to his voice as he remembers Adric. It says a lot about the nature of their friendship.”


Adric’s Genius

Tim Bradley:
“Adric is often criticised by ‘Doctor Who’ fans for being useless, immature and a brat in the TV series, which I feel is very unfair. Matthew Waterhouse does his best with the material he’s been given and I feel both ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and ‘Logopolis’ showcase what Adric’s talents as a mathematician can be, especially when he’s being useful and helpful to the Monitor. It’s a shame that’s not followed through by other writers before and after ‘Logopolis’.”

Timelord007:
“Matthew wasn’t an actor! He was a cloak room attendant who caught the eye of JNT. Was he annoying at times? Yes. But nowhere near as irritating as fandom claimed. And again, the Big Finish writers have expanded on his character on audio and added more depth to what was seen on TV.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I can’t claim to like Adric as much as Tegan and Nyssa. Most of my experience of Adric does come from the TV series, although I’ve listened to two of his Big Finish audios, those being ‘Psychodrome’ and ‘Iterations of I’. Those two stories as well as ‘The Keeper of Traken’, this story and ‘Castrovalva’ are all ones where Adric is well-written. He gets to show off his mathematical genius and his level-headedness. Adric does often make an attempt to get his friends out of bad situations, such as in ‘State of Decay’ and ‘Kinda’ where he bluffed his way into seemingly siding with the enemy. Neither of those attempts worked unfortunately, but at least he tried. However, as some of you may agree, there are times where Adric is written like a complete berk, most notably in ‘Four to Doomsday’ when he sided with Monarch.”

Wolfie:
“I wonder if a lot of Adric’s reputation is down to a combination of how children/teens were typically written at the time and the audience’s own expectations at that age. It’s very rare for younger audiences to warm to characters of their own age group. They’re much more interested in what the adults are doing. I think it’s that greater sense of freedom.

I like Matthew Waterhouse’s interpretation that the Fifth Doctor and Adric were often at loggerheads because the young mathematician reminded him of his younger self. That’s a nice touch. On audio, Adric’s also developed an interesting character arc of having the insecurities of the age without the ability to express them constructively. Something exacerbated by the fact that the new Doctor didn’t really know how to talk to him. As Tegan asked him gently, but pointedly, in ‘Conversion’, “Did you like him?” The Doctor’s upset by the question (and Tegan doesn’t consider herself exempt), but it’s a fair one. It’s difficult to say, one way or the other, what the answer really is.

Adric’s presence, treatment and his loss make for some genuinely interesting questions regarding the Fifth Doctor.”

Tim Bradley:
“I like the scenes Adric has with Tom Baker’s Doctor in ‘Logopolis’, especially in ‘Part One’ of the story. For the most part, Adric’s like the main companion, especially when he and the Doctor are working out how to solve things such as the restoration of the TARDIS chameleon circuit and when they discover a TARDIS within a TARDIS within a TARDIS situation. It’s a relationship that’s often overlooked and underrated in my opinion.”

Timelord007:
“Considering Tom hated Matthew at the time (possibly more to do with Tom being pushed out the door for the younger generation), you wouldn’t have known judging by the characters here who share a warm chemistry and made a great TARDIS duo.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I’m sure Tom still tried to act professionally in character despite the behind-the-scenes drama he was a huge part of. I know it doesn’t show sometimes, especially with Lalla Ward, but a lot of the time, I’d say it goes well.”

Wolfie:
“Going solely by the characters, the Doctor and Adric operate a lot like an old wizard and his young street urchin apprentice. With all the development since his debut in ‘Full Circle’, it’s not hard to see how the youngster would eventually end up feeling disaffected. He loses his brother; gains a family in the Doctor, Romana and K-9; then Romana and K-9 depart; and finally, so does the Doctor.

In a way, Adric loses everything all over again. He mentions in ‘Earthshock’ that he’s tired being an outsider and that’s why he wants to leave. Looking at the stories with the Fourth Doctor, it wasn’t being an outsider that was necessarily the problem. It was eventually having no one to share that with. It feels like the Fourth Doctor takes him quite easily into his confidence. Almost like a foster child.”

Tim Bradley:
“I know Matthew Waterhouse might not be in the same league of actors compared to Tom Baker and the late John Fraser (who played the Monitor on Logopolis in this story). Sometimes Matthew’s acting might be awkward. But from watching him in this story, I can see Matthew is at least trying and is acting his heart out. The scenes he has with the Monitor when they try to find the fault on why the Doctor’s TARDIS shrunk to size are mesmerising to watch.”

Timelord007:
“Just don’t mention Richard Todd and ‘Kinda’. “The trick, Richard, is not to look into the camera.” But that’s another story.”

WilliamsFan92:
“Not to mention the ‘Castrovalva’ incident. I wonder if Matthew ever drank Campari again.”

Wolfie:
“He does well, all things considered. He’s put a lot of effort into honing his skills and he’s definitely caught my eye as an author. If you manage to grab a copy of ‘The Target Storybook’, have a look at ‘The Dark River’. It got me very interested in seeing how the upcoming ‘Watchers’ will turn out.”

Tim Bradley:
“I’ve read ‘The Dark River’ in ‘The Target Storybook’ and reviewed it on my blog. I enjoyed Matthew Waterhouse’s writing in that.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I’ve got ‘The Target Storybook’ too!”

Wolfie:
“Nice!”

Tim Bradley:
“Going back to topic, had more time been devoted to storytelling and character development in 1980s ‘Doctor Who’ compared to what we’ve seen in other eras like Russell T. Davies’ era, I think companions like Nyssa, Tegan and Adric would have been stronger and fleshed-out characters. If the stories matched to what we’ve heard of the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric in the Big Finish audios, we could have had stronger and pacier seasons of ‘Doctor Who’ throughout the 1980s run.”

Timelord007:
“I completely agree. The writing back then focused more on monsters than character development. Companions weren’t written well as they are now. I mean look how Dodo, Polly and Ben, and Romana were written out. Very poor shows, as the departures felt like last-minute additions.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I see most of your examples come from the black-and-white era, Timelord. A lot of that era had three companions and some of those bad exits came from TARDIS teams that had less than four members. Also Tim, you once said that three companions would work less for four-parters of the 1980s compared to the longer 1960s stories. Some 1960s ‘Doctor Who’ serials had traits of the Fifth Doctor stories, such as companions being separated and having their own storylines and it even happened in six-parters. It’s blatantly obvious in ‘The Faceless Ones’.”

Wolfie:
“Mmm. We tend to think of the past as a steady progression, one unbroken line, but as the reality of the situation shows, it’s quite different. The departure of companions in the show’s first and second seasons – with a strong sense of pathos – makes for a rather striking contrast to the unsentimental, off-the-cuff approach of the third and fourth seasons. Something discarded again for the sorrow of ‘Doctor Who’s fifth season’s departures and the end of the 1960s.

It’s far less of a straight line, more like a sine wave wriggling back and forth. We have the careful sincerity of Susan and Jo’s farewells; the off-screen shrug of Dodo, Ben and Polly; the blaze of fire that was Sara’s departure. Just goes to show, it’s never guaranteed. Rather unexpectedly, looking back to the 1980s, Vislor Turlough is actually the companion with the most ongoing development. His ties to the Black Guardian offer him a significant amount of internal conflict and agency. After him, we get Peri and her homesickness on Ravolox and Thoros Beta during ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’. Something of an irony, really, in terms of developments, given how harsh the production conditions were. Following her, we got Ace and the Doctor’s plans to enroll her in the Academy on Gallifrey that didn’t quite pan out. She ends up with quite a different fate, as it turns out.

Beginning the 1980s though, the series well and truly left its mark on the audience and the Doctor with Adric’s departure.”


The Master

Tim Bradley:
“Anthony Ainley as the Master! From playing the kind-hearted Tremas in ‘The Keeper of Traken’, he became one of the nastiest baddies in ‘Doctor Who’ and finishes off Tom Baker’s Doctor. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I consider Anthony Ainley to be one of my favourite incarnations of the Master in ‘Doctor Who’.”

Timelord007:
“I never had an issue with Anthony Ainley’s interpretation of the Master! His incarnation was the one I grew up watching and I personally enjoyed his appearances.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I find that Ainley brought a great deal of menace into his incarnation of the Master. He retained a lot of what the Delgado incarnation had, such as the moustache, voice and tissue-compressor.”

Wolfie:
“Ainley’s incarnation had a very particular kind of madness to him. You could see it peeking up beneath the surface like rocks on a shoreline. His version of the character was very much one that thrived on being an obstacle to the Doctor before anything else. He relishes the killing and enslavement where previous selves brushed such actions away as annoyances (see the Delgado Master’s casual murder of the scientist at the end of ‘Terror of the Autons’) or compulsions (‘The Deadly Assassin’ from stem to stern). He plays with his targets before killing them. It makes for a rather unsettling character.”

Tim Bradley:
“I’ve often heard criticisms about Anthony Ainley’s portrayal of the Master in that he became too pantomime-like as the series progressed. Whilst I can see some elements of truth in that, especially in some of the latter stories, I feel that at least Anthony Ainley is giving his all into his performances as the Master. In fact, I think it’s fair to say Anthony Ainley’s Master is at his most dangerous here.”

Timelord007:
“You want ‘pantomime acting’; check out Graham Crowden’s atrocious, cringeworthy performance as Soldeed in ‘The Horns of Nimon’. To this day, I have to lie down in a dark room if I watch that story, which isn’t very often.”

Wolfie:
‘Logopolis’ is a distinctive outing for the Ainley Master. Naturally, for being his first full-length appearance, but it’s also one of perhaps a couple instances where it’s scheme first and torturing the Doctor second (rather than vice versa). Logopolis was his target and the Doctor functioned merely as a means to an end. A distraction, actually, come to think of it!

Barry Letts was supervising executive producer for this first season under John Nathan-Turner. By reports, both of them approached the Head of Serials with the possibility of acquiring additional funds during pre-production of Season 19. I wonder if Letts ended up contributing some of his thoughts on the modus operandi of the Master as well.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I still found the Tremas Master to be menacing in his later appearances and he still had some great lines, a good example being in ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ when he revealed the Valeyard’s true identity.”

Tim Bradley:
“I enjoyed how manipulative Anthony’s Master became in ‘Logopolis’, especially when he tricked Nyssa into thinking he was her father. As I’ve said before, I wish the relationship between Nyssa and the Master had been explored further in the TV series, since he was revealed to be the killer of Nyssa’s father and yet not enough emotional baggage is followed through from that. It’s not even explored in a story like ‘Time-Flight’ where our heroes confront the Master again. Something the Big Finish audios would touch upon.”

Timelord007:
“An actor can only work with the material he’s given and it’s up to the director to get the best possible performance and tone to suit the character’s motives for the story. I would’ve liked an arc with Nyssa and the Master. Maybe him manipulating her by saying her father’s soul is still in his body, so she sabotages the Doctor’s plans. I think it would’ve made for great character drama.”

WilliamsFan92:
“It’s possible that Nyssa wanted to avoid contact with him at all costs because he killed her father. She may not have wanted to be constantly reminded of that, which I think is obvious in ‘Castrovalva’ when she says “That face. I hate it!”.”

Wolfie:
“It’s quite a difficult conversation when you think about it. Nyssa’s father was murdered by the Doctor’s former best friend. I can see echoes of the Second Doctor’s quiet conversation with Victoria in ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ in what might have been said. It’s a pity that the show didn’t really stop to ponder those moments, but perhaps it would’ve been a bit too dark for the contemporary considerations of a family show at the time. Although…give it a few years and it would’ve probably been right at home in terms of tone. Especially under the human interest focus of Andrew Cartmel.”

Tim Bradley:
“I can easily repeat lines of dialogue said superbly by Anthony Ainley’s Master in ‘Logopolis’ whenever re-enacting a scene. I’m sure actors like Derek Jacobi, John Simm and Sacha Dhawan would have said them just as well as Anthony Ainley did. It’s good to see how the Master can be angry and how he can seem to enjoy doing his evil acts whenever Anthony plays the character. It’s often a balance that doesn’t get talked about much when it comes to examining Anthony Ainley’s abilities as an actor.”

WilliamsFan92:
“Like the Doctor, the Master has lines that belong to one incarnation and lines that can be used by multiple incarnations such as his introduction line.”

Timelord007:
“Ainley’s Master thrives on being evil. He positively enjoys setting up plans to rule the universe, even if those plans do get foiled by the Doctor.”

Wolfie:
“He’s the first incarnation I came across where the Master’s ultimate goal didn’t seem to be conquest. Conquest was just a nice bonus. His plans were all about chaos and complete mayhem. The more damage he could cause, the greater the success he considered the venture to be. Given how his incarnation came about, I have to wonder if it’s not a way of him announcing his rejuvenated life to the universe. So close to death, so close to a final end, he spends all his time ensuring that he will be remembered. It’s quite a stark contrast to the actor himself.”

Tim Bradley:
“Yeah, I’ve heard people say that Anthony Ainley was a very private person in real-life and not many people knew much about him apart from his love of cricket. Yet, I hope people found him easy to work with on set and he does come across as a genuinely nice person whenever he’s being interviewed and he comes across as very enthusiastic in playing the Master in ‘Doctor Who’.”

Timelord007:
“Some actors don’t like the limelight, while others like John Barrowman thrive on it. Ainley’s mystique as an actor adds a certain enigmatic style in us not knowing too much about the actor’s private life.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I’m willing to bet he wasn’t even a quarter of what the Master is.”


The Watcher

Tim Bradley:
“The Watcher is an interesting character in ‘Logopolis’. We know he’s revealed to be the Doctor…or a future aspect of him to say the least…but throughout the story, audiences must have been baffled as to whom he was and there’s this sense of mystery about him.” (to Timelord007) “I know you said yourself, Timelord, that you were terrified by the Watcher when you saw him on TV back in 1981.”

Timelord007:
“I was terrified. I thought he was spooky just standing there. Something about the look of the character made me feel uneasy. When I watch this story now, I find the character quite haunting in his appearance, especially when he summons the Doctor over. I watch that scene now and when the Doctor lowers his head, I still get goosebumps that he’s actually talking to his spiritual form who has returned to save him when the time comes.”

WilliamsFan92:
“He is pretty creepy with the way he looks and how he’s mostly seen standing like a statue.”

Wolfie:
“The Time Lord who haunted himself! It’s interesting to see the Doctor appears to recognise who the figure is – or could be – just from afar. The Watcher is an altogether rather striking entity. They have an ethereal death’s head, sheathed in wisps of dandelion-white like cumulus clouds, and walks with the gait of someone focusing their footsteps to the ground. Putting effort into that personal state of mass and energy! Otherwise, they’d just dematerialise into the timestream. Seeing the Watcher’s face in close-up shows just how impressive that design choice was. It’s a compelling idea, all in all.”

Tim Bradley:
“It’s intriguing that Chris Bidmead introduces the Watcher character as an essential component in the Fourth Doctor’s regeneration into the Fifth, whereas with previous regenerations, the Watcher never appeared to William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. I know the Watcher appeared to the Peter Davison in ‘Circular Time: Winter’, but what about incarnations after that?”

Timelord007:
“I like the concepts of ‘can Time Lords actually die and not regenerate?’ and ‘Do Time Lords have a spiritual form or is there an afterlife for Gallifreyans?’.”

Wolfie:
“Agreed! It’s nice to be reminded that there’s much more to regeneration than first appears. We’ve seen in instances with other Time Lords that it isn’t a guarantee. It’s a cheat. A way of circumventing what would to other species be inevitable. Sometimes regeneration is coveted and wantonly desired like with the Valeyard or the Master. Other times, it’s spurned as a curse like with the Minyans or Mawdryn and his followers.

I think the Watcher is a function of a very particular kind of crisis. You don’t get a Watcher unless something has gone ‘catastrophically’ wrong with the regeneration. In a way, that affects not just the Time Lord, but the flow of time around them. Thinking back to ‘The Three Doctors’, I wonder if the dark side of Omega’s mind – that entity which battles the Third Doctor – didn’t come from a similar place.”

WilliamsFan92:
“Again, like with the centre of the universe, different writers will have different ideas as to what happens during the Doctor’s regeneration.”

Tim Bradley:
“It must have been really cold for Adrian Gibbs to walk around in that Watcher outfit when on location. I suppose it helped he was a ballet dancer as well as an actor. I wonder if he got paid enough for his appearance as the Watcher in ‘Logopolis’, since he never says a word in the TV story.”

WilliamsFan92:
“The costume could have had heat pads in it, although the budget issue, I expect, would make that unfeasible. I hope Adrian wasn’t angry about it.”

Timelord007:
“I imagine the payment wouldn’t be a lot. Remember! ‘Doctor Who’ was on a shoestring budget at the time and I’ll never understand why they never increased the budget to do the show’s visual effects and studio recording interiors to a much grander scale.”

Wolfie:
“They certainly tried, bless. For ages and ages! Had they the budget, I’d have loved to have seen the series entirely shot on film. Videotape was more cost-effective, but there’s a beautiful contrast to the scenes and sequences that used the higher-grade footage.”

Tim Bradley:
“Going back to what I said about the Watcher being a future aspect of the Doctor to say the least, do you think he exists outside of time and space altogether and is on an ethereal plane or something? I know Steven Moffat wrote a short story about the Watcher during the events of ‘Logopolis’. I read it in ‘Doctor Who Magazine’, but I can’t remember what the title of that story is called.”

Timelord007:
“It’s a interesting idea and the Watcher opens up debates about Time Lords’ spirits being vessels that can go beyond the boundaries of time and space, and actually save their past selves from death. However by doing this, has the Watcher altered history? Was the Doctor meant to fall to his death and if so, what ramifications does it have on time and the universe?”

Wolfie:
“Those are some interesting questions. I saw the Watcher as a form of damage control. It came from the story’s end and worked back towards the beginning.

The original flow of history was so disrupted by the Master’s attack on Logopolis that it was up to this spectre of the future to tie together the final effects to their disintegrating causes. Make a timeline out of a box of scraps. However, they had to do that by directly interfering in the timestream. The Watcher dispatches the Doctor and recruits Nyssa both to Logopolis. With haste and a warning to the former to ‘prepare for the worst’! Couple that with the decision to remove the TARDIS from time and space altogether – almost as though to protect it from the entropy wave – and I get the impression that the Watcher was trying to preserve the events that led to the entropy being funnelled down the CVE into E-Space.

From their perspective, the most important thing – the ‘first’ event – may have been that plummet from the telescope. Where the Fourth Doctor died and the Fifth Doctor was born. Somewhere between the tick and the tock, falls the Watcher. And this isn’t the last we’ll see, read or hear of them.”

WilliamsFan92:
“It’s nice that ‘Logopolis’ isn’t the Watcher’s only appearance then.”


Regeneration and Renewal

Tim Bradley:
“If David Tennant’s regeneration scene as the Tenth Doctor in ‘The End of Time’ was emotional, then Tom Baker’s regeneration scene as the Fourth Doctor in ‘Logopolis’ was equally emotional. I imagine a lot of viewers in 1981, like Timelord, were heartbroken by Tom Baker’s exit from the series, especially after he played the character for seven years and regenerated into Peter Davison.”

Timelord007:
“I didn’t know anything about regeneration or that Tom was leaving. Being five to six years old when it was announced, I didn’t watch the news and nobody mentioned to me that the Doctor would regenerate into Peter Davison. So seeing the regeneration happen came as a huge shock.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I expect ‘Doctor Who’ fans at the time may have felt more emotion for this regeneration than for past and future ones, considering Tom’s tenure on the show. I presume they weren’t expecting it to end, as it had kept going for so long.”

Wolfie:
“I imagine the adjustment period would have been quite a bit longer than for other Doctors in the past. Not for the audience failing to accept Peter, but just the oddity of seeing a show like ‘Doctor Who’ without Tom Baker’s face in the end credits after seven years. It’d be done before. Three times over and all quite successfully. They could do it again, but the Fifth Doctor would have his work cut out for him, trying to develop a distinctive voice in the shadow of his predecessor.”

Tim Bradley:
“One of the things that stood out for me about the regeneration scene between Tom Baker and Peter Davison is Paddy Kingsland’s music. Most of the time, the music could be quite sad and sombre, reflecting Tom Baker’s departure. When the Doctor transitioned from Tom Baker into the Watcher into Peter Davison, I could easily hear the ‘Doctor Who’ theme music being played.”

Timelord007:
“Beautiful music score. Very sombre, tinged with sadness! But the final few notes when the Fifth Doctor is born are upbeat.”

WilliamsFan92:
“It’s even more upbeat at the beginning of ‘Castrovalva’. It sounds completely happy when signalling the start of a new era.”

Wolfie:
“If you want to do a nostalgic incidental musical score these days evoking this particular era, you do one distinctive thing, I’ve noticed. You summon up the flute-like chords of Paddy Kingsland. It’s as distinctive a legacy as the work of Dudley Simpson, Peter Howell, Delia Derbyshire, Brian Hodgson or Tristram Cary!”

Tim Bradley:
“It’s a shame that Tom Baker didn’t have a farewell speech as opposed to “It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for.” I can imagine how stressful it must have been in the studio working to the clock in order to get the regeneration scene done. I’m thankful they managed to get everything in the can before the studio lights switched off.”

Timelord007:
“Again, it’s the writing at the time. Nowadays, Doctors get farewell speeches, but back then, it was a few words then BOOM – new Doctor. I do like Tom’s performance during the regeneration, as the Doctor smiles reassuringly to his friends; says, “It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for” and then summons his spiritual form, the Watcher, to merge with him and regenerate.”

WilliamsFan92:
“You’d think that the Fourth Doctor would have been given a speech given his time as the incumbent Doctor. I know he might not have been as iconic then until later years as the franchise continued, but still, it would have improved the era’s cap off.”

Wolfie:
“The ‘nice old man’ musings from the end of ‘Shada’ feel like they could have been a candidate. For a situation like this, though, I actually like how pithy his final line is.

We see the Doctor fall, but we don’t see him hit the ground. (winces) From the distance above, his back has probably shattered from the impact. He’d be in a lot of shock, even being the Doctor. It’s a very clean rendition of quite a nasty death. One final nod to the grand guignol of Robert Holmes’ ‘endurance test’ approach to the Doctor’s confrontations with his adversaries!

The Doctor only notices Adric’s voice amongst the pool of other friends and companions. Probably because it’s the most recent! With a final, quintessential Fourth Doctor smile, he reassures him. It really is the end this time, but there’s nothing to worry about. His last words aren’t of himself, but for his companions. It’s a nice touch.”

Tim Bradley:
“Usually when Doctors regenerate, a new actor like David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker would get a line to say before the story finishes. It’s a shame that Peter Davison didn’t get a line to say at the end of ‘Logopolis’ when he sat up and met his three companions Nyssa, Tegan and Adric. Though I suppose we should be thankful Chris Bidmead gave the Fifth Doctor a line to say at the end of his Target novelization for ‘Logopolis’.”

Timelord007:
“Peter Davison just sits up. Did anybody notice his hair is darker in his first scene, which becomes lighter during the Fifth Doctor’s first story ‘Castrovalva’?”

Tim Bradley:
“His hair was quite dark when he played Tristan in ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. And he just came off from that before doing ‘Doctor Who’.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I can’t say I noticed.”

Wolfie:
“It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment. Quite easy after the tide of transition from Four to Watcher to Five! Our Doctors tend to look quite fresh after their regenerations. Tom was the same when he succeeded Jon Pertwee. The book I mentioned earlier, ‘Cold Fusion’, pointed out that the Fifth Doctor’s hair actually gets longer and shorter as well. In the real world, it’s because of the non-chronological production block (‘Four to Doomsday’ is Davison’s first), but I like that author Lance Parkin made it an in-universe side-effect of the regeneration. It’s an innocuous detail, but fun. A tiny reminder that this new incarnation doesn’t quite know everything about himself yet! He’s still adjusting.”


Final Verdict

Tim Bradley:
“So, our final thoughts on ‘Logopolis’! How would you sum it up as a ‘Doctor Who’ finale to Season 18 as well as the end of Tom Baker’s era? Was it as emotionally engaging as you remember it when you first watched it? Did it live up to your expectations when you saw it?”

Timelord007:
“As a six-year-old, I remember crying when the Fourth Doctor regenerated, running to tell my mum that ‘Doctor Who’ has become the vet off ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. However, watching it now, I still find it to be a haunting sombre story, which echoes the end of the Fourth Doctor from the get-go. This story had to reintroduce Nyssa and introduces a new companion in Tegan as well as giving the Fourth Doctor a great finale.

Does it successfully achieve this? I think it does. I would have liked a bit more drama with Nyssa and the Master, but that’s down to the writing, not the performances. And introducing a moody, aggressive companion in Tegan in the Fourth Doctor’s final story maybe wasn’t the best move. As I’ve mentioned, I just prefer Nyssa and Adric as companions, and the story could have reflected more on Nyssa’s return, but that’s just my own personal opinion.”

Tim Bradley:
“Well, speaking personally, I find ‘Logopolis’ to be a decent finale to Tom Baker’s era of ‘Doctor Who’. It wasn’t as emotional as I would have liked and again, this was made at a time when emotional character development wasn’t at the forefront in many people’s minds in terms of making ‘Doctor Who’ in the 1980s. But over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate the story more and I enjoy it more every time I see it, especially with Tom Baker transitioning into Peter Davison, as well as featuring Anthony Ainley’s Master and the formation of the upcoming Fifth Doctor companions in Nyssa, Tegan and Adric.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I found it to be decent as well. It’s not the best story of the Fourth Doctor era, but I’d say it packed quite a few punches, especially in the final part. I personally look forward to the formation of the new group of companions, especially Nyssa and Tegan. For all the flaws present in ‘Logopolis’, I still enjoyed it greatly!”

Wolfie:
“There’s a particular style of ‘Doctor Who’ story, which is very much for fans of the series’ mythology. ‘Logopolis’ isn’t the first of its kind, but it’s definitely one of its most distinctive. It provides a detailed, scientific explanation for the computational workings of TARDIS architecture. It outlines the nature of the CVEs and provides a distinctive link to the events of the previous stories. It shows us that while Gallifrey controls the measure of time, there are other worlds of import and power that regulate things like causality. For a show interested in shifting towards big ideas, these were some truly big ideas.”

Tim Bradley:
“Yeah, I have to admire the ‘Doctor Who’ production of the 1980s to be bold in delivering stories that could have required a larger budget compared to what they actually had at the time. Chris Bidmead, despite the criticisms I’ve made about his writing, is someone who’s inventive in coming up with grand ideas that involve plot and characters. I actually would have liked it if ‘Logopolis’ was made on a bigger scale in order to incorporate those big ideas with plot and characters.”

Wolfie:
“The things they could do with the ingenuity of today’s technology. Mind you, Tim, ‘Logopolis’ also has to be quite a personal story. The death of the Fourth Doctor! An incarnation that audiences may have known consistently for over half a decade! That’s not something to scrimp on, so while his fellows tend to be comparably a bit flat for character development, ‘Logopolis’ does try to give him those few important moments. It’s not my favourite serial in the way it’s plotted. The first two episodes could easily have been compressed to allow for more time on Logopolis or to explore the Pharos Project more thoroughly. However, when it commits to those quiet moments of introspection – the Watcher and the entropy wave – we get something rather striking. The moments, as they’ve been prepared, linger in the mind long after the fact.”

Timelord007:
“I still get emotional when I watch that regeneration, so the story must have done something right. I’d rate it my third favourite story of the Season 18 era, because ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and ‘State of Decay’ were far more dramatic and entertaining, as ‘Logopolis’, while far from being a bad story, had a lot crammed into 100 minutes and maybe would have worked better as a six-parter.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I would rate ‘Logopolis’ in joint third with ‘Meglos’. It wasn’t as good as ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and ‘State of Decay’, but it’s better than ‘Full Circle’, ‘The Leisure Hive’ and ‘Warriors’ Gate’.”

Wolfie:
“A rating! Hmm! I mentioned, way back at the beginning of the review, that Season 18 was held over until 1982 in Australia, so it could be aired back-to-back with Season 19. While it may not have been the production intent, ‘Logopolis’ does feel like the first half of an eight-parter to me. I would rate it as a fair start.”

Tim Bradley:
“Well, I always considered ‘Logopolis’ to be the second of a potential movie trilogy in ‘Doctor Who’ as ‘The Keeper of Traken’ came first and ‘Castrovalva’ came last, and I did see the stories as the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy on DVD back in 2007.”

WilliamsFan92:
“Can I mention something about ‘Buck Rogers’ in this discussion as we draw to a close?”

Tim Bradley:
“Yes, of course.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I’ve read up that the ‘Buck Rogers’ series wasn’t well received. Modern reception especially has been mixed. I wonder then how it managed to steal viewers away from BBC1 when ITV showed it. Ironic isn’t it that Timelord was teased for watching ‘Doctor Who’ instead. Even more ironically, the BBC actually repeated ‘Buck Rogers’ in 1989 and the mid 1990s. I’d say it’s proof that viewing figures don’t necessarily reflect quality.”

Tim Bradley:
“Hmm. Interesting remarks you’ve made about ‘Buck Rogers’. I can’t really compare the two since I’ve not seen ‘Buck Rogers’ yet. There’s so many sci-fi programmes I’ve yet to uncover. Heck, I haven’t even seen ‘Space: 1999’ yet. Though I can imagine ‘Buck Rogers’ would have had a much larger budget compared to what ‘Doctor Who’ had.”

Timelord007:
“At the time ‘Buck Rogers’ was shown on ITV and because of ‘Star Wars’ and especially ‘The Empire Strikes Back’s popularity, fans of sci-fi were tuning in to see a weekly big budget American TV series trying to emulate ‘Star Wars’-type special effects. Because of the high glossy visuals for a TV show at the time, I guess audiences wanted pulpy action scenes and space battles instead of a show with complex plots and a lower production with a low special effects budget.

I was teased a lot because I stayed with ‘Doctor Who’. What is strange is those who teased me for staying loyal to the good Doctor began rewatching ‘Doctor Who’ when Peter Davison took over. This is because ‘Buck Rogers’ was cancelled in 1981 after a reduced second season that dipped in production budget and special effects.”

Wolfie:
“And radically retooled the series into a ‘Star Trek’-alike, as was curiously common among space operas for a very long time (see ‘Space: 1999’ for a further example). Gloss will be a constant frenemy of the series going forward into the 1980s. As will the allure of overseas imports. Both will lead to some very interesting production choices over the next couple of years. As we’ll see, the first real-world location of the Fifth Doctor in ‘Castrovalva’ is quite a stark change from the quarries and roadsides of his predecessors. It’s safe to say that ‘Doctor Who’ will never look quite the same after 1981.”

WilliamsFan92:
“One more thing before we close! Can we share what our favourite guest characters from ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and ‘Logopolis’ were? Tremas from ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and the Monitor from ‘Logopolis’ are my choices!”

Tim Bradley:
“Guest characters? Well, from ‘Keeper of Traken’, it would have to be Anthony Ainley as Tremas and John Woodnutt as Seron. I’ve added Seron, because it was a joy to see John Woodnutt in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ after seeing him in ‘Jeeves & Wooster’! From ‘Logopolis’, it would have to be John Fraser as the Monitor.”

Timelord007:
“Anthony Ainley as Tremas in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ was a great character and a loving father, so his demise came as a huge shock. As for ‘Logopolis’, for me, it’s Adrian Gibbs as the Watcher. The character never speaks on screen, but there’s something haunting about the character and his movements are mesmerising to watch.”

Wolfie:
“Denis Carey’s Keeper in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ is a particular favourite. He’s our immediate link to the world of Traken, its attitudes and its people. We get a sense of striking power used ultimately with benevolence, but the alarming contradiction that the further away he is from Traken, the more lucid he seems to be. The ultimate power of the Union is powerless in their own domain. That’s not an easy portrayal to balance, but it’s done extremely well.

From ‘Logopolis’, I’d go with the Monitor as well. For largely the same reasons, come to think of it. Another guide into an unfamiliar society! Another benevolent power with Doctor-like qualities silenced for hostile purposes. In retrospect, the Doctor’s own departure is heavily foreshadowed in those around him.

On our own way out from this review, how would we all rate ‘Logopolis’?”

Timelord007:
“My rating for this story is a 7/10.”

Tim Bradley:
“Yeah, same for me! 7/10. It’s how I rated the story on my blog.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I too shall give it 7/10.”

Wolfie:
“A 7/10 from me as well.”

Tim Bradley:
“Well, thank you, everyone for joining me in this ‘Strange Love’ discussion on ‘Logopolis’. I’ve enjoyed talking to you three about the story, especially on Sarah Sutton’s birthday; before Christmas and before 2021 comes to an end.”

Timelord007:
“Again, Happy Birthday Sarah! You have portrayed one of my favourite companions so wonderfully on TV and audio. For that, I am forever grateful.”

WilliamsFan92:
“Happy birthday again, Sarah! I hope you’ll continue to play Nyssa at Big Finish for a while longer.”

Wolfie:
“Happy birthday to Sarah Sutton! Thanks for extending the legacy of Nyssa just that little while longer. It’s been a tonne of fun.”

Tim Bradley:
“Yeah, Happy Birthday, Sarah! It was great to see you at Bedford this year in October. And I’m pleased you’re my best friend whenever I see you at conventions.

Well, that’s it for our ‘Strange Love’ discussion on ‘Logopolis’! Who knows? Maybe we might do a ‘Strange Love’ discussion on ‘Castrovalva’ next. To celebrate a certain 40th anniversary of somebody in ‘Doctor Who’ perhaps?” 😉

Timelord007:
“Perhaps? But after a long nap in the TARDIS zero room.”

WilliamsFan92:
“I definitely have a lot more to say about Adric, Nyssa and Tegan, as well as some thoughts on the Fifth Doctor. I of course suggested that we could do a discussion on all of the Nyssa TV stories, but we don’t have to if it’s too much. I think we should at least do ‘Black Orchid’ and ‘Terminus’.”

Wolfie:
“I’m definitely up for more, period. What shape that takes, I haven’t a clue, but I’d definitely be open to it.”

Tim Bradley:
(to audience) “Merry Christmas everyone, and see you next year!”

WilliamsFan92:
(to audience) “Have a happy Christmas to all you ‘Bradley’s Basement’ readers.”

Wolfie:
(to audience) “And incidentally, a Merry Christmas to all of you at home!”

Timelord007:
(to audience) “Bah humbug!”

Wolfie:
“Yes, even you!”

Tim laughs.

Tim Bradley:
(to audience) “Bye!”

WilliamsFan92:
(to audience) “Bye!”

Timelord007:
(to audience; impersonates Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor) “Goodbye!”

Wolfie:
(to audience) “Bye, all!”

Tim, Timelord007, Wolfie and WilliamsFan92 wave goodbye.

4 thoughts on “Bradley’s Basement’s Strange Love – ‘Logopolis’

  1. Timelord 007

    Blimey we threw everything but the kitchen sink into this review, 4 different points of view about Logopolis but our ratings are the same.

    Always a pleasure to review with you Tim.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  2. Williams Fan 92

    Hi Tim.

    This was a lot of fun. I’m glad I got to share my thoughts on ‘Logopolis’ itself as well as Tegan and other characters. It was nice to have done it on Sarah Sutton’s 60th birthday. A week from yesterday, Matthew Waterhouse will celebrate his 60th birthday. Over this week I will revisit ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and ‘Logopolis’ in ‘The Collection’ Season 18. I hope we get to do a discussion on ‘Castrovalva’ in the new year. As I said in this discussion, we don’t have to do all of Nyssa’s tv stories, but I think we should at least do ‘Black Orchid’ and ‘Terminus’.

    How fitting I made a ‘Formula One’ reference and to Michael Schumacher because yesterday, Lewis Hamilton nearly broke his record for the most championships won. But he didn’t quite make it.

    Anyway, I hope to update my thoughts on the last two stories of Season 18 on your reviews of them this week.

    Take care, WF92.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      HI WF92,

      Thanks for joining me in the ‘Logopolis’ discussion. I’m glad you enjoyed taking part. It was nice to have you, Timelord and Wolfie on board.

      I hope we’ll get to do a ‘Castrovalva’ discussion in the New Year. Hopefully in time before Peter Davison’s birthday in April 2022. It would be nice to do a discussion on ‘Black Orchid’ in 2022, perhaps on Sarah Sutton’s next birthday in December 2022.

      Many thanks. I look forward to more thoughts from you on ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and ‘Logopolis’.

      Tim 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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