‘THE MYTH MAKERS’
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The Trojan Horse and Vicki leaves the TARDIS
“I saw the Fall of Troy!” said the Ninth Doctor to Rose in ‘The Unquiet Dead’.
This is the story where the Doctor was actually there during the events of Troy and how he witnessed the massacre of the Trojans by the Greeks. This is the story where the Doctor actually gave the Greeks the idea for the Trojan Horse and that it became an infamous ‘horse of destruction’.
I enjoyed listening to ‘The Myth Makers’ on audio. It’s one of the classic stories from the William Hartnell era of ‘Doctor Who’ and it’s such a shame that none of the four episodes of this TV story exist. There’s only the audio soundtrack on this CD with its superb linking narration by Peter Purves. The ‘Myth Makers’ CD is now available as part of ‘The Lost TV Episodes: Collection One’ CD box set.
There are also a few pieces of surviving footage from the story that can found on the ‘Lost in Time’ DVD. This is a four-part story from the third season of ‘Doctor Who’. It was a story that saw a sea-change with the show’s direction, especially with the departure of one of the Doctor’s companions.
This is an historical adventure by Donald Cotton, who has a talent for writing historical stories in ‘Doctor Who’. It’s a story that’s sandwiched between ‘Mission to the Unknown’ and ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’, where TV audiences had to wait for the ensuing 12-part Dalek epic following this tale.
‘The Myth Makers’ is a story written in the style of a high comedy-drama for the first three episodes and it definitely does feel ‘Carry On’ like ‘The Romans’ before this. But by the fourth episode, it becomes horrible as the actual Trojan Horse incident takes place and where everyone is massacred.
This is a pretty good historical drama on a particularly well-known historical legend of Troy. I wonder whether this story will ever be found and that we’ll be able to get to see what the four TV episodes actually look like. I also wonder whether we can enjoy the comedy as well as the horror that’s in this.
The story has the TARDIS arrive on the plains of Ancient Troy in the middle of a sword fight between Achilles and Hector of Troy. The Doctor steps out and is mistaken for Zeus. Forced to help the Greeks win their long war with Troy, the Doctor gives them a way to invade the city with devastating results.
Meanwhile, Vicki finds herself in the company of King Priam and his children inside the court of Troy. When Steven gets captured and is mistaken for a Greek warrior, Vicki has to find a way to free Steven. It could mean making a choice to stay in Troy with a man she loves or to travel in the TARDIS.
With regards to the historical legend of Troy, I know the story pretty well indeed. I ashamedly knew about this historical story after watching the movie ‘Troy’ with Brad Pitt in it. So I already knew about Helen of Troy, the war between the Spartans and the Trojans and the infamous Trojan Horse.
Surprisingly, Helen of Troy does not appear in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. I’m not sure what that was all about. I found this a very interesting interpretation and depiction of the Trojan legend. It was intriguing how the Doctor was involved and somehow responsible for causing that Trojan massacre.
The flavour of this story feels very light-hearted comedy which I enjoyed listening to on audio, although it feels more character drama comedy instead of jokey moments occurring throughout. Maybe if this story was found and we watched it as a TV story, we might see those funny moments.
I enjoyed William Hartnell as the Doctor in this story. He’s clearly into the comedy spirit of the story. It’s quite amusing to find he’s mistaken for Zeus. He’s convinced Achilles and Hector, but doesn’t convince Odysseus. The Doctor’s bluff is exposed when Steven comes to find him in the first episode.
The Doctor then comes up with a way for the Greeks to invade Troy. His idea for a wooden horse pleases the Greeks. Why the Doctor comes up with the Trojan horse is unusual and disturbing, since he’s somehow condemned the Trojans to death. It sounds so inhuman, but the Doctor isn’t human!
Vicki was a joy to listen to. I like Maureen O’Brien as Vicki. This happens to be her last story and it’s such a shame about the circumstances on how Maureen left the series. Vicki gets to have a story of her own in this. She’s told to stay put by Steven in the TARDIS, when he goes to look for the Doctor.
But Vicki puts on some Greek clothes and goes out of the TARDIS to meet King Priam and his children in the city of Troy. She’s welcomed by King Priam who renames her ‘Cressida’. I did like the romance between Vicki and King Priam’s youngest son Troilus. It was sweet and the reason why she leaves.
Peter Purves as Steven, who I’ve met at conventions, gets his fair share of the story too. I liked the scenes Steven shares with Vicki. Steven gets to pose as a Greek warrior to get into the Trojan city to find Vicki. But they both soon get thrown into the dungeons after they’re accused of being Greek spies.
Steven gets ignored and fed scrapes by the Greeks whilst he’s in the dungeon. He eventually gets freed by Vicki from his cell and discovers how much Troilus means to her, before he finds himself in a battle with the Greeks and getting injured. This doesn’t get shown in the story, which is annoying.
The guest cast include figures from the Trojan legend such as Achilles; Hector; Paris; King Priam; Agamemnon and Odysseus. I remember some of these from the ‘Troy’ movie. I was disappointed that there wasn’t a Helen of Troy to reinforce why the Trojans and Greeks were fighting each other.
Some of the characters were different to how I expected them to be after watching the ‘Troy’ movie. But I did like some of the cast names in this story, which included Max Adrian as King Priam, Barrie Ingham as Paris, Francis de Wolff as Agamemnon, Ivor Salter as Odysseus and James Lynn as Troilus.
As I said before, ‘The Myth Makers’ features the shock departure of Vicki. Maureen O’Brien was equally shocked when she found out that she had been written out of the series without her consent. The producer John Wiles and script editor Donald Tosh assumed Maureen wanted to leave.
That in itself is true, since Maureen had no intention of staying in the series for a long length of time. Unfortunately the circumstances of her departure were badly handled, as Maureen wasn’t told she was leaving until the last minute and she was furious. I’m sure I know how Maureen would feel.
I think it’s a real shame about Maureen O’Brien’s exit from ‘Doctor Who’, since she’s a lovely actress and Vicki is a lovely character from the TV series. But saying this, I did find Vicki’s departure rather sweet, as she stays behind to be with her lover Troilus. Although it’s fair her departure was sudden.
There was no goodbye between Vicki and the Doctor, as it was rather quick in the ensuing chaos of Troy’s destruction. It also seems strange and out of character for Vicki to fall in love so quickly, since it is only through this four-episode story in the short space of time that Vicki falls in love with Troilus.
But back to the point! Vicki’s decision to stay with Troilus reinforces a historical fact. Vicki was given the name Cressida. Cressida in Greek myths and legends is a person who falls in love with Troilus. So Vicki ends from being a 25th century character to an historical character through the Greek myths.
This story also introduces a new companion in the form of Adrienne Hill as Katarina. Katarina is a hand maiden in the court of King Priam and appears only in the fourth episode. It seems like a brief introduction to Katarina in ‘The Myth Makers’ as we barely get to know her as a character from this.
Katarina is ordered by Cassandra to watch over Vicki when the Trojan Horse is brought into the city. But when the massacre occurs, Vicki ends up leaving and Katarina joins the Doctor and Steven in the TARDIS. She helps the Doctor to carry an injured Steven into the TARDIS when they’re escaping Troy.
The last scene of ‘The Myth Makers’ has the Doctor tending to Steven’s wounds with Katarina, before he sets the TARDIS off to find some help. This scene acted as a prologue for ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’ CD. It was really interesting to hear this scene as the ending instead of as the beginning.
‘The Myth Makers’ has been a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience of a lost TV story. It was an interesting interpretation of the Trojan legend in ‘Doctor Who’ terms with a comedy flavour. It’s also a lovely story to feature Vicki, even though her departure was so shockingly abrupt and unexpected.
‘The Myth Makers’ rating – 9/10
‘DOCTOR WHO – THE MYTH MAKERS’
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Homer’s ‘The Myth Makers’
This is a ‘Doctor Who’ novelization/audiobook like no other!
I’ve read and listened to this amazing novelization/audiobook of a classic ‘Doctor Who’ story from the 1960s. This is ‘Doctor Who – The Myth Makers’ by Donald Cotton. The book was published in 1985, based on the original black-and-white TV story from 1965, now missing from the BBC Archives.
I’ve enjoyed reading this novelization whilst listening to the audiobook in the background. Donald Cotton was the original author of the TV story before he novelized ‘The Myth Makers’ for the Target novelization range of ‘Doctor Who’ books. It’s great that Donald Cotton novelized this historical tale.
But Donald Cotton takes an approach with novelizing this ‘Doctor Who’ story that is unlike other writers who have novelized their stories. It’s something that Terrance Dicks wouldn’t do. For ‘The Myth Makers’ novelization, Donald Cotton novelizes the story from Homer the poet’s, point of view.
For those of you who don’t know, Homer was the original Greek author of ‘The Iliad’. ‘The Iliad’ was the text that featured Homer’s account of the downfall of Troy as featured in ‘The Myth Makers’. This is an exciting, unique approach by having Homer retell ‘The Myth Makers’ from his perspective.
Just to say, I like the front cover of ‘The Myth Makers’ book. The cover is impressive with artwork by Andrew Skilleter. This includes an image of the gigantic Trojan horse towering above the TARDIS on the Trojan plains. The book cover tells you exactly what the story is about with Troy and everything.
‘The Myth Makers’ book is divided into 27 chapters with an epilogue at the end. The chapters are pretty short and snappy as suited for a children’s readership in the Target novelization range of ‘Doctor Who’ books. The story is written in the first person, as Homer tells ‘The Myth Makers’ to us.
The audiobook of ‘The Myth Makers’ was released in 2008 as a 4-disc CD set. I purchased the audiobook as a download on Audible to listen to whilst having ‘The Myth Makers’ book in my hand. The story is read by Stephen Thorne, who played Treebeard for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ radio series.
For ‘Doctor Who’ fans, Stephen Thorne also played Azal in ‘The Dæmons’, Omega in ‘The Three Doctors’ and Eldrad in ‘The Hand of Fear’. So it may come as a surprise to you that Stephen Thorne is reading this ‘Doctor Who’ novelization, as he had no participation in ‘The Myth Makers’ story on TV.
But of course, Stephen is playing Homer in this ‘Doctor Who’ audiobook of a novelization. This makes sense, since Homer didn’t appear in the TV story and it feels fitting to have a new actor play the role whilst also reading the story. Stephen’s voice for narration is engaging throughout on audio.
I like how Donald Cotton writes Homer’s narration of the story in the novelization and how Stephen Thorne delivers it in narration for the audiobook. Donald Cotton maintains the high comedy spirit that featured in ‘The Myth Makers’ TV story, matching Homer’s recall of the tale in the novelization.
Some of Homer’s anecdotes in the novelization are pretty amusing, especially in how Stephen Thorne delivers them in the audiobook. It’s also amusing when Homer keeps on journeying from one place to another in order to keep the reader’s attention with how scenes play throughout the story.
In a few chapters, Homer will be with the Doctor meeting Achilles and Odysseus. Next he’ll be with Vicki in Troy itself before she gets called Cressida by King Priam. Then he’ll be back with the Doctor and Steven with the Greeks again. It’s a wonder how Homer keeps up that energy throughout this.
It also transpires that Homer knows the Doctor well, or at least he will do in later life when he comes to narrate this tale. At this point, Homer has already written ‘The Iliad’ and it’s amusing how he comes to read ‘The Myth Makers’ for us ‘Doctor Who’ fans to enjoy and that no-one else will know.
There are also two important gruesome points that relate to Homer’s current condition when he reads this story, since it turns out he’s blind. In a scene where Homer tries to warn the Doctor about Steven and Vicki’s captivity in Troy, Odysseus gets cruel before he gouges out one of Homer’s eyes.
That was shocking to read and hear, as Odysseus does it for no good reason. The second time that Homer gets attacked is by Achilles. In the last chapter, Homer gets a back-hand swipe by Achilles before he loses his surviving eye. Poor Homer! Even he did not deserve that during this novelization.
But despite Homer’s unfortunate eye losses, he does play a vital role. In the TV story, there was a character called Cyclops. In the novelization, it turns out that Homer was that Cyclops in the story. Homer’s role as Cyclops is actually extended, especially in the dungeon scenes with Vicki and Steven.
Whilst reading/listening to ‘The Myth Makers’ novelization/audiobook, I couldn’t help but be reminded of seeing the ‘Troy’ movie with Brad Pitt in it. Even characters like Achilles and Hector made me think of the movie, as well as the setting and the landscapes of Troy featured for this book.
The character of Paris isn’t anything like the Orlando Bloom interpretation in both the TV story and the book. In fact, Paris is rather smug and thinks himself highly, especially when he attempts to divert away from his mission to kill Achilles by his father in his brother’s place, which was interesting.
There are also characters featured and mentioned in the book that were never seen in the TV story. This includes Patroculus, a close comrade to Achilles and was killed by Hector in the Trojan War. I remember Patroculus in the ‘Troy’ movie, so thus I knew what Achilles and Hector’s fight was about.
Most importantly however, is the inclusion of Helen of Troy in ‘The Myth Makers’ book. This surprised me as I read/listened to the story, since Helen didn’t appear at all in the TV story. Unfortunately Helen doesn’t say anything in the book and it seemed like she was bored during this.
I’m reminded of the BBC’s ‘Horrible Histories’ sketch of Helen of Troy, where she seemed unbothered and bored by everything that was going on in the story. It contrasts very differently to how Diane Kruger played Helen during the film version of ‘Troy’, which is to be expected I suppose.
The destruction of Troy isn’t dealt with in too much detail by Homer, as it mostly features in the last two chapters. In fact, by the time Troy gets invaded by the Greeks in the Trojan horse, Homer is instantly blinded. He can relate on what occurred in Troy’s downfall from what he hears from others.
The romance subplot between Vicki and Troilus isn’t fully explored as the TV story did it. It gets glossed over by Homer, especially when he describes how the two instantly fall in love with each other. Chapter 22 makes a big deal of it, as Homer is in the prison cell with Vicki, Steven and Troilus.
Vicki’s departure from ‘Doctor Who’ is also not fully explored as in the TV story. This is because Homer narrates the story from his point of view and doesn’t take on Vicki’s emotional journey. I found it touching with Homer blinded before hearing Troilus reunited with Vicki/Cressida at the end.
The epilogue of ‘The Myth Makers’ book isn’t narrated by Homer at all. In fact, it has Homer reunited with the Doctor who turns out to be his audience instead of us. This was confusing when I came to reading/listening to the novelization/audiobook, but it was nice to have all those loose ends tied up.
‘The Myth Makers’ novelization/audiobook by Donald Cotton has been wonderful to read and listen to. It’s a unique approach to have the story read by Homer himself. It’s not an exact scene-by-scene novelization of the TV story as you’d expect, as it demonstrates Donald Cotton’s creativity as a writer.
It was great to have ‘The Myth Makers’ book to read and listen to whilst I was at home in Cardiff and also whilst I was on holiday in Amroth, September 2017. Stephen Thorne’s performance as Homer is also great, as he keeps the reader gripped in the story with superb narration and acting throughout.
‘Doctor Who – The Myth Makers’ rating – 9/10
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