Please feel free to comment on my review.
Pirates and Treasure with the First Doctor, Ben and Polly
It’s coming to the end of the William Hartnell era of ‘Doctor Who’!
‘The Smugglers’ is the first story featured in Season 4 of ‘Doctor Who’. It’s also William Hartnell’s penultimate adventure as the Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’ through the TV series. Strangely, they had the last two TV stories of William Hartnell’s era tagged on before Patrick Troughton’s first season began!
This first story of Season 4 of ‘Doctor Who’ is an historical adventure set in 17th century Cornwall. It has the Doctor, now joined by his new companions Ben and Polly, getting involved with roguish pirates who want Captain Avery’s treasure for themselves. The Doctor has the secret for where it is.
Ben and Polly joined the Doctor after following him into the TARDIS directly at the end of ‘The War Machines’. I wondered what happened when Ben and Polly found themselves in the TARDIS and how the Doctor reacted to their presence. Now I know what happened and I wasn’t disappointed by it.
The Doctor is outraged that Ben and Polly have stowed away aboard his TARDIS. He’s not happy that they got in unannounced and was getting used to the idea of travelling alone for a change as Steven and Dodo left in the previous season. Ben and Polly are apologetic for stowing away aboard the TARDIS.
‘The Smugglers’ is one of the missing stories of ‘Doctor Who’. It is a four-part story by Brain Hayles and all four episodes are missing from the BBC archives. It’s a shame that all four episodes are missing, as it would’ve been nice to have seen what this story would be like when shown on television.
The only footage of ‘The Smugglers’ to have survived so far is a selection of surviving clips and some location film showing the making of the story. These can be found on the ‘Lost in Time’ DVD for ‘Doctor Who’. ‘The Smugglers’ currently exists as a story in its complete form in an audio soundtrack.
The audio soundtrack of ‘The Smugglers’ was originally released on CD by BBC Audio and has linking narration by Anneke Wills, who played Polly in the story. ‘The Smugglers’ is currently available in ‘The Lost TV Episodes: Collection Three’ CD box set from BBC Audio or as a download from Audible.
I purchased ‘The Smugglers’ as a download from Audible to listen to on my tablet. I’ve greatly enjoyed listening to the story and hearing Anneke Wills providing the linking narration. ‘The Smugglers’ happens to be Anneke Wills’ favourite TV story in ‘Doctor Who’ and I can see why that is.
The writer Brain Hayles contributed ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ beforehand. He would go on to create the Ice Warriors for ‘Doctor Who’ and write ‘The Moon Stallion’ with Sarah Sutton in it. Brain Hayles writes this exciting historical adventure about pirates, treasure and smuggling set in 17th century Cornwall.
The story also has some nice links to a future new series episode of ‘Doctor Who’ called ‘The Curse of the Black Spot’ with Matt Smith, where the pirates in ‘The Smugglers’ are looking for Captain Avery’s treasure. I didn’t realise this connection between these two stories until I read more into it.
The atmosphere of 17th century Cornwall and the pirates rummaging and pillaging for their treasure from the Black Albatross ship to the church and the inn on the mainland was easy to visualise. I must say that ‘The Smugglers’ is a realistic pirate adventure compared to ‘The Curse of the Black Spot’.
The Doctor finds himself in trouble, when he and his new friends visit the church on the mainland. The Doctor is given a secret message by Joseph Longfoot, the church warden, on where the secret treasure is kept. The Doctor has to keep this message close to his chest before pirates find out on it.
William Hartnell is superb as the Doctor in this his penultimate adventure in ‘Doctor Who’. Clearly the Doctor is on top form as he gets himself involved with the events that happen with the pirates and the treasure. It’s a shame William Hartnell deteriorated by the time we come to the next story.
Anneke Wills as Polly and Michael Craze as Ben work well as ‘Doctor Who’ companions in this their first adventure in the TARDIS with the Doctor. Whereas they had been introduced in ‘The War Machines’ to the audience, here in this story they are introduced to the TARDIS and to time-travel.
Ben is pretty sceptical about them travelling back in time to 17th century Cornwall, since he’s anxious about getting back to his ship in 1966 as a sailor. Gradually during the story, he begins to accept that the Doctor has a time machine and is pretty feisty when dealing pirates and the treasure.
Polly is not as sceptical as Ben is about the fact they’ve travelled back in time with the Doctor in the TARDIS. In fact, Polly seems willing to believe the Doctor on what he says and she encourages Ben to do likewise. Although a dolly bird, Polly keeps brave as she and Ben get into the deadliest of scrapes.
Ben and Polly’s introduction to time-travel in the TARDIS sort of mirrors what happens later on when they witness the Doctor’s regeneration in ‘The Power of the Daleks’. Ben and Polly also have a rough time when they get captured and re-captured by those accusing them for murdering the church warden.
The guest cast includes Terence De Marney as Joseph Longfoot, the church warden. Longfoot immediately gives his message to the Doctor about Captain Avery’s treasure and where it’s buried before the pirate Cherub catches him. He doesn’t last long as he gets stabbed in the back by Cherub.
George A. Cooper guest stars as Cherub, a bald-headed pirate who has a blood-thirsty nature and wants Avery’s treasure as much as Captain Pike wants it. He overhears Longfoot giving his message to the Doctor about the treasure and kidnaps the Doctor as he takes him back to the Black Albatross.
Michael Godfrey guest stars as Captain Pike, the pirate captain of the Black Albatross who’s hunting for Avery’s treasure. Pike is pretty ruthless with a degree of charm about him. He has a hook for his left arm, much like Captain Hook from ‘Peter Pan’ and unreservedly kills people with hook and pistol.
David Blake Kelly guest stars as Jacob Kewper, the landlord of an inn close by to the church in the story. Kewper provides food and shelter for the Doctor, Ben and Polly when they say they’re friends of the church warden Longfoot. But he’s easily suspicious and he soon accuses them for murdering him.
Paul Whitsun-Jones guest stars as the Squire in the story. The Squire is meant to prevent smuggling and pirates on the Cornish lands. But he can be quite pompous and he easily accepts Kewper’s accusations that the Doctor, Ben and Polly are criminals and he wants the secret of Avery’s treasure.
John Ringham guest stars as Josiah Blake, a revenue officer that Ben discovers coming out from a crypt in the story. John Ringham has appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before in ‘The Aztecs’ and has appeared in some ‘Dad’s Army’ episodes. It was nice to hear John Ringham in this ‘Doctor Who’ tale.
It would be nice to have this TV story reanimated as a ‘Doctor Who’ story for DVD someday or for its original TV episodes to be found. It’d be interesting to see what the visuals would be like with the Cornwall landscape and the pirate ship. I know Anneke Wills would like ‘The Smugglers’ to be found.
‘The Smugglers’ has been an enjoyable historical adventure in ‘Doctor Who’ by Brian Hayles with the First Doctor, Ben and Polly. It was interesting how Ben and Polly get their first taste of being time-travellers in the TARDIS and how they interacted with the First Doctor, who is on his way to the end of his life.
‘The Smugglers’ rating – 8/10
|The previous story
For the First Doctor was
For Polly was
For Ben was
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For the First Doctor is
For Polly is
For Ben is
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I wasn’t a fan of this one although your review has me pondering to give it another listen.
But as ever a brilliantly written review my friend.
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I must have been in a good mood when listening to this story. The historical adventures are quite a challenge to master on viewing and watching, but I enjoyed Anneke Wills’ narration of the story and how Ben and Polly interacted with the Doctor in this one.
Thanks for your comments, Simon. Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Smugglers’.
Since Captain Avery is a character in the 11th Doctor story The Curse of the Black Spot, that makes the latter story a sequel to this one. 😁
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Thanks for your insight on ‘The Smugglers’ being connected to ‘The Curse of the Black Spot’. I don’t think casual viewers and fans would get ‘The Smugglers’ references when watching ‘The Curse of the Black Spot’, especially with the original TV story currently missing. That might change when it comes to viewing ‘The Smugglers’ in animation form once that time comes.
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