‘The Time Meddler’ (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

1066; Vikings and the Meddling Monk

‘The Time Meddler’ is a story I’m very fond of from the William Hartnell era of ‘Doctor Who’!

This four-part story by Dennis Spooner was the finale to Season 2 of ‘Doctor Who’. At that point, change was in the air for the TV series. Ian and Barbara had left the TARDIS in the previous story ‘The Chase’ and producer Verity Lambert and script editor Dennis Spooner decided to leave the TV series.

Peter Purves arrived as new companion Steven Taylor and new producer John Wiles and script editor Donald Tosh came in. This would be Verity Lambert’s last story of her second season to produce ‘Doctor Who’. But more importantly, this story would introduce a hint of the Doctor’s past, as we meet the Meddling Monk.

This is probably the first pseudo-historical adventure before ‘The Time Warrior’ with the Doctor; Vicki and Steven. The TARDIS arrives during the Saxon times of Earth’s history. The year is 1066 and it is before William the Conqueror invades England. Soon the Battle of Hastings is about take place.

But the Doctor discovers something’s not right as there’s a Meddling Monk who lives in a monastery and is trying to draw the attention of the vicious Vikings to invade. The Monk wants to change the course of history by altering the Battle of Hastings’s outcome. The Doctor is determined to stop him.

I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘The Time Meddler’ signed by Maureen O’ Brien and Peter Purves at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions in Swansea, September 2013 and Newcastle, October 2015. It was nice to meet both Maureen and Peter at conventions and they both stand out pretty well in this adventure.

time meddler part 2

I like this story as it is witty wonderfully written. It’s a story about how the Doctor and his friends come to Earth and discover that someone is interfering with history. I liked how the rules of time travel get addressed by Dennis Spooner as he sets the record straight that you can’t change history.

It’s also an amusing story with a wonderfully written character in the Monk, the meddling enemy. Sometimes the story’s slow-paced, but I was fascinated by what this Monk was doing to interfere with history. It’s soon revealed that the Monk has got a TARDIS and he is one of the Doctor’s people.

William Hartnell is great as the Doctor. I liked it when he deduces where they are in 1066 and gives a little history about the Vikings and the Battle of Hastings for the audience’s benefit. I also liked it when he has his own adventure through the story, although he is absent from the second episode.

I enjoyed the scenes where the Doctor confronts the Monk, as he knows something is wrong when he encounters one of his people. I liked it when he has scenes with the Monk. He seems amused by the Monk’s meddling at first with the gramophone record before he becomes so serious and angry.

I also like Maureen O’Brien who’s lovely as Vicki. I liked that scene that Vicki shares with the Doctor at the beginning of the story after Ian and Barbara have left. Vicki gets on well with Steven and both share an adventure in Saxon/Viking times. Vicki gets to tell Steven off whenever he gets headstrong.

I enjoyed that scene when Vicki and Steven meet the Monk at the monastery. Both suspect that he’s keeping the Doctor prisoner and they work it out. I really love it when Vicki and Steven discover the Monk’s got a TARDIS and she’s full of joy when they reunite with the Doctor in the Monk’s TARDIS.

I also like Peter Purves as Steven, who is a new companion in the Doctor’s TARDIS. He happened to walk into the TARDIS after ‘The Chase’ when escaping the Daleks and the Mechanoids. He’s welcomed by the Doctor and Vicki, although he is rather sceptical that the TARDIS is a time machine.

I liked the scenes where Vicki explains to Steven what the word TARDIS stands for and when the Doctor explains why the TARDIS looks like a police box. Steven is sceptical for a long while before he soon accepts the TARDIS is a time machine. This is a great start for a new ‘Doctor Who’ companion.

Peter Butterworth guest stars as the Meddling Monk, the Time Meddler. Peter is well-known for comedy in the ‘Carry On’ films. Here he plays one of the Doctor’s people (a Time Lord) and he’s a villain! This is way before the Master appears in the series. But the Monk isn’t like the Master really.

I mean, yes he’s a time meddler doing all these terrible things to change the course of history. But he does it all for the fun of it and not to conquer the universe. I really like Peter Butterworth’s performance as he balances the comedic and alien aspects to the character well in this adventure.

The Vikings and the Saxons are done well in terms of historical background by Dennis Spooner. Although I would have to say the fight sequences are weak and poorly directed. This is surprising as the story is directed by Douglas Camfield who directed ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’ and ‘The Invasion’ later on.

There’s not much in terms of battles between Vikings and Saxons as only a small group of Vikings invade Northumbria. The Saxons’ costumes are much better than the Vikings. At least we get some spectacular shots of Viking ships and Vikings rowing aboard when the Monks sees them coming in.

time meddler part 4

At the end of the story, the Doctor; Vicki and Steven leave happily together in the TARDIS as they’ve become the new TARDIS team. But the Monk gets left behind when the Doctor leaves him a note and steals the dimensional control unit from his TARDIS. He’s now ‘marooned! Marooned…in 1066!’

I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the Monk when he realises he’s stuck on Earth and shouts out loud in distress, “Doctor! DOCTOR!!!” The Monk would return later in the following season for episodes of ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’ and would return to again through the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’.

This DVD is dedicated to the memory of producer Verity Lambert, who sadly passed away in 2007.

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s a ‘Verity Lambert Obituary’, that is a number of pages detailing the career of the first producer of ‘Doctor Who’ and a ‘Verity Lambert Photo Gallery’. There’s also ‘The Lost Twelve Seconds’ that looks into some missing footage from the fourth episode of the story and a ‘restoration’ featurette. There’s also the ‘Stripped For Action – The First Doctor’ documentary that looks into the comic book adventures of the First Doctor in ‘TV Comic’ from the early 1960s. There’s also a commentary with producer Verity Lambert; Peter Purves; story editor Donald Tosh and designer Barry Newbury, moderated by Clayton Hickman. There’s also an info-text commentary option to enjoy; a photo gallery; and a ‘Radio Times Listing’ PDF of the story. There’s also a ‘coming soon’ trailer for the ‘The Five Doctors’ 2-disc Special Edition DVD.

‘The Time Meddler’ is an enjoyable story from the William Hartnell era of ‘Doctor Who’. It marks a change in the story’s history with new companion Steven Taylor and a closure to Verity Lambert’s era of the series. It takes the TV series in a new direction, especially when introduced to the Monk.

I’m very fond of this story as it’s one of its finest and delightful stories.

‘The Time Meddler’ rating – 8/10

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  • ‘The Suffering’ (Audio)

For Vicki is

  • ‘The Suffering’ (Audio)

For Steven is

  • ‘The Suffering’ (Audio)
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