‘THE WHEEL IN SPACE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Cybermen and Zoe Heriot
“You will take us to the Wheel!”
‘The Wheel In Space’ is one my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories with the Cybermen in it! And sadly, it’s also one of the missing stories of ‘Doctor Who’ from the BBC Archives. I managed to listen to this story in its entirety via the TV soundtrack on audio CD, with the linking narration by Wendy Padbury.
I hoped there would be some episodes of this TV story in existence to enjoy. That was before I discovered the ‘Lost In Time’ DVD and thankfully there were two episodes of ‘The Wheel In Space’ in existence. This was ‘Episodes 3 and 6’. There are also surviving clips from ‘Episodes 4 and 5’ to enjoy.
You can now listen to complete story of ‘The Wheel In Space’ through the TV soundtrack via ‘The Lost TV Episodes: Collection Five’ either on CD or as a download. I hope that one day ‘The Wheel In Space’ will be found in its entirely, as I do for many ‘Doctor Who’ tales from the 60s that are missing.
‘The Wheel In Space’ is a six-part adventure by David Whittaker, from a story by Kit Pedler. It’s also the first story to feature Wendy Padbury as Zoe Heriot, the Doctor’s new companion in the TV series. It is fair to say that Zoe is one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companions from the Second Doctor era.
I’ve even written a short story featuring Zoe called ‘Brain and Heart’, which I took inspiration from listening to ‘The Wheel In Space’ on audio back in October 2016. I like how Zoe is introduced to the Doctor and Jamie who come to the Wheel space station in the 21st century to defeat the Cybermen.
The story takes place after the Doctor and Jamie say goodbye to Victoria Waterfield in ‘Fury From The Deep’. The TARDIS takes them to the 21st century where they end up on a space rocket called the Silver Carrier. After exploring the rocket, they encounter this squat robot patrolling the corridors.
The Doctor soon gets knocked out and Jamie looks after him before the Silver Carrier comes into contact with the space station called the Wheel. Brought aboard, Jamie and the Doctor’s presence on the Silver Carrier becomes a mystery to the station crew, one the station controller isn’t happy about.
Eventually, the Doctor and Jamie help the station crew of the Wheel to battle against the Cybermen who are on board the Silver Carrier. They want the Wheel space station for their agenda and intend to destroy all human life. Can the Doctor and Jamie’s new friend, Zoe, help to defeat the Cybermen?
The Cybermen are one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ monsters. I especially like how they look in terms of their design in this story. They look sleeker and elegant compared to their previous TV appearances. The helmets look great. It’s a straight-forward blank expressionless look on their faces.
I’m not a fan of the Cybermen’s voices in this story though. Don’t get me wrong. Peter Hawkins and Roy Skelton are great voice artists. But the voices sound throaty when the Cybermen speak. I prefer ‘The Invasion’ and ‘Rise of the Cybermen’ voices for these guys, as they sound threatening and deep.
The Cyber Planner voice sounds much more like my type of Cybermen voice and it matches to the voice of the Cyber Controller’s voice in ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’. I can’t understand why they couldn’t provide a similar voice to the Cybermen like the one given to the Cyber Planner in this story.
The Cybermats also make an appearance in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. They look different compared to the ones in ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’. It must be the glowing eyes that are different. These little beasties as Jamie would call them proved so popular from ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’, didn’t they?
Wendy Padbury shines in his first appearance as Zoe Heriot in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. I love Zoe’s introduction. When the Doctor and Jamie meet her, she’s an astrophysicist in the parapsychology library aboard the Wheel. She’s good with facts and figures and has a good memory like a computer.
But unfortunately, Zoe’s brilliant intelligence puts her as odds with the other station crew. She’s considered a robot and is accused for being ‘all brain and no heart’ by Leo Ryan. This somewhat puts her at unease, since she doesn’t want to be considered a robot and wants to experience feelings too.
Zoe’s encounter with the Doctor and Jamie provides that opportunity. She discovers for herself that facts and logic aren’t enough to exist in life. She doesn’t wish to go back to her ordinary life once the Cybermen are defeated. Will the Doctor and Jamie accept Zoe as a new time-travelling companion?
Patrick Troughton excels as the Doctor in this Cybermen adventure. He’s absent for ‘Episode 2’ of the story after he’s knocked out in ‘Episode 1’. He returns to fine form, only to hear from Jamie sabotaged the Wheel’s laser to protect the Silver Carrier. The Doctor was getting used to a little rest.
I liked it when the Doctor realises that the creature in the power room sprayed with plastic is a Cybermat and that the Cybermen are on board the Silver Carrier. He tries to tell Controller Jarvis Bennett that the Cybermen have come, telling him what they are, but Jarvis doesn’t believe a word.
I enjoyed it when the Doctor went down to the power room and faced the Cybermen there in ‘Episode 6’. The Doctor gets to learn more about the Cybermen’s plans before managing to knock one out with a trap he sets in the power room. The Doctor’s ingenuity and wit come out strong here.
Frazer Hines is equally good as Jamie in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. He’s missing Victoria but he manages to get on well with Zoe, despite her saying he’s wearing female clothes regarding his Scottish kilt. Jamie also gets to cope by himself without the Doctor during the majority of ‘Episode 2’.
Jamie discovers that the Wheel crew are about to blow up the Silver Carrier rocket and he sabotages the station equipment by spraying plastic in order to protect the TARDIS. He’s caught in the act and I like how apologetic he is, despite him not revealing too much to the Wheel crew about what he did.
I liked it when Jamie is made to go back to the Silver Carrier in a spacesuit with Zoe in order to collect the time vector generator from the TARDIS. The Doctor says ‘it was his fault’ for losing the time vector generator and it was very funny when Jamie gets so defeated and agitated with the task.
The story features Michael Turner as Jarvis Bennett, the Wheel’s space station controller and commander. Jarvis is rather highly strung man who doesn’t like mysteries, especially when the Silver Carrier comes along. He goes into a mental breakdown before confronting a Cyberman in a corridor.
There’s Anne Ridler as Dr. Gemma Corwyn, the second-in-command and the chief medical officer aboard the Wheel. She’s a reasonable person who tries to advise Jarvis when he becomes skeptical. She gradually becomes trusting of the Doctor and Jamie and helps out with defeating the Cybermen.
There’s Eric Flynn as Leo Ryan, who is the Wheel’s communications officer and eventually takes command of the station in Jarvis and Gemma’s absence. There’s also Clare Jenkins as Tanya Lernov, the station’s astronomer who is in a relationship with Leo. Her nose never lets her down apparently.
There’s also Kenneth Watson as Bill Duggan; Kervork Malikyan as Kemel Rudkin; Michael Goldie as Elton Laleham; Derrick Gilbert as Armand Vallance; Donald Sumpter as Enrico Casali; Peter Laird as Chang and James Mellor as Sean Flannigan. These are the rest of the station crew aboard the Wheel.
I like how the story ends with Zoe stowing aboard the TARDIS before the Doctor and Jamie find her in a cupboard. She wants to come with them. I like how Zoe’s determined to come with the Doctor and Jamie especially after defeating the Cybermen. The Doctor isn’t sure as she might change her mind.
The Doctor then decides to give an idea of what Zoe is in store for and presents her a previous adventure he and Jamie had called ‘The Evil of the Daleks’. Why didn’t the BBC keep that repeat? Argh!!! Will Zoe still want to go with the Doctor and Jamie after watching the Daleks? I’m sure she will.
If you have the ‘Lost in Time’ DVD, there’s a commentary for ‘Episode 6’ of ‘The Wheel In Space’ with script-editor Derrick Sherwin and director Tristan de Vere Cole. There’s an audiobook trailer on Disc 1 for the missing episode stories of ‘Doctor Who’ on audiobook CDs. There’s also a documentary on Disc 3 called ‘The Missing Years’ which looks into the missing episodes of ‘Doctor Who’, presented by Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling.
‘The Wheel In Space’ is a fantastic Cybermen adventure in the Second Doctor era of ‘Doctor Who’ and a wonderful introduction to Wendy Padbury as Zoe in the series. I’m glad I got to listen to this story on audio CD and that two episodes are existence for us fans to enjoy on the ‘Lost in Time’ DVD.
I hope that ‘The Wheel In Space’ will be found in its entirety someday. Perhaps they will. Perhaps some episode hunter will find the remaining four missing episodes of this Cybermen adventure somewhere. I wouldn’t mind it if they completed this TV tale with animation episodes. Who knows?
As of March 2019, I’ve had the CD cover of ‘The Wheel In Space’ audio soundtrack signed by Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury at the ‘Film and Comic Con Cardiff’ in March 2019. I’m pleased I’ve had the CD signed by both Frazer and Wendy when I saw them in Cardiff. I had a great time chatting to them about this story and Cybermen in general as well as having photo shoots with them in Cardiff.
‘The Wheel In Space’ rating – 10/10
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