‘DELTA AND THE BANNERMEN’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
1959, Nostalgia, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Delta, Bannermen, Motorcycling and Summer in South Wales
I’ve really enjoyed ‘Delta and the Bannermen’!
It was fun! It was unusual! It’s a three-part story by Malcolm Kohll, set during Sylvester McCoy’s first season of ‘Doctor Who’! It’s got to be the bravest ‘Doctor Who’ story ever made for TV to blend comedy and darkness into the mix! I know this can be so difficult to achieve to please all of the fans.
Fans of ‘Doctor Who’ have a problem with Season 24 as a whole. I like Season 24 on some level. I enjoyed ‘Paradise Towers’ with Richard Briers in it and ‘Dragonfire’ with Ace in it. ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ certainly has a lot of action scenes, comedy and hot summery quality added in the mix.
I agree that perhaps Season 24 is too comedic. I like there to a balance of comedy, drama and horror in ‘Doctor Who’ stories, otherwise the series becomes too silly and over-the-top. The next two seasons of Sylvester McCoy’s tenure improved with stories such as ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’.
‘Delta and the Bannermen’ is the story I’m most fond of from Sylvester McCoy’s first season of ‘Doctor Who’. The story itself is set in the 1950s – 1959 to be exact. That’s a good reason to enjoy the story, as it’s not on an alien planet and it’s a proper historical on Earth with aliens added into its mix.
In the story, the Doctor and Mel visit a toll port run by the intergalactic Tollmaster. They go with some alien tourists called the Navarinos on a trip back in time to Earth 1959. They hope to visit Disneyland Paris in 1959, but they get diverted off course by some American satellite in outer space.
They end up at a holiday camp called Shranghi-La in South Wales on Earth and stay overnight whilst making repairs to their space-bus. But menace and danger is approaching, since a Chimeron Queen named Delta hitches a ride with the Navarinos to escape from the vicious Bannermen led by Gavrok.
I’ve had my DVD cover of ‘Delta and the Bannerman’ signed by Sylvester McCoy at the ‘Dimensions 2013’ convention in Newcastle, October 2013. Sylvester as the Doctor is pretty good in this. He’s still trying to find his feet as the Doctor at this point, as he’s still playing the comical light-hearted Doctor.
Sylvester isn’t the dark Doctor he would become later on by this point in the series. But he proves himself to be heroic when helping Delta and defeating the Bannermen. I love the Doctor’s confrontation with Gavrok, as there’s passionate dialogue between them and Sylvester delivers a fine performance.
Bonnie Langford stars as Melanie Bush, the Doctor’s companion in this story. I do like Mel, although I find her rather underused in this story which is a great shame. Mel does scream a lot in this story I’m afraid, which is rather annoying since that’s all she seems to be doing from her time in the TV series.
The Big Finish audios have greatly improved Mel’s character and Bonnie doesn’t scream a lot which is a relief. I like it when Mel tries to be friends with Delta at the holiday camp and expreses her disgust at Gavrok and the Bannermen for killing the Navirnos on their holiday bus, as they don’t care.
The story features a good cast with the likes of Ken Dodd and Don Henderson. I did think Ken Dodd was rather unsuited as the Tollmaster, despite his apparent interest in science fiction. He does make the Tollmaster rather comedic and sometimes I cannot take him seriously, due to his comedy career.
Don Henderson is great as Gavrok, the sinister, evil mercenary leader of the Bannermen. He’s very callous and disregarding in character. You wonder though why he and the Bannermen would want to kill Delta and the Chimerons so much. Don Henderson is pretty good as a ‘Doctor Who’ villain in this.
There’s Richard Davies (who’s I’ve seen in the ‘Fawlty Towers’ episode ‘The Kipper and the Corpse’) as Mr. Burton, who’s in charge of the Shranghi-La holiday camp. There’s also Hugh Lloyd (from ‘Hugh and I’) as Goronwy, a bee keeper who seems to know a lot on what’s going on in talking to his bees.
There’s also Stubby Kaye as Weismuller and Morgan Deare as Hawk, who are a really funny double-act. Both American actors have been in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’. Wiesmuller and Hawk are looking for an American satellite which could crash on Earth, close to where they are in South Wales.
There’s also Belinda Mayne as Delta, the Chimeron Queen who is on the run from the Bannermen. She needs help to protect her new-born baby daughter. And there’s David Kinder as Billy, who is a mechanic, rides a Vincent motorcycle with a sidecar and falls in love with Delta at the holiday camp.
But it’s lovely Sara Griffiths as motorcycle girl Ray (short for Rachel) who shone for me. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Sara at the ‘Acceptable In The 80s’ convention in Chiswick, October 2011. She’s very friendly and I liked her a lot. Sara would later work with Colin Baker in the Big Finish audio ‘I.D’.
I really love those scenes where Ray is crying in the laundry room and she’s comforted by the Doctor. She’s upset with not catching the attention of Billy, who she’s got a crush on and he’s fallen for Delta instead. It was a lovely scene where the Doctor connects to Ray and it was good to see in this story.
Just for you know, Sara’s Welsh accent for Ray is put-on. She may have a Welsh surname, but she’s not Welsh I’m afraid. I was so convinced by Sara’s Welsh accent as Ray in this story. I told Sara this at the convention she was at when I met her. I don’t think Sara believed me, but she liked the compliment.
Sara of course could have made a potential ‘Doctor Who’ companion, since the producers and writers were trying out either Ray or Ace to be a companion for Sylvester’s Doctor. In the end, Sophie Aldred won as Ace. But Sara is still good in this story, as Ray comes across as very resourceful.
One wonders what it would have been like if Ray did become a ‘Doctor Who’ companion and travel in the TARDIS with the Doctor. Perhaps Big Finish could bring Sara Griffiths back to play Ray for some more adventures with Sylvester’s Doctor. I certainly would welcome it if that were to happen today.
As a Welshman, I loved this story being set in Barry Island, South Wales. This is probably the first proper use of a Welsh location in ‘Doctor Who’ before Russell T. Davies came with setting the show in Cardiff in 2005. The location is lush with its sunny weather. I love seeing the story because of that.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s two news items on the making of ‘Delta and the Bannerman’. There’s a ‘But First This’ item with Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford and Ken Dodd interviews and a ‘Wales Today’ report. There are also interview rushes from the ‘But First This’ item. There’s a first edit of ‘Part One’ with some extra scenes that were deleted from the final episode. There’s ‘Hugh and Us’, an interview with the late Hugh Lloyd. And there’s ‘Clown Court’ where Sylvester McCoy is put on trial by Noel Edmonds on some outtakes from ‘Delta and the Bannermen’. There’s also the ‘Stripped For Action – The Seventh Doctor’ documentary. This is looks into the comic book adventures of the Seventh Doctor. There’s also trailers and continuity announcements for the story; a photo gallery of the story and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story. There’s also a commentary with Sylvester McCoy, Sara Griffiths, director Chris Clough and script editor Andrew Cartmell and there’s an info-text commentary option to enjoy. There’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The War Games’ with Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury.
I’ve really enjoyed ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ with Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor. I’ve done my own sequel with the Seventh Doctor, Ace, Delta and the Cybermen in it! ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ is good to watch in the summer time. Do have plenty of cool drinks to enjoy when watching this story in the sunshine.
‘Delta and the Bannermen’ rating – 9/10
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