‘DELTA AND THE BANNERMEN’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Delta and Bannermen in 1959 Souh Wales with the Seventh Doctor and Mel
I’ve greatly enjoyed ‘Delta and the Bannermen’! I know the story has plot-holes and it probably would have worked better as a four-part adventure instead of a three-part adventure, but I still love ‘Delta and the Bannermen’. For me, I consider it one of the highlights of Season 24 of ‘Doctor Who’!
The story is fun and unusual! It also has to be one of the bravest ‘Doctor Who’ stories ever made for TV to blend in comedy and darkness into the mix. That can be quite difficult to achieve in order to please the ‘Doctor Who’ fans. Some are divided over this story, but I feel it works fine in its entirety.
This is a three-part story by Malcolm Kohll, another new writer to the TV series for Sylvester McCoy’s first season of ‘Doctor Who’. A shame Malcolm Kohll didn’t come back to write another ‘Doctor Who’ story like Stephen Wyatt and Ian Briggs did, but he still penned the novelization of this story. 🙂
Interestingly, this story is all filmed on location, which we’ll readdress later on. One of the constraints of the latter seasons of ‘Doctor Who’ in the late 1980s with Sylvester McCoy was the fact they were 14 episodes in total. It started with Colin Baker’s ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ as 14 episodes.
The producer John Nathan-Turner came up with the idea of doing two four-parters in the season and two three-parters as opposed to one four-parter and one two-parter. I’m surprised not every story in the three seasons of Sylvester McCoy’s era was a two-parter, making it total up to seven stories. 😐
By dividing the last six episodes of Season 24 into two three-part adventures instead of one six-part adventure, JNT had one three-parter filmed on location whilst the other three-parter was filmed in the studio. ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ was the location story and ‘Dragonfire’ was the studio tale. 🙂
Both ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ and ‘Dragonfire’ were directed by Chris Clough. Chris previously directed the ‘Terror of the Vervoids’ and ‘The Ultimate Foe’ segments of ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’. He would later go on to direct ‘The Happiness Patrol’ and ‘Silver Nemesis’ in Season 25 of the series.
As stressed before, fans of ‘Doctor Who’ have a major problem with Season 24 as a whole. And like I’ve stressed before, I like Season 24 on some level. I greatly enjoyed ‘Paradise Towers’ featuring Richard Briers and I like Ace’s introduction in ‘Dragonfire’. ‘Time and the Rani’ I’m not so keen about.
But at least it was decently written by Pip and Jane Baker as Sylvester’s introduction into ‘Doctor Who’. A criticism fans have about Season 24 is that it’s too comedic. And ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ certainly has a lot of comedy scenes as well as action and hot summery quality added into the mix. 🙂
I agree that Season 24 of ‘Doctor Who’ can perhaps be too comedic. Then again, we had Season 17 of ‘Doctor Who’ under Douglas Adams’ thumb, but at least one story called ‘City of Death’ had the balance of comedy and drama throughout. It’s also one of my favourite stories of Tom Baker’s era. 🙂
I like there to be a balance of comedy, drama and horror in certain ‘Doctor Who’ stories. I hope I’ve achieved this with my Fifth Doctor stories such as ‘The Space Hotel’, ‘The Austen Code’, ‘The Stockbridge Terror’ and ‘The Prime Factor’. Otherwise, the series can be really silly and over-the-top.
I know the next two seasons of Sylvester McCoy’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ did improve with balancing the comedy, drama and horror in stories like ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ and ‘Survival’. It’s a shame that Season 24 is tarnished by fans as one of the worst seasons of ‘Doctor Who’ ever made. 😦
I can’t be the best judge in these matters and I know people regard other seasons more highly than me like the Steven Moffat-era seasons of ‘Doctor Who’. Yet I do gain more enjoyment out of watching the Season 24 stories than the Steven Moffat-era seasons as I find them more intriguing. 🙂
Maybe it’s because I can see what the author of these tales are trying to achieve compared to others, even though the end result is quite clumsy in the making. At least I’m not distracted by complicated elements that were in the Steven Moffat era. I find the Season 24 tales straightforward.
If people were to ask me “Which is my absolute favourite story from Season 24 of ‘Doctor Who’?”, then ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ would be the story to say that I’m most fond of. I know I rate ‘Paradise Towers’ quite highly, but I feel ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ has that vibrant energy to get me excited.
The story itself is set in the 1950s – 1959 to be exact! 😀 I find that to be a good reason to enjoy the story. It’s not set on an alien planet and it has a proper historical setting on Earth with aliens added into the mix. What’s not to love about that? It’s bonkers crazy yes, but it’s a charming bonkers crazy.
In the story, the Doctor and Mel visit a tollport in the future somewhere (I think) – G715 in fact. The tollport is run by an intergalactic Tollmaster, played by Ken Dodd (more on him later). The Doctor and Mel have apparently won a trip to visit Disneyland Paris in 1959. Oh my!!! Disneyland Paris!!! 😀
That sounds really exciting! A shame ‘Doctor Who’ never ended up on Disney+. 😀 But rather than getting a whole space cruiser to themselves, the Doctor and Mel are to go with some alien tourists called the Navarinos on a trip back in time to Earth 1959. They are squat, wrinkly, purply creatures. 🙂
Thankfully they take on human form in order to blend in! 😀 Unfortunately, the scheduled space-bus tour with Mel on board gets diverted off course by some American satellite in outer space. Fortunately, the Doctor in his TARDIS is able to control the space-bus to end up crashing to Earth. 😀
The Doctor, Mel and the Navarinos 1950s club end up at a holiday camp called Shrangi-La in South Wales on Earth. I suppose the BBC couldn’t get copyright to call the place Butlin’s holiday camp on Barry Island in South Wales. A shame the holiday camp closed down in 1996 since I never visited it. 😦
The group stay overnight whilst repairs are made to the space-bus. Meanwhile, danger and menace are approaching as the Chimeron queen called Delta hitches a ride with the Navarinos to escape the vicious Bannermen, led by Gavrok. Will the Doctor and his friends help Delta survive this adventure?
Incidentally, this story means a lot to me from watching the DVD as I’ve actually done a sequel to ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ called ‘The Game of Delta’ in the ‘Zorbius’ series. It features the Seventh Doctor, Ace, Cybermen and Delta in it. 🙂 Perhaps I should have called it ‘Delta and the Cybermen’. 😀
It’s never made clear why the Bannermen would want to destroy all the Chimerons including Delta during the story. Perhaps it’s established in the novelization by Malcolm Kohll. This is one of the reasons why ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ should have been a four-parter instead of a three-parter. 😐
Sylvester McCoy is pretty good as the Doctor in this adventure. I’ve had my DVD cover of ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ signed by Sylvester at the ‘Dimensions 2013’ convention in Newcastle, October 2013. I recall sharing how much I enjoyed this adventure when chatting to him at the convention. 😀
At this point, I believe Sylvester is still trying to find his feet as the Doctor since he’s still playing aspects of the comical light-hearted Doctor from ‘Time and the Rani’. Though it can be argued he has toned down significantly since he started in ‘Time and the Rani’ right through into ‘Paradise Towers’.
Sylvester isn’t the dark, manipulative Doctor we would come to know later on in the series, although he does show signs of being observant throughout the adventure. He proves to be heroic, especially when helping Delta who’s on the run from the Bannermen and they eventually defeat them in this. 🙂
I love the Doctor’s confrontation with Gavrok, especially since there’s passionate dialogue between them. Sylvester delivers a fine performance when facing Gavrok. A shame Sylvester had trouble riding a motorbike behind the scenes, especially as you spot certain shots of him wearing glasses. 😀
Bonnie Langford stars as Melanie Bush, the Doctor’s companion in this adventure. I must stress that I do like Mel as a character, although if I’m perfectly honest, I find her better in the Big Finish audios compared to the TV series. I found Mel rather underused in this adventure, which is a huge shame. 😦
Incidentally, have I mentioned I’ve met Bonnie Langford in real-life at the ‘Bournemouth Film and Comic Con’ of 2015? I would like to meet her again. 🙂 Mel does scream a lot in this adventure, which can be so annoying especially since she seems to be doing that for most of her time in the TV series.
Mel also screams unnecessarily, especially when Delta’s baby is being hatched and when Bannermen shoot the Doctor, Burton and Mel in Billy’s Vincent motorbike with side-car. The Big Finish audios have greatly improved Mel’s character, especially when Bonnie doesn’t have to scream so much. 😀
I liked it when Mel tried to be friends with Delta at the Shangri-La holiday camp. She also gets to express her disgust at Gavrok and the Bannermen for killing the Navarinos aboard their holiday bus, but they don’t care. Mel doesn’t really spend that much time with the Doctor, which is a pity indeed.
The story features a stellar cast of guest actors including the likes of Ken Dodd, Don Henderson, Richard Davies, Stubby Kaye and Hugh Lloyd. A shame Richard Briers couldn’t appear in this story instead of ‘Paradise Towers’. He probably would have played Burton and done a funny Welsh accent.
Ken Dodd happens to be a comic genius and entertainer. I never got the chance to see Ken Dodd perform a live stand-up show, but I have heard he could be entertaining and funny. He must have been a delight for the ‘Doctor Who’ cast and crew to work with when making this certain adventure.
Timelord007: “Oh trust me, Tim! Ken Dodd kept us entertained when I attended one of his shows and met him backstage back in 2008!”
That I can well believe, Timelord! 😀
With that said, I do think Ken Dodd is rather unsuited to play the Tollmaster in this adventure. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate his enthusiasm and he apparently has an interest in science-fiction according to the ‘But First This’ item on DVD and Blu-ray. But his performance can be out-of-place. 😐
Like Richard Briers, Ken Dodd does tend to make the Tollmaster rather comedic and over-the-top. Sometimes I couldn’t take him seriously. This is due to his comedy career and I wish the production team found ways of telling him to tone it down rather than just leaving him to his own devices here.
Also, Ken Dodd as the Tollmaster gets killed off too early in ‘Part One’ of the story. It’s such a shame for a well-known celebrity like Ken Dodd to be killed off in the story. The Tollmaster could have returned in ‘Part Three’ of the tale, welcoming the Doctor and Mel back to Tollport G715 at the end.
Don Henderson guest stars as Gavrok, the sinister, evil mercenary leader of the Bannermen. I found Don Henderson great as the villain of this story. He comes across as very callous and disregarding of human life. I do wish that more was explored in terms of his villainy and why he wanted Delta killed.
You wonder why Gavrok and the Bannermen wanted Delta and the Chimerons to be killed so much. Even in the extended version of the story on Blu-ray, we’re not given an explanation. But it’s a weakness of the story I’m willing to overlook since Don Henderson is really good as the villain here. 🙂
In some respects, Gavrok and the Bannermen could easy be the Dwaxi from my ‘Doctor Who’ stories such as ‘Doom of the Daleks’ and ‘Dawn of the Dwaxi’. This is in light of their hyper-violent attitude and trigger-happy manner in wanting to blow things up as well as Gavrok being angry all the time. 🙂
Interesting aspects of Gavrok are that he has webbed hands and he likes to eat a hunk of raw meat, which were Don Henderson’s ideas apparently. 😀 The Bannermen also have a strange hissy cry of triumph when Gavroks shouts “The Chimerons are finished!” Seriously, what was with that hissy cry?
Belinda Mayne guest stars as the titular heroine of this adventure – Delta, the Chimeron queen who is on the run from the Bannermen and needs help to protect her new-born baby daughter – played by a variety of little girls including Laura Collins and Carley Joseph. The baby girl grows up pretty fast!
I like Belinda Mayne’s performance as Delta. At first, you’re not sure what to make of her, especially when she’s reserved and not so friendly once Mel interacts with her. But gradually, you see Delta having warmth to her. She has a compassionate side and is really grateful to those who help her out.
There are similarities in terms of how Goronwy’s bees connect to Delta as the Chimeron queen. The Chimerons are meant to be insect-like, despite the soldiers in the exciting opening action sequence looking a lot like green toy soldiers from ‘Toy Story’. Delta also has disc-like antenna behind her ears.
I’d like to think these things are echoed in my story ‘The Game of Delta’, especially as Delta is considered the hive queen. The Chimerons may be connected to the Vespiforms from ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’. Maybe there was more to the ‘bees disappearing’ in Series 4 of new ‘Doctor Who’. 😀
The guest star who shone for me the most in this ‘Doctor Who’ story is the lovely Sara Griffiths as motorcycle girl Rachel – Ray for short. 🙂 I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Sara at the ‘Acceptable In The 80s’ convention in Chiswick, London back in October 2011. She was very nice to chat to back then.
Sara has also worked with Colin Baker in the Big Finish audio called ‘I.D’. At the time, producer John Nathan-Turner and script editor Andrew Cartmel were trying out Ray or Ace to be the next Seventh Doctor companion after Bonnie Langford. So, Sara’s Ray could have been a ‘Doctor Who’ companion. 🙂
In the end, by the next story ‘Dragonfire’, Sophie Aldred as Ace became the new ‘Doctor Who’ companion instead. It’s a shame that Sara playing Ray didn’t get the chance to be the new ‘Doctor Who’ companion. She’s still very good in this adventure and Ray does come across as pretty resourceful. 🙂
One wonders what it would have been like had Ray been the new ‘Doctor Who’ companion instead of Ace and travelled with Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor. Big Finish could still invite Sara Griffiths back to play Ray for some audio stories with Sylvester’s Doctor. I would greatly welcome it if that happened.
I love those scenes where Ray sobs her heart out in the laundry room before she’s comforted by the Doctor. She’s upset about not catching Billy’s attention, as she’s crushed on him since she was a little girl but he fell in love with Delta instead. It’s a really lovely scene where the Doctor connects to Ray.
It was also nice to see the Doctor being concerned for Ray during the ‘Get to Know You’ dance at Shangri-La before they end up dancing together. I wish we had more scenes of Sylvester’s Doctor showing concern for troubled souls in the show. I don’t think there are enough of them in later tales.
Incidentally, in case you didn’t realise it – Ray is a Welsh girl, but Sara’s Welsh accent for her is put-on. Sara may have a Welsh surname, but I’m afraid she’s not Welsh. I was convinced for a time that Sara’s Welsh accent for Ray was authentic. It was disappointing that it didn’t turn out to be the case.
I did my best to compliment Sara that I found her Welsh accent very good when I saw her at the ‘Acceptable In The 80s’ convention back in October 2011. I don’t think Sara believed me as I told her, but I think she appreciated the compliment. And at least I got to have a good conversation with her.
The story also features Richard Davies as Mr. Burton, who’s in charge of the Shangri-La holiday camp in Wales. Richard Davies is perhaps best-known to people for playing Mr. Price in the comedy TV series ‘Please Sir!’ For me, he appeared in the ‘Fawlty Towers’ episode ‘The Kipper and the Corpse’.
Mr. White: “LOOK, FAWLTY! WE WANT OUR THINGS!”
Yeah, that’s the one! 😀
I greatly enjoyed Richard Davies’ performance as Mr. Burton in the adventure and he’s very Welsh indeed. 😀 I found it funny whenever he said, “Any questions? Splendid!” before anyone gets the chance to ask him one. And yes, the holiday camp does have its echoes of ‘Hi-De-Hi’ throughout it. 🙂
There’s also Hugh Lloyd as Goronwy, the bee-keeper who seems to know a lot about what’s going on when he talks to the bees. Hugh Lloyd is very well-known for playing Hugh in ‘Hugh and I’ with Terry Scott. I’ve not seen that comedy series yet, but I did enjoy how Hugh played Goronwy’s character. 😀
It was funny when Goronwy was accepting of the situation that was going on, including the fact that Delta’s princess was green-skinned when most of the Doctor and company arrived at his farm. There’s a suggestion Goronwy might be a Time Lord or something, which is a nice possibility indeed.
The story also features Stubby Kaye as Weismuller and Morgan Deare as Hawk, the two American secret agents who come to Wales to look for an American space satellite that could crash to Earth. Weismuller and Hawk come across as a decently funny double-act when watching them in the story.
Both Stubby Kaye and Morgan Deare have been in the film ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’. Morgan Deare would later appear in the ‘Doctor Who’ episode ‘Rosa’ with Jodie Whittaker. Honestly, I found these two chaps delightfully entertaining when watching them as they do have some funny dialogue.
Mind you, there is this bit of dialogue that Weismuller says in the adventure.
The story also features David Kinder as Billy, who’s a mechanic; rides a Vincent motorcycle with sidecar; and falls in love with Delta at the holiday camp. I wonder why Billy would be romantically interested in Delta. He takes it calmly that Delta and her fast growing up baby daughter are aliens. 😐
Mind you, I did more or less the same thing with my Billy who fell in love with Nyssa in ‘The Railway of Time’, so what do I know? 😀 It did seem drastic when Billy took some of that Chimeron ‘baby milk’ to become a Chimeron like Delta so he could be with her. Hopefully he survived in having that.
There’s also Johnny Dennis as Murray, the Navarino bus driver for Nostalgia Tours buses who takes the Navarino 1950s club back to 1959. There are times when Murray can be a bit over-the-top and too enthusiastic, but at least Johnny Dennis is having a good time playing the character in this story.
Murray also comes across as having a good heart when enjoying the 1950s period once at Shangri-La holiday camp. A shame that Murray got killed off as well as the rest of the Navarino 1950s club by the Bannermen. He managed to have one final cheery goodbye with Mel before he was blown up. 😦
As a Welshman, I love the fact that this story is set and filmed in Barry Island, South Wales. This has to be one of the proper uses of a Welsh location in ‘Doctor Who’ and this was before Russell T. Davies came along to have the new TV show filmed in Cardiff in 2005. Isn’t that an amazing coincidence? 😀
The location itself is lush, especially with the sunny weather helping it to be seen in full glory. I enjoyed seeing the story because of that. The story’s music by Keff McCulloch can at times be discordant, but I found it fun to listen to, especially when attempts are made to do 1950s-like music.
The original DVD special features were as follows. There were two TV items that focused on the making of ‘Delta and the Bannermen’, including the ‘But First This’ item featuring behind-the-scenes interviews on location with Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford and Ken Dodd; and the ‘Wales Today’ location report. There was a first edit of ‘Part One’ including extra scenes that were deleted from the final cut of the episode and it’s without any music and sound effects. There were also interview rushes from the ‘But First This’ item; a ‘Hugh and Us’ interview with the late Hugh Lloyd; and the ‘Clown Court’ sketch from ‘The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow’ where Sylvester McCoy is put on trial by Noel Edmonds as a judge and it features outtakes/bloopers from ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ as well as ‘Silver Nemesis’ and ‘The Awakening’. 😀 There’s the ‘Stripped For Action – The Seventh Doctor’ documentary that looks into the comic book adventures of the Seventh Doctor era. There were also BBC trailers and continuity announcements for the story and a photo gallery of the story. There was a stereo sound audio mix option for the story and a DVD audio commentary with Sylvester McCoy, Sara Griffiths, director Chris Clough and script editor Andrew Cartmel. There was also an info-text commentary option to enjoy; PDF materials including a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story; and there was a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The War Games’ with Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury.
On Disc 5 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 24’ Blu-ray, the original three-part TV version of the story, the ‘But First This’ item, the ‘Wales Today’ location report, the ‘Hugh and Us’ interview with Hugh Lloyd, the ‘Clown Court’ sketch, the stereo sound audio mix option and the DVD audio commentary can be found on there. The interview rushes for the ‘But First This’ item have been extended and updated into the location rushes for the ‘But First This’ item on the Blu-ray. The BBC trailers and continuity announcements, the photo gallery and the info-text commentary option for ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ have been updated for 2021 on the Blu-ray. The ‘Stripped For Action – The Seventh Doctor’ documentary is now included on Disc 6 of the Season 26 Blu-ray box set of ‘Doctor Who’.
The new special features on Blu-ray include the making-of documentary ‘Holiday Camp’ with cast and crew interviews. There’s also the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ with Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel) and Sophie Aldred (Ace) as well as Peter Davison (The Fifth Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) and Janet Fielding (Tegan) as well as Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor) and Michael Jayston (The Valeyard). There’s a ’50 Years in the TARDIS’ interview with Bonnie Langford and a ’50th Anniversary Archive’ interview with Bonnie Langford. There’s a ‘Going Live’ item with Sylvester McCoy and a ‘Did You See?’ item on the 24th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’. There’s also a brand-new 5.1 surround sound audio mix option for the story to enjoy and there’s an isolated music option by Keff McCulloch.
On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story, there are production documents; production drawings; and scripts for the story including three rehearsal scripts and three transmission camera scripts.
On Disc 6 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 24’ Blu-ray, there’s the extended version of ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ to enjoy. There are also two compilations of location footage from the making of the story to enjoy as well as the wrap party compilation to enjoy. There’s a stereo sound audio mix option and a 5.1 surround sound audio mix option for the extended version of ‘Delta and the Bannermen’. There’s also a raw studio and location audio option for ‘Part One’ of the story to enjoy (which is taken from the first edit of ‘Part One’ from the ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ DVD).
‘Delta and the Bannermen’ with Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor is a ‘Doctor Who’ story I’ve greatly enjoyed. I know fans are divided over it, but the fact that I’ve written a sequel to ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ featuring the Seventh Doctor, Ace, Delta and the Cybermen is proof that I love it. 😀
This is a good ‘Doctor Who’ story to watch in the summer time. You should have plenty of cool drinks to enjoy whilst watching this adventure in the sunshine. As Season 24 draws to a close, will the season end on a high note? Would I be impressed with the final story as with the previous two? 😐
‘Delta and the Bannermen’ rating – 9/10
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