‘Delta and the Bannermen’ (TV)

‘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 mono 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 mono sound audio mix option, the DVD audio commentary and the ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF 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 mono 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


‘DOCTOR WHO – DELTA AND THE BANNERMEN’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Back at Shangri-La Holiday Camp in South Wales

This was a more enjoyable reading/listening experience compared to ‘The Roundheads’. 😀

‘Delta and the Bannermen’ is arguably my favourite story in Season 24 of ‘Doctor Who’ with Sylvester McCoy. ‘Paradise Towers’ is another favourite, but I rank ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ more due to the energetic feel of the adventure and the fact it’s set in the 1950s as well as in South Wales.

In 2021, I revisited Season 24 of ‘Doctor Who’ on Blu-ray. It was fun to do, as I enjoyed updating my reviews on the four stories featured in the season, adding extra thoughts on what I liked and what I disliked about ‘Time and the Rani’, ‘Paradise Towers’, ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ and ‘Dragonfire’. 🙂

In updating my reviews on Season 24 of ‘Doctor Who’, I decided to check out the Target novelization/audiobook of ‘Dragonfire’, read by Bonnie Langford. It was nice to do and this was before I even checked out the Target novelizations/audiobooks of the other three Season 24 stories.

Before 2021 came to an end, I purchased the 4-disc CD set of the Target audiobook ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ by Malcolm Kohll, read by Bonnie Langford. This was when my parents and I were shopping in Cardiff in December of that year. Not long after this, I purchased the Target novelization.

I received the 1989 paperback edition from Amazon in the post. It was good to do this. I read/heard the Target novelization/audiobook of ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ from December 2021 right into January 2022. It was a leisurely read/listen of a ‘Doctor Who’ Target book/audio and very rewarding.

I suppose the reason why I purchased the ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ audiobook as a 4-disc CD set as opposed to a download via Audible (which I would normally do) is because this ‘Doctor Who’ story is very special to me. It’s made an impact on me over the years and I wanted to check out more of it. 🙂

During the 50th anniversary celebrations of ‘Doctor Who’ in 2013, I crafted the ‘Zorbius’ series. For the Seventh Doctor instalment, I came up with ‘The Game of Delta’, which is a sequel to ‘Delta and the Bannermen’. So, you can tell how much I enjoyed the TV story due to me writing a sequel on it. 🙂

If I presume correctly, it’s likely I’ll be reviewing Season 24 of ‘Doctor Who’ in novelization/audiobook form backwards. It began with ‘Dragonfire’, then it was ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ where I’m at now, and coming next it will be ‘Paradise Towers’ and ‘Time and the Rani’.

This I’m fine with, as I’m looking forward to checking out ‘Paradise Towers’ next as opposed to ‘Time and the Rani’, which I feel is the weakest of the four stories in Season 24 of ‘Doctor Who’. But before I get to those stories, let me share with you how I rate ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ as a book/audio. 🙂

I greatly enjoyed the ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ book/audio. It’s well-written and put together by the story’s original author Malcolm Kohll. I’m saddened that he hasn’t done more ‘Doctor Who’ stories since then, as his writing in the Target book/audio is pretty engaging and very easy to follow.

The story itself is divided into 32 chapters and it has a prologue at the beginning and an epilogue at the end. It doesn’t match to how Terrance Dicks structures a ‘Doctor Who’ story in a book, but it’s so much better than what Mark Gatiss gave us with the lengthy chapters in ‘The Roundheads’ book/audio.

I found how easy it was to absorb each detail of the ‘Delta and the Banermen’ story with each chapter being straight to the point and focusing on a few scenes at a time. It took about over three weeks to read/hear the book/audio, but I felt satisfied by what Malcolm Kohll delivered in the book.

It was also lovely to hear Bonnie Langford read the ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ audiobook. Bonnie of course plays Mel in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series as well as the Big Finish audios. As of 2022, Bonnie has read all four stories of Season 24 of ‘Doctor Who’ in audiobook from, which is very consistent. 🙂

Bonnie reads the story very clearly and it’s easy to get into the story when she’s reading it. I enjoyed the voices she gave to some of the characters. As well as the Seventh Doctor in his Scottish tones, it was great to hear Bonnie voice Burton in this story as well as Gavrok, with some really good menace.

It was a little disappointing that Bonnie didn’t provide the strong Welsh accent that I knew Ray’s voice had when hearing her perform her character in the audiobook. Mind you, Sara Griffiths wasn’t happy with the Welsh accent she provided, so maybe Bonnie Langford respected her sensibilities. 😐

I enjoyed how Bonnie Langford voiced Weismuller and Hawk in the audiobook, matching the American tones Stubby Kaye and Morgan Deare had in the TV story. Weismuller still says that Wales in England in the novelization/audiobook, to which many Welsh readers would be very put-off by. 😀

The advantage of reading/hearing the Target novelization/audiobook of ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ is that you don’t have to be distracted by some of the overtly comedic moments featured in the story. This is especially considering Season 24 was heavily criticised for having an overdose of humour in it.

One of the moments is when the Doctor sneezes once he and Ray are overhearing Keillor’s conversation with Gavrok via communicator in the laundry room. In the book, it’s explained that one of the shelves is an inch-deep in dust. That adds more credibility rather than just the Doctor sneezing out of random.

Speaking of which, there’s a typographical error featured in that particular scene in the book. On page 54, the Doctor is described as ‘peeing over’ the shelf inch-deep in dust instead of ‘peering over’. I checked to see if it was there in the paperback edition of the book. And yes, it’s clearly there. 😀

That’s rather unfortunate. The error is featured in both the 1989 edition and the 1991 reissue of the Target novelization. Thankfully, the error has been corrected in the audiobook when Bonnie Langford reads the scene. I wouldn’t like to think about the Doctor ‘peeing’ in that particular scene.

The story includes scenes that weren’t featured in the transmitted version of ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ when it was shown on TV in 1987. This includes scenes from ‘Part One’ of the story like the Doctor and Mel’s first TARDIS scene and the extra Delta moments when she’s at the Shangri-La holiday camp. 🙂

These scenes can be viewed in an original edit of ‘Part One’ on the ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ DVD and in the extended version of the story in the Season 24 Blu-ray box set. It’s nice to read these extra scenes and moments in the book/audio, providing a unique depiction of the story compared to TV. 🙂

In the book/audio’s prologue, there’s a brand-new first TARDIS scene with the Doctor and Mel that’s not featured in the TV adventure at all. The story also starts differently in Chapter 1 with the Doctor and Mel in the TARDIS before they end up at the tollport and before they meet the Tollmaster there.

In the TV version, the story started with the Bannermen attacking Chumeria before Delta escaped in one of the Bannermen’s ships. That happens in Chapter 2 of the story in the book. So, the Bannermen’s attack on Chumeria and the Doctor and Mel’s arrival at the tollport is switched around in the book. 🙂

Incidentally, there’s an explanation given as to why Gavrok and the Bannermen attacked Chumeria and slaughtered its inhabitants. They wanted to conquer their world for themselves and were wiping out every Chimeron to leave no trace of their attack. This was quite intriguing to learn in the book. 🙂

Gavrok also comes across as a pretty vile, cruel man when he’s written in the book and when he’s read by Bonnie Langford. He doesn’t do the eating a hunk of raw meat as in the TV story (that was added in by Don Henderson, I believe), but his disrespect and callous regard of lives is clearly evident in the story.

Essentially, the book follows what went on in the TV story as close as possible. The additions featured in the novelization mostly involve more backstory to characters, such as the relationship between Ray and Billy, and how much Ray has romantic feelings for Billy, that are unreciprocated. 😦

Incidentally, when Bonnie reads the Tollmaster’s death once he’s been shot by Gavrok at the tollport, it doesn’t feel over-the-top in the way Ken Dodd played it in the TV story. I don’t wish to disrespect how Ken Dodd played that death in the tale, but it was too much in the way he screamed.

If you recall, when Burton came to greet Murray and the Navarinos at the Shangri-La holiday camp, he’s seen to have a dog with him. However, in the book/audio, there’s no mention of the dog. Granted it was producer John Nathan-Turner’s dog, but the dog didn’t really serve much purpose in the TV story.

Cuddles: “All dogs are important, Master! ALL DOGS!!!”

Yes, yes. Alright, Cuddles. We get the idea.

By the way, there’s an extra piece of information given about Burton and his second right-hand man Vinny. Apparently, they served in the war together. Um, I wonder if Vinny was too young to be serving in the war alongside Burton, since he seems to be young when watching him in the TV story.

In the TV story, there are exchanges of Welsh words said between Burton and Ray as well as the Doctor and Ray in certain scenes of the story. I was disappointed the Welsh exchanges weren’t included in the book, as it was nice to hear some Welsh said between characters during the TV version of the tale.

The deaths of Murray and the Navarinos in their Nostalgia Trips bus is more felt in the book/audio compared to the TV story. As well as Mel; the Doctor, Ray, Billy and Delta are shocked by the callous killing of the Navarinos by Gavrok and his Bannermen. I’m glad this is prominent in the novelization.

Thankfully, the moment where the Bannermen hiss-cry in that strange manner once Gavrok announces “The Chimerons are finished!” is omitted in the book. I always found that moment odd, especially when most of the Bannermen characters are non-speaking roles and they’re more of a guerrilla force.

Speaking of which, two Bannermen characters are named in the tale. They’re Arrex and Callon. They’re the ones who kept guard on Weismuller and Hawk before they were ordered to deal with the Doctor, Mel and Burton in Billy’s Vincent and side-car. I’m glad these two Bannermen got names. 😀

In the TV story, Hawk burned his hand once he entered the ray of the sonic cone placed atop the TARDIS. In the book, he injured his head. This was an unusual difference in the book, especially when Hawk is out-of-his-depth by all that’s happening whilst Weismuller takes part is most of the action. 🙂

As you’d expect, the story ends happily with Delta, her daughter and Billy going off into outer space whilst the Doctor and Mel return to the TARDIS and everyone else remains on Earth. These are detailed in the last two chapters of the story as opposed to maybe one chapter detailing the conclusion.

The book’s epilogue showcases Billy, Delta and her daughter arriving on the brood planet, before Billy goes off to take the captured Bannermen to a galactic court. Billy seems to have picked up flying a spaceship pretty fast compared to driving a Vincent. 😀 Delta and her daughter remain on the brood planet.

There are also touches on what happened to Weismuller and Hawk on their way back home to America as well as to Goronwy, Burton and Ray. It’s revealed that Ray decided to travel around the world. It’s a pity that she didn’t join the Doctor and Mel in their TARDIS travels, which she could’ve done. 😦

I’m pleased I’ve read/heard ‘Delta and the Bannerman’ as a Target novelization/audiobook by Malcolm Kohll. It was great to revisit this story, considering it’s my favourite from Season 24 and I’m pleased I took my time checking out each chapter of the story, which were very easy to read/hear. 🙂

The epilogue featuring what happened to Billy, Delta and her daughter doesn’t affect what I’ve written about Delta’s future in the ‘Zorbius’ series, particularly in ‘The Game of Delta’. I’m pleased more is explored on what happened after ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ as opposed to nothing at all. 🙂

If the Target novelization made ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ into a four-part story instead of a three-parter, I’d be happy. 😀

‘Doctor Who – Delta and the Bannermen’ rating – 9/10


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8 thoughts on “‘Delta and the Bannermen’ (TV)

  1. Timelord 007

    Excellent review Tim i shouldn’t enjoy this story, it’s set in my most loathed seasons, pantomime characters & production & yet it’s my favourite story of the season.

    I met Ken Dodd in 2008 backstage after one of his marathon shows cause my dad knew someone worked for Ken, i asked him about this role & he said he did the role as a dig at the inland revenue, basically there was issues between Doddy & the tax office over payments during mid 80’s, believe me Ken Dodd is a genius he was cracking jokes at 2am when we left.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Tim Bradley Post author

    Hi Simon.

    Very pleased to hear this is your favourite story from Season 24 of ‘Doctor Who’. I love ‘Delta and the Bannermen’, as it’s another one of my guilty pleasures of ‘Doctor Who’ from that season. I’m so pleased Sylvester McCoy signed the DVD cover of this story for me.

    Thanks for sharing your memories of meeting Ken Dodd in 2008 backstage. I’m glad you had the opportunity to meet him and talk to him about ‘Delta and the Bannermen’. Interesting reason why he did the role back then. I’m glad you enjoyed his jokes when meeting him that day.

    Glad you enjoyed my review, Simon. Thanks for your comments.

    Tim. 🙂

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  3. Timelord 007

    His show started at 7:30pm & didn’t finish till 1:15am, i thought nah it’s late we won’t get to meet him now but Ken was still full of energy cracking jokes & me & my parents had a great half hour with him.

    If you ever go see Ken Dodd it’s a all nighter lol so take sleeping bags, flask of tea & sandwiches.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Williams Fan 92

    Great review Tim.

    I enjoyed this story much more than ‘Time and the Rani’ and ‘Paradise Towers’. Sylvester and Bonnie excelled as the Doctor and Mel even if the latter screamed unnecessarily a lot. Ken Dodd as the Tollmaster was a lot of fun. A shame he was killed off in part one. Don Henderson put in a very menacing performance as Gavrok. Did you know that Don Henderson was in the original ‘Star Wars’ film?

    I also enjoyed most of the other guest characters especially Murray, Ray, Billy, Goronwy, Weismuller, Mr. Burton and Delta. Billy made a bold move going with Delta. I wonder what will happen to your Billy. 😀 It was shocking when the bus blew up and killed all those people onboard. Were the Shangri-La staff on there as well or was it just the 50’s club? I haven’t seen ‘Hi-De-Hi’, but this story both in its setting and elements did put me in mind of a film that came out the same year ‘Delta and the Bannermen’, that being ‘Dirty Dancing’. Have you seen that film Tim?

    My favourite scene was when the Doctor and Ray were found by that character whose name I can’t remember, nor the actor. I swear he looked a lot like Al Pacino. It was shocking when the Bannermen blew him up. Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in. 😀

    I wonder how different the 7th Doctor era would have turned out if Ray had become the companion instead of Ace. It will be good to watch ‘Dragonfire’ to see Sophie Alfred as Ace and Tony Selby (RIP) as Sabalom Glitz.

    Take care, WF92.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi WF92,

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘Delta and the Bannermen’. Interesting you enjoyed this story more than ‘Time and the Rani’ and ‘Paradise Towers’. Mind you, I suppose the same can be said for me as I rate ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ more highly than ‘Paradise Towers’ and they’re two of my favourite stories from Season 24.

      I recently discovered that Don Henderson was in ‘Star Wars’, yes. I think he had a small character part to play in ‘A New Hope’. I don’t think there’s a connection between my Billy and the Billy in ‘Delta’, ( 😀 ) though I did make a passing reference to that fact in my sequel to ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ called ‘The Game of Delta’ in the ‘Zorbius’ series. I’ve not seen ‘Dirty Dancing’, but I have heard it mentioned once or twice over the years. It’s Brian Hibbard as Keillor who was about to kill the Doctor and Ray at the end of ‘Part One’. I didn’t mention him much in my review since he didn’t do very much and he eventually got killed off in ‘Part Two’. ‘Doctor Who’ would be different if Ray was the companion instead of Ace. I wish Big Finish could do some audios where the Seventh Doctor reunited with Ray again.

      Many thanks for your comments. I look forward to your comments on ‘Dragonfire’ featuring Sophie Ace as Ace and the late Tony Selby as Sabalom Glitz.

      Tim 🙂

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      Reply
      1. Timelord 007

        Superb additions of the blu ray release & Audiobook noveladaption Tim, i didn’t know the Target novel featured a chapter after the tv story’s conclusion.

        I enjoy this story, i have fond memories of nostalgia meeting Ken Dodd backstage & not getting home until 3am because Ken was just cracking jokes & he gave me a tickling stick signed Ken Dodd the Tollmaker.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Tim Bradley Post author

        Hi Simon,

        Glad you enjoyed my updated review on ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ as well as my review on the Target novelization audiobook. I’m pleased an extra chapter was added in the epilogue in terms of what happened after the TV story’s conclusion.

        Very pleased you have fond memories of Ken Dodd. Interesting you were given a tickling stick signed by him. 😃

        Many thanks,

        Tim 🙂

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