The Reign Of Terror: Doctor Who: Season 1
The Reign Of Terror SYNOPSIS:
Arriving in 18th century France during the French Revolution, the Tardis crew take refuge in a farmhouse being used by counter- revolutionaries. The Doctor is knocked unconscious beofre the farmhouse is attacked by Revolutionary forces and Ian, Barbara and Susan are among the prisoners to be sent to Paris for execution.
The Doctor follows his companions to Paris where Ian is given a reprieve from execution due to sharing a cell with Webster, a known British spy who they believe passed on information to Ian about his fellow spies before dying. Susan and Barbara are hijacked in transit to the guillotine by counter revolutionaries Jules and Jean. Disguised as an officer of the provinces the Doctor arrives at the jail to find all his companions gone.
Ian had earlier been allowed to escape so he could lead officer Lemaitre to the other British spy in Robespierre's regime. Ian delivers his message as instructed to Jules and Jean and is reunited with Susan and Barbara. All are betrayed by their associate Leon Colbert and given back to revolutionaries. Exposed as an impostor after a meeting with Robespierre, the Doctor is imprisoned with his friends. While Napoleon plots the downfall of Robespierre, the only hope for the travellers to escape execution is if British spy James Stirling rescues them.
Return to top of page
The Reign Of Terror DETAILS:
Return to top of page
The Reign Of Terror CAST & CREW
William Hartnell (First Doctor)
Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman)
William Russell (Ian Chesterton)
Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright)
Keith Anderson — Robespierre
Tony Wall — Napoleon
Jack Cunningham — Jailer
Jeffry Wickham — Webster
Neville Smith — D Argenson
Laidlaw Dalling — Rouvray
James Cairncross — Lemaitre
Roy Herrick — Jean
Donald Morley — Jules Renan
Caroline Hunt — Danielle
Edward Brayshaw — Léon Colbert
John Law — Paul Barras
Dallas Cavell — Road Work Overseer
Denis Cleary — Peasant
John Barrard — Shopkeeper
Ronald Pickup — Physician
Howard Charlton — Judge
Robert Hunter — Sergeant
Ken Lawrence — Lieutenant
James Hall — Soldier
Patrick Marley — Soldier
Terry Bale — Soldier
Production Staff for Serial H:
Writer - Dennis Spooner
Directors - Henric Hirsch & John Gorrie (episode 3, uncredited)
Script editor - David Whitaker
Producer - Verity Lambert
Associate producer - Mervyn Pinfield
The Reign Of Boredom more like. Who wrote this? This and the Sensorites must be the chief examples on why they decided 4 parters were the way to go for regular story length for Season 2 and what few six parters would be sci fi stuff only. Man this was dull television, sorry Grob but even Fear Her was more watchable as it is. Didn't even get good nap time with this one due to being so frustrated about wasting the 30 to 40 odd minutes of my life I'd never get back.
Didn't bother finishing it and the Reign Of terror was the key reason many years ago I just didn't bother with any more Hartnell stuff. The only historical thing for the show as seen in some Dr Who documentary was that it was the first story to use some location filming and then only about 10 seconds worth with none of the regulars. If the French Revolution was this boring would they have bothered? Why were these episodes found and not some quality stuff like Web Of Fear or Fury From the Deep?
No redeeming features 0/10 (my first zero!)
The first episode is the typical Hartnell ‘discovering the surroundings’ episode and works effectively enough. Then we have the second episode ‘Guests of Madame Guillotine’ which sees Ian, Barbara and Susan inside prison for the entire episode. The Doctor walks the 12km to Paris and encounters a group of workers on the road. They are supposedly building the road but seem to be knocking a few rocks with picks and not achieving anything. Possibly the worst-directed mime I have ever seen. That’s the comic relief as the man in charge is lazy and counts his money. The Doctor proceeds to whack him on the head which seems rather vicious. As Ian meets Webster in the cell, who proceeds to die, Barbara and Susan try to dig their way out. They are taken off to the guillotine as Ian watches through his cell window.
As with the rats we see no reverse angles at all. The Reign of Terror is a perfect example of how limited filming was back then. The cameras have no room to move, all the sets are small and claustrophobic. And limited. This means there is very little action in The Reign of Terror at all. It’s rather talky as well. The jailor at the conciergerie is also comic relief, and we haven’t met any major characters bar our four regular until episode 3. Barbara and Susan have been rescued, we have a lot of filler as the Doctor finds new costume. The rescuers are those helping the aristocrats to England.
Such a great setting for a Doctor Who story, I have to say it’s so bland and slow that one wonders what they were thinking. It improves with episode three, despite the small and limited sets. The plot thickens and the Doctor tries to find his companions as the stupid jailor provides more dubious comic relief. I haven’t seen a recon of the missing episodes, but I presume this is where the action actually takes place. Oh but look Carole Ann Ford is here on the video helping to link the missing episodes.
The Doctor meets Ropespeare, Barbara is reunited with Ian. Looks like they get captured again but get out somehow. Traitors are revealed. Episode Six – Prisoners of Conciergerie. We tie up some loose ends. Napolean makes a guest appearance. It’s a classic case of our time travellers being little more than observers, who end up in jail a lot. It’s a competent story, but not very exciting or anything to recommend it. Not bad at all, just not great TV. But that was the point of the historical stories, wasn’t it? 4.1/10