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Gerry Davis

Welcome to the very first unofficial and unauthorised DOOMWATCH fanzine. We hope you enjoy this 40th anniversary issue. A huge THANK YOU for supporting us!

Kit Pedler

Contents... Embryonic Nazis on four legs by TONY DARBYSHIRE


A Message from the frontline by STEPHEN DUDLEY




When will you people learn not to interfere? by MICHAEL SEELY



Terence Dudley

Scott Burditt The DOOMWATCH FANZINE is designed and produced by SCOTT BURDITT. The cover illustration of Dr. Quist is by BRIAN GORMAN. A HUGE thanks to Tony Darbyshire, Michael Seely, Richard Thomas, Stephen Dudley, the late John Paul, Martin Worth, Scott Burditt, Andrew Wilson, Ian Beard, David Brunt, Simon Coward, Nick Goodman, Kevin Atkinson, David Tulley, Anthony Brown, Bob Furnell and to all of the contributors of for helping to make this fanzine a reality. All of the proceeds from this fanzine have been donated to Cancer Research UK. are not affiliated with Cancer Research UK or the BBC. This fanzine is dedicated to the classic BBCtv series "DOOMWATCH" which originally ran on BBC One between 1970 and 1972. It includes information on the Channel 5 TV Movie (1999) and the Tigon Feature Film (1972). Doomwatch is BBCtv copyright and no infringement is intended. is a non profit making site. Please support the BBC in any DVD, Audio or Book releases. The views and opinions expressed in this publication are solely those of the authors.



Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire


he man the press dubbed ‘Doctor Doom’ was Doctor Christopher ‘Kit’ Magnus Howard Pedler, a fourth generation medic who spent a year as a house physician and three weeks as a GP, before deciding he couldn’t make life-anddeath decisions from the inadequate information he was being given. He took a second degree, gained a PhD for work on retinal diseases of the newborn, and became an experimental pathologist producing pioneering electron microscope work on the retina. He later became Head of Research in his own Department of Anatomy at University of London’s Institute of Ophthalmology. Once ensconced in science, the humanitarian Pedler turned in his Home Office licence for animal experimentation, finding it distasteful. He wanted to make a difference: ‘I looked outside my laboratory door, and didn’t like what I saw.’ Kit Pedler had been Doctor Who’s unofficial scientific adviser since 1966, where he met story editor Gerry Davis. The SF fans struck up a writing partnership, creating the Cybermen from Pedler’s extrapolations of current work on spare-part surgery. They conversed about hushed-up environmental disasters, and how science no longer served humanity but careers and profits, compiling scrapbooks that soon contained enough material for a series. In July 1968 they presented BBC Head of Drama, Andrew Osborn (former producer of R3, which inspected the human face of science, itself a progenitor of the new series) with a script for an authentic, adult SF series entitled ‘Earth Force’. They later supplied a title that the BBC considered too downbeat, but which appointed producer Terence Dudley an experienced staffer who had already helmed The World of Tim Frazer, Cluff and The First Lady (where he first encountered Davis) - had insisted on: Doomwatch. Davis made clear what the series was about: ‘The Dr. John Ridge played by Simon Oates Colin Bradley played by Joby Blanshard days when you and I

marvelled at the ‘miracles’ of science - and writers made fortunes out of sci-fi - are over. We’ve grown up now - and we’re frightened. The findings of science are still marvellous, but now is the time to stop dreaming up science fiction about them and write what we call “sci-fact.” The honeymoon of science is over.’ With Davis as script editor and Pedler as scientific advisor (whilst concentrating on his optical work and continuing to pen articles for the British Medical Bulletin and Science Journal), casting for Doomwatch began. Central to the series was incorruptible Nobel Prize-winning, internationally-respected mathematician and nuclear physicist Dr Spencer Quist. This part went to the authoritative (and impressively-coiffed) John Paul. A member of The Mousetrap‘s opening cast, Paul was a former POW who had enjoyed entertaining his fellow inmates by acting, and later found TV success in Emergency - Ward 10 and Probation Officer, with parts in Witch Hunt, The Saint and The Avengers amongst others. His film career ranged from The Flesh is Weak, The Steel Bayonet and Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb to The Blood Beast Terror and Charlie Chaplin’s final movie A Countess from Hong Kong. He would be the only actor to appear in every edition of the series. Davis had seen Robert Powell in a play and thought him perfect for the young, idealistic, Cambridge-graduated physical chemist Tobias Wren. Whilst not his screen debut (previous work included The Wednesday Play and The Italian Job), the show was to make Powell a household name. Davis declared it the only major casting choice he ever made. Likewise, Dr John Ridge made Simon Oates one of the most recognised men on the box; appropriately, since he was responsible for much of Ridge’s charisma. He was chosen as the trendy chemist, ex-MI6 operative and Doomwatch 2-i-c by Dudley, who had used him in The Mask of Janus (leading to a reprise in sequel series The Spies). The 6’4” Oates - variously a member of the Intelligence Corps during his National Service (where he became Army heavyweight boxing champion, a title he would hold in common with Ridge), pub comedian and compère who worked alongside the Rolling Stones - had played heavies in The Avengers and Man in a Suitcase and been a lead in 1967 film The Terrornauts. He later confessed to fabricating two years’ acting experience in order to blag a foothold with Chesterfield Rep. lf John Paul was every casting director’s idea of a medic, then Joby Blanshard’s image was that of a jobbing copper. Nevertheless, he became Doomwatch’s forthright Yorkshire electronics engineer Colin Bradley. The character actor had made minor appearances in The Saint, The Avengers, Adam Adamant Lives!, Coronation Street and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). Wendy Hall (Sexton Blake, Z Cars, The Flying Swan) was hired to add sex appeal as department secretary Pat Hunnisett. As Dudley later noted: ‘Our idea was to entertain, but to entertain with cautionary tales. Our objective was to base every Doomwatch subject on something real, something that could and probably would happen in time if nobody took steps to stop it.’ There’s a photograph of Pedler, Davis and Dudley in front of their production office noticeboard. It gives a snapshot of science in the late ‘60s, and the dangers concerning the team: ‘Life is created in test

THE DOOMWATCH TEAM Dr. Spencer Quist played by John Paul Toby Wren played by Robert Powell Pat Hunnisett played by Wendy Hall



Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

tube’, ‘Concorde boom blamed for damage’ and bizarrely, ‘Americans are not for eating.’ Their commissioning brief for prospective writers would read: ‘Adventure in the responsibilities implicit in scientific advancement when it ignores the human condition: a kind of science fact-fiction.’ The series went before the cameras in October 1969 and debuted on Monday 9th February 1970 as part of the BBC’s first full-colour season. Davis and Pedler had already courted controversy with the Cybermen and their new, post-watershed programme was to be cut from the same cloth. ‘Man’s greatest dangers may develop from his own discoveries. Suppose there should be a backlash in the advance of science. Who would know? Who would have the ability to protect us?’ asked the Radio Times cover heralding BBC1’s latest series.

The Plastic Eaters

Nuclear mushroom clouds bloom, and the screen turns to static. The ‘TV screen’ is switched off leaving only a dot, before alternating blood-red footage of the blossoming clouds, further static, and the words ‘DOOM’ and ‘WATCH’. The memorably stark title sequence, by Alan Jeapes of the BBC’s Graphics Department, is accompanied by Max Harris’ strident, superbly ominous theme tune.



The Plastic Eaters admirably prepared viewers for the unsettling tone of the show. Opening with a pre-title sequence in a passenger aeroplane as one by one the flight deck equipment fails – then begins to distort and melt. The plane crashes, all lives lost. The setup is established via prospective team member Toby, and the writers impart information at a leisurely pace. Colin built the Department’s analogue/digital hybrid computer himself, for example, but more interesting is the background of the Department’s director. Quist was on the Manhattan Project, developers of the atomic bomb first dropped in warfare on Hiroshima in August 1945. Death as a result of his mathematics still tortured Quist, whose office contained huge wall-mounted photographs of Nagasaki and Bikini Atoll atomic explosions as a constant vivid reminder of his achievements; it was these worries over the ethical and moral implications of his work which led him to Doomwatch. Whitehall’s disingenuous disinterest in its Department of Observation and Measurement of Scientific Work is cleverly implied: the urgently needed lab computer – nicknamed Doomwatch - is off-line, whilst the self-serving Minister of National Security (played to perfection by John Barron) withholds information from Quist, of whom he disapproves. As Quist handily info-dumps: ‘We were set up to investigate any scientific research, public or private, which would possibly be harmful to Man. In fact a government was practically re-elected on this very issue. And now we’re the dustbin for every brainlessly routine job that can be shoved onto us … when we do get anything relevant, the essential information is withheld.’ It’s evident he was installed as director merely for the political interest and potential votes his appointment provided. The opening tale would stretch all areas of the BBC to put its concepts on screen, utilising practical onset visual effects, video manipulation, stock film (notably some crash test dummy footage), and making early use of the electronic bluescreen CSO process. It’s still unnerving to see plane window-seals oozing down cabin walls or control joysticks disintegrating in

Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

the pilot’s hands, the result of the plastic-dissolving Variant 14 devised to combat litter. This stems from the way Davis and Pedler dealt foremostly in strong imagery; it’s telling that episodes with such nightmarish set pieces are often amongst the most compelling and memorable ones. Reviewers seemed uncertain about the episode. Writing in The Guardian Nancy Banks-Smith thought it had ‘great immediacy and veracity. Though the characters are such irredemiably plastic people that one hungry enzyme could eat the lot of them for elevenses.’ ‘It looks a vigorous, inventive series’ judged Sylvia Clayton in the Daily Telegraph. ‘Capably done … with a high degree of suspense … It makes you think. And a series which does just that is worth having around’ asserted the Morning Star’s Stewart Lane. Conversely the Daily Mirror’s Mary Malone flatly dismissed it as ‘unbelievable’; whilst The Stage’s disappointed John Lawrence found ‘it had more in common with the Boys Own Paper of the fifties than with even the immediate future. … Where it went wrong was in the actual scripting, and in production. The writers resorted almost entirely to moving the story along by way of cliché … The production lacked tension throughout. I would not have thought it possible that a plane fighting to land before it crashes could be shown battling its way down without communicating any feelings of excitement or suspense whatsoever, but between them [the writers and director] managed it.’

Friday’s Child Friday’s Child– ‘loving and giving,’ and ‘the story closest to home’ according to Pedler – had one Dr Patrick (Alex Scott) transplanting monkey hearts into patients, and ‘growing’ a decerebrate foetus in an artificial womb. This he intends to kill when grown, to provide a new heart for his gravely ill son. Quist and Ridge are horrified; Toby is more detached, observing an accepted precedent for the organ harvesting: ‘Every cow and pig bred for the market is a predetermined assemblage of joints— the size of an oven decides the size and shape of the beast.’ The story also touched on the press’s sanguinity over organ transplantation, in the same way that the initial newsworthiness of Christiaan Barnard’s pioneering work in the field rapidly dissipated after such procedures became more commonplace. The cast included Mary Holland, then-nationally famous for playing housewife Katie in Oxo’s TV ads. The Daily Sketch’s Gerrard Garrett praised John Friedlander’s ‘very impressive living and breathing foetus’ prop but felt the story raised discomfiting issues: ‘the programme asked questions. Is it right to chop up monkeys for science? Is it ethical to breed brainless children to provide spare parts? I’m all in favour of light entertainment delivering food for thought but these were rather weighty moral problems. You’re on the right lines, chaps, but don’t try to compete too strongly with the [BBC discussion series] Television Doctor.’

Burial at Sea Introduced John Savident’s Minister. This episode tackled the dumping of nerve gas canisters into cheap ocean sites. The script had a yacht full of scubadiving pop stars (members of The Hoarse Chestnuts) using high explosives whilst retrieving treasure from a sunken wreck at Plymouth — thereby causing the canisters to crack and leak their contents, killing humans and marine-life. This was a timely warning, given that the US had recently attempted to dump ten thousand tonnes of toxic waste into the Atlantic, whilst inexplicably large amounts of sea-life deaths in the Irish Sea had hit headlines at the close of the ‘60s. The Morning Star’s Stewart Lane returned to the series: ‘Would it be too far afield to suggest that someone up there (wherever BBC-1’s Doomwatch series is devised and written) doesn’t like politicians? Certainly the Government Ministers who have appeared so far have been represented as smooth, oily buck-passers, whose primary concern is always to keep things under wraps to protect their own position. Indeed, it makes one wonder how such a body as “Doomwatch”, which is designed to safeguard the public interests against the wilder excesses of the scientists, technologists and politicians, ever got appointed in the

first place. But Monday’s episode … struck very near to probability in other respects, and no doubt too close for the comfort of some actual authorities. … If this series can continue to strike hard at real problems of today, and concern itself a little less with slightly unbelievable cloak-anddagger activities, it will serve a useful warning, and maybe an educational, function.’ It was with its fourth episode that Doomwatch really gained notoriety:

Tomorrow, the Rat An instalment given added bite with news of a generation of rats gaining immunity to poisons in Wales. A spate of rat attacks on humans alert Doomwatch to geneticist Dr Mary Bryant (Penelope Lee), creator of rattus sapiens: intelligent, cannibal, flesheating rats, the latest step in the ongoing war against the rodents. Colin and Toby are subject to one (now infamous) assault, prompting a priceless scene with Blanshard beating himself around the knees with a frying pan and missing, whilst Powell violently staggers about in a vain attempt to dislodge the fake rats sewn onto his trousers. Bryant’s research is leading her towards eugenics, and her rats (likened by Quist to sharks and ‘embryonic Nazis on four legs’, though which as John Carey in The Listener observed, ‘had a quiet, pet-shop air, and seemed alarmed by the panic they aroused’) have been escaping to go on the kill. The episode climaxed with John collecting Mary for a date, only to discover her halfeaten, abandoned corpse - a scene Oates refused to rehearse, to successfully simulate a genuine response. The BBC switchboard was jammed with complaints that evening and questions were reportedly asked in Parliament. Perennial Booker Prize bridesmaid Beryl Bainbridge made her first appearance as an extra; she would make a further six over the course of the full run.

Project Sahara This is a soil virus which reduces fertile, arable grassland to barren scrub in minutes. Biologist Dr Stella Robson (Hildegard Neil) is helping the team assess it, though this raises important issues of political sensitivity due to her Middle Eastern background. She and Toby are suspended pending security clearance, assessed from extensive centralised computer records (clearly currency exchange rate charts: this and medical records data in Plastic indicates the origins of the BBC’s computer programs at the time!) which are detailed enough to contain information on sexuality, financial status and medical/criminal history. ‘The contents of every application form filled out in a lifetime neatly stored in that machine and capable of being recalled in an instant,’ fumes the liberal Quist.

Re-Entry Forbidden Just over a month before the Apollo 13 moonshot, Re-Entry Forbidden looked at the physical and mental strains placed on astronauts, when human error onboard NASA’s prototype nuclear powered rocket, Sunfire I (doubtlessly inspired by 1958’s Freeman Dyson/General Atomics’ Project Orion) causes it to splash down close to Britain. Quist worries over potential fall-out, Pat is more concerned about the cost of the US space programme compared with the number of starving children in the world. Events take on critical urgency when Sunfire II goes up with a crewmember exhibiting paranoiac traits – uncomfortably he is the first British astronaut, a former student of Quist’s for whom he supplied references. The production provided an accurate representation of TV’s coverage of the rocket launch and splashdown, with stock footage of Apollo missions, on-screen countdowns and studio mock-ups with James Burke and Michael Aspel. The Sunfire set was co-designed with Doctor Who: The Ambassadors of Death to spread costs for both series. DOOMWATCH FANZINE


Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

The Devil’s Sweets In The Devil’s Sweets Doomwatch, seconded to the Ministry of Health, research cigarette smoking and trace a 100% increase in sales for Checker Board, a brand mainly bought by women. The story dealt with the use of manipulative psychological techniques in retail, PR and targeted advertising, and saw a rare plotline for Pat as she’s rushed into Intensive Care after collapsing from a drug reaction at work. The pre-titles opener has to be seen to be believed, with scantily-clad ‘dolly birds’ handing out free chocolates to delighted City gents. It’s amusing to see the team dismiss subliminal messaging, since the show’s titles urge viewers to WATCH DOOM WATCH! New Scientist cast an eye over the ‘new scientific soap-opera’ at this point, deciding it was, ‘fortunate in its first selection of topics … [but] the scientists in Doomwatch have as much humanity as you would find in a month of Sunday supplements. They inhabit a two-dimensional world (the other dimension, more often than not, being sex) in which it is impossible to imagine personal relationships that are not constantly charged with high emotional voltage or a domesticity that has no insistent melodramatic overtones. If we ever caught Quist boiling an egg, it would probably blow up in his face ... Doomwatch studiously avoids the stereotype of omniscience and austerity which is the delight of devotees of old movies, yet replaces it with another stereotype which is certainly trendier but just as incredible ... This is all the more regrettable because of the great opportunity to break down a few barriers between science and the lay public … The danger with Doomwatch is that the serious scientific content maybe assessed on the same critical level as its cardboard characters and dismissed as enjoyable nonsense. The ironic remedy is that the series can best do service to science by improving its dramatic qualities.’ This was perhaps a hasty judgment considering the next instalment .

The Red Sky The Red Sky went some way towards providing more back history and characterisation. Quist holidays in Kent with an old conservationist friend - who dies, having seen ‘the flames of Hell’ (several months before Dr Finlay’s [infamous ergot] Casebook) - and muses over a link to the nearby Paugan Airbase and their experimental hypersonic aircraft tests. John is critical of Spencer’s reasons for taking on the problem, feeling he is motivated more from personal interests rather than objectivity, adamant that Doomwatch’s vital work will not be stopped because of Quist’s ‘dubious’ judgment. When Ridge tries to put his superior into a rest home after he too sees ‘fire in the sky’, it is out of dedication, not disloyalty. Some impressive location filming was undertaken at South Foreland Lighthouse, perched on Dover’s White Cliffs. ‘Quite honestly, Quist, you’re the most dangerous man I’ve ever met.’

Spectre at the Feast With a cast including William Lucas and George Pravda, Spectre at the Feast revolved around an environmental pollution conference convened by Dr Quist for European Conservation Year, where numerous scientific experts fall foul of suspected food poisoning. This sparks fears of sabotage – though the actual cause proves uncomfortably close to home for some attendees. Although Quist himself is occasionally rather overblown (‘The excrement that rapes the oxygen in our water!’ being one of his more OTT declarations) there is some nice discourse in Terence Dudley’s script. In a sign of the times,



Roy Stewart was credited as ‘Negro’, having been hallucinated by Ridge in his black girlfriend’s flat as a loincloth-wearing, assegai-wielding assailant, whilst jungle drums and marimba pound on the soundtrack.

Train and De-Train Train and De-Train had Wren stumble into the world of commerce. Here he finds a former tutor being forced out of his job at a chemicals firm, his knowledge having been absorbed: ‘detrained’. Perhaps the most interesting dialogue comes from Pat, ex-teacher Don Shaw being the sole writer to view her as a person. As she muses on their lab animals: ‘Nobody’s bothered about this wildlife ... bred to die.’ ‘Well, it’s either them or you,’ comments Brad pragmatically.

The Battery People In the next instalment Toby researches the South Wales constituency of new Minister John Davies (David Davies), finding one ex-mining valley with the greatest number of broken marriages in Great Britain. It also has copious cock fighting prosecutions and a reputation for heavy gin consumption (‘Stone me, the stuff that computer turns up!’ exclaims Ridge). The region’s main employer, Colonel Smithson (Emrys Jones), owner of a battery farming plant, has developed a breed of boneless trout. Doomwatch surmise that he has carried earlier war weapons researches over into his revolutionary food tech, meaning that direct unprotected handling of the livestock has an emasculating effect on his male workforce - The Battery People. Elwyn Jones, late of the BBC’s Dramatised Documentary Unit and former Head of Drama Series, scripted. (The issue of Radio Times promoting the new series back in February had unwittingly promised an earlier draft, in which a retired army officer knowingly sold his hens’ excreta, containing artificial hormone Antimycin S, as manure – contact with which made the collectors impotent.)

Hear No Evil Colin hangs up his lab coat for some fieldwork in Hear No Evil. This was concerned with industrial unrest and unofficial strikes taking place in Brad’s home town of Fylingdale, and the immoral ways in which the bosses at the Voltmixer International group choose to counter them: smear campaigns derived from high-tech surveillance techniques (‘that house had more bugs than a lodging house mattress’ comments a disgusted Colin). Peter Miles guested as consultant industrial anthropologist Cook, hired to spy on the workers; he claimed his strongest memory from the programme was Simon Oates’ aftershave. Brian Cox and Michael Ripper were also in the cast. To ensure the actors adhered to their White Rose accents, Gerry Davis scripted some dialogue phonetically, viz. ‘Let’s face it now, t’settlement of this dispute isn’t t’end o’t’struggle wi’ t’new management.’

Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

Survival Code Toby - listen. If I’m right ... we have twenty-five minutes, plus or minus. Then... we’re due for either a conventional explosion or the full nuclear holocaust.’ The most audacious edition closed the season: Survival Code, where a nuclear weapons carrier plunges into the sea. Two bombs are recovered the third becomes lodged in Byfield Regis’ pier after being unwittingly primed. Quist, recently dubbed ‘Man of the Year’ in the press, ignores orders from the Minister (Hamilton Dyce, also in Rat) to keep away; he fears a reprise of the 1966 Palomares B-52 collision (which undoubtedly inspired the plotline, alongside the similar Thule Air Base crash two years later). He breaks his arm attempting to defuse the device. The seemingly selfless act is not unexpected for Ridge: ‘ever since Los Alamos he’s almost been waiting for death. This one didn’t land in the sea – it landed smack inside his head and it’s hurting … Every single case we’ve been into – almost without exception – was someone else’s brainchild. He’s been wagging his moral finger at the other guy. Now he’s staring straight in the mirror.’ Toby takes Quist’s place at the one megaton warhead. As the RAF UXB team arrives he cuts the final wire with scant seconds remaining. However, removing a component he discovers another connection. As Quist announces that Toby must have succeeded, and against every audience expectation, the bomb explodes. ‘Nonnuclear,’ murmurs Quist as he gazes at the debris. ‘Great,’ replies Ridge, turning to his stunned superior: ‘Who’ll tell Toby?’ Interestingly this final exchange doesn’t feature in the camera script, intimating that it was a late inclusion, no doubt meant to indicate that the explosion was merely a conventional, rather than nuclear, one. The filming of the climactic conclusion was covered by Visual Effects In Television, a promotional showreel from the BBC Visual Effects Department, showing Michaeljohn Harris and his team constructing the forced perspective pier model and conducting the explosion. Soon afterwards the Radio Times letters page printed ‘a trickle from a record flood of letters’: Helen Peck bemoaned that ‘if this letter is tear-stained it is the BBC’s fault … You have no soul’, whilst Mrs V Rainbird took a more tongue-in-cheek standpoint: ‘I’ve been a keen viewer of Doomwatch and I anticipated a new series in the near future. But, you rotten lot, you’ve gone and killed off poor old Toby. Now I’ll never watch it again. Doomwatch to you, too!’ The series had struck

a national nerve: a Plymouth college began issuing ‘Doomwatch diplomas’ whilst the Daily Mirror, particularly quick on the bandwagon, formed its own Doomwatch squad for readers fretting over environmental chaos on their doorsteps. (‘Call in Doomwatch! They are ready for action!’) The show had been extraordinarily fortunate in that many of its plotlines had been quickly mirrored in reality, lending it a verisimilitude which no other programme had. Daily Mail quoted Gerry Davis as saying, “It is a staggering coincidence that many of the programmes we put out turn into reality a few days later. Of course we do our research in scientific journals but that does not explain everything.” Further to this there was even speculation on a nomination for the BAFTA Mullard Award for helping promote public understanding and appreciation of science, traditionally presented to factual series and documentary makers. Emboldened by the public and critical reception, plus the almost overnight success and the audience’s amazed outcry following the final episode, the team ploughed on (‘we intend to discomfort, shock and provoke,’ Davis declared) and season two launched not seven months after its predecessor...

You Killed Toby Wren The bitter Ridge believes this of Quist, pinning a huge photo of Toby to the office notice board. Spencer himself believes it and undergoes counseling with psychiatrist Dr Anne Tarrant (Elizabeth Weaver), whilst the cliché-spouting Minister (Barron) doesn’t care as long as he can oust Quist, who is about to undergo a tribunal of enquiry over the Byfield affair. A distraught Pat had left, heralding the arrival of the superefficient — and slightly twee – secretary Barbara Mason, played by Vivian Sherrard (Call Oxbridge 2000, Callan). Another newcomer was Geoff Hardcastle (John Nolan, previously glimpsed in The Prisoner and Hadleigh). A young biologist who dropped his PhD in protest over inter-uterine conception, Geoff approached Doomwatch to halt his professor’s work into animal/human hybrids, already created in the form of a chicken and a monkey, both with human heads. Ridge, sacked by Quist in a blazing row, travels to a Norwich laboratory to see them and is appalled by what he finds. Real-life research on hybrid cells was currently underway by Henry Harris’ group at Oxford, with particular application to cancers. But this is John Paul’s episode. The guilt-wracked Spencer observes: ‘It was a long time ago … that I realised the most important thing in life is life. Not science, not technology, politics, religion, riches, power. None of these were sacred. Only life. The sum total of man’s knowledge, written down for all to read. And what does it amount to? It’s better to be a live idiot than a dead genius.’ His background is elaborated; the only child of a Reader of Social Science at Durham, he inherited a love of sculpting from his artist mother (as did Kit Pedler). He tells Anne that his scientist wife Helena worked alongside him but died in 1957 (tellingly from leukemia, as did Davis’ first wife), the year he received his Nobel Prize: ‘I suppose an obscenity needs an obscene sacrifice. The last thing she said to me was, “Start again. Put it right.” I was 37. Most mathematicians do their best work before they’re 25. Mine was killing a quarter-of-a-million Japanese and the only woman I ever loved. And now Toby Wren, sacrificed on another altar?’ Putting up a spirited defence at the hearing he is exonerated, reinstates a repentant John and gets a date with Dr Tarrant – which would later prove a significant move. For some, the new run reawoke old concerns. The Guardian‘s Nancy Banks-Smith characteristically wrote: ‘”Doomwatch” (BBC) is an excellent artifact. This constructed creature can be in your house, say, half an hour before you notice the lack of pores and pulse. The characterisation is routine: one guiltridden genius, one swinging assistant, one salt-of-theearth lab man, one wide-eyed Girl Friday, one slippery Mister Minister. The writing is punchy but pedestrian. The plot neat and gaudy … It is sometimes a DOOMWATCH FANZINE


Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

little difficult to disentangle in “Doomwatch” where fact ends and fiction begins. The grafting of informed guesswork of scientific reality is so neat. … Of the six scientists seen: one was summarily blown up, one had a broken arm, one a bandaged hand from breaking the jaw of a fourth and the fifth was pregnant with a man/animal foetus. Oh, there was a sixth on crutches but I assume his disability was normal. The production does it proud and as thrillers go, it goes with a bang. It aims to be and is primarily entertainment, and considering the subject matter, how’s that for horror?

Invasion Expertly scripted by Martin Worth and benefiting from Jonathan Alwyn’s best direction on the series, was atmospheric, grim and claustrophobic. Investigating nitrate levels in the Yorkshire Dales’ water, two potholers aiding Doomwatch go missing in the caves. Hunting for them, John and Geoff stumble across Wensdale Grange, a ‘haunted house’ and onetime germ warfare research establishment. As the team don protective clothing to search the sealed house Geoff realises that the brothers had found their way into the cellars and are now walking plague carriers. The brothers are found dead, having already spread the disease. Local livestock must be slaughtered, and there is a haunting contrast between the departing coaches of evacuated residents and arriving tanks of gas-masked troops (the 7 Field Royal Engineers squadron, filming in the picturesque North Yorkshire village of Grassington) armed with disinfectant sprays. The village is cordoned off, possibly forever. The plot was partly inspired by Gruinard Island in Scotland, where in 1942 War Office scientists so contaminated the area with an anthrax bomb that it was immediately quarantined for 48 years. 13.6 million viewers watched the episode, the highest audience the series ever garnered.

The Islanders After a transmission week off for Christmas/New Year, the team were working with another recently evacuated community, the almost Amish inhabitants of the Fijian St Simon’s Island, whose ancestors came from England 150 years before. Since their relocation they have spent eight months interned in a camp, seemingly abandoned by all authorities bar Doomwatch. Isaac Prentice (David Buck) is one of the younger, openminded islanders seeking work in the city. His employers hire him on minimum wage to exploit his media potential, and as he undergoes culture shock his ‘brethren’ fall foul of Ridge’s flu - to them a new disease. Despite fine location work at Bryher in the Isles of Scilly, The Islanders perhaps suffers from a wordy script and appallingly overdramatic stock music. The storyline bore clear parallels with the affairs of the Tristan da Cunha archipelago (the British protectorate evacuated in 1961 due to volcanic eruptions and rehoused in southern England army camps, only being allowed to return two years later), and also the plight of the Chagos Islanders (abandoned by the UK Government for Cold War ‘realpolitik’ reasons), and represented an early sidestep into sociological issues which the programme would come to focus on more as it proceeded. Having already appeared in Wren, future Russ Abbot sidekick Bella Emberg made her last appearance as an extra.

No Room For Error It was established at the start of the season that Doomwatch, ‘swamped with medical enquiries’, requires a doctor on the staff. No Room For Error saw the timely appointment of ex-NHS medic and research scientist Fay Chantry (Jean Trend, formerly one of Emergency - Ward 10’s nurses who had written to Dudley on the offchance of work). Introduced to placate feminist critics, we soon learn the divorced single mother abandoned her PhD because of emotional pressure; Gerry Davis had similarly undermined the production team’s best efforts by



describing her to Radio Times as ‘a real dish’. (In fact the programme had been taken to task on this issue in the Radio Times letters page during the previous run by viewer Leonard Cloake. The storylines of Rat and Sahara fired him to ask: ‘Are the scriptwriters of Doomwatch (BBC1) antifeminists, or are they working to the orders of a misanthropic producer? … each week most of the real villains (all male) suffered neither retribution nor even rebuke. A scurvy trick.’ Dudley responded: ‘’Rebuke’ and ‘come-uppances’ are nigh! Retribution is visited on all successive male villainy – exclusively. In remaining episodes at least two are sacked… one even killed. I submit that two femmes fatales in 13 stories is not misanthropic, and when you think of those two – quelles femmes! Let me hasten to assure Mr. Cloake that I share his enthusiasm for the ladies and that, in the next series, Doomwatch recruits an attractive woman scientist to adjust the balance. Those poor cloistered lads won’t know what’s hit ‘em.’). The storyline had a group of schoolgirls suffering from a typhoid strain resistant to every drug — save perhaps stellamycin, recently developed at Fay’s old research lab, where an ex-lover tries to lure her back. The story seems intentioned to prove that scientists are people too, with the only conceivable Doomwatch slant (save with hindsight, a BSEstyle inference plus the dangers of antibiotic overuse) being a warning on imported meat containing enteric bugs. The episode’s highpoint involves cattle listening to fairground music on a rotating carousel. Off set, Simon Oates had been bet £50 that he wouldn’t go before the cameras wearing a dog’s collar: as the episode testifies he won his money. Roger Parkes manages to make almost every guest character of his dislikeable, a feat aided by some witless acting and stagy direction. Darrol Blake discovered, after Dudley handed him the project, that the script was deemed so poor that more experienced directors than he had refused to touch it. The newspapers paid more attention to the show than usual, given the stir Dr Chantry/Jean Trend’s hiring had created. Daily Telegraph’s Richard Last: ‘Since the present series started, “Doomwatch” has lost some of its original compulsion. The writing is less assured, the characters have become a little tired. The original purpose of the series seems to escape from the script’s grasp. Last night’s … was certainly the weakest I have seen. Ostensibly this was about an outbreak of typhoid which defied known antibiotics. But this seemed to be of less importance than a middle-aged romance between two rather dreary newcomers … [seemingly] escaped from the limbo in which “Compact” now takes its rest rather than have any connection with a scientific laboratory. … I would genuinely hate to become an ex-”Doomwatch” fan. I hope Quist’s team will carry out a crash examination into whatever ill is presently affecting them.’This was echoed by Virginia Ironside in the Daily Mail: ‘The Doomwatch team on BBC-1 remind me more and more of neurotic housewives as the series continues. One would imagine that you require a level head at least, but Dr Quist flaps about like an old hen in any crisis (under a thin pretence of efficiency) and Dr Ridge spends most of the time staring at every female through half-closed eyes and behaving like a bigheaded pop star. As for the doctor in yesterday’s episode [John Wood’s capricious Nigel Waring] … Every bit of drama was squeezed out of the character’s temperamental and unreasonable personality rather than the situation itself – a story, incidentally, that could have produced enough drama on its own.’ At least James Thomas in the Daily Express had a (mainly) positive word: ‘Miss Trend appeared at times on colour TV last night to have green hair. But there was nothing green about her performance. She has lost nothing of her punch – yet whether this series will put her talents to the best use is not easy to say.’

By the Pricking of My Thumbs… This began with an echo of author Robin Chapman’s notorious Granada series Big Breadwinner Hog, as a sixth-former’s intentionally sabotaged science experiment explodes in his face. A classmate who tried to stop this, Stephen Franklin (Barry Stokes), had been interviewed as a child by geneticist Dr Ensor (Olaf Pooley), currently using Doomwatch’s lab thanks to Ministerial sponsorship and much to Spencer and John’s disapproval. Ensor encourages the headmaster to expel Stephen, the one XYY male out of every 700 XY men, the aneuploid extra chromosome believed at the time to be indicative of criminal tendencies. Doughty journalist Oscar Franklin (Bernard Hepton) runs to Quist whilst his adopted son is pushed toward a suicide bid at

Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

Gatwick Airport – a victim of his father’s work as much as the clinical Ensor’s. Again, this ‘misuse of unproven science’ isn’t wholly Doomwatch material (and was better suited to Chapman’s The Man in Room 17 which investigated the criminal mind). The irony is that criticisms of Franklin’s oversimplified, scaremongering science articles (‘You have to modify it for the general public’) were equally applicable to the show itself. To help convey Stephen’s abnormal height, director Eric Hills hired smaller actors to surround the tall Stokes; less convincing was his casting of 20-year-old Sally Thomsett as a schoolgirl of 13½.

The Iron Doctor The MD 20/90 at Parkway Hospital is an experimental computer monitoring a geriatric unit. It has extended patients’ life spans and offers Survival Indices: it can assess survival prospects, calculate treatment costs and recommend when to cease life support. Doomwatch, brought in by the concerned Dr Carson (Barry Foster), learn it is becoming sentient: the ward is overseen by a killer which acts not only on its own Survival Index Ratings but on its own initiative, the 20/90 having defensive capabilities stemming from its origins as a war games system. Brian Hayles supplies an inventive story which initially adheres closely to the original sci-fact brief, though as was becoming common veers towards out-and-out SF.

Flight into Yesterday Conversely, Flight into Yesterday retains plausibility by keeping its feet pretty much on the ground (or rather, in the air). Quist appears drunk on arrival at a Downing Street meeting the Minister (Barron) is delighted and sounds out a Departmental reshuffle whilst the director recuperates. Spencer and Barbara have just been recalled from a Californian scientific congress, where unctuous PR man Ainslie (Robert Urquhart) is psychologically manipulating his charges for the political effect his paymasters – opponents of a US Doomwatch - desire, whilst appearing helpful and charming. As a result his victims come to admire him, in a classic example of Stockholm Syndrome (whilst actually predating the terminology). The story returned Richard Duncan (Michael Elwyn), introduced in The Red Sky as ‘The Minister’s hatchet man,’ who does his utmost to protect his master, though fails when the Minister insists on presenting an environmental paper to the Americans — ending in a heart attack, the cumulative result of travel, high living, time differences, jet lag and lack of sleep. Ridge is happy for this happen, feeling that Doomwatch would achieve more without its Ministerial thorny side. Quist, interestingly, disagrees. The edition can be seen as a lead-in to the internal politicking which would continue in future episodes; perhaps tellingly Richard Last of the Daily Telegraph felt the edition veered too far from the series format. Dr George A. Christie, medical director of Syntex Pharmaceuticals, aided Martin Worth on the research front.

The Web of Fear Duncan also appears in The Web of Fear, where he accompanies Savident’s Minister of Health to St Morgan, a Scilly Isles health farm where guests are succumbing to yellow fever, later learnt to be a virus derived from an iridescent viricide-insecticide used to kill moths, which had leaked into the ecosystem. Gerry Davis’ final script for the series (in which he was aided by the Wellcome Museum of Medical Science) was a solid affair which didn’t find favour with the Scilly tourist board, although Swanage had been used as a location double.

In the Dark This was another fine instalment (albeit with a very wayward logo on the end credits!), sharing a premise with Roald Dahl’s William and Mary and an affecting climax with Friday’s Child. Again a wartime vessel has sank, emitting mustard gas offshore, though this proves to be a MacGuffin to get Doomwatch in touch with the ship’s skipper, Lyon McArthur (Patrick Troughton, also appearing in the dual rôle of Lyon’s cousin). The dying McArthur is wholly dependent on life– support systems: his head will soon become infected and removed, leaving him as pure brain administered psilocybins and communicating via brainwaves. His old friend Quist must choose whether to advise his daughter to halt what Lyon’s son-in-law views objectively as ‘the experiment’. Failing to see why the team are involved, Ridge advises Spencer: ‘You absorb all life into your own, did you know that? Everything that ever happens becomes part of you. When you’re preoccupied sometimes I watch you walking: you don’t walk down ordinary mundane streets jostled by ordinary mundane people. You pace the empty streets of a deserted village, or you tread the shattered planks of a seaside pier … For once in your life you don’t have to send anyone to their death. You don’t have to put anyone at risk. You don’t even have to turn off a switch.’

The Human Time Bomb Foreshadowing J G Ballard’s High Rise, isolation and urban strain featured in The Human Time Bomb. Dr Chantry is staying in an experimental tower block to provide an environmental report for the Minister of Town and Country Planning into how the cramped, homogenous living conditions affect inhabitants. What begins as a fascinating idea into how a rising population could be acceptably housed rapidly descends into farce, as life in Ambleforth becomes far too appalling to remain convincing: one resident commits suicide, another is sectioned, Fay is pestered by bikers and delinquent gangs of children, has her tyres punctured, is harassed by bottle-smashing drunks, receives obscene phone calls and ends up on the verge of a nervous breakdown threatening the caretaker with a hammer. When Quist muses amidst all the hysterical sobbing that high-rise living could produce, ‘a country full of apathetic, totally conditioned, dehumanised zombies!’ one gets the impression that he’s clutching at straws as much as author Louis Marks.

The Inquest Erratically directed by Lennie Mayne - though excellently scripted by Robert Holmes, giving the neglected Colin his best edition of the season The Inquest revolves around an Ipswich girl dying from rabies. Geoff is injured whilst investigating the source, forcing the blunt Bradley (‘I just said that every dog in the district should be shot!’) to present evidence to the coroner. Anti-vivisectionist virologist Mary Lincoln (Judith Furse) accuses a nearby laboratory which practices animal experimentation and houses tsetse flies, though events take an unexpected course via sausages, fruit flies and schnapps.

The Logicians There was perhaps another dip with The Logicians: highly intelligent schoolboys mount an elaborate robbery/blackmail scam at a pharmaceutical firm to provide funds for their privately-run alternative school, all the while eluding the authorities. This they manage thanks to their logic- and computer-based education, which makes them diffident and unconcerned as to the morality of their actions. It’s a reactionary argument against progressive education methods (‘How would you describe the Hitler Youth?’ is John’s knee-jerk opinion), though the script specifies that the worries centre on the neglect and misuse of such syllabuses. Dennis Spooner’s tale seemed to suffer slightly in its DOOMWATCH FANZINE


Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

realisation by director David Proudfoot: the pre-titles opener with unseen plotters is seemingly meant to invoke a professional heist gang, but is unavoidably scuppered by the youthful stage school theatricality. Catweazle’s Robin Davies and future Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan were amongst the Elsdene School conspirators. The Sunday Telegraph’s Philip Purser was typically caustic: ‘When is Doomwatch (B.B.C. 1) supposed to be taking place? According to the first series it can’t have been much earlier [than 1970], because in the original episode supersonic transports were in airline service. Since then they seem to have been slyly winching the whole thng back to the present day. One recent episode about life in tower-block flats could have come out of anything from “Softly, Softly” downwards. I used to wonder why I was so irritated by this series, and now I begin to see why. It was ridiculously overpraised when it first appeared. Because of the real concern which has sprung up lately about the rape of our natural resources, people went out of their way to discover salutary warnings in these crude fables ... What no one seemed to notice was that the methods employed by Doomwatch were often reminiscent of secret police forces. What no one seemed to care about was that its exploits were muddled or rigged or both ... The wholesome moral [of The Logicians] was that by producing children with over-developed logical faculties but no extra moral restraints we’d end up with a dangerous elite. The only snag is that nowhere that I could see was logic involved, and certainly not in the classroom problem the boys were shown tackling. Behind the gadgetry of computer and closed-circuit TV, there was – nothing.‘

Public Enemy The season closed on a high note with Public Enemy. A boy dies after inhaling toxic beryllium fumes whilst retrieving his football from an alloy factory roof, sparking a debate on the extent of industrial pollution. Should the company fork out for Doomwatch’s safety recommendations when the boy was trespassing and cracked the pipe himself? Workers and neighbours are keen for them to do so until the parent company elects to close the factory. Since Carlingham Alloys is the main source of revenue for the town the locals backtrack, and blame Doomwatch for intervening. Quist, under pressure to drop his report, rails against their attitudes: ‘We all want a clean healthy world to live in, don’t we? We’re all against pollution in any form? But only when the cost of fighting it is borne by someone else ... Well, I’m warning you: forget it and you’re dead. Not just this community but the whole of industrial civilisation. The way we’re carrying on, the way were polluting: overcrowding chemicals, noise – we’ve got thirty years. Thirty years of dirty, slow, dirty dying. Or else it’s thirty years for us to clear up the mess. That’s the choice. That’s your only choice. Pay up or pack up. Not only you … but every single one of us.’ The episode is intelligently written (with distinct echoes of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People), providing a balanced overview of the situation: the townspeople are victims as much as those who succumb to the beryllium, whilst the title refers to Doomwatch as well as pollution. Lennie Mayne directs tautly, with some impressive location footage, though a photomontage sequence played out to Keith Mansfield’s funky library track Exclusive Blend was possibly ill advised. The show had attracted The Stage‘s attention towards the end of the run: ‘The one good idea BBC series have shown recently and which they could justifiably say indicates a fallacy about characterisation being the dominating factor in series, is Doomwatch. Here, one would have thought, the BBC was back where it belongs, originating a series which dramatised important, disturbing, interesting or controversial issues, tackling the kind of series that ITV would not think commercial enough. Doomwatch, despite some very mediocre acting, halting direction, and too often weakly edited scripts, is not a failure. But it is an irritating programme, irritating because it could be so dramatic (so documentarily dramatic) and could make a real impact on a public tired of policemen, spies and doctors. It is difficult to think of a similar series where plots and thoughts alone could dominate.’ Pedler and Davis



disliked the rapid turnaround in production for the season, since the first had been born from a long gestation period. It was felt that Wren’s death had left an intrinsic gap in the Doomwatch team dynamic despite his replacement Hardcastle; they also objected to story topics and Terence Dudley’s perceived controlling attitude. At one point both Davis and Dudley were commissioning scripts without consultation of the other (they ‘had adjoining offices but on principle never communicated with each other,’ notes Martin Worth wryly). In a mediation bid, Andrew Osborn asked Worth, favoured by both sides, to take over as script editor. He agreed, though not wishing to be known as an editor never actually took an office and requested no on-screen credit: despite this he was credited as script editor on The Human Time Bomb, which he had commissioned himself. By now Davis and Dudley were communicating in backbiting memos and open criticism. The creators abruptly left the show. With them they took their names: from the surviving evidence it appears that the third run would air without their customary ‘series devised by’ formatting credit. The Guardian would report that they even requested no further credit in the Radio Times listings, although format fees were still being made. Clarification of this feeling was given in an interview New Scientist published with Pedler as the run wrapped. Graham Chedd criticised scripts and production values whilst admitting that, ‘Doomwatch has undoubtedly got more about science and its concomitant dangers across to more people (some 12 million watch each programme) than a host of earnest, learned documentaries. Pedler [agreeing with Chedd, though justifying the series by the last point] has the grace to look uncomfortable as one spells out specific examples of grossness, but counters with the argument that he isn’t the programme’s producer, and that often he disagrees with the production committee’s decisions.’ As to characters, Pedler considered Ridge ‘a sub-James Bond type who wouldn’t last five minutes in a laboratory’ adding that a populist dramatic serial ‘can’t really bear a strict, rigorous relationship with what is needed in real life.’ Kit went on to expound his plans for a real life Doomwatch, something Labour MP Ray Fletcher had also tried to launch in Westminster.

Doomwatch - Film Pedler felt that pollution would figure heavily for his Doomwatchers. It also formed the basis of the Doomwatch film released in June 1972, originating credits going to Pedler (also listed as scientific adviser) and Davis, with a final screenplay by Clive Exton and direction from Peter Sasdy. Tony Tenser produced for Tigon British. The film (shot at Pinewood Studios, Battersea and around Cornwall, notably Polkerris and its local pub The Rashleigh Inn) is Doomwatch-by-numbers: investigating a massive offshore oil slick from a holed tanker and the effects of the dispersing detergents on the ecosystem, the team – with the abrasive Dr Del Shaw (Ian Bannen) performing on-site fieldwork on Balfe Island - stumble across a cache of illegally-dumped canisters. These are leaking pituitary growth hormone into the marine life; Doomwatch realise that this is causing acromegaly in Balfe’s residents, a main part of whose diet is local fish. Frightened and ashamed, they hide their disfigurement, believing it to be divine retribution for decades of ‘inbreeding and immorality’. Exton’s script (which echoes Burial at Sea, In the Dark and particularly The Islanders down to the cast, Shelagh Fraser appearing in both) is a better-thanaverage ‘70s horror (certificated ‘A’) complete with insular ‘keep to the path’ locals. It’s a multilayered story, touching on the science-versusreligion debate (village youths cast stones at Shaw and the duplicitous Bible-thumping vicar slams a door in his face, unwilling to engage in discussion or come to any shared middle ground), the haste of large concerns to wash their hands of pollution, and the deviousness of those involved in chemical disposal – the PGH drums being unofficially dumped in a prohibited Naval site for radioactive waste by the firm tendering the lowest bid. ‘Old Mother Nature has a way of dealing with these things, Dr Ridge,’ says chemicals boss Sir Henry Leyton (Geoffrey Keen) cheerily, ‘that’s what you doom and gloom fellows ought to realise.’ ‘Unfortunately Old Mother Nature’s been nobbled in this case, as you well know!’ is John’s characteristic rejoinder. Paul, Oates, Blanshard and Trend reprise their BBC rôles,

Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

though theirs are relatively background characters compared to newly-devised teammember Del and local teacher Victoria Brown (Judy Geeson). This said, some dramatic scenes are given to Quist, who hones his office arguing / apocalyptic predictioning skills whilst invoking the Defence of the Realm Act to the Navy; similarly Ridge at least lands a scubadiving sequence and undertakes some investigating. However Colin remains stationed in the lab to analyse data and produce computer reports, whilst Fay is pared down to almost novelty value as the token woman scientist. Hoping to catch two audiences, promotion went down differing routes. On the one hand Tigon hinted it was a topical, thought-provoking SF thriller in the Quatermass vein: promotional info emphasised it was ‘terrifyingly close to real events ... the first major British feature film to take the dangers of pollution as its theme’. ‘As frightening as today’s headlines!’ declared the trailer, with one poster taglined ‘An ecological nightmare gone berserk!’ Another promised more prosaic fare: ‘Now on the big screen – Doomwatch means terror’. In some areas the film was supported by the Steve McQueen motorcycle documentary On Any Sunday. Critical reaction was as mixed as the marketing, though slightly warmer in the US where it found praise for its prescient ecological content (despite gaining the lurid retitle Island of the Ghouls). The lacklustre response may be partly due to Ian Bannen and guest star George Sanders (the Oscar winner and one-time film Saint in one of his final rôles), both presumably hired to give a relatively big-name boost but ironically giving the most inconsistent performances. ‘Intriguing, well-made’ was how the Daily Mirror received it, but for Monthly Film Bulletin’s Paul Madden, ‘the Gothic exaggerations and the scientific revelations never really cohere, and for all the topicality of the plot, Sasdy’s film proves equally unconvincing as ecological expose or contemporary horror show’. Writing in The Sun Chris Kenworthy felt that ‘the story is good, strong Doomwatch stuff … I would like to say that it turns out as exciting on the big screen as the small – but it doesn’t, not by a long way.’ Time Out’s Geoff Andrew asserted that, ‘Predictably, the serious intentions of the original series have been forsaken on the big screen for a half-baked horror thriller.’ Cinefastique would agree, deeming the film ‘A bland ecology/horror thriller’ following its Stateside release in January 1976. (1972 cinema audiences could also glimpse an uncredited Joby Blanshard listening attentively to a Thameside pollution lecture before spotting the latest victim of the Necktie Murderer at the start of Frenzy, perhaps indicating a fan in Hitchcock’s casting department?) Whilst Public Enemy would have made an excellent finale for the series, the BBC demanded a third season for its ratings winner. An internal strike delayed production, but the crew didn’t necessarily use the time to learn from perceived previous mistakes. There

were changes on board: researcher Anna Kaliski arrived as story consultant for scientific issues, helping provide starting blocks for ideas, whilst Terence Dudley would take a more hands-on approach to scripts. Although the run began with the Doomwatch set-up as before, from the third episode onwards there were larger, redesigned regular sets, presumably in a bid to breathe new life visually, as the Department is relocated to new premises. The Department gained full-time research staff (in the form of extras, something visibly missing from the office after the first episode), and a Ministerial informant — Commander Neil Stafford, late of Royal Naval Intelligence, played by John Bown (Dr. Who and the Daleks, Quatermass and the Pit, The Saint). This plot strand was introduced by Dudley, who was keen to explore how Doomwatch would be politically and practically muzzled by its masters, fearful of an offshoot which could and would bite the hand of potential benefactors. The canny Stafford would come to side with Quist, however. John Barron’s opportunistic Minister joined the principal cast, finally receiving a name, Sir George Holroyd; while Maria O’Brien made three appearances as Susan Proud, a young woman hired to take over Barbara’s switchboard duties when Miss Mason is promoted to Quist’s PA. Quist, Ridge, Bradley and Barbara survived from season two, though their weekto-week use was again erratic. The unseen Geoff and Fay had both left for, respectively, a position in industry and a return to general practice. Spencer even gained a home life (though we never did see him boiling that egg), living with Anne Tarrant, who added a psychiatric slant to stories (mainly a lot of chat about Freud with an occasional nod to Wilhelm Reich). Elizabeth Weaver, who had recently completed a run on Fraud Squad, reprised Anne from You Killed Toby Wren.

Fire and Brimstone ‘Will Ridge destroy the world?’ shrieked the Radio Times cover in June 1972. Fire and Brimstone emphatically highlighted John’s impetuous, committed nature as the impatient chemist, frustrated by the continued lack of government interest in ecological issues despite the team’s work, seemingly goes berserk and holds London and the world to ransom with canisters of specially-modified anthrax stolen from Porton Down, which he sends to six major capital cities before turning himself in to the authorities. He will only reveal the addresses if he is allowed to publish, at British Government expense, ecological warnings in major international newspapers to alert the populace to the current state of the world. He tells Stafford: ‘D’you know what I’ve learned in the time I’ve been with Doomwatch? We’ve got a generation in which to grow up. My generation! Your generation! During our lifetime, that’s if we get to three score year and ten. We’ve got to get rid of warheads buzzing about up there round the clock and in submarines, also cruising round the clock. During our lifetime we’ve got to control population, to control ionizing radiation. We’ve got to cleanse the rivers and the seas, we’ve got to unclog the air. And we’ve got to have made a bloody good start by the time we’re dead or homo sapiens has had it: men perish from the Earth. We’ve got to start washing underneath the arms and stop sweeping the muck underneath the carpet. We’ve got to plant more trees than we cut down. We’ve DOOMWATCH FANZINE


Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

Ian Curteis Back in August 2010 Ian Curteis, who wrote an excellent episode for Season 3 of DOOMWATCH, called "Flood" (Episode 9, TX: 31/7/72), wrote a letter to Scott Burditt about his involvement in DOOMWATCH. Sadly, the episode Ian wrote is still listed as missing, so all there is left is the two versions of the script and Ian's memories of his part in the production. It’s interesting to note that Season 2’s The Web of Fear, starts with a mention of a report into London in danger of Ian Curteis Image ©BBC flooding again and in Season 3 this is followed up. Apparantly, at the time the episode was transmitted there was great mirth at Blacknest (the Government unit for forensic seismology at Blacknest near Aldermaston) when the late Dr. Thirlaway was portrayed as Dr. Tadley of Birdsnest in "Flood". The Blacknest unit based in the Berkshire village during the episode's production, Dr. Thirlaway definitely helped Ian with his scientific research, as on Page 19 of the rehearsal script he is referenced (even including a contact phone number) for correct pronounciation of the richter scale measurements by the character of Dr. Tadley. In the same year as the episode, (1972) legislation was provided through the Thames Barrier and Flood Prevention Act which led to the construction of the Thames Barrier and it's associated defences. This was a direct result of the Chief Scientist Sir Herman Bondi's report of 1966 recommending that the best solution was a tidal surge barrier and raising the height of the river bank, backed up with a good system of flood warnings after the catastrophic east coast flood in 1953 provoked renewed and urgent interest in protecting London from tidal surges. Ian’s letter follows... 2nd August 2010 I have now re-read DOOMWATCH – FLOOD. It is 39 years since I wrote it and I haven't looked at it since. It was an odd and rather heartening experience, as I felt it was quite a respectable piece of work: a good and plausible story that moved fast about something that mattered very much. As you know, speed in a script is not a matter of the actors dashing about and speaking fast, but of construction, a reason for urgency and paring down the dialogue to the bone. In retrospect, I would have pared it down even more. I once had the reputation of being the only television dramatist who went to rehearsals and cut dialogue, sentences or words, because they had become superfluous in that matters were clear without them, or that the actor was doing it anyhow, sometimes with an expression, glance or just an attitude. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received when I was learning my way came from Joan Littlewood, who said "Remember, being a dramatist is not a literary occupation". When I eventually found the script, which had been filed in an unlikely place, I was disappointed that there were no papers with it. I usually kept relevant letters and memos, the original contract and research notes. Perhaps they have been wrongly filed somewhere else, but I've written rather a lot over 44 years and mistaken filing is not easy to unravel. The only thing I seem to have, in another book, is the Radio Times cutting which gives the full cast. I imagine you have that anyway. The camera script, which I have, lists the complete production team. To my surprise, I can remember very little about the production except that I wasn't very happy with it. I do not know of a surviving recording. Accuracy of research without being pedantic about it is absolutely essential in this sort of show, and I remember visits to the London Flood Rooms where the various plans of action when there was a sudden North Sea surge, and what to do for drowning Londoners, were in place and rehearsed, with all the variations and levels of crisis taken into account. So were the scenes about or set in the secret underground NATO HQ in Northwood. Although many among the viewwers would not know if such things were real or invented, somehow there is an unmistakable ring of authenticity when you get it right, I am not sure why, which adds to the drama, The various officials and scientists who I saw were all immensely helpful; as always, I got them to read the draft script and comment before I delivered it to the BBC, and again they were meticulous in their helpful suggestions. And this applies to dialogue, not just fact; I was pleased to come across the exchange (shots 116 to 144 in the camera script, pp 28-29 in my delivered typed MS) where the suspicious Morrison is testing Cmdr Stafford to see if he is genuine by using terms a sailor actually uses rather than what a layman might think would be used (pronouncing C-in-C as SYNC for example). I must have got that from some helpful naval person, but I have long since forgotten who. You ask if I ever met any of the cast. You bet I did. I went, as I always do, to many rehearsals and all the recording, and I hope discussed scenes with actors, changed or sometimes rewrote dialogue, gave notes to the director if he was missing the point. Television dramatists come in two sorts: those who deliver a script and run, and those who, like me, believe it is profoundly important that you stay as part of the production. No-one knows the script better than you do, and if, as it was in my case, one had previously been both an actor and director, you believe you know how it should be and how to get there. Shakespeare believed that of course but so far as I know he never wrote for DOOMWATCH. The issue of how man is wrecking the beautiful world by torturing and manhandling it and turning it into a profoundly dangerous place by ignorant and sometimes brutal manipulation is even more important now than it was in 1972. Looking back, I am proud that such a vital subject could be dealt with in exciting drama made for the mass audience. That is television drama at its best. I wonder what the reception to FLOOD was – I cannot remember, I see a note I made on the Radio Times cutting that the only country it was subsequently sold to and shown in was Zambia. I wonder what on earth they made of it.

got to recycle the Earth’s resources, even our excrement and urine. We’ve got to abolish the petrol engine or pay more for it. We’ve got to pay more for everything. Our money or our life!’ Shockingly, he is remanded to HMP Brixton before being admitted to a psychiatric institution in a catatonic state after being diagnosed with schizophrenia, as the urgent hunt begins for the phials. A young Jonathan Pryce appeared as a policeman. (Intriguingly Terence Dudley has Ridge quote from memory the Daily Mail’s disparaging review of Horizon: Due to Lack of Interest Tomorrow Has Been Cancelled, an episode studying contemporary predictions of ecological disaster. Doomwatch itself would ordinarily have aired opposite the science series, though was off the air that Monday evening due to boxing coverage.) Writing in that newspaper itself, Peter Black found the opener distinctly lacking: ‘The wide and lasting influence of Cathy Comes Home suggested that the best way to ignite the imagination of people against some social wrong was to tell a story. The Club of Rome’s most helpful ally ought therefore to be BBC1’s Doomwatch, but Fire and Brimstone set a deplorably superficial tone for the new series. The story - Dr Ridge went potty and stole enough anthrax virus from Porton to end life on Earth – worked only as a thriller on the lines of ‘Would they recover the last phial before the unwitting carrier broke it?’ The huge moral question of why the virus was being made was lost sight of in the fast and implausible pace of the story, the actors never seemed to have time to think about what they were saying.’ In a muchpublicised outburst, Kit Pedler went so far as to declare he ‘was absolutely horrified. When we started it the clear object of the series was to make serious comment about the dangerous facts of science, which should be drawn to the public. They have made a total travesty of the programme.’ This was the first of only four showings from Simon Oates. Over the interim period he had been reunited with Wendy Hall whilst playing John Steed in 1971’s stage version of The Avengers; he also auditioned for 007 in Diamonds Are Forever (and would reportedly try again before Roger Moore inherited the holster), and was becoming more involved with the issues dealt with in Doomwatch. Tiring of simply being known as ‘the one with the shirts’, the actor also felt that the show was losing direction, with scripts failing to have any raison d’être for Doomwatch’s involvement and requiring Pedler’s guiding hand and insight to retain plausibility.

High Mountain ‘I thought you were a big man, Dr Quist. The Doomwatch we envisage could have ramifications that would change the world. Are you really going to turn it down because the people who’d pay for it make enzyme detergents?’ High Mountain (the unusual title being a Biblical quote from Matthew 4:8) saw Quist lured to Scotland where he is presented with a choice: to continue working for a Government already musing on ways of closing the Department of Observation and Measurement, or to become director of an independent and international organisation – albeit one funded by the Drummond Group, manufacturers of paint and washing powders. To Quist, Brad and Barbara’s dismay, Neil is attached to Doomwatch by Security, a position deemed necessary by the Minister following the recent events at the Department. At the close Spencer is handed unprecedented carte blanche, with a budgetary doubling, new

Yours sincerely

Ian Curteis London is in danger in Season 3 - Episode 9 - “Flood”



Sir George Holroyd played by John Barron Dr. Spencer Quist played by John Paul

Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

office premises and increase in staff and research facilities. Disowned by its principal progenitor,’ wrote Richard Last in the Daily Telegraph, ‘Doomwatch (BBC-1), or “Watchdoom,” if the opening titles are to be believed, made quite a fighting comeback on its second outing … Martin Worth’s script was considerably better than the blurb suggested and vastly better than last week’s frenzied nonsense which so properly upset Dr Pedler. The idea of Quist being offered a private “Doomwatch” to lend respectability to a giant industrial combine came out just on the right side of credibility. More importantly, it offered valid opportunities for moral argument, like private ownership of vast estates being balanced against the benevolent use of that ownership. There was quite a homily on the alleged dangers of polyurethane paint, which, as a grateful do-it-yourselfer, I can only hope were fictional. ‘Prescience had been demonstrated by Worth, who had named one of Drummond’s stain removing products as Vanish. Foresight would also be shown by Barbara as the regulars settled into the new Doomwatch office in the next episode...

Say Knife, Fat Man ‘We’re going to be lumbered with every pseudo-scientific social problem that other departments can’t find a home for,’ she sighs. A group of university activists construct their own atom bomb with hijacked plutonium blocks in Say Knife, Fat Man. The title is easily explained: Fat Man was the code name of the Nagasaki A-bomb, and Say Knife a threat. Promising physicist Michael Pratt elaborates: ‘When a copper frisks you in the street for drugs, he knows he’s not going to find them; often he doesn’t even mean to pretend he has. He’s just trying to show you that he holds the knife. When they bring you up before a judge for being in possession, or causing a breach of the peace, or publishing an obscenity, all they’re really doing it for is to show you that they have the knife. Well, they’ll never be able to do that after this … you can hardly make pompous remarks about good-for-nothing layabouts when you know they’ve made an atom bomb. Suddenly their knife is no sharper than ours.’ Despite Worth implementing heavy script revisions to improve accuracy after he and Kaliski consulted with Imperial College, it appears that there was already disillusionment with the show and what was seen as its increasingly fanciful plotting (some of the unsealed blocks irradiate a reservoir after being thrown in, whilst the pro-student Barbara was held captive to witness the activists construct their bomb): The Listener found BBC2’s Horizon edition - a repeat of 1971’s The Fierce People, about the violent lifestyle of the South American Yanomamö tribe - ‘much more scaring than the fictional fatuities of Doomwatch running opposite it on BBC1’. Fallout from the much publicised backstage row even reached the pages of New Scientist at this point. Noting an upcoming airing of Hammer’s The Quatermass Xperiment, they observed that ‘Connossieurs of the “cash-in on the little screen success by making a big-screen version” syndrome may have noticed that “Doomwatch” has just opened at the flicks, while the third small-screen series grinds on to the irritation of originators Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis’, whose gripe was cited as the show’s newfound ‘”mad scientist” ethos’, a reference to the season opener which Pedler had described as ‘absolutely awful – a mad scientist going amuck [sic] yet again.’

Waiting for a Knighthood However, an explanation for Ridge’s actions was offered in Waiting for a Knighthood: he had unwittingly inhaled lead fumes whilst tinkering with his high performance cars (a facet inherited from keen motor-racing driver Pedler) - he is consequently released from hospital. A subplot dealt with the kidnapping of an oil company boss’s son (Terence Dudley’s son Stephen, previously victim of a ‘pussy’ in Rat) by a woman whose child died from Pica - when children discover that lead-based paint tastes sweet and ingest it. Colin spells out the message of the edition: ‘Spew lead into the air and you’re poisoning a basic necessity for everyone.’ Infamously, Tory Deputy Secretary of State Eldon Griffiths assured Dudley that lead petrol had no injurious effects.

Without the Bomb Without the Bomb had Doomwatch assigned to evaluate a newly launched aphrodisiac contraceptive lipstick: Joyne, a name Darrol Blake claims to have coined over Roger Parkes’ original, F-U-N. The story owed something to Henry Livings play Eh?, and centred on Joyne using pheromones in order to provoke a sexual response, lowering female inhibitions and making the wearer more irresistible to men. The script mused on how such a creation could influence population control, as well as religious considerations - Joyne being developed by the Roman Catholic Dr Fulton (Brian Peck), whose beliefs anguish him: if the product contained no aphrodisiac it’s merely another contraceptive which may remain unused; with it is he encouraging sex outside wedlock and general permissiveness? And would Quist compromise his and his office’s integrity to garner success in his worries over population growth? Katherine Kath appeared as Lady Janette Holroyd, the Minister’s French wife. Parkes (who had consulted with Dr Alex Comfort - The Joy of Sex author having published research into pheromones - whilst scripting, coming up with probably the oddest line in the show’s history: ‘The smegma element proved to be a strong canine attractant’) had to be gently steered by Terence Dudley after inadvertently depicting Tarrant and Quist in what was deemed ‘an overtly-sexual context’ which it was feared may point up the issue of their unmarried status to viewers, a topic for which the production team were expecting criticism. His early outline also had the Doomwatch director wanting to set the public an example by undergoing a vasectomy, whilst Sir George was to have a string of girlfriends and a wife who turns herself on with the lipstick.

“The smegma element proved to be a strong canine attractant”

Hair Trigger ‘Spencer, they’re creating robots!’ Hair Trigger centred on Weatheroak Hall, a top security medical research unit where symptomatic treatment comes from electronic impulses to the brain via a constant computer/radio-control. Ideally this will lead to a direct dialogue between brain and computer, the machine taking over basic functions. Anne interviews ‘ex-’ multiple murderer Michael Beavis (Michael Hawkins), but his receiver is disconnected during a struggle and he escapes, computer control broken. Anne is appalled, but Professor Hetherington (Morris Perry) counters: ‘we live in an age of biological manipulation: chlorination, fluoridisation, vaccination. Doctors prescribe substances that affect our everyday behavioural activity. Voluntarily we take in alcohol, tranquilisers, caffeine. Your own psychoanalytic methods aim at influencing the abnormal personality. All are acts of violation.’ Brian Hayles returns to his pet issue, over-reliance on technology, with variable results, though the accompanying exploration of personal identity manipulation offered an intriguing twist.

Deadly Dangerous Tomorrow Note the initials of Deadly Dangerous Tomorrow, which opened at Buckingham Palace with the Changing of the Guard to the strains of Rule Britannia, whilst in St James’ Park a starving malarial Indian family is camped out, with a dead baby lying nearby. This imagery was down to John Ridge, still believing in the use of shock tactics, who had had them flown over as a publicity stunt to raise awareness of the situation in the Third World - John now being an out-and-out Green campaigner, having worked as a chemist for an overseas relief organisation since regaining his freedom. His position is seemingly unequivocal, with Ridge keen as ever to see the bigger picture: ‘India’s on the verge of becoming self-sufficient in wheat at last. OK, they need heavy doses of DDT to keep off the pests, so what? If it helps fill empty bellies, who cares if one or two birds and DOOMWATCH FANZINE


Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

fishes die out? No one mourns the    dinosaur. Is hunger really less important than preserving the ‘I’m finished with Doomwatch and everything     American eagle?’ Ridge’s continued it stands for. No, I mean finished. ... Pollution    cleaving away from Doomwatch ethics ... desecration of the environment ... would build later in the run. Having despoiling of nature ... I really wonder if any already been seen in Fire and of it matters. Maybe it’s a hopeless bloody Brimstone, Michael Elwyn made a final world because it’s inhabited by hopeless appearance as Duncan (continuity had bloody people. Maybe what’s happening’s been further maintained during the right. Maybe we’re creating just the kind of season with references to Sir George’s world we deserve. And if it finally destroys us secretary Miss Wills, from Plastic and or drives us mad, that’ll be what we deserve Flight). New Scientist paused for too.’ Plagued by self-doubt and uncertainty reflection: ‘There are mutinous about his life and career path, John Ridge DOOMWATCH INVESTIGATES MERCY-KILLINGS CLINIC returned for the final time in Cause of Death. murmurings in the ranks over the Why has no action story-lines of this season’s Doomwatch He is taken aback to discover his sister has been taken over on television. Cries of ‘Bring back allowed their ailing arteriosclerotic father, confidential report to Ministry Pedler’ are to be heard from various Wilfred (Graham Leaman) to be admitted to a Wilfred of Health? quarters. The trouble, I think, lies in private clinic under the care of Dr Cordell the medium’s insistence (for economic (John Lee). When Wilfred dies, John becomes suspicious and his accusatory finger as well as other reasons) on a series, once implanted, going on and on. immediately points to the pro-euthanasia When Doomwatch opened up, there Cordell: ‘I’m talking about a doctor taking it Ridge were enough under-aired topics to on himself to end a life. When all his efforts keep writers going, without having to should be directed to saving it. Call it what fall back too often on the personalities you like, it’s murder.’ In keeping with his Read more about this shocking story at of the scientists involved. But new earlier stories, Oxford-graduated doctor of sorts of environmental hazards, philosophy Louis Marks contributed another mercifully don’t present themselves every week. You can knock ‘em with characteristically humanistic episode, which touched on the care of the oil spillage, or nerve gas, or plastic eating bugs only once. After that it’s elderly and how society views them. For Simon Oates the storyline was either the farther shores of SF (which would make it quite another uncomfortably close to his heart: his own father was dying at the time. programme) or settle for the in-fighting (The Power Game) among the already established personalities. A pity but inevitable, I’m afraid. Still, I Quist and Stafford were transplanted to Naples in the next edition, thought that last week’s gobbet made a fair job of airing the differences investigating a spate of fatal attacks on swimmers at sea by creatures between rich and poor countries’ approach to environmental problems. unknown. Much to the Minister’s annoyance, they undertake this at the The sensational element which offends the faithful (and perhaps Dr. behest of Professor Balbo (Angelo Infanti), a marine biologist keen to Pedler) is inescapable in show business.’ establish ‘La Sentinella del Destino’ – an Italian Doomwatch. It soon becomes evident that the assailants are The Killer Dolphins, raising Doomwatch broke further with tradition by being absent from the office questions of what has changed the nature of the docile creatures, and for the duration of this episode. They are temporarily based at Longside why. The less than Mediterranean surroundings of Brighton Dolphinarium Camp, a top secret military weapons research lab, to hold the titular doubled for Balbo’s Neapolitan research base where Quist falls into a pool Enquiry into whether or not a lab assistant found wandering terrified in of the mammals, though survives intact. This would be the final broadcast the local area has somehow been exposed to lobotomin, a new aerosol edition of Doomwatch. Unlike both previous runs, there were only 11 nerve gas under development there, despite the seemingly stringent editions rather than 13 (a repeat of Dave Allen at Large! occupied the security and safety procedures. The episode was Pennant Roberts’ first ‘extra’ slot). The season had already been affected by the loss of Wolf directing assignment. Rilla’s The Devil’s Demolition/I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (about Green Belt housing and destitution) during pre-production, but hitches of more epic proportions had hit the show with... Joanna Trollope’s husband Ian Curteis (later the controversial author of Suez 1956 and The Falklands Play) contributed a favourite episode of John Barron’s, Flood, whose title speaks for itself — Quist having noted that, ‘What’s Doomwatch supposed to do? Report on the moral condition of the once a century, the level of the Thames rises enough to potentially engulf people?’ The brief: to analyse the extent to which the permissive society London. Fortuitously for the capital, catastrophe is averted by ‘a mere has polluted the morals of the country’s youth. Quist suspects he is being inch!’ The plot was heavily based in both reality (following 1953’s surge railroaded for political expediency, since the Purvis Committee - of which tide disaster, an official 1966 report found an unacceptable, annuallyAnne is a member - is debating whether to change the laws governing sex increasing risk of a major sea defence breach) and topicality, so much so and violence in the media and the arts. This group is host to some that the concept had been flagged by MPs as a suitable plot for the series fascinating discussion. Educationalist Steven Granger (Bernard Horsfall): at a House of Commons hearing for the Thames Barrier and Flood ‘Ideas of family? What about the hypocrisy of family, that’s the fact that Prevention Bill almost two months before the episode was transmitted young rebels nowadays are talking (and two months or so after recording had actually completed). In fact the about. Ideas of love? What about our theme had already been brokered in love for a North Vietnamese child with The Web of Fear, where the team were bits of an American shatter-bomb in pressing for a Commission into his guts? ... When a child is born it has Thames Valley flood levels. Eminent a great capacity for love: love is seismologist Dr Hal Thirlaway (head of endemic to its nature – like sex. It loves the pioneering Atomic Weapons everyone, it loves everything. But we Establishment’s Blacknest research teach it that only a few things are group at Aldermaston), who had aided worthy of being loved, we teach it hate - and what is worse, we teach it certainty: absolute right and wrong, good and bad. Now there are only plot research, was amused to find himself reincarnated in Curteis’ draft two certainties: life and death, and all the rest are changeable ... The old script as Dr Tadley of Birdsnest, though the character was renamed Ridley absolutes taught at home and in the classrooms: Queen, country, God, the for broadcast. divine right of capitalism, family, love and chastity; they’re no longer

Cause of Death


OLD PEOPLE LEFT TO DIE In a leaked Government report, we discover the shocking facts behind the healthcare of the nations elderly people.

A small private ward, an old woman lies in bed, close to death. A nurse takes her pulse, and notices a syringe and an unbroken phial next to the bed. Worried and hesitant, the nurse decides to give the patient an injection but shortly after she breaks the phial, Doctor Cordell enters and she quickly puts them back into the bowl. Cordell, after examining the patient, quietly asks the nurse what she is doing. He hasn't prescribed the injection. 'She needs it. Without it she'll die,' explains the nurse nervously. Cordell tells her to take it away, and after she has gone, he looks angry but keeps it in. He looks at the old lady whose breathing becomes more faint and erratic.

The Nurse has returned to her desk, fists clenched. Cordell tells her that he knows she gave in her notice today but she is still has responsibilities whilst working at this clinic. And Mrs. Wheeler has died. He asks the nurse how long she has worked in geriatrics and she replies two years. He knows it is a strain dealing with old people, physically and emotionally. 'For your next job could I suggest you try something a little less taxing.' Staring, she replies: 'I don't find old people taxing at all, doctor.' She watches him go and then goes to look at the dead woman, closing her eyes.

Cordell, meanwhile, has returned to his study. He has a death certificate to fill out. He hesitates over the section called CAUSE OF DEATH...

We see John Ridge driving very fast along a motorway. In the Doomwatch office, Susan tells Doctor Quist that she has been trying all morning to contact Ridge. Quist is suffering from a bad cold and tells Stafford that he can't understand Ridge. He is waiting for an answer this morning at the latest. 'It's not a helping hand he needs,' muses Stafford. 'I'm not asking him to come back to Doomwatch.' He has a University job lined up for him, considering he is a first rate researcher. After a sneezing fit, Stafford asks Quist if he should take his germs off home for a couple of days? Quist has promised the Minister but the decision is not pressing. 'You know as well as I do that with next week's cabinet coming up, and our estimates for next year on the agenda... the more chapter and verse I can give him...' Barbara asks to talk to Quist but he is still busy berating Stafford. The Commander reminds Quist that this is a political decision and isn't going to be influenced by a few sums. 'In the Minister's mind you are Doomwatch. your health is more important than your estimates.' Quist takes his point and does feel groggy. Stafford leaves, smiling and Barbara tells Quist that if he needs to get a message to Ridge in a hurry, she is seeing him tonight for dinner. Quist is surprised. Barbara thinks Ridge needs a shoulder to cry on. 'What is it about him?' ponders Quist. 'Got a brilliant mind – understanding in lots of ways,' says Barbara. 'Yet something in him makes him feel he's got to fight all the world's battles single handed. Everything becomes a one man crusade.' Quist tells Doctor Tarrant that he is going to take a few days off. He then gives Barbara the message.

Ridge pulls up outside his sister's house where his welcome is muted. He wasn't expected by Edna, despite the telegram she sent. Her husband, Phillip isn't very pleased to see his brother in law either. They have been looking after his elderly father until a recent fall which broke his thigh and pelvis. Ridge controls himself as Phillip taunts him about coming for a flying visit, considering they haven't had a visit or a phone call in six months. 'I've been... well, going through a bit of a rough patch.' Edna tries to cool things down and explains that

their father is in a private clinic ran by Doctor Cordell who is an old friend from her nursing days. Dad also met him at dinner and thinks the world of him. Edna is sorry that Phillip was rude and that Dad would have liked to have heard from him. 'He still had his illusions...' Ridge wriggles a bit but Edna says that soon they can give up pretending... 'There'll be no need for either of us to see the other ever again.' Ridge is confused. 'What do you mean, when Dad dies?' 'He wants to die, John. He's written a letter. Dr Cordell has it...' She goes to deal with the kettle leaving Ridge horrified.

Wilfred Ridge is being attended by Cordell and a nurse, a drip in his arm, and a cast covered by a cradle over his thigh. Ridge is waiting in Cordell's study with the letter, in a state of almost shocked silence. Cordell tells him his father is ready to be seen now but advises against discussing the matter with him now. Edna agrees but her brother is suspicious and sharp. He intends to remove his father away from this place as soon as he can. The letter virtually asks Cordell to kill him, Ridge says but Cordell explains that it asks for him to be allowed to die with comfort and dignity when the time comes. 'Who decided when the time's come? You?' Cordell patiently explains that it asks he shouldn't be kept alive by medicine or machines when life has ceased to have any meaning and not to resuscitate him for a few more days or weeks of life. Ridge sees this as against everything the medical profession stands for. Edna says that their father hasn't changed his mind. He doesn't want to be a burden. Cordell wished Edna had warned him of her brother's feelings. Edna explodes at her brother – he has done nothing all these years, and in tears, runs out. Cordell tells Ridge that looking after an elderly patient over a long period can set up a strain especially with a young family, and warns him that if his father recovers, things will get much worse at home. He is suffering from arteriosclerosis which Ridge knows about. Soon, father Ridge will need more help as he loses the use of his limbs, he'll need constant supervision and care to avoid bed sores. 'But any person has a right to be spared months of endless suffering and misery.' He asks Ridge to think it over and reassures him that everything will be done to help

his father. Edna, having composed herself, takes John to see his father, who, very frail, is pleased to see him. Edna watches expressionless, 'face conveys a lifetime of exclusion and bitterness.'

As the Minister pours Stafford a whisky, he explains that 'At the moment anyway it's merely a recommendation from the think tank. There's no question of principle involved. And no one's holding up any criticism of what Doomwatch has achieved in the past.' Stafford wonders if they mean to phase out Doomwatch and the Minister agrees but that is not how it will be out. Doomwatch has been too successful, a part of government thinking at all levels. 'We should be grateful, they'll say, after all that's what we've been fighting for for years.' Partly departmental jealousy, and a desire for a slice of the kudos. 'Preservation of the environment isn't the pioneering concept it was three years ago.' The Minister tells Stafford that they need to keep the temperature down if to keep Doomwatch in one piece. 'No heroic gestures, and nothing to give the opposition anything to bite on.' And with Quist out of the office for a week, that will help.

As Philip shouts at his children to turn their music down and go to bed, Ridge still maintains that what Cordell is doing is morally indefensible. 'Apart from being against the law.' Edna remembers that what was said about abortionists. Her father's life stopped having any meaning a long time ago. Phillip charges in – a year ago when the letter was written, Ridge was busy saving the world with his 'Doomwatch nonsense' and forgot to come up here for his father's birthday as promised. They posted the card so that he shouldn't feel neglected by his favourite child... Edna tells him to leave Ridge alone. 'And now he comes here preaching at us what's right and wrong!' Ridge walks out and leaves the house angrily. Edna is worried... Phillip doesn't know her brother as well as she does. Father Ridge finds reaching for a glass of water difficult and makes it fall to the floor. A nurse responds to the smash and looks at him in concern.

The Killer Dolphins



Sex and Violence



Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

absolutes.’ Stuart Douglass supplies a thought provoking story, balancing the script so that even the bigoted campaigner Mrs Catchpole (June Brown) repressed Mrs Hastings (Angela Crow) and political opportunist Arthur Ballantyne (Nicholas Selby) are wellrounded characters. Ultimately the Committee and Doomwatch reach the same conclusion: ‘No change’. John Paul had expressed doubts that the story was Doomwatch material, but Andrew Osborn had wider concerns: Douglass had mirrored a concurrent commission of enquiry into the moral pollution of the Nation, down to parodies of Lord Longford, Mary Whitehouse and Cliff Richard. The commission especially focused on pornography, obscenity and censorship of the arts, There was also blatant satirisation in Mrs Catchpole’s militant Housewife organisation, clearly based on then popular clean-up bodies such as the Festival of Light and the NVALA. The edition was prepared for transmission – seemingly intended to air fifth in the run - but dropped from the schedules at the last minute. The BBC asserted that this we due to substandard production but, when Douglass took issue at this, later claimed it was impossible to discuss such issues in a fifty minute serial. It also maintained that footage of an actual Nigerian military execution in Lagos should not have been used, BBC rights to broadcast it having expired. To this day the edition has never aired (though rumours persist of an Australian transmission). In the end, the very censorship which Sex and Violence vehemently rails against saw it banned – ultimately an appropriate way for Doomwatch to bow out. Reaction to the season was generally unfavourable, the consensus being that the show had become talky, actionless and confused, with more emphasis on societal ills and wild speculation than reasoned prediction and credibility (what Pedler called ‘small logical extensions of current reality’) — problems agreed with by many of the cast and crew, as well as critics and viewers. Daily Telegraph‘s Richard Last had remained a keen observer of the final run. Of Deadly Dangerous Tomorrow he had announced, ‘The worst television news of the week is that Ridge is back. He bounded into Doomwatch (BBC-1) like a wild-eyed stage villain, truculent as ever and clearly still mad as a hatter. Even without him, I no longer give the series much chance of credibility. It spends its time being impossibly melodramatic or making its characters talk like hand-outs - sometimes both.’ Reviewing the final episode (‘a fairly mediocre affair in which the barely suppressed melodramatic elements finally showed in an absurd confrontation at what appeared to be a Neapolitan orgy’), he emphasised the need for the show ‘to secure a tenable balance between the elements of ecology, science fiction and melodrama that go into it. Melodrama has too often been allowed to get the upper hand in the present series, leading to such nonsenses as Ridge’s rampaging. And “Ridge Must Go” is an essential corollary to “Doomwatch Should Stay,” and a few less unscientific outbursts from Quist would help. ‘This was also exemplified in the New Scientist letters page. Martyn Dryde pointed out ‘the poor storylines and low excitement-value of the current BBC-TV series of Doomwatch. We know, of course, that Dr Pedler and his associate are no longer responsible ... Early Doomwatch had teeth; this one doesn’t ... I also detect an air of “it can’t happen here” recently, especially in the fake TV programmes about population and the environment [Bomb] which have been so overdone as to be blatant self-parody.’ Shane Fahy expressed: ‘intense dissatisfaction, disappointment, and annoyance at the current series ... the fictional government, and the notquite-fictional BBC have decided to pull out the teeth of

this programme and leave it a toothless, senile idiot ... Doomwatch could have been a very valuable vehicle for members of both the establishment and the antiestablishment who would like to see people take a serious interest in affairs which could critically affect not only our civilisation but also our species ... the two extremes of meekness and ferocity must be avoided which means steering a careful middle course, which so far only Dr Pedler has managed to do. Therefore, in conclusion, I implore the BBC to bring back Dr Pedler or forget Doomwatch.’ Certainly Dr Quist now seemed much fonder of drily recounting facts and figures from the comfort of Anne’s armchair than in actively confronting environmental na’er-do-wells in their offices. Terence Dudley’s introduction of the Government’s keenness to put down its scientific watchdog; widower Quist’s ‘living in sin’ with Anne; and the arrival on the team of the antagonistic Stafford (initially despised by his colleagues for hounding John) who could simply network with contacts for information without recourse to Ridge’s criticised espionage skills, all point towards him actively confronting the accusations of cardboardy 2D characterisation head-on by bringing in stronger interpersonal relationships and attempting to curb the perceived excesses of Pedler and Davis’ ‘message over character’ stories. For many, however, this just intolerably simplified and soapified the show. The switch to a mid-summer transmission hadn’t helped matters, and Doomwatch was quietly ended. Pedler and Davis’ further work together was a very loosely-linked trio of novels. Mutant 59: The Plastic Eater (1971) was an effective reworking of their Doomwatch opener, replacing the Department with the independent Kramer Consultancy (headed by Arnold Kramer, who would later figure in the proposed Worldforce 5 format revival), developers of self-biodegradable substance Degron; widening the scope of the original plot the virus quickly and hideously consumes London. Tigon and perhaps more surprisingly Disney both expressed interest in a film adaptation. 1974’s Brainrack, set in the near-future, saw a maverick computer scientist and a research psychologist investigate a brain tissue atrophying disease. Elements of the Doomwatch film are detectable in a section where scared locals huddle in a pub following a disaster at a privately-run lightwater nuclear power station. Their final collaboration, The Dynostar Menace from 1975, revisited themes from Re-Entry Forbidden and was a murder mystery thriller set onboard a multinational spacelab carrying a nuclear fusion project designed as Man’s last desperate energy source – which is subverted by a saboteur, threatening the ozone layer and the future of humanity itself. Also that year Longman Educational Books published Doomwatch: The World in Danger. This was a novelisation of their scripts Plastic Eaters, Red Sky and Survival Code (as ‘A Bomb Is Missing’) by Davis and Pedler, with editing by Gordon Walsh and illustrations from Richard Osbourne. The textbook formed part of the DOOMWATCH FANZINE


Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

Stage 4 Structural Readers series for teaching English as a foreign language, remaining in use for many years. Paul and Oates made guest appearances in The New Avengers (and Yorkshire’s sitcom That’s My Boy), Oates also appearing in Beasts, Bergerac, and Remington Steele after moving to the US. Paul appeared on TV in I, Claudius and 1990 but reverted mainly to stage work, commenting of Doomwatch in May 1994, ‘I enjoyed that series immensely.’ John Paul died in February 1995, and Simon Oates in May 2009. John Nolan took the lead in Shabby Tiger, witchcraft flick Terror, and appeared in The Sweeney, Hustle and Batman Begins. John Bown acted in Secret Army, Blake’s 7 and Van Der Valk; the late Joby Blanshard filmed In the Forest and taped editions of All Creatures Great and Small and Juliet Bravo before his November 1992 death, whilst Jean Trend’s credits include the two Dominick Hide tales for Play for Today, The Chief and One Foot in the Grave. John Barron won great acclaim as CJ in the four Reginald Perrin series in a broad career also encompassing Timeslip, Softly Softly, Crown Court, Yes (Prime) Minister and All Gas and Gaiters. Robert Powell temporarily languished in the likes of The Asphyx and Asylum before regaining success in the prestigious title rôle in ITC’s Jesus of Nazareth, The Thirty-Nine Steps (leading to Thames Television’s Hannay), The Detectives and Holby City – as well as maintaining a high profile in voiceovers (ranging from documentaries to narrating David Bedford’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner concept album) and on stage – which saw him take the lead in Sherlock Holmes – The Musical, reprising the Great Detective he first essayed for BBC Radio in 1974. Wendy Hall retired from acting and was seemingly last heard of in 1994 telling News of the World about a near-death experience whilst giving birth in the ‘60s; similarly Vivien Sherrard withdrew from the profession as the final series aired, moving to the US to become a wife and mother. Kit Pedler maintained his iconoclastic media profile, acted as scientific adviser for Look and Read’s Cloud Burst, steadfastly rallied for the formation of a real-life Doomwatch and promoted the Green Partyinspiring Gaian hypothesis. He continued to lecture on ‘Doomwatch themes’ (confessing in 1974 that he’d hoped the TV show would inspire viewer action), energy conservation and alternative technologies until his death in May 1981, midway through making a series on the paranormal for Thames called Mind Over Matter. The tie-in book would be his final work of writing in a career which had also encompassed numerous radio plays and documentaries. Terence Dudley continued to produce, write and direct, notably for Survivors and Doctor Who — perhaps offering a tribute to Tobias Henry Wren in Henry Tobias, a character in his script for Who spin-off K-9 and Company. He died on Christmas Day 1988. Gerry Davis moved straight onto script-editing Softly Softly before relocating to America in the mid-’70s, where he worked on The Bionic Woman, Vega$ and The Final Countdown. He also took across Doomwatch episodes to interest potential US producers: at one point Raymond Burr was apparently slated to play Quist. To his demise in August 1991 he maintained that the time was ripe for a new Doomwatch. He was right.

Winter Angel Producer Peter Lee-Wright bought the rights from Pedler’s daughter, and Tuesday 7th December 1999 saw Channel 5 air the feature-length TV movie Doomwatch: Winter Angel (rejected by the BBC, apparently as it didn’t fit then-current drama policy). Roy Battersby directed, with a screenplay by John Howlett from a concept courtesy of SF novelist Ian McDonald. With impressive visuals and effects, Doomwatch was now more SF than ever. The production team opined that the Tories would have closed the Department in 1979: hence there was little connection to the original show, as the credit ‘based on the television series created by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davies [sic]’ aptly demonstrates. Intended as a pilot for a proposed series, the movie is pretty much Doomwatch in name only, the sole link to the series being the elderly Dr Spencer Quist, played by Philip Stone. Set, as Radio Times had it, ‘in an authoritarian near-future, the new team would be freelance and scattered geographically, with operatives in various walks of life. Spencer (‘the man who asks more questions than he ever answers’ as he nattily refers to himself) remained fairly faithful to the original. For the benefit of viewers not remembering the earlier incarnation, Cambridge astrophysicist Dr Neil Tannahil (Trevor Eve) reflects, ‘Doomwatch … Scientists watching scientists. Dr Quist was my mentor and official devil’s advocate in the days when they were allowed. The ethics and consequences of research and experiment. He was retired



as a pain in the arse but he never gave it up.’ When a backslapping lecture by the Minister of Science and Research is disrupted by ‘environmental consultant’ Dr Teri Riley (Allie Byrne) and some animal rights activists, Quist is first on his feet to applaud, though is arrested and held overnight due to a thirty year record of agitation. As Hugo Cox (future Gadget Show/Bang Goes the Theory presenter Dallas Campbell), a sharply-dressed vaguely-Ridgeian quantum-computer expert replete with highperformance car, puts it: ‘It’s all about power cuts and racing pigeons disappearing all over the North-East of England.’ Half of the North recently lost the National Grid for six hours, and 65 local networks overloaded - the power being inexplicably diverted to the decommissioned Shaston power station, where another of Quist’s protégés, Dr Toby Ross (Miles Anderson) is attempting to construct a black hole. Spencer’s past returns to haunt him when he is killed in a rigged explosion which rips through his cottage whilst he snoozes in an armchair. Despite being an atheist throughout the ‘70s series, Quist depressingly gets a full choral church funeral – although maybe this is a reflection of the fact that by this stage in his life he is regarded by the general public as a ‘national institution’. He leaves CD-ROM copies of his Doomwatch files to Neil and Hugo in his will (‘Every scientific nightmare known to man... he means us to inherit,’ murmurs Tannahil). The two join forces, and Neil sets off to Shaston to bring events to a suitably climacticif-wordy conclusion — which is neatly covered up in the media. At the story’s close the discs are loaded up. The first carries an on-screen introduction from Quist: ‘When I tell any truths, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those who do.’ The TV Movie is an intelligent drama on its own merits, with some agreeably sinister moments, and it is intriguing to see how the new Doomwatch team formed by Quist operates. However the tone is a little uncertain, with shadowy Men in Black Government officials rubbing alongside Cox’s William Blake-inspired Angelware programmes which lend an unsatisfactory omniscient ‘supercomputer’ vibe. Indeed, it may be argued that in some respects Winter Angel was perhaps too cerebral and abstract, arguably with none of the immediate hooks, either visual or conceptual, which had been the parent series’ stock in trade, and (unlike the original’s headline-mirroring plots) with little real relevance to viewers. Most critics were guardedly non-committal. Adam Sweeting of The Guardian (Quist’s preferred daily) said that whilst ‘there was almost nothing here you would dare call original ... the notion of some misguided

Embryonic Nazis on four legs by Tony Darbyshire

quantum-anorak building his own Black Hole using contraband nuclear waste from the old Soviet bloc at least had an authentic frisson of lunacy about it.’ Noting similarities to the 1985 ecothriller Edge of Darkness which Sweeting had also caught, The Stage concurred: ‘effective … with good performances, impressive special effects and a decent budget. What, one has to ask, was it doing among the shoddy old tat of Channel 5? Having stoked my paranoia, I can only assume that there is a conspiracy afoot to ensure as few people as possible see it. Will a series follow? … The idea certainly has potential especially with the everwatchable Eve at its centre.’ Daily Express commented that it played like a pilot, noting the obligatory bike-riding eco-warrior, token black character, etc. Radio Times’ Geoff Ellis thought it ‘an entertaining thriller ... Shot through with foreboding and paranoia, this is an enjoyably grim suspense drama,’ whilst Heat found it ‘a lot better than some of the stilted Brit sci-fi efforts we’ve seen in recent years – Channel 5 should spin a series out of this if it can.’ Probably the most glowing appraisal appeared in the regional Birmingham Post’s pages: ‘This was rivetingly suspenseful, tensely scripted stuff, atmospherically directed and with superbly understated charismatic performances – a series is mandatory.’ Mandatory perhaps, but it was not to be. What effect the reviews had on Five is unknown, but given that the movie (by Working Title and Vanson Productions) was copyrighted to Doomwatch Ltd, it would appear that the team had high hopes for reappearance by Professor Tannahil and his allies. Whether a series would have gone back to the concept’s roots and installed the prognostication element of its ‘70s ancestor is debatable Ian McDonald’s further storylines were reported to involve nanotechnology smuggling, a computer virus which could infiltrate the human brain, and protein-based biochips – but it is widely held that the cost of a full run was deemed too prohibitive for the mooted three further two-hour films to be produced (an early report gave Winter Angel a budget of £1.5 million). Only three episodes from the final season are currently known to exist in the BBC Archives; there are also five missing editions from the first (Wren’s explosive demise being thankfully preserved in the following story). Ten survive on their original 625-line PAL videotape format, and fourteen as 525-line NTSC conversions returned from Canada’s CBC, with the second series also existing as 16mm monochrome film copies. All extant editions bar Sex and Violence were screened on UK Gold during 1994, albeit generally in slightly edited form (visceral footage of dead chickens being declawed in Battery being

excised via an ad break for example). Rat was repeated as accompaniment to BBC4’s The Cult of…Doomwatch documentary in 2006. With PG ratings, BBC Video marketed Plastic Eaters and Rat, Red Sky and Toby Wren on two VHS cassettes in 1991. The first was later re-released by Total Home Entertainment and on DVD by Revelation in 2000. A full DVD release of the surviving episodes was mooted in the mid2000s by 2|entertain, but poor sales of related cult series shelved the project. Guild Home Video gave the still-‘A’-certificated Tigon film an early release onto the home video rental circuit in 1980; 2001 saw Image Entertainment’s ‘EuroShock Collection’ Region 1 DVD, followed on Region 0 by Prism Leisure Corp in 2003 (now certificated 12). In 2010 the BBFC awarded the TV Movie a 15 rating for a Boulevard Entertainment Ltd DVD release. History has perhaps been kinder than the archives. Rescreenings may have been limited but the Doomwatch name still lives on today as a media buzzword, as well as having named various bands, songs, a computer game and a regular column in The Guardian. It even has an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary. Most reviewers are fond of claiming that Doomwatch was one of the greatest drama series ever produced, a masterpiece of forward thinking and damningly accurate concepts. Not so - though many of its extrapolations on technological hazards and environmental dangers have seen fruition for good or ill - but at its best the show could be thought provoking, intelligent, arresting and downright fierce in its accusations. It represents a unique point in history, a fresh outlook for a new decade which simultaneously looked back to the mistakes of the past and forward to the future, becoming a figurehead for society’s burgeoning environmental awareness. This, the fact that it coined a new word for the English language, plus its rightful claim to be the first Green - certainly environmentally aware - television programme, is a better epitaph than many other series could ever hope for.



Channel 5 Programme Information

Inspired by the original 70s drama series about an environmental task force battling the capitalists who pursue profit at any cost, this feature-length thriller takes us to the frontiers of modern science and the frightening consequences of man’s insatiable desire to control and tame his world. Based on existing scientific data and research currently being carried out in this country, this drama examines a not-too-distant future in which the financial rewards for scientific advance leave moral scruples surplus to requirements. As we approach the end of the millennium, we are increasingly dependent on technology. Our professional and social lives have changed so much over the last few decades that it is virtually impossible for us to comprehend what life would be like without necessities like light, heat electricity and transport. And yet we are also aware that these things are powered by limited resources: the earth’s supplies of fossil fuels will have been used up by the end of the next century - so what then? Demand will be so high by this stage that ecological means of power-production will not be sufficiently effective, For a while, it seemed that nuclear power would provide the answer, but it has proved far too volatile a medium to exploit on a grand scale. For that is the nature of nuclear power — it is an incredibly dangerous process: the slightest mistake can result in catastrophe and the waste products remain poisonous for hundreds, if not thousands of years. In fact, it is the disposal of spent fuel that is the greatest difficulty. So, imagine if there were a way of getting rid of the waste without poisoning the planet - if there was some kind of secure disposal system that would simply remove the problem. This is the project that renegade scientist Toby Ross is spearheading. After stealing the work of fellow boffin Neil Tannahil (Trevor Eve, above), he has the means to unite the cheapest source of energy with an insatiable nuclear waste disposal system by creating the world’s first manmade black hole. On the point of moving abroad with his radiographer wife, Meg, Cambridge astrophysicist Neil Tannahil has no idea that his work is being used for such nefarious ends until he is approached by Dr Spencer Quist, Quist is the ageing founder of the original Doomwatch organisation which has been monitoring Toby Ross’s covert experiments for several years. Believing he has found a kindred spirit in Tannahil, he outlines his fears and manages to persuade his colleague to take over the investigation into Ross’s potentially catastrophic work. With the help of computer genius Hugo Cox and environmental scientist Teri Riley, the Tannahils try to uncover the extent to which Ross has put his theories into practice, but soon find themselves drawn into a web of corrupt and unaccountable powers, where so-called ‘security forces’ will stop at nothing to protect their guilty secret. Only after the horrific deaths of three of his colleagues, including Dr Quist himself, does Tannahil begin to realise that it is too late to walk away. In fact, he has no choice but to confront those behind this dangerous empire, because the whole project is out of control and so is the black hole! Neil Tannahil…Trevor Eve Neil Tannahil…Amanda Ooms Spencer Quist…Philip Stone Toby Ross…Miles Anderson Hugo Cox…Dallas Campbell Teri Riley…Allie Byrne Writers: Ian MacDonald & John Howett Producer: Peter Lee Wright Director: Roy Battersby. A Working Title Television & Vanson Production

Thanks to the late John Paul, Martin Worth, Scott Burditt, Andrew Wilson, Michael Seely, Ian Beard, David Brunt, Simon Coward, Nick Goodman and Kevin Atkinson Variations in quote formatting are as per original sources. DOOMWATCH FANZINE


A S S A ME R F E TH Stephen Dudley Doomwatch Biography Tomorrow, the Rat (1970) Season 1, Episode 4 Stephen played a Small Boy briefly shown in the pre-titles. An episode which also features both Stephen’s parents (Doomwatch’s Producer, Terence Dudley and his wife) Waiting for a Knighthood (1972) Season 3, Episode 4. Stephen played Stephen Massingham

Other Filmography All Creatures Great and Small TV Big Steps and Little 'Uns (1980) TV Stephen played Simon Tanner Survivors Stephen played John Millon (22 episodes, 1975-1977) As Himself New World Rising: The Making of Survivors Series 3 (2005) Interviewed as Himself



A Message from the frontline by Stephen Dudley

M O R F E G A . . . E N I L T RON

Lieutenant Commander Stephen DUDLEY MA Royal Navy

In February 2010 Stephen Dudley, son of the late producer of DOOMWATCH contacted Scott Burditt.

Dear Scott, I looked at your excellent website and I was struck by how visionary the Programme was – forty years on. Climate Change, Lead in Petrol, WMD, population pressure, GM, the moral position of Corporations and the responsibility of scientists for the unintended consequences of their actions. These issues still resonate powerfully today and there was a very talented collection of contributors, makers and players. I know that Doomwatch was among the things that my late father was most proud of, and in those distant days the BBC was not only fiercely independent, but also fiercely principled. He would have hated to see what it has become, but Sport and Light Entertainment were always kings in budgetary terms. Time was that Science Fiction was a vehicle to ask the important moral questions in our own age – and that made for great drama. I was delighted that the BBC put its money where its mouth was for the Doctor Who revival which has been in the traditions of that

Stephen limited further acting to a purely amateur sphere, going on to join the Royal Navy, where the experiences of the complexity of making television and the lessons learned served him in good stead both as a Logistics Officer and a project manager, although perhaps a wistful spark remained in being twice part of the winning Ensemble in RN drama festivals in the early 1990’s playing McLeavy in Joe Orton’s Loot and Van Helsing in Dracula. Lieutenant Commander Stephen DUDLEY, joined the Royal Navy in 1989 after reading History at Pembroke College, Cambridge. Initial training included a deployment to Hong Kong in HMS BRISTOL, and serving in HMS JUPITER in the Gulf during the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Following specialist Logistics training at HMS RALEIGH he served on the Personnel and Administration staff of the Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command in Portsmouth. In 1994 He served as Captain’s Secretary in HMS MANCHESTER, a guided missile Destroyer, a commission which included an 8 month deployment to the Far East. Following formal staff training at Greenwich, in 1996 he was appointed to London as Assistant Military Assistant to the Chief of Defence Intelligence.

fine programme, but rather less impressed with other programmes recently. My fear is that any revival might be equally banal and lack the controversy and power of the original. Releasing the series on DVD would be marvellous, but I am not sure about the complexity of gaining the permissions and what the business model would look like to make it worth their while. I suppose also that the quality of the recording (limited by the technology at the time) and the simplicity of the sets and effects may lend a rather old fashioned feel. That said, the quality of the direction owing much to theatre and the legacy of live broadcasting has a tautness and a tension which is sadly lacking in this age of circular tracking shots and odd angles more fitted to pop videos. Tomorrow, the Rat was released on DVD and I have rather less recollection of my part in that than I do for my part in Waiting for a Knighthood. Sadly the copies of the scripts I had and the Radio Times and most devastating of all, father’s scrapbook of cuttings and reviews were all lost in a terrible fire at my mother’s cottage in Dec 2005. She has in fact, only recently been able to move back in. May I wish you well for the project.

Lieutenant Commander Stephen DUDLEY MA Royal Navy

After further logistic training, he served as Supply Officer, HMS YORK (a sister ship to HMS MANCHESTER) and then Supply Officer in the RN’s premier carrrier HMS ARK ROYAL, during her £140 M refit at Rosyth. 2000 saw him join the staff of the Second Sea Lord, first within the personnel directorate as lead officer for ratings’ promotion (and on women at sea and maternity issues), and latterly on the staff of the Flag Officer Training and Recruiting. Following a two year sabbatical in Industry, where he worked with Consultancy Firm W S Atkins, gaining project management qualifications, DUDLEY became Staff Support Officer at HMS EXCELLENT, a Shore Establishment in Portsmouth housing the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief, Fleet and a wide range of Naval training. The highlights of this appointment were supporting the celebration of the Centenary of the battle of Trafalgar and the International Fleet Review. In 2006 DUDLEY joined the Directorate of Defence Logistics Information in Bath as a project manager and then served in Afghanistan in the Headquarters Joint Force Support as staff officer for Contracts before joining the Naval Staff in 2009. DUDLEY lives in Worcestershire with his wife Sue (a former WRNS officer) where they enjoy exploring the countryside on horseback and on foot. DOOMWATCH FANZINE


TRANSHUMANISM IbyNRichard DOOMWATCH Thomas Trans or Post-humanism is a global movement that advocates advancing human evolution via artificial means such as genetic engineering, cloning and other newly emerging technologies. Made up of academics and enthusiasts alike Transhumanists see certain aspects of the human condition such as old age, sickness and mortality as unnecessary and therefore undesirable. The central premise of the movement being that by merging with technology humans will be able to evolve into a new race of Transhumans free of all forms of human suffering. Back in 1966 Doctor Who was facing a major crisis. After three years as leading man William Hartnell was leaving the series due to ill health and to make matters worse Terry Nation wanted to take his Dalek creations to America to star in their own spin-off series without the Doctor. Thus leaving Doctor Who without its two biggest icons. It was decided then that Hartnell would be succeeded by Patrick Troughton as the Doctor and that this transition would be helped via the introduction of new star monsters to the series: but who or what exactly could possibly even come close to replacing the Daleks? That was the difficult A Cyberman from Doctor Who conundrum then script editor Gerry Davis approached the unofficial scientific advisor to the series Kit



Pedler with as Doctor Who approached its fourth season. Reflecting on his own fears as a medical Doctor of “dehumanising medicine” Pedler delivered in spades. Pedler imagined a race of human beings who had been forced by circumstances beyond their control to slowly replace most - if not all - of their vital organs and limbs with steel and plastic replacements. Ultimately even replacing large parts of their brains with computers and neurochemically programming out their emotions altogether. In effect, surgically erasing all traces of their humanity and transplanting it with cold technology and relentless, uncompromising logic. Pedler and Davis called these new nightmarish life forms Cybermen. In the 1974 Target Book adaptation of the first Cyber-story The Tenth Planet (which introduced Troughton’s Doctor) Gerry Davis described the fictional origins of the Cybermen: “Centuries ago by our Earth time, a race of men on the far distant planet Telos sought immortality. They perfected the art of cybernetics, the reproduction of machine functions in human beings. As bodies became old and diseased, they were replaced limb by limb, with plastic and steel. Finally, even the human circulation and nervous system were recreated, and brains replaced by computers. The first Cybermen were born.” Somewhat ironically, though, despite this apparent great evolutionary

Transhumanism in Doomwatch by Richard Thomas

women. As Professor Hetherington explains in the episode: leap forward Pedler reasoned that such beings would be driven “Electrodes are planted in the patient’s pleasure centre, in the solely by the most primitive of biological instincts … the will to cepstral region of the brain, by stimulating this pleasure centre we survive whatever the cost no matter what. A frightening can counter act severe states of anxiety and depression.” And as if contradiction that made itself felt much more prevalently later on turning people into de facto robots wasn’t enough this ‘treatment’ when Pedler and Davis decided to revisit the initial concept behind is also dangerously addictive. In the words of one of the patients the Cybermen for Doomwatch in the 1970s, oddly enough in an (or victims) “better than sex.” Pacifying people at the push of a episode starring Patrick Troughton. Far from battling the button and suppressing human emotions chemically might sound Cybermen, though, on this occasion Troughton does everything he like the stuff of pure science fiction but the latter had already can to become one of them! In Troughton’s own words: “I keep become a serious problem by the 1970s. Directly mirroring the trying to tell them machines can’t catch diseases!” ‘treatment’ seen in Doomwatch so-called 60s “wonder drugs” such In the season two episode In The Dark a terminally ill man Alan as Valium had been prescribed prodigiously. Thus leaving a McArthur (played by Troughton) desperately tries to prolong his life sizeable number of otherwise normal people as zombified drug artificially by replacing his dieing body piece by piece with addicts. The solution, of course, more drugs! A problem Kit Pedler experimental life support systems. Although the experiment is as a medical doctor would have been acutely aware of and exactly successful it has a terrible price. McArthur begins to think of the kind of “dehumanising medicine” that inspired the original himself as well as other human beings (if you can still call him concept behind the Cybermen. Antianxiety drugs and spare-part human at this point?) as nothing more than bio-chemical surgery is one thing but lets fast forward to today. While the machines: ultimately planning on cheating death completely by Cybermen might have made interesting food for thought back in becoming nothing more than a living brain attached to a dead the 60s and 70s, today the human race really is close to machine. A procedure that would leave him utterly alone and possessing the kind of technology necessary for reinventing unable to communicate with the outside world forever, with only ourselves. Not just limb by limb as Pedler envisioned but gene by his thoughts to keep him company in the endless darkness. gene. Like heart transplants and dialyses machines such Fortunately, though, Professor Quist and his daughter manage to technology will no doubt save the lives of countless people but we persuade McArthur that this would be a fate worse than death and must be cautious that in saving lives we do not rob people of their he decides instead to finally switch off the machinery and die a human being. Such a scenario might sound fantastic but even back humanity. As Professor Quist points out in In The Dark human beings are separated from animals by two factors: knowledge of in the 1960s and 70s there would have been signs that such a our own mortality and human emotion. To become a race of hypothetical hybridisation between man and machine might emotionless immortals isn’t a step forward it is a step back. Maybe become a reality sooner rather than later. In 1960, Belding then Prehumanism might be a better name for the so-called Scribner invented the Scribner shunt a breakthrough kidney Transhumanist movement. dialysis machine that later saved the lives of countless people with end-stage kidney disease around the globe. More substantially, though, in December 1967 (only a matter of months after The Richard Thomas Tenth Planet was broadcast) the first successful human heart Binnall of America UK Correspondent and Columnist transplant took place at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. It is difficult to appreciate this today but the spareRichard Thomas lives in Swansea, South Wales. Richard grew up part surgery envisioned in Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein and watching science fiction shows, including his all-time favourite by Pedler was becoming a part of everyday life. In Doomwatch Doctor Who. As a child this enthusiasm for Sci-Fi evolved into an Professor Quist essentially offered his friend McArthur a simple interest in space, UFOs and other esoteric subjects. In 2008 choice: live forever as a machine or die a human being? It might Richard began to write a fortnightly column (Richard's Room 101) sound absurd now but to people living in the 60s and 70s new for the esoteric think tank Binnall of America. Soon after that, he developments in medicine such as heart transplants would have started writing a Sci-Fi/TV related column for Stuart Miller's Alien signalled that many of us might face this kind of difficult decision Worlds Magazine. In 2009, he began to write a spin-off column to ourselves someday. Something which might have been premature Room 101 for BoA, titled "Sci-Fi Worlds." back then but maybe not so much so today. Runaway spare-part surgery, however, was only one of Pedler’s concerns when he invented the Cybermen. Replacing the human body is one thing but trying to replace or subvert the human mind (and by extension the human soul) is something far more serious. As discussed the Cybermen had altered their brain chemistry, in effect, deleting the last vestige of their biological past: human emotions. And this concept of suppressing or controlling the mind chemically also made itself felt more strongly later on in Doomwatch. In the season one episode The Devil’s Sweets, for instance, chocolates laced with a new drug are used to increase cigarette sales. It is in the season three episode Hair Trigger where the idea is explored best though. In it a violent psychopath and convicted murderer of his family (Michael Beavis) undergoes a revolutionary form of therapy aimed at totally rehabilitating violent offenders and returning them to normal society. Unfortunately, although having a 100% Patrick Troughton guest stars in Doomwatch “In the Dark” success rate, this ‘therapy’ is nothing short of turning people into remote controlled men and DOOMWATCH FANZINE


WHEN WILL YOU PEOPLE LEARN NOT TO INTERFERE? a tendency not to like what we like. Doctor Who fans have suffered in the same way for years and bear marks on their hands. But Fire and Brimstone aside, there was a general feeling of dissatisfaction coming from the viewers and from those of us who caught up with the episodes some twenty, thirty or forty years later, that as the second series progressed, something was missing, and with what we could see of the third season, and indeed read, it had vanished completely. What had gone wrong? What was happening? The answer seems to be obvious: Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis: the clash between the creators and the producership of Terence Dudley. Disputes over the level of characterisation and story telling lead to a huge fall out during the preproduction of the second series. At least four of the scripts had no input from the creators whatsoever, and bears the hall marks of a more conventional drama style favoured by Dudley. For every The Iron Doctor, there's a more plausible Public Enemy. Newspaper reviews at the time, whilst begrudging of Doomwatch's success and finally coming round to it, compared Flight Into Yesterday to a poor episode of The Avengers, whilst The Human Time Bomb was seen as more akin to the police drama Softly, Softly, a programme that was dragging along at the time. This becomes more the case in the third series. Doomwatch is no longer a science fiction serial- or at times even Science Faction. Episodes like Deadly Dangerous Tomorrow, Cause of Death, Sex and Violence, are more

BY MICHAEL SEELY Toby Wren's death did more than just close the f irst series of Doomwatch. It marked the beginning of a new transitionary era before the consolidation of the third series where the new style bedded in, and Doomwatch was never the same again. For some fans and viewers, that first series was definitive, what Doomwatch was really all about. When Wren died, Doomwatch died. And there is an element of truth in that. There is a common conception amongst fans and viewers of Doomwatch that by the time of the third series of Doomwatch, it is greatly inferior to what had come in early 1970. It was certainly felt at the time, if letters to the Radio Times and the New Scientist are anything to go by. Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis themselves famously went on record to criticise Terence Dudley's third season opener Fire and Brimstone, that the series had now become a thriller, using a mad scientist running amok as a plot device. Indeed, Fire and Brimstone was not reviewed terribly kindly by the press, The Daily Telegraph dismissed it as 'nonsense', although Richard Last, its television critic was never a great fan of John Ridge, whilst the Daily Mail thought the episode 'potty.' (Terence Dudley was very pleased with it, though.) Newspaper reviews and letters pages should never be taken too seriously, just like audience research reports the BBC used to compile on any given episode of a series. Some of these people would be among 'Not We' and have



about attitudes you could see in any other type of social or crime drama of the time. First series Doomwatch had episodes you could not expect to see in other series. Nuclear powered rockets, computers dictating the futures of government employees, drugs in chocolates, a workforce bugged by unscrupulous employers, the noise from supersonic aircraft killing, decerebrated monkeys being harvested for organs, plastic eating viruses (a favourite memory for The New Scientist) may seem to be the stuff from Doctor Who, Department S and a host of other ITC series, but they would not be given the same, strict, scientific discipline that Doomwatch has. Nor did they have a point to make, and give a warning. Certainly, some episodes feel like an ITC episode. Burial At Sea was written by Dennis Spooner, and its opening sequence of a seemingly deserted boat, and later Toby Wren seeing a hallucination of himself is very Department S! Of course, being a first series, the creators were spoiled for choice with which issue they wished to highlight, and imagine a threat from something less commonly known, make it plausible such as the homunculus cultivated by Dr. Patrick in order to give his weak son a new heart in ten years. It could be happening now - well, in 1970. And serendipitous chance allowed some episodes to become seen as prophetic - but they weren't really. Some of the events had already happened. Survival Code is simply something that did happen in Spain a few years earlier and what the computer was doing in Project Sahara was happening by more conventional means anyway. The series was designed to be a scientific detective series. Each week, the team would be presented with an effect. The cause was initially misdiagnosed either as something already known in the sphere of life such as drugs, food poisoning, suicide, and so on. As soon as one of the Doomwatch team gets interested and digs a little bit deeper, they discover the reason - sloppy lab practises, a combination of unique circumstances - which may not remain that unique for long, or deliberate acts of manipulation. Our superb triumvirate of Quist, Ridge and Wren, each with their own well defined prejudices, attitudes and beliefs, will charge in on behalf of the public good and the planet, acting, as Philip Purser said in the Daily Telegraph, almost like an unofficial police force.

When will you people learn not to interfere? by Michael Seely

And within the group, tensions bubbled and simmered between Quist and Ridge, occasionally coming out in explosions - usually when Davis and Pedler wrote it. It was exciting stuff. Doomwatch, although ostensibly an inside organisation, was always on the outside and had to fight hard to be taken seriously against the vested interests of government, big business and, sometimes, us. It culminates in the biggest threat of all - the threat of a nuclear explosion, and the death of the heart throb Toby Wren at the last moment. And it was a huge success with the public. For those of us who caught up with it over the years (normally following a diet of Doctor Who and wanting to explore richer areas of television) as wobbly, blurry pirated videos, it captured the imagination. It even influenced some of us... But like all successes, it gains becomes a target for those looking for flaws, especially by those for whom it is not really their cup of tea. Complaints about sexism, implausibility, and a few harsh words on characterisations could be heard. John Ridge a scientist? In those trousers?? Producer Terence Dudley's main conflict with Pedler and Davis was over characterisation and story telling. He is on record in The Stage, promoting the launch of Survivors in 1975, as saying that he believes drama should have a point, He was currently in another conflict, this time with that series' creator - Terry Nation. 'Terry Nation... is always quoting Sam Goldwyn's dictum that 'messages are for Western Union,' but I've always liked drama that has something to say. Doomwatch may have added a new word to the language, but also it did make a point.' But he clashed with the force of Kit Pedler's 'message' 'Dr Pedler,' remembered Dudley in an interview given in the mid 1980s finally published in Talkback, 'was, in my view, a great man with a gut mission in life, which I admired and respected. Unfortunately, he was so obsessive about 'the message' of the series that he was convinced all the villains should be despised as fools or rogues, and I felt that to fall in with this view would depreciate the format. Aunt Sallies don't make for much opposition, and drama is conflict; conflict of ideas, conflict of opinions, conflict of emotions; conflict of interests.' Dudley does have a point to a degree, that some of the 'villains' of the first series do seem a tad two dimensional - Mitchell from Train and DeTrain, Falken from Hear No Evil, Smithson from The Battery People, or Shipton from The Devil's Sweets, but we do not need to know their backgrounds or their family lives; and give big long speeches. Their motivations are quite, quite clear. And they are villains of a type. They knew what they were doing was wrong - maybe - but justifiable within their own worlds. Whereas

stories like The Red Sky, The Plastic Eaters, Friday's Child have no clear 'baddies', just cover ups and refusals to face the facts. And in Friday's Child – to save a precious life. Our scientific detectives confront the baddies and sometimes make a difference, although not every time. In another interview, this time with the New Scientist during the transmission of the second series, Dudley was certainly concerned by accusations 'cardboard characterisation of which some critics have complained, (and) wants to emphasise human reactions to catastrophe a bit more and develop conflict among his characters,' the magazine reported. Even Kit Pedler, earlier in the series to the same publication a few months earlier ,' agrees that the characters don’t behave like real scientists—the John Ridge character, for instance, “is a sub-James Bond type who wouldn’t last live minute in a laboratory”-but contends that the programme doesn’t set out to convince scientists, who make up only a tiny proportion of the audience. In any case, the constraints of producing a popular TV series mean that the fictional Doomwatch. “can’t, really bear a strict, rigorous relationship with what is needed in real life.” For the second series, Dudley's desire for what he saw as better characterisation (and he himself was a superb writer), meant the building up of the secondary characters to the degree where they begin to dominate any given episode, which made for a lack of time for the regulars, and one who certainly felt that, according to director Darrol Blake, was Simon Oates, who saw Ridge becoming more and more a man in loud shirts, leaning up against a filing cabinet - which does indeed some up quite a few second series episodes! After the cathartic eruptions of You Killed Toby Wren, a marvellous episode, there was simply nowhere else for the Quist / Ridge antagonism to go. The boil was lanced too soon, and there was nothing to replace it with. The subsequent Wren replacements seemed to be designed to prevent another heart throb from being created! Geoff Hardcastle has two episodes in which to establish himself, and then vanishes for another two and only reappears half way through the fifth! By the time he actually has an attitude or an opinion to express, too late - it's the last episode! He spent a lot of his time in Ridge's shadow. Fay Chantry does a bit better and only misses one episode out of a run of ten, but as a character fails to make a huge impression. She is just so darn nice! With a larger regular cast who pop in and out to fulfil the minimum number of episodes their contract demands, they are no longer appear central to the investigations Doomwatch get involved in. Thus the gap left by the absence of Toby Wren is filled with guest characters, some more interesting than others. For the second series, you had your Nigel Warings, Isaac Lucases, Oscar Franklins. and MacArthurs... Some of these characters were rather good. The growling, angry and bitter husband and wife team Griffiths was a fascinating study of how a scientist wants to achive a success, no matter how many times he has been knocked back, and fails yet again – and dies! During the second series, something fundamental happens to the Doomwatch story telling, although judging by the production order, this happened very early on. Action, shock horror moments, adventure and discovery were gradually phased out. The threats from unchecked science creating exciting, novel and lethal side effects were on the way out. By the third series, the unique 'I would never have thought of that' ideas were gone. I've just made the same point three times. Bit like Season three

itself! The menaces of Pedler and Davis were being replaced with the more fashionable views of the social effects of herding people into blocks of flats or the economic side effects of fighting pollution, or the dangers of jet lag manipulating our erudite ministers... Doomwatch stopped discovering dangers, instead it ruminated on topical issues like population and 'ordinary' pollution. Scientists were approached at the beginning of the production of the third series to be asked what frightened them? Judging by some of the eleven episodes out of a planned thirteen which followed, nothing terribly exciting or original. Only Flood stands out with a premise very plausible and quite frightening, and not just if you were a Londoner... It was the lack of frights,(Doomwatch was once called Doctor Who for grown ups), scientific discipline, and anything approaching adventure, that the programme became criticised for in 1972 especially by the younger readers of the New Scientist who remembered the first series as being a wholesale slaughterer of populations!. A review of Fire and Brimstone in the papers at the time expressed surprise that the plot was more about 'Will they find the last phial of anthrax, hidden by Ridge?' rather than the nature of biological weapons. Say Knife, Fat Man is a very similar episode dealing with the theft of plutonium, but is also more concerned with the recovery and does not give us a Quist / Survival code frisson of horror. Waiting for a Knighthood gives us a mad vicar collapsing during a sermon (the more you think about it, the more this seems like a dig towards Dr. Pedler!) before the episode becomes a cigar smoking series of debates and places to impart the fruits of Dudley's research before it becomes yet another police investigation. Enquiry, a superior script, is that, an enquiry into how a military researcher became a victim of a nerve gas they were developing. What was his motive? Accidental, deliberate or self induced? Crime investigation had been an element in episodes such as Friday's Child and Burial At Sea, integral to the initial misunderstanding of their respective plots. But in season three, some episodes became mundane crime stories where Doomwatch sit back and mutter to themselves whilst the police investigate a missing child, hunt down that last phial, and sweat out a hostage situation, In The



When will you people learn not to interfere? by Michael Seely

Killer Dolphins, the plot becomes embroiled into espionage as the hunt for secret military dolphin training takes a blind alley. Dudley's desire for greater characterisation lead to lots and lots of debate with nothing terribly exciting going on. The angst of a Catholic contraceptive designer having to allow for sex to be enjoyable in order to reduce the world's population figures may be of some inordinate interest, but fifty minutes of it is a bit too much, especially when nothing much else is going on... Whereas a Gerry Davis edited script made points succinctly and got to the point better, later scripts drew out the moral and philosophical issues to a much greater, and sometimes, tedious level. Spectre At The Feast was a first series episode written by Terence Dudley and you can see his preferred style of drama, merging with the scientific detective series quite successfully. He has his debates between the protagonists, a few exciting moments (hallucinations once again) and a cracking Agatha Christie style summing up of events at the end of the story by Quist. In other words, the series had changed direction. Terence Dudley liked each series of whatever he worked on to advance. He would change the direction of Survivors twice in its three season run, and pushed The Regiment to its doom. In third series Doomwatch, he used the need to write out Ridge as a regular to reinvent what Doomwatch was as a department and its relationship not only to Whitehall, but also the world, something first developed in Dudley controlled episodes of the second series. In other words, we were seeing Doomwatch as a victor, with the Minister championing Doomwatch, using it to fight his battles (Flood, Enquiry), even expressing sympathy with Ridge's actions, and defending its continued existence in Cause of Death (or the episode where Quist gets a cold). There's no more breaking and entering, and dodgy MI6 actions from Ridge. We now have Commander Stafford to talk to his intelligence chums from time to time. There's no big clashes inside the team – Bradley occasionally gets to have a moment of attitude, old fashioned or otherwise, Anne Tarrant, Quist's wife (although originally she was going to be his live in partner), gets passionate over several issues, but that's about it. Certainly, the third series is not as fresh as the first. There was no way it could have been, and Terence Dudley would not have allowed all three series to 'feel' the same. But certainly the essence of what made this series one of the greatest ever made was lost to the demands of conventional drama making. But this does not make the third series bad in any shape or form. Just ordinary top notch drama. And wouldn't we move heaven and earth to be able to see one of these episodes and be proved wrong?

Martin Worth The Doomwatch scribe was interviewed in 2001 by Tony Darbyshire

“I’m finished with Doomwatch and everything it stands for. No, I mean finished. Pollution... desecration of the environment ...despoiling of nature... I really wonder if any of it matters. Maybe it’s a hopeless bloody world because it’s inhabited by hopeless bloody people.” Dr. John Ridge

Lookout for Issue 2 of the DOOMWATCH FANZINE...



Martin, how did you get into script-writing? “Since childhood, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I sold two or three radio plays in my early twenties while working as a journalist. ITV started in 1956 and soon one of those companies, Associated Rediffusion (AR) advertised for ‘retainer trainee writers’. I sent them two unfinished TV plays, just the Martin Worth Image ©BBC first ten minutes of each, pretending this was merely to save them the bother of reading a whole script when in fact ten minutes was all I had written and I had no idea how either play would end. They were sufficiently impressed (it’s so easy to write a good opening if you’re not bothered as to what will happen next) to give me a traineeship. At AR six of us chosen ones spent most of our time trying to adapt various old theatre plays for TV. I did a version of a football comedy called Shooting Star which AR later sold to Granada – for whom I did more work on it with director Silvio Narizzano, and it became the first ever drama produced by Granada. At about the same time I sold two original half-hour TV plays - one to the American series Douglas Fairbanks Presents, for which I was paid £250, and the other to BBC TV from whom I got £31.50 (a guinea a minute at the time being the going rate). The retainer writer scheme was soon abolished by AR and I found myself forced to freelance. After being called back to AR as script editor for their first Schools programmes, I continued to write in my spare time for different TV drama series and, in 1963, having established myself, became a full-time freelance writer.” How did you come to Doomwatch? “As an established drama series writer, I was simply asked one day by Gerry Davis, the script editor and joint creator if I’d write a script from someone else’s story. It was one he had devised himself. I happily agreed, discussed and much altered the story. The final script was produced under the title Invasion.” The series required a very precise type of story. Where did the plot ideas come from and how much research did you do? “It was easy to find ideas for Doomwatch, today it would be even easier. Always in the press there were references to possible threats to the environment, whether from the disposal of nuclear waste, use of insecticides, the irresponsibility of big businesses, biological warfare experiments, etc. I and other writers just collected them. New Scientist was always a good source, and so of course was Kit Pedler who had devised the series, a man of science who had this deep concern for the planet. How much research did you do? “I personally enjoyed research hugely. Once I’d put up on idea and the broad storyline was approved, I got on at once to the technical expert in this field (usually someone recommended by Kit). Scientists loved the series since it gave them a chance to try and put over to the layman in popular terms what hitherto they could only express to each other. I remember a Professor of Nuclear Physics at Imperial College vividly demonstrating to me how exactly an able student could make a small atom bomb, given the chance to acquire a little nugget of Plutonium first (the ease of doing which was very much part of the story).” How exactly did you become the uncredited script editor? “Simply because the producer Terry Dudley and editor/creators Davis and Pedler were by then not even on speaking terms. Head of Series, Andrew Osborn, sent for me because it seemed I was the only writer whose scripts for the series had been liked equally by both sides. So the unashamedly appointed me to keep the peace between them and somehow find a way forward – if only to stop the habit that each had got into of unilaterally commissioning scripts that the other side then refused to have anything to do with! So as not to offend Gerry Davis, it was important I had no credit as a script editor; and I was very happy with anonymity since it meant I could go on writing for other series and for other companies at the same time. I did not even have an office at TV Centre. Each morning I would drop in first on Producer Dudley, who spent the next hour rubbishing that bastard Davis next door, often calling in his secretary to send him a furious memo he dictated to her. When I made my escape, I would then find Gerry Davis hanging about in the corridor knowing exactly who I’d been with and wanting a blow-by-blow on everything that bastard had said to me. This was usually interrupted by Dudley’s secretary (who was also Gerry’s) delivering the memo that had just been dictated to her and having to stay while Davis dictated an equally vitriolic reply. His office and Dudley’s were literally next door to each other.” Kit Pedler told ‘New Scientist’ that he often argued with the production team’s decisions. How vocal were he and Davis in their criticisms? “It infuriated Dudley that Pedler could air his views in ‘New Scientist’ where Dudley had no chance of reply. Basically Pedler’s objection was more interested in making dramatic programmes than properly airing the issues at stake. And he was right. It’s what made Dudley a good producer and the series itself so popular. Nevertheless, theirs was really more a clash of personalities than any difference in attitude to the subject.” Was the second series actually in front of the cameras when Davis and Pedler left? How did the cast and crew react to their jumping ship? “Certainly Davis and Pedler were still around during the second series when I was working behind the scenes (and reporting regularly on the fray to Andrew Osborn); neither of them left until the start of series three. Frankly, I doubt if the crew even noticed, let alone cared, and the leading actors knew which side their bread was buttered so were careful not to talk out of turn to Dudley, whatever they may have said to Pedler privately.” Did you stay on as script editor for the final season? Anna Kaliski was credited as script consultant. “I certainly stayed on for a whole series after Gerry had gone, coming into my own at last as script editor. But it was not in my interest to have a credit on the screen, so Anna Kaliski (originally on the payroll as a researcher) took the title of script consultant. The third season was very different. It wad Dudley’s idea to make the Minister a regular and introduce Stafford as a kind of government mole. Dudley was always more interested by them (and I was too, I think) in the way government would try to muzzle and manipulate the organisation, this itself being the biggest environmental threat of all.” Do you think Doomwatch still stands up well today? “More than ever. Many of the issues we faced then are still around now in an even more alarming form. The reason it might not work so well now is for that very reason; its subject matter is too close to home. In the 70s it was mainly enjoyed as exciting science fiction: it couldn’t possibly really happen, of course not.”