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Jon Pertwee
Inferno
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Synopsis


Benton Turning Primordial
Benton Turning Primordial
 The Doctor and UNIT are attached to the Inferno project - a tap-secret drilling operation, which aims to penetrate the Earth’s crust and release a major new source of energy.

 When a toxic liquid leaks from the pipes, the project is thrown into crisis, and when The Doctor finds himself thrown into a parallel universe, the true danger that faces Earth is revealed…

Source: BBC DVD


General Information

Season: Seven
Production Code: DDD
Story Number: 54
Episode Numbers:272 - 278
Number of Episodes: 7
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Working Titles:"The Mo-Hole Project", "Operation: Mole-Bore", "The Mole-Bore" and "Project Inferno"
Production Dates: March - May 1970
Broadcast Started: 09 May 1970
Broadcast Finished: 20 June 1970
Colour Status: Colour and B&W
Studio: Ealing Television Film Studios and BBC Television Centre (TC3 and TC6)
Location: Berry Wiggins and Co Ltd (Strood, Kent).
Writer:Don Houghton
Directors:Douglas Camfield and Barry Letts (Studio recordings for episodes 3 to 7)
Producer:Barry Letts
Script Editor:Terrance Dicks
Editor:Martyn Day
Production Assistant:Chris D'Oyly John
Assistant Floor Manager:Sue Hedden
Designer:Jeremy Davies
Costume Designer:Christine Rawlins
Make-Up Designer:Marion Richards
Cameraman:Fred Hamilton
Incidental Music:From Stock
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Brian Hodgson
Studio Sounds:John Staple
Lighting:John Green
Visual Effects:Len Hutton
Title Sequence:Bernard Lodge and Ben Palmer
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Delia Derbyshire
Stunts/Action By: HAVOC
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Jon Pertwee (The Third Doctor)
Number of Companions: 3The Companions: Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier), John Levene (Sergeant Benton) and Caroline John (Liz Shaw) (Departs) Additional Cast: Olaf Pooley (Stahlman), Christopher Benjamin (Sir Keith Gold), Derek Newark (Greg Sutton), Sheila Dunn (Petra Williams), David Simeon (Private Latimer), Derek Ware (Private Wyatt), Walter Randall (Harry Slocum), Ian Fairbairn (Bromley), Roy Scammell (RSF Sentry), Keith James (Patterson), Dave Carter (Primord), Pat Gorman (Primord), Philip Ryan (Primord), Peter Thompson (Primord), Walter Henry (Primord)Setting: Earth (1970s) and a Parallel Earth Villains:Primords and Professor Stahlman

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
272Episode 109 May 197023'21"5.7PAL D3 colour restoration and 16mm B&W telerecording
273Episode 216 May 197022'04"5.9PAL D3 colour restoration and 16mm B&W telerecording
274Episode 323 May 197024'34"4.8PAL D3 colour restoration and 16mm B&W telerecording
275Episode 430 May 197024'57"6.0PAL D3 colour restoration and 16mm B&W telerecording
276Episode 506 June 197023'42"5.4PAL D3 colour restoration and 16mm B&W telerecording
277Episode 613 June 197023'32"6.7PAL D3 colour restoration and 16mm B&W telerecording
278Episode 720 June 197024'33"5.5PAL D3 colour restoration and 16mm B&W telerecording

Total Duration 2 Hours 47 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 5.7
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)80.96%  (Position = 14 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2003)810 Points (Position = 9 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)81.76% Higher (Position = 32 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)85.07% Higher (Position = 18 out of 241)


Archives


 All seven episodes exist in colour as PAL D3 restorations and the original 16mm Black and White telerecordings.



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Notes


This story is considered by many fans to be one of the best stories of the Third Doctor era.

"Inferno" is Caroline John's last regular story as Liz Shaw. She and the producers mutually agreed to her departure after the filming of this story, and so no departure scene could be recorded. This is the first time in the show this occurred.

In the next story ("Terror of the Autons", at the start of Season Eight) it is merely mentioned that Liz went back to Cambridge. The actual circumstances surrounding her departure from UNIT are told in the Virgin Books' The Missing Adventures novel "The Scales of Injustice" by Gary Russell.

This though is not Caroline John's last involvement in the show. She played the part of Liz Shaw (albeit as an illusory image) in the 1983 Twentieth Anniversary Special "The Five Doctors" and Liz is one of many companions who appeared in the Thirtieth-Anniversary Children In Need special "Dimensions in Time", in 1993. She also headlines the direct-to-video P.R.O.B.E. adventures. She properly returned to the role of Liz in the Big Finish Productions audio story "The Blue Tooth", which takes place just after "Inferno". Caroline John also starred as Madam Salvador in the Seventh Doctor Big Finish Productions audio story "Dust Breeding".

Caroline John has stated that she enjoyed playing the role of Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw as it was fun playing 'baddie' Liz. She also says she hated doing the scenes when she was playing the 'goodie' version because it was boring compared to being an evil character. She was particularly upset though about the scene in which Shaw shoots Brigade Leader Lethbridge-Stewart, as she was pregnant at the time. As a result, the scene was recorded with the weapon fired from out-of-shot, after which Shaw was shown returning the gun to her holster.

Christopher Benjamin, who plays Sir Keith Gold, also played Henry Gordon Jago in the Fourth Doctor story "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" and Colonel Hugh Curbishley in the Tenth Doctor story "The Unicorn and the Wasp".

The role of Petra was given to Sheila Dunn after Kate O'Mara was not available to play the part. Kate O'Mara would, years later, be cast as the Rani, a renegade Time Lord. Sheila Dunn was the wife of this story's director, Douglas Camfield.

The working title for this story included: "The Mo-Hole Project" - after the real-life Project Mohole.

As had been done to a more limited extent on "Doctor Who and the Silurians" earlier in the season, Producer Barry Letts decided to experiment with the recording schedule for "Inferno". Normally, there was one recording day for Doctor Who each week, during which one episode would be recorded. However, Barry Letts decided again that it would be more efficient to record two episodes over two consecutive days on a biweekly basis. This way, sets could be left up overnight, reducing the wear and tear which came from having them taken down and set back up every week. As such this story was made in four distinct recording sessions rather than seven.

After the original director, Douglas Camfield, fell ill, Producer Barry Letts elected to direct the studio blocks for episodes 3-7 himself. As BBC regulations at the time prevented any person from being credited for more than one production role, Douglas Camfield was credited as directing the whole story.

The opening credits for this story were unusual in that following the opening title sequence the story’s title, writer's credit and episode number captions are faded up and focused over a special stock footage montage of volcanic eruptions with no music.

Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John were credited in episode 5 as "Brigade Leader Lethbridge Stewart" and "Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw".

This story marks the first time a Doctor Who story is set in a parallel universe where it is implied that the royal family were executed. The Brigade Leader speaks of the 'Defence of the Republic Act, 1943' and the Party's slogan is 'Unity is Strength'.

The Tenth Doctor also travels to a parallel universe where Great Britain has a president, in the 2006 Cybermen story "Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel". This is not the same parallel universe as its president appears to be in place of a prime minister the Royal cypher of Queen Elizabeth II is visible on the police helmets.

In the parallel world, the name tag on Professor Stahlman's uniform reads ‘Stahlmann’, despite the credits for episode 5 spelling his name as ‘Stahlman’, like his non-fascist counterpart. It is unclear whether the name tag is in error, the credits are in error or was done intentionally as an indication of a further difference between the two universes.

Fan speculation, carried forward in comic strips and original novels, suggest that the dictator may be the parallel version of The Doctor. The Virgin Books' The New Adventures novel "Timewyrm: Revelation" by Paul Cornell states that the dictator was one of the alternative regenerations the Time Lords offered The Doctor in "The War Games".

The rifles used by the UNIT troops in the alternative universe are Soviet Simonov SKSs (forerunners of the Kalashnikov AK-47).

During the scenes set on the parallel Earth, images (supposedly) of the UK's dictatorial leader are seen on posters. The image used is that of Visual Effects Designer Jack Kine, in homage to the 1954 BBC adaptation of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" where the face of Big Brother was Head of Television Design Roy Oxley (Jack Kine had worked on the visual effects for that production).

Bessie travels with The Doctor and the TARDIS console into the parallel universe, despite the fact that it is ten feet away from them - It seems that only those elements that don't already exist on the fascist Earth are transported.

This story marks the last appearance of the original TARDIS console, which had been used on the show since the very first story, " An Unearthly Child". The story shows it removed from the TARDIS and malfunctioning badly.

The Doctor mentions on two occasions that he and The Brigadier had been together for years, although in real life they had been depicted previously together for only one season plus two Second Doctor stories.

"Inferno" has long been the subject of a myth that it was extended with the entire ‘parallel universe’ scenario being added to fill it out to seven episodes. This, however, is untrue, as the only aspect added to the original story outline was the inclusion of the Primord creatures.

The mutant creatures were never actually called Primords in the story, although they were credited as such in the closing credits of the episodes in which they appear and in the publicity material for this story.

Primords were humans mutated by slime produced as a by product of Project Inferno. In some circumstances, the infection could be transmitted if a Primord touched a human and heat would cause the transformation to progress at a more rapid pace. Primords were resistant to gunfire. Their known weaknesses were falls from a great height and rapid application of cold, such as from a fire extinguisher. The degree of intelligence displayed by the Primords was variable; they acted primarily on instinct, but displayed signs of organisation and tactics. They made a high-pitched, screeching sound, which The Doctor claimed that he had heard before during the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. This could imply that he had encountered (or at least heard of) the creatures before. In the 2005 Ninth Doctor story "Rose" a sketch that washed up on the shores of Sumatra following the eruption was seen, depicting the Ninth Doctor in front of a volcano.

Derek Ware did not actually perform the scene where the mutated RSF Private Wyatt is shot and falls to his death from the top of one of the cooling towers, in case he was injured, as he was also needed for studio recording. His place was taken by Roy Scammell, who strangely also played the RSF sentry who fires the fatal shot. Derek Ware also stated in an interview that Roy Scammell had already signed the contract to do the fall before Ware had been cast as Private Wyatt. At the time it was filmed, the fall was the highest fall ever performed by a British stuntman.

Interestingly this story takes place over five days. However, The Doctor is missing for nearly 48 hours from our world - but only 24 hours seem to pass on the parallel Earth according to the penetration countdown.

The BBC Books The Past Doctors Stories sequel to this story, "The Face of the Enemy" by David A. McIntee, later revealed that despite The Doctor's assumption, the parallel Earth had in fact not disintegrated, but the surface had been devastated beyond recovery. It also implied that many survivors of the disaster had since become Primords.

All seven episodes exist as both 16mm black & white telerecordings, as recovered from BBC Enterprises in 1978, and PAL conversions of NTSC 2" colour videotape as recovered from TV Ontario in Canada in 1985. However, due to the complexities of conversion, the original conversions to 625-line PAL left the picture looking a little blurred and faded when the story was released on VHS in May 1994. When Inferno was released on DVD, in 2006, the picture quality had been markedly enhanced through the use of the "Reverse Standards Conversion" procedure that had previously been used with great success on "The Claws of Axos".

The Canadian videotapes include an additional scene in Episode 5 that was not originally transmitted in the UK, but was retained for overseas screening. Set in the Brigade Leader's office where the survivors listen to a radio broadcast done by Jon Pertwee in the style of Lord Haw Haw, the scene was cut because Jon Pertwee's voice was considered to be too identifiable. It is also interesting to note that the radio announcer names the area where the Inferno project is taking place as being Eastchester; the name is not mentioned anywhere else in the story. The scene was included as an extra on the DVD release, with the episode itself presented exactly as originally transmitted.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first Doctor Who story to be set in a parallel universe.

 The first time The Doctor is seen to use Venusian Karate.

 The first Doctor Who story to be written by Don Houghton.


The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 Caroline John's last story as regular companion Liz Shaw.

 The last story of Season Seven.

 The last appearance of the original TARDIS console.

 Marion Richards' last involvement in the show as Makeup Artist.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
The Doctor in Bessie
The Doctor in Bessie

UNIT have been tasked to provide security cover at an experimental drilling project designed to penetrate the Earth's crust and release a previously-untapped source of energy, named Stahlman's Gas after its discoverer, Professor Stahlman. While there The Brigadier and UNIT find themselves carrying out an investigate after one of the maintenance technicians starts to act strangely and then kills another member of the drilling team.

The Doctor finds himself an unwanted observer by Professor Stahlman who dismisses the concerns of the project's Executive Director Sir Keith Gold and exceeds all safety margins in order to expedite the drilling. Professor Stahlman is more concerned in trying to ensure that nothing delays the moment when the drill penetrates the Earth's crust thus releasing pockets of the newly discovered Stahlman's Gas. So concerned is Sir Keith Gold he has called in Greg Sutton - a drilling expert from Kuwait - to seek his advice. But this added intrusion makes Professor Stahlman even more frustrated at the continued interference to ‘his’ project.

The Doctor, though is more interested in using the project's nuclear generator to carry out some experiments with the TARDIS console in an attempt in getting his time machine working again after the Time Lords took the ability to pilot it away from him as part of his imposed exile on Earth. However, at a critical moment while carrying out a test, the power supply suddenly increases – due to a technician called Slocum, who is turning into some form of sub-human primordial monster, attacks the base's power room and increases the output level. Due to the sudden surge of energy and The Doctor and the TARDIS console vanish. They reappear moments later when Liz Shaw manages to cut the power.

Liz Shaw
Liz Shaw

The Doctor heads for the drill-head control centre to find out what caused the power surge. On his way there he spots one of the technicians on top of one of the gasometers. The Doctor discovers that the technician is turning into the same sort of primordial creature. The technician tries to attack The Doctor but instead topples from a gantry to his death.

Back at the drill-head a strange green slime is discovered seeping out of an output pipe. A sample is collected so it can be tested. However, Professor Stahlman picks up the vial just as it is about to crack, and he gets some of the contents on his hand. With the computer warning that drilling must be stopped immediately, Professor Stahlman claims its announcement is inaccurate and that the drilling rate must be increased. Those around him have no choice but to follow his commands even though Professor Stahlman is no longer quite himself – due to the infection spreading up his arm. Professor Stahlman‘s continued refusal to listen to the warnings from the computer and those around him prompts Sir Keith Gold to travel to London to get authority to close down the project.

Professor Stahlman
Professor Stahlman

Meanwhile back at the workshop, where The Doctor is carrying out his experiments on the TARDIS console, The Doctor makes preparations for another test run. After being sent on an errand Liz realises that she has been tricked by The Doctor to prevent her from stopping him. Liz and The Brigadier hurry back to The Doctor’s workshop but arrive to late as The Doctor, the console and his car Bessie vanish into thin air...

The Doctor wakes up, apparently in his workshop. However, when outside he discovers that not all is well. After being chased and shot at by troops he finds himself being arrested by someone who appears to be Liz Shaw but is instead a look-a-like who calls herself Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw. The Doctor is accused of being a spy and is integrated before being brought before Brigade Leader Lethbridge-Stewart, a sinister man with an eyepatch. The Doctor realises he has slipped sideways into a parallel world to the Republic of Great Britain which is being run by a fascist regime. Here, he discovers that the same project is being carried out and that Director Stahlmann is as pig-headed as his counterpart. He also discovers that Sir Keith Gold was killed in a car crash while returning from London with orders to stop the project.

As alarms start to ring out The Doctor realises that he has arrived at a point where the Inferno project has progressed further in this reality and that there is just a few hours remaining before penetration. He appeals to everyone to stop the drilling, but is ignored and is locked up in a cell next to another containing an infected technician who awakens and tries to kill The Doctor. He manages to escape and arrives in the main control room just as penetration takes place. As earthquakes rock the centre they are forced out of the drill-head area by the heat and increased flow of green slime. But Director Stahlmann stays behind and along with his technicians they become infected by the green slime, turning them into hideous primordial creatures. A battle then follows in which The Doctor discovers that fire extinguishers make a good weapon against the creatures. He also realises that this world is doomed. He pleads to be allowed to return to his universe so that he can at least try and save it. To achieve this he demonstrates the TARDIS console for Brigade Leader Lethbridge-Stewart and Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw. The Doctor though finds himself caught in a dilemma when Brigade Leader Lethbridge-Stewart insists that The Doctor take them with him.

Professor Stahlman, Petra and Sir Keith
Professor Stahlman, Petra and Sir Keith

As Director Stahlmann and the infected technicians emerge from the drill head and as a tide of lava approaches the workshop, Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw realises her world is doomed and so helps The Doctor, to escape back to his own universe, by shooting Brigade Leader Lethbridge-Stewart when he tries to stop The Doctor.

Back in our universe The Doctor is discovered by Liz. But he seems to be in some sort or coma. The Doctor though is able to mutter to Liz to reverse all the systems. The Doctor eventually recovers and finds that Sir Keith Gold is not dead. As events in this world are different The Doctor realises it can be saved. He hurries to the drill head and tries to warn of impending disaster. At first he is disbelieved and Sir Keith Gold struggles with the decision to order a shutdown. But The Doctor’s warnings words are borne out when Professor Stahlman’s infection is revealed. As he is eventually transformed into one of the primordial creatures, The Doctor, aided by consultant Greg Sutton, kills Professor Stahlman with ice-cold blasts from fire extinguishers. With seconds to go, Sir Keith Gold orders that the countdown be aborted so stopping the drill and saving our version of the world from the same fate that befell the parallel version.

 
Brigade Leader Lethbridge Stewart
Brigade Leader Lethbridge Stewart
Platoon Under Leader Benton
Platoon Under Leader Benton
Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw
Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw
The Doctor Meets Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw
The Doctor Meets Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw
 
Interrogation
Interrogation
Brigade Leader Lethbridge Stewart
Brigade Leader Lethbridge Stewart
Benton Turning Primordial
Benton Turning Primordial
Primords
Primords




Quote of the Story


 'Mind you, I'm not wild about computers myself, but they are a tool. If you have a tool, it's stupid not to use it.'

The Doctor



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
VHS
The Pertwee YearsMarch 1992BBCV 4756PhotoIncludes episode 7 Introduced by Jon Pertwee
Audio
CD
Doctor Who - Earthshock - Classic Music From The BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume 11992FLMCD 709Alister PearsonMusic score
Video
VHS
InfernoMay 1994BBCV 5269Colin HowardDouble cassette release Includes an additional scene in episode 5 not included in original transmission
Audio
CD
Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume Two - New Beginnings 1970-1980May 2005WMSF 6024-2Music and sound effects
Video
DVD
InfernoJune 2006BBCDVD 1802Photo-montage
Video
DVD
InfernoNovember 2006BBCDVD 1802Photo-montagePart of "The Third Doctor" box set (BBCDVD 2262) Exclusive to Amazon
Video
DVD
InfernoMay 2013BBCDVD 3671Photo-montageSpecial Edition


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
InfernoOctober 1984Target No. 89Terrance DicksNick SpenderISBN: 0-426-19617-1
Novel
Novel
Inferno1985Target No. 89Terrance DicksBook: Nick Spender
Box: Graham Potts
Re-released as part of The Seventh Doctor Who Gift Set
ISBN: 0-426-20206-6
CD
CD
InfernoApril 2011Target No. 89Terrance DicksNick SpenderAudio version of the Target Novel read by Caroline John (Liz Shaw).
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (An Adventure in Space and Time)Issue 54
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 114 (Released: July 1986)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 305 (Released: June 2001)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 324 (Released: December 2002)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 325 (Released: January 2003)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 436 (Released: July 2011)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 44 (Released: September 2010)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions

 
Jon Pertwee
The Third Doctor

   

Nicholas Courtney
The Brigadier
John Levene
Sergeant Benton
Caroline John
Liz Shaw
   




On Release

Pertwee Years VHS Video Cover
Pertwee Years VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Doctor Who - Earthshock CD Cover
Doctor Who - Earthshock CD Cover

Silva Screen
AUDIO
VHS Video Cover
VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Audio - Volume 2: New Beginnings
Audio - Volume 2: New Beginnings

BBC
AUDIO
   
DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Third Doctor DVD Box Set
Third Doctor DVD Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Special Edition DVD Cover
Special Edition DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO



In Print

Target Book Cover
Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
The Seventh Doctor Who Gift Set
The Seventh Doctor Who Gift Set

Target
NOVEL
Target Audio CD Cover
Target Audio CD Cover

BBC
CD
   


Magazines

Doctor Who CMS Magazine (An Adventure in Space and Time): Issue 54
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (An Adventure in Space and Time): Issue 54

CMS
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 114
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 114

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 305
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 305

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 324
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 324

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 325
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 325

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 436
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 436

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 44
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 44

GE Fabbri


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