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6 September 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 249: The Space Pirates, Episode Five

Dear diary,

I can't seem to make my mind up with this story. Every so often, I think I've worked out what's going on, and then I change my mind and they do something different anyway. For much of Episode Two, I kept switching between believing that Milo Clancy was definitely not in league with the pirates, to deciding that he definitely was. Even now, when it seems pretty clear that he's on the side of the law (even if it's grudgingly), I keep expecting them to throw a curve ball and make him the leader of the pirates anyway.

Then you've got Madeleine Issigri and her metal hair (though, for some reason, as I listened through today's episode, I kept picturing her as Miss Kelly from The Seeds of Death). From the moment she first turned up in the story I'd decided that she must be working with the pirates, then I figured that was too easy so started to think otherwise. Now it would appear that she is working with them, but only because she's in too deep now to withdraw. I rather like that. I'd assume that she was in it simply for the money (we've been told several times that the old Argonite mines are all but dried up, meaning that she's head of a dying company), but it turns out that she entered this operation with the best of intentions, when it was a simple 'salvage mission'.

As if that wasn't enough, you've then got the reveal today that her father - a man we've been told is dead - is alive and… he isn't well, but he's a live at least, and locked up in his old study not all that far away. I have to confess that I knew he was going to be turning up at some point, because I read an article in Nothing at the End of the Lane a few days ago all about the costumes in this story, and there's an image of his in there. Still, it makes for a nice reveal, and adds yet another layer to everything.

The problem with all this is that I've sort of lost track of who's chasing who. I know that the pirates are planning to set Clancy, the Doctor, Jamie, Zoe, and Dom all free in the LIZ 79, with the intention of sending it up for the Space Corps to find, but I'm not now sure if the Space Corps are still after Clancy or not. They discuss it a lot today as they try to piece the puzzle all together, but I'm sorry to say that they left me behind somewhere along the route.

One of the things that I am really enjoying about The Space Pirates is that we've got Jack May in as General Hermack. May is often familiar for playing Simms the butler in Adam Adamant Lives!, a series that I've got a lot of love for (indeed, I watched an episode a few months ago during The Tenth Planet to see Patrick Troughton's last acting work before becoming the Doctor. How fitting that May should then turn up in Doctor Who so close to Troughton's departure!), and it's great to see him here. I also didn't realise until today that May was also the voice of Igor in Count Duckula, a series that I was only praising a few weeks ago during The Invasion! It's a small world, British telly, innit?

And I think that's one of the key things about this marathon for me. For man years, my interest in archive television only really stretched as far as Doctor Who. I'd make the occasional excursion into Green Acres, but in terms of British television, it was all about the TARDIS. When I watched an old episode of Doctor Who then, for the most part, the actors were only familiar to me from that story, and nothing else. In some ways, I rather liked that. I quite enjoyed the fact that all of the Doctors were simply the Doctor, for example. I didn't know them as anyone else (though it blew my mind when I realised that Partrick Troughton was the priest in The Omen).

Over the last few years, though, my tastes have changed and I've taken quite a liking to lots of archive telly. I'd say at least half of my shelf is made up of series made before the 1970s. It's meant that as we've gone along, there have been plenty of instances of people turning up in the series that I know better from somewhere else, and I've really enjoyed that. It's not simply confined to the actors, either. Verity Lambert was producer of the previously mentioned Adam Adamant Lives!. Sydney Newman was the creator of The Avengers. Many of the writers have turned up across a great many of these different programmes, and it's been fun to watch their style crop up in all these different formats.

In a little under two weeks, I'll be exploding into colour with Spearhead From Space, and moving onto the 1970s. It's an era of British TV than I'm far less familiar with. Of all the titles on my shelves only three were made in the 1970s - Whodunnit (hosted from Season Two by Jon Pertwee, so there is still at least one connection!), the 1970s volume of Coronation Street, and the Morcambe and Wise box set. I'm hoping to use the marathon as a chance to explore other television as I go along (though I'll probably not be keeping much of a track about it in this blog - you're here to read about my journey through Doctor Who, after all!), but I am going to miss being in an era which I have such a strong love for. It's been an interesting experience, and it's helped to make the marathon all the richer.

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