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Ambassadors Of Death

I've been Ambassadors of Deathing. This is an early Pertwee Doctor Who, and I found it quite splendid. Astronauts who aren't really astronauts, and lots of slightly wobbly SFX killing people willy-nilly with flashes. I do like a good bit of Jon Pertwee. It's funny how different my favourite Doctors are. Hartnell, all deceptively bumbling, with Ian and Barbara to do the energetic stuff for him; Pertwee striding about the place with his cape all a-swirl, never missing the chance to speed around on a motorbike or a helicopter; Davison with his butter-wouldn't-melt approach, all enthusiasm and improvisation; and McGann, switching from joy to broodage in a heartbeat, randomly snogging passersby and actually managing to get a girlfriend. But none of that is anything remotely to do with "Ambassadors Of Death".

It's a good fun adventure, with a very good guest cast. A seven parter, which could sometimes be the downfall of the Pertwee era, as at times you can't help but think that they'd have been better off being just the usual four. This one uses its episodes well though. The story doesn't outstay its welcome, and if anything it could almost use a few extra minutes to stop the ending being so sudden. I imagine that anybody reading this who is remotely interested has already seen it - but just in case, some astronauts turn out not to be astronauts, to the consternation of the British Space Agency (who pays for all this stuff in the Whoniverse?! Britain must have the best economy in the world!), but to the grim joy of psycho renegade General Herne the Hunter Carrington. He wants carte blanche to annihilate all aliens everywhere, and is hoping to manufacture hostilities between humanity and its visitors, in order to trigger a UN-sanctioned aliengeddon. Meanwhile, HAVOC hurl themselves and each other all over the television screen, and lots of stuff goes snap, crackle and pop.

Here, have some pictures:

I particularly like this screencap. It sums up the Pertwee era rather nicely. In one shot, you have the Brig in his uniform; Pertwee bedecked in crushed velvet and chunky jewellery (there's a Jimmy Savile joke there somewhere, but that probably isn't funny anymore); a bloke in a beige suit; and the companion in... that. White wellies, Liz? Really?!

Man-in-a-beige-suit. He's not just a seventies cliche; this is the head of Britain's space programme (I think). He works from a little wobbly desk, and has a lovely speaking voice.

Some astronauts who aren't really. They're actually ambassadors (of death!).

Gratuitous Pertwee (in copious velvet - chunky jewellery not shown).

Liz, in whatever the bally hell that is that she's wearing. I had naively assumed that she'd dress a little more conservatively than Jo Grant, being a serious-minded scientist and all, but no. Despite the show's frequent attempts to pretend that it's set in the future, and despite the writers' insistence that Liz is a proper grown up, like Barbara, she persists in dressing like Jason King's younger sister.


For all the ambassadors-of-deathing, the HAVOC-ing, and the exploding and what-not, what this story is really about though is dodgy fake hair. Seriously, pretty much everybody is festooned with the stuff. It's like the BBC make-up department went mad.

As ever there's Liz in her manic wig (it might just be hair extensions, I don't know. All I know is, it looks like it's made of nylon).

There's the good old Brig, as ever with his licorice all-sort in tow.

There's John Abineri wearing a brilliantly dodgy syrup perched on top of his noggin, which is baffling. He'd been bald for years by this point. Were we not supposed to notice?! Or maybe he thought General Carrington was the dodgy toupee type.

Best of all, though, is this fellow. I can't actually claim to know for certain that this one is fake, but look at that beard! It looks like something that comes with a pair of glasses and a false nose attached, from a kid's dress-up box. Somebody's going to tell me that it's real now, and I shall feel guilty. Briefly. It really is a cracking beard though.

So yeah, that was "Ambassadors Of Death". 1970 was a good year for Who, it seems. Bravo, 1970. Carry on.


( 9 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Mar. 13th, 2016 02:14 am (UTC)
A fun one! :D I love this era of DW even if everyone's hair was frequently dreadful.
Mar. 13th, 2016 05:05 am (UTC)
Clothes, hair... Basically everything in the seventies was dreadful, except for the television! ;) (And the music. And sometimes the cinema).
Mar. 13th, 2016 04:52 am (UTC)
Pertwee strikes me as the MD of a small engineering firm: brisk and efficient and slightly impatient, with a secretary with inadequate shorthand skills trailing behind him. He's a very prosaic Doctor. Also, in the top pic, I thought for a minute that he was doing Riverdance in his velvet suit.

I think those are white patent leather boots. Which were fine in the 70s, I suppose.

Man-in-a-beige-suit is off Crossroads, I remember him. He's probably a bit confused, hence the moody look off into the far distance. He's probably missing his glamorous Crossroads missus, who laid on the panstick with a builder's hod.

The beard is an alien chin-hugger. (Possibly the wig as well.) Obvs explanation, yes?
Mar. 13th, 2016 05:09 am (UTC)
This is clearly the explanation, yes! Why didn't I think of that?

I've never seen "Crossroads", though I have heard many tales of its wondrousness. He doesn't look like he belongs in a tacky motel, I must say. Despite the cheap beige suit, he has a faintly glamorous air about him. I think it's the rather marvellous voice.

You're almost certainly right about the boots. Wellies or not though, they look awfully uncomfortable! Like they've been sprayed on. How she can concentrate both on being a serious-minded UNIT scientist, and on saving the world from aliens and psychopaths, when her legs are about to drop off from lack of circulation, is anybody's guess...
Mar. 13th, 2016 12:03 pm (UTC)
'Rah! I liked Bessie's big button;p

Poor John Abineri forced to wear a progression of dodgy syrups before being allowed on screen and half a stag. Didn't Carrington think he was starting war for the good of the people are something?

A correction: has a lovely slow speaking voice. Ronald Allen loved DW so much he turned up for the next serial. From what I've seen of his appearances in 60's things he mostly suffered having women chucked at him due to looking like a young (tall) Cliff, so I imagine he was grateful to avoid such things in DW! Then in 'Crossroads' he avoid this too because a) only tall women were allowed to go out with David Hunter and b) the actress playing his girlfriend would get hangbagged to death so they didn't last long in the weird globe trotting world of Xrds. I think Sue Lloyd got away with it as all the hangbags were worn out in the East Midlands by the 80's.
Mar. 13th, 2016 05:44 pm (UTC)
Ronald Allen loved DW so much he turned up for the next serial.

You sure? The next serial is "Inferno", and I don't remember him in that. I know he did a Troughton though. It really is a lovely voice. I'm all for regional accents getting more of a look in, but a bit of RP works wonders in the right place. The "Crossroads" women should have been wary though. Voices like that usually belong to evil geniuses.
Mar. 14th, 2016 01:05 pm (UTC)
Yup, he came back to visit the cast even though he didn't appear in the serial!

David Hunter is one of the very few nice male characters in 'Crossroads'. Most of them are vile! He's more in danger from the female characters.
Mar. 14th, 2016 04:34 pm (UTC)
Oh, I see what you mean! That was nice of him. He was one of the select few guest stars not to get horribly killed to death by an iffy monster of course, so maybe that coloured his judgement. :)
Mar. 15th, 2016 01:31 pm (UTC)
One day I will explain things correctly, but not today;S
( 9 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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