Delta and the Bannermen was the third serial of season 24 of Doctor Who. It was the first serial since The Two Doctors to use a three-part format. With Delta, the three-parter would become a standard of the McCoy era.
The season was originally set to end with a six-parter. To save money this was split into a pair of three-part stories to be made by the same production team. Only the TARDIS sequences of Delta were filmed in studio, with the rest on location.
Under the working title Flight of the Chimeron, it was considered possible that the character of Ray in the story would become the new companion, replacing Mel. However, in the event the character of Ace from Ian Briggs's script, Dragonfire, was chosen instead.
Delta was originally to be set in 1957 to tie in with the launch of Sputnik 1; this was changed to '59 as it offered a more rock 'n' roll theme. This allowed for a significantly larger array of music throughout. (INFO: Delta and the Bannermen)
Delta and the Bannermen made use of underlying darkness, a theme that would become more prevalent in the following two seasons as the Cartmel Masterplan came to the fore. The persona of McCoy's Doctor began to develop, with many of his witticisms displayed here. This was the first appearance of the question mark umbrella, McCoy's alternative to the pullover.
A number of recognisable faces appeared in Delta, such as Don Henderson and Hugh Lloyd and perhaps most notably, Ken Dodd. It was originally intended that Sara Griffiths, who portrayed Ray, would become a companion of the Doctor, with Bonnie Langford leaving the show. However, due to filming and airing schedules, Mel would leave in Dragonfire instead. (BBC DVD: Survival) Sophie Aldred auditioned for the part of Ray, but instead took the role of Ace - the Doctor's new companion. (INFO: Delta and the Bannermen)
Boarding a Nostalgia Tours bus, the Doctor and Mel go for a holiday. They will soon learn that their fellow passenger Delta is a Chimeron Queen, fleeing from the Bannermen who wish to make her species extinct. Thus, the time travellers' trip to Shangri-La turns into a battle against genocide...
Part one Edit
On the planet Chumeria, the Chimerons are being killed, the Bannermen gunning them down. Gavrok orders them to take no prisoners. The Chimerons resist, but to no avail. Only Delta and a single male Chimeron are left. They make a break for the Bannerman ship. Gavrok is waiting onboard. He shoots the male and is about to kill Delta when the male shoots Gavrok. Injured, he falls from the craft. Before dying, the male tells Delta to take a mysterious object. Delta takes off in the craft.
The TARDIS lands at toll port G715. The Seventh Doctor and Mel are welcomed by the Tollmaster. They discover they are the ten billionth customers and get free parking and passes for the fabulous 50's tour, a whole week in 1959 Disneyland, Earth, conducted by Nostalgia Tours.
In Wales, two American CIA agents pull up beside a police box. One of them, Jerome Weismuller, takes out a phone and makes a call. He is told by the president's right-hand man to track a new satellite. He tells this to his partner, Hawk.
They learn they will be travelling on a bus that can fly. The Doctor and Mel greet Murray, their pilot, but the Doctor elects to follow in the TARDIS, Mel to travel on the bus. On the Bannerman ship, Delta receives a transmission from Gavrok. Wherever she goes he will follow. He tells her she is the last of her kind. Delta lands at the toll port and boards the bus just as it takes off.
In Wales, the two Americans are attempting to pick up signals from the satellite with no success. Meanwhile, in space, the satellite is released and the bus crashes into it. In Wales the two agents answer the phone and are told the satellite has gone haywire and it will hit Earth near their location.
The Doctor uses the TARDIS to control the bus' descent, encasing it in an anti-gravity spiral. He places it on Earth and lands nearby. The bus' passengers learn they are in Wales at the Shangri-La camp; they are greeted by the camp leader, Burton, who mistakes them for a bus of people who intend to stay there. They decide to stay at the camp until the bus is fixed.
The group are assigned rooms, with Delta and Mel in one. The Doctor and Murray meet Billy, the resident mechanic, who offers to help repair the bus. The trio pull the embedded satellite from a large dent in the bus' front. The Doctor enters the TARDIS and emerges with a Quarb crystal, the only one this side of the Softel Nebula. The crystal is needed to fix the bus. Billy removes the old crystal and the Doctor gives Murray the new one. A friend of Billy's, Rachel Defwydd (known as Ray), arrives. She hands Murray a tool and tells the Doctor she always carries them to be prepared. Murray is installing the crystal when he breaks it. The Doctor tells him he can accelerate growth in the TARDIS' thermo-booster and grow a crystal in twenty-four hours. Ray tells them of a dance later and they agree to attend.
In their room, Delta is frightened by a loud noise. Mel, whom she pulls a gun on, tells her it is the dinner gong. Mel moves to leave. She tells Delta she can be trusted and goes to dinner. Delta opens the mysterious object, revealing a strange-looking sphere within.
At the toll port, the Bannermen are questioning the Tollmaster. He tells them he lost track of the bus after it crashed. Gavrok shoots him. He instructs his men to plot a course for Earth and tells them he wants every informer in the galaxy looking for her.
In the camp, at dinner, Mel sits with the Doctor and informs him of Delta's gun and being edgy. Billy sits with Delta as they eat, showing attraction to her, to Ray's chagrin.
Later, at the Get-to-know-you-dance, the Doctor inspects Billy's stereo. Billy tells him he made it from spare parts from the war. Billy goes on stage and starts singing. Murray and Mel dance and the Doctor talks with Ray, who tells him she has had a crush on Billy since she was a child. Billy sings "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" for Delta; this saddens Ray, who dances with the Doctor instead, much to his confusion.
Outside, Weismuller and Hawk argue over who should leave the tent to blow out the fire. Eventually Hawk goes. The Doctor leaves the dance and Delta leaves soon after. The Doctor follows her. In a linen and blanket storage room, the Doctor finds Ray crying over Billy. A tour passenger and mercenary, Keillor, enters and the Doctor and Ray hide. Keillor uses a radio to contact Gavrok and informs him of Delta's location. He asks for the reward, one million units. He uses the radio to give them a signal to follow. The Doctor sneezes, alerting the mercenary to their presence.
In their room, Delta thanks Mel for being kind to her and tells her that there is something she should know. They turn as the sphere breaks and a green alien emerges. Mel screams. In the storage room the mercenary finds the Doctor and Ray and prepares to kill them, declaring he kills for money and enjoyment; he knows who the Doctor is and takes joy in the prize he will get for taking out the legendary Time Lord.
Part two Edit
Onboard his craft, Gavrok tells the pilot to arm the beacon hunter. He fires it and Keillor is ionised. The blast knocks the Doctor and Ray unconscious. Billy arrives at Delta and Mel's room. He enters to find Delta cradling the green alien. She invites him in.
Goronwy is tending his bees. The two Americans pull up outside and ask him if he has seen any lights in the sky. He tells them lots of times. He says he has seen pulsing lights and shooting stars. They ask if he has seen anything recently. He tells them he will ask his bees. Back at the room, Delta tells Billy everything; the alien is a baby Chimeron and she is a princess. The three leave Mel to sleep. They take a drive on Billy's motorbike, the Vincent.
The Doctor wakes in time to see them driving away. He returns to wake Ray and explains the beacon was detonated by the Bannermen to kill the mercenary. The pair return to find Mel and ask where Billy and Delta have gone, but Mel does not know. He tells her they need to evacuate the camp and Mel agrees to tell Murray to get the tour party out.
Billy and Delta arrive by the river. Delta tells Billy the child will double in size and weight in the next few hours. The Doctor and Ray try to explain the impending attack by the Bannermen to Burton, but he refuses to believe it. He tells the Doctor he will be convinced if he sees the Doctor's spaceship. Mel wakes Murray and informs him of the threat. The Doctor shows Burton his ship and he agrees to the evacuation. Murray tells everyone of the attack and they hurriedly pack to leave. The Doctor goes to check if the crystal is ready.
Burton announces on the speaker-system that all staff will assemble in his office. The Doctor gives Murray the near-finished crystal and tells him to leave with or without him. He leaves with Ray to find Delta. Burton explains the crisis to his staff and tells them to leave.
Billy, Delta and the child are seated by a river. The child makes a ringing noise; Delta tells Billy it is a song and a defence mechanism. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Ray search for them. Back at the camp, Burton assists in the evacuation.
On board his craft, Gavrok regrets destroying the beacon. He instructs his men that a full technology scan must be carried out to find Delta. Hawk is still attempting to find the satellite signal. Ray and the Doctor arrive and enquire if they have seen Delta and Billy. They haven't.
The crystal is ready and Murray installs it. Delta is feeding the child. She tells Billy she needs to get to the brood planet, where a case can be brought against Gavrok and the Bannermen. The Doctor and Ray find them and tell them of the Bannermen coming for her. They leave for the camp as Gavrok finds a high technology source.
Hawk gives up on finding the satellite and they watch the Bannermen landing their craft. The Bannermen take them prisoner. Gavrok leaves two men to guard them. Murray has fuelled up the bus and is ready to leave. He reluctantly agrees to leave Mel to wait for the Doctor. He boards the craft and is about to take off when the Bannermen arrive and shoot it. The passengers are all killed. Gavrok asks Mel if Delta was amongst them and she says yes.
The Bannermen celebrate their victory but then watch as Delta passes by on a motorbike. They fire upon her to no avail. Burton tells Gavrok to keep Mel alive as a hostage; he will use her as bait.
Delta picks up signals from Goronwy's bees telling her to come. Goronwy agrees to shelter Delta and the child. The Doctor borrows Billy's bike and a pillowcase to make a white flag. He rides to where the Bannermen are stationed. They shoot his flag. Outraged, the Doctor demands Mel and Burton be set free. He declares he will testify that he showed some mercy if they do so. Gavrok tells him he will never be brought to trial. The Bannermen release Mel and Burton. As the trio prepare to leave, the Bannermen take aim at them. The Doctor wonders if, actually, he may have gone a little too far...
Part three Edit
The Doctor, Mel and Burton leave on Billy's motorbike, the white flag flying from it. Gavrok fires a flare gun into the sky. The two Bannermen guarding the Americans use a metal bar to chain the pair together, then leave them. Ray arrives and frees them with an Allen key from her bag. The former guards fire a tracker dart at Billy's bike as the Doctor drives it past.
At Goronwy's hives Billy is helping in their car. Goronwy shows them his honey store, containing thousands of jars. Delta tells Billy that soon the child will grow again. She is feeding her Chimeron jelly to speed her growth. Ray brings the two Americans to the house. When no one is looking, Billy takes a packet of the jelly. The Bannermen guards return to find the Americans gone. They report this and the successful tracking of the bike to Gavrok and are ordered to follow the signal.
Gavrok booby traps the Doctor's TARDIS with a sonic cone. The Doctor drives to a field and attaches the tracker to a goat. He drives to Goronwy's house. Back at their craft, the Bannermen prepare to take off. The two guards arrive at Goronwy's house. The Chimeron child grows again and emits a loud, piercing noise that shatters windows and sends the Bannermen into disarray. Delta shoots and kills one; the other escapes. The Bannerman ship lands in the field where the Doctor placed the tracker. The Doctor turns on Goronwy's radio and places a piece of Delta's clothing under the door. They leave.
The Bannermen find the tracker. The guard who escaped reports to Gavrok that they have a hideout in Goronwy's house. They go to the house. Back at his TARDIS, the Doctor notices the booby trap; Hawk doesn't believe the Doctor and declares he will ring the chief. He reaches out and his hand is burnt by the cone. The Bannermen fire upon Goronwy's house. The Doctor declares that if the cone explodes with its full force, it could kill everyone. The Bannermen raid Goronwy's honey store. The jars fall upon them, covering them in honey, and bees attack them. Delta catches Billy eating the jelly, and he tells her that if he is to come with her, he must become a Chimeron. The Bannermen land outside the camp and move in to attack.
The Doctor and Billy install a speaker on the roof of the camp. The young Chimeron sings into the microphone. The Bannermen stumble around and Gavrok falls into the sonic cone to be atomised. Weismuller ties up the Bannermen. Meanwhile Billy has fully changed into a Chimeron. Billy explains that without him changing into a Chimeron the species can't survive.
The three Chimerons leave in their ship with the Bannermen prisoners onboard. The Doctor says that Gavrok absorbed so much energy from the sonic cone it is now out of power. He then thanks Burton for saving Mel's life. Goronwy gives the Doctor a jar of 1928 hibiscus blossom as a parting gift.
As Burton welcomes a new busful of guests, the Doctor gives the Americans their satellite. They thank him, happy that they can report success.
- The Doctor - Sylvester McCoy
- Mel - Bonnie Langford
- Gavrok - Don Henderson
- Delta - Belinda Mayne
- Weismuller - Stubby Kaye
- Hawk - Morgan Deare
- Tollmaster - Ken Dodd
- Burton - Richard Davies
- Billy - David Kinder
- Ray - Sara Griffiths
- Murray - Johnny Dennis
- Keillor - Brian Hibbard
- Chima - Tim Scott
- Bollitt - Anita Graham
- Adlon - Leslie Meadows
- The Lorells - Robin Aspland, Keff McCulloch, Justin Myers, Ralph Salmins
- Vocalists - Tracey Wilson, Jodie Wilson
- Goronwy - Hugh Lloyd
- Vinny - Martyn Geraint
- Callon - Clive Condon
- Arrex - Richard Mitchley
- Young Chimeron - Jessica McGough, Amy Osborn
- Chimeron Princess - Laura Collins, Carley Joseph
Uncredited cast Edit
- Assistant Floor Manager - Christopher Sandeman, Kim Wilcocks
- Costumes - Richard Croft
- Designer - John Asbridge
- Film Cameraman - William Dudman
- Incidental Music - Keff McCulloch
- Make-Up - Gillian Thomas
- OB Cameraman - Alastair Mitchell, Chas Snare
- Producer - John Nathan-Turner
- Production Assistant - Rosemary Parsons
- Production Associate - Anne Faggetter
- Script Editor - Andrew Cartmel
- Special Sounds - Dick Mills
- Stunt Arranger - Roy Scammell
- Theme Arrangement - Keff McCulloch
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Visual Effects - Andy McVean
- The Navarino are squat, wrinkly, purple creatures who can shape change and time travel.
- Chimeron males and infants are green. They were nearly wiped out by the Bannermen.
- Goronwy has several beehives; his bees send out warnings of approaching danger.
- The similarities between the bees and Chimerons is noted by Billy, who starts eating the food for the Chimeron and starts to change.
- The American satellite resembles the Russian satellite, Sputnik.
- The Doctor's TARDIS is equipped with an anti-gravity spiral and a vortex drive.
- The Bannermen use a sonic cone, which the Doctor says will destroy everyone when activated; it is activated but only kills Gavrok.
- The Navarinos use a transformation arch, taking on a human appearance.
- The Doctor plays with an electric guitar.
- Hawk and Weismuller drive a Morris Minor.
- Weismuller can only get the radio programme Housewives' Choice on his audio equipment.
Earth locations Edit
Sport clubs Edit
Books from the real world Edit
Foods and Beverages Edit
Story notes Edit
- Working titles for this story were The Flight of the Chimeron and Flight of the Chimeron. This was the title in place when the story was filmed; the final title wasn't decided upon until the autumn of 1987. The title was a play on the name of a popular musical group of the 1980s, Echo & the Bunnymen.
- The Doctor's question mark umbrella makes its first appearance. McCoy preferred it to the question mark pullover.
- Some long shots of Sylvester McCoy riding a motorbike show him wearing his glasses, which he normally removed before filming took place.
- Keillor, the alien bounty hunter, is never referred to by name in the story's dialogue; his name is given only in the closing credits.
- Although credited on-screen for all three episodes, Tracey and Jodie Wilson (Vocalists) appear on-screen only in part one and are heard only on incidental music tracks in parts two and three.
- Jessica McGough (Young Chimeron) is credited as 'Baby Chimeron' in Radio Times.
- Laura Collins (Chimeron Princess) is credited as 'Young Chimeron' in Radio Times.
- At the time the episode was produced, Bonnie Langford was considering leaving the series midway through the season and Ray was intended to be her replacement. Langford ultimately chose to stay for the complete season and the idea of having Ray join the TARDIS crew was dropped; elements of the character, however, later inspired the creation of Ace, who became Mel's replacement at the end of the series. Coincidentally, Sophie Aldred auditioned for the role of Ray. She did not get the part, but was eventually cast as Ace instead.
- This was the first three-episode story (in the traditional twenty-five-minute episode format) since Planet of Giants in 1964. Each of McCoy's seasons would have two serials of this length.
- This was the first and only classic series story to be extensively produced in Wales. Although The Green Death and The Five Doctors had scenes filmed in Wales, in the case of The Green Death, it was set in Wales as well. When the series returned in 2005, it would be primarily produced in Wales, with a number of its earth-based stories also set there, as well as its spinoffs, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Torchwood had only a very small number of episodes not at least partially set in Wales. As noted below, the revived series even used some of the same locations as this story.
- On several occasions, the Doctor is heard mangling Earth idioms; this aspect of the Doctor's personality was mostly abandoned after this story.
- The final version of the story includes only one brief scene featuring the Doctor inside the TARDIS console room. The first edit of part one, included on the 2009 DVD, includes an additional console room scene with Mel, in which it was revealed the Doctor keeps petty cash in a jar secreted beneath the console. According to the production notes commentary, the original script called for another console room scene with Burton and Ray, but this was cut to avoid bringing the two actors to London to film the scene.
- Lynn Gardner had been cast as Ray, but was injured during rehearsals with the motorbike and had to withdraw. The actress nonetheless received full pay and Sara Griffiths took the role. Because Gardner was still under contract, she was given the less strenuous role of the Announcer in Dragonfire instead.
- In part two, Billy entered Delta's room with flowers and was surprised to see the baby. In the original edit for part one, Billy entered before the egg hatched and was most surprised when he watches it hatching.
The story's setting in the late 1950s resulted in a number of vintage songs from the era being heard or performed (though all had to be re-recorded by series composer Keff McCulloch and the Lorells). The songs heard in the serial are:
- "Rock Around the Clock"
- "Singing the Blues"
- "Why Do Fools Fall in Love"
- "When the Red, Red Robin"
- "The Honeysuckle and the Bee"
- "Mr. Sandman"
- "Goodnight, Sweetheart"
- "That'll Be the Day"
- "Only You"
- "Who's Sorry Now?"
- "Happy Days Are Here Again"
McCulloch appears on screen with the band performing a few of these. According to the DVD commentary, his then-fiancé was one of the backup singers on the recordings.
- Part one - 5.3 million viewers
- Part two - 5.1 million viewers
- Part three - 5.4 million viewers
Filming locations Edit
- Springwell Quarry, Springwell Lane, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
- Majestic Holiday Camp on Barry Island, South Glamorgan, Wales (The holiday camp itself no longer exists, the area having since been redeveloped as a housing estate, but Barry Island was the filming location for parts of the 2005 episodes The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances.)
- Pyscodlyn Mawr Reservoir, Hensol Forest, Welsh St Donats, South Glamorgan
- Sutton Farm, Fort Road, Penarth, South Glamorgan
- Coed Y Wallas, Castle upon Alun, Mid Glamorgan
- British Tissues Hangar (Now known as Georgia Pacific GB Ltd), Llandow Trading Estate, Llandow, South Glamorgan
- BBC Television Centre (TC3), Shepherd's Bush, London
Production errors Edit
- In the long shots of the Doctor driving the Vincent he is wearing his glasses but in the close ups he is not. Sylvester McCoy normally wore glasses and removed them before recording or filming, but on this occasion he had forgotten to do so.
- Mel comments that her and the Doctor's last holiday "wasn't exactly ice hot". (TV: Paradise Towers)
- The Navarino would later make an appearance in PROSE: Return of the Living Dad.
- In a parallel universe in which Britain was a fascist state known as the Republic of Great Britain, the Republican Security Forces battled the Bannermen, from whom they obtained artificial gravity and fast drive technology, in Wales in 1959. (PROSE: The Face of the Enemy)
- In his investigation of reports of a series of agent provocateurs known as "the Doctor" who had been involved in numerous unusual incidents, the journalist James Stevens found evidence of the Doctor and Mel's presence in Shangri-La during this incident. The records indicated that the Doctor was "a short, quirkily dressed man, with a slight Scottish accent and immense intelligence." He noted that this was the same Doctor who was involved in the ULTIMA Incident at Maiden's Point in 1943 and the Shoreditch Incident in November 1963 but, on those occasions, he was accompanied by a teenage girl named Ace and that neither of them seemed to have aged in the intervening 20 years. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
- Fenric would later tell the Doctor that he had Ray in mind as a back-up companion for him in the event that his plans with respect to Ace were unsuccessful. (AUDIO: Gods and Monsters)
- The Doctor was forced to acquire a new umbrella after his previous one was damaged during his visit to the Warehouse. (AUDIO: The Warehouse)
- Mel left a menu from Shangri-La in her room when she left the TARDIS. (PROSE: Loving the Alien)
DVD, VHS and audio release Edit
- Delta and the Bannerman was released to DVD in the UK (region 2) on 22 June 2009, region 4 on 6 August, followed by a North American DVD release on 1 September.
- An alternate version of Episode 1, with additional scenes not in the broadcast version.
- Stripped for Action - The Story of Doctor Who Comics.
- But First This - archival on-location featurette featuring interviews with Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford and Ken Dodd.
- Raw footage of the interviews filmed for But First This.
- Wales Today - A BBC News report on the making of the story
- Hugh and Us - An interview with Hugh Lloyd
- Clown Court - A 1988 appearance by Sylvester McCoy on the 'Clown Court' segment of The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow, during which bloopers from this story, along with bonus outtakes from Silver Nemesis (including Sophie Aldred) and The Visitation (including Peter Davison), are shown, followed by outtakes of McCoy's appearance in 'Clown Court'.
- Trails and continuity announcements
- Audio commentary by Sylvester McCoy, Sara Griffiths, Chris Clough, and Andrew Cartmel.
- Photo Gallery
- Production note subtitles
- PDF content: Radio Times listings
- Exclusive trailer for the DVD release of The War Games
- Remastering for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
- This is one of only a handful of Doctor Who DVD releases for which a "making of" documentary was not produced.
- Official BBC Episode Guide for Delta and the Bannermen
- A Brief History of Time (Travel) entry for Delta and the Bannermen
- Interview with Delta and the Bannermen scriptwriter Malcolm Kohll and script editor Andrew Cartmel about the making of the serial on Talking Who.