a real world point of view
|The Claws of Axos|
|Novelised as:||Doctor Who and the Claws of Axos|
|Companion(s):||Jo, The Brigadier|
|Number of episodes:||4|
|Premiere broadcast:||13 March - 3 April 1971|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|The Mind of Evil||Colony in Space|
The Claws of Axos was the third story in the season long "Master arc". It saw the introduction of Axos. Despite its popularity, Axos would not again appear in the Doctor Who universe until the Doctor Who Magazine comic story The Golden Ones. Thus far it has not appeared in any other television stories, although it was mentioned on screen occasionally.
A group of gold-skinned aliens land on Earth and offer wondrous technology in exchange for fuel. The Doctor, however, isn't fooled, uncovering the Axons' true nature and once again facing his arch enemy the Master...
Episode one Edit
An approaching alien spaceship is detected by monitoring equipment at UNIT HQ, where Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is entertaining two visitors - Chinn, a Conservative MP making a security inspection, and Bill Filer, an American agent sent to discuss the threat of the Master.
The ship lands in England and the UNIT team, joined by Sir George Hardiman and Professor Winser from the nearby Nuton Power Complex, enter the ship and meet its occupants: beautiful golden-skinned humanoids called Axons. Unknown to them, Bill Filer also enters the ship and is held prisoner, as is the Master. The Axons inform their guests that they are in desperate need of fuel.
They propose to exchange the miracle substance they call Axonite for much needed energy. Axonite is a "thinking" molecule that can replicate any substance. Despite the Doctor's vocal suspicion, Chinn and the Nuton scientists are transfixed: such a substance would give the UK unlimited food and power.
Back outside, Sergeant Benton and Captain Yates find a decomposing body next to the ship. The Doctor's companion Jo Grant enters the ship searching for Filer and screams when a hideous monster appears before her.
Episode two Edit
Jo's scream is heard by the others, who tell her that she was hallucinating, though she adamantly insists she heard Filer's voice in the Axonite ship. The Doctor convinces Hardiman and Winser that despite the potential of Axonite, it should be scientifically analysed before it is distributed. Chinn is one step ahead of him, and is granted special favours by the Ministry to ensure that distribution is left in the hands of the UK. Convinced the Doctor and UNIT will be hindrances, he has the regular army put them under security arrest, though he reluctantly grants permission for the Doctor to assist Winser in the laboratory.
Meanwhile, the Axons are not as nice as they seem. They release a duplicate of Bill Filer to the outside world and strike a deal with their captive, the Master, offering him his freedom in exchange for his efforts to guarantee worldwide distribution of Axonite. The duplicate Filer attacks the Doctor, but is killed when the real Filer escapes from the Axon ship and shoves the clone into Winser's light accelerator. The Doctor realises, after an accident involving Winser, that the Axonites are all part of a single parasitic entity brought to Earth by the Master to feed on the planet's energy. He has little time to relish this insight as Jo, Filer and he are surrounded by the Axonites in their true forms.
Episode three Edit
The Axons take the Doctor and Jo prisoner in the Axon ship. The Doctor is interrogated; the Axons, aware that the Doctor is a Time Lord, want the secret of time travel. They claim to be able to repair the blocks in the Doctor's memory imposed on him when he was exiled.
Meanwhile, the Master has no intention of helping the Axons. Instead, he makes his way to the Doctor's TARDIS, intending to use it to escape Earth, as his own is being used as a bargaining chip by the Axons. He fails to get it to work, though it occurs to him that it could be done using power from the reactor in the power station where the TARDIS is currently situated. When he leaves the TARDIS, he is caught by the Brigadier and UNIT troops, though he is not finished, since the Axons control the reactor, which has the potential to cause a nuclear explosion. He offers his assistance in exchange for his freedom. The Brigadier agrees. The Master's idea is to turn the power of the Axonite against the Axons. As he prepares to blow up Axos, the Doctor and Jo have not yet escaped their clutches. They will be killed as well.
Episode four Edit
The Master's plan fails. The Doctor and Jo escape from Axos and return to the complex. The Doctor, realising that Axos is interested in travelling through time to broaden its feeding base, plans to trick it into linking up its drive unit to his TARDIS so he can send Axos into a perpetual time loop. After tricking the Master into completing the repairs, the Doctor materialises his TARDIS, with the Master on board, at the centre of Axos. He offers to link the two ships together to make one giant time machine, on condition that Axos helps him take revenge on the Time Lords for exiling him to Earth. They accept, but he has tricked them. Every part of Axos dematerialises from Earth, including the Axos automatons and the Axonite. They materialise inside the Doctor's TARDIS and warn him that he shall join them within the "loop of time." The Doctor simply boosts a flight circuit and frees himself from the loop.
At the end, with the Master having escaped in his own TARDIS during the confusion aboard Axos, the Doctor returns to Earth, but not of his own volition. Apparently, the Time Lords have programmed the TARDIS to always return to Earth, turning the Doctor into "some kind of a galactic yo-yo".
- The Doctor - Jon Pertwee
- Jo Grant - Katy Manning
- Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney
- Sergeant Benton - John Levene
- Captain Mike Yates - Richard Franklin
- The Master - Roger Delgado
- Bill Filer - Paul Grist
- Chinn - Peter Bathurst
- Corporal Bell - Fernanda Marlowe
- Hardiman - Donald Hewlett
- Winser - David Savile
- Pigbin Josh - Derek Ware
- Axon Man - Bernard Holley
- 1st Radar Operator - Michael Walker
- 2nd Radar Operator - David G. Marsh
- Axon Woman - Patricia Gordino
- Axon Boy - John Hicks
- Axon Girl - Debbie Lee London
- Captain Harker - Tim Piggott-Smith
- The Defence Minister - Kenneth Benda
- Technician - Royston Farrell
Production Crew Edit
- Writers - Bob Baker and Dave Martin
- Action / Stuntwork - HAVOC
- Assistant Floor Manager - Roselyn Parker
- Costumes - Barbara Lane
- Designer - Kenneth Sharp
- Film Cameraman - A A Englander
- Film Editor - Bob Rymer
- Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson
- Make-Up - Jan Harrison, Rhian Davies
- Production Assistant - Marion McDougall
- Script Editor - Terrance Dicks
- Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson
- Studio Lighting - Ralph Walton
- Studio Sound - Dave Kitchen
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Visual Effects - John Horton
- Producer - Barry Letts
- Director - Michael Ferguson
The Doctor Edit
- The Doctor tells the Master that the Time Lords wiped sections of his memory relating to dematerialisation theory.
- The Brigadier, Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton are arrested by the regular army.
Power stations Edit
- The Master's TARDIS was captured by Axos some time before these events.
- The Doctor's TARDIS is capable of holding the entire power output of Britain's major nuclear power plant.
- With the Master's help, the Doctor's TARDIS can and does leave Earth, having been previously disabled by the Time Lords. However, it is programmed to always return to Earth.
Temporal theory Edit
- It is never stated exactly whom Bill Filer works for, only that he is American. He claims he's "of the New York Mounted Police", but it seems unlikely that agency sent him to England to retrieve the Master.
Story notes Edit
- Working titles for this story included Doctor Who and the Gift, The Friendly Invasion, The Axons, and The Vampire from Space. The last title was used through the production of the first two episodes. It was changed only by the time filming began on the third as the BBC wanted to avoid the word "vampire". The DVD release contains unused footage and cuts from the story packaged with the original title sequence – naming the story as The Vampire from Space. The Vampire from Space was envisaged as a seven-parter, but the concept of the storylines changed as production progressed.
- The line “freak weather conditions” is in the script to explain the shifts in weather between filming (which goes from snowy to sunny from take to take).
- For reasons unexplained, the opening titles for this serial use the Second Doctor's version of the Doctor Who theme music as opposed to the Third Doctor's, as do The Mind of Evil and Terror of the Autons. After this serial, the theme reverts to the Jon Pertwee standard.
- The 'blue CSO cloth' behind Benton when he is driving the jeep (with the Axon behind him), is the sky and not CSO as it was on film and there was no CSO film work performed in the 1970s.
- UNIT mobile HQ is portrayed by a BBC Outside Broadcast van.
- The original script called for the Axons to land in Hyde Park, with their ship shaped like a human skull. The script was spectacular in other respects also. The production team loved the story, but had it scaled down on account of impracticality and budget.
- One of the Axon costumes would be later adapted for the Krynoid in The Seeds of Doom.
- Nicholas Briggs jokingly said on the David Tennant video diaries that if they didn't finish the ending of Rise of the Cybermen and the beginning of The Age of Steel, they would have to do a Claws of Axos rewrite.
- Episode one - 7.3 million viewers
- Episode Two - 8.0 million viewers
- Episode Three - 6.4 million viewers
- Episode Four - 7.8 million viewers
- A common myth about this story is that the colour separation overlay (CSO) background was accidentally placed in some of the car interior scenes, meaning a blank blue void is seen behind the characters. In reality, the scenes were shot on location (and on 16mm film, making CSO extremely tricky), and clouds can be seen. The differing shades of blue compared to the exterior shots is due to the scenes being filmed at different parts of the day.
Filming locations Edit
- Dengemarsh Road, Lydd, Kent
- Dungeness Road, Dungeness, Kent (Where Axos lands and half buries itself)
- Dungeness Power Station, Dungeness, Kent (Location for the Nuton Power Complex)
- Dungeness Beach, Dungeness, Kent
- St. Martin's Plains Camp, Shorncliffe, Kent
- BBC Television Centre (Studio 7, 3 and 4), Shepherd's Bush, London
Production errors Edit
- In episode 4, after the TARDIS dematerialises from the Nuton lab, it is still there during the UNIT gun battle which follows.
- As the Brigadier and his men leave the room where they've been held captive in episode 2, the wall shakes.
- The Axon on the bonnet of the car explodes before the grenade that supposedly destroyed it.
- The model shot of the TARDIS exterior in part four shows a St John's Ambulance sticker, unlike the actual prop itself seen in this episode. It would seem that the production crew were using a model from the 1960s, when the TARDIS did bear the sticker. Although an obvious production error, it's interesting as one of the only colour examples of the St John's cross prior to The Eleventh Hour.
- The CSO has many notable errors, most obvious is the frog shown in episode 1, which is missing many areas that should be there yet has a flickering shadow.
- This is the first time the interior of the Doctor's TARDIS is seen since TV: The War Games.
- In TV: Last of the Time Lords, both the Doctor and the Master mention the Axons.
Home video and audio releases Edit
DVD releases Edit
This story was released as Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos.
- Commentary by Barry Letts, Katy Manning and Richard Franklin
- Behind the scenes - A twenty-five-minute selection of studio material from the making of this story, including footage that was cut from the finished programme, with optional information subtitles.
- Now and Then - A look back at the Dungeness locations used for this story, contrasting them with how they appear today.
- Reverse Standards Conversion - The Axon Legacy - A 10-minute documentary which looks at the restoration of this story for DVD.
- Directing Who - Michael Ferguson talks about his work on The Claws of Axos.
- Photo Gallery
- Production Subtitles
- Editing for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
DVD special edition Edit
As with numerous serials released on DVD prior to 2007, The Claws of Axos was ultimately chosen for a special edition. This DVD was released on October 22, 2012.
The Claws of Axos was made available from the iTunes store in 2009 for the iPod, priced £4.99.
Video releases Edit
- The Claws of Axos at the BBC's official site
- The Claws of Axos at BroaDWcast
- Detailed synopsis of The Claws of Axos at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- The Claws of Axos at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Claws of Axos at The Locations Guide