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The Green Death (TV story)

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The Green Death
Greendeath title
Novelised as: Doctor Who and the Green Death
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companion(s): Jo
Featuring: the Brig, Mike Yates, Benton
Main enemy: BOSS
Stevens
The Giant Maggots
Main setting: London; Llanfairfach, Wales, the 1970s;
Metebelis III
Key crew
Writer: Robert Sloman
Director: Michael Briant
Producer: Barry Letts
Release details
Story number: 69
Number of episodes: 6
Season/series: Season 10
Premiere broadcast: 19 May - 23 June 1973
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 6x25-minute episodes
Production code: TTT
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The Green Death was the fifth and final story of the Doctor Who tenth anniversary season. The story is notable in that it marked the departure of companion Jo Grant, played by Katy Manning.

Synopsis Edit

A death at an abandoned coal pit brings UNIT and the Doctor to the South Wales town of Llanfairfach when the body is found glowing bright green. Are pollutants from Global Chemicals responsible? Where are the giant maggots coming from? And who is the mysterious BOSS?

Plot Edit

Episode 1 Edit

Initially the Welsh mining village of Llanfairfach is of little interest to the Third Doctor, who would rather take a challenging visit to the blue planet of Metebelis III than a trip to South Wales. However, Jo Grant is keen to go to the village to meet the acclaimed environmentalist and Nobel Prize winner Professor Clifford Jones; Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is intrigued enough by the death of a bright green miner to drive her down. The miner was found in a disused mine, and the main source of employment in the village is now the Global Chemicals petroleum factory. Its boss, Stevens, promises prosperity for all, but Professor Jones and the other environmentalists at his “Nuthutch” are unconvinced. In light of the protests, Stevens accepts the Brigadier’s offer of additional security at his factory. Jo is not impressed with the Brigadier’s siding with the corporate giant, and decides to venture down to the mine herself, accompanied by a friendly miner called Bert. One of the Global Chemicals employees cuts the lift cable and they plummet towards the bottom of the mineshaft...

Episode 2 Edit

The Doctor reaches Llanfairfach, with a blue crystal to show for his visit to Metebelis III, and jams the lift in the nick of time. Jo and Bert are not harmed, but they are stranded in the mine. There, they find Dai Evans, one of the other miners, glowing bright green and terribly ill. It seems there is some serious pollution at work in the mine and they head off to find a way out. For anybody to get down to the mine to help them, cutting equipment is needed to cut the cables jamming the lift. Global Chemicals say they don't have any such equipment, but a staff member, Elgin, knows this is not true. When Jones hears about Jo's predicament, he comes to the mine to help.

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Jo meets Professor Jones

The Doctor sneaks into Global Chemicals to steal the equipment but he is caught. Fortunately, Stevens chooses to overlook the incident. By chance, the Brigadier finds somebody with cutting equipment in a garage, allowing the Doctor and a few mine workers to go down into the mine shaft. Things get worse when Bert finds a slick of green slime and touches it. He too seems to contract “the green death”. By the time the Doctor finds Dai, the miner is dead, and the Time Lord becomes very worried for Jo’s safety. Increasingly ill, Bert waits behind while Jo looks for a way out alone. The Doctor catches up with Bert, and finds Jo near a vast lake of green slime filled with giant maggots. When they try to go back, the tunnel caves in and more maggots emerge from the rubble.

Episode 3 Edit

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Ralph Fell is conditioned by BOSS

The Doctor and Jo are trapped between a cave-in and the pool of maggots. They escape by wheeling a mine cart through the maggots, but they are still trapped in the mine. Back at Global Chemicals, Stevens is behaving very curiously. He is using strange headphones to listen to calming messages and when one of his employees, Ralph Fell, looks helpful to the environmentalists, he is somehow reconditioned with the same headphones and shortly afterward kills himself. Elgin saves the Doctor and Jo from drowning in the green slime when he helps them out of a shaft that links the mine and the factory complex — proving the link between the two. The Brigadier's plan to investigate Global Chemicals further is cut short when he is ordered by the Prime Minister himself to let Stevens get on with it. Stevens evidently enjoys Cabinet support for his factory and its new plastic production process. The Doctor, Jo and the Brigadier end the day with a nourishing meal of fungus at the Nuthutch, but the frivolity is cut short when they hear Bert too has died. As the Doctor leaves, a maggot egg he brought back from the mine hatches, and the maggot inside creeps up on Jo, the girl none the wiser.

Episode 4 Edit

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The Doctor disguises as a milk man to infiltrate Global Chemicals
OttselSpy25Added by OttselSpy25

The maggot kills a Global Chemicals employee, who had come to destroy the egg, and escapes before any analysis can be made of it, leaving the Doctor and Jones to analyse the trail of green slime it left behind. The Brigadier receives orders to seal the mine with explosives and clear the area using UNIT troops. The Doctor realises that this will only make the situation worse, but his plea to Stevens to allow an investigation is ignored. As the Doctor expected, the maggots simply burrow through and are now a threat above ground. Not to be intimidated by Stevens, the Brigadier sends Captain Yates into Global Chemicals, undercover as a Ministry official. The Doctor dons some improbable disguises, including a milkman and a cleaning lady, to get through the gates and move freely. Meanwhile, Jo has alienated Cliff, with whom she is falling in love, by ruining one of his slides. Determined to make amends, she heads to the sealed mine in search of a maggot to run some tests on. Having liaised with Yates, the Doctor learns that Stevens takes his instructions from the top floor of the complex, and heads there to find out who is in charge. The BOSS, or Biomorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor, turns out to be a supercomputer with its own megalomaniacal personality.

Episode 5 Edit

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The Doctor bamboozles BOSS

The Doctor speaks with BOSS, and finds out that it runs the company, controls Stevens and other key staff members, and is responsible for the polluting chemical process. The Doctor employs the liar paradox, a conundrum which will keep BOSS busy trying to find a solution, while he escapes. Unfortunately, he runs into Stevens and some guards before he can do so. He rejects the brain-washing technique that Stevens subjects him to – but Mike Yates is more susceptible and is converted into one of the computer’s slaves. After the Doctor escapes, Mike is sent to the Nutchutch to kill the Doctor. His conditioning is deep and only broken by the Doctor’s use of the blue crystal he brought from Metebelis 3. Meanwhile, Jones has worked out that the fungus Jo spilt on the slides is actually a curative and then sets off to stop her, but they are both caught in an RAF bombing raid intended to kill the maggots. Cliff is also infected with a maggot and begins to turn green — before he was able to share his knowledge of the cure. In a delirious state, he utters the word 'serendipity'. Yates re-enters Global Chemicals, pretending to still be under BOSS's control, but he is caught by Stevens, who tells him he just can't depend on anyone.

Episode 6 Edit

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Maggots!
NyktimosAdded by Nyktimos

Sergeant Benton brings an empty maggot chrysalis to the Nuthatch, revealing that the maggots are about to change into something else. The Doctor discovers that another maggot had died after eating Cliff's fungus, meaning that it is deadly to them. The Doctor and Benton drive around the slag heaps and the mine, liberally scattering the fungus which kills all the maggots, and disposing of a deadly giant fly which attacks them. Returning to the Nuthatch, the Doctor discovers Cliff's cure, and uses it to restore him to full health. The Doctor then returns to Global Chemicals to confront BOSS. The computer plans to link up with others and effect a corporate takeover of the human race. However, Stevens, whose conditioning is partially broken by the Doctor using the crystal, tells him to get out while he triggers an explosion which destroys himself, the computer, and the company headquarters.

The menace defeated, UNIT troops and environmentalists gather at the Nuthutch for a celebration made all the more special when Jo and Cliff announce they are getting married and then plan to travel the Amazon looking for a rare fungus, and that the United Nations (after Jo contacted her uncle) have decided to fund Wholeweal's research: jobs will return to Llanfairfach after all. The Doctor offers his blessing to the couple and gives Jo the blue crystal as a present asking them to save him some wedding cake. However, as the party starts to get into full swing the Doctor quietly slips away, noticed only by Jo who understands why. The Doctor, upset by the departure of his good friend, gets into Bessie and after one final look back at the cottage, sadly drives away.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

  • The Doctor gets to Metebelis III and takes a blue crystal.
  • The BOSS is the computer running Global Chemicals.
  • BOSS mentions the composer Wagner and the Ninth Symphony (probably Beethoven's), but hums the opening of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
  • The Doctor drinks a toast (likely of champagne) to the newly engaged couple.
  • RAF is involved for the bombing raid against the giant maggots.
  • The BOSS explicitly misquotes Oscar Wilde by saying: "To lose one prisoner may be accounted a misfortune, to lose two smacks of carelessness."
  • The Brigadier deals with a Minister of Ecology and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Story notes Edit

  • This is the last story to use the 'Pertwee Logo' until the 1996 movie. It would be used from then as the default logo for Doctor Who until the programme's return to television in 2005. Variations of this logo continue to be used for merchandise and materials promoting the classic series, as well as for the franchise as a whole during the show's fiftieth year.
  • This is the last story to have its individual segments titled as "Episode -". After this story they were titled as "Part -".
  • This is Katy Manning's final story. However, she would reprise her role thirty-seven years later in TV: Death of the Doctor. In that episode, she shows disappointment that the Doctor is now travelling with a married couple in the TARDIS, saying that she only left the Doctor because she got married, suggesting that she would have continued to travel with the Doctor if he had allowed her to bring Professor Jones.
  • Stewart Bevan (who plays Cliff Jones, Jo Grant's 'love interest') was Katy Manning's real-life boyfriend at the time of shooting.
  • During the party to celebrate Jo and Cliff's engagement, during which the Doctor slips away, the music heard in the background is an instrumental track by The Electric Banana, which was an alias for the famed (and infamous) British band The Pretty Things.
  • The Brigadier takes a phone call from the Prime Minister, who is never seen fully on-screen and named as 'Jeremy'. This was a joke by the production team intended to suggest that the Liberal Party, then led by Jeremy Thorpe, could win the next General Election; Thorpe, of course, was never Prime Minister.
  • Although credited for episode one, Mitzi McKenzie (Nancy) does not actually appear, as her material was not filmed due to her unavailability at short notice.
  • Billie Horrigan and Alan Chuntz (Security Guards) are uncredited on-screen for episode two, but credited in Radio Times.
  • Terry Walsh (Guard) is uncredited on-screen for episode two, but credited in Radio Times. He is credited as 'Security Guard' in Radio Times for episode four.
  • The credit for Brian Justice on episode four incorrectly reads 'Yate's Guard', instead of the grammatically correct 'Yates's Guard' which appears in Radio Times.
  • For episodes two, five and six, the title sequence film over which the closing credits were superimposed was played backwards and upside-down (a result of the film being played backwards through the projector to save time during recording).
  • The function (and lines) of Elgin is taken up by James, as played by Roy Skelton, in episode five. Tony Adams, who plays Elgin, was taken ill with peritonitis during production, and had to be taken to hospital. The scene had to be hastily rewritten so as not to involve Elgin.
  • The Radio Times programme listing for the 90-minute compilation repeat of the story on Thursday 27 December 1973 was accompanied by two black and white photographs with comic strip-style speech balloons: the first was a close-up of the Doctor's face ("THE MAGGOTS ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE!"), and the second was of Cliff and Jo encountering a maggot on the slag heap (with Cliff saying "... COME ON LET'S GET OUT OF HERE!"). The accompanying caption read "The full story of the battle against The Green Death at 4.0. But Dr. Who has survived many trials in his many times. What and when was the first story? It all began in November, 1963, when the first Dr. Who met An Unearthly Child.
  • The party scene at the end of Episode 6 marks one of the few times the Doctor is shown consuming what is presumably alcohol on screen.

Ratings Edit

  • Episode One - 9.2 million viewers
  • Episode Two - 7.2 million viewers
  • Episode Three - 7.8 million viewers
  • Episode Four - 6.8 million viewers
  • Episode Five - 8.3 million viewers
  • Episode Six - 7.0 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • Katy Manning left the series because of the death of Roger Delgado (The Master). Delgado died June 1973 - after Manning's final episode was filmed (April 1973).
  • Some of the giant maggots were created from inflated condoms. According to director Michael Briant on the DVD documentary The One With the Maggots, they weren't; they were actually party balloons.

Filming locations Edit

  • Ogilvie Colliery, Deri, near Bargoed, Glamorgan
  • Troed-y-Rhiw Jestyn, Deri, near Bargoed, Glamorgan
  • Colliery Quarry, Deri, near Bargoed, Glamorgan
  • RCA International factory, Brynmawr, Powys
  • BBC Television Centre (Studio 3), Shepherd's Bush, London

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • In episode one, when Dai Evans is on the telephone in the mine office, a hand appears to the bottom right, giving Mostyn Evans his cue to speak.
  • In episode five, the Doctor escapes from Global during the day. When Yates is caught it's dark, but the next scene, on the slag heap, is in daylight again.
  • The CSO used in episode three results in the bottom of the mine cart vanishing.
  • When Jo is helping Bert around a corner, she knocks a support strut out of position.
  • When Jo sits up in the cable car, her helmet doesn't have a lamp. Switch to the medium shot and it suddenly does.
  • When the Doctor picks up the green egg, it squeaks, revealing it to be a painted balloon.
  • When Jones is looking through his microscope, the objective is rotated so that none of the lenses actually point at the slide.
  • The Doctor mispronounces "chitinous." It should have a hard "k" sound.
  • When Yates breaks James's conditioning, the latter falls against the wall, which visibly shakes.
  • When Benton rescues Cliff and Jo, the ground shakes and flexes.
  • The Doctor resists BOSS's programming by calculating Pi. He recites the first five numbers and continues silently. If he is meant to be reciting Pi further, he gets it wrong, giving the first five digits as 3.1416. This is only correct if Pi is rounded off after five digits. The correct sequence would be 3.14159265...
  • In the climax, not one but two heavy consoles move as Stevens frantically operates the controls.
  • A shot of the brown fungus rolling between two maggots is repeated.
  • The supposedly RAF helicopter has a prominent label on the side of the fuel tank which reads Twyford Moors Helicopters - The Heliport, Southampton.

Continuity Edit

Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

This story was released as Doctor Who: The Green Death.

Released:

PAL - BBC DVD BBCDVD1142
NTSC - Warner Video E2156

Contents:

Notes:

Special Edition Edit

As with many pre-2006 releases, The Green Death: Special Edition was released in 2013.

Video releases Edit

Released as Doctor Who: The Green Death, the two cassette video release was rushed out in memory of the death of Jon Pertwee earlier in the year.

Released:

  • UK August 1996
PAL - BBC Video BBCV5816
  • US April 1997
NTSC - Warner Video E1349

External links Edit


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