a real world point of view
|Novelised as:||The Highlanders|
|Companion(s):||Ben, Polly, Jamie|
|Main enemy:||Solicitor Grey|
|Main setting:||Scotland, 1746|
|Writer:||Elwyn Jones and Gerry Davis|
|Number of episodes:||4|
|Premiere broadcast:||17 December 1966 - 7 January 1967|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|The Power of the Daleks||The Underwater Menace|
The Highlanders was the fourth story of Season 4 of Doctor Who. It was the last of the 'pure historical' genre of Doctor Who television stories until Black Orchid in 1982. These had been a regular feature of the show since its inception. It was also the first appearance of Frazer Hines as companion Jamie McCrimmon, the longest serving male companion in the series' history.
The time travellers arrive in Scotland just after the Battle of Culloden. The Second Doctor gains the trust of a small band of fleeing Jacobites by offering to tend their wounded Laird, Colin McLaren. While Polly and the Laird's daughter, Kirsty, are away fetching water, he and the others are all captured by Redcoat troops commanded by Lieutenant Algernon Ffinch.
Grey, a crooked solicitor who sells prisoners for transportation to slavery in the West Indies, secures the group into his custody. Polly and Kirsty blackmail Ffinch into helping and the Doctor wins the day by smuggling arms to the Highlanders who are being held on board a stolen ship, the Annabelle.
Episode 1 Edit
The TARDIS arrives nearby. Ben, Polly and the Doctor emerge and dodge an incoming cannonball. The Doctor wants to leave, but Ben has gone to look around and Polly insists they follow him. Meanwhile, the party of Scots have taken refuge in a ruined cottage. They spot the travellers outside, examining a "spiked" cannon. The Doctor sees a Highland bonnet on the ground, tries it on and casts it to the ground. The Scots surround them. Alexander forces the Doctor to pick up the hat. They force them inside the cottage.
The Doctor realises the hat belongs to Prince Charles Edward, "Bonnie Prince Charlie". The Jacobites intend to show no more mercy than the Redcoats. However, when Kirsty hears that one of them is a doctor, she begs for them to live long enough to treat her father. With this distraction, Ben steals a gun and the Doctor forces them to disarm.
The Doctor tends to the Laird, sends Kirsty and Polly to fetch water and tells Ben to put down the gun when the Highlanders give their word not to harm them. Ben throws down the gun on the table, but it discharges. This draws the attention of a half dozen nearby Redcoats. Lieutenant Ffinch and his men surround the cottage, but when Alexander emerges, attempting to draw them off, he is shot and killed.
The Doctor undertakes the guise of a German, "Doktor von Wer", and speaks with a heavy accent. Ffinch is unmoved at Ben's insistence that they are prisoners of war. He says rebels are not treated as such and orders them to be hanged.
Solicitor Grey and his clerk, Perkins, watch the battle and lament the needless killing of the rebel troops as a "waste of manpower". In his role as his Majesty's Commissioner of Prisons, Grey intends to profit from this rebellion by selling prisoners as slaves in the West Indies. After cruelly remonstrating Perkins for serving him corked wine, the two move off to try to "save" some of the Scots.
Polly and Kirsty return. They try to cause a diversion by throwing stones at the soldiers. Ffinch and two soldiers follow them after hearing that the Prince may be trying to escape disguised as a woman. The sergeant tries to hang the prisoners with the officer away, but is stopped by Grey and Perkins. Grey bribes the sergeant. The men are released into his charge to be sent to Inverness. Grey rejects the Doctor and orders him hanged, but "von Wer" quotes a point of law that convinces Grey to take him, with the Laird under the Doctor's care.
Kirsty hides Polly and herself in a cave known to her family. Polly searches for valuables they can sell to bribe guards. She realises their friends will be put in gaol. She spots Kirsty's gold ring, but Kirsty won't allow it to be sold. It belongs to her father and she was entrusted with it. Polly is frustrated with her and goes off on her own. With light fading, she walks down a path until she falls into an animal pit. As she struggles to get out of the trap, she's confronted by someone above, holding a dagger.
Episode 2 Edit
It is Kirsty. She tries to help Polly out but falls in. Polly climbs on top of Kirsty and tries to get out, but spots Ffinch and his men searching. Ffinch decides to stay and send his men back for his horse. Polly and Kirsty draw him towards the trap until he falls in and the women take him prisoner.
At Inverness, the men are thrown into a dank, waterlogged cell. The Doctor tends to the Laird, feeling he will recover, but must use a bit of trickery to convince his 18th century friends that he knows what he's doing. He discovers that the Laird is wearing (and protecting) the Prince's standard. The Doctor takes charge of it, saying both that Colin won't escape the gallows with that found on him and that it's very nice and warm. He incites the prisoners to sing a rebel dirge, then uses his German persona to convince the guard to let him out with news of a plot to kill the Duke of Cumberland. Ben is pleased, but worries about how high the water level rises in their cell.
Kirsty and Polly have taken twenty guineas from Ffinch. Finding his credentials, they threaten to blackmail him with his identity disc in case they need an ally. Near the water is the Sea Eagle inn. Grey orders Captain Trask and his men to load their cargo and the prisoners aboard Trask's ship, the Annabelle. The Doctor is brought before Grey. He admits the reason he wanted to see Grey was to show him the Prince's standard and split the reward for the Prince's capture. Suddenly, the Doctor throws the flag over Grey, disarms him and locks him, bound and gagged, in a closet. When Perkins arrives, the Doctor convinces him he's ill and prescribes rest at the solicitor's desk for at least an hour; the knocking and moaning noises he hears are only in his mind.
Ffinch is delighted when the sergeant finally arrives, but enraged when the sergeant exploits the situation. Ffinch offers money — then realises the women took it all. He promises payment when they return to Inverness. Trask returns to find Perkins and release Grey. The Doctor, meanwhile, has hidden himself in the Sea Eagle's scullery dressed as an old crone. Trask loads Jamie, Ben and the Laird on a rowboat to be taken to the Annabelle. The Doctor distracts a guard with food to get to the trap door through which the prisoners were herded.
As the prisoners watch, Trask orders a bound man to be thrown over the side and allowed to drown. That's the only way they'll ever get off the Annabelle!
Episode 3 Edit
Ben, Jamie and the Laird are shoved into the Annabelle's hold. A rebel prisoner threatens Ben, but Colin vouches for him. The man, Mackay, recognises the McLarens. He says he is the true captain of the Annabelle, having been betrayed by Trask. Ben works out that they are to become slave labour.
Polly and Kirsty hide in a barn near Inverness. They intend to be orange sellers to get themselves nearer to the soldiers. Ffinch arrives at the Sea Eagle's dining room, exhausted and humiliated. The Doctor is there, still disguised. Polly and Kirsty are brought to see the lieutenant, wading through the soldiers' roving hands. The sergeant suspects these are the women they were chasing, but Ffinch is forced to confirm they are simply "old friends". The sergeant dismisses his soldiers and the three speak freely. Ffinch reluctantly tells the women about Grey. When Perkins enters, Ffinch directs him to them. The Doctor is unable to alert his friends to his presence.
Solicitor Grey addresses the prisoners. They have three choices: one, become witnesses — or traitors; two, be hanged if they don't wish to turn King's evidence; three, sign seven-year contracts as plantation workers in the West Indies. Mackay warns the others against signing, saying they will not survive seven years. The others eventually come forward to sign, while Ben, Jamie, McLaren and Mackay hold back. Ben jumps forward and asks to sign. Under the guise of "reading it first", he tears up the contracts. Trask breaks out his whip, sending Ben to the ground, and Grey orders Ben clapped in irons. He goes off to have new contracts drawn up.
Polly and Kirsty are "entertained" by Perkins while waiting for Grey. They grow uneasy and try to leave, but Perkins threatens them and they stay as Perkins offers a game of whist. An old woman offers herself as their fourth. It is the Doctor with Grey's pistol in his hand. As the game starts, Grey arrives to witness this strange scene. He impatiently calls Perkins away and leaves. The Doctor insists that "we girls" leave first. Perkins must wait for ten minutes or experience more symptoms of his "illness".
Back at the barn, Polly wants to make a plan, but the Doctor wants to sleep. Polly drags an idea out of him: use the money they've stolen to buy weapons from the British soldiers and smuggle them aboard the Annabelle. Meanwhile, Grey and Perkins return to the Annabelle with fresh contracts. Grey orders Trask to ensure that all prisoners sign the contracts. He is to treat them mercifully until they arrive safely in Barbados. Regarding Ben, he orders a ducking and for him to be brought on deck.
The women return to the barn. They have had little luck getting weapons, but the Doctor has a wheelbarrow full of swords, muskets and pistols. He spots the ring on Kirsty's hand and recognises it as the Prince's. Kirsty confirms that her father saved the Prince's life. She is finally willing to part with it and the Doctor intends to use it to save her father's life as "bait for a very greedy man". That night, Ben, completely bound, is tossed overboard the Annabelle.
Episode 4 Edit
Trask pulls up the rope. Ben is no longer attached to it. He emerges from the water on the other side of the ship and swims through the freezing water. Exhausted, he makes it to shore, only to find a musket pointed at him. Fortunately, the Redcoat at the other end of it is the Doctor. He takes Ben to safety. Grey tells Trask to set sail tomorrow with his cargo.
Ben tells his friends about his escape and they put their plan in action. The Doctor will return to the ship, rowed by Ben. While the Doctor distracts Grey and the crew, Ben will deliver the weapons to the prisoners in the hold. Polly and Kirsty insist on going along, so the Doctor gives Ben a different job. Meanwhile, Mackay laments their brothers' playing into Grey's hands and Colin longs to see his daughter Kirsty one more time.
Preparing to go ashore, Grey is surprised when Trask enters with the Doctor in his grasp. The Doctor presents the Prince's ring and claims he got it from the Prince himself, who is, at this moment, in prison. The Doctor tries to strike a deal for the information. Polly and Kirsty row out and find access to the hold. Kirsty contacts her father secretly and delivers the arms to him. Meanwhile, Grey agrees to the Doctor's demands and the Doctor claims the Prince is in the hold of the ship. He claims the piper, Jamie, is the Prince.
They all go to the hold to see for themselves. They make their way quietly and the Doctor points out Jamie at the far end. Suddenly, Colin McLaren lets out a battle cry, all the prisoners are up and the fight begins. Most sailors are quickly taken, but Mackay and Trask fight. Jamie leads the others out to deal with the crew. Both men are wounded, but Trask escapes from Mackay out of the hold. Up top, the fight continues: Ben confronts Trask and is almost killed, but Jamie saves him. Jamie fights Trask until Trask is forced over the side.
Mackay takes command of the ship and bids his new crewmen to make ready to leave. Kirsty is reunited with her father and the Doctor and Ben are reunited with Polly. Perkins begs to be allowed to accompany the Scots to France, while Grey is taken ashore as a hostage. The three time travellers start immediately on their next daunting task: evade the Redcoats while returning to the TARDIS. After a signal from the ship, they are surprised when Jamie finds them. He wanted to stay and figures he can help them with their journey back.
The group has taken charge of Grey, but they must hide. Redcoats come snooping along the quayside. Grey cries out and the Doctor, Ben and Jamie must fight the Redcoats. They win, but Grey escapes. They realise they'll have to find another "ally" to help them. They head to the Sea Eagle where they find Lieutenant Ffinch. The Doctor uses the ruse of the Prince's ring to extract Ffinch from a colonel, with whom Ffinch has been drafted to play whist. Polly produces Ffinch's identity disc to ensure his cooperation.
The next morning, they are back at the cottage where they were captured. Ffinch is now on their side, having heard the tale of Solicitor Grey. Suddenly, they are surrounded by Redcoats led by Grey, who congratulates Ffinch on capturing the rebels. As Grey threatens them, Ffinch silences him. Grey argues that he has done nothing wrong. The prisoners signed contracts and it is perfectly legal. He reaches for the contracts in his coat pocket, but they are gone! Ffinch has Grey arrested, gagged and marched to Inverness prison. The Doctor produces the contracts in his pocket.
The Doctor, Ben and Polly head to the TARDIS. Polly asks if Jamie can come with them. The Doctor agrees if Jamie will teach him the bagpipes. They all leave in the TARDIS.
- The Doctor - Patrick Troughton
- Ben Jackson - Michael Craze
- Polly - Anneke Wills
- Jamie McCrimmon - Frazer Hines
- Alexander McLaren - William Dysart
- The Laird - Donald Bisset
- Kirsty McLaren - Hannah Gordon
- Lieutenant Algernon Ffinch - Michael Elwyn
- Sergeant - Peter Welch
- Grey - David Garth
- Perkins - Sydney Arnold
- Sentry - Tom Bowman
- Trask - Dallas Cavell
- Mollie - Barbara Bruce
- Willie Mackay - Andrew Downie
- Sailor - Peter Diamond
- Colonel Attwood - Guy Middleton
- Assistant Floor Manager - Nicholas John
- Costumes - Sandra Reid
- Designer - Geoffrey Kirkland
- Fight Arranger - Peter Diamond
- Make-Up - Gillian James
- Producer - Innes Lloyd
- Production Assistant - Fiona Cumming
- Script Editor - Gerry Davis
- Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson
- Studio Lighting - George Summers, Ken MacGregor
- Studio Sound - Larry Goodson
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- The Highlanders are fighting for Prince Charles Edward Stuart a.k.a. "Bonnie Prince Charlie", while the Redcoats fight for King George II. His father, King George I was from Hanover, Germany, which is why the Doctor takes up his German guise and makes a remark about speaking better English than the King. The King's son, the Duke of Cumberland a.k.a. "the Butcher", is also mentioned.
- Grey wonders what price his slaves will fetch in Jamaica or Barbados.
- The prison is at Inverness.
- Polly brings up Nell Gwyn in reference to her and Kirsty posing as orange-sellers.
- Ben credits Houdini with his successful escape.
- The Doctor again expresses a fondness for various hats.
Story notes Edit
- This story had the working title of Culloden. (REF: The Second Doctor Handbook)
- The next "pure historical" serial, Black Orchid, would not be broadcast until 1982. However, Highlanders is the last historical to use events from real history, as Orchid is entirely fictional.
- Although commissioned to write the story, Elwyn Jones in fact carried out no work on it. The scripts were written by story editor, Gerry Davis. Unlike other cases in which the story/script editor substantively wrote (or rewrote) scripts, however, Davis actually did get on-screen credit for it. As evidenced by contemporaneous documents available on the BBC's official website, Jones and Davis were in fact jointly credited.
- While still an actor in the early 1960s, this serial's director, Hugh David, had been considered for the role of the First Doctor but, being only thirty-eight years old at the time, was deemed to be too young by the series' original producer, Verity Lambert.
- Solicitor Grey is the only real-world historical person to appear in the story.
- Episode 1 - 6.7 million viewers
- Episode 2 - 6.8 million viewers
- Episode 3 - 7.4 million viewers
- Episode 4 - 7.3 million viewers
- It was decided to keep Jamie on as companion due to a positive audience reaction. (The decision was made well before the transmission of the story.)
Filming locations Edit
- Frensham Ponds, Frensham, Surrey
- Ealing Television Film Studios
- Riverside Studio 1, Hammersmith, London
Production errors Edit
- In episode 2, Polly reads Ffinch's name as Algernon Thomas Alfred Ffinch; but in Episode 3 she taunts him as "Alfred Algernon Thomas..."
- Polly is pleased that she does not have to dress up in boys' clothes, as she had to in her last adventure in the past. (TV: The Smugglers)
- The Doctor, Jamie and their companion Zoe Heriot would later meet Bonnie Prince Charlie's paternal grandparents, King James II and Queen Mary of Modena, during the Glorious Revolution in November 1688. When they met the latter, she had the infant James Stuart, Prince of Wales (the Old Pretender), the future father of Bonnie Prince Charlie, in her arms. (AUDIO: The Glorious Revolution)
- Jamie was 22 years old when he first met the Doctor. (AUDIO: Shadow of Death)
Home video and audio releases Edit
DVD release Edit
No complete episodes from this story survive. Existing "censor" clips from Episode 1 were released on the Lost in Time boxset.
Audio release Edit
- It was released by the BBC Radio Collection on 7 August 2000, narrated by Frazer Hines.
- It was re-released as part of the the Adventures in History box set released on 4 August 2003 (with the same content).
- It was re-released again on 4 August 2011 as part of the box set Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes - Collection Three.
See also Edit
- The Laird of McCrimmon, an unmade Season 6 serial which would have featured Jamie's departure and would likewise have been based in Scotland in 1746.
- ↑ DWM 391 - Verity Lambert obituary.
- The Highlanders at the BBC's official site
- The Highlanders at BroaDWcast
- BBC - Doctor Who - Classic Series - Photonovels - The Highlanders
- Detailed synopsis of The Highlanders at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- The Highlanders at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Highlanders at The Locations Guide
- The Highlanders transcripts