a real world point of view
|The Macra Terror|
|Novelised as:||The Macra Terror|
|Companion(s):||Ben, Polly, Jamie|
|Main enemy:||The Macra|
|Main setting:||An Earth colony, the future|
|Writer:||Ian Stuart Black|
|Number of episodes:||4|
|Premiere broadcast:||11 March - 1 April 1967|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|The Moonbase||The Faceless Ones|
When the Second Doctor, Polly, Ben and Jamie visit a human colony that appears to be one big holiday camp, they think they have come across a truly happy place. Yet a shadowy presence soon makes them realise that the surface contentment is carefully controlled.
The colony's inhabitants have been brainwashed by giant, crab-like creatures - the Macra. Insidious propaganda, broadcast by the Controller, forces the humans to mine a gas that is essential for the Macra to survive - but fatal to them.
The colony must be saved - but how? The Doctor and his team are up against it, particularly when Ben falls under the influence of the Macra. Can he be rescued from their evil clutches? Can the gas pumping equipment be destroyed, getting rid of the Macra for good?
Episode 1 Edit
A drum majorette and a futuristic band rehearse for a festival performance. The Pilot of the Colony compliments Barney, the band's leader, but their happy banter is disrupted when Medok, another colony member, bursts through half-crazed and escapes outside. Ola, the Chief of Police, and several guards pursue him. The Pilot is suddenly deadly serious; Medok must not get away.
In the wilderness outside the Colony, Medok takes cover in rocks. The TARDIS arrives and the Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie tentatively step out, wary of the huge claw they saw on the Time Scanner. Medok attacks, but Ben and Jamie subdue him as Ola and guards arrive. They tie up Medok. Ola welcomes the strangers and invites them to meet their Pilot, who will want to thank them for their help.
As the music chimes, signalling a work-shift change, the Pilot offers his gratitude to the strangers. He sends them to the Refreshing Department. Jamie hangs back, suspicious, but follows with Polly. As they arrive, a picture of a man appears on a large screen and a friendly, commanding voice welcomes them. The Pilot explains this is the Colony's Controller, then takes his leave as Barney offers the four travellers the hospitality of the Department: shampoos, clothes cleaning, beauty treatments etc...
As Ola roughly accompanies Medok back into the Colony, Medok's old friend Questa sees him. Questa has heard he's been seeing things. Medok corrects him: there ARE things, horrible creatures coming out at night. The Controller announces a reception to welcome the strangers. Questa asks Medok to join in like he used to. As Medok spews more dangerous talk, Ola drags him away. The Doctor talks briefly to Medok before Ola locks him up. After Ola leaves, the Doctor picks the lock of the door and tries to release Medok. He's curious about what Medok has seen, but Medok is suspicious of this stranger. Medok takes his chance and escapes.
An alarm bell sounds and the Doctor must explain his actions to the Pilot and Ola. Ola wants to send the Doctor to "work in the pits", but the Doctor is saved by his ignorance of Colony laws. He speaks provocatively to Ola, who warns him his talk might end him up in the hospital "for correction". The Pilot is eager for the strangers to learn more about the Colony. He tells Ola to bring them to the Labour Centre. En route, they pass though a construction area where new homes are being built. The Doctor spots Medok hiding in the site, but says nothing.
At the Labour Centre, the travellers ask about the work being done, but the answers are vague: they tap and refine gas, but can't describe what they use the gas for. Suddenly two workers stagger in with "gas sickness". Ola and Questa brush it off, saying the work must be done. Polly is surprised and doubtful, then notices the Doctor is gone.
The Doctor finds Medok back at the construction site and questions him more about the creatures he's seen - giant insects with huge claws. Others have seen them too, but they get locked up in the hospital. Another alarm sounds and Medok sends the Doctor back. The others are relieved to find the Doctor, as curfew is announced. The travellers are confined to cubicles in the Refreshing Department. But as soon as it is quiet, the Doctor slips out to find Medok again.
As Ola and the guards patrol, the Doctor evades them and finds Medok. While he helps Medok escape from the guards, Medok spots one of the crab-like creatures.
Episode 2 Edit
Medok is excited to have seen the creature with the Doctor, thinking he can prove he wasn't "seeing things". His shouts bring Ola and the guards to them and Ola completely dismisses their claims. He brings the Doctor before the Pilot. While the Doctor is impressed with the Colony's technology, the Pilot questions him about his "crime".
The Doctor starts to explain why he believes Medok, but Ola interrupts to report that Medok swears the Doctor was trying to make him give himself up. The Doctor is released back to the Refreshing Department, and Medok returns to the hospital for another round of treatment. The Controller commands that the strangers be given "the advantage of high-powered adaption" to prevent any further criticism from them, making them more like other obedient Colony members.
Jamie, Ben and Polly are already being brainwashed in their sleep. Jamie sleeps fitfully and the thinking patterns do not take hold, but they do for Ben. The Doctor arrives and disconnects the machinery that transmits the brainwashing into Polly's cubicle, but Ben is angered when the Doctor does the same to his and reports it to Ola. The Doctor and Jamie are taken away.
At the hospital, the Pilot is lamenting that Medok's treatment is failing and he'll probably have to be sent to the pits for life. Meanwhile, Polly angrily leaves the cubicles and runs to the construction site to avoid Ben. Ben follows and captures her. Polly spots a Macra and screams. Ben sees nothing and is dubious, until he spots something himself. A huge claw grabs Polly and Ben fights it off. They soon find themselves surrounded by Macra, but their nimble legs let them escape back to the Colony.
The Pilot confronts the Doctor about his actions, but the Doctor is proud of it. Seeing the Pilot also has a nerve circuit attached to his rest cubicle, he fuses that too. Ben and Polly are also brought before the Pilot. Polly tells their harrowing tale. Ben denies seeing any creatures. The Doctor is convinced Ben has been brought under the evil influences at the heart of the Colony. Jamie and he ask pointed questions, forcing the "Controller" to appear in person. An old, dishevelled man is put on the screen. He can barely speak and is suddenly grabbed by a claw and pulled away. Polly screams that the Macra are in control.
Episode 3 Edit
The Doctor, Jamie and Polly are condemned to pit labour in the "danger gang". The Controller orders the Pilot to forget what he saw on the screen. The Pilot orders Ben to keep an eye on his friends.
The three prisoners are brought to the pithead, where Officia is in charge. He recalls their shift leader, who turns out to be Medok. The Doctor is left at the pithead to be supervisor. Jamie and Polly are given masks and sent down. While the Doctor studies the controls, he spots Ben and talks with him. Ben is completely under control and the Doctor comments that this is very unlike him.
There is soon a gas strike and the workers connect a large cable to stop a leak. Medok tells Polly and Jamie that the gas is lethal and no-one knows what it's used for. Meanwhile, the Doctor is working out some calculations on the wall and is very pleased with his work. The Pilot finds him and accuses him of stealing a secret formula — the Doctor has worked it out on his own. The Pilot insists that he erase his work so that no-one sees it.
The workers probe for more gas. They never stop. Jamie finds a door and Polly comments that it's very new and strong. Officia meddles in some of Medok's work and gas erupts in his face. Jamie uses the opportunity to steal Officia's keys. Ben sees this and helps Officia out of the shaft. Jamie and Polly worry that Ben saw the theft. Jamie uses the keys to enter the strong door, but Polly is called back by Medok to work.
An alarm sounds and, when Polly tells him that Jamie has escaped, Medok follows him, leaving Polly. Officia realises his keys are gone and Ben suggests he must have dropped them. While Medok searches for Jamie, he is attacked by a Macra. The Controller forbids guards to be allowed into the old shaft (where Jamie and Medok have gone). Ben reveals that he knows it's Jamie who's escaped and he saw him take Officia's keys. When the Doctor asks why he didn't say anything, Ben says he's having trouble thinking straight. The Doctor is pleased that he's fighting for control of his mind. But Ben leaves to report it.
Jamie discovers Medok dead, then finds a very still Macra in front of him. The Doctor is trying to analyse the gas and is not having success. Ben cannot find the Pilot, but when the Pilot is not in his office, his conditioning continues to break down.
When Ben reports to the Pilot, the Controller orders gas diverted into the old shaft, intriguing the Doctor. The Doctor tries desperately to figure out how to help Jamie. As Jamie coughs and splutters, the Macra comes to life and moves towards him.
Episode 4 Edit
Jamie slides into a rock crevice, but it won't protect him long. The Doctor tries to work out how to reverse the gas flow and does so by confusing and tricking Officia into revealing which controls to manipulate. Officia tries to get help, but the Doctor has the keys now and locks the entrance to the pithead.
In the old shaft, the oxygen inflow makes the Macra slump, allowing Jamie to escape. Ola and his guards arrive outside the locked door. The Doctor and Polly escape into the mine, locking the heavy door behind them before the guards can follow. They find a pipe room and follow the shaft deeper.
Jamie pries open a grating and wriggles into a cupboard back in the Colony. Outside, some sort of cheerleading practice is taking place. Jamie almost escapes, but is seen by the leader and mistaken for an auditioning dancer. Jamie shows them the Highland Fling and flings himself out the door — right into the arms of Ola and the guards. Ben, still struggling, identifies him, and Jamie is taken away. Ben is clearly regretful.
The Doctor and Polly happen on the Controller's chamber and see that, indeed, the Macra are in charge. They inhale the gas and issue orders. They need the gas to live and use the humans to mine it for them. The Doctor and Polly decide to take the risk of telling the Pilot and trying to bring him to see the truth.
Ola and the Pilot argue. Ola criticises the pit operations, allowing the strangers to escape and endanger the colony. The Doctor and Polly come right in, of their own free will. The Doctor greets everyone and tries to reconcile the two men. Jamie is horrified they've walked into a trap. The Doctor persuades the Pilot to go with him, despite Ola and the Controller's attempts to intervene. The Colonists are frightened at the Pilot's disobeying Control. Polly and Jamie prepare for the worst. Ben's conditioning seems to have worn off, but they realise Ben is gone.
The Doctor takes the Pilot into forbidden territory. Officia is horrified at what he sees and Ola is given command of the Colony by the Controller, who sends all guards to the pithead. The Pilot sees the truth and the Controller screams that they must be destroyed. When they return to the pithead, the Doctor and the Pilot are arrested and, with Polly and Jamie, returned to the pipe room under orders of Control. The building is to be cleared in four minutes.
Gas is vented into the pipe room. The Doctor and his friends begin to succumb to the poison. Outside they hear a knock — it's Ben! The Doctor tells Ben to switch on inflow and outflow together and throw a lever. There is an explosion. It destroys the Macra in their chambers and in the mines.
The Colony celebrates its freedom from Control and the Pilot publicly thanks the strangers and decrees a dance festival be held every year, with the winners receiving the Stranger's Trophy. Ben tells his friends they intend to make the Doctor the next Pilot, so they join in the celebrations and dance their way out of the Colony and back to the TARDIS.
- The Doctor - Patrick Troughton
- Ben Jackson - Michael Craze
- Polly - Anneke Wills
- Jamie McCrimmon - Frazer Hines
- Pilot - Peter Jeffrey
- Medok - Terence Lodge
- Ola - Gertan Klauber
- Barney - Graham Armitage
- Questa - Ian Fairbairn
- Sunaa - Jane Enshawe
- Chicki - Sandra Bryant (Episode 1) & Karol Keyes (Episode 4)
- Drum Majorette - Maureen Lane
- Controller - Graham Leaman
- Alvis - Anthony Gardner
- Control Voice - Denis Goacher
- Broadcast and Propaganda Voice - Richard Beale
- Macra Operator - Robert Jewell
- Officia - John Harvey
- Guards - John Caesar, Steve Emerson, Danny Rae
- Cheerleaders - Roger Jerome, Terry Wright, Ralph Carrigan
- Assistant Floor Manager - Anne Faggetter
- Costumes - Daphne Dare, Vanessa Clark
- Designer - Kenneth Sharp
- Film Cameraman - Peter Hamilton
- Film Editor - Eddie Wallstab
- Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson
- Make-Up - Gillian James, Jeanne Richmond
- Producer - Innes Lloyd
- Production Assistant - Chris D'Oyly John
- Script Editor - Gerry Davis
- Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson
- Studio Lighting - Frank Cresswell
- Studio Sound - Hugh Barker, Gordon Mackie
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- The ancestors of the colony came from Earth many centuries ago and they retain the title of 'Pilot' for their leader.
- The song "Chromophone Band" is playing when the Doctor and his companions arrive at the colony and when the Macra are defeated.
Story notes Edit
- This story is the first to use a new title sequence incorporating an image of Patrick Troughton's face, designed by Bernard Lodge and realised by Ben Palmer. A new arrangement of the theme tune was also produced by Delia Derbyshire with assistance from Dick Mills for the title sequence. Due to a production error it was not used until the following story.
- This story had the working titles The Spidermen, The Insect-Men, and The Macras.
- Sandra Bryant, who played Chicki in Episode 1, asked to be released from her contract so she could accept another, more attractive offer of work. This was agreed to by Innes Lloyd and so, in an unusual move, the role was recast for Episode 4 (the only other episode in which Chicki appears), going instead to Karol Keyes.
- Richard Beale is credited as 'Broadcast Voice' for Episodes 1 and 3. For Episode 2, he is billed as 'Broadcast and Propaganda Voice' on-screen and as 'Broadcast and Propaganda Voices' in Radio Times.
- John Harvey (Officia) is erroneously credited as 'Official' in Radio Times for Episode 4.
- The Macra seen to be in charge in the last episode is white rather than black, a scene for which the sole Macra prop had to be repainted.
- All four episodes are missing, though some clips survive. The audio of the entire story is available.
- In A History of the Universe and aHistory, this story is arbitrarily dated to 2366 (it's in a time when Earth's colonies are remote, and the level of technology isn't very high).
- Episode 1 - 8.0 million viewers
- Episode 2 - 7.9 million viewers
- Episode 3 - 8.5 million viewers
- Episode 4 - 8.4 million viewers
- The image of the Controller seen on the screen in the Pilot's office was a photograph of story editor Gerry Davis. (It was a photograph of Graham Leaman, who played the Controller.)
Filming locations Edit
- Associated Portland Cement Company Quarry, Houghton Road, Dunstable
- Ealing Television Film Studios, Ealing Green, Ealing
- Lime Grove Studios (Studio D)
Production errors Edit
- In Episode 2, a music cue enters too early, and must be faded out (when the Controller insanely insists, "There are no Macra!!").
- The Macra's top claw is longer than the bottom, but when it grabs the Controller, they are the same length.
- The Macra returned to Doctor Who forty years later in TV: Gridlock. To date, this marks the second longest interval between consecutive appearances by a character or alien race in franchise history, only overtaken by The Great Intelligence.
Home video and audio releases Edit
- All of the episodes of this story are missing from the BBC archive. However, some clips of violent moments removed by the Australian censors for Antipodean broadcast survive. These are available on the Lost in Time DVD box set.
- The soundtrack of this story was released on cassette, with linking narration by Colin Baker, on 6 July 1992. The same narration by Baker was used with a higher-quality, remastered version of the soundtrack on the first CD release, 7 August 2000.
- A new linking narration by Anneke Wills was recorded and released with the soundtrack in the box set Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes - Collection Four, released on 2 February 2012.
- The Macra Terror at the BBC's official site
- The Macra Terror at BroaDWcast
- BBC - Doctor Who - Classic Series - Photonovel - The Macra Terror
- Detailed synopsis of The Macra Terror at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- The Macra Terror at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Macra Terror at The Locations Guide
- The Macra Terror transcript