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Mar 07, 2006

The Velvet Underground

Horseplay Following on from The Enemy of the World, the Doctor and Victoria start with a little horseplay on the floor of the console room. Whilst Jamie clings onto the roundels of one of the non-photocopied walls of the console room. Two companions, both in short skirts, one male one female. Playing to both the gallery and the stalls. Once they get the damned doors closed it's all hands to the pumps (and slacks and stay-pressed flares) as the TARDIS whisks them away on their next adventure.

The Web of Fear - Episode 1

Julius But before we can get there the main feature is interrupted by a 1950's B movie horror film that crashes headlong into the action. With three protagonists who don't appear to have any bearing on the main feature. There's Julius Silverstein, Anne Travers and Professor Travers, her dad. Boy, it's a good job we don't see any parent-child action in modern day Who. Julius appears to have fallen directly out of an edition of Crackerjack where a goofy bit part actor is employed to be made a complete ass of at the expense of children's humour. The jarring styles between the TARDIS scenes and these filmed inserts is quite startling. The silver control sphere that Travers has re-awoken appears at the window, like a Dickensian urchin pressing his filthy nose up against the windows of the great house at Christmas staring in disbelief at the spread on the table, and then smashes through the glass like a chav coked up on wicked strength Lambrini going at a bus shelter with a brick trying to impress a cluster of bling-encrusted slappers.

Smarmy Meanwhile, the TARDIS encounters a web. A web... Of fear. Didn't Star Trek do this around the same time? The Tholian Web? Isn't it? There's still not a vast amount happening, so instead we catch up with a TV man who's interviewing random army officers. This TV man is so hateful he'd probably be the sort of wanker who, if he was around in this day and age, would have a bluetooth headset permanently glued to his ear. A twat of such magnitude that a good night out would always be capped off with a rendition of "Uptown Girl" at a Karaoke bar followed by crying himself to sleep in a lonely bedsit.

The TARDIS, having escaped the clutches of the fearsome web, by use of a prototype joystick device, materializes in the London Underground system for a quick round of "Mornington Crescent" (or, as it was called then, "Totter's Lane"). NF Stovold was, at this point in time, a struggling BBC staff writer who went from production to production helping out wherever needed. He used the settings of the London Tube as the basis for what was to become a long running palour game on the BBC Radio 4 show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. Such was the baffling complexity of "Totter's Lane" that only Stovold himself was able to play - and he would be often found rocking backwards and forwards in a dark corner of the studio mumbling to himself. One such exchange was recorded for posterity by a lazy sound engineer who was supposed to be recording the audio from the mics on set. Stovold was recorded alternating between a high pitched voice and a lower pitched one as he appeared to be playing a game out by himself:

Sense-Sphere... Skaro...  Dido... Vortis... Mondas... Vulcan... Telos... Marinus... Totter's Lane

And indeed the Mondas-Vulcan-Telos series of moves was known as "Playing a Fear", but is banned from most modern codes of "Totter's Lane" because of the unpalatable memories it evoked of a mighty European Cup clash of "Totter's Lane" players in Stuttgart '69.

Litup Back in the Tube system and we discover that it's broad daylight and, in some social commentary about the future of the traditional newspaper industry (or something), an old paper seller's covered in cobwebs. The B feature actors come crashing in on the main feature as Professor Travers gets a little peeved at the smarmy reporter. And yet more wet army officers as in evidence as an experienced staff sergeant - think William Hartnell's stunt double from The Army Game (he even stifles a belch and/or fart at one point and ballsed up his lines at the same them) is seen with two drips of considerable magnitude (who'd be lucky to pass basic training if all it entailed was lying around on pillows all day) laying cables in the tunnels. Then, for reasons that might never be fully explained, the Yetis covered the boxes on the platform with webbage and then they light up for no...

The Bumper Book of Made-up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about part one of The Web of Fear: This story inspired a young Tim Berners-Lee to later create the World Wide Web after his first attempt at computer network, which emulated the WOTAN machine, was an unmitigated disaster.

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