27) THE WAR MACHINES

25 June - 16 July 1966

Average Viewing Figure: 5.2M

Plot

In London 1966, WOTAN, a super-computer plans to take over the Earth by building War Machines

Cast

William Hartnell (The Doctor), Jackie Lane (Dodo Chaplet), Anneke Wills (Polly), Michael Craze (Ben), William Mervyn (Sir Charles Summer)

John Harvey (Professor Brett), John Cater (Professor Krimpton), Alan Curtis (Major Green), Sandra Bryant (Kitty), Ewan Proctor (Flash)

Ric Felgate (American Journalist), John Doye (Interviewer), Roy Godfrey (Tramp), Michael Rathborne (Taxi-Driver)

Desmond Cullum-Jones (Worker 1), Gerald Taylor (Machine Operator/Voice of WOTAN), Eddie Davis (Worker 2), John Rolfe (Captain)

John Boyd-Brent (Sergeant), Frank Jarvis (Corporal), Robin Dawson (Solider), Kenneth Kendall (Television Newsreader)

George Cross (The Minister), Edward Colliver (Garage Mechanic), John Slavid (Man in Telephone Box), Dwight Whylie (Radio Announcement)

Carl Conway (US Correspondent)

Uncredited Cast

Peter Stewart (Policeman), George Wilder (Steward at Scientific Club), Graham Tonbridge (Professor at Scientific Club), Jack Rowlands (Reporter)

Bill Taylor (Army Lorry Driver), John Pollock, John Doye, Connie Georges, Dolly Brennan (People in Pub)

Doreen Ubels, David J Grahame (Pedestrians), Stephen Rich (Chaffeur)

Crew

Ian Stuart Black (Writer), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Based on an idea by Kit Pedler, Daphne Dare (Costumes), Sonia Markham (Make-Up)

George Summers (Lighting), David Hughes (Sound), Alan Jonas (Film Cameraman), Eric Mival (Film Editor), Gerry Davis (Story Editor)

Raymond London (Designer), Innes Lloyd (Producer), Michael Ferguson (Director)

Uncredited Crew

Warwick Fielding (Technical Manager), Lovett Bickford, Margot Hayhoe (Assistant Floor Managers)

Broadcast

Filming Locations

  • Berners Mews, London

  • Maple Street, London

  • Charlotte Place, London

  • Bedford Square, London

  • Conway Street, London

  • Gresse Street, London

  • Ealing Film Studios: Stage 3

  • Ealing Film Studios

  • Covent Garden, London

  • Royal Opera House, Bow Street, London

  • Cornwall Gardens, London

  • Cornwall Gardens Walk, London

  • Riverside Studio 1

Deaths

  • Professor Krimpton [killed by a War Machine]

  • Worker 1 [killed by a War Machine while testing its weapons]

  • Tramp [murdered by hypnotised labourers]

  • Garage Mechanic [killed by a War Machine]

  • Man in Telephone Box [killed by a War Machine]

  • WOTAN [destroyed by a War Machine]

  • Soldiers [wiped out by a War Machine]

Production Days

  • 9 days between Sunday 22 May - Friday 1 July 1966 

Production Errors

  1. During episode two, the War Machines misses the Worker it is ordered to kill, but the actors drops dead anyway 

  2. The test War Machine's number somehow changes from 9 to 3 during its movement test

  3. During episode four, WOTAN pronounces its name with a 'w' sound rather than a soft 'v' sound

  4. Whilst examining the captured War Machine, The Doctor bashes his head against one of its weapons 

  5. During the story, Sir Charles talks about Monday 16 July which would place the story in 1962 or 1973

Working Titles

  • Doctor Who and the Computers

Verdict

At the time of its original broadcast, William Hartnell’s personal health was failing, and viewing figures were on the decline, the show was becoming tired and monotonous, the style that worked less than two years ago had run its course, even The Daleks were losing their appeal, the beginning of the end was nigh. The War Machines marks the beginning of Innes Lloyd and Gerry Davis’ new vision for the show, phasing out historical-based narratives and whimsical storytelling in favour for nitty gritty science fiction stories. 
A mixture of filming locations and studio work blend together to bring Doctor Who literally down to Earth, turning everyday objects and locations into vices in a nightmarish world. This was a trend that Russell T Davies later resurrected when penning the show for its return in 2004. On saying that the story is not that original, hypnotism, super intelligent computers, these have been seen many times beforehand, but this is Doctor Who, a show that is never too scared to experiment with clichéd science fiction tropes, and they work here. 
The script is extremely tight and ingenuously written by Ian Stuart Black, moving from one plot development to the next, building up the tension bit by bit, whilst juggling various scripting requirements that were thrown onto the writer. The first of these is the departure of Dodo, an easy contender for the absolute worst swansong for a companion. Having decided that he disliked the character, Innes Lloyd decided that Dodo should leave the show in favour of Ben and Polly. Dodo’s absence occurs halfway through, with her expositional departure being explained towards the final moments. It’s a decision that The Doctor himself feels most saddened about, as do the viewers, since Dodo herself was not that much developed as a character, a missed opportunity. Ben and Polly make an impression on their own accord, mirroring the swinging sixties that were predominant at the time in Britain. A bigger variety of angles – high and low angles, tracking and panning shots and close-ups all add up for a claustrophobic tale. William Hartnell plays a more confident Doctor using his smarts to save the day, and using the enemy’s own weapons against them, a fitting style, and The Doctor’s last great stand before his upcoming regeneration. The War Machines is the product of changing with the times, and is only the beginning of what is to come. ****