35)THE FACELESS ONES

8 April - 13 May 1967

Average Viewing Figure: 8.2M

Plot

At Gatwick Airport aliens are kidnapping students by seating up Chameleon Tours which offers cheap holiday deals, and The Doctor discovers there might be a less ominous reason as to why this is

Cast

Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Anneke Wills (Polly), Michael Craze (Ben), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon)

Colin Gordon (Commandant), Wanda Ventham (Jean Rock), Bernard Kay (Crossland), Donald Pickering (Blade)

Pauline Collins (Samantha Briggs), James Appleby (Policeman), George Selway (Meadows), Victor Winding (Spencer)

Peter Whitaker (Inspector Gascoigne), Christopher Tranchell (Jenkins), Madalena Nicol (Nurse Pinto), Gilly Fraser (Ann Davidson)

Brigit Paul (Announcer), Barry Wilsher (Heslington), Michael Ladkin (RAF Pilot), Leonard Trolley (Superintendant Reynolds)

Uncredited Cast

Roy Curtis, Vic Taylor, Rogers Jacombs (ATC Technicians), Robin Burns, Charles Erskine (Workmen),  Jean Myers, Pearl Hawkes

Joy Burnett, Joanna Lawrence, Marjorie Sommerville, Ralph Rankissoon, George Wilder, Basil Tang, Graham Tonbridge

Nigel Bernard (Airport Passengers (Madrid Flight)), Barry Dupres, Robin Dawson, Roy Pearce, Pat Leclerc (Chameleons)

Ann Barber, Tina Simons, Valerie Vyner, Maria Hauffer, James Holbrook, Mike Briton, John Dickinson, Gary Leeman, Gloria Forester

Denise Testar, Penelope Daiton, Tony Mead, Richard Kitteridge, Donald Sinclair (Chameleon Tour Travellers)

Peter Roy (Airport Police Sergeant [Sgt Erskine]), Peter Blair Stewart (Stewart Airport Policeman)

John Evans, Steve Pokol, Audrey Stewart, Audrey Searl, Ann Gaibriel, Tony Lang (Airport Personnel in Plane (Chameleons)

Terence Denville (Double for Blade), Elizabeth Smith (Double for Nurse Pinto)

Crew

David Ellis, Malcolm Hulke (Writers), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Gerry Davis (Story Editor), Daphne Dare (Costumes)

Gillian James (Make-Up), Howard King (Lighting), Gordon Mackie (Sound), Tony Imi (Film Cameraman), Chris Haydon (Film Editor)

Geoff Kirkland (Designer), Peter Bryant (Associate Producer), Innes Lloyd (Producer), Gerry Mills (Director)

Broadcast

Broadcast

  • Gatwick Airport, Gatwick, Surrey

  • Gatwick Airport, Air Courier's Apron

  • Gatwick Airport, Main Car Park

  • Ealing Film Studios: Stage 3

  • Lime Grove: Studio D

  • Ealing Film Studios: Stage 3A

Deaths

  • Inspector Gascoigne [shot and killed Spencer Chameleon]

  • Jenkins (Chameleon) [killed when an armband device is removed from Jenkin's arm]

  • Nurse Pinto (Chameleon) [killed when an armband device is removed from Nurse Pinto's arm]

  • RAF Pilot [electrocuted after his plane crashes]

  • The Director (Chameleon) [shot and killed]

  • Jamie McCrimmon (Chameleon) [shot and killed]

Production Days

  • 13 Days between Friday 10 March - Saturday 6 May 1967

Production Errors

  1. Why would the Chameleons call their company 'Chameleon Tours' - subtle much

  2. When the Airport Policeman calls out to The Doctor and his companions on the runway, Polly and Jamie are standing a good distance apart from one other. In the next shot, they are much closer together 

  3. When Gascoigne is shot, he has his back to Polly and falls forward. In the next shot, Inspector Gascoigne's head is facing Polly

  4. When entering the control room in episode one, the door handle comes off in Spencer's hand

  5. After leaving their Satellite in space, why don't the Chameleons fill their empty planes with transformed Chameleons? Surely by doing this they wouldn't attract much attention instead of arriving at their destination with an empty plane

  6. ​When demonstrating how the Chameleon's paralysis pen works in episode three, a shadow of a camera can be seen on Meadow's back

  7. When The Doctor, Jamie and Sam are immobilised to the floor, why does Spencer (Chameleon) leave the room? Why not stick around and make sure they can't escape? ​​​

Working Titles

  • Dr Who and the Chameleons

  • The Big Store (story outline)

  • The Chameleons

Verdict

The Faceless Ones occurs in what is arguably ‘the less creative period’ in Doctor Who. Storylines were becoming more and more recycled week up week, the same scenario becoming commonplace, and almost compulsory in design. The Faceless Ones goes a step further, taking the cliched body-snatcher narrative, and adding an existential crisis where an entire species’ existence hangs in the balance. 

Undoubtedly overlong, the narrative hangs on various threads where expositional dialogue, a handful of

locations (within the same building), convenient plot progressions, and a lot of running back and forth aim to convince the audience, that six-parters generally work well with the series format. They do not. The Faceless Ones is the first serial that breaks the four-part barrier which doesn’t feature the Daleks. It’s a bold attempt to stretch the series format, but a lot of major plot progressions do occur off-screen or simmer for a while before boiling over, and characters must inform the audience of these development, so they can keep up. Whilst flawed in various aspects, the finished product is something to be admired.

It's a pity that two-thirds are currently missing from the BBC Archives, but the restored animation versions do suggest a steady

standard of production values. In what is a more visually told story (the miniaturised humans, the aeroplane leaving Earth’s atmosphere, the Chameleons melting when ‘killed’), but the animation does do the visual service. A majority of the footage where the Chameleons are shot straight-on is also lost, and they themselves are nightmarish begins. The ‘body snatchers’ aren’t invading Earth, or holding a planet hostage, they're simply trying to save the species from extinction. The existential crisis they face is dually felt by the audience since we also require an image we recognise in order to function. They can be desperate for survival (killing Inspector Gascoigne) or ruthless (the murder of a Policeman) if it means all their scheming will come to nothing. The Doctor himself seems remarkable impressed with them, wanting to find out what makes them ‘tick’ rather than destroying them to save the day. We never see the Chameleons again but does hope that they successfully find a more morally driven plan to save their own skins. 

Escapist in nature, The Faceless Ones marks the beginning of a new era for Doctor Who and makes a courageous attempt to push the

boundaries of the show, which were otherwise restricted in previous years. The familiar world of an earthly airport becomes the centre of an alien plot, and the levels of energy never seem to die out. ****