8) THE REIGN OF TERROR

8 August - 12 September 1964

Average Viewing Figure: 6.7M

Plot

Arriving in France in the 18th Century, The Doctor and his companions find themselves being torn apart during the revolution

Cast

William Hartnell (The Doctor), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright), Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman)

Jack Cunningham (Jailer), Donald Morley (Jules Renan), James Cairncross (Lemaitre), Edward Brayshaw (Leon Colbert)

Roy Herrick (Jean), Keith Anderson (Robespierre), Caroline Hunt (Danielle), Peter Walker (Small Boy), Laidlaw Dalling (Rouvray)

Neville Smith (D'Argenson), Robert Hunter (Sergeant), Ken Lawrence (Lieutenant), James Hall (Soldier), Howard Charlton (Judge)

John Barrard (Shopkeeper), Jeffrey Wickham (Webster), Dallas Cavell (Road Works Overseer), Dennis Cleary (Peasant)

Ronald Pickup (Physician), Terry Bale (Soldier), John Law (Paul Barras), Tony Wall (Napoleon Bonaparte), Patrick Marley (Soldier)

Uncredited Cast

Bob Berry, Rex Dyer, Gerry Wain, Tony Bates (Soldiers (at Farmhouse)), Eleanor Dalling, Leila Forde (Knitting Ladies),  John Sackville West

Don Cavendish, Sid Deller, Don Simons, Nigel James, Jay McGarth, Adrian Drotske (Soldiers (at Prison)), David Banville (Prisoner)

Jack Le White, Brian Proudfoot, Ralph Katterns, Jill Howard, Helene Cutts, Eleanor Dalling (Citizens), Maurice Selwyn, Len Russell

David Anderson, Terry Wallace, Al Raymond, Adrian Drotske, Brian Proudfoot, Roy Curtis, Bob Berry, Sid Deller,  Bill Nicholas

Joseph Cohen, Maurice Leon, Tony Lampdon (Soldiers)

Crew

Dennis Spooner (Writer), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Stanley Myers (Incidental Music), Peter Hamilton (Film Cameraman)

Caroline Shields (Film Editor), Daphne Dare (Costumes Supervisor), Sonia Markham (Make-Up Supervisor), Howard King (Lighting)

David Whitaker (Story Editor), Roderick Laing (Designer), Mervyn Pinfield (Associate Producer), Verity Lambert (Producer)

Henrich Hirsch (Director)

Uncredited Crew

Neil Campbell, Mark Lewis (Technical Managers), Fred Law, Clive Doig (Vision Mixers)

Bernard Havard, Philip Chilver, David Tilley (Floor Assistants), Ann Earl (Production Secretary), Timothy Combe (Production Assistant)

Michael Cager (Assistant Floor Manager), Ray Angel, Chick Anthony (Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement)

Brian Hodgson (Special Sound), Jill Summers (Make-Up)

Broadcast

Filming Locations

  • Isle of Wight Farm, Bucks

  • White Plains, Denham Green, Bucks

  • Ealing Film Studios: Stage 3A

  • Lime Grove: Studio G

  • Television Centre: Studio 4

Deaths

  • Rouvray [killed by the Sergeant]

  • D'Argenson [killed by soldiers]

  • Webster [dies after being shot by revolutionary soldiers]

  • Leon Colbert [killed by Jules Renan]

  • Soldier [shot and killed by Jules Renan]

  • Leon Colbert's Soldiers [killed by Jules Renan]

Production Days

  • 10 days between Monday 15 June - Friday 14 August 1964

Production Errors

  1. Webster's dying message consists of 'Le Chien Gris' and Jules Renan. However, when Ian passes on the information he mentions a sinking ship and Barras

  2. Renan's rule that the escape line works on first name only is contradicted since he knows two of the people on it as Rouvray and D'Argenson 

  3. When The Tardis lands in episode one, there is no sound as it does so, the Tardis arrives silently 

  4. The clothes which the time travellers find in the farmhouse, just so happen to fit them perfectly 

  5. Robespierre and Napoleon's involvement in the story is very inaccurate 

  6. During the serial, Danielle refers to Jean as 'John', however the other characters in the serial refer to him by his non-anglicised name 

Working Titles

  • Episode 2: Guests of the Guillotine

Verdict

An entertaining story with plenty of plot twist and surprises, where regular changes of location keeps things highly entertaining, but is a let-down in terms of its historical inaccuracy. The serial is a mixture of highs and lows which is a shame because The Reign of Terror is a ‘fine’ piece of television, but the final result is far from being perfect. It is here where Susan Foreman becomes exceedingly tiring, and the quirky way she calls The Doctor ‘grandfather’ becomes a tiring writing tool which results in some very dated plot devices. Not good, considering the show was only a few months old at the time. There is some excellent practical effects work at the helm here, as well as some experimental camera work. The writing at time feels very chaotic and rather confused, which is no surprise considering the serial has the ‘misfortune’ of  carrying a large-sized cast, most of whom only appear for a maximum of two episodes. A chaotic storyline and a massive list of characters will continually be a terrible mix for the show over the years. There is also a hidden subplot concerning the violence and rising tension amidst the French Revolution, which although never actually depicted onscreen can be felt throughout; the falling guillotine blade at the start of episode two, Barbara and Susan being escorted for execution off-screen, the deaths of D’Argenson and Rouvray by gunfire etc. The villains of the piece are just typically power hungry and money driven, only in it for themselves revolutionaries, clichéd motivations seen many times before. These not the worst villains by any means, some of them are brilliantly acted, just bland. The Reign of Terror also has some witticism here and there resulting in some very funny moments, which brings the serial back to the surface level despite its many flaws. As for the Napoleon side of the story, that should have ended up on the cutting room floor. ***