91)THE TALONS OF WENG-CHIANG

26 February - 2 April 1977

Average Viewing Figure: 10.4M

Plot

In Victorian London, The Doctor and Leela discover young girls have been disappearing off the streets. Meanwhile beneath a theatre, a 51st century War Criminal, Magnus Greel is posing as the Chinese God Weng-Chiang 

Cast

Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), John Bennett (Li H'Sen Chang), Michael Spice (Weng-Chiang)

Christopher Benjamin (Jago), Chris Gannon (Casey), Trevor Baxter (Professor Litefoot), Deep Roy (Mr Sin)

David McKail (Sergeant Kyle), Conrad Asquith (PC Quick), Alan Butler (Buller), Patsy Smart (Ghoul), Tony Then (Lee)

John Wu (Coolie), Judith Lloyd (Teresa), Vaune Craig-Raymond (Cleaner), Penny Lister (Singer), Vincent Wong (Ho)

Uncredited Cast

Dudley Simpson (Conductor), Charles Adey Gray (Theatre Doorkeeper [Fred]), Arnold Lee, Kevin Sullivan (Chimney Sweeps)

Alan Chuntz, Max Faulkner, Stuart Fell, Fred Lee Own, Dennis Chin, Arnold Lee, Dennis Chin, Sabu Kimura, Jimmy Ang

Dennis Matsuki, Basil Tang, Kim Teoh (Coolies), Sally Sinclair (Levitating Girl), Richard Sheekey, James Haswell (Policemen)

Lisa Bergmayer, Marie Anthony (Ghouls), Jim Delaney, Colin Thomas (Policemen [at Station], Stuart Fell (Giant Rat)

David J Grahame (Chestnut Seller), Mary Maxted, Rita Tobin (Cleaners), Huntley Young (Policeman at Litefoot's)

Helen Simnett, Debbie Cumming (Young Girls)

Crew

Robert Holmes (Writer), Stuart Fell (Fight Arranger), Dudley Simpson (Incidental Music), Ron Grainer (Title Music)

Bernard Lodge (Title Sequence), Ros Anderson (Production Assistant), Chris D'Oyly-John (Production Unit Manager)

John Mason (OB Lighting), Vic Godrich (OB Sound), Mike Jeffries (Studio Lighting), Clive Gifford (Studio Sound)

Fred Hamilton (Film Cameraman), John Gatland (Film Recordist), David Lee (Film Editor)

Michael John Harris (Visual Effects Designer), Dick Mills (Special Sound), John Bloomfield (Costume Designer)

Heather Stewart (Make-Up Artist), Roger Murray-Leach (Designer)

Philip Hinchcliffe (Producer), David Maloney (Director)

Uncredited Crew

George Reed, Andy Lazell, John Brace (Visual Effects Assistants), Pat Mordecai (Vision Mixer), John Sterling (Engineering Manager)

Stan Swetman (Grips), Stan Cresswell, Bobby Gould (Film Operatives), Brian Hall (Assistant Film Cameraman)

Steve Diamond (Assistant Film Recordist), Sue Box (Floor Assistant), Bill Eldridge (Props Buyer)

Rosemary Parsons, Carol Bolt (Director's Assistant), Alan Hughes (Costume Assistant), Gerry Scott, Graham Lough (Design Assistants)

Christine Baker, Jennfier Hughes, Martha Livesey (Make-Up Assistants) 

Broadcast

Filming Locations

  • Ealing Film Studios: Stage 2

  • Skin Market, Emerson Street, London

  • Clink Street, London

  • St Mary Overy's Wharf, Southwark, London

  • Bankside, Southwark, London

  • Broad Oak, Cambridge Park, Twickenham, London

  • Wrapping Pier Head, Wapping High Street, London

  • Bridewell Place, Wapping, London

  • St Katherine Docks, East Smithfield, London

  • Empty Rate Office, Fish Street, Northampton

  • The Royal Theatre, Swan Street, Northampton

  • Northampton Repertory Theatre

  • Crispin's Hospital, Duston, Northampton

  • Television Centre: Studio 1

  • Television Centre: Studio 8

Deaths

  • Li H'Sen Chang [dies of his wounds inflicted by the Giant Rat]

  • Weng-Chiang [dies due to fatal cellular collapse]

  • Casey [dies of fright]

  • Mr Sin [deactivated]

  • Buller [murdered by Mr Sin]

  • Lee [dies of scorpion venom]

  • Coolie [dies of scorpion venom]

  • Cleaner [drained of her energy]

  • Ho [killed by laser beams]​

  • Giant Rat [shot dead with a Chinese fowling gun]

  • Policeman at Litefoot's [murdered by Mr Sin]

  • Coolies [shot dead by laser beams]

  • Chinese Assassin [stabbed with a janis thorn]

Production Days

  • 16 days between Monday 13 December 1976 - Thursday 10 February 1977

Production Errors

  1. When The Doctor and Leela emerge from the Tardis at the beginning of part one, the Tardis doors are open ajar. They walk to the poster of Chang and then run past the Tardis again. The door is now closed 

  2. When The Doctor and Leela first encounter members of the Tong dragging the body of Buller away, there are clearly four of them. After the fight, when they disperse, there are suddenly five of them 

  3. There are several modern powerpoints in Litefoot's lab that have been covered up in masking tape

  4. A newspaper from the 1970s can be seen inside Litefoot's laundry basket in part three

  5. The shadow of a boom microphone can be seen on the curtains during episode six 

  6. The deactivated Mr Sin flinches when The Doctor smashes the crystal key on the ground

  7. When Leela grabs the revolver from the hand of a dead Coolie, one of the 'dead' extras move his leg twice 

  8. The axe in-between the eyes of the dragon vanishes when The Doctor tells Jago and Litefoot he'll buy muffins 

  9. Why does Magnus Greel need the energy from Young Girls in particular? What makes them so special?

  10. A boom microphone enters the frame when Leela tells The Doctor that Professor Litefoot has been teaching her about tea

  11. A hand belonging to a crewmember enters the frame to push over a vase that had been hit by a laser beam previously 

  12. There are several giant-rats still roaming through the sewers - what becomes of them? 

Working Titles

  • The For from the Future - (storyline)

  • The Talons of Greel 

Verdict

The Talons of Weng Chiang is often regarded as the best serial to be broadcasted in the 1970s and not it’s not hard to see why. The production values are at an all-time high with gorgeous costumes, make-up, sets and an all-around brilliant cast. The script is one of the most colorful incorporating gothic settings, Jack-the-Ripper like murders, Sherlock Holmes references and a phantom of the opera like villain waiting in the wings. Louise Jameson continues to develop and grow as Leela, still possessing her savage-tribal like ways with little to no care about how other people look at her. There are moments of padding and sometimes the subtly can be a little draining but one cannot deny that the big budget (which unfortunately resulted in Production Unit Manager, Chris D’Oyly-John’s dismissal) makes this enjoyable Victorian tale all the more epic. The Talons of Weng Chiang is easily one of the most beautiful looking serial of all time and is a fitting end to the Philip Hinchcliffe and Renaissance era as a whole. *****