The Faceless Ones

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For the Skulduggery Pleasant book of the same name, see The Faceless Ones (Skulduggery Pleasant).
035 – The Faceless Ones
Doctor Who serial
Faceless Ones.jpg
The Doctor hides at Gatwick Airport
Cast
Others
Production
Writer David Ellis and Malcolm Hulke
Director Gerry Mill
Script editor Gerry Davis
Producer Innes Lloyd
Peter Bryant (associate producer, episodes 1-3)
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Stock music
Production code KK
Series Season 4
Length 6 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing 4 episodes (2, 4-6) (material missing from episode 3 due to damaged print)
Date started 8 April 1967
Date ended 13 May 1967
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Macra Terror The Evil of the Daleks

The Faceless Ones is the partly missing eighth serial of the fourth season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in six weekly parts from 8 April to 13 May 1967. The story concerns a race of identity-stealing aliens known as the Chameleons. It sees the departure of Michael Craze and Anneke Wills as the Doctor's companions Ben Jackson and Polly. Only two of the six episodes are held in the BBC archives; four remain missing.

Plot[edit]

The TARDIS materializes on the runway of Gatwick Airport. The Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie emerge only to discover that they are in the path of an oncoming plane. They see a security officer coming for them, so they split up to flee him. Airport security confiscates the TARDIS after thinking the police are playing a practical joke on them. Polly ducks in the Chameleon Tours agency hangar, where she sees Spencer kill another man and report to his superior, Captain Blade. Polly flees, and runs into the Doctor and Jamie. After telling them what she saw, she brings them to the hangar. They examine the body and the Doctor notes that the victim was electrocuted by a weapon that can't possibly exist on Earth at that time. They leave to find someone in authority, and Blade captures Polly without the Doctor or Jamie noticing. He hides her along with the corpse before Jamie and the Doctor return with sceptical airport authorities.

Alone again, Spencer revives an alien, a faceless green humanoid with prominent veins. Nurse Pinto brings in unconscious air traffic controller Meadows, and connects him to the alien and a machine. The alien transforms into a doppelganger of Meadows, and goes to his airport job. Polly exits from a newly landed plane, but rejects the Doctor and Jamie, claiming to be Michelle Leuppi from Zurich.

At the Chameleon kiosk, they meet Samantha Briggs, a young Liverpudlian, searching for her brother. On a Chameleon youth tour, he sent a postcard from Rome, but nobody saw him there. Breaking in, the trio find fake postcards from missing tourists, and a monitor of the Tours hangar. The Doctor sees Ben find Polly suspended comatose in a metal cabinet, then himself gets caught and frozen by Blade and Spencer. The Doctor escapes and goes alone to the hangar and tells Jamie and Samantha to stay.

They meet Detective Inspector Crossland investigating the disappeared Chameleon customers, and realize the first body was his missing partner, DI Gascoigne. The Doctor finds only comatose Meadows and returns to demonstrate the freezing gun to the Airport Commandant, who gives them 12 hours to investigate. Blade points the ray gun at Crossland to stop him boarding the next flight, and shows him that all the passengers have vanished.

Spencer attacks Jamie and Samantha, but they escape. Jamie steals Samantha's ticket and boards. Samantha finds Spencer instead of the airport manager; he ties her up for Pinto to duplicate. Meanwhile the Doctor and Commandant learn from other airports that Chameleon passengers never arrive.

Blade eliminates a pursuing RAF fighter and diverts Jamie's plane up to dock in a vast alien craft. When an airsick Jamie emerges from the toilet, he finds the passengers miniaturised in drawers. Blade's assistant Ann catches him, and traps him in a room with two misshapen aliens.

The Doctor follows the radar signals to the plane's destination, threatens to remove alien Meadows' life-supporting black armband, and elicits an explanation. An explosion damaged the alien home world, so they want to use 50,000 humans left comatose in orbit as replacements. The Doctor uses the alien Meadows to get at the alien Pinto. She resists and disintegrates, so the real Pinto revives and frees Samantha. She tells the Doctor that Jamie left.

Jamie meets the Director of the aliens, a Crossland copy, who says that the plane will return to the airport for the remaining Chameleons. The Doctor keeps the identities of copied staff secret, so the Commandant can find their hidden originals.

The Doctor pretends to be the alien Meadows and Pinto impersonates her double. They board the last flight to space. The alien Jamie reveals the threat of the Doctor, so Blade sends undisguised Chameleons to capture them. The Doctor offers to spare Gatwick's original aliens, when one onboard disintegrates, proving that Samantha found the real staff in parking lot cars. Blade and Spencer kill the Director and the fake Jamie, whose originals revive. Crossland stays behind when the Doctor, Jamie and Pinto return with freed humans.

In the airport, Samantha kisses Jamie goodbye. Ben and Polly learn that the day is 20 July 1966, when they first left in the TARDIS. They leave for home. The Doctor reveals to Jamie that the TARDIS has been released from airport storage, and stolen.

Continuity[edit]

20 July 1966 is noted as the busiest day for the Doctor in his time on Earth. The First Doctor defeats the War Machines and WOTAN. As noted in the synopsis above the plans of the Chameleons have been foiled and the TARDIS has been stolen at the beginning of the Second Doctor and Jamie's adventure against the Daleks.

Production[edit]

Working titles for this story include The Chameleons. This story had its origins in a planned Hartnell story by Hulke-Ellis called The Big Store, in which aliens occupied mannequins in a busy department store, while waiting for human hosts to possess. The idea was adapted for the Troughton era and its setting changed to a metropolitan airport.

Some of The Faceless Ones was filmed on location at Gatwick Airport in March 1967.[1] Heathrow also accepted the production team's offer, but the team chose Gatwick as the cost was lower. Doctor Who would later film at Heathrow for Time-Flight in 1982.

As The Macra Terror saw the debut of a new title sequence, The Faceless Ones saw the revised arrangement of the theme music that accompanied this new sequence made in Episode 2.[2]

Cast notes[edit]

Although contracted (and paid) up to episode two of The Evil of the Daleks, it was decided that Anneke Wills and Michael Craze would leave the series after filming for episode two of this serial. Both Ben and Polly go missing in this episode, and after their eventual rescue in the final episode they appear only in pre-filmed inserts.[3]

Pauline Collins was offered the chance to continue playing the character of Sam Briggs as a new companion, but declined the offer. Collins guest-starred, years later, as Queen Victoria in "Tooth and Claw".[2][4]

Bernard Kay appears as Inspector Crossland. He had previously appeared as Tyler in The Dalek Invasion of Earth and Saladin in The Crusade. He later appeared as Caldwell in Colony in Space. Wanda Ventham and Donald Pickering would later star as husband and wife in Time and the Rani. Pickering had previously appeared as Eyesen in The Keys of Marinus and Ventham would go on to play Thea Ransom in Image of the Fendahl. Christopher Tranchell would return as Leela's love interest Andred in The Invasion of Time and had previously appeared as Roger Colbert in The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve.

Broadcast, reception and archive[edit]

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
Archive
"Episode 1" 8 April 1967 (1967-04-08) 23:47 8.0 16mm t/r
"Episode 2" 15 April 1967 (1967-04-15) 25:22 6.4 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"Episode 3" 22 April 1967 (1967-04-22) 23:10 7.9 16mm t/r
"Episode 4" 29 April 1967 (1967-04-29) 24:28 6.9 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"Episode 5" 6 May 1967 (1967-05-06) 23:34 7.1 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"Episode 6" 13 May 1967 (1967-05-13) 23:38 8.0 Only stills and/or fragments exist
[5][6][7]

Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping gave the serial a favourable review in The Discontinuity Guide (1995), writing that "the realistic backdrop works very well, and the script is well constructed, augmented by the terrifying appearance of the aliens".[8] In 2009, Mark Braxton of Radio Times noted that there were plot holes but the story "unveils its mystery with ease and elegance".[1]

Missing episodes[edit]

Only episodes one and three of this serial exist in the BBC archives. In addition to the complete version, the archives hold an incomplete print of episode one, returned from ABC in Australia in the early 1980s. The Australian Film Censorship Board saw fit to remove the following scenes: Spencer killing Inspector Gascoigne with a Chameleon ray-gun; the alien arm emerging from the cupboard; and panning shots of the alien figure (seen only from behind) at the end of the episode. Also, around 14 seconds of material is missing from episode three, due to a damaged print, as stated above.

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who book
Book cover
The Faceless Ones
Series Target novelisations
Release number 116
Writer Terrance Dicks
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Tony Masero
ISBN 0-426-20294-5
Release date

December 1986 (Hardback)

21 May 1987 (Paperback)

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in December 1986.

Home media[edit]

As with all missing episodes, off-air recordings of the soundtrack exist due to contemporary fan efforts. In February 2002 these were released on CD, accompanied by linking narration from Frazer Hines. In November 2003, episodes one and three of this serial were released on VHS by BBC Worldwide, along with episode one of The Web of Fear, as part of the The Reign of Terror boxset;[9] this was the final VHS release, coinciding with the programme's fortieth anniversary.[9] In November 2004, they were included in the three-disc Lost in Time DVD set.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Braxton, Mark (7 June 2009). "Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones". Radio Times. Retrieved 3 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "The Fourth Dimension: The Faceless Ones". BBC. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "A Brief History Of Time (Travel): The Faceless Ones". Shannonsullivan.com. Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  4. ^ Ruediger, Ross (6 October 2006). "Doctor Who, Season Two, Ep. 2: "Tooth and Claw"". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "The Faceless Ones". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  6. ^ "The Faceless Ones". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  7. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2005-05-08). "The Faceless Ones". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  8. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "The Faceless Ones". The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20442-5. 
  9. ^ a b Steve Roberts, Jonathan Wood, Peter Finklestone, Ed Stradling (6 October 2003). "The Reign of Terror Boxset". Doctor Who Restoration Team. Retrieved 3 March 2013. 

External links[edit]

Reviews[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]