Alpha Centauri (Doctor Who)
|Doctor Who character|
Alpha Centauri watching a surveillance monitor in The Monster of Peladon
|First appearance||The Curse of Peladon|
|Last appearance||The Monster of Peladon|
|Portrayed by||Stuart Fell (body) and Ysanne Churchman (voice)|
|Affiliated||The Galactic Federation|
|Home planet||A planet within Alpha Centauri and Peladon|
Alpha Centauri is a hermaphroditic hexapod from Alpha Centauri and, being effectively genderless is referred to as "it" as opposed to "he" or "she". It is tall, green, has one large blue eye, six arms and a high-pitched voice, wears a long yellow cape and walks with a nervous gait. It is prone to cowardice and hysterics. It has a low opinion of Earth, describing it as a "'remote and unattractive" planet, but regrets that its appearance can frighten humans. It regards females as unimportant.
Alpha Centauri is also the name of Alpha Centauri's native star system. The Alpha Centauri binary star system is second only to Proxima Centauri in proximity to the Solar System, home to the Earth.
Alpha Centauri arrives on Peladon in The Curse of Peladon as a delegate overseeing Peladon's admission to the Galactic Federation. It calls for the conference to be cancelled upon learning of the suspicious death of Chancellor Torbis but is persuaded by King Peladon that the delegates are safe. The Doctor saves Alpha Centauri's life when Grun attempts to assassinate it, prompting another discussion as to whether the conference should continue. When there is later a threat of hostilities, Alpha Centauri again wants to leave Peladon.
As the situation on Peladon worsens with the treacherous delegate Arcturus being killed, the delegates vote that the Galactic Federation should intervene, although Alpha Centauri votes in favour of this officially under protest, unsure of whether such action can be justified. Alpha Centauri is unable to contact its orbiting spaceship as its communicator has been broken and is thus unable to leave Peladon as Hepesh's men advance. Alpha Centauri fears they will attack the delegates but the Doctor brings about an end to the crisis.
Half a century later, Alpha Centauri is on Peladon during the events of The Monster of Peladon now as Galactic Federation Ambassador to Peladon. It is reunited with the Doctor, now accompanied by Sarah Jane Smith (who has replaced Jo Grant). Queen Thalira releases the Doctor and Sarah into Alpha Centauri's custody when the Federation representative offers to vouch for them, saving their lives. The Doctor is pleased to see Alpha Centauri again but the feminist Sarah is antagonised by its attitude towards women.
Alpha Centauri summons help when the Doctor goes missing and is later captured by Ettis along with Sarah. It opens the armory for Ettis when he threatens to kill Sarah, activating an alarm in doing do so which alerts Thalira and her men that the rebellion has begun. Ettis almost stabs Alpha Centauri, believing it to have known the alarm would sound, but Sarah stops him. Federation miner Eckersley suspects Alpha Centauri may be in league with the rebels, but Thalira chooses to trust it. The Ambassador encourages Thalira to overrule Chancellor Ortron in an attempt to save the Doctor and Sarah from being punished by Aggedor for their blasphemy.
Eckersley convinces Alpha Centauri of the danger they face if the miners have got hold of Federation weapons and purports that the Ambassador would be held responsible for this. Scared, Alpha Centauri agrees to summon Federation troops. This angers the Doctor when he finds out, him believing such action will only inflame the situation and indeed this turn of events proves to raise tensions. Despite this, Alpha Centauri continues to defend the Doctor to the Peladon authorities.
To prevent the Pels rebelling against outside interference, Alpha Centauri complies with Sarah's plan to get the troops to leave by pretending everything is fine. Alpha Centauri temporarily suspects the Doctor of being in league with the rebels as surveillance detects the Doctor breaking into the refinery, but is quickly reassured by Sarah that they think Aggedor is a fraud controlled from the refinery.
Sarah's plan fails and Alpha Centauri protests the Ice Warrior Azaxyr's actions when he declares martial law on behalf of the Galactic Federation. Alpha Centauri is shocked when the Doctor discovers that the Ice Warriors were in the refinery all along and are committing treason but is unable to report them to the Federation as the Ice Warriors' fleet is blocking communications. The Ambassador then sets about helping resist the Ice Warriors accompanying Sarah as they set out to retrieve its emergency distress beacon which will enable contact with the Federation. Evading their Ice Warrior guard, they collect the beacon but Alpha Centauri cannot remember how to activate it, accidentally switching on the monitor to reveal Eckersley and Azaxyr talking and that Eckersley is in league with the Ice Warriors. Later discovered by Azaxyr and Eckersley, Alpha Centauri reveals how their treachery was found out. Threatened, Alpha Centauri gives away Sarah's location.
Set free by the defeat of the Ice Warriors, Alpha Centauri is later knocked out by Eckersley as he captures the Queen. Once the Queen has escaped and Eckersley has been killed and disputes have been settled, Alpha Centauri reports to the Federation that the war is over.
Behind the scenes
Ysanne Churchman was instructed by director Lennie Mayne to make the creature sound like a "gay civil servant". The same costume was worn by Stuart Fell for both appearances as the character (albeit with two different cape designs), the character appearing in The Monster of Peladon in order to help recreate the atmosphere of Peladon depicted in the earlier serial The Curse of Peladon.
Stuart Fell appeared as an uncredited Functionary in the Doctor Who serial Carnival of Monsters between his appearances as Alpha Centauri. He later appeared in Doctor Who as a tramp in Planet of the Spiders, the body of the Wirrn in The Ark in Space, an uncredited double for Styre in The Sontaran Experiment, Kraal in The Android Invasion, the Morbius Monster in The Brain of Morbius, an entertainer in The Masque of Mandragora, an uncredited Tesh guard in The Face of Evil, a guard in The Sun Makers, a Sontaran in The Invasion of Time and Roga in State of Decay. He also served as fight arranger for the Doctor Who serial The Talons of Weng-Chiang and worked on stunts for the serials The Invasion of Time and The Ribos Operation.
Alpha Centauri appears in Legacy, a Virgin New Adventure spin-off novel set on Peladon, meeting the Seventh Doctor and Benny. Alpha Centauri and Benny appeal against the Doctor's death sentence for the murder of Lady Lianna, former handmaiden to Queen Thalira, to no avail, although the Doctor is later saved. Alpha Centauri also features in Fifth Doctor Big Finish audio drama The Bride of Peladon, this time voiced by Jane Goddard. The canonicity of Doctor Who spin-off media is unclear.
- Writer Brian Hayles and Terrance Dicks (uncredited), Director Lennie Mayne, Producer Barry Letts (29 January – 19 February 1972). The Curse of Peladon. Doctor Who. London. BBC.
- Writer Brian Hayles, Director Lennie Mayne, Producer Barry Letts (23 March – 27 April 1974). The Monster of Peladon. Doctor Who. London. BBC.
- "The Curse of Peladon". BBC. 2003. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- "Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion". BBC. 2003. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- "The Monster of Peladon". BBC. 2003. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- "Filmography by TV series for Ysanne Churchman". Internet Movie Database. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- "Filmography by TV series for Stuart Fell". Internet Movie Database. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- "Legacy by Gary Russell". Dominique Boies. Archived from the original on 26 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-17.