Delta and the Bannermen

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146[1]Delta and the Bannermen
Doctor Who serial
Delta and the Bannermen (Doctor Who), 1988.png
The Bannermen, preparing to attack.
  • Don HendersonGavrok
  • Belinda Mayne – Delta
  • Richard Davies – Burton
  • Stubby Kaye – Weismuller
  • Morgan Deare – Hawk
  • David Kinder – Billy
  • Martyn Geraint – Vinny
  • Sara Griffiths – Rachel 'Ray' Defwydd
  • Hugh Lloyd – Goronwy
  • Ken Dodd – Tollmaster
  • Brian Hibbard – Keillor
  • Johnny Dennis – Murray
  • Leslie Meadows – Adlon
  • Anita Graham – Bollitt
  • Clive Condon – Callon
  • Richard Mitchley – Arrex
  • Tim Scott – Chima
  • Jessica McGough, Amy Osborn – Young Chimeron
  • Laura Collins, Carley Joseph – Chimeron Princess
  • Robin Aspland, Keff McCulloch, Justin Myers, Ralph Salmins – The Lorells
  • Tracey Wilson, Jodie Wilson – Vocalists
Writer Malcolm Kohll
Director Chris Clough
Script editor Andrew Cartmel
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Keff McCulloch
Production code 7F
Series Season 24
Length 3 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 2 November–16 November 1987
← Preceded by Followed by →
Paradise Towers Dragonfire

Delta and the Bannermen is the third serial of the 24th season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in three weekly parts from 2 November to 16 November 1987.


On an alien planet the genocide of the Chimeron by the merciless Bannermen led by Gavrok is almost complete. The last survivor, Chimeron Queen Delta, escapes by the skin of her teeth clutching her egg, the future for her species. She makes it to a space tollport where the Navarinos, a race of shape changing tourist aliens, are planning a visit to the planet Earth in 1959 in a spaceship disguised as an old holiday bus. She stows aboard, meeting Mel, while the Doctor follows them in the TARDIS. The Doctor and Mel have won the trip as a prize for arriving in the Navarino spaceport at the right time to be declared the ten billionth customers. No sooner has the tourist vehicle blasted away than the Bannermen turn up, ruthlessly hunting down the fugitive, and they kill the master of the tollport.

The holiday vehicle from Nostalgia Tours meets an unfortunate collision with an American space satellite and is diverted off track, landing at a holiday camp in South Wales rather than Disneyland. However, the basic but cheerful Shangri-La holiday camp is happy to accommodate the visitors led by the ebullient Burton, who assures the travellers of a warm welcome while they wait for the driver, Murray, to repair their innocuous seeming transport. Mel gets close to Delta and uncovers the truth of her situation, including the hatching of the egg into a bright green baby that starts to grow at a startling rate. The Chimeron Queen supports this development with the equivalent of royal jelly given to bees.

Delta tries to take her mind off the situation and goes to the Shangri-La dance, instantly capturing the heart of Billy, the camp's mechanic – upsetting of Ray, who loves Billy herself. Ray confides her situation to the Doctor, and they both stumble across a bounty hunter making contact with the Bannermen to tell them of the Chimeron's whereabouts. It is only a matter of time before Gavrok and his troops arrive. Delta and Billy head off on a romantic countryside ramble the following morning, but the Doctor wastes no time in persuading Burton to evacuate the camp, helping Murray repair the ship, and then heading off to find the young lovers while there is still time. Once they are found, everyone returns to the camp but the situation has become dire. The Bannermen have destroyed the Navarino bus with all its official passengers inside, taking Mel as a hostage, as Gavrok tries to work out how to capture the Chimeron. The Doctor's early attempts to intercede are futile, but he does rescue Burton and Mel from the Bannermen.

Two Bannermen are holding prisoner two aging American agents, Hawk and Weismuller, who were tracking the missing satellite when they first arrived. The Bannermen were instructed by Gavrok to wait for the Doctor, Burton and Mel on the side of the road. Just before they left the Americans, they place a joined headlock device to prevent them from escaping. While the two Bannerman were placing a tracker on the Doctor, riding Billy's motorbike with Burton and Mel, in an attempt to disguise an ambush attempt, Ray manages to rescue Hawk and Weismuller head locks with an Allen key. They all make contact with the mysterious beekeeper Goronwy, who hides them for a while in his house.

As the two Bannerman find that the Americans have been set free, they track the Doctor's party to Goronwy House. As they are closing in on the house, the Chimeron child Princess makes a high pitched scream of warning which traumatises the ears of the two Bannermen, allowing Delta to be able to shoot one of them, while the other escapes to inform Gavrok of the location of Delta and the Princess. At Shangri-La, before leaving to attack Goronwy House, Gavrok booby-trapped the outside of the TARDIS in an attempt to kill the Doctor. Gavrok and his Bannermen approach Goronwy House shooting, and crashing into the rock-and-roll-music-filled house, only to have honey broken over them in the process. This then sets Goronwy's bees on the honey-covered Bannermen. In the meantime, the Doctor and his party make it to Shangri-La to set up a defense. Billy rigged up the Shangri-La sound system to amplify the perfectly pitched scream of the Chimeron child Princess – a sound which is excruciatingly painful to Bannermen.

Goronwy explains to Billy the purpose of royal jelly in the lifecycle of the honeybee, provoking the mechanic to consume Delta's equivalent that she has been feeding her daughter, in the hope of metamorphosing into a Chimeron.

As Gavrok and his band of Bannermen attack Shangri-La, the amplified scream of the Chimeron princess traumatises the attackers, including Gavrok, who becomes so stunned that he falls into the beam of the booby-trap he placed on the TARDIS and is incinerated. Other Bannermen are so traumatised that they are easily rounded up. Delta and Billy leave together with the child and the prisoners, heading for an intergalactic war crimes tribunal. To their delight, The Doctor shows Hawk and Weismuller the missing satellite nearby. All is well and the next bus of holidaymakers, this time human, arrive at Shangri-La as the Doctor and Mel slip away.


The Seventh Doctor's question mark handle umbrella makes its first appearance in this story. Sylvester McCoy can be seen wearing his glasses in certain long shots of him riding a motorcycle.

The Navarinos are also featured in the novel Return of the Living Dad by Kate Orman.

In 2015, Steven Moffat endorsed the fan theory that Goronwy is a future incarnation of the Doctor, and said that the idea fit well with the Doctor's line about retiring to become a beekeeper in "The Name of the Doctor".[2]


Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
"Part One" 2 November 1987 (1987-11-02) 24:47 5.3
"Part Two" 9 November 1987 (1987-11-09) 24:23 5.1
"Part Three" 16 November 1987 (1987-11-16) 24:22 5.4


This was the first three-part story since Planet of Giants (1964), not counting the 3 x 45 minute episodes of The Two Doctors which had been broadcast two years previously, and the first intended to be this length. Working titles for this story included The Flight of the Chimeron.[6] The eventual title is a reference to the British band Echo & the Bunnymen.

The character of Ray was originally created as a new companion for the Doctor as Bonnie Langford had announced she would be leaving the series at the end of the season. The serial, with the working title, The Flight Of The Chimeron, was originally scheduled to end the season. However, as the serial neared production, Langford had not yet decided whether she would leave at the end of Season 24 or during Season 25; that, plus the rescheduling of Delta and the Bannermen to earlier in the season and the decision by script editor Andrew Cartmel to create another replacement companion named Alf (later renamed 'Ace'), led to the idea of Ray as a new companion being abandoned.[6]

Filming and post-production[edit]

The scenes at the Shangri-La holiday camp were shot on location at the Butlins Holiday camp on Barry Island, Wales. The holiday camp is no longer there, but the island was used again, this time as a stand-in for a bomb site in 1941 London, in the 2005 series episodes "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances".[7]

The soundtrack of this serial contained a higher-than-usual number of recognisable pop songs, although due to licensing costs all were re-recorded by "The Lovells", a fictional group created by the show's incidental music composer Keff McCulloch. The songs featured in the serial were: "Rock Around the Clock", "Singing the Blues", "Why Do Fools Fall in Love", "Mr. Sandman", "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite", "That'll Be the Day", "Only You", "Lollipop", "Who's Sorry Now?" and "Happy Days Are Here Again".

The motorbike ridden by Billy in this story is a Vincent, made by British manufacturer Vincent Motorcycles. The guitar the Doctor is seen hugging at the end of the story is a Squier Stratocaster by Fender, although the model is not one available at the time the story was set. The TARDIS scenes were recorded during production of the next story Dragonfire.

Cast notes[edit]

Features guest appearance by Ken Dodd, Don Henderson, Hugh Lloyd, Richard Davies, and American stage and screen actor Stubby Kaye. See also Celebrity appearances in Doctor Who. Morgan Deare later played Senator Waldo Pickering in the audio play Minuet in Hell.


Simon Brew of Den of Geek thought the story was "fun nonsense."[8] Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping enjoyed the serial, describing it as "Confident, slick, and hugely enjoyable from beginning to end". They praised Bonnie Langford's performance, found Ken Dodd to be "OK" but thought Don Henderson played it too straight.[9]

David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker found the serial to be even more whimsical than the preceding story but more successful, "all in all, a highly enjoyable romp."[10] Radio Times' Mark Baxton declared: "It’s mad as cheese and about as scary as an episode of Play Away. It doesn’t feel like Doctor Who for a second. But just once in a while the show can afford to go mad."[11]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Delta and the Bannermen
Doctor Who Delta and the Bannermen.jpg
Author Malcolm Kohll
Cover artist Alister Pearson
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
19 January 1989
ISBN 0-426-20333-X

A novelisation of this serial, written by Malcolm Kohll, was published by Target Books in January 1989. In addition to a typographical error on the spine's title (which purports the name of this novelisation to be 'Delta and the Bannerman'), this novelisation contains an infamous typo, which results in the Doctor 'peeing over a shelf' instead of peering over it. This error is retained in the 1991 reprint, with it appearing on page 54 in both editions. Due to the 1991 edition being repackaged, however, the spine title misprint is rectified in the 1991 version.

Home media[edit]

Delta and the Bannermen was released on VHS in March 2001 in the UK and June 2002 in North America, but music clearance issues prevented the release of the serial in Australia. A DVD edition was released in the UK on 22 June 2009. This serial was also released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in issue 62 on 18 May 2011.


  1. ^ From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the four segments of The Trial of a Time Lord as four separate stories and also counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this story as number 150. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ Moffat, Steven (May 2015). "Ask Steven Moffat". Doctor Who Magazine (485): 4. 
  3. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (2007-03-31). "Delta and the Bannermen". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ "Delta and the Bannermen". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "Delta and the Bannermen". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  6. ^ a b Delta and the Bannermen at Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel)
  7. ^ Doctor Who Confidential - "Weird Science", 28 May 2005.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^

External links[edit]


Target novelisation[edit]