Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

The Green Death

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1974-01-03 Stage and Television Today.jpg


DR WHO, deservedly acclaimed as the best in children's science fiction, suffered the misfortune of being included in this year's array of Christmas packages and a programme which is usually filled with excitement and pace reverted to a badly-written pantomime and finished at least forty-five minutes too long for its regular viewers.

The opening shot of a colliery bought shivers to my bones. Miners' helmets, pickets and quotations, such as "Coal is a dying industry," made me wonder at whom this programme was focussed. I expected to see Robert Dougall at any moment with a news flash but alas the treat was not to come and were in the opening throes of The Green Death.

There was a descent to the bottom of a mine where a man was lying in coal which would have been an enviable position to be in, had he not been bright green and flashing on and off no less. At this point the dialogue started and after shots of a gangrenous hand and neck and a close-up of the Brigadier, we had the immortal words. "Just your cup of tea, doctor, this fellow's bright green". This was followed by the disappearance of the doctor's attractive assistant and yet another close-up of the good doctor. "The fledgeling flies the coop". One wonders how many takes it took to get these lines in the can. I'm sure actors thank the lord for the end of live television which would make these scripts an impossibility.

The doctor then travelled millions of miles to collect a blue stone, was lashed by a weird-looking snake and returned to earth in time to answer the telephone which happened to be ringing in his office. Close-up of Doctor. "I'll speak to anyone."

Meanwhile, down in the mine Jo and her miner friend are trapped, unable to get back to the surface. Back to the dialogue as the miner puts his arm of consolation round his frightened friend and says to no less, "Never fear Blodwin. Bert is here."

By the time the doctor had reached the bottom of the mine Bert was not looking at all well with a green appearance and fingers that were lighting up and down. Trouble was diagnosed by an astute doctor. This was followed by the discovery of a weird smell. some nasty looking maggots and a fall of coal blocking their exit. It was now established that things were not looking too good for our little band of heroes but nothing is impossible was the message that came seeping through the rubble.

As they climbed the unused shaft it dawned on the doctor what was happening, but as he forgot to disclose his discovery we had to wait for another forty five minutes to be let into the somewhat tedious secret.

The actors were not given a chance to be serious in the eyes of younger viewers. The only realistic performances came from the maggots and although I am a great fan of all Jon Pertwee's work including this portrayal and always have been, I don't one how he can get any conviction into such dialogue. If I might make suggestion to Jon, it is that he should keep this script very carefully and when he gets a chance to give us that lovely gnome portrayal again, which I hope he does because it's adorable, there's at least thirty minutes worth of material in the script.

Children love Doctor Who, of that there is no doubt and I am absolutely sure they lapped up The Green Death. Mine did, but that is not the whole point. They deserve better, something better thought out, something like the old episodes used to be like. This was just commercialising on past success. Dr Who has achieved for television what Journey Into Space achieved for sound and I hope It goes on doing so for a long time with good. imaginative stories.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Stirling, John (1974-01-03). The Green Death. The Stage and Television Today p. 11.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Stirling, John. "The Green Death." The Stage and Television Today [add city] 1974-01-03, 11. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Stirling, John. "The Green Death." The Stage and Television Today, edition, sec., 1974-01-03
  • Turabian: Stirling, John. "The Green Death." The Stage and Television Today, 1974-01-03, section, 11 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=The Green Death | url= | work=The Stage and Television Today | pages=11 | date=1974-01-03 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 March 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=The Green Death | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 March 2023}}</ref>