A monarch fleeing genocide hides among alien tourists at a Welsh Butlin’s where no one reacts to her green baby
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Landing on a super interesting space station, the Seventh Doctor and Mel B win a free trip to 1959’s Disneyland which elicits in said companion an inordinate level of exuberance. Thus, with a legitimate reason to adhere to budget cuts this week, off they plop to our part of the galaxy where they bump into a satellite and crash in Wales, thus avoiding the further cost of a trip across the pond. Also along for the ride is a white-clad, silver-egg-toting princess from a war torn world populated by green dudes battling bad guys dressed in black. Wonder if that’s going to factor in.
It will! Gavrok, leader of the bad guys, is after the princess for a reason we’re not privy to, and thanks to the interventions of a bounty hunter we won’t explore further, travels from his world that we learn nothing more about, to Wales, which is much cheaper. Now, with all protagonists, tourists, bad guys, a beekeeper and two American spies about whom we’ll learn nothing more, assembled at a Butlin’s, action, adventure and rock’n’roll are sure to ensue.
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Sorry i’m late! Now that you’re into the gonzo bonkers insanity of the Sylvester McCoy era, I’d like to jump onto the exploding tour bus and start reviewing!
Delta and the Bannerman is all over the place and definitely needed another episode to give the story time to think a bit, but I love how innocent and charming this story is. It’s a real kid friendly adventure, even if the Bannermen are overly brutal and perhaps a little too scary for the story they’re in, and McCoy really shines as a Troughton/Whittaker-esque chaotic but good hearted dork Doctor. Rey is a great companion of the week, leaving Mel to hang around with the most extroverted and unbearable alien tourists of all time. Delta has a massive heart to fall in love with a quiet rockstar who took her on one no-food or drink picnic and drank all her daughter’s growth formula. Was the beekeeper the Curator? Perhaps those spies would have a better chance of spotting something celestial at nighttime? Why is everyone in 1959 Wales so chill about the green baby? Was the actor playing Gavrok wearing odd prosthetic gloves, or are his hands just weird??
Overall, this isn’t a shining example of this era, but it is a lot of harmless fun, and I’d love to see the Bannermen come back one day. 2.8/5.0
The Doctor and Mel go Rock and Roll!
It’s very easy to fall on the wrong side of the line when attempting light-hearted Who but Bannerman succeeds in staying on the good side. It’s a wonderful story that’s bright, breezy and above all charming.
The main thing you notice with is the difference it makes when cast get fleshed out. There aren’t many stories with such a plethora of side characters, all fully developed with little bits of back story. All the actors do a sterling job. Shout out to Don Henderson as Gavrok, especially for eating with such menace. What a great scene that is with the Doctor. It’s a show-stealing performance from Hugh Lloyd as Gronowy too.
The Doctor was quick to get rid of Mel in favour of Ray – it’s a shame she didn’t make it as a companion full time. Ken Dodd could so easily have been a disaster but was used only sparingly and killed off quickly. You can see his pink jacket at the Who Museum in East London; it’s well worth a visit.
The location work is excellent, really adding to the feel of the story. I’ll even say that the music is fantastic, Here’s to the Future is an absolute banger! The cliff-hangers are decent too.
You can’t help but feel good after watching this – It’s the best Seventh Doctor story and gets a rating of 4.3/5. Just lovely.
Greetings Who Back When fam!
I thought Delta and the Bannermen was a great concept and had a lot of interesting ideas. Sadly, I think the low budget handicapped it. As far as the plot goes, I thought it was innovative. On the one hand, you have a genocidal war coming to its end, and a lone survivor fleeing for her life from the evil Bannermen. On the other hand, you have a group of alien tourists time-traveling to 1950s Earth. Where they coincide, the Doctor and Mel arrive, and they all meet at Camp Shangri-La where Billy ditches his girl Ray for the alien princess.
More of a period piece than a quasihistorical.
They should have left out the Americans and their sub-plot, but at least they used American actors.
I wonder if the serial name was inspired by the pop group “Echo and the Bunnymen”?
The opening scene of Delta escaping gave me vibes of “Destiny of the Daleks” and the Movellans. Did anyone else get that?
I loved the Vespa and the vintage motorcycle.
Simply loved that opening with Murray dancing through the transmogrifier to look human.
Too bad they didn’t have any money left for decent makeup.
Don Henderson (Gavrok) also appeared as a rogue simulant in an episode of Red Dwarf! (He was also the Imperial officer that Darth Vader force chokes in Star Wars.)
Ray was written to become the next companion, but the timing didn’t work out. Sophie Aldred also auditioned for the role.
I give it 3.8 growing Chimeron babies (out of 5) because I think the production and editing are the only reason it didn’t do well.
Build High for Happiness!
For this story three episodes actually seems about the right length.
Ok we’ve gotta talk about the Americans. Weismuller sounds fine, so why does Hawk sound so strange to me? Is he just bad at a 50’s American Southern accent? Or were people talking like this in the 50’s?
I should also mention the series looks and sounds cheap. The synth-heavy sounds work on an alien world, but it sounds wrong for just running around on earth. As to the look, I have several theories. Could be a case of video recording having improved to the point of making cheap sets and costume details stand out better. Could be the fact that we are used to seeing modern color correction. Or is it just that video reminds us of home movies made on a camcorder?
I appreciate what the story is trying to do, even if it is clumsily executed at times and a little jumbled. Gavrok is some guy hell-bent on genocide, tracking Delta, last of her kind. Or is she? She hitches a ride with sightseeing time travelers and they accidentally all wind up at some podunk camp in the middle of wherever, but at least there’s live music, for part of the serial. An eccentric beekeeper lends his aid, and oh my gosh, music saves the day- a plot point I love!
This serial contains what has to be the most brazen move the Doctor has ever made. He walks right up to a bunch of guys with guns, gives a little speech, demands back his captured friends, then just walks away AFTER TURNING HIS BACK. Total power move. This Doctor must have nerves of steel.
Rating: OMG Mel stop screaming, it’s just a baby.
For point of reference I watched the extended version included on the BluRay season 24 boxset
After a moment of uncharacteristic good luck the Doctor and Mel are awarded with a weeks vacation to Disney land in 1959. As expected things do not go as planned. A chance run in with a satellite forces them to take up refuge in a welsh holiday camp (there is no such throng as Macra!). Meanwhile a wayward queen must save the last princess from the vile bannermen and by now you start to realize how bloated this story is.
That’s not to say it’s bad, a lot of these ideas could have worked well on their own, aliens getting stranded on earth while American agents look for a Satellite? That could work. The fight between the titular Delta and the Bannermen? That too. But crammed together it’s a bit much.
As is it is a perfectly enjoyable story but it could be better.
Overall this story earns 3.8 vaguely Tom Bakerish bee keepers out of 5.
Also poor Ray, boyfriend got stolen by an alien.
What is this useless twaddle? Indeed younger me found this incongruous, confusing and dull, lacking plot with cringy, quirky, and illogical characters. If there is ever an episode of Doctor who that is entirely not like Dr. Who, this is 2nd on that list. It’s just so… off. Yet I like to think older me has grown an appreciation and understanding for themed storytelling. I haven’t seen this episode in at least 15 years so viewing it again was a rather insightful experiment.
I love this story now! Strangely, It’s charm derives from all the reasons I just mentioned that made me hate it previously. The pace never slows, the plot must be inferred, and we never get bogged down with any kind of exposition. Indeed what a break from all the rest of Who. We even get someone seeing the Tardis and believing the Doctor because of it, an event rarely used previously because it’s so cliché. Here It’s genius. The Doctor is wonderful. He has finally become Alice. He knows more than he’s telling and he’s always one step ahead of his adversaries. This is the 7th Dr. proper.
One remnant of my younger distaste remains, the incidental music. The 50’s vibe is ice hot, but the BBC background is distracting and screechy. I’m not saying older me is right and younger me is wrong, but I would like to say I’ve matured a bit, and understand just a little more than I did yesterday. Delta rocks! 4.3
Lots of Welsh accents in this one. Have we jumped forward to the RTD era? Ray was originally meant as replacement for Mel in the early scripting stages before that was later changed as this one was placed third in running.
Hey, at least they acknowledge that aliens might not fit directly into 20th century Earth and thus disguise themselves. That’s actually a nice bit of writing.
Ken Dodd! Ha-ha, shame about him getting shot. Surprisingly, not too comedic. The two Americans are however. Good grief they are bad. The camp staff are very Welsh, Billy not so. Some complain about the lack of accent for someone who is apparently from Wales, but considering my dad is a) from Wales and b) doesn’t have a Welsh accent, I think it’s fine. And of course we have the mysterious Goronwy who is apparently fine with everything going on around him. Still his bees are rather useful with all that honey, though that is in service of a very slapstick moment. Delta’s baby looks a bit naff but I think they filmed most of this one on location so there wasn’t much flexibility for the effects.
Did they kill a busload of tourists? Well, apparently so. That’s an issue with this one: tonal whiplash of the very silly moments and very grim ones.
Despite it being an episode shorter, I find this more of a slog to watch than the previous one so with that in mind 1.8/5.
If there’s one thing Team Who Back When and listener’s minis can surely agree upon, it’s that this is a weird-ass serial. This is David Lynch doing ‘Who. Not so much Blue Velvet. More meandering goofball mid-season two Twin Peaks. But Lynchean nonetheless.
There’s a lot going on here. An alien massacre, a gross alien slime baby, shapeshifting tourists, random FBI agents. Was there ever a villain as mean-spirited as Gavrok? A man who celebrates massacring a tour party by gnawing on a chunk of raw meat – before launching an all-out-assault on Pontins. Even Davros wasn’t that bad! And the Seventh Doctor is going from strength-to-strength. His tirade of abuse at Gavrok is one of his best speeches. Courageous? Perhaps. Foolish? Maybe. A gambler winging it and hoping for the best? Definitely.
Yes, Bannermen has its detractors. But before you jump into bed with them, remember: whilst not everyone who hates this serial will be a Neo Nazi necrophiliac serial killer – some certainly could be.
5/5 Obliterated green alien people. Even their corpses were being blown up for good measure at start of Episode 1. How did that get past the censors!? Were they even watching this show anymore!?
Oh guys, this one is batshit crazy – and I LOVE IT!!!
Following the trend of this season, Delta appears to be very much aimed at kids. But look a little closer and you’ll find that (much like Paradise Towers) despite the silliness there’s actually some really dark stuff! After opening the story with a pretty epic war sequence, Gavrok seems to just delight in murdering people for no apparent reason. As a kid I was shocked to the core on witnessing the completely innocent Tollmaster being blasted in the back and dropping dead with a scream. And just when you think you’ve seen the extent of the Bannermen’s cold murders – THEY BLOW UP A WHOLE BUS FULL OF INNOCENT ALIENS WHO WERE JUST TRYING TO HAVE A HOLIDAY! Savage.
But there are some fun times too. Sadly the Seventh Doctor doesn’t get many interior TARDIS scenes so I love watching him at the controls saving the bus. It’s also great seeing McCoy dancing with Ray. Ahhh, she would have made such a good companion.
Other great characters include Murray the bus driver, Burton the camp manager, baffled Americans Hawk and Weismuller, and of course beekeeping Goronwy (is he a secret Time Lord???!) The titular character Delta is actually rather boring and the various states of her daughter’s growth are frankly ludicrous.
There’s still a way to go before we get to the really ace Seventh Doc stuff, but to me this is such a great big fat dollop of enjoyable entertainment.
Rating – 4.1
Starting with a semi-positive, the sets and ships are reasonably well-executed, especially considering the budget, which these effects clearly used all of, which is why the rest of it is set on a holiday camp.
Mel, after obsessing over swimming pools last time, shows once again that she doesn’t quite get how the TARDIS works. When Ken Dodd says “You can go to Disneyland in the 50s”, Mel gets all excited “Can we go Doctor?” … Yes … you have a TARDIS, you can go to Disneyland any year you’d like.
We are ‘treated’ to a romance subplot between Billy and Delta; it’s really thin. Now I can buy that Billy might have just clocked her and wants to see more of her; the plausibility starts going way down after that. Delta decides she trusts him because … he wants to sleep with her? He just saw this lass once and is told, “I’m a space princess being hunted by brutal space mercenaries” and he’s like “Yeah okay; no spaceship can outrun my motorbike and sidecar”. Billy seems completely fine with the fact that based on the kid’s advanced maturation rate, Delta could very well be only 3 years old (plus for all he knows they eat their partners after mating). Seriously Welsh-lass, I can’t remember your name, but you dodged a bullet with that one.
This one’s a bit weak, but it’s only 3 episodes, so what the hey!
2.2 Unnecessary tourist bus massacres out of 5
Hello again! Very happy to be hopping on and off this temporal tramway with you until it reaches the McGann Endstation (was gonna write ‘terminus’ but then it reminded me of that Davison story).
Ken Dodd – JNT-era light entertainment stunt casting at its best! Not that other showrunners haven’t been prone to that…
Hi-de-Hi Shangri-La holiday camp campness! But would an appearance by Su Pollard or Paul Shane perhaps not have been even more appropriate?
The 1950s Welsh biker chick! Much as I would go on to adore Ace, part of me would like to have seen Ray end up as a companion for a while. There are reasons I ended up in Wales aside from the landscape, you know. Ahem.
Goronwy the beekeeper who’s a secret Time Lord! Yes, this is never confirmed on screen but he must have a fob watch he can open or a fire alarm he can break lying around somewhere.
The debut of the question mark umbrella! The previous two Seventh Doctor serials just weren’t the same without it.
Incidentally, is it the first time a show which – let’s not forget, started in 1963 – treated this time period as historical?
The “Yanks” and their unconvincing accents/dialogue and unlikely vocab! Underwritten one-dimensional villains! An alien and her daughter who, by genetic design, grows up too fast! The lack of chemistry with the uncharismatic love interest! Mel is… also here!
Overall: 3.8 winning raffle tickets. Might need to consult a physician about my severely enlarged heart.
Oh No! Dr Who has lost its budget, and along with it, many production values!
Mmmm. Let’s hire some ( bad ) B grade actors and make a serial!
Oh, and for the gun props, let’s just go down to Toyworld and buy some, and then do absolutely nothing to them and use them in said serial!
Poor McCoy, he came to the role at least 5 years too late. On the positive side, he’s still coming across as very likeable and he’s showing more
promise all the time as being a manipulative Doctor. Mel is also trying hard, now cue a huge scream to a green alien baby hatching.
Unlike the previous serial, this one at least is a bit of fun, and it’s whole is better than the sum of its parts
The best bits were probably in episode one, on the planet where Delta came from. Sadly however, most of the story comes across as a bad cheesy and corny
afternoon children’s show.
Someone find the person responsible for the music in the last couple of serials, and shoot them please. PLEASE.
It has its moments, and I did enjoy the outdoor location shots, which added some scope to the story as a whole, but it’s still sub par from what I expect from Dr Who.
Because I love the idea of a flying bus ( “Planet of the Dead” anyone? ) I’m giving this:
2.1 Beekeepers that look like Tom Baker
I totally agree with both of you. This was schlock. This is not a Dr. Who story. Jim’s summing up was hilarious. Even now I don’t think it deserved the high rating I gave it, because of all the things you gents talked about. Maybe I was just in a good mood when I watched it.
I will say that more than any other doctor, Sly’s era really has a lot of scripts that rely on the viewer to read between the lines and infer the obvious. That’s not a spoiler or warning, just something I know I personally had to get used to. In years previous I would have marked stories down for this, but that’s because it’s not the vibe they were going for. I still don’t think it’s right, but I accept it more now, because it’s made me think about the 7th dr stories more, especially about what isn’t shown.
All this to say. Nice work on the podcast, and I agree with each and every rating on this page. Everyone is exactly right.