|This year's contestants on Strictly Come Dancing.|
When first conceived by Sidney Newman the aim of Doctor Who was to both educate and entertain. As such, along with the outer space excursions, the Doctor and his companions would regularly visits different periods of Earth’s history and run into famous figures like Marco Polo and Richard the Lionheart.
The pure historical adventures were eventually phased out once Patrick Troughton became the Doctor as the show’s new producers considered them to be boring and redundant. 'Black Orchid' was the first purely historical story since 'The Highlanders' in 1967, a story that no longer exists in the BBC archive.
It’s a slim story, only two episodes long with barely enough plot to sustain either. For the most part our heroes don’t really do anything beside play cricket, hang out with posh people and attend their ever so posh parties. It a rare chance to see the Doctor and his companions relaxed and carefree with no aliens to fight or planets to save. And refreshingly, no idle bickering or moaning.
Once the plot does kick in it plays out like the kind of thing Agatha Christie could knock out in half an hour then chuck in the bin for being not that good. There’s a murder. A kidnapping. Another murder. A tedious case of mistaken identity. Another tedious case of mistaken identity. There seems no reason to give Nyssa a double especially since Sarah Sutton plays Anne exactly like Nyssa, making the two characters truly identical. Ultimately, 'Black Orchid' is nothing more than mildly enjoyable filler material.
Notes and Quotes
--Police boxes did not exist in the 1920s, so how do the policemen recognise the TARDIS?
--Peter Davison is really proud of the fact he really did bowl that guy out and never really shuts up about it.
The Doctor: "And besides..."
Sir Robert: "Besides what?"
The Doctor: "Well, it wouldn't be cricket."
Tegan: "It's fancy dress, isn't it?"
Lord Cranleigh: "Yes."
Tegan: "Well, we haven't got any costumes."
Sir Robert Muir: "Oh. I was just thinking how charming yours was."
Adric: "So what is a railway station?"
The Doctor: "Well, a place where one embarks and disembarks from compartments on wheels drawn along these tracks by a steam engine; rarely on time."
Nyssa: "What a very silly activity."
The Doctor: "Do you think so? As a boy, I always wanted to drive one."
Two out of four jolly good games of cricket, old sport.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.