‘Who will stop me? You, with your puny flag and your appeals to fair play and justice, huh?’ Again, there’s a surprisingly brutal streak underneath the whimsy, with Murray and his Nostalgia Tours passengers exploded by Gavrok and the Bannermen in a shockingly Sawardian massacre. Don Henderson makes a much more credible baddie than Richard Briers did, disgustingly feasting on raw meat as he studies everyone intently like a predator contemplating prey. I like the little touches of make-up on the Bannermen – red-rimmed eyes, scarlet tongues, piggy hooves – even if they largely remind me of the Robomen from the Dalek Invasion of Earth movie.
What stops this from being a throwback to Saward is its heart. Billy romances Delta very quickly, and, for a 1950s man, is incredibly accepting of a single woman and baby, but the real story is Ray’s sad acceptance that he’s got his mind set on someone else. Sara Griffiths pitches it just right – obviously unhappy but not moping when there are lives to be saved (her delivery of ‘He’s been ionised!’ is one of my favourite things). All the goodies are doing their duty – Burton, revealed as a major, refuses to leave his post at Shangri-La, and has to order his loyal Hi-De-Hi wannabe Vinny away with the rest of the campers. Even the hapless Hawk and Weismuller (like the mysteriously knowing Goronwy, characters in search of a plot), haven’t abandoned their search for the fallen satellite.
McCoy continues to impress, bringing a sense of urgency to what could have been a gentle wander around South Wales, constantly adding little bits of business like getting briefly confused when he’s stuck on the wrong side of a closed gate. The cliffhanger reminds me of the moment in The War Games when Troughton suddenly pretended to be an authority figure and is a convincing enough bluff that it nearly works (and is so good Ben Aaronovitch lifts it for the end of Remembrance of the Daleks – Part Three).
Next episode: Delta and the Bannermen – Part Three