The Faceless Ones

Faceless Ones Radio Times
This is one of those stories that doesn’t really stand out from the crowd, being a rather humdrum tale of dopplegangers with a token monster that’s almost as obscure as the Daleks’ delegates in Mission To The Unknown. The idea of faceless aliens kidnapping holidaymakers on a spaceship that looks like a plane, or a plane that converts to a spaceship, is all a bit Thunderbirds and might make the kids a bit nervous next time Dad says they’re going to Spain on holiday, but that’s about it. Not exactly on a par with Yeti in the London Underground, is it…

On the plus side it’s got Sherlock’s mum, the lovely Wanda “Faroon” Ventham, in it, alongside old Beyus himself, Donald Pickering. And Colin Gordon from The Prisoner as well as Bernard Kay, making his third appearance in Who after The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Crusade, with a very convincing Scots accent, aye.

dr who 4.8 faceless ones coversWith these audio edits, it’s always fun to take the opportunity to do something different with the incidental music, where possible. Often, that’s easier in a story where there’s no music at all than trying to find more music to match the style of what’s already there. TFO is a music-free story so I could do what I wanted with it. I knew I wanted to use something that felt quite Sixties but didn’t want to trot out poor old Laurie Johnson again. I tried various things but none of them felt right for a story of alien dopplegangers, and it was only when I thought about the plane that turns into a spaceship that I realised that the answer was staring me in the face – what better music to use for TFO than Barry Gray and UFO!

UFO, with Ed Bishop in a truly terrible wig and George Sewell with a truly terrible haircut, was one of the few non-Who shows I enjoyed watching as a kid. Back in the early Seventies, Gerry Anderson shows were everywhere and my childhood TV was Doctor Who [obv], followed some way back by The Avengers, Fireball XL5, UFO, Thunderbirds, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet, Catweazle, The Banana Splits, Casey Jones and The Double Deckers. Ah, those were the days!

Personally I always thought that S.H.A.D.O. shouldn’t stand for Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation, but for something else entirely…

gerry anderson ufo daleks shado

And the funniest thing about using UFO music for this edit was not that I suddenly realised how strangely appropriate it was, given that Wanda “Fendahl” Ventham was also in UFO, but that I was suddenly reminded of that sound.

As I’ve stated before in these Production Notes, Doctor Who never scared me as a child. Never. Ever. Not once. But one of the things that did was the sound the Alien cone ships make in UFO. Funny that, isn’t it? I don’t know what it was but I really didn’t like that noise when I was a kid. Perhaps it was because it reminded me of the Dentist’s drill – I didn’t bloody like that either!

So, UFO music it was and that gave me all the motivation I needed to tackle this edit, which benefits from keeping the action focused on the Doctor, only cutting away from him when we have to. That way, the story unfolds for us at the same time as it does for him, making us the unseen companion that accompanies him through the story. We manage to condense the first two episodes down to just over 23m, at which point we’re at the cliffhanger to part two where the aliens try to freeze the Doctor. It was at this point that I decided to insert the music tracks for the first two eps before going any further with the edit as it’s a lot easier doing it that way than having to cue the entire thing all at once.

faceless ones dwm

It suddenly struck me that the UFO music didn’t really work this early in the edit, and it’s use would be more appropriate later on once the aliens are revealed.

The main plot point here isn’t entirely dissimilar to what Gerry Anderson came up with, only here instead of coming to steal body parts they’re nicking complete identities and, like the Zygons [and Autons come to that] would do years later, they need to keep the original in order to maintain the copy. So what music to use instead before we start to find all that out?

Given that we only have two more audio edits to do after this one, Wheel In Space and Evil of the Daleks, this is one of our last opportunities to try and augment a fan edit with additional music. That had me wondering if there was anything in my soundtrack collection I hadn’t used yet that I’d like to, something that sounded really Sixties. In the end, there was only really one choice – Batman The Movie!

Batman The Movie 1966The 1966 Adam West incarnation of The Caped Crusader wasn’t really on my radar that much as a kid, and it’s only really any good when it’s Ceasar Romero’s Joker or Burgess Meredith’s Penguin that’s the villain of the week. At the time when The Faceless Ones was TX-ing on BBC One, April 1967, the movie had already been and gone back in July the previous year, the TV Series itself having started in the January on ABC.

But Batman didn’t turn up on UK TV screens until July ’67, just a few days after transmission of the final episode of Evil of the Daleks, so not only is Bat Music absolutely of the time, it fits perfectly! The music splits roughly between Batman music for the first two episodes and UFO music for the rest, starting towards the end of part three, with part three itself being almost totally devoid of music in order to provide clear space between the two as the end of part three is where things start to shift tonally as we begin to learn the truth about Chameleon Tours…

The Faceless Ones By Adrian SalmonThere’s a fair bit of material that gets shifted around to make the edit work, with the emphasis being on getting the Doctor onto the Chameleon plane as quickly as possible, meaning certain scenes now happen off screen.

I also took the opportunity to correct some of the cast fluffing their lines. It must have been quite a thing back in the day to hear Frazer Hines using his own voice as the duplicate Jamie, it’s just a shame that Ben & Polly are still AWOL right up until the end.

Having them being more active in the story would have helped make things a lot more interesting as the Dr & Jamie try to work out who’s who. Having them leave the story so early is a narrative mistake but, despite being just a bit too derivative of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, at least the airport setting is original, providing a believable way for the aliens to get hold of the peeps they need to copy. But there’s not really enough going on here to lift it anywhere near out of the ordinary, so it’s just as well that we’ve got delightful Scouse Bird Samantha Briggs to enliven proceedings, as well as the lovely moment in part three where the Doctor clearly calls Chameleon Tours “Comedian Tours” instead!

beatles sgt pepperIt’s fairly obvious that Sam is intended to be the new companion character and, given that The Beatles finished recording Sgt Pepper the day before episode three went out, having a Dr Who companion from Liverpool – after “Michael Caine” and “Twiggy” – would seem to be a smart move on the part of Producer Innes Lloyd.

What wasn’t such a smart move was the shoddy way he handled Ben & Polly’s exit, but then he had form for that sort of thing already, ditching Dodo halfway through The War Machines. But at least, unlike her, they got a goodbye scene, even if it was pre-filmed and tacked on to explain where they’ve been since episode two. As far as I’m concerned, Lloyd was a complete tosser in the way he treated the actors, and if it had been me, I wouldn’t have been at all happy at being written out like that and would have made sure the bugger knew it.

Having Sam aboard the Tardis instead of Victoria probably wouldn’t have changed the dynamic that much, though Sam isn’t a screaming peril monkey by any means. Somewhere there’s a parallel universe version where Sam did join at the end of this adventure and stayed until she finally got home in Fury From The Deep, and if I’m honest, I’d much prefer that version.


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