50 for 50 — The Greatest Stories in Doctor Who History — #43

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For a child of the seventies, I never saw the story I’ve put at No.43…it had probably been junked long before I was born. Brought up on a steady diet of Target novels, in the years before the high street video shelves were packed with Doctor Who releases, this story even had the nerve to leave a gap there too. But the mysterious magic of The Power Of The Daleks gains it a place in the top 50…

Before Power came along, Doctor Who had already cemented a place in TV history, and very nicely too. But this story turns everything we knew and turns it on it’s head. The Doctor’s ‘renewal’ was barely trumpeted by the Radio Times, instead concentrating on the return, yet again, of Mr. Nation’s pepperpots. Where they may have lost their initial sting, this cleverly written tale by ex-script editor David Whitaker renewed them too, allowing them to become characters, rather than screeching monsters, as they innocently begin their control of Lesterson, and the colonists.

It’s Troughton’s tale, though of course. From the minute he ‘becomes’ the new, mysterious Doctor, putting his companions on the back foot, just as they thought they knew him, he owns the story. A lesser actor wouldn’t have made it work. Any doubts were erased after that first 25 minutes, this man was still the Doctor. Props too, to the team of Michael Craze and Anneke Wills, we see ‘him’ through their eyes, untrusting and doubtful at first, unbelieving that it could still be the same man. Once Ben and Polly start to trust him, we do too.

It’s also one of the first and best ‘base under siege’ stories of Doctor Who, using it’s setting to maximum chilling effect. There is no escape for any character it seems. No other story had to do what Power does, but once it had, there was no going back, and Doctor Who would never be the same. Although it’s not possible to sit and watch, the soundtrack still grabs you, well worth an evening’s listen. — Andy

Alan’s #43 – The Time Warrior
David’s #43 – Enlightenment
Steve’s #43 – The Dæmons

February beckons … so does #42 (THE answer) next week.

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