A Final tip of a Bowler

A moment away from completing our quest to finish off Classic Capitology end of the website to ponder something more contemplative.

Another piece of my formative fannish years has just faded forever.  When my tastes in British entertainment were being formed 30 or so years ago, aside from Doctor Who which flew the flag of the BBC, there also were the three pillars of ITV adventure entertainment, Patrick McGoohan with both Danger Man and the Prisoner, Roger Moore in The Saint, and most importantly of all I think, was Patrick Macnee in The Avengers.  After a full life, Macnee tipped his last bowler earlier today (June 25th as this is written).

The Tour prides itself in being every bit as much a fan of The Avengers as Doctor Who, and there are lots of parallels between the early days of The Avengers, which started in 1961, and 1963 for Doctor Who in terms of production values and how both series innovated throughout the sixties to adapt to maintain heavy production demands.

Macnee’s Steed evolved from a decidedly shady backalley operator in the earliest Avengers series to a debonair man-about-town complete with bowler and brolly.  Always the archetypical English gentleman with a definite steel spine, Macnee was the essential glue in a landmark series.  Even now the filmed series with Diana Rigg are a complete joy (earlier Avengers series with Honor Blackman–who appeared in Terror of the Vervoids–are also quite watchable but occasionally suffer from pacing problems).

When Diana Rigg guested in The Crimson Horror it was no accident that Matt Smith donned a bowler.  We tip our imaginary bowler to you sir Patrick Macnee, the ultimate Avenger.

Madoc … and Englishmen

Welsh actually.  Still it is with a heavy sigh to learn that Philip Madoc has died, aged 77.  Strange how some actors cast such a long shadow over a program such as Doctor Who.  The art of acting for many of the best character actors is to suggest menace rather than show it out-right.  In that regard Philip Madoc was masterful.

He could project such a wonderfully lugubrious quality running straight through from the smuggler Brockley in Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 AD to the War Lord in The War Games and then to his greatest  triumph as Solon in The Brain of Morbius. 

Of course his career carried over to many other series and appearances.  I remember his comedic appearance  in “The Avengers” episode The Correct Way to Kill or as a slimy publisher in A Very British Coup.

What a magnificent head.

Rogue Trip

Over the river and through the woods….  Thanksgiving time here in the tundra means packin’ up and goin’ to the relatives, usually in a car trip of some length, which in turn means music (or podcasts, some of them Doctor Who related, of some length).  The THT Brain Trust has some old reliables, traditions unto themselves, with which to accompany us on this trip, but it isn’t music per se.  For a long time I’ve made sure to bring the audio from various shows with me to fulfill these special occasions as it’s a wonderfully evocative way to re-visit some of these old faves.

On a very long plane trip in May 2005 I made sure I had audio from the first few stories of the Eccleston series to take my through the 8-hours we were airborne.  It was glorious.  I always find a way to bring audio for the last two episodes of The Prisoner, Once Upon a Time and Fallout.  I dare you not to drive down a long, straight road very fast whilst listening to that.  I also brought a Macnee/Rigg Avengers episode The Cybernauts (which aired a year before The Tenth Planet).

Another essential track in this vein is audio from The Caves of Androzani.  Oh how we love this story.  And who knows?  Next year we might be taking Vincent and the Doctor along for the ride.

What Doctor Who do you take on trips?

P.S.  It turned out that because I did a disproportionate amount of the driving and to spare the other passengers (ahem, family) from their howls of protest, I didn’t get around to listening to much of the above audio on this trip… But I’ll always take it with me.

A Little Birdie Told Me …

It’s rare we stray off the reservation , especially in season as it were, but the THT Brain Wizards stumbled across this on Deviantart yesterday.  Too cute for words.

BTW Doctor, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?  The world may never know.

The Scrolls of Doom

Through the months of 2009, the Tour led a life of peace and ordered calm, protected against all threats from the WWW by our great power.  But all this was to change.  Suddenly and terribly, the Tour faced the greatest threat in it’s long history.

Well that was certainly un-fun wasn’t it.  About 10 days ago the web host which housed the main hub of the site decided to do some server maintenance which, to put it mildly, went a little ka-ka.  After exhausting the patience of the THT Brain Trust, we’ve relocated and are hopeful much of the functionality of the site came along for the ride.  We appreciate the notes wondering what was going on and ask for more patience as the kinks are still being ironed out.

As for the near future, in the run-up to Season 5, there are two site updates a-comin.  The first shapes up to be the last all-Tennant update to the site, and the second will be an anyone-but Tennant update before Season 5 roll at the end of March/early April.

Once again a big thank you to everyone for their patience during this transitional phase.

Box, Ball, and Bowler

When this fan was of an age to appreciate such things, there were three main pillars of British television which formed the basis for life-long Anglophilia, namely Doctor Who, The Prisoner, and The Avengers.  The first two were helpfully served up by PBS back when these stations took an interest in such fare, The Avengers was a show obtained, at least in the 80’s, by tape-trading.  The Avengers was fun and stylish, The Prisoner subversive and strange, and Doctor Who… well it was all of that and more.  And there was so much of it.!  In any event these three formed the bedrock.  Other shows followed (Secret Agent, The Saint, Department S, Man in a Suitcase and so on) but now and again–certainly not as often as this fan would like as the years pass, it good to go back and re-watch these series as a touchstone.

Now on Sunday the 15th the at 7pm the Tennant era begins the final phase in The Waters of Mars whilst, here in the central US, at 7pm the re-imaging of “The Prisoner” begins its limited run on AMC (and before you recognize the obvious about time-zones and the like–accept the premise and enjoy the bit, okay?).  As much as I cherish the original McGoohan version of The Prisoner, there is a latent curiosity about what this could be like, so I’ll be watching. (Incidentally I had much more confidence in RTD to bring back Doctor Who properly back in 2004-05 than I do in respectfully moving The Prisoner up to 2009).

Now all we need as for an obscure cable channel to show “A Touch of Brimstone” (IFC or OVTV anyone?) at 7pm Sunday and the THT Collective Brain Trust will summarily explode.