50 for 50 — The Greatest Stories in Doctor Who History — #4

The joys of 50 for 50 conflicts in the final month of our glorious countdown mean that I’m now happily given the chance to indulge in reflecting on memories of my #1 Doctor Who classic of all time!

Aged 4, the first story I can very clearly remember was The Evil of the Daleks. This was the season that got me hooked for the rest of my life and when Fury from the Deep burst onto screen, I became more petrified by Doctor Who than ever before. I felt fairly confident that meeting a Yeti or Ice Warrior in the street was probably unlikely, but I lived by the seaside in Scotland and encountered seaweed all the time – so imagine how terrifying it was to discover that all this marine vegetation around me might suddenly turn bad and evolve into a monstrous evil threat! Furthermore, there was a large rusty pipe running into the sea across the beach, and I was convinced there was a faint throbbing sound to be heard every time I passed near it….

So this was the moment in my young life when the horrors confronted by the Doctor started to feel very real to me. I don’t ever recall a more frightening scene than when the Doctor climbs down into the gloomy bowels of the Euro Sea Gas refinery and discovers a sinister broth of seaweed fronds bubbling furiously, deep inside a murky tank. Most disturbing of all are those things which are not fully revealed, but you know they are there….
In more recent times, I’ve listened to the audio and seen telesnaps and reconstructions of this missing adventure and still believe it to be a remarkable piece of 1960’s TV drama. The surviving clip of the strange and creepy Mr Quill and Mr Oak exhaling poisonous gas provides a taste of how the chilling effects of the seaweed creature’s contamination of its victims and its control over them were realized. And there were so many other memorable landmark features in this particular story including the Tardis landing on the sea; an extremely haunting and unsettling electronic soundtrack; the first ever appearance of the sonic screwdriver; a constant menacing heartbeat emanating from the pipework; the infected and entranced Maggie Harris wading into the ocean; humans gradually turning into seaweed mutants; a thrilling abduction with car and helicopter chases; the extraordinary and eerie Red Sands Sea Fort used in filming; and of course Victoria’s screams that saved the day and her eventual poignant departure from the Tardis.
Skilfully written and directed, Fury from the Deep brimmed with action, tension, imaginative effects and strong characters such as Robson, Van Lutyens and Megan Jones, all portrayed by convincing actors alongside the magnificent Patrick Troughton at his peak. It brought the Doctor’s world of danger so alarmingly close to home that I will never forget it – but as shocking and scary as that may have been, I was enthralled by this story which proudly holds top place in my list, and I still long for these terrific episodes to be safely recovered one day for us all to enjoy once more…..  — Alan
Alan’s actual #4 — The Girl in the Fireplace
Andy’s #4 — The Talons of Weng-Chiang
David’s #4 — Pyramids of Mars
Steve’s #4 — The Five Doctors

47 stories down, one #1 already revealed.  #3 next week.