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Recap / Doctor Who S24 E3 "Delta and the Bannermen"

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Delta and the Bannermen
Written by Malcolm Kohll
Directed by Chris Clough
Production code: 7F
Air dates: 2 - 16 November 1987
Number of episodes: 3

"You are not the Happy Hearts Holiday Club from Bolton, but instead are spacemen in fear of an attack from some other spacemen?"

The One With… the green baby. No, not the one from Stone Ocean.

The TARDIS is the ten billionth customer at a hyperspace tollbooth, and the Doctor and Mel win a free vacation through time and space to Disneyland in AD 1959. Mel boards a Time Machine in the form of a bus (no, it's not a TARDIS). The Doctor follows in his Old Semi-Reliable.

In 1959, the US launches a satellite which promptly collides with the bus, which makes an emergency landing just outside a Welsh holiday camp called Shangri-La. One of the other passengers is Delta, Queen of the Chimerons. She and her egg are the last of their kind, as the evil Bannermen have taken over her world.

Meanwhile, two bickering CIA Agents (the Earthbound version) are notified that the satellite was last seen over their area. All these people will get mixed up in the affair when the Bannermen are alerted to Delta's whereabouts.

This was only the second three-part story in the classic series' 25-minute format,note  and the first to be produced that way: 1964's "Planet of Giants" was filmed as a four-parter and reduced to three in the edit. The three-part story would become a staple of the Seventh Doctor's era because of the 14-episode season and reduced budget imposed on the show by BBC executives; each season would have two four-part stories and two three-part stories, with the latter two effectively produced as one six-episode block with the same director and production team, with one being entirely filmed on location and the other being produced entirely in a studio.


  • 20 Minutes into the Past: Set in 1959, aired in 1987.
  • Adam and Eve Plot
  • A Father to His Men: When the Doctor convinces the unassuming Mr Burton of the danger the Bannermen pose, he reassumes the title of Major Burton and he proceeds to gather his staff together and organise the camp evacuation in record time. He also saves Mel's life when he stares down Gavrok and convinces him to take them hostage rather than kill them.
  • Aliens in Cardiff
  • All There in the Script:
    • Keillor, the alien bounty hunter, is never referred to by name in the story's dialogue; his name is given only in the closing credits.
    • The script originally contained background about the Chimerons and the Bannermen, with the latter described as hailing from a planet which they had overpolluted to the point of making it uninhabitable, motivating their invasion of the Chimeron homeworld.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: The evil Bounty Hunter Keillor has a South African accent (which wasn't the actor's natural one) for no apparent reason.
  • Anachronism Stew: The guitar the Doctor is seen hugging at the end of the story is a Squier Stratocaster by Fender, although the model is not one available at the time the story was set. Since it's not stated where the Doctor got it from, we can presume it's from the future.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Bannermen wear all black, are genocidal, militaristic, and are spending vast resources to hunt down the survivors of an otherwise peaceful society.
  • Author Appeal: Writer Malcolm Kohll put a Vincent motorbike in the story because he was a fan and wanted to sit in one.
  • Bee People: The Chimerons before the genocide. How the species will adapt to having a male "queen" is anyone's guess.
  • Badass Biker: Ray.
  • Big Bad: Gavrok, the leader of the Bannermen.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Doctor and Ray hit it off so well that by episode three he's calling her "my cariad" - "my lovely" or "my darling" in Welsh.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Chimerons have Rapid Aging, as demonstrated by their Princess.
  • Booby Trap:
    • Gavrok places one on the TARDIS when he realizes it's not from Earth.
    • The Doctor uses a non-lethal - though very painful - example to slow their pursuers down.
  • Brown Note: The Princess' weaponized singing.
  • Bounty Hunter: One reports the Chimeron's whereabouts to the Bannermen.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Likely as a Shout-Out to rock group Echo & the Bunnymen
  • Cool Bike: The Vincent.
  • Continuity Nod: Mel comments that her and the Doctor's last holiday "wasn't exactly ice hot".
  • The Dreaded: As soon as Murray and the space tourists hear that the Bannermen are coming, they all make a mad scramble to pack and get on the bus.
  • Eagleland: The two bumbling CIA field agents end up bickering with each other more than helping. As per BBC stock accents, one is a Southerner in a white suit and the other is a fat New Yorker dressed conspicuously in a Yankees Jacket and cap. At least in the latter's case, that was the actor's natural accent.
  • Fake Band: The Lorells.
  • The '50s: Set in the 1950s, and filled with homages to the period's music and sci-fi movies.
  • Flowers of Romance: Billy became attracted to Delta when she arrived at the camp. Later, he dedicated a song to her and turned up to her dorm with flowers.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: When the Chimeron princess uses her attack song to drive off the Bannermen attacking them at Goronwy's house, the windows of the house shatter.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Gavrok is killed by his own booby trap.
  • Iconic Item: The long black umbrella with the red question mark handle that the Seventh Doctor carried throughout his era makes its first appearance in this story.
  • Ill-Timed Sneeze: The Doctor alerts Keillor to his and Ray's presence by sneezing.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: A six inch long shiny silver one with audible beeping and a flashing blue light.
  • In the Back: Gavrok shoots the Toll Master in the back as he flees.
  • Jabba Table Manners: Gavrok messily eats raw meat while talking to the Doctor.
  • Kill the Cutie: The mass slaughter of the Naverinos just as they're about to escape.
  • Last Of Her Kind: Delta is the last survivor of her species.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: The Doctor explains the situation to Burton.
    Now, let me try and get this right. Now, are you telling me that you are not the Happy Hearts Holiday Club from Bolton, but instead are spacemen in fear of an attack from some other spacemen, and because of the danger, you want me to evacuate the entire camp?
  • Like Brother and Sister: Deleted dialogue reveals that Billy sees Ray as a little sister, hence why he goes off with Delta at the end.
  • Love at First Sight: Billy and Delta. And in a platonic way, the Doctor and Ray - he essentially dumps Mel for Ray as soon as he meets her, rushes to comfort her when Billy breaks her heart, and by Part 3 he's calling her "my cariad"!
  • Motorcycle Jousting: The Doctor gets in a motorcycle jousting match against one of the Bannermen.
  • Mutagenic Food: Delta's "royal jelly".
  • No Name Given: The Chimeron princess.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Mel invokes this in an effort to persuade the Bannermen that they successfully killed Delta when they destroyed the bus. They actually believe it for a little while... until the Doctor and Delta make a very visible entrance on a motorcycle.
  • Pseudo-Crisis: At the end of the second episode, the Doctor and his friends are leaving a parley with Gavrok under a flag of truce when Gavrok cocks his gun, and the Doctor says worriedly that he may have pushed Gavrok too far. At the beginning of the next episode, Gavrok immediately lets them go unharmed, only firing the gun into the air as a signal to the other Bannermen.
  • Rapid Aging: Delta's daughter is born and ages up to her species' version of adolescence in the course of a single day. The royal jelly Delta feeds her may have something to do with it.
  • Smouldering Shoes: All that's left of the alien bounty hunter after Gavrok decides he's outlived his usefulness is a smoking pair of (blue suede) shoes.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: The force field booby trap Gavrok places on the TARDIS is completely invisible except for the explosions that result when something touches it.
  • Those Two Guys: The CIA agents.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Ray
  • Umpteenth Customer: The story begins with the TARDIS being the umpteenth vehicle to pass through a hyperspace tollbooth; not only is the toll waived, the Doctor and Mel are awarded free places in an alien tour group going to visit 1950s Earth.
  • Wrench Wench: Ray habitually goes about with her pockets full of spanners, Allen keys and other tools.

"I shall talk to my bees."