Doctor Who: THE TARGET STORYBOOK The Clean Air Act Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: THE TARGET STORYBOOK The Clean Air Act Review

Christopher Morley goes green...

As we continue our journey from the recently released Target Storybook, we move now into the early Seventies for The Clean Air Act, which serves as a prequel of sorts to Invasion Of The Dinosaurs, Jo Grant accompanying the Third Doctor as he investigates strange environmentally-linked goings on at Oak Green centred around the Hesketh family.

Remember the Right Honourable Sir Charles Grover MP from Invasion Of The Dinosaurs? He was a strongly pro-environmentalist politician, founder of the Save Planet Earth society and the author of Last Chance for Man. It would seem that much of the thinking behind his book is shaped by an encounter with Sally, daughter to Tom & Jenny within the aforementioned family unit - an extract forming part of the introduction to Matthew Sweet's narrative here.

Of course, soon after hearing about the disturbances the Doctor takes a drive down to have a look for himself before UNIT do some probing of their own under the watchful eye of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, who will no doubt hope things go better than they did way back at Wenley Moor.

They decide upon an evacuation protocol, Captain Yates making sure everyone heads out to Tarminster so their scientific advisor can get on with his work in peace! The samples collected by Seargeant Benton & a few able squaddies from the lawns around their flatbed trucks & indeed the TARDIS seemingly yield nothing, so the Doctor decides to go for a stroll in search of a little inspiration..........

At which point we can take one of our own! Environmental issues affecting the Earth of the time are hardly new territory, as mapped out by Terrance Dicks following the move from black & white into colour almost from the off as the living plastic Autons decide to spook a few Saturday shoppers as one of the first phases of a full scale invasion, the terms of the newest incarnation of the Time Lord's exile to this bluest of planets meaning the monsters will have to come to him for once!

Which they will in their droves, the Silurians next to pay a visit in what Target would later novelise as Doctor Who And The Cave-Monsters years before the homo reptilia naming would also be applied to the pre-humanity Earth dwellers.

Two stories on Inferno would demonstrate the folly of attempting to penetrate the Earth's crust to cap off Season Seven before Eight kicked off with a return for the most terrifying of shop mannequins with a new friend in tow to help them finally get their sculpted hands on the Earth!

The pursuit of an alternative energy source is the main thrust of The Claws Of Axos not long after that, while even the furthest reaches of space aren't immune to a little blight going by the crop failures of Colony In Space.

Season Nine then takes a break from doing its bit for the environment before the big finale of the following run takes a look at the possible ramifications of spilling toxic waste on the maggots of South Wales.

Needless to say all of that might also have persuaded Grover to do something - Operation Golden Age under way by the time the Doctor meets him in the second story of his last hurrah.
BRIGADIER: This is the Doctor, sir, our scientific advisor. Doctor, this is the Right Honourable Charles Grover, Minister with special powers.

GROVER: I do apologise for the interruption, Doctor. I realise how busy you are.
DOCTOR: Well, I'm glad somebody does.
GROVER: I understand you may be able to help us find a solution to this crisis.
DOCTOR: Yes, I sincerely hope so. Aren't you the chap who started the 'Save Planet Earth' society?
GROVER: I had something to do with it.
DOCTOR: You also wrote that book, Last Chance For Man, didn't you?
GROVER: Yes, that's right.
DOCTOR: Oh, my dear Grover, I'm delighted to meet you. This planet needs people like you.
Well, if you're going to be exiled to it you might as well do what you can to sort the Earth out a bit? He'd even seen Miss Grant leave her spot as his assistant, so capably also previously filled by Liz Shaw, to be with a man whose green credentials reminded her somewhat of him too of course.

And if the latest turnings of the rumour mill are to be believed, while we didn't get to see Jodie Whittaker's Thirteenth Doctor once again marooned here much beyond The Woman Who Fell To Earth, something of the green message of Jon Pertwee's time similarly engaged could be about to seep through into her second series of stepping into his shoes.

And if so it could prove timely - the Clean Air Act in a legal sense having first been passed in 1956 in response to what came to be known as the Great Smog four years beforehand, which the Doctor & Sarah Jane will become embroiled in during the events of Amorality Tale - reprinted by BBC Books as part of its Doctor Who History Collection. An amended version of the Act would come into force by 1993, three years before Jon Pertwee's sudden death of a heart attack a long while after hanging up his cape in 1974. Though he would be persuaded to don it once more for The Five Doctors alongside his two predecessors & at least one successor ( The other would be noticeable by his absence, footage from the unbroadcast Shada used for the briefest of cameos after Tom Baker decided not to return to a role he'd only fairly recently left.

Aptly enough Susie Day's Punting, the Target Storybook entry for the Fourth Doctor, allows him to do so at least in print- returning him to that punt in Cambridge with the lovely Romana for company before they're trapped in a time eddy.

An incident which gave Jon Culshaw plenty of opportunity to poke a little fun during The FiveIsh Doctors Reboot when it appears Tom can't take part thanks to being stuck in the Time Vortex yet again....though of course that was just a cover for a rather bigger surprise.

He will actually be stuffed there once more next time. Jelly baby while we wait, anyone?

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