Doctor Who: Looking Back At THE FACELESS ONES - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: Looking Back At THE FACELESS ONES

Chris Morley books his ticket on the Magical Mystery Tour...

It's entirely possible that if you've watched Series Twelve of Doctor Who then you might conclude that our newest showrunner has been taking tips from the early days of the Troughtonian Times - for where Praxeus carried a sniff of The Underwater Menace, can we not also add a dash of The Faceless Ones? Where Chibnall & Pete McTighe, writer of Kerblam (aka Amazon In Space), this time saw fit to unleash a virus not of this world, we can add another few notes to the song of Patrick Troughton's early years as the Doctor, during which a similar trick was pulled by the writing team of Malcolm Hulke & David Ellis.

In The Faceless Ones instead of merely sending something down to do their dirty work, the eerily similar to the Praxeus-infected people Chameleons are a little more proactive and decide upon a course of quite literal identity fraud upon their arrival on Earth! At least until a rather unorthodox bastion of law & order arrives having by now grown accustomed to his newest Beatle-aping body. Time then to book a ticket to ride back to 1966 & the oddest of holidays - roll up for the Chameleon Tour. There's no magic but more than a bit of mystery as tourists are going missing! So seatbelts on, if you please, we're off to Gatwick - please keep arms & legs inside the transport at all times.

Materialising on a runway immediately draws attention, not the smartest of moves on the Type 40's part if indeed it is sentient - The Edge Of Destruction having been the first implication that it might be. The old girl just might have come a cropper now too, and this has nothing to do with a mechanical fault!

COMMANDANT: The pilot said what?
MEADOWS: A police box on the runway.
COMMANDANT: A likely story. Tell him to get back into stack and await further instructions.
MEADOWS: Yes sir.
COMMANDANT: Miss Rock, get the Airport Police.
MEADOWS: Gatwick Control, Sugar Delta X-Ray. Return to stack.
COMMANDANT: Police? Commandant here. In-bound aircraft reports obstruction on intersection of runways Five and Two. Investigate and report back. Police Box.
And after splitting up, Polly witnesses a murder. Meeting the Doctor & Jamie, who are hidden under cover of a parked plane, she tells all...
POLLY: Doctor, I've just seen a man killed.
JAMIE: Hit by one of the beasties?
POLLY: No, no. He was murdered by another man.
DOCTOR: Get your breath, Polly, and tell us exactly what happened.
POLLY: Well, I went into the hangar to get away from a policeman, and there were two men in there. One of them had a gun and he shot the other one.
DOCTOR: The murderer, did he see you?
POLLY: Well, he chased me, but I managed to lose him.
DOCTOR: Could you find this hangar again?
POLLY: Well, I think so. I can remember the name. It was Chameleon something or other. Hey, where's Ben?
DOCTOR: We haven't seen him. Come on, let's find this hangar.
POLLY: But listen. The bloke with the gun, he'll be looking for me.
JAMIE: Ah, we'll look after you. Now come on.
Answers are needed, and to that end the Doctor takes Jamie to help him get them. And with all the current furore over the state of travel out of the country now Britain has left the European Union, the Doctor's indignation over something so trivial as a passport now actually feels rather timely!

DOCTOR: Excuse me, we're looking for someone in authority.
JENKINS: Just a moment, sir. All in good time. Thank you, Madam. Now, sir, your passport please.
DOCTOR: I've got no time for that. We want to see someone in authority!
JENKINS: I am in authority. Your passport, please.
DOCTOR: You don't understand. We have something important to report.
JENKINS: Yes, sir. When you've found your passport. The next one, please.
JAMIE: What's a passport, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Some sort of official mumbo-jumbo. Look! We've just discovered a dead body out there. Did you hear me?
He will later spend rather a long time trying to get one of his companions back to Heathrow - an endeavour in which he eventually succeeds but arrives a good few years too early via what he dismisses as a small error having got over the post-regenerative disappointment of not having half as much talent for the recorder as he once did. The confused tug at his hair as he hunts for the Zero Room might also be read as a silent admission that he misses that lovely moptop, too! He has at least until The War Games to be able to rock that old thing, though.

Back to the story, and just when Polly thought she'd eluded capture the Chameleons - the faceless aliens stealing the identities of tourists - get their hands on her!

SPENCER: I've got her.
BLADE: Excellent. Did anybody see you this time?
SPENCER: She was following behind her friends, but they didn't notice.
POLLY: They'll come looking for me.
BLADE: Sit down.
POLLY: Murderers.
BLADE: You'll have to show us some respect, and answer my questions. Which airline do you work for?
POLLY: I don't understand.
BLADE: You must belong to some airline or the airport authority to be in this part of the airport.
POLLY: I've got nothing to do with the airport. We'd just arrived. We were lost. I was trying to find someone to help me and I saw him kill a man.
SPENCER: You say you'd just arrived? How did you get here?
BLADE: We'll gain nothing by questioning her. The important thing is that we've got her.
POLLY: You don't think my friends are just going to forget me like that, do you?
Of course they won't forget her but The Faceless Ones marks a first big point of transition after Troughton signs on for his three years in the role. Polly, along with Ben, the two companions who've eased both the Doctor & the viewing public through the massive change of lead actor rejuvenation, would both be leaving the series.

Of course that particular storm, as it always is, is eventually weathered with the introduction of a new traveling companion, in this case of Victoria Waterfield. But in another link to a plot device Chibnall has made massive use of over his two series in the biggest chair at BBC Wales, The Faceless Ones utilises the temporary companion. Here in one of the most retrospectively notable instances it's used to rope in Pauline Collins as Samantha Briggs....

SAMANTHA: Yes. I'm Samantha Briggs and I've come down from Liverpool.
MICHELLE: Oh, really?
SAMANTHA: It's about my brother, Brian Briggs.
MICHELLE: What about him?
SAMANTHA: He went on one of your tours, and now he's disappeared.
MICHELLE: I'm sorry, I don't follow.
SAMANTHA: Well, it's really very simple. I tried to get the telephone number of the hotel you sent him to, and the operator said there was no such place.
MICHELLE: Well, the operator must have been mistaken then.
SAMANTHA: So, I got in touch with the police and they said that Brian wasn't staying at any hotel in Rome.
After being at the heart of that mystery Pauline Collins will return as Queen Victoria, later inspiring a band of the British Empire's finest to try & claim Mars in her name. She could've returned much sooner though, as she was offered the chance to join Patrick Troughton & Frazer Hines as a full time TARDIS companion, but she declined! You can listen to Pauline Collins talking about that time in the Radio 4 documentary Doctor Who: The Missing Episodes (here), which details what happened to some of the stories long thought to have been consigned to the BBC's Totters Lane of a cutting-room floor.

With a whiff of Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers, the pace of the procedural picks up as we learn more and more about the true nature of Chameleon Tours and just what is happening to the people leaving on their flights. Come the end of The Faceless Ones the Doctor'll have to say goodbye to Ben & Polly after having said hello just prior to his first regeneration in The War Machines, a nice bit of circularity ensuring that they're dropped off almost exactly where & when their travels with him began.
BEN: Did you say 1966?
BEN: What month is it?
DOCTOR: It's July. July the 20th, to be precise.
POLLY: What are you getting at?
BEN: Don't you see, Duchess? July the 20th, 1966 is when it all began! We're back to when it all started. Well, I think.
POLLY: That means it's as if, it's as if we've never been away.
DOCTOR: You really want to go, don't you?
BEN: Well, we won't leave, Doctor, if you really need us.
POLLY: The thing is, it is our world.
DOCTOR: Yes, I know. You're lucky, I never got back to mine. All right, then. Off you go. Now go on, Ben can catch his ship and become an Admiral, and you Polly, you can look after Ben.
Of course he will later get back to his world - the quest to uncover the truth behind it underpinning Jodie Whittaker's second series. The regeneration into the Thirteenth Doctor coincidentally featured her previous self's ring falling off in much the same manner that William Hartnell's had during his own handover to Pat.

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