The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie to Gatwick
Airport in 1966. Polly witnesses a strange murder in the vicinity
of a hangar belonging to Chameleon Tours, a company offering
cheap holidays to young adults. His suspicions aroused, the
Doctor learns that Chameleon Tours passengers have not been
returning from their destinations...
A television serial that relied on the visual gimmicks of
faceless creatures that replace human beings by copying their
physical forms is obviously going to lose something in its
transition to the audio medium. However, this is the only
medium in which we can currently enjoy this Troughton tale
(a couple of episodes do exist visually, but their poor quality
has thus far denied them a commercial release), so we'd better
make the most of what we have.
story does offer several points of interest that do work on
audio. The most notable of these is the character of Samantha
Briggs (Pauline Collins) who teams up with the Doctor and
Jamie in order to find her missing brother. This plucky character
forms a close bond with Jamie (Frazer Hines), and quickly
learns how to manipulate the chivalrous Scot with her feminine
wiles. She and Jamie enjoy a more physical relationship than
usual for '60s Who - well, they kiss twice! Samantha
would have become a companion if Collins had accepted Producer
Innes Lloyd's offer of a regular role in the series.
would ultimately recruit Deborah Watling as Victoria (in the
following story, The Evil of the Daleks) to replace
Ben (Michael Craze) and Polly (Anneke Wills), both of whom
depart at the end of this serial. As with Jackie Lane's Dodo
Chaplet before them, Ben and Polly are rather unceremoniously
written out during Episode Two. After that, they appear only
briefly in a pre-filmed scene in the final episode, during
which they take their leave of the Doctor.
change that occurs in Episode Two is the adoption of a reworked
version of the opening theme, which features "tinkly" elements
that would be retained right up until the end of Tom Baker's
also worth listening out for several guest voices. Bernard
Kay, a prolific actor who made several appearances in Who,
plays Inspector Crossland. Wanda Ventham (here playing Jean
Rock) and Donald Pickering (as Captain Blade) would eventually
be reunited in Time and the Rani.
plot is a little slow, as is often the case with six-parters,
and the motivation of the alien Chameleons is ill-defined
to say the least. They claim to have lost their "identities"
and are "dying out" as a result, although it is never made
clear how one could lead to the other. Perhaps by "identity"
they mean their genetic make-up, the loss of which could cause
sterility - but who knows?
any case, it is always worth hearing Pat Troughton's performances
as the Doctor (far too few of which exist visually), even
if he does fluff his pronunciation of "Chameleon" in Episode
Three! The cliffhanger ending to this tale leads directly
into The Evil of the Daleks, which has already been
released on audio cassette, but is more than ripe for re-issue
on CD should the BBC Radio Collection care to oblige...
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