The Green Death

Doctor WhoProblems at a Welsh mining operation draw the attention of UNIT. The Brigadier is frustrated by the usual lack of cooperation from the mining company, Global Chemicals, but the Doctor is more interested in the rash of mysterious deaths among Global’s miners. He goes down into the mine himself to learn more about the glowing green ooze that has killed almost every miner who has touched it, and discovers a horrifying sight – giant maggots, mutated to a grotesque size by Global’s waste chemicals, are secreting the deadly substance and may even be growing hostile enough to attack humans. Despite this revelation (and the well-meaning interference of local environmental protesters), however, Global Chemicals’ chairman refuses to shut down the mines – and it soon becomes evident that someone else is in charge of the operation, someone or something whose sinister motives may include allowing the poisonous insect larvae to reach the surface and hatch into equally deadly giant insects.

Download this episodewritten by Robert Sloman
directed by Michael Briant
music by Dudley Simpson

Guest Cast: Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), John Levene (Sergeant Benton), Richard Franklin (Captain Yates), Stewart Bevan (Professor Clifford Jones), Jerome Willis (Stevens), John Scott Martin (Hughes), Ben Howard (Hinks), Tony Adams (Elgin), Mostyn Evans (Dai Evans), Ray Handy (Milkman), Talfryn Thomas (Dave), Roy Evans (Bert), John Dearth (voice of BOSS), John Rolfe (Fell), Terry Walsh, Billy Horrigan, Brian Justice, Alan Chuntz (Guards), Mitzi McKenzie (Nancy), Jean Burgess (Cleaner), Roy Skelton (James), Richard Beale (Minister of Ecology)

Broadcast from May 19 through June 23, 1973

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Review: I’ve seen haemovores, dismantled Cybermen, Dalek innards, and dreadful mutations, but nothing, for me, has the sheer ick factor in Doctor Who history that this six-part adventure holds. Depending on my mood, I can barely watch this one at times. Maggots? Ick! Giant maggots? Giant ick! I’ll hand this to the designers though – the damned things look just real enough to merit that giant ick.

On the upside, there’s a lot to commend this story. Jo Grant gets a proper send-off, probably the best example in the entire series of the companion-gets-married-off departure. It doesn’t seem all that rushed or forced – it reads as natural, and you can see where Jo would fall for the environmentalists’ leader. The whole environmental angle gives The Green Death a 70s feel that puts the whole “UNIT happened in the 1980s” continuity argument to rest (as if the retconning of Mawdryn Undead didn’t convince you ten years later). While the maniacal computers and corrupt corporations of the Pertwee era are becoming a little bit old hat by this point, they’re at least pulled off with some finesse.

The Green Death also marks the last appearance of the “red swirly patterns” title sequence that had been a trademark of the Pertwee era; those graphics would be retired in favor of the definitive “tunnel” titles in Pertwee’s last season.