THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
THE TV STORY "THE
GERRY DAVIS &
AUDIO CD (ISBN 0-563-
47755-5) RELEASED IN
Scotland, 1745. The
Doctor, Ben and Polly
arrive in Scotland
after the battle of
Culloden and meet a
band of Highlanders
who are fleeing in
ALL FOUR EPISODES ARE
17TH DECEMBER 1966 - 7TH JANUARY 1967
The Highlanders is a whimsical little serial; weak on historical accuracy, strong on entertainment. The last of the so-called ‘pure’ Doctor Who historicals until 1982’s Black Orchid, this story also stands out as it is the English that are the baddies; not the Aztecs, or the French, or the Saracen Hordes... us! It certainly takes some getting used to. However, the thing that Gerry Davis and Elwyn Jones’ four-parter will forever be remembered for is the introduction of young Jamie McCrimmon, as played by Frazer Hines. Jamie is not only the definitive second Doctor companion, but truly one of the all-time greats.
A fast-moving plot sees the TARDIS crew separated, Ben being taken prisoner with Jamie and the Scottish rebels; Polly on the run with Kirsty (a young Scottish woman); and the new Doctor still employing his early penchant for curious disguises. In The Highlanders, we see the suspicious Doctor Von Wer added to his repertoire, together with a moustached English redcoat, and an old washerwoman!
Much of this serial is quite lighthearted in nature, but even so it does still have its grittier moments. Polly and Kirsty are forced to blackmail an English redcoat, and Ben and Jamie are sold into slavery by a corrupt solicitor. The episode three cliffhanger is particularly disturbing as Ben tears up Solicitor Gray’s ‘contract’ and is ducked into the sea. After all Mary Whitehouse’s fuss about the drowning sequence in The Deadly Assassin, I really
don’t know how this one got past her! It’s brutal.
Aside from Jamie’s introduction (who, incidentally, is not his usual self here), for me the best thing about this story is Polly. Along with her sidekick Ben, she has to be one of the most underrated Doctor Who companions. Anneke Wills gives one of her best performances in The Highlanders; Polly coming across as being very strong and resourceful, whether she is dressing up as an orange seller, blackmailing soldiers, or even using her feminine wiles to get her out of sticky situations!
Sadly, The Highlanders only exists today as four audio episodes (with linking narration by Frazer Hines) and as a collection of telesnaps from John Cura. I have managed to compile
a little reconstruction by combing the two surviving elements on my PC, and I think that I have managed to get a good feel for the story, but all the same it’s hard to judge without sight of the original serial. Still, whilst I will not be crying myself to sleep over the loss of this one, The Highlanders is certainly a charming little story, well worthy of its place in the canon.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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