THIS STORY TAKES
AFTER THE TV STORY
"THE MOONBASE" AND
PRIOR TO THE NOVEL
IAN STEWART BLACK
THE INSECT-MEN &
'THE MACRA TERROR'
AUDIO CD (ISBN 0-563-
47756-3) RELEASED IN
In the far future a
group of humans is
living an idyllic
existence on a distant
planet. Their colony
is run like a gigantic
holiday camp and
nothing seems to
When one of them
claims that the
colony is being
invaded by hideous
monsters, no one
takes him seriously.
But the Doctor’s
What is terrible
menace that lurks at
the heart of this
Why are the
colonists unaware of
the danger that lies
before their very
eyes? And what is the
ALL FOUR EPISODES
The Macra Terror
11TH MARCH 1967 - 1ST APRIL 1967
I received a copy of the updated Loose Cannon reconstruction of this serial from Steve Hatcher (co-ordinator of Derby’s Whoovers and author of the Big Finish short stories Ante Bellum and The Touch of the Nurzah) as part of a huge goody bag that he kindly put together for me and gave to my sister. She was doing a teaching practise at the school where he teaches and just happened to mention to him that her brother is worryingly obsessed with Doctor Who!
Amongst some rare Big Finish freebies, signed photographs, and even a copy of Hatcher’s unpublished short story Venceremos, I noticed a humble-looking VHS tape labelled The Macra Terror calling out to me. In the past, I had always listened to the BBC Radio Collection CDs whilst (trying) to flick through the telesnaps available on the offical BBC website roughly in synch with the soundtrack. With Loose Cannon’s superb reconstruction, however, I could simply sit back and watch four episodes of Doctor Who that I thought I
would never see.
The first thing that struck me about The Macra Terror was the superb quality of the soundtrack, not only in the literal sense but also in terms of the atmosphere that the outstanding incidental music creates. In the same way that clowns can be disturbing, the incessant jingles that are littered throughout this story paint a very sinister picture in the
mind. The un-named planet on which the TARDIS lands seems like a gigantic version of a 1950s holiday camp; all sunshine, dancing and “rah rah rah”’s! As the story progresses,
hints of the dystopian society lurking underneath become more and more evident until it is clear that the colonists’ seemingly idyllic existence is anything but. They are controlled by a constant bombardment of drugs, hypnotism and even some good old fashioned propa-ganda. They are controlled by the Macra, the crab like creatures that the time scanner detected at the end of The Moonbase.
“There are no such things as Macra!”
The TARDIS crew, especially Ben, each enjoy their fair share of the action. Whilst Jamie
and Polly play more traditional roles - Jamie as the action man, Polly as the screamer - Ben succumbs to the controlling influences around him and spends the majority of the story torn between what he perceives to be his loyalty to the colony and his loyalty to his friends. This creates some interesting dilemmas for him, particularly in the second episode where he has to decide whether or not to save Polly from the clutches of a Macra – a creature that the mind-control assures him does not exist. It seems fitting that in the end it is Ben who ultimately saves the day, freeing the colony by blowing up the gas pumps which produce the gas which the Macra need to survive.
“Bad laws were made to be broken…”
I particularly liked how Black portrays the Doctor in his script, the Time Lord here more the manipulator than the instigator, reminding me very much of Sylvester McCoy’s much later portrayal. Interestingly, The Macra Terror also reminded me very much of one of my favourite Sylvester McCoy stories, Graeme Curry’s superb (and sadly under-rated) Happiness Patrol and similarly some other little touches brought future stories to mind. For instance, having the Controller’s true face hidden behind a youthful photograph reminded me of the Borad in the Colin Baker story Timelash. It seems that for a lost and often overlooked story, The Macra Terror is certainly an important and an inspirational one.
The quality of the reconstruction itself is superb. Loose Cannon have, for the most part, combined John Cura’s telesnaps with the existing soundtrack, and where necessary added narration in the form of subtitles. Moreover, they have also woven the few surviving clips seamlessly into the production, and, just to give it a really polished look, added little effects like moving gas and flashing lights to the telesnaps. It may not be way the serial was
originally intended to be seen, but it has got to be the closest that we will ever get to it.
Loose Cannon deserve a lot of credit for putting so much painstaking work into restoring these classic stories; it must be a true labour of love, and it is one that is greatly appreciated by this fan.
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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