29 Cool Things About "Delta and
(and 21 Stupid Ones)
(But we're not telling you which is which)
(We're expecting you to work that out for yourselves)
By Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore
Originally published in Celestial Toyroom Issue 447
1. Titles used during the production of this story included “The Flight of the Chimeron”, “Flight of the Chimeron”, “Delta and the Bannerman” and the snappy and descriptive “Serial 7F”.
2. Is it really a good idea to take a closeup of an actor speaking while wearing a Chimeron mask which allows no mouth movement?
3. Gavrock is shot with enough force to hurl him backwards out of the airlock, and yet shows no sign of injury for the rest of the story. Judging by what happens elsewhere, the Bannermen aren't wearing protective suits or possessed of natural defenses against gunfire, so the only thing Gavrock must have going for him is plot armour.
4. Bonnie Langford's snake bracelet is both 1950s-authentic and very lovely.
5. Deleted lines: “That kitty defies all known physical laws, we always fill it up and yet it's always empty”. We have a cat like that.
6. One of us first saw this story in Canada, where Ken Dodd is virtually unknown, and spent most of episode one wondering who the freak in the purple sequins was.
7. There's a certain cheek in casting a man well known for his trial for tax evasion as a toll-booth officer.
8. “This is J.P. Weissmuller calling from Wales, in England”. While he's arguably correct, given that this is pre-devolution, it's still an obvious dog-whistle for the Welsh Nationalists.
9. The introduction of the Navarinos validates 1950s paranoia about Aliens Who Look Like Humans Walking Among Us, with the added wobble that they're actually rather friendly, and adapt to the Welsh holiday-camp lifestyle with surprising aplomb.
10. The name “Bannerman” could refer to a samurai during the Tokugawa Shogunate, a Scottish clan name, a member of the Eight Banners administrative district during the Qing Dynasty, a feudal vassal in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels and the TV series based on these, and three towns in North America. That's your trivia quotient for today.
11.And apparently the Bannermen's appearance in this story was in fact based on movie depictions of the Tokugawa samurai. Albeit without the fish-scale armour, long hair and nifty swords.
12. Why would the President's right-hand man ring up two blokes in Wales and ask them to track down a satellite? They do, conveniently, have a telescope, but it does seem a bit of an ad-hoc operation.
13. It's also entertaining to speculate that “the President's right-hand man” might be another of Doctor Who's references to Richard Milhouse Nixon.
14. Furthermore, considering the relatively primitive level of 1950s space science, it's straining credibility that NASA could pinpoint the satellite's landing site with any greater precision than “somewhere in Western Europe”.
15. They also somehow miss the damn great space-bus that's pushing it to Earth.
16. The bus dropping out of the sky is pretty Cool, though.
17. The grass at Shangri-La could sure do with a good mowing.
18. We'd suggest a drinking game for every time some 1950s trope crops up as a piece of background detail (hula hoops, the tune “Puffin' Billy” from the Children's Favourites radio programme, duck-arse haircuts, Hawaiian shirts...) but frankly you'd be ratted before the end credits roll for Part One.
19. What exactly is the sense of putting the satellite in the boot of the bus where the Hellstrom Fireball engine's jets are?
20. The Quarb crystal is damaged when the bus hits the satellite. The Doctor produces a replacement which he says is the only one this side of the Softel Nebula. Which Murray promptly drops, meaning they have to grow a new one. What was the point in introducing the replacement in the first place?
21. Ray! She's the alternate-universe Ace!
22. Unfortunately, the hair-bow she wears to the dance party makes her look regrettably like Minnie Mouse.
23.And her Welsh accent appears to consist of speaking in a high voice with a contrived little lilt at the end of every sentence.
24. In Part One, we learn that Mel's full name is Melanie Discretion Bush. No? Please yourselves.
25. Ken Dodd's death is quite horrific, despite (or perhaps because of) him playing it for laughs.
26. Keff McCullogh can be spotted on the electric guitar in the dance-party scene.
27. How can Murray change clothes (including, at one point, into a fetching pyjama suit) without a transformation arch?
28. “Stay there, I'll get changed,” he says to Mel in Part Two, disappearing back into his room at Shangri-La. Has he smuggled a portable arch in there?
29. The Chimeron infant has quite an enormous head, such that one wonders how the egg managed to contain its body as well.
30. Butlins' employees wore red jackets and were known as “Redcoats”; the situation comedy Hi-de-Hi! 's fictional equivalent wore yellow jackets and were known as “Yellowcoats.” Shangri-La's employees, diplomatically, split the difference and wear red-and-yellow striped jackets.
31. The deleted scene where the Chimeron infant turns around to look crossly at Billy is absolutely inspired; you expect it to say, “do you mind? We're in the middle of something”.
32. The juvenile Chimeron queen can scream on a precise musical note, and use her voice as an assault weapon. Mel's got a rival.
33. Unfortunately, mercenary Keillor's gun just looks completely rubbish, with the ludicrous red bit of plastic on the end.
34. So the two American agents are apparently driving along the road, asking random elderly Welshmen if they've seen anything fall out of the sky lately. That's some impressive covert operations right there.
35. Isn't it remarkable that the random elderly Welshman the two agents happen to accost is someone who can give them an impromptu and unprovoked lecture on the life cycle of a species of insect which just, coincidentally, happens to also be that of the Chimeron?
36. The baby in the green-face makeup and scaly hoodie. Oh dear.
37. Later, she apparently grows green suede shoes.
38. “Did you come here with Billy often?” says the Doctor. Ray, nobly, fails to rise to the bait.
39. “I'm trying to use mind power to make it grow faster, but I haven't had much luck”. Mel, equally nobly, fails to make the obvious joke about Murray not having such a powerful mind.
40. Since the young of Delta's species consume a royal jelly-like substance for nourishment, why exactly does Delta have breasts?
41. It's pretty audacious, in Doctor Who terms, to kill off a group of sympathetic characters in the middle of the serial.
42. Bill Fraser, who played General Grugger in “Meglos”, reportedly only took the part if he could kick K9. One wonders if Don Henderson took the role of Gavrock only so that he could kick Bonnie Langford.
43. Why do the Bannermen carry about aluminium double-necked collars among their equipment? Do they regularly find the need to lock pairs of confused American not-so-secret agents together?
44. Goronwy is described in the script notes as a “Merlin figure”. Apparently this doesn't include such Merlinlike traits as getting seduced by passing fairies and imprisoned in oak trees.
45. Delta is a ruthless, cold-blooded killer, from a planet whose entire setup is military and whose queens are genetically engineered to deafen and incapacitate Bannermen with the sound of their voices alone. Precisely why are we supposed to sympathise with her rather than the Bannermen?
46. At no point in the entire three-episode serial is it explained why the Bannermen are so determined to kill off the Chimerons. That's a big omission.
47. The Bannermen ship landing slowly and gracefully behind a giant plaster cartoon tiger. Yeah, that's the stuff.
48. The plotline with Billy turning himself into a Chimeron male through consuming the substance Delta feeds the Chimeron Queen has obvious antecedents in Roald Dahl's short story Royal Jelly.
49. Although, considering that the role of the male among social insects is basically just to have a lot of sex and then die, it's a bit of an interesting lifestyle choice on his part.
50. Finally, it's rather neat that this story reverses the plot of the classic 1950s film I Married a Monster from Outer Space, which featured aliens impersonating human men so that they can mate with unwitting human women and keep their race from becoming extinct.