Pier Pressure
Serial 7C/MA
Pier Pressure
Written by Robert Ross
Directed by Gary Russell
Sound Design and Post Production by Gareth Jenkins @ ERS
Music by Andy Hardwick @ ERS

Colin Baker (The Doctor), Maggie Stables (Evelyn Smythe), Roy Hudd (Max Miller), Doug Bradley (Professor Talbot), Chris Simmons (Albert Potter), Sally Ann Curran (Emily Bung), Martin Parsons (Billy).

Brighton, Sussex, 1936

‘’Ere, listen listen, I’ve got one for you. There once was this bloke, you see. Good-looking sort of chap. Lovely, brightly coloured coat. No rubbish. Quality gear. Never bought a drink neither... or so they say. But his name wasn’t Miller. Oh no, there’ll never be another Cheeky Chappie, lady, there’ll never be another. They broke the mould when they made me you know.

‘No, this bloke called himself the Doctor. Doctor who you ask? And may well you. Don’t know meself. No one ever knew. Funny that. He was a real strange one. Odd things happened when he arrived.

Mind you, them were dark days. No one was laughing. And these were my people. My public. It was like playing first house at the Glasgow Empire. Just like the entire town was cursed it was. Cursed by something not of this world...’

  • Released: January 2006
    ISBN: 1 84435 166 1
Part One
(drn: 29'44")

Brighton, 1936. Albert Potter and his girlfriend Emily Bung enjoy a moonlight walk along the stony beach after an evening at the cinema. He climbs up onto a groyne and playfully adopts the role of a white knight, ready to carry his damsel in distress away from her devious guardian. She rejects his embrace and complains about the state of her shoes, worried about what her employer will say when she turns up for work at the shoe shop the next morning. She can’t afford to lose another job. Feeling she’s being a spoilsport, he tries to frighten her with stories of the Phantom Bloodsucker of Preston Park. He swears the stories are true, there’s a killer on the loose who likes to suck the blood of fresh young virgins. He’s known to come down to the beach, biding his time, forever waiting for an innocent beauty to wander past. Just as he’s assuring her she will be safe as long as she stays with him, they’re interrupted by a bloodcurdling cry like a banshee - a scream from hell! The couple run for their lives, wondering what could have made the terrible sound. They need a drink, but Emily wants him to report it to the police first. Albert is not keen as he and the police are rather too well acquainted already for his liking.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor and Evelyn are debating whether there’s any good left in the world. He wonders if anybody would be bothered if he never to set foot again on her planet? Evelyn knows him too well - he’s down in the dumps after a couple of misadventures. He insists on the right to enjoy a thoroughly bad mood without the need to apologise for being irritable. She accuses him of being self-indulgent and tries to shake him out of his doldrums. It’s not healthy for him to sit around moping about, but he can’t decide whether he’s bored or just being plain lazy. She suggests he try writing his autobiography (being totally self-centred, he should appreciate that) but he says his brain needs more stimulation. She has just the idea - he needs a proper fully-relaxed holiday, so she suggests Blackpool. Not surprisingly, he’s against that idea, but Evelyn is so keen that he eventually relents and agrees to buy her a toffee apple.

At the end of another performance at the Theatre Royal, Max Miller, the famous music hall comedian, is congratulated by his young actor friend Billy on another wonderful act. The star wishes he’d been in the audience, since no one else seems to agree with him! Billy assures him it’s just a seasonal thing, either it’s too hot and the public are outside taking in the summer breeze, or it’s too cold and they’re staying indoors listening to the wireless. Max feels badly about inviting Billy down to Brighton to pick up some tips as his friend is unlikely to learn anything while he’s on such bad form. Billy assures him the London audience are just as bad at the moment, and watching a pro like Max on stage is just the tonic he needs.

The Doctor and Evelyn stroll along the promenade and it’s obvious to both of them that this is Brighton, not Blackpool. The Doctor’s not surprised - he knew the TARDIS would never want to go back there again! This is supposed to be the 1980s, but they know better than to take anything for granted. For all they know, this could just as easily be an intergalactic representation of a typical Earth seaside culture for a school excursion … although the seagulls are a bit of a giveaway. The Doctor admires the Royal Pavilion and admonishes Evelyn for not sharing his enthusiasm. He thinks the problem with this narrow-minded little planet is that people are so caught up in the wonders of the unknown, they fail to appreciate what they have.

In the theatre bar, a drunk member of the audience is telling Max just how rotten his act was when Albert and Emily arrive. Albert claims to be a huge fan and asks Max for his advice on getting into the movies, but the comedian admits he has no influence in Hollywood. Just because it says Warner Brothers on the posters, it doesn’t mean he’s having cucumber sandwiches with Errol Flynn and Bette Davis. It’s Billy he should really be taking to - he’s an up and coming star and recently appeared in the films “I‘m an Explosive“ and “While Parents Sleep”. The young couple tell him about their experiences on the beach…

The Doctor is intrigued by a young newspaper vendor announcing a recent murder and buys a copy from the boy. He feels cheated when there’s nothing in the paper about it and the vendor reveals he was promoting the new Boris Karloff film “Charlie Chan at the Opera”, currently showing at the flicks. Of more interest to him is there’s been another local disappearance. The Doctor reads out a report of Larry Michaels, 22, who vanished from Brighton beach last night, although he‘s disappointed that the police don’t suspect foul play. He hates a mystery when there isn’t any mystery. The missing man probably had a few too many drinks and wandered off somewhere. Convinced there must be more to the story than that, the Doctor decides to take Evelyn to a nearby drinking tavern. All the other great authors agree that if you want to get to the bottom of an English mystery, you must get to the bottom of a pint glass first. The British pub is the hub of any tight-knit community, where tongues are loose and gossip flows. Besides which, he’s hungry.

Professor Talbot is thinking about his late wife again and fighting off a bout of depression. He wonders why his wife did what she did, what kind of foolishness had seized her? A mysterious voice in his head tells him to stop pining for his loss - it does get so very boring after the first ten years. If his wife was still here now, she would reek like a rotting mackerel. The voice asks the Professor about his title - was it earned or bought? Talbot explains that he was a showman and his wife was his assistant, but there was a storm and she fell into the water. The voice already knows the details as he was ‘in residence’ at the time. Talbot reminds the voice that it had promised to help him, but these things take time, power must be earned. There are some things that simply can’t be bought. Talbot asks the voice whether this will all end when he dies, but there is no answer. He wonders why the voice is never there when he faces his biggest crises. What sort of Lord is it that feeds him with power, hope and understanding, then reverts quietly to nothing, hiding in the recess of his mind and soul? In fact, if he is so worthless, why does the voice need him at all?

The Doctor and Evelyn arrive at the Theatre Royal and he tries to get food from the bar, but it’s too late to take any new orders. Nearby, Max Miller is reassuring Albert and Emily that the noise they heard was probably a few revellers from London who’d had too much to drink. Albert swears the noise wasn’t human, but Max isn’t in the mood to hear tales of sea monsters. Instead, he’d rather complain about the BBC banning him from the National Programme. Albert and Billy remind Max that this town loves him so he should be able to get to the bottom of the mystery in no time. As the barmaid calls time, Max spots the outraged Doctor and is amused to see someone dressed more brightly than himself - this one looks more like a Christmas tree! At first, the Doctor dismisses Max as a loudmouth riff-raff…but those with the loudest mouths are often those with the most interesting nuggets of local information. The bar is still open to Max, of course, so he offers to buy them a drink (with Billy’s money). As he rubs the Doctor up the wrong way by addressing him as “son”, it suddenly dawns on Evelyn that this is the Max Miller. For once, even the Doctor is impressed.

Eventually the Doctor and Max start to hit it off. Max asks if the Doctor works for the BBC - if so, he promises he to clean up his act, at least until he gets the cheque and then it’s every comic for himself! The Doctor knows of the BBC and claims it’s often unforgiving to its finest assets. But alas, no, their output is outside his jurisdiction. Max thinks he must be an admirer who’s attempting to dress like his hero, but the Doctor insists that his unique dress sense is his own, albeit possibly influenced by some half-saved memory from his youth. Changing the subject, Max suggests the best course of action for Albert and Emily is to forget what they heard and go home. The Doctor is intrigued and the young couple tell him more about the inhuman, ungodly sound that seemed to be coming from the sea and was certainly not of this world. Evelyn reminds them of the man who disappeared and the Doctor believes coincidence is now being stretched further than his curiosity can stand. This could have enormous consequences for the entire planet and fashion the very fabric of society for the next 300 years. Or it could be nothing.

The Doctor heads the group down onto the beach to investigate. Albert and Emily take them to the spot near the West Pier where they heard the sound, and assure the others that they know the difference between the natural sound of the waves and the wind, and the supernatural. The Doctor can’t resist telling them about the film “Creature from the Black Lagoon”, although he concedes that it won’t be released over here for some time. Max is worried about the time, or more importantly he’s worried about his mother-in-law. The Doctor insists he should stay as they need his inside local knowledge about who or what can be found at the end of the pier. Max tells them this is Professor Talbot’s pitch, a stage magician who claimed to have studied the centuries-old ways of the mystic. The Doctor thinks he might have something to do with whatever’s going on round here and suggests they meet him. The only problem is, according to Max he’s been dead for fifteen years!

Part Two
(drn: 36'18")

Max confirms that business in the area has been bad for years, so Talbot’s pitch and promotional poster haven’t been taken down yet. The Doctor is sceptical - this is a busy place in the height of the summer season, so why would anyone waste valuable advertising space on a phantom professor? His words have an effect on Albert who tells them about the Phantom Bloodsucker of Preston Park. Perhaps he’s come back from the grave? Max says local stories tell of Professor Talbot being on the pier the day it opened, and the Doctor points out this was in 1866. He knows for a fact that he wasn’t there then, or in 1907 either. He wonders whether the professor has slipped through time.

The group notices that Billy isn’t with them any more, and just at that moment the young man catches up with them. He also knows the stories of Professor Talbot and describes him as a mind-reader. The Doctor is intrigued by the idea of a man who is very much in time, but not there all the time, people disappearing under mysterious circumstances and then, no doubt, reappearing again. Evelyn begins to suspect the involvement of Dr Knox, the time-travelling villain they encountered in Edinburgh, 1828, but the Doctor thinks not. Max points out that they can’t all go exploring the end of the West Pier at this time of night, but that suits the Doctor as he only wants Evelyn to accompany him. There are certain things that should never be experienced by people, things that could warp their minds, alter their understanding and change them. The Doctor and Evelyn are not exactly immune, but they are at least used to the idea. Albert offers to join them, but Emily objects and the Doctor concurs. He advises the group to wait for them on the shore…

Professor Talbot assures the voice that he’s been careful and that no one suspects anything, but the entity has detected a threat to its survival from the new arrivals. Talbot can’t believe that the intelligence of puny apes like these can alter the course of history. They will face confusion, mass loss and after the merest of futile struggles, they will vanish into extinction. He asks the voice to trust him that no one will disturb the place of its eternal rest. No one would dare!

The Doctor and Evelyn arrive at the end of the West Pier and although the fortune teller’s booth is closed for business, the Doctor simply can’t believe the Professor is dead. He fails to break open the door, but spots a crevice in the rocks where the tide has gone out which is perfectly situated under the booth. Evelyn predicts that Talbot is about to meet a tall, blond stranger. He climbs over the balcony of the pier and drops down onto the rocks. Just as Talbot is assuring the voice that nothing could find them there, the Doctor walks in and points out that talking to yourself is the first sign of madness, but answering voices in your head is at least the fifth sign of madness. The Doctor says he can sometimes hear voices in his head too, particularly when he gets an uncontrollable urge to dominate humanity. It’s obvious to the Doctor that Talbot is not at all well. As he starts to unfasten the door from the inside to let Evelyn, Talbot rants about being shunned by the fraternity, kicked out of the Magic Circle and disowned by his profession. He’s not surprised to hear that people believe he’s been dead for fifteen years.

On the beach, the rest of the group lose sight of the Doctor and Evelyn for a moment, then they see them both calmly walking back towards them. The Doctor urges his friend not to look back, but she can’t understand why he sounds so afraid. She dismisses Talbot as an old charlatan, full of mumbo-jumbo and flim-flam and the Doctor urges her to keep believing that. They stop for a moment and look back, but Talbot has gone. Evelyn wants to know why the Doctor is so worried. He tells her that inside the professor’s mind is something chilling and uncanny that shouldn’t be there. He looked into Talbot’s eyes and saw absolutely nothing, it was like looking into the eyes of a dead fish. To Evelyn, the professor seemed overly emotional, but this was just surface detail. Underneath, in the soul, there was nothing. The Doctor warns her not to rely on first impressions, but she complains that no sooner had he invited her in then he whisked her straight out again. He says he had to show Talbot that they felt no fear - but the Doctor is afraid nonetheless. There is pure concentrated evil encased in that flea-bitten establishment and he sensed it from the first moment he stepped inside.

The Doctor plans to spend the night on the beach so he can keep an eye on the place from a safe distance. He wants everyone else to leave, especially Albert who’s trying too much to be a hero and has no grasp of the enormity of the evil that lurks there. It must be destroyed, but first it must be studied. When they rejoin the group, Max tells them it’s time he went home to a warm meal and a bed. Albert insists on staying with the Doctor after learning that the whole planet is at risk from something so powerful that mankind could crumble before its force. When the Doctor reluctantly agrees, Emily decides to stay too, so he hands Evelyn the TARDIS key and tells her to take the others to safety. Max wants to know where their ship is moored, but Evelyn tells him she will explain on the way. Billy is infuriated with his friend and cannot believe that he so readily accepts their story of alien creatures and world domination. He refuses to join them and runs off into the darkness. The Doctor, Albert and Emily are now alone on the beach.

Talbot insists that he didn’t tell his visitors anything, but the voice calls him an incompetent fool. It could sense the threat from the Doctor and decides he must be eliminated. Talbot refuses to kill again, but to the voice he is no more than a worm, an insect. He knows what will happen if he tries to resist the entity. Talbot is clearly in pain, and eventually he relents and agrees to kill the Doctor - but he will need help. The voice tells Talbot to be seated and relax. He must be a willing agent. The voice wants to see the mettle of the Doctor, but Talbot is worried that their enemy may kill him. To the creature, that is of no consequence and it’s confident it will survive without him. Now, let the fun begin…

The Doctor, Albert and Emily discuss the strange circumstances they’re in and although the young woman struggles to understand what’s going on, she’s used to hearing about creatures from the unknown from her boyfriend. They all agree that you can’t take anything for granted and it’s best to take life as it comes. The Doctor wonders how long it’s been since he sat calmly and serenely listening to the sound of the ocean, or the sound of everything shifting gently in the Universe. He describes himself as a watchmaker. He regulates time and there are so many faults, so many cogs that don’t quite fit, so many worlds, so many life forms that can destroy everything and shatter the very fabric of time. But here, as the ocean laps in and out, he’s found real purity and honesty. A simple tide, uninterrupted. That is until they all hear the horrific scream echoing across the beach.

Evelyn takes Max back to the TARDIS, which he believes is the Royal Pavilion’s newly installed police box. At first he refuses to trespass inside police property - but once he sees the massive interior he is amazed. He deduces from Evelyn that the Doctor “pinched” the ship from his people, but he won’t pass judgement. He learnt long ago never to argue with the person who owns the key. He doesn’t doubt for a moment that this is a genuine time and space machine as he recognises the Doctor had spoken with an authority that only comes from someone who is on the level. He wonders how many miles there are on the clock. Before long, Max is getting a little bored cooped up inside. When Evelyn turns down his idea for a game of cards, he asks where the little boy’s room is. Evelyn realises she has no idea as she’s never had to use it in all the time she’s been travelling with the Doctor. She gets frustrated with his pacing up and down and he eventually summons up the courage to ask what period she comes from. She won’t answer and he starts to wonder what’ll happen when he dies and whether he’ll be remembered. Eventually he narrows his questions down to just one - what horse will win the Grand National in 1937? Failing that, he proposes a game of I-Spy…

After hearing the alien scream, the Doctor urges Albert to be a hero and stay behind to look after Emily. The young man sees that the pier is on fire, but the Doctor corrects him - it is a pulsating energy force. Albert starts to recall stories his grandmother told him about phantoms from the sea and Emily supports him, until he admits that he made some of his stories up, or at least exaggerated bits in order to scare her. The Doctor tells them to stay there while he goes to explore, but Albert ignores him and leaves Emily alone.

Further down the beach, Professor Talbot confronts the Doctor and Albert. The Doctor quickly finds his menacing clichés very tiresome and suggests he try pantomime instead. Talbot claims the demons inside him are growing stronger and more determined. His people have waited too long for domination and the opportunity to restore the rightful order of things. Suddenly the professor is completely taken over and Albert starts to panic. When they hear Emily scream in the distance, the young man runs off to help her. The Doctor tries to bring the professor back, but is warned he must now face the consequences of not leaving when he was ordered to. Talbot demonstrates his ability to move from place to place in the blink of an eye, then starts to summon the Lord of Misrule from the darkest corner of human understanding. Albert calls out that Emily has disappeared, and Talbot reveals he has enlisted another human to do its bidding. The voice in Talbot’s mind asks if the insignificant ape has a name and discovers it is a female, one of the deadliest of the species. Talbot urges the new agent to walk, attack and kill…

The Doctor and Albert search for Emily, but she’s completely vanished. The young man is worried she’s been attacked by a sea creature, but the Doctor thinks it’s more likely she’s just gone home. While they argue, Emily emerges from the darkness - but this is not the Emily they know. The Doctor urges Albert to keep away and not to touch her as Emily strides towards the Doctor like a zombie, repeating her instructions: “Walk, attack, kill…

Part Three
(drn: 26'42")

The Doctor tells Albert that Emily is dead, then he picks up a nearby piece of driftwood and fights back. The wood doesn’t seem to be helping much, so they race off. Behind them, the zombie Emily slowly follows, repeating her mantra: “Walk, attack, kill…

Max is finding the game of I-Spy frustrating because Evelyn keeps picking items like the Sonic Screwdriver, that not only has he never heard of, but she admits don’t even exist anymore. She wonders how the Doctor was planning to get back into the TARDIS since she’s got the key, but then the door opens and the Doctor rushes in, accompanied by Albert. Didn’t she think that in all the years he’s been travelling, he might not have stopped off to get another key cut? The newcomers explain that Emily is dead and her body has been taken over, possessed by some sort of demonic force. Albert is distraught, but the Doctor reminds them all that it could be the end of the entire race if they don’t succeed. He believes this is all a smokescreen. Talbot and the energy that’s controlling him have conjured up a kind of hall of mirrors so that every time you look in, all you see is your own warped reflection. Albert is still convinced that it’s the ghosts of long dead smugglers, and Max agrees with him. To them, even here inside the TARDIS, a haunting seems much more plausible than science-fiction.

When the Doctor realises Professor Talbot disappeared soon after the First World War, he wonders whether the alien evil was attracted not by Talbot’s twisted sorcery as he first suspected, but the concentration of happy human emotions that have seeped into the structure of the pier over the years. Think of every toffee-apple eating child, every pretty coloured balloon; miniscule and inconsequential pleasures that flash briefly for a second and are then forgotten by all, except for the old pier. Every moment of joy the building has experienced has been stored within its structure. For every positive emotion, there must be a negative counterbalance and there’s nothing evil likes more than a slab of goodness to feast upon. The evil that smouldered under the pier had grown from the pure human misery and despair that resulted from the war, but then in 1918 it was blotted out by the overwhelming euphoric blast of the Armistice, a universal sigh of relief. Since then it’s been biding its time, waiting for the right moment in world history to take full control. And there’s another war just around the corner - one that will last longer than before and will end with a sting in it’s tail. This time the cloud of despair will hang over the world long after the peace treaties have been signed. From that moment on, the people of this planet will remain forever in suspicion and in fear of complete destruction. Exactly the kind of atmosphere the entity under the pier will relish. It’s a storage unit that channels human feelings for its own sustenance and can feed on both good and evil, but in the end it survives on emotional turmoil. The Doctor remembers reading about strange goings-on in the area in 1918 and wants to do more research, but Albert and Evelyn plead with him to try rescuing Emily first.

Talbot assures the voice that he trusts it and would never disobey its ruling, but the voice is more concerned about Emily as they’ve lost connection with her spirit. Talbot is confident she’s destroyed their enemy, but the voice demands he find out for sure. It refuses to let its slave rest until their calling is fulfilled and the Earth is cowed. Talbot wants to know more about the paradise that awaits him - and he’s promised he will have peace, respect and love - but most of all, he will have the power of a demigod.

The Doctor, Evelyn, Max and Albert return to the beach and find Emily’s body. She is evidently dead, but it looks as though her body has returned to normal. The Doctor is cautious as she could still be infected, but he‘s pleased that she’s now at peace, free of the evil that had overtaken her. Albert wants to try bringing her back to life with electricity or serum, like he’s seen in films starring Lionel Atwill, Colin Clive or Bela Lugosi. The Doctor points out that there are no bruises from where he hit her and he recalls that she never fell down, even though she is dead now. He believes her will was so strong, even while her living corpse was possessed, that her goodness was able to win through. Emily used every morsel of her heart and soul to save herself but even though her spirit won the battle of wills against their enemy, her body was too weak to survive the shock. Albert races off to the booth at the end of the pier and demands to be let in. He accuses Talbot of killing his beloved Emily, but the professor calmly invites him to sit down while he explains to the young man about faith…

Max leads the Doctor and Evelyn to a rowboat that belongs to his friend Charlie. He leaves a cheque for five pounds, confident that his friend will never cash it and will dine out for months on the fact that he actually got some money from someone reputedly so mean. Although none of them are particularly adept at handling a boat, they manage to row towards the end of the pier. They start to bicker and Evelyn accuses Max of being just like the Doctor - neither of them ever listen unless it’s them that’s talking. As they settle down, they see the pale glow again - the one they last saw just before Emily was possessed. It seems to be connected to something on the sea bed, clamped onto a cluster of rocks. It’s clearly alien and most likely dangerous. The glow appears to be getting stronger, so the Doctor suggests they head back to the shore quickly, but despite everyone’s efforts, the boat won’t move. The moment their oars hit the surface of the water, it saps the energy of those aboard. The Doctor deduces some sort of force-field is at work and they realise they’re being dragged down into the sea. His friends start to hear instructions in their heads and the Doctor implores them to block it out, urging them to think of things that are important to them - in Evelyn’s case the Doctor himself, and in Max’s case his rival Tommy Trinder. There is another banshee-like roar and then both Evelyn and Max start repeating the mantra “Kill the Doctor…Kill the Doctor…”. Before long, even the Doctor starts to succumb to the sounds in his head. He tries to convince himself that he is more powerful than his enemy, but when his friends starts to struggle with him aboard the boat, he suddenly dives into the sea…

Part Four
(drn: 31'33")

Inside the TARDIS, Evelyn tells Max that the Doctor is starting to recover and his colour is coming back - fortunately not the green glow. They’re both thankful to him for saving their lives by diving into the sea, although Max thinks he must have been mad, knowing there was an alien force-field just below the surface. Evelyn assures him the Doctor is a very brave man and this isn’t the first time he’s risked his life to help her. With the Doctor safely home, Max decides it’s time he also went home, but Evelyn protests that they can’t leave while the planet is still in danger. The Doctor starts waking up and mumbles something about severe metal fatigue. Max asks him how many fingers he’s holding up and Evelyn tells him not to be so disgusting! Max helps the Doctor to his feet and he begs his friends not to touch him.

Talbot is also present in the TARDIS and the Doctor wants him thrown out even though Evelyn claims he was the one who helped get them back safely. He relents when he realises that only Talbot could physically touch the Doctor without getting infected like poor Emily. Fortunately, as a Time Lord he has a much more complex metabolism. Talbot claims to be immortal, having been invigorated by the entity’s power, but the Doctor believes he’s been brainwashed. He’s a plaything for the entity and he will be abandoned once it no longer needs him. The future of the human species is now in Talbot’s hands. Talbot claims that he couldn’t bear to stand back and see the Doctor die and that Albert assisted in making him see sense. The others realise for the first time that Albert is missing, but Talbot promises he is safe and well. The professor says he and the entity are not monsters, they’re gods in waiting. Max points out that if he was the alien, he wouldn’t be happy knowing that Talbot had been helping ’the enemy’ and that he’ll have no chance now of being given a position of authority. Talbot claims to know more about the black arts and the power of the mind than anyone will ever know, and he therefore believes he’ll have no trouble at all stringing along a green blob from space. The Doctor is sceptical and says the entity is pure evil and is not to be trifled with. If anyone has been played for a fool, it is Talbot himself.

Talbot reveals that a meteorite crashed into British waters carrying the entire microcosmic species of Indo, a planet on the furthest reaches of the Galaxy. They arrived centuries ago, having been exiled when their world was invaded by another race. They were frightened and desperate and needed to find a new home. The Doctor isn’t sympathetic and refuses to condone their behaviour. He says their power must be controlled before it infects the entire population of this planet. He knows the human race will fight to the death to save themselves and he will fight and die alongside them if he has to. Talbot plans to return to his alien friends, but before he goes he says he will tell them that he brought the Doctor back to his ship in order to sabotage it so that it will self destruct if any attempt is made to leave. This isn’t true, of course, but he says the Doctor must learn to trust him.

Max and Evelyn agree that Talbot can’t be trusted, but the Doctor thinks otherwise. He appeared to be as terrified as everyone else, and why else would he save the Doctor and bring him back to the TARDIS? Because he realises the force has become too strong for him and he needs help. Talbot doesn’t just know his enemy, he knows his friends as well. The Doctor prepares the ship for a short trip to make sure everything is working, but Evelyn is worried that Talbot’s story about sabotaging the controls might be true.

Albert carries Emily’s dead body back to her mother’s home and hides it in the shed. Ever since Emily’s father died, her mother has had to bring in a man from Hove to do all the handiwork around the house, so he’s confident the body won’t be found. He’ll explain to Mrs Bung later, when his head stops hurting… Just then, the TARDIS materialises in front of him and the Doctor emerges with Max and Evelyn. They find that they’ve landed outside the Theatre Royal, the place where they all met for the first time. Max finds the whole experience amazing and suggests there’s a successful future for the Doctor on stage. Albert tells them what he’s done with Emily and Evelyn realises the young man is in shock. The Doctor makes him promise that once this is all over, he’ll go and talk to Emily’s mother, but both Max and Evelyn point out that Albert can’t possibly tell her the real truth. They agree to discuss this later, but in the meantime the Doctor has decided on his next course of action. All it involves is a bit of flim, a bit of flam and a good deal of red-herring. He believes that when Talbot finally realised he couldn’t pressure the Doctor into submission, he decided to save his life instead as a back-up plan. He now intends to take what he wants from the aliens - the power to become a figure of authority in the world - and then get out of the arrangement. But Talbot will be in for a bit of a shock when he discovers they won’t be that easy to trick.

Not surprisingly, the alien voice doesn’t believe Talbot’s explanation that he saved the Doctor in order to destroy him and, in fact, it predicted that he would fail at the crucial moment. Talbot promises that he has damaged the Doctor’s ship beyond repair and it will implode the moment he tries to take off. The alien seems impressed and agrees to ignore his slave’s cavalier attitude just this once. This could be the beginning of a new age for its people, a new planet to plunder. After all these years of incarceration, they can sense freedom at last.

As the group stroll back down the West Pier, the Doctor explains that when he dived into the sea earlier he spotted a metal bar that had fallen from the building and connected it to the force-field, causing the power to decrease and releasing his friends from the aliens’ power. He’s confident that if he could disable it once, he can do so again, perhaps permanently. The Doctor is carrying some wire, which will be their lifeline. It’s an electrical conductor made of Gallifreyan zinc, one of the strongest substances in the known Universe. All he needs to do is jump back in the sea, firmly secure it round the supporting leg of the pier closest to the alien entity and plunge the connection into the mass. Instant freeze-frame. There’s only a slight snag in the plan - Talbot is unlikely to just stand back and let him destroy his benefactors. He tells Albert to stay outside and hold one end of the wire. The Doctor will go inside the magician’s booth and when he comes back out, Albert will pass him the wire, he will jump over the balcony into the sea and neutralise the enemy.

The Doctor calls for Talbot who allows him, Max and Evelyn to enter his booth. Max is horrified when he hears the alien voice urging its slave to kill the intruders. Talbot tries to persuade the voice that these are his guests and they could prove useful. The Doctor promises to save the professor and give him back some true human riches: compassion and humility. He implores the man to denounce the evil and reunite with his fellow man, to fight against a common foe. Max and Evelyn are struggling to resist the brainwashing while the Doctor tells Talbot to look into his mind and search for runic symbols. The alien realises the Time Lord is holding back secrets which could help it complete its victory. Talbot cannot reach the Doctor’s subconscious, so Max distracts him with a series of jokes and comical limericks.

The Doctor calls out to Albert, but the young man decides to take positive action himself. Holding the zinc wire, he jumps over the balcony of the pier and disappears into the sea. He’s immediately electrocuted and there is a gigantic short-circuit. Talbot breaks down in tears and Evelyn tries to ease him back to normal. He’s been released from his mental shackles, but he knows he can never be free. He dies as the final spark of human decency within him fights back against the aliens. The Doctor reveals that it was only the energy from the entity that was keeping him alive, using him like it planned to use all humans. Talbot really did die fifteen years ago and since then he’s been no more in control of his body than Emily was. It was only his dream of achieving social recognition that kept his mind alive and focused, and once the metal wire connected, reality flooded back. Where Emily succeeded and Talbot failed was the fact the she refused to accept her fate, whereas Talbot was a willing instrument. He trusted and accepted the word of evil. Sadly, the Doctor tells the others that Albert chose to sacrifice himself, knowing that the Doctor probably wouldn’t have been able to survive a second bout of power. Albert knew that and finally proved to himself that he really was a hero after all.

Max accompanies the Doctor and Evelyn back to the TARDIS. He’s the last survivor from this period and he knows no one is going to believe his story. He asks whether all that death was worth it, and the Doctor reminds him that they’re prevented total annihilation. Evelyn wonders about the runic symbols the Doctor was trying to get Talbot to focus on, and he admits it was all nonsense to distract Talbot’s mind away from the alien control, if only for a few moments. He believes that Max’s greater success with the comedy routine proves that laughter really is the best medicine. Max is also convinced that right at the end, he saw just a glimmer of a smile on Talbot’s face. The Doctor is certain that the alien force has now been dissipated, drawn into and encased within the pier itself. Unfortunately the evil remains in a corrosive form that will eat away at the metal structure. The pier will take the strain for a while, but one day, maybe 60 or 70 years in the future, it will erode the building away completely and then…who knows? Max is satisfied, as he won’t be there in 70 years time - but the Doctor tells him he’s wrong. Here, on the very spot that they’re standing, a statue of him will be erected in his honour. Max Miller is a generator of laughter, a conductor of hope, a favourite son, a national treasure. As the TARDIS dematerialises, Max Miller rushes off to tell Billy. And he’s got a funny feeling that it’s his round!

Source: Lee Rogers
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