‘I’ve always wanted to put on a good show; to give a great performance.’ The Doctor
16th January – 6th February 1965
The Memory Cheats
New episodes! Although I bought the VHS for this story it was too late for my original run through and when the DVD came out I only watched The Rescue.
The Time Space Visualiser
This is a bit of departure in the narrative structure. We suddenly jump forward and the travelers are clearly ensconced in Roman life and seem to have escaped the TARDIS catastrophe. Barbara is flirting heavily with Ian and the Doctor is the campest we have seen him. It is also good to be back in a historical context. Hartnell is on fire and you get the feeling of confidence from this story that you get from the UNIT family years. There is a comfortable assurance from the original three leads. Ian and Babs steal the show, a great comedy performance.
This is the closest that Doctor Who has come to soft porn. ‘How long do you think the Doctor is going to be gone for?’ Asks Ian, Oh long enough for us to have sex and get completely twatted on the wines! Meanwhile the Doctor is fighting again. Queensbury rules. There is no stopping him at the moment, and both he and Vicki seem to be laughing their heads off before the would be assassin just falls out of the window.
So Barbara gets sold to Nero and spends the rest of the story narrowly avoiding the Doctor in well executed farce and trying to get away from Nero. Meanwhile, Ian has to row his way to Rome while someone throws buckets of water at him. Nero is superb. Mrs Nero gives Nero what for about Babs. I don’t understand why Tigilinus only attempts to put the crown on whilst Nero is moving. The poisoner is by far and away my favourite character so far. She is so camp.
The Doctor and Nero have a sauna. Nice bunions Nero. What kind of poison is it that is so immediately effective on poor Tigilinus? He is played by the guy that did the first location shoot for Doctor Who in the Reign of Terror don’t you know? Love Nero’s dismissive line after Tigilinus dies just saying that the Doctor was right. The end of episode 4 stretches the comedy a little too far as Ian and Barbara flirt with each other again. Then the Doctor returns and it’s even more laughs. Scooby Doo ending for the second story in a row. Whilst some of the comedy in The Romans seems dated now it is excellently timed and Hartnell is the best he has ever been. A great story.
‘This is an inferior instrument.’ Nero in episode 2, 18:30.
‘Have you eaten Maximus?’ (It’s all in the missed punctuation.) Nero in episode 2,19:40.
‘Now close your eyes and Nero will give you a big surprise!’ Nero to Barbara in Episode 3, 15:29.
Unprovoked Angry Retort of the Week
The Doctor becomes Eric Cartman again as Ian innocently asks if the TARDIS is OK and the Doctor flips his lid and says, ‘Screw you guys, I am going to Rome! Oh, and Vicki can come.’ Is this the worst device so far used to split up the TARDIS crew?
Catchphrase Error of the Week
Nero, throughout. ‘Oh Tigilinus!’ Everyone knows it’s ‘Oh Sooty!’
The first comedy story in Doctor Who with Nero and the Doctor the first comedy double act.
The first demonstration of the strength of the TARDIS. It can withstand a fall from a cliff top.
First below neck nudity from the Doctor.
Attempted Rape of Barbara of the Week
This week, boys and girls, it is Nero who wants to shag Barbara.
The 500 Year Diary
29th July 64
Well, we’ve been lounging around in this villa for a month – enjoying a nice holiday. It’s been absolutely fabulous apart from the slave traders lurking around! Although I’m pretty sure Ian and Barbara have been at it….
Vicki’s getting a bit bored and to tell you the truth so am I so decided to go off to Rome. There’s a difference between resting and being sort of… bone idle. Also it’s getting a bit awkward what with Ian & Barbara. They offered to come to Rome, but think we need to leave them to it.
Anyway on the way to road and we find – guess what – a dead body! Turns out it’s a famous lyre player called Maximus Pettulian. A centurion has been despatched from Emperor Nero to fetch him/ me so decide to be a liar to play the lyre.
And so to bed…
31st July 64
Well this assassin barged in the other night, but I made short work of him. I did teach the Mountain Mauler of Montana, you know!
In Rome now. Well of course, all roads lead to Rome! Had to move Vicki on from a slave auction so as not to have to explain what it was. Mot sure why… Anyway, met a new hissing friend called Tavius who proceeded to tell me that the problem has been sorted out and that ‘he’ has been put in the apodyteriumn. Not sure what he was talking about although we do find the body of that centurion there later.
And finally met Nero! He wanted me to play for him there and then, although managed to get out of it with a bit of flattery. It goes a long way!
1st August 64
There’s some sort of conspiracy going on. This Tavius keeps going on about things and I’m expected to do something. Absolutely clueless as to what it is!
Had a nice sauna with Nero today. Trying to find out what he knows, but like me he knows nothing, although he informs me I am expected to play tonight. Hmmmm….
And so the banquet in my honour. I have a cunning plan that I gave to Hans Christian Andersen in ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. I pretend that only the most cultured and sensitive ears can hear my music and then I play nothing. And the plan worked. Nero even said that I was good, but not that good! A thunderous applause, although Nero did storm off in a bit of a huff!
2nd August 64
Tavius tells me that Nero plans for me to play in the arena and be eaten by lions. Well, when Nero tells me this I go along with this with a rather clever play on words! During this, manage to set fire to Nero’s new Rome plans with my glasses. He threatens me with alligators, but then changes his mind as I have given him a good idea to set fire to the old Rome.
Well while all that is going on, Vicki and I escape and we watch the inferno from afar. Vicki conjectures that it was me that caused the great fire. Perhaps it was. Perhaps we can change history after all!
We get back and Ian and Barbara still lazing around or recovering from whatever they’ve been doing. Enough’s enough. Off to the TARDIS. Except once we get going, we get caught in a force dragging us down to a planet!
The Five Word Lords
Drama juxtaposes comedy, Shakespeare style.