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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 517 > Fury from the Deep

Fury from the Deep

In her last adventure with the TARDIS crew, Victoria helps to defeat a deadly parasite from beneath the sea…

The Fact of Fiction

Scratching beneath the surface of Doctor Who’s most fascinating tales…

“Gas from the sea?” boggles the Doctor’s companion Jamie, early on in Episode 1 of Fury from the Deep. “Oh, who are you trying to kid?” At the time of transmission, viewers didn’t need ‘visionphones’ to tell them that the Doctor’s latest terrifying adventure was set in a future Britain… because gas from the sea was the future of Britain. On 2 April 1968, with Fury still just part-way through, 15-year-olds were targeted by a newspaper advertisement placed by the North Western Gas Board, tempting school leavers into careers in ‘Tomorrow’s World of North Sea Gas’.

We’ve forgotten how new this was. In 1959, Shell-Esso discovered a huge gas field near Groningen, in the Netherlands – suggesting that vast reserves of natural gas might lie under the North Sea. In September 1965, the British Petroleum drilling rig Sea Gem – a 250-foot-long platform described in the Observer as rising ‘out of the grey water like a ten-legged monster’ – first struck natural gas at just over 9,000 feet below. The next September, a 44-mile-long, 16-inch wide pipeline was completed, connecting the West Sole gas field to BP’s Easington Terminal in Yorkshire; the first supplies of natural gas from the North Sea were ‘landed’ there on 7 March 1967 – via a pipeline that looked very like the one seen by Jamie.

But Fury wasn’t just about the horror in the pipes. North-western viewers of its second instalment would have been all-too-aware that 800 homes in the Saddleworth region had begun to receive gas direct from the North Sea on 18 March 1968 – ie, the previous Monday. As reported in The Guardian: ‘… engineers visited each house to turn off the old supply and connect the old one. This will be repeated throughout the region for the next few years until, by the mid-1970s, the whole Northwest is supplied by natural gas.’ In other words: the gas engineers were coming… to your house… someday soon. Mr Oak and Mr Quill were on their way.

Episode 1


Descending from the skies, the TARDIS settles on the sea.

This unusual opening sequence survives since it was reused in the extant tenth and final episode of The War Games (1969), for a scene in which the Doctor sought to escape his own people by landing on a distant planet.

Originally, writer Victor Pemberton had the TARDIS materialising in more conventional fashion, on the edge of a cliff.

This replacement sequence was only made possible because director Hugh David was able to call on one of two helicopters hired for use in other sequences due to be filmed on location near Margate – in this case a Hughes 300, piloted by Mike Smith.

To achieve the effect, a quarter-size model TARDIS was hung by piano wire from the copter’s winch. What you can’t see, however, is production assistant Michael Briant (later a Doctor Who director himself ) balanced precariously on the copter’s skid some 300 feet high in the air, so he could see to tell pilot Smith when to stop and hover!

Dr Who (Patrick Troughton) rows his companions Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Victoria (Deborah Watling) to shore in a dinghy.

“I think by the hammering the TARDIS has got, you’ve gone and spiked it,” says Jamie, in a line that might more plausibly have come from the mouth of an eighteenth-century Highlander than the one he was given in the script: ‘I reckon the Tardis [sic] must have blown a fuse or something!’

Spotting large lumps of spume, the Doctor and Jamie pause to fling foam.

Victoria quite rightly informs us that you often get foam on the sea shore. This is created when air bubbles form in churned-up breakwater containing significant quantities of dissolved algae, or other organic matter.

Jamie spots a pipe… marked ‘Euro Sea Gas’. Curious, the Doctor uses a device he calls a sonic screwdriver to open a metal box bolted to the pipe.

Evidently, Pemberton envisaged a much mightier pipe – since stage directions required Jamie to help the Doctor ‘scramble up the side’. Then: ‘He sits on top, takes from his pocket something whih [sic] looks like his own version of a screwdriver…’

Neither the Doctor’s description of the device as a “sonic screwdriver”, nor the fact that it uses “sound waves” to undo the box, featured in the script. Michael Briant reasoned that the bolts seen on the prop box would have been secured by nuts on the other side – meaning they couldn’t be ‘unscrewed’ as such, hence the need for an alternative. And so a Doctor Who icon was created.

Frazer Hines, taking a break from playing Jamie and drying off, during filming of Episode 1.
The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) listens to the gas pipe, while a concerned Victoria (Deborah Watling) looks on.

“It’s down there… in the darkness… in the pipeline… waiting.”

They hear a throbbing noise inside the pipeline… but they’re being watched through telescopic sights, relayed to a TV monitor. A gunshot rings out, and the Doctor falls – followed by Jamie, then Victoria.

In Pemberton’s novelisation of his scripts (Target Books, 1986), snow is beginning to fall when Victoria sees, standing in the dunes a short distance away: ‘the towering figure of a man, wearing a shiny black uniform and helmet. In his hand… the telescopic rifle which had brought down the Doctor and Jamie.’ More black-uniformed figures emerge from the mist, plus ‘two odd-looking men, one tall and thin, the other small and fat. Both were wearing white medical tunics and caps.’ These are Mr Quill and Mr Oak, we presume – who we’ll meet properly later.

According to stage directions: ‘We see the three spread-eagled on sand.’ Hugh David’s camera directions called for an unusual ‘Ripple mix’ to the next scene, as Victoria wakes…

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About Doctor Who Magazine

ISSUE 517 OF DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF THE SEVENTH DOCTOR WITH SYLVESTER McCOY! Thirty years after he first appeared as the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy reflects on the role that changed his life... Also this issue: DEBORAH WATLING TRIBUTE DWM remembers the late Deborah Watling, who played the Second Doctor's companion Victoria from 1967 to 1978, with contributions from Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Frazer Hines. VICTORIA'S SECRETS A previously unpublished interview with Deborah Watling from 1990. VICTOR PEMBERTON TRIBUTE Remembering the late Doctor Who writer and story editor Victor Pemberton. GAIL BENNETT An interview with original American Doctor Who superfan Gail Bennett. FURY FROM THE DEEP This month's Fact of Fiction explores 1968's Fury from the Deep, the last story to feature Deborah Watling as Victoria Waterfield. THE PARLIAMENT OF FEAR Part Three of our brand-new comic strip adventure, The Parliament of Fear, featuring the Doctor and Bill; written by Scott Gray and illustrated by Mike Collins. DOMINIC GLYNN The composer recalls writing and recording the score for 1989's Survival. THE TIME TEAM The Time Team continues its mission to watch every episode of Doctor Who with 2012's The Doctor's Wife. PLUS! Previews, book and audio reviews, news, the Watcher's column, prize-winning competitions and much, much more.