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Planet of the Ood

On a freezing planet in 4126, the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble uncover the horrifying secret behind Ood Operations…

Exploring the hidden depths of Doctor Who’s most intriguing stories…

The captive Ood develop ‘red-eye’.

Aremarkable transformation occurs 39 minutes and 19 seconds into Planet of the Ood – when we learn that the ‘hair tonic’ served by the Jeeves-ish Ood Sigma to balding Ood Operations exec Halpen throughout is, in fact, “Ood-graft suspended in a biological compound.” Halpen physically turns into an Ood… and so actor Tim McInnerny can be seen pulling long strips from a false forehead, to reveal an Ood forehead on top of his real forehead, in a sequence that ended up cut tighter than intended. Quite unsurprisingly, since it undoubtedly ranks among what Smash Hits magazine would surely have termed Doctor Who’s Most Blee-gustingly Horrid Moments Ever.

For The Fact of Fiction, though, the even more remarkable transformation in Planet of the Ood is the one that doesn’t occur 22 minutes and 31 seconds in, shortly after pretty Ood Operations PR Solana Mercurio has stopped sadistic security man Kess from killing the Doctor with a giant grabbing claw. Because under normal circumstances, smart-enough

Solana Mercurio (Ayesha Dharker) makes a bad decision.

Solana would  t the Doctor Who companion pro le perfectly, would she not? Her moment comes when she joins the Doctor and Donna outside the warehouse in which the Ood are running amok. “Come with me,” the Doctor tells her. “You could help.” Scripted stage directions describe exactly the moment when Solana doesn’t bloom: “Hold the look between the Doctor & Solana; the chance to change her life. Then she makes her mind up…” And calls for the guards, and dooms herself to die, soon. It may not be a blee-gusting moment, but it’s a truly horrid one nonetheless. The worst betrayals, after all, come when we betray ourselves.

Mr Bartle (Paul Clayton) in his office.

FIRST BROADCAST: 19 April 2008

“The Ood. They came from a distant world. They voyaged across the stars, all with one purpose. To serve.”

00m 03s The alien Ood (voiced by Silas Carson) are the focus of the faux TV ad that opens the episode – in which Ood figures are seen against a black background in a harsh spotlight. “Like the Ali G title sequence,” stage directions indicated (after the Channel 4/HBO comedy Da Ali G Show, 2000-04).

00m 29s “Sales and Marketing Manager” Mr Bartle (Paul Clayton) is surprised to learn that the price of the Ood will soon be reduced to 50 credits. “Sales are down…” explains his off -screen superior Mr Halpen (Tim McInnerny). As scripted, Bartle protested, saying: “That means, if we’re going to make a profit, I’ll have to double the output, sir.” Exactly, stressed Halpen – which led to his broadcast line, “So get going.” Which explains why Bartle, with the comms cut, next complains that Halpen is “Bleeding us dry…”

So Bartle orders his Ood servant to fetch the previous month’s military export figures: “The army always need more grunts.” Touting Ood troops isn’t a million miles from the sort of activity that the alien gun-runner Ulysses Mergrave, voiced by the same Paul Clayton in the previous year’s animated adventure The Infinite Quest (2007), had been involved in. Clayton can also be heard as Henry in the Big Finish audio drama The Wormery (2003); more recently, he played Mr Colchester in several Torchwood audios, beginning with The Torchwood Archive (2016). Incidentally: the story of the Ood army needs to be told on screen…!

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About Doctor Who Magazine

In DWM 542, today's Doctor Who writers pay tribute to the series' pioneers. Featuring exclusive contributions from: Paul Cornell, Sarah Dollard, Matthew Graham, Peter Harness, Pete McTighe, Steven Moffat, James Moran, Rona Munro, Robert Shearman and Toby Whithouse. This issue also includes: • Exclusive interviews with Billie Piper and Camille Coduri ahead of Big Finish’s new audio series Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon. • The Robots of Ravolox – investigating Robert Holmes final mystery. • Bonnie Langford answers questions from the TARDIS tin. • 1980s script editor Eric Saward reflects on the troubled production of The Trial of a Time Lord. • The Trial of a Time Lord on trial: could it be Doctor Who’s most underrated story? • The Fact of Fiction explores the 2008 Tenth Doctor story Planet of the Ood. • An exclusive preview of Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 23. • Part Three of Power of the Mobox, a new comic-strip adventure featuring the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends. • The Blogs of Doom, audio reviews, previews, news, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!