THE MYTH MAKERS

Season 3, 1965; 4 Episodes

In early 1965, Verity Lambert, Doctor Who's original producer, left the series after two years at the helm. Her successor, John Wiles, took over for the third production block; his first story was The Myth Makers. The story had been commissioned from respected writer Donald Cotton. Cotton was well-known for his radio and TV comedies, and his first script for the series was a wonderful high comedy set in the unlikely surroundings of the Trojan War.

The war was a 10 year long siege of the city of Troy, on the north-western coast of modern Turkey, by the invading Greek armies. The war had been caused by the 'abduction' of the Helen, wife of Menelaus, the Spartan king, by Paris, second son of the king of Troy. After 10 years, the Greeks, whose ranks included the heroes Achilles and Odysseus, were desperate for a speedy end to the conflict, and the opportunity would be presented to them in the most unlikely of manners...!

The story's main triumph is in the characterisations. The Heroes of the ancient world are portrayed in a totally new light - Achilles, the utterly invincible Greek warrior, is a cowardly dandy; Odysseus, the brave traveller of whom epic poems were written, is a maniacal pirate; Paris the ancient equivalent of an upper-class public schoolboy; Menelaus a slobbering drunkard. The characters are also portrayed excellently by the guest cast, which includes such famous (in the Sixties) names as Max Adrian, Barrie Ingham and Frances White, as well as Doctor Who veterans Ivor Salter and Tutte Lemkow.

As with all comedy scripts, a large amount of the humour is generated by the actors' delivery of the lines, but the scripts alone should present a fair idea of the nature of the episodes. Unusually, the last part marks a complete change of direction - the invasion of Troy and subsequent massacre is dealt with in a much more sombre tone, and suddenly the dangers of the ancient become horribly real as the laughs are replaced by gritty battles and screams of death.


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