Did you know that ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ featured a cameo by John Nathan-Turner’s dog? And that a typo in the novelisation nearly changed Doctor Who canon forever? Here are 16 things you might not know about one of the Seventh Doctor’s grooviest adventures…
- ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ underwent many title changes. In fact, during production it was known as ‘Flight of the Chimeron’ (or ‘Who-de-Who!’ to the production team, who likened it to the BBC sitcom Hi-de-Hi!) It wasn’t until two months before transmission that the team finally settled on ‘Delta and the Bannermen.’ Or ‘Delta und die Bannermanner’ as it was known in Germany.
- The title was a reference to contemporary 1950s bands such as Tommy Steele and the Steelmen, but it also made a subtle nod to the 1980s pop group Echo and the Bunnymen.
- ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ was one of the first Doctor Who stories to be filmed entirely on location, with 1970’s ‘Spearhead from Space’ being the earliest example. This was due to budgeting reasons. The brief scene of the Doctor in the TARDIS was actually captured during production of the following story ‘Dragonfire,’ whilst the inside of Delta’s spaceship was filmed in a service tunnel at the holiday camp location.
- And what of this location? Well, it was actually an old Butlins site called the Majestic Holiday Camp, which had closed in 1986. It was located in Barry Island, South Wales. Other locations included the British Tissues Hangar on the Llandow Trading Estate, which stood in for Toll Port G715.
- Other studio scenes were originally planned for ‘Delta and the Bannermen,’ namely a scene in which the Doctor gives Burton and Ray a tour of the TARDIS console room. But this would have required the production team to book the actors for a studio session during the production of ‘Dragonfire,’ which would have been too costly.
- Ray, meanwhile, was originally being considered for the role of the Seventh Doctor‘s companion, taking over from Bonnie Langford at the end of the series. Indeed, the actor Sara Griffiths (who played Ray) also auditioned for the part of Ace in ‘Dragonfire,’ who – as we all know – would soon join the TARDIS team, but played by Sophie Aldred. And as if all this wasn’t confusing enough, Sophie Aldred also auditioned for the part of Ray in ‘Delta and the Bannermen.’ Wibbley wobbley, timey wimey.
- And just to complicate matters further, Sara Griffiths was not the original actor cast as Ray. The part was initially given to Lynn Gardner, who suffered an accident whilst learning to ride a scooter. And whilst she was no longer able to be involved in the production, the director Chris Clough promised that she would still be paid, and offered her a voice-over role in the next story, ‘Dragonfire.’
- In fact, there are a number of connections between ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ and ‘Dragonfire.’ The Bannermen’s ship, for example, would later be redressed as the Nosferatu – the space vehicle belonging to the slippery Sabalom Glitz, who is visiting Iceworld.
- There is also a connection to a story from Season 25, ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy,’ which features the tour bus that was originally purchased for ‘Delta and the Bannermen.’
- The producer John Nathan-Turner’s dog Pepsi was also helpful during the making of this story, as he makes a guest appearance in episode one.
- Meanwhile, the bees (which attack the Bannermen in episode three) were in fact locusts, taken from stock footage.
- John Nathan-Turner had the opportunity to flex his directing muscles during ‘Delta and the Bannermen,’ as he filmed a special Season 24 trailer starring Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford on the putting green of the Majestic Holiday Camp. Apparently, the pair are talking about how much they wanted a quiet holiday, with their conversation being followed by a montage of shots taken from ‘Time and the Rani‘ and ‘Paradise Towers.’
- And whilst it was a dramatic and action-packed trailer, the writer of ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ – Malcolm Kohll – had been asked to pepper his scripts with plenty of humour. Because of this, he introduced the American double act of Hawk and Weismuller, who even went on to improvise their own comedy dialogue. This is most notable in episode two, when the pair are being held prisoner by the Bannermen.
- Kohll also included a Vincent motorbike in the story, simply because he’d always wanted to ride one!
- Of course, this honour ultimately falls to the Doctor himself, and if you look closely in episode three, you will see that Sylvester McCoy is in fact wearing his glasses as he trundles across the fields.
- But what really threatens to break Doctor Who canon is the typing error in the ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ novel. You may remember a scene from episode one, in which the Doctor and Ray hide in the laundry room whilst the villainous Keillor makes contact with Gavrok, the Bannerman leader. The Doctor watches the man whilst peering over the shelf – but in the book he’s doing something quite different, due to a misprint of the word peering…
Do you have any groovy facts about ‘Delta and the Bannermen’ that we haven’t included on this list? And what’s your favourite thing about this Seventh Doctor adventure? Let me know in the comments below.
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