Delta and the Bannermen
Delta and the Bannermen was the third story in the twenty-fourth season of Doctor Who. It was the first serial since The Two Doctors to use a three-part format. With Delta, the three-parter would become a standard of the McCoy era.
The season was originally set to end with a six-parter. To save money this was split into a pair of three-part stories to be made by the same production team. Only the TARDIS sequences of Delta were filmed in studio, with the rest on location.
Under the working title Flight of the Chimeron, it was considered possible that the character of Ray in the story would become the new companion, replacing Mel. However, in the event the character of Ace from Ian Briggs’s script, Dragonfire, was chosen instead.
Delta was originally to be set in 1957 to tie in with the launch of Sputnik 1; this was changed to ’59 as it offered a more rock ‘n’ roll theme. This allowed for a significantly larger array of music throughout.
Delta and the Bannermen made use of underlying darkness, a theme that would become more prevalent in the following two seasons as the Cartmel Masterplan came to the fore. The persona of McCoy’s Doctor began to develop, with many of his witticisms displayed here. This was the first appearance of the question mark umbrella, McCoy’s alternative to the pullover.
A number of recognizable faces appeared in Delta, such as Don Henderson and Hugh Lloyd and perhaps most notably, Ken Dodd. It was originally intended that Sara Griffiths, who portrayed Ray, would become a companion of the Doctor, with Bonnie Langford leaving the show. However, due to filming and airing schedules, Mel would leave in Dragonfire instead. Sophie Aldred auditioned for the part of Ray, but instead took the role of Ace – the Doctor’s new companion.
On the planet Chumeria, the Chimerons are being killed, the Bannermen gunning them down. Gavrok orders them to take no prisoners. The Chimerons resist, but to no avail. Only Delta and a single male Chimeron are left. They make a break for the Bannerman ship. Gavrok is waiting onboard. He shoots the male and is about to kill Delta when the male shoots Gavrok. Injured, he falls from the craft. Before dying, the male tells Delta to take a mysterious object. Delta takes off in the craft.
The TARDIS lands at toll port G715. The Seventh Doctor and Mel are welcomed by the Tollmaster. They discover they are the ten billionth customers and get free parking and a passes for the fabulous 50’s tour, a whole week in 1959 Disneyland, Earth, conducted by Nostalgia Tours.
In Wales, two American CIA agents pull up beside a police box. One of them, Jerome Weismuller, takes out a phone and makes a call. He is told by the president’s right-hand man to track a new satellite. He tells this to his partner, Hawk.
Back at the toll port, Mel and the Doctor discover they will be travelling with the Navarino 1950s club. The Navarinos pass through a transformation arch to appear human.
They learn they will be travelling on a bus that can fly. The Doctor and Mel greet Murray, their pilot, but the Doctor elects to follow in the TARDIS, Mel to travel on the bus. On the Bannerman ship, Delta receives a transmission from Gavrok. Wherever she goes he will follow. He tells her she is the last of her kind. Delta lands at the toll port and boards the bus just as it takes off.
In Wales, the two Americans are attempting to pick up signals from the satellite with no success. Meanwhile, in space, the satellite is released and the bus crashes into it. In Wales the two agents answer the phone and are told the satellite has gone haywire and it will hit Earth near their location.
The Doctor uses the TARDIS to control the bus’ descent, encasing it in an anti-gravity spiral. He places it on Earth and lands nearby. The bus’ passengers learn they are in Wales at the Shangri-La camp; they are greeted by the camp leader, Burton, who mistakes them for a bus of people who intend to stay there. They decide to stay at the camp until the bus is fixed.
The group are assigned rooms, with Delta and Mel in one. The Doctor and Murray meet Billy, the resident mechanic, who offers to help repair the bus. The trio pull the embedded satellite from a large dent in the bus’ front. The Doctor enters the TARDIS and emerges with a Quarb crystal, the only one this side of the Softel Nebula. The crystal is needed to fix the bus. Billy removes the old crystal and the Doctor gives Murray the new one. A friend of Billy’s, Rachel Defwydd (known as Ray), arrives. She hands Murray a tool and tells the Doctor she always carries them to be prepared. Murray is installing the crystal when he breaks it. The Doctor tells him he can accelerate growth in the TARDIS’ thermo-booster and grow a crystal in twenty-four hours. Ray tells them of a dance later and they agree to attend.
In their room, Delta is frightened by a loud noise. Mel, whom she pulls a gun on, tells her it is the dinner gong. Mel moves to leave. She tells Delta she can be trusted and goes to dinner. Delta opens the mysterious object, revealing a strange-looking sphere within.
At the toll port, the Bannermen are questioning the Toll master. He tells them he lost track of the bus after it crashed. Gavrok shoots him. He instructs his men to plot a course for Earth and tells them he wants every informer in the galaxy looking for her. In the camp, at dinner, Mel sits with the Doctor and informs him of Delta’s gun and being edgy. Billy sits with Delta as they eat, showing attraction to her, to Ray’s chagrin.
Later, at the Get-to-know-you-dance, the Doctor inspects Billy’s stereo. Billy tells him he made it from spare parts from the war. Billy goes on stage and starts singing. Murray and Mel dance and the Doctor talks with Ray, who tells him she has had a crush on Billy since she was a child. Billy sings “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” for Delta; this saddens Ray, who dances with the Doctor instead, much to his confusion.
Outside, Weismuller and Hawk argue over who should leave the tent to blow out the fire. Eventually Hawk goes. The Doctor leaves the dance and Delta leaves soon after. The Doctor follows her. In a linen and blanket storage room, the Doctor finds Ray crying over Billy. A tour passenger and mercenary, Keillor, enters and the Doctor and Ray hide. Keillor uses a radio to contact Gavrok and informs him of Delta’s location. He asks for the reward, one million units. He uses the radio to give them a signal to follow. The Doctor sneezes, alerting the mercenary to their presence.
In their room, Delta thanks Mel for being kind to her and tells her that there is something she should know. They turn as the sphere breaks and a green alien emerges. Mel screams. In the storage room the mercenary finds the Doctor and Ray and prepares to kill them, declaring he kills for money and enjoyment; he knows who the Doctor is and takes joy in the prize he will get for taking out the legendary Time Lord.
On board his craft, Gavrok tells the pilot to arm the beacon hunter. He fires it and Keillor is ionized. The blast knocks the Doctor and Ray unconscious. Billy arrives at Delta and Mel’s room. He enters to find Delta cradling the green alien. She invites him in. Goronwy is tending his bees. The two Americans pull up outside and ask him if he has seen any lights in the sky. He tells them lots of times. He says he has seen pulsing lights and shooting stars. They ask if he has seen anything recently. He tells them he will ask his bees. Back at the room, Delta tells Billy everything; the alien is a baby Chimeron and she is a princess. The three leave Mel to sleep. They take a drive on Billy’s motorbike, the Vincent.
The Doctor wakes in time to see them driving away. He returns to wake Ray and explains the beacon was detonated by the Bannermen to kill the mercenary. The pair return to find Mel and ask where Billy and Delta have gone, but Mel does not know. He tells her they need to evacuate the camp and Mel agrees to tell Murray to get the tour party out.
Billy and Delta arrive by the river. Delta tells Billy the child will double in size and weight in the next few hours. The Doctor and Ray try to explain the impending attack by the Bannermen to Burton, but he refuses to believe it. He tells the Doctor he will be convinced if he sees the Doctor’s spaceship. Mel wakes Murray and informs him of the threat. The Doctor shows Burton his ship and he agrees to the evacuation. Murray tells everyone of the attack and they hurriedly pack to leave. The Doctor goes to check if the crystal is ready.
Burton announces on the speaker-system that all staff will assemble in his office. The Doctor gives Murray the near-finished crystal and tells him to leave with or without him. He leaves with Ray to find Delta. Burton explains the crisis to his staff and tells them to leave.
Billy, Delta and the child are seated by a river. The child makes a ringing noise; Delta tells Billy it is a song and a defense mechanism. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Ray search for them. Back at the camp, Burton assists in the evacuation.
On board his craft, Gavrok regrets destroying the beacon. He instructs his men that a full technology scan must be carried out to find Delta. Hawk is still attempting to find the satellite signal. Ray and the Doctor arrive and inquire if they have seen Delta and Billy. They haven’t.
The crystal is ready and Murray installs it. Delta is feeding the child. She tells Billy she needs to get to the brood planet, where a case can be brought against Gavrok and the Bannermen. The Doctor and Ray find them and tell them of the Bannermen coming for her. They leave for the camp as Gavrok finds a high technology source.
Hawk gives up on finding the satellite and they watch the Bannermen landing their craft. The Bannermen take them prisoner. Gavrok leaves two men to guard them. Murray has fueled up the bus and is ready to leave. He reluctantly agrees to leave Mel to wait for the Doctor. He boards the craft and is about to take off when the Bannermen arrive and shoot it. The passengers are all killed. Gavrok asks Mel if Delta was among them and she says yes.
The Bannermen celebrate their victory but then watch as Delta passes by on a motorbike. They fire upon her to no avail. Burton tells Gavrok to keep Mel alive as a hostage; he will use her as bait.
Delta picks up signals from Goronwy’s bees telling her to come. Goronwy agrees to shelter Delta and the child. The Doctor borrows Billy’s bike and a pillowcase to make a white flag. He rides to where the Bannermen are stationed. They shoot his flag. Outraged, the Doctor demands Mel and Burton be set free. He declares he will testify that he showed some mercy if they do so. Gavrok tells him he will never be brought to trial. The Bannermen release Mel and Burton. As the trio prepare to leave, the Bannermen take aim at them. The Doctor wonders if, actually, he may have gone a little too far…
The Doctor, Mel and Burton leave on Billy’s motorbike, the white flag flying from it. Gavrok fires a flare gun into the sky. The two Bannermen guarding the Americans use a metal bar to chain the pair together, then leave them. Ray arrives and frees them with an Allen key from her bag. The former guards fire a tracker dart at Billy’s bike as the Doctor drives it past.
At Goronwy’s hives Billy is helping in their car. Goronwy shows them his honey store, containing thousands of jars. Delta tells Billy that soon the child will grow again. She is feeding her Chimeron jelly to speed her growth. Ray brings the two Americans to the house. When no one is looking, Billy takes a packet of the jelly. The Bannermen guards return to find the Americans gone. They report this and the successful tracking of the bike to Gavrok and are ordered to follow the signal.
Gavrok booby traps the Doctor’s TARDIS with a sonic cone.The Doctor drives to a field and attaches the tracker to a goat. He drives to Goronwy’s house. Back at their craft, the Bannermen prepare to take off. The two guards arrive at Goronwy’s house. The Chimeron child grows again and emits a loud, piercing noise that shatters windows and sends the Bannermen into disarray. Delta shoots and kills one; the other escapes. The Bannerman ship lands in the field where the Doctor placed the tracker. The Doctor turns on Goronwy’s radio and places a piece of Delta’s clothing under the door. They leave.
The Bannermen find the tracker. The guard who escaped reports to Gavrok that they have a hideout in Goronwy’s house. They go to the house. Back at his TARDIS, the Doctor notices the booby trap; Hawk doesn’t believe the Doctor and declares he will ring the chief. He reaches out and his hand is burnt by the cone. The Bannermen fire upon Goronwy’s house. The Doctor declares that if the cone explodes with its full force, it could kill everyone. The Bannermen raid Goronwy’s honey store. The jars fall upon them, covering them in honey, and bees attack them. Delta catches Billy eating the jelly, and he tells her that if he is to come with her, he must become a Chimeron. The Bannermen land outside the camp and move in to attack.
The Doctor and Billy install a speaker on the roof of the camp. The young Chimeron sings into the microphone. The Bannermen stumble around and Gavrok falls into the sonic cone to be atomized. Weismuller ties up the Bannermen. Meanwhile Billy has fully changed into a Chimeron. Billy explains that without him changing into a Chimeron the species can’t survive.
The three Chimerons leave in their ship with the Bannermen prisoners on board. The Doctor reveals that Gavrok absorbed so much energy from the sonic cone it is now derelict. Goronwy gives the Doctor a jar of 1928 hibiscus blossom as a parting present.
As Burton welcomes a new bus full of guests, the Doctor gives the Americans their satellite. They thank him, happy that they can report success.