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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Top Five Pubs In Doctor Who

The venerable Time Lord is fifty earth years old this month.

As a good, old British institution it's not surprising he's spent a decent portion of that time in some good, old British pubs.

So, not counting seedy space bars and foreign drinking establishments, here's my Top Five of Doctor Who pubs.

The Fleur-de-Lys in The Android Invasion (1975)

"Let's try the pub!"

Don't you just hate those pubs that try really hard to look authentic and Oldy Worldy, but are in fact completely fake?

Well, that's the Fleur-de-Lys, which has the added feature that the landlord, and the customers, are androids who don't get turned on until they're needed.

The Android Invasion was Doctor Who does Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with a touch of The Prisoner.

It's almost a farewell for the old UNIT team, so it's a bit of a shame Nicholas Courtney wasn't available as the Brigadier. The Kraal are pretty forgettable Monsters of the Week, but it's a lot of fun and contains wonderful lines such as "Is that finger loaded?" delivered in the way that only Tom Baker could.

The King's Arms in The Lodger

"Football, that's the one with the sticks."

All we know about the King's Arms is that it is somewhere in Colchester, Craig Owen drinks there and it has a football team.

Given it's geographical location we could perhaps make some inferences about the number of squaddies and women with fake tans amongst the clientele, but Craig doesn't seem that sort of chap.

All told I imagine it as a rather blokey sort of place, but not too threatening, mostly serving lager, with Sky TV and a food menu that starts and ends with pie and peas. There are probably worse places to drink in Essex.

The Fox Inn in Terror of the Zygons  


"Was that bang big enough for you, Brigadier?"

Another pub from central casting, but this time a Scottish one, complete with dead animals on the walls.

The place is actually being used by UNIT as their HQ whilst they try to figure out what's been knocking off North Sea oil rigs. (Clue, it's a monster and they're close to Loch Ness....).

The villainous Zygons are one of the better Monsters of the Week, hence their return in the fiftieth anniversary special, although the Doctor finds the idea of just three of them trying to take over the world rather amusing. Indeed, Tom Baker doesn't appear to be taking any of this seriously by this stage, and even pointing out the rather obvious bugging device in the dead animal seems a little beneath him. 

Gore Crow Hotel in Battlefield (1989)


"What we have sir is the finest beer in the area, even if I do say so myself."

Now here's a better place to drink. It's in the CAMRA guide, the landlord brews something called Arthur's Ale in his shed and that has the real scabbard of Excalibur on the wall.

Battlefield is a story from the final series of the classic show, and one that shows what a tragedy it was the Beeb pulled the plug when they did.

Structurally the story suffers from being stretched from three parts to four, and then having the Brigadier added in as an afterthought. But it's very well done and the decision to bring dear old Alistair back is a great one.

UNIT, now equipped with bullets for all eventualities, actually put in a decent performance for once under the 'new' Brigadier, Winifred Bambera. She appears to drive the men a little harder than the old Brig, and gets results on the battlefield. Perhaps Sir Alistair was a little too soft on them.

We also get to see the Tudor pile that Lethbridge-Stewart and Doris now live in. How he paid for it on a soldiers salary is a good question. Perhaps he pocketed a few of those gold bullets before he retired.

The Cloven Hoof in The Daemons 


Yates "Fancy a dance Brigadier?"
Brigadier "I'd rather have a pint."

Those two lines confirmed an awful lot of suspicions about the old UNIT team. Captain Yates really was gay and the Brigadier really was an alcoholic.

 A tale of black magic in an English village, with the somewhat cerebrally challenged locals under the sway of a mysterious, charismatic leader, this sounds like Doctor Who does The Wicker Man. In actual fact Doctor Who had Jon Pertwee nearly going up in flames whilst tied to the Maypole twelve months before Edward Woodward had his appointment with the titular dummy.

The Daemons is on of those stories we were all really looking forward to when it came out on VHS, but which ultimately proved to be a little disappointing when we actually watched it. It's great on atmosphere, but the plot relies a bit too much on the less than dynamic duo of Yates and Benton to carry things along, and the both the Doctor and UNIT are completely useless.

Fortunately for the earth, the monster reacts to this dreadful scripting by deciding to self destruct. Can't blame him.

Aldourne, the Wiltshire village where it was filmed, is a pleasant enough place to visit and in WWII it was the home of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division, the heroes of Band of Brothers. The pub is back to being the Blue Boar, but the town does feature some nifty TARDIS waste bins.

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