Saturday, 4 February 2017

Power Station Panels

It all starts with a post on Roobarb's DVD Forum Doctor Who Prop Spotting Thread - you'll need to be a member to read it. I'd been listening to The Underwater Menace episode 4 looking at the telesnaps as I did. This telesnap caught my eye, and in particular the wall panel in it:


I thought I'd seen it before so I asked the chaps in the prop spotting thread if anyone recognised it too.

Some weeks later one of the people there was watching The Avengers episode The House That Jack Built, broadcast 4th March 1966, and spotted it there ..... with some friends!

Avengers 1

And that *really* opened a can of worms!

The thought is that these panels are from a decommissioned Power Station: The groups of three lights and dials are indicative of high voltage power Generation or Distribution. There's three decommissioned Power Stations in the period running up to their first appearance: Acton Lane (closed 1950), Deptford (closed 1957) and Manchester Radcliff (closed 1959). A quick google image search for Power Station Control Room will give you several pictures with similar looking panels in.

I'd already been pointed at Out of the Unknown, which if you haven't seen it you should buy the DVD Set NOW! The second episode The Counterfeit Man, broadcast 11 October 1965, is believed to be their first appearance of one of the panels on TV:

ootuCounterfeit1 ootuCounterfeit3

The panel here isn't identical to any of the ones seen so far but is a very similar design.

Two more show up later in the episode, one of which looks like a panel seen in The Avengers with with an extra bit bolted on:

ootuCounterfeit4 ootuTime1

The panel that initially caught my eye, also present in the six in The Avengers, appears in Time in Advance, broadcast 1 November 1965, with a new friend:

ootuTime2 ootuSucker

One of the panels seen in Counterfeit man crops up again in Sucker Bait, broadcast 15th November 1965:

Later in that season of Out of the Unknown they appear in the episode Thirteen to Centaurus, broadcast 13 December 1965:

ootuThirteen1 ootuThirteen2

Two days previous to that the panels make their first known Doctor Who appearance in The Dalek Masterplan episode 5 Counter Plot:

cp1 cp2

Dalek Masterplan aired in Doctor Who's third season. The first two seasons are mostly complete, save for nine historical episodes, so it's unlikely that any panels appear in those episodes and none have been spotted in the existing science fiction stories in that period. One episode of Galaxy Four, plus a substantial clip from another episode of that story, exist and there's none of these panels there.

cp3 cp4

The only real candidates for Doctor Who appearances prior to this episode are Mission to the Unknown and episodes 1, 3 & 4 of The Dalek Masterplan: Episode 2 exists and again there are none to be seen there.

cp5 cp6

From the rest of he story one panel is visible in a photo from episode 6:


Few episodes exist from the next couple of seasons of Doctor Who and most of the third season has no telesnaps either to help us visualise what's going on. There may well be further appearances in The Dalek Masterplan but so little evidence remains to tell us. They don't appear in The Ark and can't be spotted in The Savages Telesnaps so unless they appear in the Tardis, which they do later in their life, I think we can say that they don't appear again till the end of the season.

Their next known appearance on television is in The Avengers episode The House That Jack Built, broadcast 4th March 1966, and covered above.


Their feature film d├ębut comes in Island of Terror released on 20th June 1966:

IOT_001_zpsr2vemj50 IOT_002_zpscbyktyci

The film stars Peter Cushing who will appear with the panels again shortly ....

IOT_003_zpsnuyypbzr IOT_004_zpsojm0hy0k

Their next Doctor Who appearance is in episode 2 of the The War Machines broadcast on 2 July 1966 where they're located in the pit in the warehouse:

vlcsnap-00007 vlcsnap-00008

Also visible in shot is another recurring Doctor Who prop, the mechanical hemisphere first seen in The Space Museum.

Noticeably the configuration changes between studio and location:

vlcsnap-00012 dwwm4

A similar set of three appears in episode 4 broadcast 16th July 1966.

On the 5th August 1966 their second big screen appearance was released: Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.


They can be mainly seen surrounding the entrance ramp in the Dalek Saucer:

dio_panels001_zpsh2s8wfyt dio_panels002_zpsxcwo97hw

Daleks - Invasion of Earth once again features Peter Cushing!

dio_panels003_zpsdo9rdzwm dioe_1

Some more are visible in the Dalek Base Control room, along with another recurring prop, the Rel Meter, which also appeared in The War Machines!


The Adam Adamant Lives! episode The Doomsday Plan, broadcast 1st September 1966, has another appearance of the panels in quantity:

adam1 adam2

adam3 adam5

The two panels in the final shot here are new to us, one of them reappears on the Rocket Room Set in Power of the Daleks episode 4, broadcast 26th November 1966.


I could well believe there are other panels elsewhere in that story that we can't see. It's worth drawing attention to the Power Supply in Lesterson's lab, presumably of similar origin to these panels, which appears again in The Underwater Menace.

dwPower3 dwUnderwaterMenace4

That story features our next clear view of the panels in episode 2:

vlcsnap-00001 vlcsnap-00005

The panel from the Power Rocket Room turns up again too, together with the Rel Meter:

vlcsnap-00041 vlcsnap-00048

Which brings us to episode 4 broadcast 50 years ago today, and the panel that originally caught my eye.

After this point the panels are used regularly and can be seen in:

The Macra Terror
The Faceless Ones
The Abominable Snowmen
The Enemy of the World
The Web of Fear
The Fury from the Deep
Wheel in Space
The Mind Robber
Seeds of Death
Colony in Space

Out of the Unknown This Body Is Mine

Doomwatch Third Season Lab

I'll do another post covering these stories later but wanted to write something covering everything up to the episode that aired 50 years ago today which first brought my attention to them.

However if you know of any other appearances of these panels then I'd love to hear from you, especially if you can provide screen captures. Comment bellow or Tweet me @philip_ayres.

My thanks to the good people of Roobarbs Forum for finding many of these appearances and drawing my attention to them!

No comments:

Post a Comment