(With “The Myth Makers”, we reach Part 20 of our Name Dropping journey through the First Doctor’s character arc as represented by his changing ways of addressing Steven: in which we see a more adult version of Doctor Who as the TARDIS crew encounters the Great Whores of Asia.)
You could be forgiven for giving up on this story before you reached Scene 8. But that would be a tragedy because once we escape the tedious non-duels in the middle of nowhere and get to Agamemnon and Menelaus bitching at each other, “The Myth Makers” really takes off and never (well, rarely) looks back.
In a similar way to the attempts in “The Crusade” to craft the dialogue in something close to iambic pentameter to give it a Shakespearian feel, “The Myth Makers” dialogue aims at the Homeric. Not that I’d know, never having read The Iliad in English translation. I’ve only read it in the original Klingon. This helps to give some gravitas to the interplay between the characters which plays very nicely against their characterisation. Because much of “The Myth Makers” is Homeric epic played out as a drawing room farce. And it works wonderfully for it.
The family back-biting between Agamemnon and Menelaus, Priam and Paris, and Paris and Cassandra is delightful at times. It’s not that far away from the interplay between the Caecilius family in “Fires of Pompeii” but fortunately with a sight less overdramatised dancing and gesturing in temples. When Paris turns up in Troy with the TARDIS and tells Priam that it’s a prize he captured from the Greeks, his Dad sniffily replies: “I wager they were glad to see the back of it.” When the Doctor tries to convince the Greeks that he has supernatural knowledge by telling Agamemnon that his wife is unfaithful to him, Odysseus dismisses it with: “Everyone knows that.”
Given that no episodes of “The Myth Makers” exist in the BBC archives, Loose Cannon had a bit of luck when putting together their reconstruction. Francis de Wolff (last seen trying to rape Barbara in a snowbound hut in “Keys of Marinus”) as the BBC costume department hired the same uniform for his role as Agamemnon as he wore a year earlier in “Carry On Cleo for his role as Agrippa (famous for the immortal lines “I’m Agrippa” – “Well, I know one or two holds myself.”) This may seem a remarkable coincidence until you consider that it may have been the only ancient uniform in that size in the whole UK.
The Steven and Vicki double-act goes from strength to strength. Their bickering at each other in the cells is lovely as well as being entirely natural. Alas, this story was the last we’d see of what was promising to be one of the finest TARDIS crews ever. It was criminal that, after their meeting in “The Chase”, they would have only 12 episodes together and that only 5 of those should survive.
We turn to how the Doctor addresses Steven in this story. Well, not much as they see little of each other: my boy x 2, my dear boy x 2 and young man x 1.
(select NAME DROPPING from the list of Categories in the left hand menu to catch the rest of this series)