Remember the First Doctor’s adventures with the Daleks? Yes, The Dalek Invasion of Earth gets all the attention, but let’s not forget the Chad Valley Doctor Who Give-a-Show Projector. What do you mean, you’ve never heard of it?! Insolent pup. Perhaps this will jog your memory…
“Place the machine on that table next to the astral map, would you, Chesterton? Thank you, my boy. There. That is it!
“Chesterton, Miss Wright, Vicki. We are about to see a demonstration of an extraordinary device. Don’t look like that, Chesterton. Always so sceptical, dear boy! I tell you, this machine is a technological marvel. Images have been captured from our travels and we shall be able to review some highlights from our extraordinary adventures. As we watch, the machine will project those images onto the walls of the Shit. Ship.”
“Like a camera, Doctor?”
“Yes, yes, Vicki my child, exactly so – only the machine is so advanced that it recorded the images without any of us being aware of it. Let’s see the first set, shall we, Chesterton? Press the switch to turn the machine on.”
“Saved from the Daleks by a cat! Tee hee! Yes, yes, indeed. Ho ho! Who would have thought the humble puss would prove such a hero?”
“Doctor, I don’t remember that…”
“You don’t remember, Barbara, my dear? But surely… [A thought strikes him.] No, no… You are right! If I think hard, I have no recollection of this, either. Dear dear dear dear. How very disturbing.”
“And I’m not there, Doctor. No sign of me at all.”
“Yes, yes, Vicki, my child. Now let me see… Something, some falign Morse – malign force… is affecting my memory. I believed this incident to be absolutely true, and yet… Show another set of the images, Chesterton, and let’s see if they match our memories.”
“We know the Daleks. They would never let us go free like that… And the concept of intelligent insects is ridiculous – quite ridiculous.”
“But we did meet the Menoptra, Doctor.”
“Yes, yes, my child, quite so… But, Vicki, my dear, the Menoptra were wise, noble, and above all, totally convincing. These Zomites are nothing of the kind. A completely absurd concept. And why would the Daleks regard any insect as a pest? We may swat away the innocent wasp when it buzzes in our faces, but no wasp or other tiny flying creature can be of any consequence to the Daleks; nothing can penetrate their outer casings, you see.”
“Well, I did once. I had to drive around in one of the things when we were on Skaro.”
“Kindly keep your irrelevant observations to yourself, Chesterton. We need to concentrate on the matter in hand. Let’s see what other incidents the machine alleges took place on our journeys. Put up the next set.”
“A reversal of time acceleration? What is this nonsense, hmm? Time cannot accelerate and so no acceleration can be reversed – and, in entering the Ship, we simply pass through the doors into the dimensionally transcendent interior.”
“And it didn’t happen like that, Doctor. When we first met you, you said we didn’t deserve any explanations at all. You were very angry with us for pushing into the TARDIS.”
“Yes, yes, my dear Barbara… well, I was a little crustier in those days and I didn’t wish for my whereabouts on your planet to be discovered.”
“And you were incredibly patronising, too.”
“Do be quiet, Chesterton. It remains for us to consider the origins of this malign machine.”
[Ian examines the box and the projector carefully.]
“Doctor, it seems to be… Well, it looks like a child’s toy. Look, there are drawings of you on the container. And it’s not sophisticated at all. It’s just a torch, set inside a crude plastic projector, with a simple lens at the front.”
“Let me see… Yes yes yes yes. I believe you are right. I wonder… [Draws himself up to his full height] Whoever or whatever created this ridiculous machine wishes us to believe that we are simply the products of human imaginings. That we – you, Chesterton, Miss Wright, Vicki, I, the Ship itself – are not objective facts but the subjective products of ludicrous fantasies. The mere whims of a child’s daydreaming!”
“You mean whoever made this wants to make us think we’re not real? To drive us mad?”
“Yes. Yes, Vicki my child, I believe that is exactly the intention of the creator of this device. To affect our minds and distort our perceptions as badly as would addictive hallucinogenic gloves. Drugs. Perhaps the projector entered the Ship through a mortal – portal from some alternative to our reality. Fortunately, it is a problem that is easy to remedy. Cover your eyes, all of you, because – you know: could be nasty.”
[The Doctor bashes the projector with his stick. It explodes, with a feeble puff of smoke and a slight sigh.]
“Ho ho! There! Whoever devised this feeble trap for us is no match for a superior brain!”
“Well done, Doctor!”
“Thank you, my boy. And now, after all that excitement, I think we all need some refreshment. Vicki, my dear, would you bring us all some of that delicious Venusian night fish from the food machine? I believe we have earned it. Thank you, my dear. Yum yum.”
[Dr Who starts to choke on his Venusian night fish. He collapses to the floor. The others rush round him, alarmed. CU of Dr Who on the floor, unconscious. Fade in caption:
Next Episode: Shuddering Underground Monsters
Crash in end music. Roll credits and fade to black.]
The Chad Valley Doctor Who Give-a-Show Projector was produced in 1965. You stuck a strip of slides through a slide projector; there were sixteen of them. Extraordinarily, each strip attempted to tell a complete story. Well, you can’t fault the manufacturer’s ambition. Rather wonderful, really.
The stories, however, are deranged.
The companions, clearly supposed to be Ian and Barbara, aren’t named – presumably to avoid paying a fee to Jacqueline Hill and William Russell.
I haven’t been able to find the original price; a good condition one on eBay these days will set you back a minimum of £350.
The complete collection of slides from this risible machine are on YouTube, in four videos. If you have a strong stomach, you can watch the first one here:
Then follow the links to the other three videos.
Coming soon: The Collector’s Corner #4 – Shuddering Underground Monsters and Space-Time Big Bloody Battle!