Image Credit: James Ashworth
Image Description: Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling
By Adam Kendrick
The Enemy of the World is, without a doubt, the greatest Second Doctor story ever made. Broadcast right in the middle of Series Five, this globetrotting political thriller stands out from the numerous “base under siege” serials which inundated the latter half of the 1960s. Set in the then-distant future of 2018, the Second Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria accidentally become involved in an espionage plot to expose the crimes of Ramón Salamander, a ruthless dictator who plans to take over the world – and who just happens to perfectly resemble the Doctor’s current appearance.
By having Patrick Troughton play the dual roles of the Doctor and Salamander (not to mention having the Doctor himself pretending to be Salamander), we finally get to see Troughton’s range as a character actor as he suddenly transforms into a completely different person; his usual impishness disappears, his amicable demeanour is replaced with cold-hearted deceitfulness, and his voice becomes inflected with a contemptuous sneer. The two characters are polar opposites in terms of personality, yet there are subtle parallels in how they both manipulate and exploit others for their ends, and there’s an eerie feeling that the Doctor himself could easily turn into someone like Salamander if he decided to follow a darker path.
Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling are delightful as undercover agents who keep finding themselves in predicament, but the exceptional performances from the supporting characters cannot be understated: the gruff but conscientious security chief Donald Bruce, the feeble and ineffectual Nicholas Fedorin, the sadistic and deeply repulsive Benik, the courageous and trustworthy Fariah (played by Carmen Munroe – the first black actress to appear in Doctor Who), and the hilariously grumpy and sardonic Griffin the Chef. All six episodes are well-paced and full of sparkling dialogue, unexpected plot twists, thrilling action sequences, and some wonderfully dramatic cliffhangers. The tension gradually rises higher as everyone slowly becomes aware of the Doctor’s interference, with secret ruses uncovered and foiled, until it eventually peaks with a stunning face-to-face confrontation between the Doctor and his evil counterpart. Thank goodness this was rediscovered in its entirety.