The Lost Stories range reaches the Second Doctor and boy… it gets off to some kind of start, that’s for sure. I can only imagine how this story would’ve came across on TV at the time, let alone retrospectively. Credit to Simon Guerrier for not changing much of the original script because I can now truly look back on this and go “Yeah, I’m glad that didn’t get made”. So with all that being said, let’s take a look at the frankly sexist Prison in Space, and then suddenly gain a new respect for The Krotons (the story that ended up replacing it when this script was rejected after author Dick Sharples refused to do re-writes).
A relaxing break for the Doctor and his companions Jamie and Zoe becomes something decidedly more sinister when they are arrested for trespass. But what has happened to the planet Earth? And how has the malevolent Chairman Babs gained control? As the Doctor and Jamie are incarcerated in a prison that they can never escape from, Zoe is forced to change sides…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
That’s certainly a suitably 60s sci-fi guard outfit, anyway!
… Well, this is where I truly felt that Frazer Hines came into his own with his Second Doctor impression, with scenes between the two of them and Zoe (voiced by her original actress Wendy Padbury) sounding like actual lost recordings sometimes (Hines’ Doctor impression does fall when he has to be excited or angry, mind you. It’s never been perfect) In fact their combined narration was far better than the previous 1st Doctor Lost Stories, but then they only had to play their own characters, or in the case of Hines, two character with completely different accents, and new characters, meaning there wasn’t an issue of people sounding off or too similar.
Hey look, it’s Chairman Babs and a look at the Prison in Space… Still doesn’t add any enjoyment to the story.
So The Doctor thinks he’s landed the crew on prehistoric Earth, but it turns out it’s the planet’s future, a future where women rule the planet with an iron fist, locking up men for the crimes of… being men who aren’t 100% obedient to women. Their leader, Chairman Babs (Susan Brown) is extremely stuck up in her ways and has living an extra long life due to the technology of the time. Our lead trio are captured along with a rebel and while Zoe is spared thanks to her gender, The Doctor, Jamie and the rebel are all sentenced, the latter to the “Prison in Space”, and the former two to regular prison as Babs soon takes a liking to The Doctor, much to her aides’ surprise.
Zoe is eventually indoctrinated and becomes a loyal guard, while The Doctor and Jamie end up in the titular prison after Jamie can’t help his old fashioned nature. Cue lots of escape attempts, recaptures, Jamie dressing in drag to fool guards, and eventually a revolution, where some of the male rebels manage to find a few women who see equality as a good thing and overthrow Babs. It’s… not good, and at times it’s boring, which is often worse in a way…
The ending is the absolute pits though. In order to break Zoe’s mind control Jamie bends her over his knee and spanks her straight, and then The Doctor runs from a lust-crazed Babs in the jungle. Even for the late 60s this was in poor taste, I can only imagine Dick Sharples was firmly against giving women the vote earlier in the decade when he wrote it. This is probably what he thought “would happen” now women are gaining more of a position in society or something. It’s… not pleasant.
The “Box Set” cover, which really is just an overall cover for this story…
Not much! Zoe mentions a few old foes, or gets old foes mentioned to her in order to snap her out of it, but those are just passing mentions.
Prison in Space is pretty crap, it has to be said. When Big Finish were looking at lost Doctor Who scripts or pitches to adapt, I do wonder why on Earth they did this at all, let alone first. I can only imagine the original scripts were in better shape to adapt, but … yikes. They should have let this stay lost….