59 – The Sun Makers

We return to Season 15 today, to another story that I didn’t fully appreciate in my youth and grew to love when I bought the DVD. At the outset I should observe that this story is definitely not for kids – not because of ‘orrible monsters (which, as we all know, is a sure fire way to children’s hearts and attention) but because the story is a thinly veiled critique of the strongly socialist taxation that Britain was living under at that point – hence one corridor being referred to as ‘P45.’ While the references were toned done, and the colonists subject to a corporation rather than a government, the inference would not have been missed by the viewer.

It means that while most of the references go over the head of a child, who will appropriately ask why there are no monsters, it makes it huge fun for a grown-up. The Doctor and Leela arrive on Pluto to discover that the construction of artificial suns has enabled colonisation of the planet (as it then was) – the people however have been subjected to the company that owns the planet through extraordinarily heavy taxation, and by the company secretly using PCM gas to cause depression in the planet’s inhabitants. As is often the case, the independently minded Doctor encourages the colonists to overthrow the Collector (again – a thinly veiled reference to tax collectors) and free the planet from the company.

Not only does The Sun Makers explore serious themes and deliver a compelling storyline, but the regular cast of Baker and Jameson shine in their roles, and after being sidelined in the preceding Image of the Fendahl, K9 makes his first proper appearance after his debut in The Invisible Enemy with considerable aplomb. Combined to a stellar supporting cast, and this has all the hallmarks of a vintage Tom Baker adventure. Perhaps one however that you wouldn’t want to start the kids on …

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