Serial 7C/MA – Seaside Suicide
An Alternate Programme Guide by Ewen Campion-Clarke
An Extract From The EC Unauthorized Programme Guide O' Pier Pressure
Serial 7C/MA – Seaside Suicide -
The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Evelyn to Brighton in the year 1972. The Doctor is in a bad mood and decides that no matter what happens, he refuses to waste any more of his precious time save saving the moronic narrow-minded inhabitants of a pathetic mudball.
The Doctor decides to stroll along the promenade and sing songs about the Royal Pavilion by Gilbert and Sullivan in the original Japanese. However, his spirited rendition is regularly interrupted by bloodcurdling banshee screams from the depths of hell.
Evelyn ponders just exactly could be the cause of these terrible sounds and muses where the newspaper headlines about the Phantom Bloodsucker of Brighton Beach might be relevant.
The Doctor ignores her and decides to check out the latest Boris Karloff film "Charlie Chan at the Opera", and then enjoy a pint of bitter and a meat pie at the nearby drinking tavern.
"The British pub is the hub of any tight-knit community, where tongues are loose and gossip flows. All the other great authors agree that if you want to get to the bottom of an English mystery, you must get to the bottom of a pint glass first," the Doctor booms. "And, in fact, it’s invariably better to just get rat-arsed and forget all about the English mystery in the first place."
Arriving at the Theatre Royal Bar, the Doctor is furious to discover it is too late for any new orders and is ridiculed by the clientele for "bringing his mum with him".
One of the hecklers the Doctor and Evelyn realize is, in fact, Benny Hill, who is assuring his co stars Albert and Emily that the chances of them being brutally murdered on the beach while filming a chase scene are incredibly small.
The Doctor crosses to Benny Hill and smashes a pint glass over his head – furious that the BBC is so unforgiving to its finest asset, ie. HIM!, but are still willing to honor this one-gag sexist loser who stole his half-funny routine from one of the dirty postcards that are on sale in this very seaside town!
Evelyn points out that maybe Benny Hill can use his contacts in the BBC to help the Doctor get back in the good books with the BBC and forget all about the hiatus business... or at least a chance to punch Michael Grade’s lights out when he’s not expecting it.
The Doctor marvels at Evelyn’s brain sparking with an idea actually worth listening to, but his raddled old companion has already forgotten what the idea was and telling everyone about her bunion. Again.
The Doctor buys the concussed Benny Hill a free glass of water and tries to change the subject by asking if anyone heard about the inhuman, ungodly sound that seems to be coming from the sea and is certainly not of this world - which could have enormous consequences for the ENTIRE planet and fashion the very FABRIC of society for the next 300 YEARS!!
"Or it could be nothing," the Doctor admits, blowing out his cheeks.
The Doctor and Evelyn haul the dazed and speechless Benny Hill down to the beach towards the West End on the off chance they might hear the supernatural keening. The Doctor tells Evelyn to keep an eye out for the Creature from the Black Lagoon, who often holidays in Brighton to avoid the paparazzi.
Unfortunately all they find at the end of the pier is a tent with a sign advertising Professor Neville Talbot, master of the centuries-old mystic powers of magic, mentalism and mind-reading for only two and six a stage show.
"But Professor Neville Talbot’s been dead for over fifteen years!" Benny Hill protests.
The Doctor finds it hard to believe that the pitch and promotional posters have been left intact for fifteen years when the tent is taking up valuable advertising space?
Benny Hill admits he might be a bit confused, as he knows about several sideshow artistes calling themselves Professor Neville Talbot and could be mixing them up.
The Doctor decides to enter the fortune teller’s booth, ignoring the very large sign saying "BEWARE! YOU RISK FACING THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER EXPERIENCE, THINGS THAT WILL WARP YOUR MIND, ALTER YOUR UNDERSTANDING AND CHANGE YOUR UNDERPANTS! THE MANAGEMENT ACCEPTS NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANYTHING AT ALL!"
Inside they find Professor Talbot staring at a crystal ball and humming "Dizzy" to himself. He pays absolutely no attention to the tall blond stranger bouncing up and down in the doorway, and even when the Doctor threatens to have Talbot hurled out of the Magic Circle fraternity and be shunned and disowned by his profession, the Professor doesn’t so much as flinch.
Dispirited, the Doctor walks out of the tent insisting that whatever happens in Brighton stays in Brighton and that Talbot is old charlatan, full of mumbo-jumbo and flimflam.
About three seconds later he bursts into tears and flings his arms around Benny Hill screaming, "Save me! SAVE me! He is pure concentrated evil encased in flea-bitten establishment! A host of something chilling and uncanny that SHOULD NOT BE!"
Benny Hill meekly asks what evidence the Doctor has for this.
"IT WAS LIKE LOOKING INTO THE EYE OF A DEAD FISH!" the Doctor roars.
Benny Hill knows that if you look into the eye of a dead fish, the eye of the dead fish looks into you, and the Doctor is most likely accurate about the enormity of the evil force lurking in Brighton and that something powerful enough to crumble mankind itself.
The Doctor decides that the best thing to do now is flee to safety in the TARDIS before the alien monstrosity behind all this begins its plans for world domination under cover of darkness. But just as they are about to flee across the beach, the Doctor decides he needs to take time out.
"You know, Evelyn, I wonders how long it’s been since I just sat calmly and serenely, listening to the sound of the ocean, or the sound of everything shifting gently in the Universe? A watchmaker like myself regulates time and there are so many faults, so many cogs that don’t quite fit, so many worlds, so many life forms that can destroy everything and shatter the very fabric of time... But here, as the ocean laps in and out, I find real purity and honesty. A simple tide, uninterrupted..."
The horrific scream echoes across the beach and Brighton pier starts to pulse with a strange ethereal force
"OK, the moment has passed. Let’s get the fuck out of here!"
The Doctor, Evelyn and Benny Hill flee back to the Pavilion in fast forward as Yakety Sax plays.
Finally, they get into the TARDIS where the Doctor explains that it is a genuine time and space machine and they aren’t actually trespassing on police property. Benny Hill is a bit depressed as this takes the fun out of it entirely, and starts making time-related gag questions about the TARDIS, starting with "How many miles on the clock?" and progressively getting worse.
After three games of poker, a discussion on the 1937 Grand National, a game of I-Spy and a heated passion on just who the hell Ben Elton thinks he is and where does a political turncoat like him get off dissing a genius like Hill, the trio are bored shitless and decide to check out the beach on the unlikely chance something interesting is happening.
Leaving the TARDIS, the unlikely gang are attacked by zombie and run away with Yakety Sax blaring around them once more.
They finally bump into Professor Talbot wading in the tide, whistling to himself. The Doctor screams that this figure before them is a Lord of Misrule from the darkest corners of human understanding!
Talbot waves and wanders off.
The Doctor adds that clearly the demons possessing him are growing stronger and more determined to dominate the universe and destroy the rightful order of creation.
Benny Hill is now a tad skeptical as Talbot does not appear to be under the possession by dark forces beyond the latitude of mortal minds, and the Doctor explains that are seeing a warped reflection conjured up by the energy that’s controlling him.
Evelyn suspects that the ghosts of long dead smugglers are haunting the place, and the Doctor and Benny Hill shrug and decide to go with that explanation for the time being.
The zombie attacks them again and there is another chase scene.
The latest zombie attack makes the Doctor suspect on absolutely no basis whatsoever that some alien evil has been drawn to Brighton by a whacked out combination of Talbot’s cut price sorcery.
Benny Hill prefers a Stone Tape explanation that Brighton Pier is soaked in a concentration of unhappy human emotions over the years – unsatisfying holidays, doomed love affairs, over priced toffee apples and balloons; a reservoir of evil and misery smoldering under the pier and super charged by two world wars and the Beatles splitting up.
"So, basically," Evelyn sums up, "You’re saying Brighton Pier is evil and wants to take over the universe!"
"Yeah, why not?" Benny Hill shrugs.
Evelyn cannot come up with any defense to that brilliant deduction and has to admit that it is a particularly novel explanation. Normally it’s the Bastard or the Dustbins, not a famous British tourist attraction surrendering to its own darker impulses.
The Doctor admits he’s not entirely sure how to fight evil possessed landmarks and suggests they do some research by watching The Shining, The Haunting, and The Evil Elevator Possessed By The Spirit Of Undead Serial Killers starring Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Colin Clive and David Tennant, with lots of soda and popcorn.
The zombie arrives – but this time falls dead.
Benny Hill muses that clearly the zombie’s inherent goodness was able to win against the evil that possessed the evil corpse, and that this battle of wills against their enemy will be a long struggle.
Evelyn hits him over the head with her handbag and tells him to stop being a pompous git – they have a pier head of pure evil to deal with! So probably the best thing to do is stop standing on it.
The evil glow returns, and the Doctor realizes it’s not the PIER that’s glowing, but a cluster of rocks of rocks on the sea bed in a distinctly alien and dangerous manner... so all the stuff about the pier being possessed is probably a mistake.
The Doctor comes up with yet ANOTHER explanation for all the weird crap which has been happening over the last three episodes and suspects some kind of crashed alien spaceship’s malfunctioning force field is playing up and creating evil psychic manifestations.
The Time Lord, satisfied at this conclusion, leans against the railings, then falls through and plunges into the glowing sea...
The Doctor wakes up in the TARDIS to discover it was all a dream! Except that Benny Hill and Evelyn are in the time machine with him and there is a zombie on the prowl outside.
The Time Lord starts screaming that none of these filthy apes touch him and Benny Hill responds by flipping him the bird and announcing that he’s immortal!
The Doctor believes Benny Hill is possessed by the evil zombie-creating entity – be it alien, human, green blob from outer space, or Brighton pier itself – and with his god-like powers, the fate of the human species is now in his large hairy hands.
Benny Hill laughs diabolically and announces he IS the BBC Light Entertainment and NOT to be trifled with!
The awesome comedian explains that a meteorite containing an entire population of microscopic alien life crash landed at the television centre and infected Benny Hill, giving him powers and abilities as undreamed of by ITV.
The Doctor and Evelyn agree that this is a kind of a let down as explanations go, and they really preferred the evil pier theory.
The TARDIS crew shuffle awkwardly for a moment, uncertain what to do now, so the Doctor brutally headbutts Benny Hill, rendering him completely unconscious.
Tying Benny Hill up with some Gallifreyan zinc – one of the strongest substances in the known area of Brighton Pavilion – they throw him off the pier and decide to see what happens next.
However, on the way, Benny Hill amuses both the Doctor and Evelyn with his own stand up material they decide to give him another chance. "The spark of human decency within me has allowed me to fight the aliens and find a different way to achieve social recognition! No longer shall I trust and accept the word of evil!!" Benny Hill.
The Doctor and Evelyn untie Benny Hill and he bangs their heads together and runs off, shouting, "SUCKERS!"
The Doctor rubs his aching head and points out that since the Earth hasn’t been totally annihilated, this parade of bewildering crap was probably worth the hassle.
"No doubt that alien force has now dissipated, drawn into and encased within the pier itself," he concludes.
"So, the pier WASN'T evil before, but it is NOW?"
"Yeah. Irony’s a bitch. Still, the pier can cope with the corrosive powers of pure evil for while, say 60 to 70 years, before it erodes away completely and then, well, I dare say there’ll be another Big Finish story based on it. In the meantime children, don’t go to Brighton Pier. Dr Who says it’s EVIL! And if your parents don’t believe you, then they don’t really love you."
Talbot passes by, singing "Heard it Through The Grapevine" and the Doctor and Evelyn beat him to death with metal bars, then enter the TARDIS and dematerialize.
Book(s)/Other Related -
Doctor Who and the Pointless Runaround of Time
Dr Who & Hill of Benny (not to be confused with the New Adventure of the same name)
Yakety Sax, Don’t Come Back: The Shocking Story Of How Benny Hill Ruined A Bit of Music Forever
Just what WAS that banshee screaming about?
Why did Benny Hill raise the dead and chase himself? Was he trying to add some kind of gore element to the closing credits of The Benny Hill Show perhaps? Just how many of his costars were animated corpses?
Fashion Victims -
The Doctor’s technicolour dream coat outfit is finally out of the wash. The horror. The HORROR!
Links and References -
In a completely gratuitous plug, the Doctor and Evelyn mention how they were thoroughly screwed about by the future Doctor and Jamie McCrimmon in "Medicinal Porpoises".
Untelevised Misadventures -
Following "Medicinal Porpoises", the Doctor and Evelyn went to Blackpool, only to encounter the future Doctor AGAIN – this time working under the cunning pseudonym of "DI Carlyle" and consuming three times his own body weight in candy floss.
Groovy DVD Extras -
The infamous "Evelyn, of course juggling three live kittens and a chainsaw is "frightfully dangerous"! If it WASN'T "frightfully dangerous", everybody would be doing it!" sequence.
Dialogue Disasters -
Benny Hill: Ahh the female of the species! So much deadlier than the male or so I’ve been led to believe! They can’t half chase me around the place, I can tell you.
Doctor: The British Broadcasting Cooperation is often unforgiving to their finest assists, and no, not in my jurisdiction I fear. So let’s burn it down!
Dialogue Triumphs -
Doctor: Of course, the concentration of unhappy human emotions that have seeped into the structure of the pier over the years! Think of it, Benny! Think of every toffee-apple eating child suffering indigestion and seasickness, every pretty coloured balloon floating off into the sky never to return; miniscule and inconsequential torments that flash briefly for a second and are then forgotten by all... EXCEPT for the old pier!
Benny Hill: But surely the building must have experience moments of joy and stored them within the structure as well?
Doctor: Well, maybe from the looneys and the real sick, twisted sons of bitches who enjoy inflicting pain on small children... but even THEN there must be a negative counterbalance! There’s nothing evil likes more than a slab of goodness to feast upon.
Benny Hill: Or forbidden fruit.
Doctor: Yes, forbidden fruit, as you say. Well, that will be the toffee-apples again.
Benny Hill: So, why hasn’t conquered the world again?
Doctor: How the fuck should I know?
Benny Hill: Surely all the human misery and despair that resulted from two world wars would have helped the evil under the pier grow more powerful!
Doctor: Yes, yes, yes! But what about the Armistice, hmm? And D-Day? You didn’t think of that, now, did you? Overwhelming euphoric blasts, the universe sighing in relief. Since then, it’s been biding it’s time.
Benny Hill:... for what?
Doctor: Am I supposed to know EVERYTHING?! It’s waiting for the best moment to create a cloud of despair to hang all over the world, forcing the people of this planet will remain forever in suspicion and in fear of complete destruction – emotional turmoil that the pier can channel for its own sustenance.
Benny Hill: ‘Turmoil’?
Doctor: Yes, turmoil!
Benny Hill: So it can feed on good AND evil?
Doctor: Sort of.
Benny Hill: So, it might actually want to create a cloud of happiness?
Doctor: In the words of a far better alternative comedian, Benny... "SHUT UP, OR I’LL KILL YOU!"
Benny Hill: I am a human being Doctor... Call me old fashioned, but I couldn't bear to stand by and watch celebrity golfing variety chatshows take over television.
Viewer Quotes -
"All the land turns to dust and crumbs
As, by the prickling of my thumbs
Something wicked this way comes...
'Seaside Suicide', the worst Sixth Doctor and Evelyn starring Colin Baker on double CD since... well, probably EVER!"
- a predictable Big Finish press release (February 2006)
"I am fascinated by the British Seaside, always have been. Until now. There's a whole atmosphere associated with the Coast of Britain. Heading off for a weekend away, being blown off your feet by the sea gales, checking out the Saucy Postcards, Fish and Chips in a tacky Cafe. I love it all. There's also the ever present shows that adorn the piers and playhouses. Big Finish brings that Seaside feel into my home, and then they ruined it forever." - Nippl-e Peppedine (2994)
"There are very few Doctor Who audios that reach these heights with everything perfectly fitting together to create an atmospheric treat. The direction is astonishingly good. The music comes alive. OK, the plot redefines dullness, it’s full of loathsome cliches, bog standard of psychic aliens taking over weak humans and the climax is so perfectly predictable that it’s mathematically improbable; Colin Baker is wasted on such archetypal rubbish and the plot is so thin the characters stand around doing nothing playing I Spy in the TARDIS and I was ready to turn the thing off... but it’s a Sixth Doctor/Evelyn story. It’s essential purchase. You must buy it. You will buy it, Guardian readers! You will! You will! You WILL! YOU WILL! YOU WILL!"
- Jo Ford Prefect (2006)
"When Doctor Who is set in a place that I know, the anticipation of that story is so much greater. The ideal story, therefore, would be by Steven Moffat set in my house. Which, even if the story involved nothing more than argument about who left the toilet seat up, would still kick to a bloody pulp the ass of this story."
- Katy January (2008)
Psychotic Nostalgia -
"I was fascinated by the old Pier, and often used to sit on the Pebbly Beach imagining what it was like in its heyday. And I often wondered... was it watching me? Did it plot my death? Was it sniggering to itself as I innocently strolled up and down the promenade? And if it wasn’t, then why not?"
Colin Baker Speaks!
"Yes, I remember Seaside Suicide, because no other story has saddled me with that much extremely pompous, portentous dialogue throughout, including such tripe since A Dance To The Music Of Time. Oh, yes, that was awful – 'If I'm to vanquish this abomination I need to know what it is!' and other risible bollocks like that. I mean, we can all sympathize at the Difficult Second Album Syndrome, but this was flatter than on-tap cola! I always say, if you don’t have a decent plot or decent characters, then you haven’t really got a play. But somehow we still have to record the damn things regardless."
Rumors & Facts –
Anyone who was singularly unimpressed with Robert Ross' Big Finish debut Medicinal Porpoises would have had low expectations for Seaside Suicide. Anyone who wasn’t singularly unimpressed with Robert Ross' Big Finish debut Medicinal Porpoises would have had probably quite reasonable expectations for Seaside Suicide.
But in any case, nothing could have prepared them for how wretched an experience Seaside Suicide would turn out to be.
After the completion of recording Medicinal Purposes and a thick veil of despair was settling over the cast and crew, the oblivious Robert Ross suggested they do a sequel with David Tennant as the future incarnation of the Doctor.
Luckily, Tennant was a bit busy filming proper TV Doctor Who, and thus the idea of a rematch dwindled, rather like Ross’ writing talent.
Ross came up with a brand new idea – Sixth Heaven, a story set in 1930s Brighton where comedy veterans Roy Hudd and Max Miller have discovered a way to summon up the armies of Satan with British comedy variety acts. The rest of the plot would be a line-by-line plagiarism of Night of the Demon, only with a monster slightly more sinister and menacing than a cold cup of tea.
BBC Wales stepped in and pointed out that not only that a story about a devil worshipping priest contravened their new editorial guidelines allowing to warn Big Finish writers away from such subjects that the family viewing triumph TV show could have them all to themselves... but also, Ross’ idea was complete shit to start with.
Luckily, Ross’ self-proclaimed status as an expert on British comedy came to his aide and, after three days hard thought, was able to come up with a British comedian to oppose the Doctor in the form of Benny Hill and, after another day, decided to pit him against the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn, just like his last play because... well, because Ross is one hell of an original guy.
If there was any doubt that there is a difference between KNOWING about comedy and being GOOD at comedy, Ross was about to prove it with extra dollops of tedious dialogue, not one but thirteen massive anti-climaxes padding out a meandering plot littered with self-indulgent references to the author’s prior and not-quite-so-shithouse work.
New script editor Alan Barnes was more concerned by the fact every single fan was having something of a crisis of confidence in Big Finish
recently, to the point more people were seriously considering dropping the range than those that had been regularly buying every release since they started back with The Tarrants Of Time.
Barnes was the only one who seemed to realize that Big Finish were under pressure like never before to justify their existence and a story like Seaside Suicide with its sheer perplexing mediocrity was the worst sort of release to try and rekindle faith in the audio dramas.
In a desperate, last-bid effort, Barnes decided to claim that that the story was actually by a new writer called RUPERT Ross, and thus hope maybe Seaside Suicide could be fobbed off as a failed experiment and not another harbinger of fatal doom.
In an unusual move, it was decided that Doug Bradley play the late great Benny Hill. Unusual in that Bradley was better known for sticking spikes in his skull, donning a robe and slaughtering people as Chief Cenobite Pinhead in the Hellraiser film franchise.
Russell later admitted it was cruel and wasteful to use Bradley in pointless garbage like this, and immediately decided to commission a proper story pitting Pinhead against the Eighth Doctor, which would surely enough up more popular and well-loved than Seaside Suicide.
Russell fulfilled his promise... but only just.
Seaside Suicide boasts setting steeped in mythical status... all helpless possessed villagers and dark skies juxtaposed against the cheery British scenery of a seaside backdrop... the seaside got such potential for sinister goings on!
It's marinated in history, history conjures up memories and memories can often be VERY sinister indeed! This very story is the cumulative power of unhappy memories – for, in truth, it IS an unhappy memory, and one I plan to destroy with a tequila slammer!