TV Cream

Films: D is for...


Tigon’s film adaptation of Gerry ‘Cybermen’ Davis’s top flight BBC series profiling the trials and tribulations of government-appointed environmental watchdog, the Department of Observation and Measurement of Scientific Work. Sadly it’s now chiefly remembered, if at all, via oft-shown clips of dodgy special effects such as a chicken with a false rubber ‘human’ face and the infamous stuffed-rat-and-frying-pan scene from Tomorrow The Rat, bookended by a silently chuckling Clive James. Which is a shame, as on its day it was good, downbeat sci-fi/horror/”British gothic” of the sort no-one’s really doing anymore (OK, so Channel 5 did try and revive Doomwatch with a one-off TV special with Trevor Eve a few years back, but best not to mention that). In this story, partially culled from lost early episode Burial at Sea, chemical waste from a sunken tanker off the Cornish cost causes acromegaly (a genuine hormonal growth disorder – they did their research, did the ‘Watch boys) in locals living off locally-caught fish. Regular department heads, the Benny Hill-alike John ‘Swallows and Amazons’ Paul and the slightly more dashing Simon ‘Terrornauts’ Oates (He no stodgy old prof! He wear a cravat!), are augmented by semi-regular Jean ‘Dominic Hyde’ Trend and newcomer Ian ‘Spooner’s Patch’ Bannen. Robert Powell’s out (well, he did get blown up at the end of the first series), and, alas, John ‘CJ’ Barron’s meddling minister has also been chopped, though George ‘Psychomania’ Sanders provides a bluff naval foil to the intrepid watchdogs in his stead. Hardly a classic, but not bad of its kind, all told. We could have done with more of the Doomwatch supercomputer, mind. Also with Judy ‘Star Maidens’ Geeson, Shelagh ‘Aunt Beru’ Fraser, George ‘Inigo Pipkin’ Woodbridge and Pam St. Clement.

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