Showing posts with label Malcolm Hulke. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Malcolm Hulke. Show all posts

Sunday, 22 April 2018

A Masterly Defence

The Doctor turned to the boatman, a Mr. Robbins, and shouted at him : "Is it in sight, yet?"

The boatman nodded and pointed with a rather dirty finger. Ho looked towards the island to which they were heading, and now, as they rounded a headland, she could see a very large isolated house, something on the lines of a French château. "That's where they've got him," Robbins shouted. "It's a disgrace, if you ask me."

"Not large enough?" said The Doctor, trying to make a joke.

Robbins shook his head, taking The Doctor seriously.

"If you ask me," he shouted, "if you really wants my opinion, as an ordinary man in the street, as a taxpayer, that's got to pay for all the guards and everthing, I'll tell you what they should have done." He drew a finger swiftly across his throat. "That's what he deserved."

Mr. Robbins, the boatman, was expressing a widely-held view as to what should have happened to The Master. It was not without reason. Through Doctor Who, Jo had known about The Master for some time, She had been with The Doctor, a thousand years into The Future and on another planet, when The Master had tried to take control of the Doomsday Weapon in his quest for universal power. 

More recently The Master had brought himself directly to the attention of the public on Earth by his efforts to conspire with dæmons, using psionic science to release the powers of a monster called Azal. [ See DOCTOR WHO AND THE  DÆMONS ] 

It was this that had brought about his downfall. He had been finally trapped and arrested by Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce - UNIT- and put on trial at a special Court of Justice. Although the horror of capital punishment had long been established  [abolished] in Great Britain, many people had wanted to see The Master put to death. 

To the amazement of the Brigadier, however, The Doctor had made a personal plea to the Court for The Master's life to be spared. Naturally The Doctor could not explain in public that both he and The Master were not really of this planet and that at one time both had been Time Lords. No Court would have believed him! But in his plea, The Doctor talked of The Master's better qualities - his intelligence, and his occasional wit and good humour. Jo well remembered The Doctor's final words to the Judges : 

"My Lords, I beg you to spare the prisoner's life, for by so doing you will acknowledge that there is always the possibility of redemption, and that is an important principle for us all. If we do not believe that anyone, even the worst criminal, can be saved from wickedness, then in what can we ever believe?" 

After six hours of private discussion the Judges had decided to sentence The Master to life-long imprisonment. They did not realise that in the case of a Time Lord, "life-long" might mean a thousand years!

The British authorities had then been faced with a big problem : where was The Master to be imprisoned? Birgadier Lethbridge-Stewart had then written a long letter directly to the Prime Minister, trying to explain that The Master was no ordinary prisoner. It was no good putting him in even the most top ssecurity prion. For one thing, he had the ability to hypnotise people.

Generally, hypnotists can only use their powers ovever other people who want to be hypnotised; but The Master had only to speak to a potential victim in a certain way, and - unless they were very strong minded - he had them under his spell. The Doctor had also written a long letter to the Prime Minister. he had endorsed the Brigadier's warning but then added a point of his own. When criminals, even murderers are sentenced to 'life' imprisonment, they usually only serve about ten years; this is because when a judge says 'life' he really means that the length of time in prison can be determined by the Prison Department, depending on a prisoner's good behaviour and chances of leading a good life if he is eventually released. 

But in the case of The Master, the Judges had specifically said "life-long", which meant until The Master had died of old age. The Doctor, therefore had asked the Prime Minister to use his compassion and to grant The Master very considerate treatment. 

"The Master's loss of freedom," The Doctor had written, "will be punishment enough, I suggest that in your wisdom you create a special prison for him, where he will be able to live reasonable comfort, and where he will have the opportunity to pursue his intellectual interests."

The Prime Minister had taken the advice of both the Brigadier and The Doctor. At enormous expense, a huge château on an off-shore island had been bought by the Government and turned into a top security prison - for just one prisoner. What the Prime Minister had done may have been right and proper, but it had cost taxpayers like Mr. Robbins the boatman a great deal of money. So, many people like Mr. Robbins - millions of them - had good reason to feel that The Master should have been put to death, and as quickly as possible.