Volcanos ahoy!


Lanzarote? You can’t start bandying words around like Lanzarote, without getting Whovian hearts palpitating. Lanzarote? Lanzarote? Spoilerphobes beware, if you don’t wish to read about Lanzarote and it’s significance right now, then look away sharpish. 

You’re still here? Capaldi, Coleman and co. are currently filming on the Spanish island. But why are our poor hearts beating so? A tourist site www.lanzaroteinformation.com makes things a little clearer. Yes, they confirm that the Who crew is indeed filming there and they do remind us of a previous story “Planet of Fire” also filmed on the island. But then what do they do? They go and mention something else from the depths of Whovian lore – “that bikini scene”. I think we all need to sit down.

The Fifth’s Doctor’s penultimate adventure was shot in Lanzarote and the tale’s title goes some way to describe how “hot” the story was. Maybe we need a little context. Producer John Nathan Turner was a devil for wooing the press. As I mentioned in my last post, he wasn’t averse to a little bit of stunt-casting to get Who on the front pages but this time he had another trick up his sleeve. In the previous season he had decided to dress female companions Tegan and Nyssa in somewhat skimpier costumes, in order to please the dads at home and of course notch up some more headlines in the papers. 

In “Planet of Fire” JNT moved things up a gear and decided quite literally to make a splash by introducing new companion Peri to an unwitting public, having her jump into the sea in the teensiest of pink bikinis. We can hardly accuse him of sexism, as he kitted out departing male companion Turlough in some pretty tight-fitting gear as well. Not to mention dressing up Davison as James Bond for a press call.  And that is why some Classic Whovians are enjoying a certain sense of nostalgia for this 1984 tale, hoping their aging hearts don’t pack in.  


“Planet of Fire”, scripted by Peter Grimwade, isn’t much to write home about, even on a postcard bearing a scantily clad companion. Despite the exotic location, it’s debatably a bit dull. It does however have a few things going for it. It’s nice to see Davison demob happy. Anthony Ainley’s Master makes a dramatic return with some intriguing parting lines at the end of the story. That most unsuccessful of robotic companions, Kamelion, no match for K9 or Handles, is sent to the scrapyard at last. At the beginning of the tale we see Davison for once with a sole male companion. Finally it is a sight to behold seeing Turlough spitting out those lines “You’re finished, Kamelion!” and provoking the android’s pathetic lament.

Yet “Planet of Fire” isn’t the only Who adventure to feature a volcano. There are plenty of other choice “volcanic moments” in the series. 

The Daleks triggered a volcanic eruption in Bedfordshire UK when they mined to the Earth’s core in the first Doctor adventure “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”.

There was an individual episode title of “The Dalek Master Plan” called “Volcano”.

In the recently discovered story “The Enemy of the World” Salamander sets off volcanos as part of his evil scheme to take over the world.

The Tardis is buried by lava on the planet Dulkis in “The Dominators”  

In “Inferno” we learn that the Doctor witnessed the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. This is also referred to in the first episode of Nu-Who “Rose”.

In “The Twin Dilemma” the Sixth Doctor describes regeneration as a “swift, but volcanic experience”.

In the “The Fires of Pompeii” Caecilius, as played by Peter Capaldi himself, coins the very word “volcano” after witnessing Vesuvius erupt (see below)


But let’s get back to Lanzarote. Who knows what adventures the Doctor and Clara will have there. The presence of a volcano does raise the question whether the new Twelfth Doctor might be making a return to Vesuvius and meet his lookalike Caecilius. Will Peri and Turlough make a surprise return? And will Kamelion crank back into life?

But hey! In the wait for Season 8 why not take a nostalgic trip back to 1984 and rewatch “Planet of Fire”? Enjoy one of the Fifth Doctor’s final tales, say ‘ta ta’ to Turlough and at the same time study the contours of Lanzarote, be they volcanic or otherwise!




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