|Doctor Who character|
|First appearance||The King’s Demons|
|Last appearance||Planet of Fire
The Caves of Androzani (cameo)
|Portrayed by||Gerald Flood (voice)|
Kamelion is a fictional character from the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. A shape-changing android voiced by Gerald Flood in its default form, it is a companion of the Fifth Doctor and appears in the television series in two serials between 1983 and 1984.
When first encountered by the Doctor in England, Earth, 1215 A.D. The King’s Demons, Kamelion is a tool of the renegade Time Lord known as the Master, who is forcing Kamelion to pose as King John. At the conclusion of the Master’s previous encounter with the Doctor, he was trapped on the planet Xeriphas. When the Master returns, he has Kamelion with him, calling it a souvenir he had picked up from there. Although Kamelion is sentient to a degree, it is also extremely weak-willed, and therefore open to manipulation by any strong personalities around it. The Doctor frees Kamelion from the Master’s grip, and it joins the Doctor in the TARDIS (much to Tegan’s disapproval). Here it presumably spends all the intervening time between its two full appearances, out of sight and mind – notably no reference is even made to the character on-screen otherwise.
Kamelion eventually falls under the Master’s influence again in the serial Planet of Fire. Kamelion finally begs the Doctor to destroy it, and the Doctor uses the Master’s tissue compression eliminator (T.C.E) on him, shrinking him and destroying him, the last that is seen of Kamelion is the doll sized robot shell lying on the floor, with wires hanging out of its shoulder. The Kamelion robot’s last appearance is as one of the images of his companions that comes to the Fifth Doctor during his regeneration scene in The Caves of Androzani.
Behind the scenes
When Kamelion changed shape, it was played by the actor whose character’s form it took. However, when in its default form, it was a true computer-controlled robot prop. The reason why the Kamelion robot was used fully only in two serials was that it was very difficult for the Doctor Who production team to control. It malfunctioned frequently, and things were only made worse when its inventor, Mike Power, died in a boating accident without leaving behind the knowledge of the complex codes that controlled it. A third appearance by the character in the serial The Awakening, designed to bridge the gap between its appearances and to remind viewers of its existence and the fact that it had been ‘hiding’ all this time somewhere in the TARDIS, was cut for timing reasons and was never broadcast. Thought lost forever, this scene was eventually recovered on a video copy of an early edit of The Awakening episode one, in the personal archive of the late Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner. Presented to the Doctor Who Restoration Team, it was included in the documentary Kamelion: Metal Man featured on the DVD release of The King’s Demons.
Kamelion is also featured in the spin-off novels The Crystal Bucephalus by Craig Hinton, Imperial Moon and The Ultimate Treasure both by Christopher Bulis. In The Crystal Bucephalus its absence from the televised stories is here explained by saying that it remains secreted deep in the TARDIS for fear of being taken over by a stronger personality and used against the Doctor. Although the Doctor and Turlough request its aid while visiting a lunar park in Imperial Moon, the park’s force-field interferes with Kamelion’s operating systems, forcing it to remain in the TARDIS until the field was shut down. In The Ultimate Treasure, it is stated that Kamelion is the product of a race known as the Gelsandorans. Some of Kamelion’s personality survives due to interfacing with the TARDIS, and the Gelsandorans give it a new body only for it to sacrifice itself to save the Doctor and Peri. A remnant of the interface resurfaces in the Virgin New Adventures novel Christmas on a Rational Planet.
Kamelion also features in several short stories set in the Doctor Who universe, notably “One Perfect Twilight” by Craig Hinton (Perfect Timing and Shelf Life), where the Doctor realises that obedience and slavery are built into Kamelion’s makeup, and “The Reproductive Cycle” by Matthew Griffiths (Short Trips: Life Sciences). In the latter story, the “child” of Kamelion and the TARDIS, who becomes a double of Peri, takes her place on Earth while the real Peri travels with the Doctor.
Kamelion made a surprise appearance in the Big Finish audio story Circular Time. A final trap set by The Master was set to trigger when the Fifth Doctor regenerated. Kamelion’s mental link to the Doctor still existed, and the Master- also linked to Kamelion- was used to persuade him to not regenerate. A false life as a normal human was created within the Doctor’s mind, and Kamelion watched over him as his wife (voiced by Sunny Ormonde). Kamelion ultimately went against his orders and confessed the plan when former companion Nyssa was able to make telepathic contact with the Doctor- who was reaching out to his old companions-, allowing the Doctor to change and live.
The “Curse of Kamelion”
In their tongue-in-cheek reference book Doctor Who: The Completely Useless Encyclopedia (1996), Chris Howarth and Steve Lyons write that “An examination of Kamelion’s history reveals the possible existence of a curse of Poltergeist proportions. Both Terence Dudley and Peter Grimwade, who scripted the robot companion’s appearances, have died. So too have Kamelion’s human alter-egos, Gerald Flood and Dallas Adams, who played his ‘Howard Foster’ form for most of ‘Planet of Fire’. To say nothing of Kamelion’s software designer, Mike Power, who was killed shortly after the decision was taken to include the robot in the series. Eric Pringle should thank his lucky stars that a Kamelion sequence was edited out of ‘The Awakening’ and Missing Adventure scribe Craig Hinton should start worrying.” Hinton – who penned the Missing Adventure The Crystal Bucephalus, which featured Kamelion prominently – later died of a heart attack, at the age of 42, in 2006.
- Season 20
- Season 21
- The Awakening – scenes edited from original transmission.
- Planet of Fire
- The Caves of Androzani – illusion in episode 4
- Nathan-Turner, John (1986). Doctor Who – The Companions. New York: Random House. pp. 18–21. ISBN 0-394-88291-1.
- Howe, David J; (1995). Doctor Who – Companions. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 103. ISBN 1-85227-582-0.
- “Doctor Who – Classic Series – Companions – Kamelion”. BBC. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
- Chris Howarth & Steve Lyons, Doctor Who: The Completely Useless Encyclopedia (Virgin Publishing Ltd, 1996) p.95
- Davidson, Kenny; Paul Hayes; Arnold T. Blumberg (2006-12-03). “Author Craig Hinton Dies”. Outpost Gallifrey News Page. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
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