Cottage Industry vs. the Spectacular Tentacular Draculas
According to Miles and Wood, Barry Letts’ eco views were very much influnced (as were many people’s) by a text called Blueprint for Survival, co-written by Edward Goldsmith (now deceased) and published in the magazine he founded, The Ecologist, in 1972. It was supported by many scientists and was subsequently released in book form to became a best-seller. Miles and Wood identify it as the real-world model for Sir Charles Grover’s Last Chance for Man in ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’. There is indeed something of Goldsmith’s politics (small-c conservative; anti-industrial society) in the fictional Grover, who is simultaneously an eco-radical and an establishment elitist who wishes to turn the clock back (literally) to a kind of enlightened feudalism. George Monbiot has described Goldsmith’s politics as “a curious mixture of radical and reactionary”, saying that he “has advocated the enforced separation of Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda and Protestants and Catholics in Ulster, on the grounds that they constitute ‘distinct ethnic groups’ and are thus culturally incapable of co-habitation”. According to Monbiot, Goldsmith
assumes that culture is a rigid, immutable thing: that different communities can live only within the boxes nature has assigned to them. Confusing, for example, Protestantism and unionism, he fails to understand the political forces which cause splits within communities and associations between them. He fails too to see the external manipulation which first defines ethnicity inflexibly, then drives the newly separated peoples to fight.
Now, I’m not attributing similar views to Barry Letts or Robert Sloman. However, there is something of Goldsmith’s hankerings for the regional and the anti-industrial in ‘The Green Death’. The very separateness of Wales and the Welsh tells us something. The resolutely English characters – even the Doctor is English really, and this has never been plainer than in ‘Green Death’ – become strangers in a strange land.
Making the workers Welsh seems like a way of quaintifying them, since quaintness was the deadly stigma that mainstream British (i.e. metropolitan English) media culture foisted upon Wales… at least before substituting constant nasty jokes about shagging sheep and Splott (i.e. standard jokes based on stereotypes about rural people and working class communities). Welshness is a way of ‘othering’ them, of segregating them, of making them a separate community. The Welsh working class is depicted as a subculture within British society, rather than, say, one of the most significant layers of the majority class in the country… which Welsh mineworkers certainly were at the time.
There’s no reason for ‘The Green Death’ to take place in Wales but that Letts and Sloman want the story to centre on a mine (and going to Wales is cheaper than going further north). But why do they want the story to centre on a mine? They’re not interested in miners. It seems as though they feel the need to situate industry and industrial disputes somewhere regional, somewhere definitely apart from the ‘middle England’ that aliens are always invading in the Letts version of the late 20th century… but why give the story a backdrop of industry and industrial disputes anyway? …