Like much of the Seventh Doctor's first series on television, Delta and the Bannermen isn't considered Doctor Who's finest story. Its mention usually comes with mirth and embarrassment. Now I quite like Delta but I think it is because it is one of those stories which is so bad its good.
Unfortunately at first glance, Delta has little going for it. The direction from Chris Clough is shoddy, Malcolm Kohll's script is juvenile and is constantly unsure whether it wants to be some gritty sci-fi or casual romp. It is stuffed full of unneeded characters like those two American agents and a tone that bounces around quicker than a ball on a caffeine hit. At one moment we go from the sight of a massacre to a chase sequence with comedy music playing in the background.
Even the villains of the piece, Gavrok and his Bannermen, who look like the love children of Duran Duran and a Gary Newman album cover, are a dreary mess who will make you wish for the days of the Nimon! It would be easy to settle for a story featuring the Mandrels over them.
The acting is very ropey but there should be a special mention to actors David Kinder and Belinda Mayne who should be awarded for the most wooden actors in Doctor Who history. There have been some abysmal performances before but these two seem to take that to another level.
Luckily though, Sara Griffiths is on hand as the adorable Ray, a welsh woman from 1959 who might have been destined to be the next companion had they not chosen Sophie Aldred as Ace instead. Either Ace or Ray would have fit perfectly into the following seasons and it would have been interesting to see what she have been like instead. Maybe Big Finish could do something with her in the future. She was even mention in the audio adventure Gods and Monsters when Fenric tells the Doctor it was a tossup between Ace and a sweet little welsh motorcyclist as to who would become his companion. Lets not forget it was Fenric who put Ace on the TARDIS in the first place. Had the producers come up with that storyline instead, it is very probable it would have been Ray instead of Ace in the clutches of the ancient evil.
Surprisingly though, even Ken Dodd isn't that bad in this. Compared to Kinder and Mayne he feels like Paul Newman!
Following on from Paradise Towers, Sylvester McCoy is beginning to find his niche as the Doctor. He has light hearted moments and some increasingly darker ones, hinting at the universal chess player he would become later. Bonnie Langford suffers in this story though, mainly because she is sidelined in favour of Ray, she gets a couple of moments to shine but nothing to write home. Sadly or luckily, depending on where you stand with her character, she was to leave in the next story Dragonfire...