Played by: Richard Franklin
Tenure 2 January 1971–8 June 1974
First appearance Terror of the Autons (regular)
Last appearance Planet of the Spiders (regular)
Last appearance Dimensions in Time (guest)
Number of series 2 1/2
Appearances 11 stories
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source TARDIS Wikia
In his childhood, Yates attended prep school before being sent to public school and joining the British Army. (The Rings of Ikiria)
Two conflicting accounts exist depicting Yates’s early UNIT career:
According to one account, Yates began as an enlisted man in UNIT. When he first met the Doctor, then in his third incarnation, Yates had just come off of what he called “clean-up duty”. He also came to see UNIT as cash-strapped. The Brigadier took Yates into his confidence and admitted neither the UN nor the UK government would give UNIT enough money for additional officers. He was forced to ask that Yates and Benton shoulder more responsibility than would typically be required of non-commissioned officers. (The Eye of the Giant)
According to another account, Yates was a local military lieutenant temporarily enlisted by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart to help him and the Doctor investigate the disappearance of two RAF fighter jets in the area. Subsequently, he was invited into UNIT on a permanent basis and promoted to captain. (Vengeance of the Stones)
During the Doctor’s early exile on Earth, Yates was tasked with combing the British countryside for signs of Auton and Silurian debris. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart assigned him to headquarters duty around the time of the investigation in the South Pacific that led UNIT into an encounter with Brokk. He established a good working relationship with Dr Liz Shaw and formed a fast friendship with Sergeant Benton. Yates was cool under fire, efficient, and both gave and carried out orders with a minimum of fuss. Despite his somewhat aristocratic demeanour, he had a good rapport with his men, although he did remind Benton on occasion that “rank has its privileges”. (Day of the Daleks) He was attracted to the Doctor’s assistant Jo Grant. (The Curse of Peladon) He accompanied the two of them to the planet Karfel. On the way, they stopped on the planet Nooma. He was killed and resurrected as one of the Dead. The Doctor was able to restore him to his original body before they left. (Speed of Flight)
The chain of events leading to Yates’s retirement from UNIT started when, while working undercover, he was hypnotised by the computer BOSS. The Doctor used the Metebelis crystal to break the mind control. (The Green Death) As a result of the hypnotism, Mike began suffering from bouts of depression, so he started to undergo a course of pathological assessment and take some compassionate leave. After returning to duty, he helped the Fifth Doctor defeat the Xaranti. (Deep Blue)
Yates’ brush with ecological disaster apparently made him very concerned about the future of the planet. He was easily recruited by Sir Charles Grover into the secret Operation Golden Age project, which would have reverted the whole of Earth to prehistoric times. The conspiracy was thwarted by the Doctor. In return for his past service to UNIT, the Brigadier allowed Yates to take medical leave and quietly resign. (Invasion of the Dinosaurs)
Mike later decided to go to a Buddhist mation centre to find solace. Here, he uncovered strange events, which he reported to Sarah Jane Smith, since he felt that UNIT would consider him untrustworthy. Sarah communicated this to the Doctor. Through it all, the Doctor still considered him an ally. (Planet of the Spiders)
REUNITING WITH THE DOCTOR
HUNT FOR THE HORNETS
At some point after his retirement from UNIT, Yates answered a magazine advertisement seeming directed specifically for him about “light household duties” leading him to a house called Nest Cottage. There he reunited with the Fourth Doctor, who told him about his encounters with the alien Hornets. He heard stories that the Doctor recited about how he faced the menacing insects. (The Stuff of Nightmares)
The Doctor used Francesca’s ballet shoes and his TARDIS’s dimensional stabiliser to shrink himself, Mike Yates and Mrs Wibbsey, to enter the hive of the Hornets. During the expion into the hive of the Hornets, Mike had become paranoid and suspicious of Mrs Wibbsey, leading to his handcuffing her, and directing her to the centre of the hive, in the brain, resulting in a confrontation with the Hornet Queen.
It was during this confrontation, the Hornet Queen revealed she had taken possession of Mike, feeding off the negative emotions he felt in his life as a result of his breakdown and his betrayal of UNIT during the Golden Age incident as a means of taking control of his mind.
It was this revelation that the Doctor realised that it must have been the control of the Hornets that forced him to put that advertisement in the magazine, using what knowledge she had taken from the Doctor’s mind. So she could draw Mike to Nest Cottage, believing him perfect to take control, since he had so many negative experiences as a result of his time with UNIT. The Doctor used the Hornet Queen’s desire for the Hornet’s royal jelly against her by filling Francesca’s ballet shoe with royal jelly, and the Queen overcome with the desire for the jelly, drank it out of the shoe. Then, using the residual energy of the Hornets in the shoe, and the sonic screwdriver‘s connection to the dimensional stabiliser to shrink the Hornet Queen so small she could only exist in the micro-universe. This weakened the Hornets and gave the Doctor the opportunity to escape, so he could increase their size again.
Allowing the Doctor to reactivate the dimensional stabiliser, so he could put a force shield around the hive to contain all the Hornets in the stuffed zebra, sending them to the other side of the universe. This gave the occupants of Nest Cottage the chance to celebrate Christmas, the following day. (Hive of Horror)
TRAPS FOR THE DOCTOR
One year following the battle with the Hornets, the Doctor returned to Nest Cottage to celebrate Christmas with Mrs Wibbsey, Mike Yates and Captain (whom the Doctor gave to Mike to look after once the Hornets had been defeated). (The Relics of Time)
While he stayed in Nest Cottage, someone stole the Doctor’s spatial geometer, leaving behind a bag with five objects as clues. The first one, a storybook with images of the Doctor and Mike in it – drew them to a cave in eastern Europe, where he met a story teller, Albert Tiermann on his way to tell his stories to the king. But the materialisation of his TARDIS caused a blockage in the road on his route to the king. They were all forced to remain in a near by hotel owned by Frau Herz until the morning. Albert had discovered the Doctor’s copy of Albert’s storybook, containing stories he hadn’t written yet. Since he was suffering from mental block, and had to tell a new story to the king on pain of death, he had a desire to obtain the book.
That night, an Ice Queen whom Albert had previously met in his childhood visited him, and further persuaded him to take the storybook.
The following morning, Albert’s coachman had been killed, and in an attempt to take Frau Herz hostage, the Ice Queen killed Hans, Albert’s footman. The Doctor pursued the Ice Queen to a cave nearby, full of dead husks drained of their life force, where Albert revealed that all his stories were created for him by the Ice Queen, in her elaborate plan to lure the Doctor here. The Ice Queen returned to the hotel, and threatened to kill Mike. It was now revealed that the hotel was really the dematerialisation chamber, and was in disguise for 40 years, unbeknownst to Frau, all for this moment. Direct threats from the Ice Queen to Mike did not hold the Doctor, so he tricked the Ice Queen into believing he was going to accompany her, allowing Mike, Albert and Frau to escape. Then, at the last minute, the Doctor escaped, leaving the Ice Queen empty-handed. But Mike had discovered more of the spatial geometer in the draws of the hotel.
The Doctor deposited Albert and Frau near the king’s palace, and allowed Albert to keep the storybook, and used it to write his stories in the future. (A Shard of Ice)
The Doctor ran into a trap in New York City in 1976. A meteorite landed in Central Park and bestowed super-powers to local resident Alice Trefusis. The Doctor investigated the comic book cover showing the event. When the Doctor, Mike and Mrs Wibbsey arrived, Alice was with Buddy, Alice’s boyfriend. As soon as the Doctor arrived, he felt weak and drained of energy. Mrs Wibbsey and Buddy had taken a now unconcious Alice to the ageing film star Mimsy Loyne‘s apartment. Alice began to use her superpowers to combat crime and stop accidents, using the alias “Starfall.”
While this was going on, Mike and the Doctor came upon a used dead body drained of energy, similar to the dead bodies from previous time zones. It was at the scene, where police arrested the Doctor and Mike, believing them to be involved in the death. However, while in prison, Alice rescued the Doctor and Mike, taking them to Mimsy’s apartment. Buddy and Mrs Wibbsey then found a cult working in the apartment block, chanting around the final piece of the spatial geometer. This was used to create a telepath debilitator to confuse the Doctor, causing his weakness. Mimsy captured the Doctor, but was foiled when Alice broke up the chanting cultists necessary for the debilitator. During the confrontation with Mimsy, the Doctor took the remaining spatial geometer component. In frustration, Mimsy kidnapped Mrs Wibbsey, outright. The Doctor informed Alice that her powers would fade, but Buddy still had inspiration for his new comic book story. (Starfall)
Following the last item – a golden heart pendant – the Doctor and Mike went straight to Sepulchre, which took the form of a stately home, where they found Mrs Wibbsey, who had been there for three weeks and seemed to be possessed by some intelligence. The Doctor brought the telephone from Nest Cottage, and listened to a voicemail left by Ernetina Stott, regarding the burning down of the Cromer Palace of Curios museum.
While they were exploring, the Doctor, Mike and Mrs Wibbsey found that their host, the Demon, no longer needing any disguises, sprang the trap on the Doctor, and transported them all to a dark cavern, using a mysterious green flame. He revealed he was actually working for Mrs Wibbsey, or rather, the Hornets that had regenerated inside of her, who had been present within her since their last encounter with them.
The Demon locked the Doctor in a sarcophagus, and started the process to extract all of knowledge of space and time from the Doctor’s mind, using it to create the Atlas of All Time for the Hornets. Therefore, they could use it to locate their Hornet Queen.
A quick turnabout by Mike Yates set Mrs Wibbsey in the sarcophagus instead, and the Atlas was reshaped only to contain Mrs Wibbsey’s knowledge of time. The Doctor convinced the Demon to cooperate with him, and they reconfigured the sacrophagus’ functions to transport anyone in it, to anywhere in the Atlas.
Therefore, using what little remained of the Atlas, the Doctor transported the sacrophagus and the Hornets to the Cromer Palace of Curios, where it caused the museum to burn down with a green flame, quickly destroying the Hornets. However, the Doctor was able to rescue Mrs Wibbsey, but with the loss of the Hornet, it caused the destruction of the Atlas and Sepulchre. The Doctor, Mike, and Mrs Wibbsey escaped in one direction, using the TARDIS to go to Nest Cottage, and the Demon escaped in another direction, free to roam the universe.
While the Doctor, Mike and Mrs Wibbsey tried to celebrate a second Christmas at Nest Cottage, someone knocked on the door, and Mrs Wibbsey screamed as the unknown visitor tried to break in. (Sepulchre)
Though as a young man his life he presented himself as straight and very “laddish”, (The Devil Goblins from Neptune) he later realised his attraction to men. This is not necessarily inconsistent, as they portray different periods of his life. By 1976 he had, however, entered into a relationship with another man. (No Future)
BEHIND THE SCENES
- Richard Franklin wrote a play featuring Franklin both as himself and as Yates (alongside Benton) called Recall UNIT: The Great Tea-Bag Mystery. He also wrote an unpublished novel featuring Mike Yates, The Killing Stone, set after the events of Planet of the Spiders. It was released as an audio book, read by Franklin, by BBV in 2002. It is unknown if the characters used were licenced by the BBC.
- More recently, a “guest book” entry on the tie-in website “Who is Doctor Who?”created by the BBC for the 2005 series saying how the Doctor changed his life (not necessarily for the better) is signed by a “Mr Yates”, a possible reference to the character. In it, he warns off those investigating him, stating, “I think it might be in your best interest to not concern yourself with the Doctor or his doings. He is not the man you think he is and he is not involved in the manner you think he is. I should know, he changed my life completely. The Doctor is protected by friends in high places. “
- While his romantic life was unexplored in the TV series, though Curse of Peladon part 1 implies that he was going to go out on a date with Jo before The Doctor took her to Peladon. spin-off media portraying his later life identified him as either gay or bisexual; depending on one’s perspective of canon, this could make Yates the show’s first LGBT character.
- Franklin reprised the role of Yates for a series of five BBC Audio dramas under the umbrella title Hornets’ Nest which were released during the second half of 2009, alongside Tom Baker. He continued this performance in the two sequel series Demon Quest (2010) and Serpent Crest (2011).
- Mike Yates appeared once more on TV in Dimensions in Time
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