Roots: Popstars, Big Brother, Animal Hospital and other reality shows, Neighbours, the DWM 283 comic strip 'TV Action!' (Beep the Meep attempts to take over people's minds via television). Beep's theme tune closely resembles 'It's a Small World', Monty Python's 'Parrot Sketch' ('I wish to register a complaint...'). Robbie McHale says of contestants Lisa and Tony 'You're both Stars in our Eyes...', Barney and Friends.
Intertextuality: This adventure is a direct sequel to the 1996 DWM Yearbook comic strip 'Star Beast II', itself a sequel to the 1980 comic strip 'The Star Beast'.
Fluffs: On seeing Beep, the Doctor says 'a very curious lodgeit...'.
Goofs: Before being interrupted, McHale says 'What are you-' to Beep as 'What are you?'
Double Entendres: 'We should all be chums and play jolly games with each other.'
'... The programme has been put on hiatus for the next eighteen months.'
The Doctor's speech at the end (was that to the television audience or to us?)
Dialogue Disasters: (a round of applause everyone) 'You won't get away with this!'
'You petted the most high Beep of all the Meeps!'
'I poached your pouch.'
Dialogue Triumphs: The psychotic Beep and Friends theme
'That's why I had to cancel you.'
'I need a medium which allows me to be-' '-louder?'
'Short of a red hot poker, I've found the most direct route from the people's eyes to their hearts.'
Continuity: Beep has been controlling Lowell using black star radiation for six months before the Doctor intervenes. Beep's starship is parked nearby. Using his hypnotic suggestion he escaped from the movie he was trapped in by breaking the dog's legs and pleading to an impressionable girl from the Wrarth Institute who watched the film, to let him out. He then killed the girl for calling him a 'snuggily-wuggily'.
Reality TV rules the television industry, with Roger Lowell's company taking the greatest audience share. Shows already screening on the network include Young Cops in Hospital, Oh Look - Cute Animals!, Hospital Street and of course Audience Shares. Beep and Friends has already been promoted in the advance television listings. The Doctor claims that there is a blue hippopotamus reading the nightly news.
Location: A TV studio, present day London, England.
Links: The Doctor compares Beep to a Speilsnape in terms of his (absence of) harmlessness ('Revelation of the Daleks').
The Bottom Line: Strangely, despite the inclusion of a psychotic furry monster, 'The Ratings War', with only two or three locations, all set inside a TV studio, could have been made for television over a wet weekend. In all it's slight and familiar, but it's free, and the real fun is at the end (the Doctor's monologue and the 'out-takes'). Toby Longworth is Beep the Meep!
"PREVIOUSLY, ON 'BEEP AND FRIENDS'..."
As identified, Beep is the self-proclaimed Most High of the Meeps, a race of peace-loving creatures whose exposure to a Black sun mutated them into a warlike race. Their enemies, the Wrarth Warriors defeated their armada at the Battle of Yarras. In 'The Star Beast' Beep's ship crashes in Blackcastle, where he runs foul of and is defeated by the Fourth Doctor and his companions Sharon and Fudge. The Meep looks forward to punishing Sharon with a Grundian Blood Nog (a threat also given to the sixth Doctor in 'The Ratings War'). Fifteen years later, Meep's ship crashes into a multiplex cinema built on Blackcastle's old steel mills. Once again the fourth Doctor defeats him, trapping him in the film For the Love of Lassie (it is from this film Beep has escaped previous to 'The Ratings War'). At the end of 'Ratings' the sixth Doctor informs Beep that the Wrarth Constabulary are standing close by. It may be from them that Beep is fleeing at the beginning of his latest DWM comic strip adventure, 'TV Action', starring the eighth Doctor, although to be honest, it's not a flawless join (Beep seems familiar with the Doctor in only his fourth incarnation for example).