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Tom Baker
The Creature from the Pit
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Synopsis


Arriving on Chloris
Arriving on Chloris
 On the planet Chloris, metal is scarce. Without metal to make the tools needed to keep the jungle under control, lush plant life dominates. The Lady Adrasta controls the planet's very last metal mine, holding on to power through the Huntsmen and the Wolfweeds.

 Making a forced landing on Chloris, The Doctor, Romana and K9 soon find themselves caught up in dangerous events...

 The Doctor is captured by the power-hungry Lady Adrasta, who needs his scientific skills. Romana is taken prisoner by rebel bandits, looking for ways of getting their hands on Adrasta's wealth. K9 is made of metal - a valuable commodity indeed...

Source: BBC VHS Video


General Information

Season: Seventeen
Production Code: 5G
Story Number: 106
Episode Numbers:514 - 517
Number of Episodes: 4
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Working Titles:"The Creature in the Pit"
Production Dates: March - April 1979
Broadcast Started: 27 October 1979
Broadcast Finished: 17 November 1979
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: Ealing Television Film Studios, The Visual Effects Workshop and BBC Television Centre (TC6)
Location: None
Writer:David Fisher
Director:Christopher Barry
Producer:Graham Williams
Script Editor:Douglas Adams
Editor:M A C Adams
Production Assistant:Romey Allison
Production Unit Manager:John Nathan-Turner
Assistant Floor Managers:David Tilley and Kate Osborne
Designer:Valerie Warrender
Costume Designer:June Hudson
Make-Up Designer:Gillian Thomas
Cameraman:David Feig
Incidental Music:Dudley Simpson
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:Anthony Philpott
Lighting:Warwick Fielding
Visual Effects:Mat Irvine
Title Sequence:Bernard Lodge
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Delia Derbyshire
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 2The Companions: Lalla Ward (Romana 2) and David Brierley (voice only) (K9 Mk II) Additional Cast: Myra Frances (Lady Adrasta), Eileen Way (Karela), Geoffrey Bayldon (Organon), John Bryans (Torvin), Edward Kelsey (Edu), Tim Munro (Ainu), David Telfer (Huntsman), Morris Barry (Tollund), Terry Walsh (Doran), Tommy Wright (Guardmaster), Philip Denyer (Guard), Dave Redgrave (Guard)Setting: Planet Chloris Villain:Lady Adrasta

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
514Part 127 October 197923'32"9.3PAL 2" colour videotape
515Part 203 November 197924'03"10.8PAL 2" colour videotape
516Part 310 November 197923'55"10.2PAL 2" colour videotape
517Part 417 November 197924'07"9.6PAL 2" colour videotape

Total Duration 1 Hour 36 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 10.0
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)57.62%  (Position = 132 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)53.86% Lower (Position = 184 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)57.88% Higher (Position = 211 out of 241)


Archives


 All four episodes exist as PAL 2" colour videotapes.



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Notes


"The Creature from the Pit" was recorded entirely in studio and was the first story to be recorded for Season Seventeen, although it was transmitted third. This technically makes it the first story to feature Lalla Ward as Romana, replacing Mary Tamm, and to have David Brierly providing the voice for K9, replacing John Leeson.

Being the first story of the season to be recorded, but not the first to be transmitted, Lalla Ward’s performance and manner of dress as Romana is somewhat different than that seen in the previously broadcast stories, since she was still working out her character at the time.

This story was directed by Christopher Barry whose last Doctor Who credit had been on the 1976 story "The Brain of Morbius". Christopher Barry is one of the longest-serving contributors in Doctor Who history, though this story would be his last contribution to the show. He went on to helm episodes of All Creatures Great And Small, Juliet Bravo and The Tripods. Christopher Barry was largely retired by the late Eighties, although he did agree to direct the video spin-off "Downtime", made by Reeltime Pictures in 1995.

It has been reported that David Brierley reluctantly agreed to take the job of providing the voice of K9. He had mostly worked in theatre, but had also earned credits on radio and television, including Coronation Street and Armchair Theatre. He was not keen to voice K9, but was convinced to accept the role by Christopher Barry, who was a longtime friend of his. David Brierley would only voice K9 during this season as John Leeson, the original voice of K9, would return to this role in Season Eighteen.

Eileen Way, who had appeared as Old Mother in the very first Doctor Who story, the 1963 First Doctor story "An Unearthly Child", appears here as Lady Adrasta’s assistant Karela.

Geoffrey Bayldon, who played Organon, is better known playing the part of Catweazle in the LWT series of the same name and as the Crowman in Southern’s Worzel Gummidge - which stared Jon Pertwee. Geoffrey Bayldon had been a candidate on previous occasions for the role of The Doctor, and later voiced an alternate version of The Doctor in the Big Finish Productions Doctor Who Unbound audio stories "Auld Mortality" and "A Storm of Angels" written by Marc Platt.

This was his final appearance in the show for Terry Walsh, who played Doran in Part One. Since 1966, Terry Walsh had appeared in various roles - including the Fight Arranger and the stunt double for both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

Former Doctor Who director Morris Barry played the small part of Adrasta’s engineer Tollund in the first episode. Morris Barry had helmed three stories in the Sixties most recent of which was the 1968 Second Doctor story "The Dominators".

Both Christopher Barry and visual effects designer Mat Irvine became concerned about the feasibility of the enormous Erato; another colossal Doctor Who monster, the giant squid Kroll, had been a notable failure in the previous year’s "Power of Kroll". During recording however, when the Erato costume arrived, a new problem was identified - the monster was unmistakeably phallic and so a hasty redressing was in order.

The Doctor finally discovers that Erato is an ambassador from the planet Tythonus, a more advanced world rich in metal, but which is rapidly depleting its vegetation. Tythonians consume chlorophyll and mineral salts, and Erato has been ‘starved’ for 15 years. Their life span is anything up to 40,000 years. Erato travelled to Chloris in a starship that was actually a woven ‘egg’ of living metal. They can only communicate via a pentagonal device which allows them to utilise another creature’s larynx. Erato measures time in ‘ninods’ of which 26 of them equals one hour and seven minutes.

The Doctor uses as stethoscope to listen to the metal egg. The Tenth Doctor is also known to have used a stethoscope when investigating strange goings-on.

It is revealed that Chloris is a primitive planet rich in plant life, but with little metal. Lady Adrasta has a monopoly on metal, although it seems that she does not rule the whole planet as Organon mentions being at the court of other rulers on the planet.

In David Fisher’s original script, Lady Adrasta was Queen Adastra, whose name meant ‘to the stars’ in Latin. Her name was changed by Douglas Adams.

At the beginning of this story The Doctor and K9 are seen reading "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" by the famous children’s author Beatrix Potter.

The Doctor is heard to jokingly claim that Time Lords have ninety lives (and that he has used one hundred and thirty of his).

The Doctor is heard to say that his lucky number is 74,384,338.

The Doctor claims a ball of string Romana finds in the TARDIS helped Theseus and Ariadne out of the Minotaur’s maze.

It is revealed that the TARDIS can generate an external gravity tractor beam, which it is also revealed hasn’t been used for 12 years. The BBC Books’ The Eighth Doctor Stories novel "The Taking of Planet 5" features a vague reference to this story, regarding the use of this tractor beam.

Although The Doctor’s solution to the problem of the neutron star, weaving a shell of aluminium around it, has been criticised by many fans as silly, the idea was, it seems, proposed to David Fisher by members of the Cambridge University Institute of Astronomy.

This story is one of few that does not challenge The Doctor to decide the fate of the Earth or the universe. In this story the events concern just the politics of a single planet.

A clip of this story was used in the documentary "Synth Britannia" which was first broadcast on BBC 4 on the 16th October 2009.

The audiobook, read by Tom Baker, of the Target novelisation of this story, which was released by the BBC in April 2008, was broadcast, in seven parts, on BBC Radio 7 in April and May 2010.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first story to feature K9 voiced by David Brierly.

 The first story to be recorded for Season Seventeen.

 The first time where the TARDIS is seen to use a tractor beam.


The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 The last Doctor Who story to be directed by Christopher Barry.

 The final appearance in the show for Terry Walsh.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
Inside the TARDIS
Inside the TARDIS

While searching through a cupboard Romana discovers a Mark III Emergency Transceiver which, when placed into the TARDIS console, picks up a distress call. To investigate this distress call the TARDIS takes The Doctor, Romana and K9 to the planet Chloris.

On leaving the TARDIS they discover that Chloris is a lush and verdant world but has a chronic shortage of all metals so making it rare and prized commodity. This has resulted in a band of scruffy thieves, led by Torvin, organising raids on the palace of the planet’s ruler, the icy and callous Lady Adrasta, to steal whatever metal they can get their hands on. Lady Adrasta however, controls the planet’s very last metal mine and keeps order, with the aid of her Huntsman and his wolfweeds - mobile balls of vegetation -, so that she can retain full control over the planet’s limited supply of metal.

The Doctor identifies the distress signal’s source as a large eggshell-like structure in the forest at the Place of Death, but before he can investigate further he is captured and taken by Lady Adrasta’s guards. He is taken to her throne room where he discovers it contains an array of metal items including a shield patterned in the same way as the remnants of the shell. He soon finds himself sentenced to be thrown into a deep Pit - a fate that befalls all who oppose Lady Adrasta.

The Doctor and K9
The Doctor and K9

Meanwhile Romana finds herself captured by a party of scavengers, ever keen to find and hoard more metal, and they are particularly impressed by the possibilities of K9 who comes to Romana’s rescue when he is summoned from the TARDIS. K9 though enables Romana to escape and they are both briefly reunited with The Doctor.

Romana is shocked, however, when The Doctor, in order to escape from Lady Adrasta and her guards, jumps into the Pit. As he falls into the darkness he manages to cling to its sides so allowing him to make his way safely to the bottom.

Lady Adrasta
Lady Adrasta

At the bottom he discovers that he is at the entrance to a cave system. While searching the tunnels The Doctor he meets Organon and elderly soothsayer. Organon was formally Lady Adrasta’s astrologer, who fell foul of Lady Adrasta when his predictions did not come true – and so found himself also thrown into the pit.

The Doctor also discovers that the Pit is the home to a very large green globular creature which oozes through the passages and suffocates those who are fed to it. The Doctor, with the aid of the Organon discovers that the creature is not an unthinking killer, but an ambassador from the planet Tythonus.

Tythonus has a lack of chlorophyll but has abundance of metal and so the Tythonians had hoped to trade with Chloris but unfortunately the first person their ambassador Erato encountered on arriving, in his eggshell-like ship, was Lady Adrasta who took his communicator device and trapped him in the Pit. She did this when she realised that if more metal was brought to her planet then her monopoly on it would be broken.

Organon
Organon

On discovering the truth The Doctor lures Lady Adrasta into the tunnels. But Lady Adrasta is trapped and killed by Erato. The bandits, who were robbing Lady Adrasta’s palace while she was otherwise occupied, come across Erato’s communicator. However, as soon as they touch the communicator it exerts an influence over them and they are compelled to carry it to the Tythonian.

Reunited with his communication device Erato warns The Doctor that his own people have already retaliated for his imprisonment by setting a neutron star on a collision course for Chloris. And it is due to collide within the next twenty-four hours.

Working against the odds, to prevent Chloris from being destroyed, The Doctor arranges for Erato to be freed from the Pit and using the TARDIS, they travel into space to intercept the approaching neutron star. Then Erato, using his reconstituted spacecraft, spins an aluminium shell around the star, allowing it to be pulled off course by the TARDIS’s gravitational tractor beam. Thus neutralise the danger and so saving Chloris.

Back on Chloris, The Doctor’s last act before leaving is to arrange for a mutually beneficial trade agreement to be put in place between Chloris and the Tythonians.

 
Romana Is Captured
Romana Is Captured
The Doctor in the Stocks
The Doctor in the Stocks
Romana
Romana
K9 Kills a Wolfweed
K9 Kills a Wolfweed
 
Lady Adrasta and The Doctor
Lady Adrasta and The Doctor
The Doctor Meets Erato
The Doctor Meets Erato
Discovering the Truth
Discovering the Truth
The Communicator
The Communicator




Quote of the Story


 'Did she put the welfare of her struggling people above her own petty power? No... She tipped the ambassador into a pit and threw astrologers at him!'

The Doctor



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
VHS
The Tom Baker YearsSeptember 1992BBCV 4839PhotoClip only Introduced and commented on by Tom Baker Double cassette release
Video
VHS
The Creature from the PitJuly 2002BBCV 7133Photo-montage
Video
DVD
The Creature from the PitMay 2010BBCDVD 2849Photo-montage
Video
Blu-Ray
Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 17 (Limited Edition)Due: December 2021Photo-montageBlu-Ray Limited Edition boxed set containing 5 specially restored stories and an updated version of "Shada" with enhanced animation


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Creature from the PitJanuary 1981Target No. 11David FisherSteve KyteISBN: 0-426-20123-X
CD
CD
Doctor Who and the Creature from the PitApril 2008Target No. 11David FisherSteve KyteAudio version of the Target Novel read by Tom Baker.
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 41 (Released: January 1993)
Doctor Who WeeklyIssue 34 (Released: June 1980)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 304 (Released: May 2001)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 366 (Released: March 2006)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArticleIssue 541 (Released: September 2019)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 544 (Released: December 2019)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 149 (Released: September 2014)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions

 
Tom Baker
The Fourth Doctor

   

Lalla Ward
Romana 2
 
David Brierley (voice only)
K9 Mk II
   




On Release

Tom Baker Years VHS Video Cover
Tom Baker Years VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
VHS Video Cover
VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
DVD Box Set
DVD Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
   


In Print

Target Book Cover
Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
 
Target Audio CD Cover
Target Audio CD Cover

BBC
CD
   


Magazines

Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 41
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 41

CMS
Doctor Who Weekly: Issue 34
Doctor Who Weekly: Issue 34

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 304
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 304

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 366
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 366

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Article: Issue 541
Doctor Who Magazine - Article: Issue 541

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 544
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 544

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 149
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 149

GE Fabbri


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