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Tom Baker
The Horns of Nimon
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Synopsis


A Nimon
A Nimon
 The peaceful planet Aheth was once at war with the mighty Skonnon empire. Now the Skonnon ships have returned to the skies of Aneth, demanding tribute. But as the final consignment is being taken to Skonnos, an accident forces the ship off-course...

 The Doctor decides that the TARDIS is in need of an overhaul, and after, materialising in deep space, dismantles most of the ship's key circuitry, immobilising the time/space machine. Nearby is the stricken Skonnon spacecraft, and both ships are seemingly caught in a gravity field that could destroy them...

 On the planet Skonnos, the mysterious. Nimon lives in a labyrinthine complex, promising a great future for the Skonnon empire on receipt of the tribute from Aneth. But what does the Nimon plan for, itself...?

Source: BBC VHS Video


General Information

Season: Seventeen
Production Code: 5L
Story Number: 108
Episode Numbers:522 - 525
Number of Episodes: 4
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates: September - October 1979
Broadcast Started: 22 December 1979
Broadcast Finished: 12 January 1980
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: Ealing Television Film Studios and BBC Television Centre (TC3 and TC6)
Location: None
Writer:Anthony Read
Director:Kenny McBain
Producer:Graham Williams
Script Editor:Douglas Adams
Editor:Rod Waldron
Production Assistant:Henry Foster
Production Unit Manager:John Nathan-Turner
Assistant Floor Manager:Rosemary Chapman
Designer:Graeme Story
Costume Designer:June Hudson
Make-Up Designer:Christine Walmesley-Cotham
Incidental Music:Dudley Simpson
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:John Hartshorn
Lighting:Nigel Wright
Visual Effects:Peter Pegrum
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: Graham Crowden (Soldeed), Simon Gipps-Kent (Seth), Michael Osborne (Sorak), Janet Ellis (Teka), Malcolm Terris (Co-Pilot), Bob Hornery (Pilot), Robin Sherringham (Nimon), Bob Appleby (Nimon), Trevor St. John Hacker (Nimon), Clifford Norgate (Voice of the Nimons), John Bailey (Sezom)Setting: Planets Skonnos and Crinoth Villain: The Nimon

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
522Part 122 December 197925'41"6.0PAL 2" colour videotape
523Part 229 December 197925'00"8.8PAL 2" colour videotape
524Part 305 January 198023'26"9.8PAL 2" colour videotape
525Part 412 January 198026'45"10.4PAL 2" colour videotape

Total Duration 1 Hour 41 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 8.8
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)52.42%  (Position = 149 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)51.53% Lower (Position = 189 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)55.66% Higher (Position = 223 out of 241)


Archives


 All four episodes exist as PAL 2" colour videotapes.



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Notes


"The Horns of Nimon" is lauded by many fans as being one of the show’s worst stories, possibly undeservedly due to the overacting by Graham Crowden who played the part of Soldeed.

This story was written by former Script Editor Anthony Read and was inspired by the tale of the Theseus and the Minotaur - a fact that The Doctor comments on at the end of the last episode. Previous reference to The Doctor’s involvement in this story from Greek Mythology was made in "The Creature from the Pit".

Unfortunately like the previous story, "Nightmare of Eden", this story was subjected to budget crunching. So much so that the Nimon were originally intended to be aliens wearing bull-masks to frighten the inhabitants of the planets they invaded, but budgetary restrictions meant that the masks ended up being the real creatures.

It has been reported that Producer Graham Williams quickly grew unhappy with this story feeling that the underlying ideas were not particularly strong. With no other scripts available, Williams was forced to proceed with Anthony Read’s story, but he decided to position it in the season’s fifth slot (on both the broadcast and production schedules) in the hope that it would quickly be forgotten once the planned final story of the season, "Shada", began its transmission.

Graham Williams also instructed that the scripts be rewritten to remove any pre-filming, in order to save costs - a restriction which had also been placed on the preceding story, "Nightmare of Eden" as both "Destiny of the Daleks" and "City of Death" had been expensive productions to record. Also Graham Williams was eager to save money so that it could be used on "Shada".

The director assigned to this story was Kenny McBain, whose work to date included The Omega Factor. "The Horns of Nimon" would be Kenny McBain’s only Doctor Who credit. He subsequently became a producer on programmes such as Grange Hill and Inspector Morse. He also became the Head of Drama at Tynes Tees Television.

This story marked David Brierley’s final vocal appearance as K9.

The part of Soldeed was played by veteran actor Graham Crowden who is better known for playing the part of Tom Ballard in the comedy series Waiting for God. Graham Crowden had also been strongly considered for the role of the Fourth Doctor before Tom Baker was selected for the part.

The part of Teka was played by Janet Ellis. She would later become a presenter of the popular children’s magazine programme Blue Peter.

The Nimon Power Complex was based around the idea of a giant printed circuit, the paths through which changed to trap any visitors and draw them to the Nimon at the centre.

It is revealed that the TARDIS defence shield can extend outside the ship, maintaining an atmosphere (see "City of Death" and the 2002 Eleventh Doctor story "The Beast Below"). Even without it, the time machine’s outer hull is hard enough to withstand huge shocks.

Romana has made her own sonic screwdriver (first seen in "City of Death").

The Nimon journey from world to world (‘The great journey of life’) in capsules via small artificially created black holes, draining the worlds they leave of all their energy. They can kill with bolts from their horns and the Sknonnon Nimon has constructed a complex of shifting walls, with ‘horns’ projecting a defence shield.

The Nimon make a return in the Big Finish Productions 2002 Doctor Who audio story "Seasons of Fear", where their attempts to conquer Earth using the immortal Sebastian Grayle as their agent are thwarted by the Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard.

The Doctor is heard to state that everywhere he goes he has guns, phasers and blasters pointed at him. (Phasers are the main personal weapon in Star Trek and blasters are the main handheld weapon in Star Wars).

Look out for the scene inside the TARDIS - the time rotor is removed. This is the first and only time this has occurred.

The famous ‘Bloodnok's stomach’ sound effect from the BBC radio classic The Goon Show is used in a scene in which The Doctor tries unsuccessfully to reactivate the TARDIS control console.

This story, unfortunately, contains a number of rather obvious errors: Sadly during a couple of scenes the TARDIS set had been erected incorrectly resulting in the roundels protruding outward on one wall. During his death scene, Malcolm Terris (playing the Co-pilot) split his trousers very visibly. Most infamously, Graham Crowden mistook the recording of Soldeed’s demise for a camera rehearsal, and began laughing hysterically. With time pressing - and with Kenny McBain already concerned that Graham Crowden was overacting in the part - the director was forced to retain the shot. In episode four Soldeed’s body also disappears from where it fell earlier.

In postproduction it was found that the final episode badly overran its twenty-five minute timeslot. In the past, such a situation had been resolved by reediting the footage to either alter the cliffhanger of part three or else shift some scenes backwards into that episode. Indeed, the third instalment of this story had come in well under the usual twenty-five minutes, resulting in an unusually lengthy reprise from the second episode. Nonetheless, it was found that all attempts to re-edit this story to meet its time constraints badly affected the pacing of the final episode. Consequently, authorisation was requested to broadcast this episode in a half-hour timeslot.

Despite Graham Williams’ intent that this story would ultimately be driven from viewers’ memories by the spectacle of "Shada" did not work out as he had planned. Although production began on this season’s finale as scheduled, it was subsequently disrupted by the latest round of industrial action at the BBC - a situation which had already affected the final stories of both Season Fifteen and Season Sixteen. As a result, "Shada" had to be abandoned – so bringing Season Seventeen season to a very abrupt close and making "The Horns of Nimon" the finale story.

"The Horns of Nimon" was also the final story for producer Graham Williams, who took over from Phillip Hinchcliffe three years earlier. For the beginning of the next season new producer, John Nathan-Turner, would take the opportunity to revamp the show in many ways – resulting in "The Horns of Nimon" becoming the end of an era for Doctor Who.

This meant that "The Horns of Nimon" marked the end of several eras: it featured the final use of the original 1963 arrangement of the "Doctor Who Theme", (which had been revised slightly over the years, notably in 1967, but remained essentially Delia Derbyshire’s version until this point); the last use of the diamond-shaped logo and ‘tunnel’ opening sequence by Bernard Lodge, which had been in place (with some modifications) since the 1973/74 Third Doctor story "The Time Warrior". The opening credits image of Tom Baker, now close to six years old, would also be retired.

A novelisation of this story, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in October 1980. Terrance Dicks begins with a history of the Skonnan Empire and Soldeed, culminating in the arrival of the Nimon.

This story was the last Fourth Doctor story to be released by BBC Video on VHS videotape.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first credited Doctor Who story to be written by Anthony Read.

 The first Doctor Who story to be directed by Kenny McBain.


The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 The last televised story of Season Seventeen.

 David Brierley's last televised story as the voice of K9.

 Graham Williams' last televised story as Producer.

 Douglas Adams' last televised story as Script Editor.

 The last Doctor Who story to be directed by Kenny McBain.

 The last televised story to use the 1967 arrangement of the "Doctor Who Theme" by Delia Derbyshire.

 The last televised story to use the tunnel opening sequence by Bernard Lodge.

 The last televised story to feature the diamond logo.

 The last Fourth Doctor story to be released by BBC Video on VHS videotape.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
The Doctor and Romana
The Doctor and Romana

The planet Skonnos is dying, and its inhabitants have been promised by an alien bull-headed alien, known as a Nimon, that he can return their empire to greatness. However, this requires sacrifices and radioactive Hymetusite crystals, both of which the Skonnons obtain from the nearby planet Aneth. And so for many years the Anethans have been supplying their young and their minerals to the Nimon on Skonnos – who have now become a part of their legends.

However, the interstellar spacecraft, transporting the latest sacrificial consignment from Aneth, breaks down in space. The ancient spaceship is worn out, and when the Co-Pilot over extends the engines, the Pilot is killed when a control panel explodes. Unbeknown, to the Co-Pilot the TARDIS has materialised nearby and he is about to receive some visitors.

The TARDIS has become immobilised and is in need of repairs and so when The Doctor, Romana and K9 encounter the Skonnan spaceship The Doctor extends the TARDIS door force field to enable them to board the nearby spaceship. While investigating the spaceship Romana is captured by the Co-Pilot, and finds herself imprisoned in the hold along with the Anethans. On the long journey to the planet Skonnos she befriends two of the Anethans Seth and Teka.

The Doctor
The Doctor

On arriving on the planet Skonnos, Romana finds herself, along with the young Anethans, being greeted by the Skonnans’ arrogant leader, Soldeed. He though is being unnerved to see Romana among the group of Anethans. When questioned the Co-Pilot lies stating that she is a pirate who stole aboard and killed the Pilot and so is the reason why they have arrived late.

Soldeed does not believe this and so forces the Co-Pilot into the Nimon’s power complex where he faces certain death. Romana and the Anethans are then loaded up with Hymetusite and are also sent into the Nimon’s labyrinthine power complex.

Arriving on Skonnos
Arriving on Skonnos

Meanwhile The Doctor and K9 have followed the Skonnan spaceship, in the now semi-repaired TARDIS. But on arriving on the planet and The Doctor finds himself captured and brought before Soldeed – who uses a staff given to him by the Nimon to wield his power over the Anethans and Skonnans. The Doctor soon escapes, and heads into the power complex to escape his pursuers.

Deep in the power complex - whose walls seem to shift and change creating various labyrinthine patterns that all lead to the Nimon - The Doctor and Romana discover that the Nimon are a bull-headed alien race who are in fact a race of intergalactic parasites moving from planet to planet like a plague of locusts. They send a lone representative to an unsuspecting planet, offering help and assistance, and when they have gained the trust of the inhabitants, they arrive in force and drain the planet of all its resources before moving on to another world in the same manner.

The Doctor and Romana also discover that the power complex, fuelled by the Hymetusite, uses a black hole to create a space tunnel through which the Nimons cross from one planet to the next.

Soldeed
Soldeed

Romana travels back along the Nimon’s space-tunnel and arrives in the dying world of Crinoth. There she encounters many Nimon and the last surviving inhabitant, a broken old man named Sezom, who had helped the Nimon establish themselves on his world and now knows they have destroyed it. He has also discovered that when Jacenite is integrated into the staff, that he was supplied with by the Nimon, it has the ability to stun them. He gives Romana a piece of the Jacenite, but is killed by a Nimon while helping her to escape back to Skonnos.

Back on Skonnos, Romana is able to pass the piece of Jacenite to Seth who now has possession of Soldeed’s staff. Seth then uses the staff to stun two of the Nimon. K9 then arrives, having managed to free himself from Soldeed’s laboratory where he had been held, in time to deal with the remaining Nimon.

Soldeed, whose faith has become badly damaged on seeing that there are multiple Nimon and not just the one that he had been led to believe, manages, before he is killed by Seth, to trigger a chain reaction that destroys the power complex, thereby trapping the Nimons on their last home, the dying planet Crinoth.

Later in the TARDIS, as The Doctor sets about completing his repairs on the TARDIS control console, they watch as Seth and Teka pilot a spacecraft away from Skonnos, having been granted their freedom. Elsewhere Crinoth can be seen disintegrating. It seems that the Nimon threat is over for good.

 
Guard Captain Sorak
Guard Captain Sorak
The Anethans
The Anethans
Romana meets the Anethans
Romana meets the Anethans
A Nimon
A Nimon
 
Soldeed Attacks K9
Soldeed Attacks K9
The Co-Pilot Shot by a Nimon
The Co-Pilot Shot by a Nimon
The Doctor is Attacked
The Doctor is Attacked
There's More Than One Nimon
There's More Than One Nimon




Quote of the Story


 'You know, K9, sometimes I think I'm wasted, just rushing around the universe saving planets from destruction. With a talent like mine, I might have been a great slow bowler.'

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
Audio
CD
30 Years at the Radiophonic Workshop1993BBC CD 871Photo-montageSound effects
Video
VHS
The Horns of NimonJune 2003BBCV 7334Photo-montage
Audio
CD
Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume Two - New Beginnings 1970-1980May 2005WMSF 6024-2Music and sound effects
Video
DVD
The Horns of NimonMarch 2010BBCDVD 2581Photo-montagePart of the "Myths and Legends" box set along with "The Time Monster" and "Underworld"
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 Horns of NimonOctober 1980Target No. 31Terrance DicksSteve KyteISBN: 0-426-20131-0
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 43 (Released: April 1993)
Doctor Who WeeklyIssue 32 (Released: May 1980)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 247 (Released: January 1997)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 368 (Released: April 2006)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 429 (Released: January 2011)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 139 (Released: April 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
Sound Effects CD Cover
Sound Effects CD Cover

BBC
AUDIO
VHS Video Cover
VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Audio - Volume 2: New Beginnings
Audio - Volume 2: New Beginnings

BBC
AUDIO
   
DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO



In Print

 
Target Book Cover
Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
 
   


Magazines

Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 43
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 43

CMS
Doctor Who Weekly: Issue 32
Doctor Who Weekly: Issue 32

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 247
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 247

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 368
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 368

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 429
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 429

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 139
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 139

GE Fabbri
   

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