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Peter Davison
The Visitation
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Synopsis


The Terileptils
The Terileptils
 England, 1666 - the darkest days of the Great Plague. When The Doctor and his companions step from the TARDIS into a land gropped by fear and mistrust, they soon discover that they are not the only new arrivals.

 Strange lights have been seen in the sky, the Grim Reaper stalks the local woods, and evidence of advanced technology is all around.

Source: BBC DVD


General Information

Season: Nineteen
Production Code: 5X
Story Number: 119
Episode Numbers:566 - 569
Number of Episodes: 4
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Working Titles:"Invasion of the Plague Men" and "Plague Rats"
Production Dates: May - June 1981
Broadcast Started: 15 February 1982
Broadcast Finished: 23 February 1982
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: Ealing Television Film Studios and BBC Television Centre (TC3)
Location: Black Park (Fulmer, Buckinghamshire) and Tithe Barn (Hurley High Street, Hurley, Berkshire)
Writer:Eric Saward
Director:Peter Moffatt
Producer:John Nathan-Turner
Script Editor:Antony Root
Editors:Ken Bilton (Film) and Rod Waldron (Videotape)
Production Manager:Roselyn Parker
Production Assistant:Julia Randall
Production Associate:Angela Smith
Assistant Floor Manager:Alison Symington
Designer:Ken Starkey
Costume Designer:Odile Dicks-Mireaux
Make-Up Designer:Carolyn Perry
Cameramen:Peter Chapman (Film) and Alec Wheal (Senior)
Incidental Music:Paddy Kingsland
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:Alan Machin and Stan Nightingale (Film)
Lighting:Henry Barber
Visual Effects:Peter Wragg
Title Sequence:Sid Sutton
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Peter Howell
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Peter Davison (The Fifth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 3The Companions: Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) and Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka) Additional Cast: Michael Robbins (Richard Mace), John Savident (The Squire), Peter van Dissel (Android), Anthony Calf (Charles), John Baker (Ralph), Valerie Fyfer (Elizabeth), Richard Hampton (Villager), James Charlton (Miller), Michael Melia (Terileptil), Neil West (Poacher), Eric Dodson (Headman)Setting: Future site of Heathrow and London (1666) Villains: Terileptils' Android and The Terileptils

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
566Part 115 February 198224'11"9.1PAL 2" colour videotape
567Part 216 February 198224'26"9.3PAL 2" colour videotape
568Part 322 February 198224'24"9.9PAL 2" colour videotape
569Part 423 February 198223'32"10.1PAL 2" colour videotape

Total Duration 1 Hour 37 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 9.6
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)73.56%  (Position = 46 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)72.70% Lower (Position = 77 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)71.84% Lower (Position = 110 out of 241)


Archives


 All four episodes exist as PAL 2" colour videotapes.



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Notes


This story is renowned for giving an explanation (in the world of Doctor Who at least) for the Great Fire of London.

This story was written by new-comer Eric Saward. During the creation of Season Eighteen, Producer John Nathan-Turner and, then, Script Editor Christopher H Bidmead had been eager to recruit new writers to the programme. Eric Saward, a radio playwright and author of short stories, was one such writer recommended to Christopher H Bidmead. Eric Saward had principally written thrillers such as Small Monet for the audio medium, but had never worked in television before.

It has been reported that this story was inspired by the work of a former girlfriend of Eric Saward’s, who had been studying the architecture which arose in the wake of the Great Fire of London in September 1666. That disaster had followed close on the heels of another catastrophe in the same area, namely the 1665-1666 outbreak of what is generally believed to have been bubonic plague. Eric Saward’s girlfriend had observed that the black rats which carried the plague became virtually extinct within months of the Great Fire, and Eric Saward thought that this would provide an effective science-fiction ‘hook’ for a story about social conditions in mediaeval England.

Eric Saward also viewed this story as an opportunity to reuse the character of Richard Mace which he had created for several radio plays, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, during the mid-Seventies. Originally an eccentric actor and detective living in Victorian London, Richard Mace had previously featured in three plays - The Assassin (1974), Pegasus (1975) and The Nemesis Machine (1976). For "The Visitation" Eric Saward re-imagined Richard Mace as a thespian put out of work by the paranoia generated by the plague.

At first Eric Saward’s storyline did not find favour with John Nathan-Turner who was concerned that it was too similar to the 1977 Fourth Doctor story "The Talons of Weng-Chiang". He also felt that it was exactly the kind of whimsical Doctor Who story that he was ardently trying to dispense with.

Several changes had to be made to Eric Saward’s original vision of this story. With Tom Baker having left the show, at the end of Season Eighteen, Eric Saward had to account for the presence of an as-yet-unknown Fifth Doctor. Furthermore, the line-up of companions had expanded to include Adric and Tegan Jovanka, and at that time John Nathan-Turner was also contemplating making Nyssa a regular character. Unlike the previous story, "Kinda", Eric Saward was able to make the necessary amendments to his storyline to incorporate all these recent changes to the regular cast.

In writing this story, Eric Saward hewed to the broad strokes of recorded history concerning the Great Fire of London. Most notably, he made use of the well-established origins of the fire to a bakery owned by Thomas Farriner (or Farynor) on Pudding Lane, beginning shortly after midnight on 2nd September 1666.

Eric Saward would become the next Script Editor. After Christopher H Bidmead left the show, at the conclusion of Season Eighteen, Antony Root became his replacement but unknown at the time to Eric Saward, Antony Root’s appointment was only for three months and then he was given a permanent job script-editing Juliet Bravo Therefore at the time John Nathan-Turner was looking for another interim script editor, and Antony Root suggested Eric Saward, who had impressed him during the development of this story. Eric Saward’s first story as Script Editor was "Kinda". But the first story broadcast that he was credited as Script Editor was "Castrovalva" - the story that opened Season Nineteen but which was recorded fourth. Eric Saward continued in the role as Script Editor through to Season Twenty Three.

"The Visitation" was directed by Peter Moffatt, whose last work had been on the 1980 Fourth Doctor story "State of Decay".

Ironically during the early part of location work the cast and crew found themselves filming below the flight path of nearby Heathrow Airport, and the noise of approaching aircraft regularly disrupted recording. However, an air traffic controller’s strike put an end to these disturbances, and Peter Moffatt and his team were able to make up for the time they had previously lost.

Once work on this story was completed there was then an almost two-month hiatus before work on Season Nineteen resumed. This was scheduled to enable Peter Davison to record the second season of his sitcom Sink or Swim, and marked the first time that such a lengthy pause had ever occurred in the middle of a Doctor Who production block.

This story was intended to be broadcast later in Season Nineteen, but it was decided that it should be the second story into production, after "Four to Doomsday". Its position in the transmission order would however, remain the same.

The making of this story was covered in the book "Doctor Who: The Making of a Television Series" by Alan Road.

This story features a brief guest appearance by John Savident, playing the part of The Squire, some years prior to his achieving fame as one of the cast of Coronation Street.

The opening sequence in the TARDIS follows on directly from "Kinda". Since "The Visitation" was filmed before "Kinda", the cast had to act out their characters’ responses to the events of this previous story based solely on the script. This scene has The Doctor admonishing Adric for trying to escape in the TSS, and Tegan talking to Nyssa about her recent possession by the Mara on Deva Loka.

The TARDIS’ lateral balance cones are ‘playing up (probably ‘temperamental solenoids’), foiling The Docto’'s attempt to get Tegan back to Heathrow in 1981.

The Terileptils are very intelligent semi-reptilian creatures who have a heightened appreciation of aesthetics and warfare. They have developed advanced androids. These Terileptils have escaped from the Tinclavic mines on Raaga (see the 1984 story "The Awakening"), where they had been sentenced to life imprisonment. Terileptils cannot last for long without breathing soliton gas: the substance is volatile when mixed with oxygen (it smells a bit like sulphur).

Eric Saward has attributed the name 'Terileptil' to the words ‘territorial reptiles’.

The Terileptils construct an energy barrier to hide their workshop from the rest of the house.

At one point Tegan assumes that the Terileptil’s interest in the TARDIS means that, like the Monarch (see "Four to Doomsday", he wants to ‘ride in it’.

Part of the Terileptil’s laboratory re-uses a Hymetusite crystal from the 1979/80 Fourth Doctor story "The Horns of Nimon".

The Terileptil masks incorporated remote-control animatronics where the mouth, lips and gills were all controlled remotely by a machine operator. This was the first time such technology had been used in Doctor Who; it was conceived by visual effects designer Peter Wragg and constructed by Richard Gregory of Imagineering.

When The Doctor is about to be beheaded he is heard to groan, ‘Oh no, not again’ - alluding to the events in "Four to Doomsday", in which he was nearly beheaded by Monarch’s androids.

Adric’s homing device (see the 1980 Fourth Doctor story "Full Circle") is dropped in the fight with the villagers. Reference is again made to Adric’s ability to recover from injuries quickly. He and Nyssa are also able to pilot the TARDIS on their own.

First seen in the 1968 Second Doctor story, "Fury From the Deep", The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver was destroyed by the Terileptil leader. This was on the direction of producer John Nathan-Turner, who felt that the tool was too easy a way of solving The Doctor’s problems, vetoing a scene at the end of the story where The Doctor would simply get a replacement from a room full of the devices in the TARDIS. The Doctor however, receives a new one (Romana’s) in the Virgin Books’ The New Adventures novel "Lungbarrow" written by Marc Platt. It was not seen in the show until its next appearance in the 1996 television movie "Doctor Who: The Movie". A new design introduced was introduced in the 2005 Ninth Doctor story "Rose".

The explosion of the Terileptil leader’s weapon is the cause of the Great Fire of London (which the Fourth Doctor alluded to being accused of starting in the 1975 story "Pyramids of Mars"). The Short Trips story "The Republican’s Story" (published in the Big Finish Productions book "Short Trips 8: Repercussions") attempts to explain this apparent contradiction.

This story contains a number of errors. Namely: It is obvious that the android is wearing poorly disguised cricket gloves; when Nyssa is attacked by the android, the room begins to shake before she switches on the machine; the Miller’s donkey seems to resent Richard Mace’s attention; when The Doctor is searching for the Terileptils’ London base, the scanner shows a 'brown and white' 17th Century print of London’s streets, rather than an image drawn up by the TARDIS’ sensors; when the doors open in the interior of the crashed ship, you can clearly see that the forest in which the craft is supposedly located is not there; when The Doctor decides that Nyssa should go to the TARDIS alone, while he and Richard Mace go to see the miller, she leaves back in the direction that they had walked into the clearing from.

The Terileptils are mentioned again in "The Awakening" and The Master destroys their home planet in Virgin Books’ The Missing Adventures novel "The Dark Path" written by David A. McIntee.

This story was repeated on BBC 1 in August 1983.

The 1982 Target novelisation of this story, written by Eric Saward, was titled "Doctor Who and the Visitation". It is the only Fifth Doctor novelisation to use "The Doctor Who and..." title format.

This story was released on DVD in January 2004, and used material from the 16mm film prints which still exist in the BBC Archives.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first Doctor Who story to be written by Eric Saward.

 The first, and only, Fifth Doctor story to have a "The Doctor Who and..." title format for its Target novelisation.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
This Is Not Heathrow!
This Is Not Heathrow!

At the manor house occupied by a 17th-century family, an unwelcome alien visitor arrives. A young girl, called Elizabeth, witnesses from a window strange lights in the sky. She goes to tell Squire John, Charles and their servant Ralph what she has seen. But unknown to all the occupants, of Squire John’s house, they are all about to be killed by a Terileptil.

Unaware of these events The Doctor is trying to return his travelling companion Tegan Jovanka to Heathrow in 1981, half an hour before she first entered the TARDIS. But the TARDIS is behaving erratically and The Doctor blames the fault on the lateral balance cones. The TARDIS therefore arrives at the right location but is some 300 years too early.

While investigating their surroundings The Doctor, Adric, Nyssa and Tegan, discover that members of a nearby village are burning potassium and sulphur in the woods to ward off the plague. The Doctor and his three travelling companions meet up with Richard Mace, an unemployed actor, who leads them to the safety of a barn. While there The Doctor notices an ornament made from polygrite around Richard Mace’s neck and recognises it as part of an alien bracelet from a prison planet. Then when Richard Mace speaks of a comet falling to Earth a few weeks earlier, The Doctor correctly surmises that this might have been a spaceship crashing and that there might be survivors. Lending weight to his theory, Nyssa then finds some power packs in the barn.

Adric, Tegan and Nyssa
Adric, Tegan and Nyssa

The barn is owned by Squire John, and Richard Mace takes the travellers to the Squire’s house. The place however, is deserted. The Doctor decides to have a look around and finds a laser mark on a wall by some stairs, but the base of the staircase is apparently blocked by a brick wall. The Doctor realises that this wall is in fact an energy barrier. When he breaches it he recognises the smell of soliton gas. The travellers are then surprised by an arrival of an android, which renders Adric and Tegan unconscious. The Doctor, Nyssa and Richard Mace though manage to escape.

While the android takes Adric and Tegan to its master, the Terileptil, who then questions them, The Doctor suggests that a sonic booster and frequency modulator might vibrate the android to pieces. Meanwhile the Terileptil orders the local poacher and a group of villagers, all of whom are enslaved to his will by control bracelets worn on their wrists, to capture The Doctor and find the TARDIS.

Richard Mace
Richard Mace

The Doctor, with Nyssa and Richard Mace, locate the crashed spaceship and discover that it is still operational. While investigating the Terileptil’s spaceship they come under attack from the controlled poacher, axeman and wood collector. After escaping Nyssa returns to the TARDIS, to construct the sonic device with which to attack the android, while The Doctor and Richard Mace go to see the miller. However, they discover that he too is under the Terileptil’s control and so they find themselves captured by the villagers and held in the barn.

Meanwhile the Terileptil fits Tegan with a control bracelet, but Adric manages to escape and he heads for the TARDIS. On learning of capture of The Doctor and Richard Mace, The Terileptil sends the android to bring them to the Squire’s house. The Terileptil then reveals that he and the others in his group are escapees from the Tinclavic mines on the planet Raaga. Terileptil law states that imprisonment on Raaga is for life, so The Doctor cannot return them home. Their spaceship was badly damaged in an asteroid storm, and all but four of them perished in the crash. One of the four who survived has also since died. The Doctor is horrified to discover that the Terileptil leader plans to try to wipe out humanity.

The Doctor and Richard Mace are then placed in a cell. However, when The Doctor attempts to escape from the cell using his sonic screwdriver, the Terileptil catches him and destroys The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. The Terileptil then reveals that he plans to infect black rats with a genetically-engineered plague, intended to augment the Black Death that is already spreading across the country. When the Terileptil has gone, The Doctor manages to escape and he rescues Tegan and Richard Mace. They are unable to return to the TARDIS, however, as they find that all the exits from the house are sealed.

A Terileptil
A Terileptil

Nyssa has meanwhile completed the sonic device, which proves its effectiveness after Adric inadvertently allows the android access to the TARDIS. Adric then pilots the TARDIS to the Squire’s house and rescues The Doctor’s party. They then all travel to London, following a trail of electrical emissions from the Terileptil’s equipment.

There they discover the Terileptil leader and the other surviving Terileptils using a small bakery as a base. Richard Mace despatches one of the creatures but, in the struggle, a flaming torch sets fire to the shop. In the heat the Terileptil leader’s gun then explodes and the remaining two Terileptils perish in the blaze. The Doctor, Richard Mace, Tegan, Nyssa and Adric then throw the plague serum into the fire – so ending the Terileptils’ plans.

With the fire starting to take hold of the properties around the bakery Richard Mace stays behind to fight the blaze as The Doctor and his three travelling companions enter the TARDIS. Tegan though is concerned about the fire that has broken out, but The Doctor knowingly comments they should let it run its course.

As the TARDIS dematerialises, a street sign reveals that the bakery is situated in Pudding Lane, the location where the Great Fire of London started.

 
The Miller
The Miller
The Terileptils Android
The Terileptils Android
Adric and Tegan in Trouble
Adric and Tegan in Trouble
The Doctor and Richard Mace
The Doctor and Richard Mace
 
Inside the Terileptils Spaceship
Inside the Terileptils Spaceship
The Doctor Faces A Terileptil
The Doctor Faces A Terileptil
The Spark That Starts The Great Fire of London
The Spark That Starts The Great Fire of London
Pudding Lane Begins To Burn
Pudding Lane Begins To Burn




Quote of the Story


 'I have appeared before some of the most hostile audiences in the world. Today I met death in a cellar. But I have never been so afraid until I met the man with the scythe.'

Richard Mace



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
VHS
The VisitationJuly 1994BBCV 5349Pete WallbankDouble cassette release Released along with "Black Orchid"
Video
DVD
The VisitationJanuary 2004BBCDVD 1329Clayton Hickman
Video
DVD
The VisitationMay 2013BBCDVD 3690Photo-montageSpecial Edition
Video
Blu-Ray
Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 19December 2018BBCBD 0446Photo-montageBlu-Ray boxed set containing 7 specially restored stories
Audio
LP
The VisitationMay 2020Photo-montageMusic Score


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the VisitationAugust 1982Target No. 69Eric SawardPhotographISBN: 0-426-20135-3
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Visitation1982Target No. 69Eric SawardBook: Photograph
Box: Bill Donohoe
Re-released as part of The Second Dr Who Gift Set
ISBN: 0-426-19289-3
Novel
Novel
The VisitationFebruary 1992Target No. 69Eric SawardAlister PearsonVirgin new cover reprint.
ISBN: 0-426-20135-3
CD
CD
The VisitationOctober 2012Target No. 69Eric SawardAlister PearsonAudio version of the Target Novel read by Matthew Waterhousec (Adric).
Novel
Novel
The VisitationApril 2016Target No. 69Eric SawardBBC Reprint. ISBN: 978-1-78594-039-2
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 58 (Released: June 1995)
Doctor Who Monthly - PreviewIssue 62 (Released: March 1982)
Doctor Who Monthly - ReviewIssue 65 (Released: June 1982)
Doctor Who Magazine - NostalgiaIssue 177 (Released: September 1991)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 275 (Released: March 1999)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 339 (Released: February 2004)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 376 (Released: December 2006)
Doctor Who Magazine Special - Archive1984 Winter Special (Released: 1984)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 42 (Released: August 2010)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions

 
Peter Davison
The Fifth Doctor

   

Matthew Waterhouse
Adric
Sarah Sutton
Nyssa
Janet Fielding
Tegan Jovanka
   




On Release

VHS Video Cover
VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Special Edition DVD Cover
Special Edition DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
The Collection Season 19 Blu-Ray Cover
The Collection Season 19 Blu-Ray Cover

BBC
VIDEO
   
Original Television Soundtrack LP Cover
Original Television Soundtrack LP Cover

Silva Screen
AUDIO



In Print

Target Book Cover
Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
The Second Dr Who Gift Set
The Second Dr Who Gift Set

Target
NOVEL
Reprinted Virgin Book Cover
Reprinted Virgin Book Cover

Virgin
NOVEL
Target Audio CD Cover
Target Audio CD Cover

BBC
CD
   
Reprinted BBC Book Cover
Reprinted BBC Book Cover

BBC
NOVEL



Magazines

Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 58
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 58

CMS
Doctor Who Monthly - Preview: Issue 62
Doctor Who Monthly - Preview: Issue 62

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Monthly - Review: Issue 65
Doctor Who Monthly - Review: Issue 65

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Nostalgia: Issue 177
Doctor Who Magazine - Nostalgia: Issue 177

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 275
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 275

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 339
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 339

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 376
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 376

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine Special - Archive: 1984 Winter Special
Doctor Who Magazine Special - Archive: 1984 Winter Special

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 42
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 42

GE Fabbri
   

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