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Peter Davison
Black Orchid
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Synopsis


Not The Doctor
Not The Doctor
 Landing in Cranleigh Halt in England in 1925, The Doctor and his companions receive a warm reception from the local inhabitants and an invitation to a masked ball at the house of Lady Cranleigh and her son Charles.

 It is there that Nyssa discovers her startling resemblance to Charles’ fiancée Ann. Then events take a more sinister turn when Ann is attacked and two servants murdered. Will The Doctor and his companions stand accused of murder?

Source: BBC VHS Video


General Information

Season: Nineteen
Production Code: 6A
Story Number: 120
Episode Numbers:570 - 571
Number of Episodes: 2
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Working Titles:"The Beast"
Production Dates: October 1981
Broadcast Started: 01 March 1982
Broadcast Finished: 02 March 1982
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: BBC Television Centre (TC3)
Location: Quainton Road and Quainton Road Railway Station (Quainton, Buckinghamshire), Buckhurst House and Withyham Cricket Club (Withyham, East Sussex) and Bewdley (Worcestershire).
Writer:Terence Dudley
Director:Ron Jones
Producer:John Nathan-Turner
Script Editor:Eric Saward
Editors:Mike Houghton (Film) and Rod Waldron (Videotape)
Production Manager:Jim Capper
Production Assistant:Juley Harding
Production Associate:Angela Smith
Assistant Floor Manager:Val McCrimmon
Designer:Tony Burrough
Costume Designer:Rosalind Ebbutt
Make-Up Designer:Lisa Westcott
Cameramen:Peter Chapman (Film) and Alec Wheal (Senior)
Incidental Music:Roger Limb
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:Alan Machin and Ron Blight (Film)
Lighting:Fred Wright
Visual Effects:Tony Auger
Title Sequence:Sid Sutton
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Peter Howell
Choreographer: Gary Downie
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) Guest Cast: Sarah Sutton (Ann Talbot) Additional Cast: Barbara Murray (Lady Cranleigh), Moray Watson (Sir Robert Muir), Michael Cochrane (Lord Cranleigh), Brian Hawksley (Brewster), Timothy Block (Tanner), Ahmed Khalil (Latoni), Gareth Milne (George Cranleigh), Ivor Salter (Sergeant Markham), Andrew Tourell (Constable Cummings)Setting: Cranleigh, Oxfordshire (11th June 1925) Villain:George Cranleigh

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
570Part 101 March 198224'56"9.9PAL 2" colour videotape
571Part 202 March 198224'42"10.1PAL 2" colour videotape

Total Duration 50 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 10.0
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)70.98%  (Position = 62 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)67.94% Lower (Position = 117 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)67.36% Lower (Position = 156 out of 241)


Archives


 Both episodes exist as PAL 2" colour videotapes.



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Notes


"Black Orchid" is a two part story that is considered to be the first ‘true historical’ story in nearly 20 years of Doctor Who.

For Season Eighteen, Producer John Nathan-Turner managed to secure a budget for twenty-eight episodes - two more than had previously been the norm. Because John Nathan-Turner felt that lengthy stories were no longer viable, meant that a season could consist solely of four-part stories, rather than incorporating a six-episode story as had been the tradition since the mid-Seventies. Season Nineteen was originally planned to follow this format as well. However, John Nathan-Turner decided to use two of the allocated episodes to make a one-hour pilot for the proposed spin-off special "K9 and Company: A Girl's Best Friend". This meant that he would now require a two-part story for Doctor Who - the first time a story of this length had appeared in the programme’s schedule since the 1975 Fourth Doctor story "The Sontaran Experiment".

Each season for the Fifth Doctor would include at least one story containing just two episodes.

Being only two episodes long John Nathan-Turner decided that this story would be a good story to assign to a novice director. One of John Nathan-Turner’s colleagues, when he had worked on the show as its Production Unit Manager, was Ron Jones who had briefly worked in radio before moving into television as an Assistant Floor Manager. Having recently completed the BBC's internal directors course Ron Jones had directed some segments for Blue Peter. "Black Orchid" however, would be his first proper credit as a director.

This story was commissioned by John Nathan-Turner during a period when the show did not have a Script Editor.

One notable element of this story is that it centres mainly around companion Nyssa. John Nathan-Turner liked the fact that this story would put Nyssa in the spotlight as other Season Nineteen stories were already focussing on her fellow companions ("Kinda" for Tegan Jovanka and "Earthshock" for Adric) and with so many regular characters it was felt that this would help viewers relate to each one.

Sarah Sutton played both companion Nyssa and Ann Talbot. Although Ron Jones planned his shots to keep Nyssa and Ann Talbot from appearing together as much as possible, this was not always feasible. Vanessa Paine was therefore hired to double as either Nyssa or Ann depending on the requirements of the shot. Other scenes were achieved using a split screen effect. Although Sarah Sutton was credited in both episodes as playing 'Nyssa/Ann' she was billed only as Nyssa in the Radio Times.

This story is sometimes referred as being the first purely historical adventure for The Doctor since the 1966/67 Second Doctor story "The Highlanders". Although it takes place in an earlier era, it is not explicitly a history-based adventure, unlike "The Highlanders". "Black Orchid" is though the first non-science fictional story (disregarding the TARDIS and the presence of The Doctor and two non-Earthling individuals) since "The Highlanders" and it has been the last to date.

A good deal of location filming took place for this story, though stock footage was used for the steam train departing in episode.

Much of the location filming for "Castrovalva", the story which preceded "Black Orchid" into production, had taken place on the grounds of Buckhurst Park in Withyam, East Sussex. Because the cast and crew had been warmly welcomed by the estate’s owner, Earl De La Warr, John Nathan-Turner approached the Earl about using the main residence as Dalton Hall for this story. The Earl however, was less eager to feature the house itself in Doctor Who, but ultimately consented on the condition that personal photography was strictly controlled.

Mainly due to how Director Ron Jones coped with delays during studio recording, caused by an industrial dispute, John Nathan-Turner was impressed by how Ron Jones had handled these difficult circumstances, and immediately hired him to helm the season finale, "Time-Flight", which had just lost its intended director.

This story follows directly from "The Visitation" (Nyssa asks if it is safe for the TARDIS to return to Earth after what they've just done to London).

Look out for the scene where Sir Robert thinks that Traken is near Esher and Lord Cranleigh thinks that Alzarius is a Baltic state.

There is a reference to 'The Master' in the first episode, referring to the famous cricketer, probably England batsman Jack Hobbs, rather than The Doctor’s nemesis.

Michael Cochrane, who plays Lord Cranleigh, also appears in the 1989 Seventh Doctor story "Ghost Light".

Ivor Salter, who plays Sergeant Markham, had previously appeared in the 1965 First Doctor stories "The Space Museum" (as the Morok Commander) and "The Myth Makers" (as Odysseus).

The character of Ann Talbot reappears, as Lady Ann Cranleigh, in Virgin Books’ The Missing Adventures novel "The Sands of Time" written by Justin Richards.

Actor Gareth Milne was credited as 'The Unknown' in the first episode in order to conceal the murderer’s identity, which would not be revealed until the second episode.

The Doctor claims he always wanted to drive a steam train as a boy.

The song The Doctor is singing in the bath is "I Want to be Happy" from the musical No No Nanette which is fairly apt as that production had its debut in 1925 - the year this story was set.

It is revealed that Tegan enjoys cricket and can Charleston (which she learnt for a play when she was in school).

While other stories have featured incidental indications that The Doctor likes cricket (the 1978 Fourth Doctor story "The Ribos Operation", the Fifth Doctor stories "Castrovalva", "Four to Doomsday" and the 2007 Tenth Doctor story "Human Nature/The Family of Blood"), this is the only televised story to depict The Doctor playing in an actual match. (Peter Davison, a keen cricketer, actually did play). The Fifth Doctor’s particular love of the game would be later developed in the Big Finish Productions audio stories "Phantasmagoria", "The Roof of the World" and "Circular Time".

The Doctor is also seen skilfully playing a sport (a football match) in the 2010 Eleventh Doctor story "The Lodger".

At one point The Doctor gets trapped in the hallway and moans about how he always lets his curiosity get the best of him. His curiosity has previously got him into bad predicaments in the First Doctor stories, "The Daleks", "The Web Planet" and "The Time Meddler" and also the 1980 Fourth Doctor story "The Leisure Hive".

Even though this story’s villain is seen as being George Cranleigh the remaining characters are not evil or bad people, but have a vested interest in maintaining appearances to avoid the embarrassment of a disfigured relative.

This story contains a number of errors. Namely: Peter Davison and Gareth Milne (who plays George Cranleigh) are of substantially different heights, yet the same costume fits both of them perfectly and in the rooftop shots, you can clearly see that the film has been horizontally flipped, because of the odd angle of the smoke’s ascent.

In the commentary of the DVD release of this story both Peter Davison and Janet Fielding have revealed that "Black Orchid" is not a particular favourite story of theirs. This was mainly because they disliked the script and because of the lack of a science fiction element.

The story was repeated on BBC One in August/September 1983.

A novelisation of this story, written by Terence Dudley, was published by Target Books in September 1986. It was the final Fifth Doctor story to be novelised, but did not complete the Fifth Doctor’s era as "Resurrection of the Daleks" has to date not been novelised due to disputes with the estate of Terry Nation.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first Doctor Who two-part story - since the 1975 Fourth Doctor story "The Sontaran Experiment".

 The first non-science fictional Doctor Who story - since the 1966/67 Second Doctor story "The Highlanders".

 The first Doctor Who story to be directed by Ron Jones.


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The Plot

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

The TARDIS arrives on Earth, at Cranleigh Halt railway station. The Doctor, Adric, Nyssa and Tegan Jovanka discover that the date is the 11th June 1925. They are then taken aback to be met by the chauffeur of a Lord Cranleigh and driven to a cricket match where The Doctor ends up winning the match for the home side. Lord Cranleigh and his family, assuming that The Doctor has come from Guy’s Hospital, invites them all to a masked fancy dress ball.

Unbeknown to The Doctor and his travelling companions Nyssa is the spitting image of Ann Talbot, Charles’s fiancé. When they arrive at Cranleigh Hall costumes are chosen for them including identical butterfly costumes for Nyssa and Ann while The Doctor chooses a harlequin outfit. But while The Doctor is taking a bath, a stranger enters his room via a secret passage. The Doctor fails to see the stranger but, on returning to his room, he notices the open door to the passage and goes through it. The stranger meanwhile makes off with harlequin costume that was intended for The Doctor.

At the ball, Nyssa and Ann are having great fun confusing everyone as to their true identities. Un-noticed by anyone Lady Cranleigh is taken to one side by a South American Indian named Dittar Latoni, who explains that Digby, one of the servants, has gone missing. They go to investigate, leaving Tegan dancing the Charleston and Adric eating. A character in a harlequin costume then appears and entices Ann to dance with him. But when they are alone in the hallway the person in the harlequin costume approaches her threateningly. Rescue comes in the form of a footman who tries to intervene. The footman though is killed.

The Cricket Match
The Cricket Match

The Doctor, meanwhile, has found a dead body in a cupboard. When Lady Cranleigh and Latoni arrive The Doctor shows the body to them and it is identified to be Digby. Meanwhile the harlequin costume is returned to The Doctor’s room by the stranger, who then goes to another room and puts the unconscious Ann to bed there.

Ann soon recovers and runs out to Lady Cranleigh. At that moment The Doctor appears on the stairs wearing the harlequin costume and Ann accuses him of attacking her. The Doctor tries to explain but Lady Cranleigh will not corroborate any of his stories of secret passages and dead bodies. Sir Robert Muir, the local police chief, then arrests The Doctor on suspicion of having killed the footman, James. To make matters worse for The Doctor, and his travelling companions, Charles then receives a phone call from a man named ‘Smutty’ who tells him that the replacement cricketer, for whom The Doctor has been mistaken, actually missed his train.

Lord Cranleigh
Lord Cranleigh

On the way to the police station, The Doctor gains Sir Robert’s permission to stop off at the railway station but to his dismay, the TARDIS has gone. Luckily is has just been moved to the police station. There, The Doctor takes Sir Robert, Sergeant Markham and Constable Cummings inside to prove that they are innocent.

Back at Cranleigh Hall, Lady Cranleigh admits to Charles that she and Latoni have been secretly looking after his brother, George Cranleigh, who was presumed dead after apparently failing to return from an expedition he made up the Orinoco River two years earlier in search of the black orchid. He has been hideously scarred - both physically and mentally - by the natives to whom the flower is sacred.

In a secret room Latoni is knocked unconscious by George Cranleigh but, by hiding the door key between two floorboards, prevents him from escaping from the room in which he is being held. Unable to find the key, George Cranleigh starts a fire to burn through the door.

Ann Talbot
Ann Talbot

The Doctor transports everyone back to Cranleigh Hall in the TARDIS. There they discover the fire. Suddenly without warning Nyssa is snatched by George Cranleigh, mistaking her for Ann, as he escapes from the burning room, and is dragged upstairs and onto the roof. But The Doctor is unable to follow them because the fire has spread.

Sir Robert demands to know who the deformed figure is, and Lady Cranleigh explains that the Kajabi Indians disfigured George Cranleigh and cut out his tongue. Latoni was the chief of another tribe who rescued him and brought him home. Thinking that George Cranleigh has snatched Ann she also insists that he will not harm the girl. But The Doctor points out that it was not Ann he took but Nyssa.

While trying to find another way up onto the roof everyone leaves the house it is then that Lady Cranleigh confesses to Sir Robert that it was George Cranleigh who killed Digby. Up on the roof The Doctor implores George Cranleigh to release Nyssa, telling him to look down and see Ann. On releasing Nyssa, Charles approaches his brother to thank him, but George Cranleigh backs away and falls from the roof to his death.

Later, on returning from George Cranleigh’s funeral, The Doctor and his travelling companions, as they are about to leave in the TARDIS, discover that Tegan has been given a large box containing their fancy dress costumes, which they have been allowed to keep. Lady Cranleigh also gives The Doctor a further gift: a leather-bound book The Doctor thanks her and opens the first page. Opposite a photograph of the author is the legend: ‘Black Orchid by George Cranleigh’.

 
Lady Cranleigh
Lady Cranleigh
Adric
Adric
Tegan Dances Charleston
Tegan Dances Charleston
The Doctor in the Pierrot Costume
The Doctor in the Pierrot Costume
 
Dittar Latoni
Dittar Latoni
Nyssa with George Cranleigh
Nyssa with George Cranleigh
Proving Their Innocence
Proving Their Innocence
The Black Orchid
The Black Orchid




Quote of the Story


 'Why do I always let my curiosity get the better of me?'

The Doctor



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
VHS
Black OrchidJuly 1994BBCV 5349Pete WallbankDouble cassette release Released along with "The Visitation"
Video
DVD
Black OrchidApril 2008BBCDVD 2432Photo-montage
Video
Blu-Ray
Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 19 (Limited Edition)December 2018BBCBD 0446Photo-montageBlu-Ray Limited Edition boxed set containing 7 specially restored stories
Video
Blu-Ray
Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 19 (Standard Edition)May 2021BBCBD 0527Photo-montageBlu-Ray Standard Edition boxed set containing 7 specially restored stories


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
Black OrchidFebruary 1987Target No. 113Terence DudleyTony MaseroISBN: 0-426-20254-6
CD
CD
Black OrchidJune 2008Target No. 113Terence DudleyTony MaseroAudio version of the Target Novel read by Michael Cochrane.
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 59 (Released: August 1995)
Doctor Who Monthly - PreviewIssue 63 (Released: April 1982)
Doctor Who Monthly - ReviewIssue 65 (Released: June 1982)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 298 (Released: December 2000)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 377 (Released: January 2007)
Doctor Who Magazine Special - Archive10th Anniversary Special (Released: 1989)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 152 (Released: November 2014)

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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
The Collection Season 19 Limited Edition Blu-Ray Cover
The Collection Season 19 Limited Edition Blu-Ray Cover

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

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 59
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 59

CMS
Doctor Who Monthly - Preview: Issue 63
Doctor Who Monthly - Preview: Issue 63

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

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 298
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 298

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 377
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 377

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine Special - Archive: 10th Anniversary Special
Doctor Who Magazine Special - Archive: 10th Anniversary Special

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 152
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 152

GE Fabbri


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