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Peter Davison
Snakedance
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Synopsis


The Mara Consumes Tegan
The Mara Consumes Tegan
 Surely Tegan must have made a mistake when she set the TARDIS' co-ordinates, because The Doctor certainly hadn't intended landing on Manussa? But upon learning that Manussa was once home of the Sumaran Empire, The Doctor knows that their arrival has been no accident but has been orchestrated by a hostile force - a force which is rapidly gaining control of Tegan's will.

 By first infiltrating Tegan's subconscious mind, through strange and disturbing dreams dominated by the image of a huge snake's skull, this force – ‘the Mara’ - is planning on as a vehicle for its return to power on the planet Manussa.

 So just as Manussa prepares festivities to commemorate the destruction of the Sumaran Empire by the ruling Federation, it seems that the Legend of the Mara could be about to come true. According to this Legend, the Mara was never destroyed by the Federation but merely banished. Furthermore, the Legend claims that the Mara will return in a dream - a precursor to its gaining control of all their minds...

 It is clear to The Doctor that the first steps in the Mara's return have already been taken...

Source: BBC VHS Video


General Information

Season: Twenty
Production Code: 6D
Story Number: 124
Episode Numbers:584 - 587
Number of Episodes: 4
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Alternative Titles:"Snake Dance"
Production Dates: April 1982
Broadcast Started: 18 January 1983
Broadcast Finished: 26 January 1983
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: BBC Television Centre (TC6)
Location: None
Writer:Christopher Bailey
Director:Fiona Cumming
Producer:John Nathan-Turner
Script Editor:Eric Saward
Editor:Alastair Mackay
Production Assistant:Rita Dunn
Production Associates:Angela Smith and June Collins
Assistant Floor Manager:Maggy Campbell
Designer:Jan Spoczynski
Costume Designer:Ken Trew
Make-Up Designer:Marion Richards
Cameraman:John Baker
Incidental Music:Peter Howell
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:Martin Ridout
Lighting:Henry Barber
Visual Effects:Andrew Lazell
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: 2The Companions: Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) and Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka) Guest Cast: Martin Clunes (Lon), Johnathon Morris (Chela) Additional Cast: John Carson (Ambril), Colette O'Neil (Tanha), Preston Lockwood (Dojjen), Brian Miller (Dugdale), Hilary Sesta (Fortune Teller), George Ballantine (Hawker), Barry Smith (Puppeteer), Brian Grellis (Megaphone Man)Setting: Planet Manussa Villain: The Mara

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
584Part 118 January 198324'26"6.7PAL 2" colour videotape
585Part 219 January 198324'35"7.7PAL 2" colour videotape
586Part 325 January 198324'29"6.6PAL 2" colour videotape
587Part 426 January 198324'29"7.4PAL 2" colour videotape

Total Duration 1 Hour 38 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 7.1
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)67.22%  (Position = 85 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)67.65% Higher (Position = 120 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)71.70% Higher (Position = 112 out of 241)


Archives


 All four episodes exist as PAL 2" colour videotapes.



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Notes


This story is a sequel to Season Nineteen’s "Kinda" and so sees the return of The Mara.

The writer for this story was Christopher Bailey - whose first Doctor Who story had been "Kinda". Even as "Kinda" was wrapping up production, in August 1981, Christopher Bailey and Script Editor Eric Saward were already beginning discussions about a possible Mara sequel.

The director assigned to this story was Fiona Cumming, who had directed "Castrovalva" the previous year.

Among the actors in this story were two popular BBC comedy actors, Martin Clunes, (in an early television role, as Lon) and Johnathon Morris (as Chela). Johnathon Morris is famous for playing the part of Adrian Boswell in the 1986 - 1991 comedy series Bread. While Martin Clunes, is famous for being in Men Behaving Badly and for playing the lead roles in Doc Martin and the 2010 remake of classic comedy Reggie Perrin.

Playing the part of the showman Dugdale was Brian Miller - who was the husband of Elisabeth Sladen who played companion Sarah Jane Smith in the mid-Seventies. He later played the part of Harry Sowersby in The Sarah Jane Adventures story "The Mad Woman in the Attic".

Playing the part of the Megaphone Man was Brian Grellis. Brian Grellis previously played Sheprah in the 1975 Fourth Doctor story "Revenge of the Cybermen" and Safran in the 1977 Fourth Doctor story "The Invisible Enemy".

In Season Nineteen, John Nathan-Turner had intentionally outfitted the regular cast in recurring costumes (Adric’s Alzarian garb, Nyssa’s "fairy dress" and Tegan Jovanka’s air hostess uniform) in an effort to both reduce costs and increase the show’s marketability. This had proved an unpopular decision amongst viewers and so beginning with this story the costumes worn by companions Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding began to change.

Because "Snakedance" was intended as a purely studio-bound story, and so that the production team on "Arc of Infinity" could avoid inclement weather for their trip to Amsterdam, it was decided to record this story first, even though it was scheduled as the second adventure of Season Twenty.

For this story both fake and real snakes were used, with a snake company called Janimals being commissioned to provide non-poisonous snakes for the actors to work with.

Every story during Season Twenty had The Doctor face an enemy from his past. For this story, the enemy was the Mara, who had featured in the previous season’s story "Kinda".

It is revealed that The Mara was created on Manussa, and ruled, turning the former Manussan Empire into the Sumaran Empire. Manussa is in the Scrampus system, and is a colony of a Federation formed by one of Lon's ancestors (part of a network of former Earth colonies). The Mara was defeated by Lon's ancestor 500 years ago (and escaped to Deva Loka (see "Kinda")).

Look out for the scene in which Lon claims that the fake crystal is made of glass. The practical effect of it being smashed does not convincingly confirm Lon’s statement as it obviously shatters like plastic or polystyrene.

Blue Crystals have appeared in the show before (see the Third Doctor stories "The Green Death" and "Planet of the Spiders"). The blue crystals in this story have very similar properties to those of Metebelis 3 but here they are manufactured in zero gravity to ensure there are no imperfections.

During post-production of the fourth and final episode it was found to be overrunning badly. As a result, it had to be completely restructured with the deletion of some scenes - including those involving discussions of the Great Crystal (which would have led into a possible third story for the following season (to be titled "May Time" or "Manwatch"). Further, a sequence at the end in which The Doctor comforts Tegan was removed, to be reprised in the following story, "Mawdryn Undead".

This is one of the very few Doctor Who stories in which no one dies.

Despite being happy with "Snakedance", and again quickly requesting that Christopher Bailey devise another story idea, the return of the Mara would ultimately be abandoned. As a result "Snakedance" became Christopher Bailey’s final Doctor Who story and for television in general.

The Mara however, would make a return in the Big Finish Productions audio story "The Cradle of the Snake".

In the redesigned TARDIS of the 1996 television movie "Doctor Who: The Movie", one of the consoles displays different time eras such as the ‘Rassilon Era’, ‘Humanian Era’ and the ‘Sumaron Era’. It has so far not been revealed if the later is a reference to this story.

Even though not related to this story but a couple of weeks prior to the start of production on this story, on the 18th March 1982, Peter Davison arrived on location to film what he believed was a promotional trailer for Australian television. Instead he became the subject of the popular This Is Your Life hosted by Eamonn Andrews. Taking part in this show was Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding (Beryl Reid, who had recently been in "Earthshock" also appeared later in the tribute.) This marked the second time a Doctor Who star had been featured on This Is Your Life, the other being Jon Pertwee in 1971. The tribute to Peter Davison aired a week later on the 25th March.



First and Last

The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 The last appearance of the Mara.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
Tegan Having Nightmares
Tegan Having Nightmares

In the TARDIS, Tegan Jovanka is asleep in her room and she is dreaming of a cave-mouth shaped like a snake. In the Console Room The Doctor and Nyssa discover that they are not where they expected to be. They have arrived on ‘Planet G 139901 KB’, otherwise known as Manussa - a planet in the Scrampus system and part of the Federation of Three Worlds. The Doctor is soon to discover that Tegan has fallen once more under the influence of the Mara and has set the co-ordinates to bring them to this planet.

When Tegan awakes, screaming at what she has seen there, The Doctor is interested and tries to recover Tegan’s dream by hypnotising her. This attempt fails, however, so he then constructs a device to limit the production of brain waves associated with dreaming, his aim being to try to protect Tegan from whatever is in her mind. The Doctor and his two companions then leave the TARDIS to investigate Manussa.

Also on Manussa is Lon, the Federator’s son, and his mother Tanha. Lon though is a bored young man and craves excitement, while his mother is concerned that the affairs of state should be seen to be carried out. Preparations are being made for a pageant which is held every ten years to celebrate the destruction of the Mara 500 years earlier. Tanha and Lon go with Ambril, the planet’s Director of Historical Research, to see the nearby cave systems. There, the history of the Manussan empire and the earlier Sumaran empire is told in a series of pictograms on the walls.

Nyssa's New Outfit
Nyssa's New Outfit

As they explore their surroundings Tegan is confused and effectively deaf, while wearing The Doctor’s device, and she soon becomes separated from her two friends. She ends up in a barker’s hall of mirrors, wherein she is tempted by the Mara. She becomes possessed by the creature and a snake tattoo appears on her arm. She sends the barker, Dugdale, to get Lon, who is then also possessed.

The Doctor meanwhile tries to find out more about the Mara, first from the Director and then from looking at the pictograms in the caves. He realises that the legend revolves around the Great Crystal - the Great Mind’s Eye - which collected energy from living minds and focused it. Chela, one of Ambril’s attendants, gives The Doctor a smaller version of the Crystal, a Little Mind’s Eye, and by experimenting with it he discovers that it has the power to turn thought into matter. The Doctor realises that the Mara is planning to recreate itself in the ceremony at the conclusion of the pageant, but when he tries to warn Ambril he finds himself locked up.

Lon
Lon

Ambril is tempted by Lon and Tegan, who reveal to him numerous ‘lost’ artefacts from the ancient Sumaran civilisation. They instruct him that the ‘real’ Great Crystal will be used in the ceremony. When Lon and Ambril leave to arrange this, the snake on Tegan’s arm starts to come alive and she destroys Dugdale’s mind just by looking at him.

Meanwhile Chela gives the imprisoned Doctor the diary of Dojjen, the Director before Ambril, who wrote of the Mara’s re-birth before he wandered off into the wilderness and disappeared. Through the diary, The Doctor realises that the Manussans brought the Mara into being themselves when they created the Crystal. With Chela’s help, he and Nyssa - who has been captured and imprisoned with him - escape and head off to try to contact Dojjen.

The Doctor summons the old man via the small Crystal. Using the venom from a small snake, the pair telepathically commune. Dojjen states that fear is the only poison and that, in order to defeat the Mara, The Doctor must find the still point within himself. Recovering, The Doctor heads for the caves, with Nyssa and Chela, to try to stop the ceremony.

Nyssa and The Doctor
Nyssa and The Doctor

In the cave, Lon plays out his role and ritually challenges the snake. There is a triple temptation: fear in a handful of dust delivered from a skull; despair in a withered branch; greed in the hidden depths of the Crystal. But then Lon suddenly breaks from the established litany and smashes the fake Crystal. He shows the real Crystal to the assembled Manussans and opens a hidden door to reveal Tegan clutching a snake. Lon places the Great Crystal in the allotted space in the carved design on the cave wall. Lines of power then radiate from it and, except for Lon, Tegan and the mindless Dugdale, everyone present collapses and writhes in mental agony. When Tegan drops the snake, she is holding, to the floor it starts to grow.

The Doctor, Chela and Nyssa then rush in, but they too are assaulted by the power from the Crystal. The Doctor warns them not to look - not to believe - as the Mara is creating itself from their fear. The Doctor concentrates on his smaller Crystal, trying to find the still point. Then as Tegan merges with the giant snake, The Doctor manages to hold off the final becoming.

To his relief the real Tegan then starts to reassert herself as The Doctor concentrates on Dojjen and the Crystal. The Mara orders Lon and Dugdale to destroy the small Crystal but they are repelled. The Doctor then snatches the Great Crystal from the wall which stops the power drain.

Robbed of power the Mara and Tegan split apart and the snake dies and starts to rot. This enables the Manussans to recover and for Dojjen to leave his mountain refuge. Back in the caves, The Doctor comforts a distraught Tegan. He assures her though that the Mara has at last been destroyed and so she is now free of its influence.

 
The Doctor and Lon
The Doctor and Lon
A Worried Tegan
A Worried Tegan
Dojjen
Dojjen
Tegan Becomes Possessed
Tegan Becomes Possessed
 
Tegan is Possessed
Tegan is Possessed
Lon is Taken Over
Lon is Taken Over
The Mara
The Mara
The Doctor Comforts Tegan
The Doctor Comforts Tegan




Quote of the Story


 'Dreams are important... never underestimate them.'

The Doctor



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Audio
LP
Doctor Who: The Music1983REC 462Music score
Audio
Tape
Doctor Who: The Music1983Music score
Audio
CD
Doctor Who - Earthshock - Classic Music From The BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume 11992FLMCD 709Alister PearsonMusic score
Video
VHS
SnakedanceDecember 1994BBCV 5433Colin Howard
Video
DVD
SnakedanceMarch 2011BBCDVD 2871Photo-montagePart of "The Mara Tales" Box Set Released along with "Kinda"


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
SnakedanceMay 1984Target No. 83Terrance DicksAndrew SkilleterISBN: 0-426-19457-8
Novel
Novel
Snakedance1984Target No. 83Terrance DicksBook: Andrew Skilleter
Box: Photo
Re-released as part of The Fifth Doctor Who Gift Set
ISBN: 0-426-19596-5
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 64 (Released: May 1996)
Doctor Who Monthly - ReviewIssue 76 (Released: May 1983)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 127 (Released: August 1987)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 227 (Released: July 1995)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 380 (Released: March 2007)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 103 (Released: December 2012)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions

 
Peter Davison
The Fifth Doctor

   

Sarah Sutton
Nyssa
 
Janet Fielding
Tegan Jovanka
   




On Release

Audio LP - Doctor Who: The Music
Audio LP - Doctor Who: The Music

BBC
AUDIO
Audio Tape - Doctor Who: The Music
Audio Tape - Doctor Who: The Music

BBC
AUDIO
Doctor Who - Earthshock CD Cover
Doctor Who - Earthshock CD Cover

Silva Screen
AUDIO
VHS Video Cover
VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
   
Mara Tales DVD Cover
Mara Tales DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO



In Print

Target Book Cover
Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
 
The Fifth Doctor Who Gift Set
The Fifth Doctor Who Gift Set

Target
NOVEL
   


Magazines

Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 64
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 64

CMS
Doctor Who Monthly - Review: Issue 76
Doctor Who Monthly - Review: Issue 76

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 127
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 127

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 227
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 227

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 380
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 380

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 103
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 103

GE Fabbri
   

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