The TARDIS arrives in what appears to be a laboratory-cum-playroom in a mysterious old house. As they leave the TARDIS, The Doctor tells his travelling companion, Ace, that their location is a surprise. Ace voices her hope that the house is not haunted as she hates haunted houses - especially as she has been in one already.
The year is 1883 and the house is presided over by a Josiah Samuel Smith. Downstairs the housekeeper Mrs Grose opens the front door and lets in a Reverend Earnest Matthews who has come to see Josiah Smith. Mrs Grose leaves him to wait and, with the other day maids, hurriedly departs from the house. The clocks strike six o’clock and the night maids emerge from behind concealed panels in the hall, together with Mrs Pritchard, head of the night staff. Elsewhere in the house Josiah Smith sends his ward Gwendoline to greet Reverend Earnest Matthews.
As they explore The Doctor and Ace find a snuff box on the floor in a hallway. On investigation The Doctor discovers that it is radioactive. They then meet an explorer and big game hunter, who states he is searching for a Redvers Fenn-Cooper. The explorer sees the box as proof of Redvers Fenn-Cooper’s presence and explains that he intends to save him from Josiah Smith. The explorer suddenly turns violent and threatens The Doctor. Then the explorer sees a refection of himself in a window pane - and recognises this as the reflection of Redvers Fenn-Cooper. Mrs Pritchard then bursts in and takes Redvers Fenn-Cooper away. Nimrod, a Neanderthal butler, then takes The Doctor to join Reverend Earnest Matthews in the study. On arriving there Reverend Earnest Matthews assumes that The Doctor is Josiah Smith and starts berating him for his scientific beliefs. The Doctor gives Nimrod the fang of a cave bear - a sign of knowledge - and the butler leaves to bring some tea. Ace goes with Gwendoline to change into more suitable clothing for a woman in Victorian England.
Josiah Smith then enters the study and the lights dim automatically. He is wearing dark glasses and is covered with dust. Nimrod, leaves and heads down to the cellar – which is revealed to be a stone space ship. There he kneels before a shape concealed behind a lighted panel. As he does so, however, he is knocked out by a creature that emerges from a previously locked cell. Meanwhile Josiah Smith is speaking to The Doctor when the telephone rings. He answers it, and a voice croaks ‘I escape’. Josiah Smith reacts in horror but then composes himself and has Mrs Pritchard show Reverend Earnest Matthews in to the room. But as the two men talk Mrs Pritchard uses a pad, soaked in ether, to knock Reverend Earnest Matthews out.
Meanwhile Ace realises that The Doctor has brought her to Gabriel Chase, a house in Perivale that she burnt down when she was thirteen years old as she sensed evil there. Furious with The Doctor, for tricking her, she runs off and finds the lift which descends to the cellar. There she discovers the space ship but is attacked by two reptilian ‘husk’ creatures, while a hoarse voice calls her ‘Ratkin’. Nimrod comes to Ace’s aid, but becomes agitated when she threatens to smash the lighted panel. He struggles with her and the panel is broken, sending him into shock. The Doctor arrives with Josiah Smith and notes that there is something hibernating behind the panel. Josiah Smith then obtains a gun and takes charge. He tells The Doctor and Ace to operate the controls to close down the space ship, but they distract him. The creature in the cell orders the husks to release it. The two time travellers run, with Josiah Smith, back to the lift and they eventually make it back to the ground floor. Josiah Smith’s skin is flaking - he has started evolving again - and he breaks the lift before ordering Mrs Pritchard to seal the house as dawn is approaching.
|Ace and The Doctor
Strange things start to take place in the house. In the laboratory/playroom, Josiah Smith offers a banana to Reverend Earnest Matthews who, it appears, is starting to turn into a monkey. Gwendoline then drugs Reverend Earnest Matthews with another chemical pad. Then as dawn breaks, The Doctor wakes a sleeping policeman, who Gwendoline had earlier shown him in a specimen drawer, and Ace falls asleep. Ace is eventually woken by Mrs Grose, who has brought her a large breakfast - although it is now around 5.00 p.m. As Mrs Grose hurries away Ace joins The Doctor and the policeman in the drawing room. There she discovers that Nimrod is still in a coma. And the policeman, Inspector Mackenzie, is eating heartily and trying at the same time to conduct enquiries into the disappearance of the house’s original owner Sir George Pritchard, which he started investigating in 1881.
They are though unaware that the creature from the cell - Control - has left the cellar and is listening at the door as The Doctor brings Nimrod out of his coma by shouting ‘Light!’. As Nimrod talks to The Doctor, Control goes to prepare for the return of Light. The Doctor, having mended the lift, hopes that Control will bring ‘something’ up from the cellar with it.
The Doctor sets the clock in the hall forward to 6.00 p.m. and, as it strikes, Mrs Pritchard and the night-staff emerge. Josiah Smith also appears. He has shed another husk and now no longer needs to hide from the light. The Doctor refuses his request to stop the lift. The doors open and Control emerges. Suddenly a bright light bursts from the lift, followed by the unearthly figure of Light himself. Ace comments that it is an angel, but The Doctor replies that it is just another life form; while it slept, its survey - Josiah Smith - got out of control. After killing one of the maids Light explains that he previously spent centuries cataloguing all life on Earth, but as soon as he finished it started to change and evolve. Control runs off and The Doctor tries to persuade Light to leave, but fails. Redvers Fenn-Cooper then tells The Doctor that he is hunting the Crowned Saxe-Coburg - the Queen of England.
|Redvers Fenn-Cooper and The Doctor
Having been exposed to the upstairs environment, Control begins evolving into a beautiful young woman, but her personality remains largely instinctive and animal-like. Ace tries to help Control evolve into a Lady but Ace is still trying to come to grips with her feelings about the house. Josiah Smith then sends Gwendoline to dispose of Ace. Ace is rescued by Control and Gwendolyn is left locked in the room. But Gwendolyn soon breaks down the door and heads off after Ace. The Doctor finds Ace and Gwendoline fighting again in one of the bedrooms. He manages to intervene by showing Gwendoline a locket containing a photograph of her mother - Mrs Pritchard. The Doctor, Ace, Redvers Fenn-Cooper and Control then join Josiah Smith for dinner. As they enter the dining room The Doctor tells Ace not to have the soup. The Doctor shows Mrs Pritchard the locket and she leaves in tears to find her daughter. This she does, in the bedroom, and they embrace. Light appears and turns them to stone so that they will never change again. Nimrod witnesses this and is horrified.
Meanwhile back in the dining room it is discovered that Redvers Fenn-Cooper has an invitation to Buckingham Palace and now plans to take Control there instead of Josiah Smith. This makes Josiah Smith furious as he intended to use this opportunity to assassinate the Queen. Light then arrives and reveals that he had planned to reduce all life to primordial soup - like Inspector Mackenzie, currently in the soup bowl - but now intends to destroy everything with a firestorm. That way his catalogue will be complete. The Doctor though points out that Light is changing too and that his catalogue still has gaps: griffins, basilisks, dragons, slithy toves, bandersnatches and Crowned Saxe-Coburgs to name a few. And that he cannot destroy all life before he has completed the catalogue.
The Doctor tries to convince Light of the futility of opposing evolution. On realising that everything is changing all the time this causes Light to overload and dissipate into the surrounding house. Nimrod points out that the firestorm program has already been activated. Everyone hurries to the stone space ship, where Control takes charge of Josiah Smith and orders him back. The heads of the husks explode and Josiah Smith reverts to a basic creature, which Control then locks up in the cell. Redvers Fenn-Cooper and Nimrod decide to take over Light’s task of completing the catalogue and Control notes that The Doctor is not listed … and probably never will be. With Josiah Smith now the new Control creature imprisoned on the space ship, Control, Redvers Fenn-Cooper and Nimrod set off in the space ship to explore the universe.
As The Doctor and Ace return upstairs, and back to the TARDIS, The Doctor notes that the house will remember these events - it is the reason that Ace burnt it down when she had felt an evil presence there when she visited the house in 1983.