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Image of the Fendahl
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Synopsis


The Fendahl
The Fendahl
 A sonic time scan draws the TARDIS to the Fetch Priory on Earth. There, The Doctor and Leela discover an impossibly old human skull that is the key to a nightmare from the Time Lords’ past.

 A murderous monster stalks the priory grounds; and within, someone is intent on unleashing a malevolent creature that feeds on death itself…



General Information

Season: Fifteen
Production Code: 4X
Story Number: 94
Episode Numbers:462 - 465
Number of Episodes: 4
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates: August - September 1977
Broadcast Started: 29 October 1977
Broadcast Finished: 19 November 1977
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: BBC Television Centre (TC6)
Location: Stargrove Manor (East End, Hampshire)
Writer:Chris Boucher
Director:George Spenton-Foster
Producer:Graham Williams
Script Editors:Robert Holmes and Anthony Read (Uncredited)
Production Assistant:Prue Saenger
Production Unit Manager:John Nathan-Turner
Assistant Floor Manager:Karilyn Collier
Designer:Anna Ridley
Costume Designer:Amy Roberts
Make-Up Designer:Pauline Cox
Cameraman:Elmer Cossey
Incidental Music:Dudley Simpson
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:Alan Fogg
Lighting:Jim Purdie
Visual Effects:Colin Mapson
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: Louise Jameson (Leela) and John Leeson (voice only) (K9 Mk I) Additional Cast: Wanda Ventham (Thea Ransome), Daphne Heard (Martha Tyler), Scott Fredericks (Maximillian Stael), Denis Lill (Dr. Fendelman), Edward Evans (Ted Moss), Edward Arthur (Adam Colby), Derek Martin (David Mitchell), Graham Simpson (Hiker), Geoffrey Hinsliff (Jack Tyler)Setting: Fetch Priory, Fetchborough (circa 1977) Villains:Maximillian Stael and The Fendahl

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
462Part 129 October 197724'38"6.7PAL 2" colour videotape
463Part 205 November 197724'44"7.5PAL 2" colour videotape
464Part 312 November 197724'22"7.9PAL 2" colour videotape
465Part 419 November 197720'32"9.1PAL 2" colour videotape

Total Duration 1 Hour 34 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 7.8
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)71.19%  (Position = 58 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)72.84% Higher (Position = 73 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)71.08% Lower (Position = 122 out of 241)


Archives


 All four episodes exist as PAL 2" colour videotapes.



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Notes


"Image of the Fendahl" was Chris Boucher’s last Doctor Who story. After his involvement on Blake’s 7 ended, Chris Boucher continued writing and script editing on programmes such as Juliet Bravo, Bergerac and The Bill. He also created the science-fiction programme Star Cops. Chris Boucher finally returned to Doctor Who via the BBC Book’s The Past Doctors Stories novels, writing four books between 1998 and 2005 ("Last Man Running", "Corpse Marker", "Psi-ence Fiction" and "Match of the Day") all for the Fourth Doctor and Leela. He was also involved with the Magic Bullet Productions audio series "Kaldor City", which combined elements from both "The Robots of Death" and Blake’s 7.

This was also the final story that Robert Holmes was credited as being the Script Editor. Incoming Script Editor Anthony Read had also worked on this story, to help in the transition during Robert Holmes’ departure from the role. Despite this only Robert Holmes received an on-screen credit. Anthony Read would not receive his first on-screen acknowledgment until the next story in production, "Underworld"). Robert Holmes would maintain close ties with the programme contributing two more stories for Season Sixteen, and several further stories in the mid-Eighties. Robert Holmes remained a prolific writer for other programmes including: Blake’s 7, The Nightmare Man, Juliet Bravo and Bergerac. He also served as Script Editor on Armchair Thriller and Shoestring. Robert Holmes also novelised his script for the 1985 Sixth Doctor story "The Two Doctors" for the Target Books range. He passed away in May 1986, after a brief illness, partway through work on his final Doctor Who story, "The Ultimate Foe" - the concluding part of The Trial of a Time Lord season of stories.

The Doctor is seen wearing a new scarf in this story. The appearance of his new scarf and the original would alternate between the remaining stories (The new scarf also being worn in "Underworld" and "The Invasion of Time") due to them being recorded in a different order than transmitted.

This story marks the first appearance of a new version of Leela’s famous leather outfit, which is lighter in colour than her previous savage attire. The new version was created because the original was wearing out, and had caused Louise Jameson some problems due to it being a leotard (the new version was a dress to rectify this problem). Producer Graham Williams had also instructed the designer, Amy Roberts, to make Louise Jameson look sexier in the new outfit. Leela’s original costume appears briefly at the end of the fourth episode (mainly to facilitate the punchline to a joke in the first episode) and would return, for the last time, in the next story, "The Sun Makers", before the new version came back for Leela’s final two stories.

It is also revealed, by Louise Jameson in the DVD commentary for this story, that the reason why her hair is done up in this story is because a BBC hairstylist had mistakenly cut six inches off her long hair just prior to filming. Her final scene in the story was filmed some five weeks after this incident, by which time her hair had grown long enough to allow her to wear it down for a single scene.

This was the first story in which the Radio Times credited the lead character as ‘The Doctor’ rather than ‘Doctor Who’. This did not happen again until next season’s "The Power of Kroll".

There had been for some time a myth amongst some fans that this story had a working title of "The Island of Fandor". However, this title came about when news of this story was first released by the production office, the title was miss-heard over the phone by the editor of The Doctor Who Appreciation Society magazine TARDIS who then reported it incorrectly. Many fans have also believed "The Island of Fandor" to be a ‘lost’ story.

This story had been written before it was known that K9 would be joining the show on a regular basis and so K9 only appears briefly, in the opening and closing TARDIS scenes, suffering from corroded circuitry. John Leeson, who provided the voice of K9 during this season, was not recruited to voice the character as K9 had no lines of dialogue.

Location filming for this story was carried out at Stargrove Manor, East End in Hampshire. This estate had been formerly owned by Mick Jagger and was the same location which had been used during the filming of "Pyramids of Mars" two years earlier.

Plot elements of this story - including the discovering of an alien skull linked to occult symbols, alien influence of mankind’s evolution and the dormant alien influence being brought to bear in contemporary humanity - appear to be heavily influenced by both the 1959 Kurt Vonnegut novel "The Sirens of Titan" and the 1950s BBC television drama Quatermass and the Pit.

X-rays of the skull reveal the shape of a pentagram which Dr. Fendelman thinks is a form of ‘neural relay’. The Doctor says that the skull must have come to Earth, taking in Mars on the way - which he describes as dead.

The Fendahl skull was found in Kenya in volcanic sediment. Thea Ransome’s potassium-argon tests indicate it is 12 million years old (according to Colby, this is 8 million years older than it can conceivably be). However, the Fendahl was supposed to have been destroyed on the Fifth Planet, 107 million miles from Earth.

It is revealed that the Time Lords destroyed the planet (so forming the asteroid belt) and then hid its existence in a time loop to prevent any knowledge of the Fendahl leaking out. The Doctor though, knows the story as a myth from childhood and is terrified by it as it was one of the ghost stories told to him by the hermit (see "State of Decay").

Look out for the scene at the end of the second episode where The Doctor asks the Fendahl skull if it would like a jelly baby, but actually offers it a Liquorice Allsort.

The Fendahl requires twelve Fendahleen and a core to form its gestalt. The Doctor discovers that ‘sodium chloride obviously affects conductivity... and prevents control of localised disruption of osmotic pressures’. Leela simplifies The Doctors statement by saying ‘You mean, salt kills them?’. The Doctor then notes that this is probably the origin throwing salt over your shoulder.

There were two sizes of Fendahleen created for the show. Several small hand-operated versions were made for the sequence in which the Fendahl core converts her followers into the creatures, and one full sized monster was also built.

It is revealed that the TARDIS generates a low intensity telepathic field.

The Doctor explains Ma Tyler’s ‘sixth sense’ by saying that psychic ability is a common side-effect of growing up near a time fissure. The same explanation is given for another character’s clairvoyance in the 2005 Tenth Doctor story "The Unquiet Dead" though the phenomenon is referred to as a space-time rift.

According to dialogue, the events of the last episode take place on Lammas Eve (so dating this story as taking place on the 31st July).

A character name Max Stael was re-used in "Fugue State", an episode of the BBC television drama series Doctors written by Doctor Who novelist Paul Ebbs.

A novelisation of this story, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in July 1979. The book’s cover (painted by John Geary) was once voted as the worst in Doctor Who by readers of Doctor Who Bulletin magazine.

The origins of Planet 5 and its role are explored further in the BBC Book’s The Eighth Doctor Stories novel "The Taking of Planet 5", written by Simon Bucher-Jones and Mark Clapham. This novel also includes The Fendahl. The Fendahl also appear in the "Kaldor City" series of audio plays as well as in the unofficial spin-off story "Deus Le Volt" written by Jon de Burgh Miller and published, as part of their Time Hunter series, by Telos Publishing Ltd.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first time Leela is seen wearing a new 'lighter' version of her famous leather outfit.

 The first Doctor Who story to be directed by George Spenton-Foster.

 The first story in which the Radio Times credited the lead character as ‘The Doctor’ rather than ‘Doctor Who’.


The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 The last Doctor Who story to be written by Chris Boucher.

 Robert Holmes' last involvement in the show as Script Editor.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
Tending to K9
Tending to K9

In a priory near the village of Fetchborough, four scientists, Adam Colby, Maximillian Stael, Thea Ransome and Dr. Fendahlman, are doing tests on a human skull, that is apparently twelve million years old, which was discovered in Kenya. However, when Dr. Fendahlman starts to use a sonic time scan, in an attempt to get an image of the owner of the skull, the skull itself seems to react, locking onto Thea Ransome and releasing something in the priory grounds that kills a passing hiker in the woods, who eventually totally disintegrates.

Meanwhile, The Doctor and Leela are in the TARDIS worrying over a damaged K9 when the TARDIS is affected by a Time Hole. The Doctor traces the source to Earth and so The Doctor sets the coordinates and the TARDIS lands near the Priory, the following day. On exiting the TARDIS, The Doctor and Leela soon come across a man called Ted Moss who informs them of some strange things going on at the Priory. This prompts The Doctor to investigate further.

They separate and Leela finds the cottage of Martha Tyler, a local, modern day witch who seems to be gifted with psychic powers. The Doctor ends up narrowly avoiding death at the hands of the creature created by the skull and all those in priory find themselves trapped inside when Dr. Fendahlman arranges for a detachment of guards to protect the priory after the body of the hiker is discovered.

Dr. Fendelman and Adam Colby
Dr. Fendelman and Adam Colby

Martha Tyler then encounters the creature, but survives and is saved from going into psychic shock by The Doctor, who by this time has worked out that the creature is a Fendahleen, a creature from his planet’s mythology that lives by sucking the life from others. Following its destruction of life on Mars it had been thought that the Fendahleen had been destroyed by the Time Lords.

When The Doctor makes his way into the priory and finds the skull it tries to kill him but Leela is able to save him. The Doctor realises that Thea Ransome has become affected by the skull which is exerting an influence over her mind. Also each time the scanner operates, the skull glows with power as the connection is strengthened. She is gradually being converted into the new core of the Fendahl.

Martha Tyler
Martha Tyler

The Doctor realises that the skull is a channel through which the powerful and ancient Fendahl will manifest on Earth. Since apparently disappearing the Fendahl has been subtly affecting and influencing life on Earth, guiding it to a point where the Fendahl could manifest itself. It is no coincidence that the scientist in charge of the Time Scanner is called Fendelman, nor that Thea Ransome is sensitive to the ancient skull. This is all a part of the Fendahl’s plan.

One of the other scientists, Maximillian Stael, who is also the leader of the local black magic cult, recognises this and believes he can control the Fendahl and use it to dominate. He and his followers capture Dr. Fendahlman and Adam Colby shackling them to pillars in the cottage’s basement. Meanwhile The Doctor and Leela use the TARDIS to follow the Time Fissure and find the Fendahl’s home planet. But instead they discover that it had been placed in a time loop – something that only the Time Lords could do.

Back on Earth, Maximillian Stael assembles his cult, preparing to begin their ceremony. Dr. Fendleman realises what is happening, and that he and his ancestors have been used by the Fendahl to regain life. He desperately pleads with Maximillian Stael and his followers to stop, but Maximillian Stael shoots him. As the ceremony reaches a climax Thea Ransome is fully converted into the Fendahl Core. But it starts to convert the cult members into snake-like Fendahleen, to form a full circle of twelve that it needs to be complete and form a gestalt.

Thea Ransome
Thea Ransome

Returning to the priory, and with the help of Leela and the Tylers, The Doctor manages to free Adam Colby. But he is unable to help Maximillian Stael who has become paralysed by the Fendahl. Realising there is nothing he can do to help him The Doctor helps Maximillian Stael to kill himself.

On realising that the Fendahleen are fatally allergic to salt The Doctor gets the Tylers to defend themselves against the Fendhaleen that are roaming about the priory by using rock salt loaded into shotgun cartridges. After killing one of the new Fendhaleen, so leaving the Fendahl core two short of the twelve it needs to be complete the gestalt, The Doctor rigs the Time Scanner to implode upon itself when it is operated for a final time. The Fendahl Core attempts to stop them, but in its weakened state, they avoid its paralytic effects. The Doctor, Leela and the Tylers manage to escape from the priory just before the resultant power surge destroys the house, the Fendahl Core and the remaining Fendalheen.

The Doctor and Leela then depart in the TARDIS. The Doctor, having grabbed the now dormant skull, on their escape from the priory, plans to dump the skull near a supernova, thus ending the Fendahl race forever.

 
Maximillian Stael
Maximillian Stael
The Doctor
The Doctor
Leela
Leela
The Doctor with the Skull
The Doctor with the Skull
 
The Fendahl Core Rises
The Fendahl Core Rises
A Fendalheen
A Fendalheen
The Fendahl Core With a Fendalheen
The Fendahl Core With a Fendalheen
The Doctor with a Fendalheen
The Doctor with a Fendalheen




Quote of the Story


 'Are you saying that about twelve million years ago, on a nameless planet which no longer exists, evolution went up a blind alley? Natural selection turned back on itself, and a creature evolved which prospered by absorbing the energy wavelengths of life itself? It ate life, all life, including that of its own kind?"'

Adam Colby



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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
Video
VHS
Image of the FendahlMarch 1993BBCV 4941Andrew Skilleter
Audio
CD
30 Years at the Radiophonic Workshop1993BBC CD 871Photo-montageSound effects
Video
DVD
Image of the FendahlApril 2009BBCDVD 1820


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Image of the FendahlJuly 1979Target No. 34Terrance DicksJohn GearyISBN: 0-426-20077-2
CD
CD
Image of the FendahlFebruary 2020Target No. 34Terrance DicksJohn GearyAudio version of the Target Novel read by Louise Jameson (Leela).
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 26 (Released: August 1990)
Doctor Who Monthly - ArchiveIssue 53 (Released: June 1981)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 197 (Released: March 1993)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 357 (Released: June 2005)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 379 (Released: February 2007)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 70 (Released: September 2011)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions

 
Tom Baker
The Fourth Doctor

   

Louise Jameson
Leela
 
John Leeson (voice only)
K9 Mk I
   




On Release

Tom Baker Years VHS Video Cover
Tom Baker Years VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
VHS Video Cover
VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Sound Effects CD Cover
Sound Effects CD Cover

BBC
AUDIO
DVD Cover
DVD 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 26
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 26

CMS
Doctor Who Monthly - Archive: Issue 53
Doctor Who Monthly - Archive: Issue 53

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 197
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 197

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 357
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 357

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 379
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 379

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 70
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 70

GE Fabbri
   

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