Full Circle (Doctor Who)

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111[1]Full Circle
Doctor Who serial
Full Circle (Doctor Who).jpg
A Marshman emerges from underwater.
Cast
Others
Production
Writer Andrew Smith
Director Peter Grimwade
Script editor Christopher H. Bidmead
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s) Barry Letts
Incidental music composer Paddy Kingsland
Production code 5R
Series Season 18
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 25 October – 15 November 1980
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
Meglos State of Decay

Full Circle is the third serial of the 18th season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 25 October to 15 November 1980. The serial is the first of three loosely connected serials known as the E-Space trilogy and introduces Matthew Waterhouse as the Doctor's newest companion, Adric.

Plot[edit]

En route to Gallifrey to return Romana to the High Council of Time Lords, the TARDIS passes through a strange phenomenon and ends up in an alternative universe called E-Space. Neither the Doctor nor Romana herself can calculate why the TARDIS scanner shows images of their planet when they have arrived in a verdant forest. It later emerges they have journeyed to this pocket universe through a rare space/time phenomenon known as a Charged Vacuum Emboitment.

Nearby is a small but sustainable civilisation of humanoids who live between a river and a grounded spaceship called the Starliner. They came to the planet, Alzarius, from Terradon and much of the focus of society is on repairing their craft to make it navigable once more. It is an oligarchy ruled by three self-selecting senior colonists known as Deciders, who ensure the smooth running and order of their adopted world and lay particular store on technical ability. One of the brightest of the younger generation of colonists is Adric, who bears a Badge of Mathematical Excellence in recognition of his computational skills. However, his brother Varsh has rejected the regimented society of the Starliner and leads a band of rebels called Outlers, who steal harvested riverfruit and other foods to survive.

All is not well in the colony. Strange eggs have started to appear in the riverfruit, and this is interpreted by First Decider Draith using the System File of the Starliner as an omen of Mistfall, a strange periodic change to the planet during which the natural balance of society is threatened. Soon Mistfall begins, and the colonists move into the Starliner to protect themselves. Adric attempts to steal some riverfruit to prove himself to his brother; Draith gives chase to his young protégé but falls and lands in the river – only to be dragged beneath the waves by a strange force. His last words are aimed at the chief scientists of the colony: "Tell Dexeter we've come full circle!" Adric heads into the forest in panic, finding the TARDIS. The Doctor and Romana take him in and tend to his leg wound, which recovers remarkably quickly. The Doctor heads off to investigate the planet, while Adric attracts Varsh and the other Outlers to the protection of the TARDIS.

The other Deciders, Garif and Nefred, have ordered the Starliner doors closed as per procedure, knowing that both Draith and Keara, an Outler and the daughter of a prominent citizen called Login, have not entered the ship. Despite his worries, Login accepts a position as Third Decider when it is determined that Draith has died. It is as well the doors have been closed – humanoid, aggressive Marshmen begin to appear from underwater, looking threatening, and scuttling Marshspiders hatch from the eggs of the Riverfruit. The Marshmen beat on the walls of the Starliner to gain entry but the creatures are not admitted. The Doctor, however, gains entry to the Starliner using his sonic screwdriver, followed by a young and inquisitive Marshchild. Both are found and taken before the Three Deciders. The Doctor is appalled when chief scientist Dexeter starts to perform vivisection experiments on the Marshchild.

A group of Marshmen have carried the TARDIS to a settlement cave, intending to use it as a battering ram to force their way into the Starliner. Romana decides to venture outside. She is bitten by one of the Marshspiders and starts to change, seeming possessed. Adric panics and materialises the TARDIS inside the Starliner. When the Outlers emerge the Doctor pilots the TARDIS back to the cave, and finds an alert but amnesiac Romana. The Doctor scoops up the remains of a Marshspider and then reverses his journey once more with Adric and an unconscious Romana in tow. By the time he is back in the Starliner, however, Dexeter has tried to examine the brain of the Marshchild, provoking it to attack and kill him and itself. The Doctor is so incensed he turns on the Deciders and denounces their society – revealing secret ship controls that show the Starliner has been ready to pilot from Alzarius for centuries, but the farce of constant repair continued. The problem is that, though the Deciders understand the technical construction of the ship, no one knows how to pilot it.

The Doctor persuades the Deciders to give him equipment to examine the cells of the marshspider and marshchild and deduces that they are from identical DNA sources. This situation is complicated, however, when a transformed Romana releases the emergency exits and allows the Marshmen to invade the Starliner. The colonists retreat before the creatures, many of whom are more inquisitive than dangerous. Nefred is mortally wounded while fleeing one room; his last admission is that the colonists cannot return to Terradon, because they have never been there. It is realised that the present-day Alzarians are actually a subspecies of the Marshmen, who wiped out the Starliner's original Terradonian crew and then gradually evolved into human form to take their place.

The Doctor uses a protein serum to cure Romana, and they determine from research in the ship's science unit that the ship has been maintained for 40,000 generations by a species that has three aspects; spiders, Marshmen, and the current humanoids. They are all from the same DNA and thus have come "full circle". This is the real secret of the System Files.

It is accidentally deduced that oxygen in pure form is problematic to the Marshmen, and this non-lethal defence is used to force the Marshmen out of the Starliner. During their retreat Varsh is killed, leaving Adric in emotional turmoil. With the Marshmen returning to the swamps, the boy stows away on board the TARDIS. His fellow colonists meanwhile pilot the craft away from Alzarius. The Doctor and Romana are unaware of Adric's presence as they pilot their own craft to another destination.

Continuity[edit]

This serial comprises the first leg of an extended adventure generally known as "The E-Space Trilogy"; the trilogy continues in the next serial, State of Decay, and concludes in Warriors' Gate. The Doctor briefly mentions Leela, K-9 Mk I and the Key to Time early in this serial.

Production[edit]

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
"Part One" 25 October 1980 (1980-10-25) 24:23 5.9
"Part Two" 1 November 1980 (1980-11-01) 22:11 3.7
"Part Three" 8 November 1980 (1980-11-08) 22:00 5.9
"Part Four" 15 November 1980 (1980-11-15) 24:16 5.5
[2][3][4]

Working titles for this story included The Planet That Slept.[5] At the time of writing this story, Andrew Smith was a seventeen year-old who achieved his lifelong ambition to write for the show.

The exterior locations for Alzarius were filmed at Black Park in Buckinghamshire.[6]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Full Circle
Doctor Who Full Circle.jpg
Author Andrew Smith
Cover artist Andrew Skilleter
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
26
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
16 September 1982
ISBN 0-426-20150-7

A novelisation of this serial, written by Andrew Smith, was published by Target Books in September 1982. The novelisation opens with the Starliner crashing on Alzarius.

Home media[edit]

Full Circle was released on VHS in October 1997. Paddy Kingsland's incidental music for the serial was released, in 2002, as part of the compilation album Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume 4: Meglos & Full Circle. A DVD was released on 26 January 2009 in a box set called The E Space Trilogy with State of Decay & Warriors' Gate. This serial was also released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in Issue 85 on 4 April 2012.

References[edit]

  1. ^ From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this as story number 112. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "Full Circle". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  3. ^ "Full Circle". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "Full Circle". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ Howe, David J.; Stammers, Mark; Walker, Stephen James (1992). Doctor Who The Handbook - The Fourth Doctor. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 133. ISBN 0-426-20369-0. 
  6. ^ Howe, Stammers & Walker 1992, p. 228

External links[edit]

Reviews[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]