The Visitation (Doctor Who)

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This article is about the Doctor Who television serial. For other uses of the name, see The Visitation (disambiguation).
119[1]The Visitation
Doctor Who serial
Visitation.jpg
The Terileptil and the android
Cast
Others
Production
Writer Eric Saward
Director Peter Moffatt
Script editor Antony Root
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Paddy Kingsland
Production code 5X
Series Season 19
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 15–23 February 1982
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
Kinda Black Orchid

The Visitation is the fourth serial of the 19th season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four twice-weekly parts from 15–23 February 1982.

Plot[edit]

At the manor home of a 17th-century family, some unwelcome visitors arrive.

In the console room, the Doctor is talking with Adric about the events of their previous adventure on Deva Loka (Kinda). Meanwhile, Nyssa is helping Tegan pack, as they plan to land back at Heathrow shortly after she left to join the Doctor (in Logopolis). Tegan and Nyssa enter the console room to find that they have landed at Heathrow... just 300-some years early. Tegan is distressed and storms out of the TARDIS.

The four gather outside the TARDIS and immediately smell sulphur and head off to find the source. They are then attacked by villagers, but escape. In the confusion, Adric drops his homing device to find the TARDIS and the group is separated. Richard Mace, a highwayman and proclaimed thespian, encounters the group and takes them to safety inside a barn.

While questioning Mace, they find out that some kind of comet recently landed nearby. The Doctor knows it was no "comet" and takes immediate interest in the necklace Mace is wearing. It is actually a bracelet used for prisoner control. The group begins searching the barn and comes across several power packs, and since they are far more fragile than the necklace, it means there were survivors. And so they set off to the nearby manor of the person who owns the barn.

No one answers the front door, so the Doctor and Nyssa find a way in through a window. While searching the manor, they find more power packs, gunpowder, and a mark from a high-energy weapon. The Doctor also notices that there is a wall where there shouldn’t be one. And while he continues his investigation of the wall, Nyssa heads to the front door and lets the others in. But when they return to the wall, the Doctor is nowhere to be found. And as the four stand there trying to figure out where he’s gone, a figure shuts and locks the door behind them.

The Doctor then appears through the wall and explains it is a holographic energy barrier. The group walks through and joins the Doctor. Once in the cellar, they notice the place smells of soliton gas. Also in the cellar are several caged rats and the device emitting the soliton gas. While the five are searching the room, the figure from before, an android, sneaks up on them. It succeeds in “stunning” Tegan and Adric, while the Doctor, Nyssa and Mace are forced to retreat.

The survivor is a Terileptil fugitive and interrogates Tegan and Adric about the Doctor. Meanwhile, the Doctor and the others find the Terileptil’s ship near the manor while they plan on how to deal with the android: A sonic booster set up in the TARDIS might just deal with it. As they leave the ship, a group of villagers, all with the same device Mace found, approach them. They demand that the Doctor come with them, and when he refuses they attack. The three run back into the ship, now under siege by the villagers. The Doctor blasts open the rear hatch of the ship and the group escapes into the forest to find the TARDIS. The controlled villagers followed them at a distance.

Back in the manor, Tegan and Adric have been placed in a locked room. While Nyssa heads back to the TARDIS to work on the sonic booster, the Doctor and Mace decide to question the local miller - who appears to be able to come and go from the manor with ease. Tegan and Adric eventually escape from the room and head up into the manor proper. Adric succeeds in jumping out a window before Tegan is recaptured by the android. Unable to solicit any response from the controlled miller, the Doctor and Mace decide to join Nyssa in the TARDIS. However, just as they are leaving the mill, they are confronted by real villagers and are about to be killed for being “plague carriers”.

The Terileptil still needs the Doctor and sends the controlled Headman of the village in to stop them. The villagers then throw the Doctor and Mace into a room in the mill. At the manor, the Terileptil has placed one of the bracelets on Tegan. And back at the TARDIS, Adric arrives and assists Nyssa in setting up the sonic booster. The Doctor succeeds in disabling two of the bracelets and the Terileptil dispatches the android to retrieve them.

Minutes later, the android, in the guise of the Grim Reaper, bursts into the mill, frightens off the villagers, and takes the Doctor and Mace back to the manor where they find Tegan under the control of the bracelet. The Doctor encounters the Terileptil, but his offer to take him off Earth is rejected. The Terileptil instead plans to kill everyone on Earth and take the planet over. Mace is also equipped with a bracelet and the Doctor is thrown in a room where the Terileptil destroys his sonic screwdriver. The Terileptil brings in a cage with a rat and explains his plan: he is going to use genetically enhanced plague carried on the rats to devastate the population. The Terileptil leaves the room and the controlled Tegan prepares to open the cage.

The Doctor overcomes Mace and Tegan usings some spare power packs. The Terileptil leaves for his base in the nearby city and sends the android to take control of the TARDIS. The Doctor, Tegan, and Mace escape from the room and search the Terileptil’s lab to find it completely empty. Mace tells the Doctor that the nearby city the Terileptil was referring to was London. The android arrives at the TARDIS and is successfully dealt with by the sonic booster Nyssa finished. Adric and Nyssa then move the TARDIS to meet the Doctor and the others at the manor.

Using the TARDIS scanner, the Doctor locates the Terileptil in London. The TARDIS rematerializes there and the five enter the building. With the Terileptil leader are two other Terileptils who get the jump on the Doctor and Mace. They manage to stop them, but the Terileptil leader's weapon starts to overload and detonates. The resulting explosion destroys the building and starts a raging fire. Mace stays behind to fight the blaze as the Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Adric leave in the TARDIS.

It is revealed that the fire is at Pudding Lane, the location where the Great Fire of London started.

Continuity[edit]

The opening sequence in the TARDIS follows on directly from Kinda. Since The Visitation was filmed before Kinda, the cast had to act out their characters' responses to the events of Kinda based solely on the script.[citation needed]

The explosion of the Terileptil leader's weapon is the cause of the Great Fire of London. At the end of Pyramids of Mars The Doctor says that he doesn't want to be blamed for causing a fire as he had 'had enough of that in 1666'.

Production[edit]

The working titles for this story were The Invasion Of The Plague Men and Plague Rats.[citation needed] The Terileptil mask marks the first use of animatronics in the series.

Director and part-time actor Peter Moffatt is the reason that Peter Davison does not perform under his birth name, Peter Moffett. British acting regulations do not permit two actors to be credited with the same name, and Davison decided that 'Peter Moffett' was too close to 'Peter Moffatt'.

First seen in the 1968 Second Doctor serial, Fury from the Deep, the Doctor's sonic screwdriver was destroyed by the Terileptil leader. This was on the direction of producer John Nathan-Turner, who felt that the tool was too easy a way of solving the Doctor's problems, vetoing a scene at the end of the story where the Doctor would simply get a replacement from a room full of the devices in the TARDIS. This was the last time the sonic screwdriver was seen in the series until its next appearance in the 1996 Doctor Who television movie.

Although this was the fourth story aired this season, it was actually the second to be produced, after Four to Doomsday.

Cast notes[edit]

Peter Davison has stated that The Visitation is one of his three favourite serials from his time on the programme.[2]

Features a brief guest appearance by John Savident. See also Celebrity appearances in Doctor Who.

Outside references[edit]

Writer Eric Saward originally created the character of Richard Mace for several radio plays broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in the 1970s. In these, the character is still an eccentric actor, but the plays are set around the 1880s (Jack the Ripper is mentioned).

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
"Part One" 15 February 1982 (1982-02-15) 24:11 9.1
"Part Two" 16 February 1982 (1982-02-16) 24:26 9.3
"Part Three" 22 February 1982 (1982-02-22) 24:24 9.9
"Part Four" 23 February 1982 (1982-02-23) 23:32 10.1
[3][4][5]

Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping gave a favourable review of the serial in The Discontinuity Guide (1995), writing, "A good, hearty action romp, crisply written and engaging, although critics might say that it's too straight-forward. There's only one proper character (Richard Mace), which gives Peter Davison and Michael Robbins the space to turn in a pair of lovely performances. The end result is a stylish slice of pseudo-historical nonsense."[6] In The Television Companion (1998), David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker called The Visitation "a very enjoyable story, and one of the highlights of the season." They praised the loctation filming, but noted a weakness was "Matthew Waterhouse's peculiar performance as Adric".[7] In 2012, Patrick Mulkern of Radio Times said that the story was "pedestrian in places, [but] Saward does execute one or two dramatic flourishes". He said that Davison was growing into the role and the companions given something to do despite being "variable", and was mixed towards the design of the Terileptiles.[8] Reviewing the special edition DVD release for SFX, Nick Setchfield gave The Visitation three and a half out of five stars. He noted that it was a "throwback" and "built on capture-escape-capture storytelling, but it's brimful of oaky, shadowy 17th century atmosphere".[9]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Doctor Who and the Visitation
Series Target novelisations
Release number 69
Writer Eric Saward
Publisher Target Books
ISBN 0-426-20135-3
Release date 19 August 1982

A novelisation of this serial, written by Eric Saward, was published by Target Books in August 1982. Its cover was originally to be painted like the other Target Doctor Who novels, but an objection by Peter Davison's agent resulted in a photographic cover being used instead. This was the only Peter Davison story to have its novelisation titled as Doctor Who and the..., an unabridged reading of the Target novelisation was released in 2012 and was read by Matthew Waterhouse who played Adric in the series, the CD also contained a new cover.[10]

Home media[edit]

The Visitation was released on a VHS double pack with Black Orchid in July 1994. It was released on DVD in the United Kingdom on 19 January 2004, and used material from the 16 mm film prints, which still exist in the BBC Archives. A Special Edition of the story has been released on 6 May 2013.

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 120. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ "Peter Davison: 'I was quicker than most Doctors'". BBC News. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  3. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "The Visitation". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ "The Visitation". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "The Visitation". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  6. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "The Visitation". The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20442-5. 
  7. ^ Howe, David J & Walker, Stephen James (1998). Doctor Who: The Television Companion (1st ed. ed.). London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-40588-7. 
  8. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (19 January 2012). "Doctor Who: The Visitation". Radio Times. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Setchfield, Nick (3 May 2013). "Doctor Who: The Visitation - Special Edition Review". SFX. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "Doctor Who THE VISITATION review AUDIOGO - EOH". Eyeofhorus.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-09. 

External links[edit]

Reviews[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]