The Awakening (Doctor Who)

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131[1]The Awakening
Doctor Who serial
Directed byMichael Owen Morris
Written byEric Pringle
Script editorEric Saward
Produced byJohn Nathan-Turner
Incidental music composerPeter Howell
Production code6M
SeriesSeason 21
Running time2 episodes, 25 minutes each
First broadcast19 January 1984 (1984-01-19)
Last broadcast20 January 1984 (1984-01-20)
← Preceded by
Warriors of the Deep
Followed by →
List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

The Awakening is the second serial of the 21st season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was originally broadcast on BBC1 on 19 and 20 January 1984.

The serial is set in the fictional English village of Little Hodcombe in 1984. In the serial, a psychic alien creature called the Malus takes control of Sir George Hutchinson (Denis Lill) to feed and awaken it with the help of deadly re-enactments of the English Civil War.


On 13 July 1643, two forces came to the village of Little Hodcombe during the English Civil War and destroyed each other. As the story begins, a group of Roundheads are riding horses in the village of Little Hodcombe, with little regard to the villagers around them. Only it is not 1643, it is 1984.

A schoolteacher, Jane Hampden, is convinced that her fellow villagers, led by the town’s magistrate, Sir George Hutchinson, have taken their re-enactment of a series of war games too far. Hutchinson attempts to assure her that the games are a harmless event, which are merely to celebrate the English Civil War. When Hampden asks him to stop the games, Hutchinson ignores her.

Inside the TARDIS, the Fifth Doctor promises to take his companion, Tegan, to 1984 so she can spend some time with her grandfather, Andrew Verney. The Doctor sets the coordinates to Little Hodcombe, where Verney resides. However, the TARDIS experiences some turbulence and arrives in what appears to be a structurally unstable church. The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough, while watching on the scanner, see a man in 17th century clothing fleeing from the church and the Doctor dashes out to help him. However, the man has now vanished. Tegan is convinced that they have landed in the wrong time zone. However, Turlough tells her that he had checked the TARDIS coordinates and they are in 1984. As the Time Lord and his companions continue to pursue the man, smoke starts to billow from a crack in the wall.

The Malus prop, on display at a Doctor Who exhibition

Eventually, the three travellers are captured by Captain Joseph Willow and taken to Sir George Hutchinson. The Doctor and his companions are first brought before Hampden and Colonel Ben Woolsey, who apologises for the poor treatment that they received. Hutchinson arrives and explains to the Doctor that the town is celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of Little Hodcombe and then he urges him to join the celebration. Tegan then explains that they have come to this village to see her grandfather, Andrew Verney. She is informed that her grandfather is missing, and runs out of the room, upset. The Doctor follows but loses her. Tegan is still crying, when someone steals her purse. She tries to get it back and runs into a barn where she sees the ghost of an old man.

The Doctor returns to the church and meets a 17th-century peasant, Will Chandler, who emerges from a wall. He has been hidden in a priest hole and believes the year to be 1643. Turlough eventually rescues Tegan from the barn and they return to the TARDIS, where they see a sparkly projection made of illuminated white squares on one of the walls. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Will investigate the church. Tegan and Turlough leave the TARDIS and they are re-captured. Turlough is locked in a building with Verney. Willow forces Tegan to change into a 17th-century costume. He informs her that she is to become the Queen of the May.

The Doctor and Will continue to investigate. Eventually they find a secret passage back to Ben Woolsey’s living room under a slab marked with a picture of a creature that Will identifies as the Malus. Coming the other way through the passage, the Doctor and Will meet up with Hampden, who found the passage’s other end by accident after being locked in Colonel Wolsey's office. They avoid Hutchinson, who has followed Jane down the passage, and the Doctor finds a small ball of metal. The Doctor identifies the metal as “tinclavic,” a metal “mined by the Terileptils on the planet Raaga for the almost exclusive use of the people of Hakol,” a planet in the “star system Rifta,” where “psychic energy is a force to be harnessed.”

Returning to the church, the Doctor and Hampden are astonished when a massive alien face pushes its way through the crack on the wall, roaring and spewing smoke. They manage to escape from the psychic projection of a cavalier, and head back to the house via the tunnel. The Doctor realises that the Malus in the church was discovered by Verney and Hutchinson. The latter tried to exploit the creature, but instead, the creature began to use him by organising the war games. He deduces that the psychic energy released by the war games has fed the Malus. The Doctor and Jane again try to persuade Hutchinson to stop the games, as the final battle will be for real. He refuses and orders Woolsey to kill the Doctor. However, once Hutchinson leaves, Woolsey joins forces with the Doctor.

The Queen of the May is taken in a horse-drawn cart towards the village green, where she is to be burned. When the cart arrives, Hutchinson suddenly noticed that the Queen is not Tegan, but a straw dummy that has been put in her place by Woolsey. Hutchinson becomes angry and he orders his men to kill Woolsey and the others. Will appears in the nick of time and uses a flame torch to cause a distraction, which allows the Doctor, Hampden, Woolsey and Tegan to escape and get back to the TARDIS. The Doctor locks the signal conversion unit on the frequency of the psychic energy feeding the Malus, hoping to be able to direct it. Willow and a trooper try in vain to break their way into the TARDIS, and Turlough and Verney knock them unconscious with lumps of masonry. The Doctor succeeds in blocking the energy, and the projection of the Malus in the TARDIS dies. The real Malus, in an act of desperation, attempts to drain as much psychic energy from the villagers as possible. He creates a corporeal projection of three roundheads who try to kill the Doctor, Woolsey, Tegan, Turlough, Hampden, Verney and Will. However, the dazed and confused trooper stumbles from the TARDIS and into the main church area, becomes surrounded by the roundheads, and they decapitate him then vanish.

Hutchinson arrives and holds them all at gunpoint. When the Doctor tries to talk Hutchinson out of the thrall of the Malus, Willow attacks the group. In the scuffle, Will pushes Hutchinson into the mouth of the Malus, destroying the Malus's medium. Realising it has failed, the Malus prepares to destroy itself and everything around it. Subsequently, the church begins to collapse and the Doctor leads the others, including Willow, into the safety of the TARDIS.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor's companions are surprised to see Will still among them. The Doctor explains that he must have been wrong in his assumption that Will was a psychic projection. He then says that the Malus must have created a temporal rift, which allowed Will to slip into the future. The Doctor then says that he will take Will back to 1643. Tegan objects and ask the Doctor to allow her some time to visit her grandfather. The Doctor is initially reluctant, but is eventually persuaded to stay in Little Hodcombe for a while for a rest.


EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [2]
1"Part One"25:1819 January 1984 (1984-01-19)7.9
2"Part Two"24:4720 January 1984 (1984-01-20)6.6

The two episodes were combined into a single omnibus edition broadcast on 20 July 1984, reaching 4.4 million viewers.[3]

The working titles of this story were War Game and Poltergeist. Pringle had submitted this story in the mid-1970s to then-script editor Robert Holmes[4] as a four-part story entitled War Game. In the 1980s he resubmitted his story (as well as a different four-parter, The Darkness, possibly featuring the Daleks) to script editor Eric Saward. Realizing the story did not have enough impact for four episodes, it was later pared down to two,[5] renamed Poltergeist and then finally The Awakening. John Nathan-Turner liked the character of Will Chandler a great deal and seriously considered keeping him on as a companion. However, it was eventually concluded that Chandler's childlike character would quickly wear thin and lacked any clear path of development, so Nathan-Turner dropped the idea.

The story featured extensive location shooting and studio work. Two villages are used to portray Little Hodcombe: Shapwick in Dorset and Martin in Hampshire.[6] Saward wanted to add a TARDIS sequence with Tegan and Kamelion, utilising the robot prop and played in chameleonic form by Peter Davison and Mark Strickson. However, this scene was cut from the transmitted episode for timing reasons. The recovery of an early edit of episode one on video (in the personal archive of late producer John Nathan-Turner) means that this element, previously thought lost, was included on the DVD release of the serial. A small part of the scene has appeared in the documentary Kamelion: Metal Man which featured on the DVD release of The King's Demons.[7]

The master tape for Part One was found to have some scratch damage when the 1984 compilation version was being mastered; no protection copy was made at that time so the original tx master continued to deteriorate. The tape was checked in the early 1990s and the scratch damage found to be far more intrusive than it had been in 1984; fortunately, the original film sequences were kept and using these, the compilation copy, and the reprise from part 2, the Doctor Who Restoration Team was able to make a repaired master copy in 1997, which was used for the VHS release.

This was officially the final Doctor Who story to consist of two 25-minute episodes. All two-parters since then have been 45 minutes long per episode, including most of season 22 and several stories of the revived series. The Ultimate Foe, the concluding segment of The Trial of a Time Lord, is numbered on screen as Parts Thirteen and Fourteen of the latter title; furthermore, they share the same BBC production code, 7C, with the preceding four-part story arc, Terror of the Vervoids, even though they have their own separate novelisation and feature compilation.

The production designer for this story, Barry Newbery, had worked on Doctor Who intermittently ever since its very first story.[8] After completing Awakening, Newbery took early retirement from the BBC, making this story his last professional effort.[9]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

The Awakening
Doctor Who The Awakening.jpg
AuthorEric Pringle
Cover artistAndrew Skilleter
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
13 June 1985

A novelisation of this serial, written by Eric Pringle, was published by Target Books in February 1985.

Home media[edit]

The Awakening was released on a double VHS set with Frontios in September 1997. The DVD was released in a box set named Earth Story along with The Gunfighters[10] on 20 June 2011.


  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 132. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Doctor Who Guide: broadcasting for The Awakening".
  4. ^ "Doctor Who: Earth Story DVD review". 28 June 2011.
  5. ^ "Doctor Who: The Awakening - Episode 132". DVD Talk.
  6. ^ The Awakening,
  7. ^ Den Of Geek (2010-07-02). "Doctor Who: Kamelion Tales Collection DVD review". Den of Geek. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
  8. ^ Anthony Hayward (2015-05-19). "Barry Newbery: Production designer who worked on 'Doctor Who' for more than 20 years with the first five Time Lords". The Independent. Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  9. ^ "The Awakening ★★★★★".
  10. ^ "Doctor Who: Earth Story DVD review". 28 June 2011.

External links[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]