The Hand of Fear
|087 – The Hand of Fear|
|Doctor Who serial|
The reconstituted Eldrad in female form.
|Script editor||Robert Holmes|
|Incidental music composer||Dudley Simpson|
|Length||4 episodes, 25 minutes each|
|Originally broadcast||2–23 October 1976|
The Hand of Fear is the second serial of the 14th season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 2 October to 23 October 1976. The serial was the last regular appearance of Elisabeth Sladen in the role of Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who.
Millennia ago on the planet Kastria, a traitor and criminal named Eldrad is sentenced to death for his crimes, including the destruction of the barriers that have kept the solar winds at bay. The pod containing the criminal is obliterated – but his hand survives. In the present day the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith arrive in the TARDIS in a quarry and are caught up in a quarrying explosion. Sarah Jane is rendered unconscious but in that state makes contact with the fossilised hand, its ring placing her under its control. The Doctor takes her to the local hospital, where the mesmeric power of the hand becomes more complete and both Sarah Jane and a pathologist called Dr Carter are brought under its control.
Sarah Jane heads for the nearest nuclear generator, the Nunton Complex, where she causes a crisis by breaking into the reactor with the hand. It seems to thrive on radiation and begins to regenerate, growing back its missing finger and moving around unaided. The head of the complex, Professor Watson, remains at his post when the reactor goes critical. He offers the Doctor aid and advice in trying to get to Sarah Jane despite Carter attempting to stop the Doctor before falling to his death. Eventually the Doctor is able to reach Sarah Jane and knocks her down, but not before the hand has absorbed a significant amount of radiation. Retreating, the Doctor takes his companion to the medical center.
The hand's ring next takes over a nuclear operative called Driscoll, who is manipulated into bringing the hand into the reactor core while everyone else flees the complex. An RAF bombing raid simply adds to the available radiation and allows Eldrad to regenerate into a fully humanoid form. Finding herself in a female form, she uses her powers to learn from the Doctor why the humans have attempted to destroy her. Eldrad convinces him to take her back to Kastria, explaining that she created the solar barriers that enable her people to thrive, claiming that they were subsequently destroyed when Kastria was caught in the middle of an interstellar war.
The Doctor, Sarah Jane and Eldrad travel in the TARDIS to Kastria in the present time – 150 million years after she left. They find a barren and frozen world, with a few signs of civilization many floors below ground. Eldrad is seemingly caught and destroyed by one of a series of traps while travelling with the Doctor to a regeneration chamber. Eldrad emerges in his true masculine form, however, then commences a tirade against King Rokon upon seeing hologram of him. Admitting that he destroyed the barriers during his attempt to usurp the Kastrian leadership, Eldrad finds the remains of Rokon and learns from a pre-recorded message that the Kastrian race accepted extinction over living a miserable existence underground, destroying their race banks in case Eldrad returned. When Eldrad decides to make his new empire on Earth, the Doctor trips the would-be tyrant into an abys, keeping the Kastrian's ring to ensure he cannot regenerate.
Not long after departure in the TARDIS, the Doctor receives a summons to Gallifrey and declares he cannot take Sarah Jane with him. This news upsets her after everything they have been through together and, packing her belongings, she states her intention to leave. The Doctor returns her to Earth where she tells the Doctor not to forget her. As the TARDIS dematerialises Sarah Jane realises that the Doctor has not left her in Hillview Road as planned, and probably not even in South Croydon.
When the Doctor prepares to hypnotise Sarah, she says "Oh, no! Not again!", a reference to her earlier hypnosis by the Doctor in Terror of the Zygons. In the final scene Sarah Jane mentions giving the Doctor's love to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Harry Sullivan. When Sarah Jane returns five years later in the pilot for K-9 and Company and is told by K-9 Mark III that it has been sent as a gift from The Doctor, she remarks, "Oh, Doctor, you didn't forget." The Tenth Doctor reiterates the same admonition to Sarah Jane thirty-three years later when they part at the end of The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith.
Elisabeth Sladen would reprise the role of Sarah Jane Smith in K-9 and Company, and later appear in the 20th Anniversary special The Five Doctors as a companion to the Third Doctor, and the 30th Anniversary charity special Dimensions in Time. While Sladen acted less after the birth of her daughter Sadie in 1985, she continued to appear as Sarah in various Doctor Who related spin-off media, including a series of Sarah Jane Smith audio plays by Big Finish Productions. In the revived series, she appeared in the Tenth Doctor episode "School Reunion". In this episode and the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures, Sarah Jane's arrival point on Earth is revealed to have been Aberdeen rather than Croydon.The character also appeared in "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End", followed by a final cameo at the conclusion of the Tenth Doctor's last episode, The End of Time.
When Sladen announced her intention to leave the series, Sarah Jane was originally supposed to be killed off in a pseudo-historical story involving aliens and the French Foreign Legion. Douglas Camfield, who was supposed to write the scripts, was unavailable to do so, however. This was much to Sladen's relief, as she did not want Sarah to be killed or married off. Sladen also asked that Sarah Jane's departure not be the main focus of the story, as she felt the programme was about the Doctor, not the companion. Baker and Martin intentionally did not write Sarah Jane's departure scene. Instead, the script for that scene was rewritten by Sladen and Tom Baker based upon Robert Holmes' original version.
The original script for the story featured an aging Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, who had been moved from UNIT to the Extraterrestrial Xenological Intelligence Taskforce to study UFO activities. He was to be killed when he steered his spaceship into an Omegan kamikaze ship to prevent that ship from crashing into Earth. This was not filmed due to Nicholas Courtney being unavailable. The original script also featured Harry Sullivan. and Miss Jackson was a nameless male. Director Lennie Mayne built up the part, changed the gender, and cast his wife Frances Pidgeon in the role. Eldrad's home was originally identified as the black hole Omega 4.6. When Robert Holmes pointed out to Bob Baker and Dave Martin that the name Omega had already appeared in Doctor Who (in The Three Doctors; ironically this story was also written by Baker and Martin), they changed the name to Kastria.
A real-life quarry explosion was filmed for the episode. A rumour persisted for many years that a camera was totally destroyed in the blast. The DVD commentary makes clear that this was a fan myth. The nuclear power station was originally supposed to be the Nuton Power Complex of The Claws of Axos but was renamed the Nunton Experimental Complex instead. The real-life location was the Oldbury nuclear power station in Gloucestershire. Nearby Thornbury was used for the closing scene.
Broadcast and reception
|Episode||Broadcast date||Run time||Viewers
|"Part One"||2 October 1976||24:50||10.5|
|"Part Two"||9 October 1976||24:48||10.2|
|"Part Three"||16 October 1976||24:22||11.1|
|"Part Four"||23 October 1976||25:00||12.0|
The episodes were broadcast on BBC Four on 9 and 10 May 2011 as a tribute to Elisabeth Sladen who had died on 19 April that year. The repeat viewing figures were 1.0, 1.2, 0.9 & 1.3 million respectively.
Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping wrote in The Discontinuity Guide (1995) that the serial was "engaging and well-acted", particularly praising Sladen. However, they noted that "It all goes a bit pear shaped in the final episode, with Stephen Thorne doing his best Brian Blessed impersonation and Eldrad eventually tripping over the Doctor's scarf." In The Television Companion (1998), David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker praised Sladen and Judith Paris as the female Eldrad, but criticised Stephen Thorne as the male Eldrad, who seemed too similar to his previous character Omega from The Three Doctors (1972–3). In 2010, Mark Braxton of Radio Times was positive towards the location filming and the female Eldrad, but criticised Kastria and felt that the last episode was "a protracted preamble" to Sarah Jane's departure. DVD Talk's Stuart Galbraith gave The Hand of Fear three out of five stars, saying that while the female Eldrad was effective, the story was "all over the map" and ran out of steam near the end, with the fourth episode being "largely a disaster".
|Cover artist||Roy Knipe|
|Series||Doctor Who book:
This serial was released on VHS in February 1996. The story was released as a Region 2 DVD on 24 July 2006. It was released in Region 1 on 7 November 2006. It was re-released with new outer packaging on 2 July 2007.
- Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "87 'The Hand of Fear'". Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 198. ISBN 0-426-20442-5.
- "Changing Time" documentary on DVD release
- Shaun Lyon; et al. (31 March 2007). "The Hand of Fear". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 31 July 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
- "The Hand of Fear". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
- Sullivan, Shannon (7 August 2007). "The Hand of Fear". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
- Dan Martin (9 May 2011). "Why The Hand of Fear is a fitting tribute to Elisabeth Sladen". The Guardian.
- Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "The Hand of Fear". The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20442-5.
- Howe, David J & Walker, Stephen James (1998). Doctor Who: The Television Companion (1st ed.). London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-40588-7.
- Braxton, Mark (21 August 2010). "Doctor Who: The Hand of Fear". Radio Times. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
- Galbraith, Stuart (1 December 2006). "Doctor Who - The Hand of Fear". DVD Talk. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
- Outpost Gallifrey: Episode Guide at the Wayback Machine (archived 14 April 2008)
- "Doctor Who: Hand Of Fear (DVD)". BBC Shop. Retrieved 25 November 2001.
- "Doctor Who – 2 November Classic Who DVDs, Plus The Invasion's Missing Episodes Get Re-Created!". TVShowsOnDVD.com. 2 July 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
- Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "The Hand of Fear". The Discontinuity Guide (reprinted on BBC Doctor Who website). London: Virgin Books. pp. 196–199. ISBN 0-426-20442-5. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
- Haining, Peter Doctor Who: 25 Glorious Years W H Allen (1988) ISBN 1-85227-021-7
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Fourth Doctor|
- The Hand of Fear at BBC Online
- The Hand of Fear at Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Hand of Fear at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- The Hand of Fear reviews at Outpost Gallifrey
- The Hand of Fear reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide
- Doctor Who and the Hand of Fear reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide fan review of Target novelisation