Tuesday 31 January 2012

435 The Hand of Fear Part Four

EPISODE: The Hand of Fear Part Four
TRANSMITTED: 23 October 1976
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Lennie Mayne
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Hand Of Fear

The deteriorating Eldrad is taken by the Doctor to a regeneration chamber where she is crushed by a stone block, another trap left by King Rokkon. However Eldrad then emerges from a chamber restored to his true form. They find their way to the Kastrian race banks where Eldrad is confronted by a message from King Rokkon who tells him that the Kastrians destroyed themselves and their race bank. The Doctor & Sarah attempt to escape, tripping Eldrad over the Doctor's scarf who falls to his doom down a crevasse. Returning to the TARDIS the Doctor receives a summons to Galifrey forcing him to return Sarah to Earth where he bids goodbye to her.

Ah we love Stephen Thorne, previously Azal in The Dæmons and Omega in The Three Doctors, but his Kastrian Eldrad isn't a touch on Judith Paris' Female Eldrad and I'm afraid the scenes on Kastria all get a bit silly once he shows up. And as for the stepping over the Doctor's scarf and *then* tripping over....

But what people really remember about this episode is the departure of Sarah Jane Smith/Elizabeth Sladen. As send off's go hers is a particularly good one with a protracted scene between her & the Doctor in the Tardis followed by Sarah standing in the street as the Tardis materialises and realising that, yet again, the Doctor has failed to bring her home. He was aiming for South Croydon but years later, in the new series episode School Reunion, it would be claimed that the Tardis had actually landed in Aberdeen! The filming took place at neither location, instead being recorded at Stokefield Close in Thornbury, Gloucestershire near the other locations used in the story. As Sarah leaves she's whistling the tune to Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow..... well I say she is, but Elizabeth Sladen couldn't whistle the tune and the noise is instead provided by director Lennie Mayne in the closing moments of his final episode. The tune is used in response to the dog that Sarah's met on the street but it's actually a little prophetic: in 1981 Elizabeth Sladen would return as Sarah Jane Smith in K-9 and Company, twinned with the Doctor's robot dog. For more on this come back on the 4th June! She would return again in 1983's celebration story, the Five Doctors, reunited with Jon Pertwee whom she'd later star opposite in two Doctor Who radio series. During the 80s and 90s Elizabeth Sladen mainly concentrated on the upbringing of her daughter but in 2006 she was lured back to play Sarah Jane Smith in the new series episode School Reunion, which led to several more appearances and a spin off series The Sarah Jane Adventures which only ended when Elizabeth Sladen was taken ill with cancer, the actress passing away on 19th April 2011 leaving her husband, actor Brian Miller and daughter Sadie Miller who has followed both parents into the acting profession.

On the 9 & 10 May 2011 The Hand of Fear was repeated on BBC4 as a tribute to Elizabeth Sladen. Hand of Fear was novelised by Terrance Dicks. It's the start of a run of 11 stories all novelised by Terrance Dicks, the most consecutive stories produced by the same author. It had an extremely limited video release in 1996: two weeks after it's release all existing Doctor Who video were withdrawn from sale ahead of the forthcoming Paul McGann TV Movie and Hand of Fear never returned for sale at one point getting a staggering price on the second hand market. Fortunately it was released on DVD early in 2006, and later sent out by 2 Entertain as compensation to those who had to return their Invisible Enemy DVDs due to an authoring fault on that set.

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