OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 523
STORY NUMBER: 108
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 29 December 1979
WRITER: Anthony Read
DIRECTOR: Kenny McBain
SCRIPT EDITOR: Douglas Adams
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 8.8 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Myths & Legends: The Time Monster, Underworld & The Horns of the Nimon
The Pilot puts Romana in the hold with the Anethian sacrifices. The Doctor puts the Tardis into a spin allowing the Asteroid to knock it out of the pull of the black hole. The Nimon reminds Soldeed of his agreement to provide the required tribute and speaks once again of the Great Journey of Life. Soldeed plans to attack Aneth, thinking they have rescued the children. Teka tells Romana that Seth will destroy the Nimon. Skonnos detects the missing ship and prepares for the ceremony to mark the fulfilment of their pact. Soldeed is angry that two of the hymetusite crystals are missing, used by Romana to power the ship but the pilot claims responsibility. Soldeed sends both the Pilot & Romana into the power complex with the Anethians and the hymetusite to face the Nimon. The Doctor makes makeshift repairs to the Tardis and sets course for Skonnos. The Pilot wanders the maze of the Power Complex, briefly catching sight of the Anethians but he, and Romana & the Anethians find the walls are shifting around them. The Doctor sights the Power Complex from orbit, reminding him of something. Materialising on Skonnos the Doctor is immediately arrested. The Anethians find the husk of a body that decays at the touch, which Romana believes has had the life sucked out of it. The Doctor confronts Soldeed with the accusation that someone is building a black hole nearby. Soldeed claims not to have seen Romana but when Soldeed's general produces the Doctor's grativic anomalyser he knows she is nearby. Soldeed drives the Doctor into the Power Complex. Romana and the Anethians find the Nimon's larder where it keeps previous Anethian sacrifices in suspended animation. They are captured by the pilot, who summons the Nimon, who kills him then turns on Romana & the Anethians.....
Ah now we're talking proper mythology, with Romana and the Anethians wandering the Power Complex (Labyrinth) with the Nimon (Minotaur) in the centre. The shifting walls is a nice touch and very well done on screen.
I'll talk about the rest of the cast later, but really this story is dominated by one actor: Ladies and Gentlemen, playing Soldeed we have the late, great Graham Crowden! (Seriously: Even Doctor Who Magazine labelled him as such when they did their Fact of Fiction piece for this story in issue 429: box out for the actors with form and we get John Bailey on the left, Simon Gipps-Kent on the right and The Late, Great Graham Crowden in the middle!) At this point it his career he's probably best known for his theatre work, though he has had a memorable appearance as the Slade Prison Doctor in the Porridge Christmas Special "No Way Out". He had been offered the role of the fourth Doctor when Jon Pertwee left the series but had turned it down, not be willing to commit to three years in a role.
Recognition would follow sometime after this story. First he was cast as Dr. Jock McCannon in A Very Peculiar Practice then Tom Ballard in Waiting for God, both of which have a fair few Doctor Who connections.
A Very Peculiar Practice stars (by then) former Doctor Who Peter Davison alongside David Troughton (Enemy of the World/War Games/Curse of Peladon/Midnight/son of Patrick Troughton. Also featured were Trevor Cooper (Revelation of the Daleks), Hugh Grant (Curse of Fatal Death), Geoffrey Beevers (Ambassadors of Death/Keeper of Traken/husband of Caroline John (Liz Shaw)), Chris Jury (Greatest Show in the Galaxy) and Tim Munro (Planet of the Daleks). Female lead in the first series is Amanda Hillwood, Morse's 2nd pathologist (we've had Frost and Barnaby's pathologists in recent episodes of Doctor Who) and is married to Max Headroom's Matt Frewer. If you haven't seen A Very Peculiar Practice then it's currently available on DVD (at long last!)
Waiting for God was a long running sitcom set in a retirement home. Amongst the regular cast are Daniel Hill (Shada), Andrew Tourell (Black Orchid) and Michael Bilton (The Massacre/Pyramids of Mars/The Deadly Assassin)
Which brings us nicely back to the accusations of comedy levelled frequently at this season. One of the worst examples occurs in this episode as the Doctor's repairs to the Tardis fail: the accompanying sound effect is taken straight from light entertainment's repertoire. EDIT: while trying to find out if the mineral Hymetusite had a classical origin to it's name (I didn't find anything) I discovered that the sound effect used here has a name! It's called Major Bloodnok's Stomach which was first used in an episode of The Goon Show!
This is the last episode of Doctor Who shown in the 1970s.