Sunday 17 June 2012

572 The Visitation Part One

EPISODE: The Visitation Part One
TRANSMITTED: Monday 15 February 1982
WRITER: Eric Saward
DIRECTOR: Peter Moffatt
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 9.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Visitation

1666: The squire and his family are settling down for the night when they are interrupted by first lights in the sky and then an inhuman visitor to their house. The Doctor is once again trying to return Tegan to Heathrow Airport in 1981 and while he gets the location right they find themselves some 300 hundred years too early. Chased away from the village they make the acquaintance of Richard Mace, an itinerant thespian, who shelters them in the barn he has been using. He tells them of the comet seen in the sky, and the Doctor takes an interest in the necklace he's wearing, an object he found in the hayloft. Nyssa finds powerpacks in the barn so the Doctor decides to call on the barn's owner, the local squire. When the door isn't answered the Doctor & Nyssa gain entry via an unlocked window, finding weapons missing, spilt gunpowder and a damaged powerpack. Exploring the house the Doctor is intrigued by a wall at the foot of a staircase. Nyssa admits Adric, Tegan & Mace but when they return to the staircase the Doctor has vanished and something locks them in.

Cracking episode that, fab. From the opening scenes with the family, through the richness of Mace's speech to the mystery of the ending. Job well done all round.

Amusingly two of the most famous actors in this story are killed off in the first few minutes. The Squire is played by John Savident who even then was reasonably well known. He'd recently done a memorable turn in the Blake's 7 episode Orbit as the scientist Egrorian but would later gain national recognition (and press notoriety) as Fred Elliot in Coronation Street. Anthony Calf (not to be confused with the Steve Coogan character Paul Calf) plays Charles, the Squire's son. He has a CV as long as your arm and is married to the actress Caroline Harker. The Squire's servant Ralph is played by John Baker, the only member of the entire cast with prior Who form having appeared in Colony in Space as a Timelord.

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