Monday 15 October 2012

692 Ghost Light Part One

EPISODE: Ghost Light Part One
TRANSMITTED: Wednesday 04 October 1989
WRITER: Marc Platt
DIRECTOR: Alan Wareing
SCRIPT EDITOR: Andrew Cartmel
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 4.2 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who : Ghost Light

The Doctor takes Ace to a Victorian house which she dislikes, reminding him she's previously told him that she dislikes haunted houses. The meet a British explorer, hunting for Redfers Fenn-Cooper. He sees his reflection in a window, realising that is Fenn-Cooper before being led away by the house's staff. They meet the Reverend Ernest Matthews, come to see the house's owner to protest about the theories he has been espousing. Ace realises they are in Perivale, at Gabriel Chase a house whose ruin she visited when she was younger and terrified by. She flees as the house's owner Josiah Samuel Smith approaches the Doctor about ridding him of his enemy and discovers three creatures dressed in dinner jackets in the house's basement.

A dark house, the Doctor & companion under remote observation, odd servants including a Neanderthal butler.... you really can't go wrong can you? And I've got no real complaint to register against this episode itself.

Ghost Light is this year's "all in studio 3 parter", with Survival it's "all on location" counterpart. However there is a brief shot of location filming in these episodes: Stanton Court, in Weymouth near Dorset, and not far from locations used in both Curse of Fenric and Survival, serves as the exterior for Gabriel Chase, the house in this story.

Ghost Light was the final story of this season to be filmed. Here's the production vs broadcast order again:

7M The Curse of Fenric
7N Battlefield
7P Survival
7Q Ghost Light

while the broadcast order is

7N Battlefield
7Q Ghost Light
7M The Curse of Fenric
7P Survival

So all seems ok here but it comes a bit unstuck in the following story when Ace starts talking to the Doctor about the haunted house in Perivale and you think "Oh dear, we've already seen this, Ghost Light should be after Curse of Fenric"

Ghost Light is written by Marc Platt a fan working at the BBC who had been submitting stories to the Doctor Who production office since Robert Holmes and had been commended by the great man for submitting the only story even worthy of consideration. Ghost Light comes from a story that Platt had come up with called Lungbarrow, dealing with the Doctor's ancestral home on Gallifrey. Producer John Nathan-Turner wasn't keen on the idea but elements were salvaged and used in this script. I've read the novel that Lungbarrow became and can see similarities between the two. Don't bother looking for a copy on eBay as it goes for a few pennys now. It used to be available as a PDF on the BBC website but has now been removed. However a google search for Lungbarrow PDF should find you a copy quite quickly.

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