Doctor Who: Season 17, Episode 13

Nightmare of Eden: Part One (24 Nov. 1979)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Family
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A cruise ship loaded with passengers to the planet Azure collides with a trade ship as it comes out of warp, leaving the two ships merged but unstable. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 arrive to ... See full summary »



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Episode cast overview:
Lewis Fiander ...
David Daker ...
Geoffrey Bateman ...
Jennifer Lonsdale ...
Stephen Jenn ...
Richard Barnes ...
David Brierly ...
Voice of K9 (voice) (as David Brierley)


A cruise ship loaded with passengers to the planet Azure collides with a trade ship as it comes out of warp, leaving the two ships merged but unstable. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 arrive to help out but discover there's also a problem with unidentified smugglers running a cargo of vraxoin, a forbidden organic drug that's as highly addictive as it is fatal. It instills the user with warm complacency and total apathy - the very qualities currently displayed by the cruise ship's bemused co-pilot. Written by Daniel Williamson

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Release Date:

24 November 1979 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This episode was watched by 8.7 million viewers on its original transmission. See more »


Tryst: Doctor, this is important scientific research. I am helping to conserve endangered species.
Doctor Who: By putting them in this machine?
Tryst: Oh, yes.
Doctor Who: Ah, yes, of course. Just in the same way a jam maker conserves raspberries, ha-ha.
Romana: [after the Doctor leaves] Oh, don't mind him. He just likes to irritate people.
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Referenced in 'Doctor Who': The Hartnell Years (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

Shockingly Serious But Let Down By The Execution
14 January 2014 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

Refers To All Four Episodes

A collision in space between the liner The Empress and private ship The Hecate leaves both ships locked together . The Tardis materialises aboard The Empress and the Doctor with the help of K9 tries to separate the two craft at the collision site . As he does so he sees a fearsome savage creature

This is certainly a strange tale and one with a very strong subtext rarely seen in the show of that era - one revolving around drugs which makes one sit up and take notice in something all too easily dismissed as a silly children's show . Okay we're not talking REQUIEM FOR A DREAM type horror but even adult dramas in the late 1970s didn't dwell too much upon the danger of addictive drugs . What makes it even more shocking is the intellectually salient point made by the villain of the piece that people have a choice of taking drugs . If someone becomes an addict then it's not the fault of the dealer but the fault of the individual . From the real life nicotine addict slowly eroding their respiratory system via cigarettes to the fictional scenario of made up drugs in DOCTOR WHO there's no escaping the fact that a dealer is merely supplying a market and it's the user him or herself who is behind the market

Alas however this debate gets quickly lost amongst the flaws of season 17 DOCTOR WHO . The Mandrells are amongst the very worst monsters to have graced the show and are totally laughable . Are they supposed to have cloven hoofs ? They look like men dressed up in flares and their on screen realisation is made worse , much worse by the Doctor leading them on a walk via dog whistle . I challenge anyone to watch this scene without bursting in to fits of laughter . One suspects this as meant to be laugh inducing as the scene ends with one of the most infamous scenes from the classic series of " My arms . My legs . My everything " . To be fair Tom Baker is probably better suited to comedy than any other Doctor but at this point of the show's development Pythonesque/post modernist comedy was the series selling point which often failed to work

This is a great pity because Nightmare Of Eden with it's subtext of drugs , animal welfare and other intriguing concepts such as the CET machine is constantly undermined by hit and miss humour . That said it is a fairly entertaining story and one wonders if its entertainment value is down to its element of humour rather in spite of it ?

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