Doctor Who: Season 8, Episode 21

The Dæmons: Episode One (22 May 1971)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Horror
8.1
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Reviews: 4 user | 1 critic

The Master raises the Devil. The Doctor becomes a wizard.

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Title: The Dæmons: Episode One (22 May 1971)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Roger Delgado ...
...
Richard Franklin ...
...
Damaris Hayman ...
Don McKillop ...
Rollo Gamble ...
Robin Wentworth ...
David Simeon ...
Alastair Fergus
James Snell ...
Harry
John Joyce ...
Eric Hillyard ...
Jon Croft ...
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Storyline

For 200 years the secret of Devil's End village has lain dormant, as the burial mound, the so-called Devil's Hump, has remained sealed. Until now, at midnight on April 30th on the greatest occult festival of the year, as Professor Horner prepares to break it open. But just what evil treasures lie buried there? Will the local white witch's warnings of doom and destruction be fulfilled? Who or what is the mighty Azal? But even more disturbing for the Doctor and Jo, just how is the Reverend Magister, alias the infamous Master, involved in the mystery? Written by Anonymous

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devil | master | witch | village | occult | See All (23) »


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22 May 1971 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The documentary being made during this story is for a fictional channel, BBC Three - a channel that now exists on the BBC digital network. See more »

Quotes

Brig. Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart: Jenkins... chap with wings, there. Five rounds rapid.
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Connections

Referenced in Christopher Barry: Director (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Monstrous Sacrilege in the Name of Light Entertainment!
17 November 2014 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

I have a theory that every "Doctor Who" fan has his or her own Doctor, and mine is Jon Pertwee's Third. I am too young to recall the original broadcasts of the William Hartnell stories, and only have vague memories of Patrick Troughton, but Pertwee was the incumbent Doctor when I first started to take a real interest in the series, and much as I came to love Tom Baker and Peter Davison in the role I have never lost that inner conviction that Pertwee is the "real" Doctor. Another bonus was that, at least during his first two seasons, his adventures took place on Earth, in a contemporary Britain, which to my way of thinking made them more satisfactorily frightening than any story set on a distant planet or in the dim and distant past.

"The Dæmons", one of these modern, British-set serials, has a plot which could be taken straight from the works of Dennis Wheatley. An archaeological team is excavating a Bronze Age burial mound in the village of Devil's End (actually Aldbourne in Wiltshire). The dig is being covered by "BBC Three"- in 1971 a fictitious television network, although a real network with that name was created many years later. A local white witch, Olive Hawthorne, issues dire warnings that the dig will unleash demonic forces of great evil, but she is dismissed as a crank. She also suspects the local vicar, the Revd. Magister, of conducting Satanic ceremonies in the church crypt. She does, however, have one unexpected ally- the Doctor himself.

Now what is all this? I hear you ask. Surely the Doctor is a rational, scientific sort of chap, the last person you would expect to believe in Black Magic? And the answer is no, he doesn't. He explains that the Earth is indeed in danger from demonic forces, but that Daemons are beings from another planet and not (as Miss Hawthorne believes) supernatural entities. These extraterrestrial beings have been visiting Earth over the centuries but have been mistaken by humans for gods and devils; they have powers which seem supernatural to the uninitiated, but there is always a rational, scientific explanation for them. As for Magister, he is none other than the Doctor's old enemy, the Master, who has somehow managed to get himself ordained as a priest of the Church of England.

There is in fact another reason besides scientific rationalism why the Doctor could not be confronted by genuinely supernatural forces. During the sixties and seventies the BBC were very suspicious of anything to do with the occult and a programme dealing with genuine Satanism could certainly not have been broadcast at peak family viewing times.

Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor- kindly, knowledgeable, rational, and gentlemanly- seemed admirably suited to serials like this one. Of course, like any incarnation of the Doctor he had to have his little eccentricities. His dandyish dress-sense set him apart from his immediate predecessor Troughton and from most of his successors. (Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor looked as though he had just left a fancy-dress party and Sylvester McCoy's Seventh as though he did all his shopping in charity stores). He also drove a bright yellow veteran car called "Bessie", which features prominently in this story. (The Doctor's more traditional vehicle, the TARDIS, is never mentioned).

Jo Grant was not the most memorable "Doctor Who Girl", but this was perhaps because the Earth-bound nature of his adventures during this period meant that he did not really need a travelling companion of the sort who had accompanied the First and Second Doctors. During this period, however, the series featured two splendid recurring characters. The first was Roger Delgado's Master, brought in because someone obviously thought that the series needed a regular villain, Moriarty to the Doctor's Holmes. Delgado played the role with great relish, and his early death in a car crash was a terrible loss to the series. The second was the Doctor's ally, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT). "The Daemons" also has a brilliant minor character in Damaris Hayman's Miss Hawthorne, a genteelly eccentric middle-class witch.

"Doctor Who" was notorious for its cheap special effects, but in this serial they are actually quite convincing. A scene in which the church is destroyed in an explosion was convincing enough to provoke protests from viewers who believed that the BBC were actually guilty of the monstrous sacrilege of blowing up Aldbourne Church in the name of light entertainment. (Needless to say, a model was used in this sequence). The script is both intelligent and entertaining, and even manages to combine an ostensibly serious subject with a good deal of humour. The ending of "The Daemons" is rather weak, but otherwise this is an excellent adventure.


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