Doctor Who (1963–1989)
6 user 2 critic

Horror of Fang Rock: Part One 

The TARDIS lands near an isolated rocky island lighthouse just after a comet strikes the nearby sea and a sudden chilling fog rolls in. Soon after, electrical problems take hold of the generator and one of the keepers dies mysteriously. Rueben, the eldest keeper, thinks it's the return of the legendary Beast of Fang Rock, but the Doctor suspects it's something worse that a legend.


Paddy Russell


Terrance Dicks (by)

On Disc

at Amazon




Episode credited cast:
Tom Baker ... Doctor Who
Louise Jameson ... Leela
Colin Douglas Colin Douglas ... Reuben
John Abbott John Abbott ... Vince
Ralph Watson Ralph Watson ... Ben
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sean Caffrey Sean Caffrey ... Lord Palderdale (voice)
Annette Woollett Annette Woollett ... Adelaide Lesage (voice)


In Victorian times, the Doctor and Leela arrive on Fang Rock, an isolated crag where something starts killing the local lighthouse keepers. Simple, dark and very atmospheric drama, perhaps inspired by fanciful stories which followed the tragic loss of three lighthouse workers in 1900, on Eilean Mor in the remote Flannan Isles of Northwest Scotland. Written by no2-10

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Release Date:

3 September 1977 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was the only Doctor Who (1963) serial made at BBC Pebble Mill. See more »


The Doctor: [coming out from a back room] I thought there might have been something nasty in the coal hole. Something nasty somewhere.
Leela: A sea creature?
The Doctor: What? That can open and shut doors, not so much as leave a wet footprint, hm, and has the ability to drain off electricity?
See more »


Featured in A Matter of Time (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

A Mini Masterpiece
31 October 2013 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

Review of all four episodes The Tardis lands on the Island of Fang Rock at the end of the 19th Century . One of the lighthouse keepers has died in a mysterious accident . The Doctor doubts if it might have been an accident and as the lighthouse fails a ship crashes upon the rocks of the island

This is the first story produced under the helm of Graham Williams but probably owes more to Philip Hinchcliffe and continuing script editor Robert Holmes . On accepting the job of DOCTOR WHO producer Williams was told that due to the controversy of the previous era where the show came in for constant complaints from concerned parents the horror aspect had to go . Legend has it that Williams retorted by saying this was what the audience wanted only to be shouted down by the BBC management . This left only one avenue for the show to follow and that was humour which was a very subjective thing . It was towards the end of the 1970s that people in fandom started to vocally claim that the show wasn't as good as it used to

With hindsight this change wouldn't become immediately apparent and The Horror Of Fang Rock is very much in the traditional old school DOCTOR WHO that first came to prominence in the Troughton years of " base under siege " . It's a studio bound tale but with very good production values , so much so you don't really notice that the rocks of Fang Rock are a studio set filmed at BBC Pebble Mill and just adds to the intimate claustrophobia of the story . Writer Terrance Dicks and director Paddy Russell manage to wring out every little piece of tension from the story without having to revert to shock tactics . Sometimes what you don't see is more scary than what you do see

There are a few flaws to the production . One is that the supporting characters are drawn a little too broadly , you can't trust the bourgeoisie , they're philistines who'd only risk they're lives for money . There's also a silly sequence where the Doctor has to hide somewhere and ... well that silly scene shows the audience what is coming later in the Williams era , and the alien Rutan when it reveals itself ... was it inspired by someone having a heavy cold ?

Apparently Louise Jameson hated this story because the original script had Sarah Jane Smith as the companion which seems to indicate it was first commissioned under Philip Hincliffe and indeed it does have an early Tom Baker era feel . That said even if it doesn't appear in the top 20 stories of fan polls in some ways it's superior to many of the horror stories the show was producing in the mid 1970s and is definitely superior to the many stories that came after this one . It's just a great little story in an era where the show's greatness was fading due to external factors

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