5th Doctor
The Visitation
Serial 5X

John Nathan-Turner

Script Editor
Anthony Root

Ken Starkey

Written by Eric Saward
Directed by Peter Moffatt
Incidental Music by Paddy Kingsland

Peter Davison (The Doctor), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Michael Robbins (Richard Mace), Peter Van Dissel (Android), John Savident (The Squire) [1], Anthony Calf (Charles) [1], John Baker (Ralph) [1], Valerie Fyfer (Elizabeth) [1], Richard Hampton (Villager) [1-3], James Charlton (Miller), Michael Melia (Terileptil) [2-4], Neil West (Poacher) [2-3], Eric Dodson (Headman) [3].

Something is very wrong in 17th Century England. The shadowy figure of Death stalks the forests, terrifying the local people. Behind the chaos fugitive alien life forms called Terileptils lurk. Stranded on Earth, they have seized one of the local houses, murdering its inhabitants.

But just what do they want? The Doctor must discover the answer - and fast. For as events unfold, he finds he too is looking death in the face, not to mention the threat of mass genocide...

Original Broadcast (UK)

Part One15th February, 19826h55pm - 7h20pm
Part Two16th February, 19827h05pm - 7h30pm
Part Three22nd February, 19826h55pm - 7h20pm
Part Four23rd February, 19827h05pm - 7h30pm

  • Released on video and DVD in episodic format. [+/-]

    U.S. Release U.K. Release
    • U.K. Release: July 1994 / U.S. Release: June 1996
      PAL - BBC video BBCV5349
      NTSC - CBS/FOX Video 8373
      NTSC - Warner Video E1322

      Released as a double tape set with Black Orchid.

    U.s. DVD Release


    • U.K. Release: January 2004 / U.S. Release: March 2005
      PAL Region 2 - BBCDVD1329
      NTSC Region 1 - Warner DVD E2157


      • Commentary by Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Matthew Waterhouse and Director Peter Moffatt.
      • 'Film Trims' - Additional shots and dialogue that were cut from the finished episodes before transmission. U.K. DVD Release
      • 'Directing Who - Peter Moffatt ' - Interview with director Peter Moffatt covering all the stories he worked on.
      • 'Writing a Final Visitation' - Featurette about writer Eric Saward's work on the story.
      • 'Scoring The Visitation' - short interview with composer Paddy Kingsland.
      • Isolated Score.
      • Photo Gallery.
      • Production Information Subtitles.
      • Who's Who (Region 1 only).

      LINK: The Restoration Team work for The Visitation DVD.

  • Novelised as Doctor Who and the The Visitation by Eric Saward. [+/-]

    W.H. Allen Edition Virgin Edition

    • Hardcover Edition - W.H. Allen.
      First Edition: August 1982.
      ISBN: ?.
      Cover by ?.
      Price: £?.

    • Paperback Edition - W.H. Allen.
      First Edition: August 1982. Reprinted in 1982, 1984 and 1987.
      ISBN: 0 426 20135 3.
      Photo Cover.
      Price: £1.25.
      Also released as part of The Second Doctor Who Gift Set in 1982 [ISBN: 0 426 19289 3].

    • Paperback Edition - Virgin Publishing Ltd.
      First Edition: February 1992.
      ISBN: 0 426 20135 3.
      Cover by Alister Pearson.
      Price: £2.99.
      Retitled: Doctor Who - The Visitation.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Archive: Issue #275.
Part One
(drn: 24'50")

An eruption of strange lights in the sky illuminates a small village just outside London in the year 1666. Squire John fears that the lights are evil omens, and he's more right than he knows -- an alien escape pod has touched down in the field just behind the manor house. One of the pod's occupants reaches the manor and guns down the terrified servant Ralph before John and his son Charles shoot and kill it. Young Elizabeth then calls them, as a figure in armour is punching through the front door. The family opens fire on the intruder, certain that its armour will provide no protection at such close range...

The Doctor, once again trying to take Tegan home, chastises the sullen Adric for nearly wiping out the Kinda tribe with his foolish attempt to pilot the TSS solo. Tegan, meanwhile, is still recovering from her possession by the Mara -- and is also beginning to realize how much she's going to miss her new friends. When she enters the console room with her emotions still in turmoil, only to find that due to a fault the TARDIS has materialized three centuries too early, she blows up in the Doctor's face and storms furiously out of the ship. Nyssa tells the Doctor that Tegan has found leaving to be more difficult than she thought, and when he follows her outside to make his peace with her, she admits that this is true and calms down somewhat.

Before they can return to the TARDIS the Doctor's attention is caught by a cloud of foul-smelling smoke drifting through the trees. But as he and his companions approach the source of the smoke they are confronted by angry villagers who attack them without provocation. The Doctor and his friends beat off their attackers and flee, but Adric twists his ankle while still some distance from the TARDIS. Fortunately, a new arrival drives off the pursuing villagers with warning shots from a pair of pistols, and introduces himself as Richard Mace, a former actor driven to highway robbery by the closure of the theatres. He invites the others to his temporary lodgings in the local manor's barn; after so long on the road he's willing to risk anything for a decent conversation. The villagers send for reinforcements, and follow the new arrivals at a distance to keep an eye on them.

While waiting for Adric's ankle to heal -- which it does far more quickly than a human's would -- the Doctor inquires about the villagers' behaviour, and Mace explains that a particularly virulent strain of plague broke out after the comet three weeks ago. The Doctor, however, knows that there are no comets due over England in this time period, and recognizes the pendant which Mace recently found in the woods as part of an alien mind-control bracelet. Suspecting that the "comet" was an alien ship burning up in the atmosphere, he and his companions search the barn and find power packs in the hay -- fragile components which indicate that some of the aliens could have survived as well.

The Doctor decides to investigate further at the manor house. Mace shows the way reluctantly, and they are nearly run over in the driveway by the strangely unresponsive local miller. The Doctor knocks at the front door but nobody responds, and he leaves Mace, Tegan and Adric to wait while he and Nyssa seek another way in. They climb through an unlocked window, to find that the house appears to be deserted -- although in fact someone or something is watching them from hiding. The Doctor hopes to contact the aliens peacefully and convince them to let him take them home before they wreak havoc in 17th-century Earth, but he may be too late; he and Nyssa find evidence that the aliens have already been in the house, and that shots have been fired -- both from ordinary muskets and from alien energy weapons.

The Doctor is puzzled to find that the stairwell from the living quarters to the cellars has been blocked off by an illogically located brick wall, and sends Nyssa to fetch the others while he studies it. Mace is startled when Nyssa opens the door to let them in; he is becoming quite unnerved by his new acquaintances' strange behaviour and mode of speech. Nevertheless, he follows them into the house, to the stairwell -- where the Doctor is nowhere to be seen. And then somebody slams the door shut behind them and locks it, trapping them in the stairwell...

Part Two
(drn: 24'58")

The Doctor pops his head straight through the "wall", which is in fact a hologram covering a force field barrier which he opened with his sonic screwdriver. Mace is amazed by the illusion, but his attention is soon diverted to the contents of the wine cellar beyond. The Doctor and Nyssa find an atmospheric unit pumping Soliton gas into the atmosphere, and cages containing rats -- presumably experimental subjects. But before they can investigate further the figure of Death itself, the Grim Reaper, enters the room. Mace unloads his pistols at the figure and flees in terror when they have no effect, and the figure then shoots energy bolts from its fingers, downing both Tegan and Adric. The Doctor increases the flow of soliton gas from the atmospheric unit; mixed with oxygen it is highly flammable, and the figure cannot risk firing again until it has readjusted the gas flow. The Doctor sends Nyssa to safety while he tries to revive Adric and Tegan, but he is unable to do so in time, and must flee when the Death figure turns its attention back to him.

Mace bolts for the front door, refusing to accept the Doctor's explanation that the figure he saw was a mechanical man from another world. The Doctor tries to prove his claim by opening one of the power packs from the barn, discharging its stored energy in a single electrical bolt. Mace remains sceptical, however, and refuses to help rescue Adric and Tegan. The Doctor is furious, but can't persuade him otherwise; instead, he and Nyssa must return to the TARDIS and search for something they can use to overpower the android. Perhaps by modifying the sonic booster they will be able to find a low frequency which will vibrate the android to bits. As they leave the house, the Doctor advises Mace to avoid any villagers wearing bracelets that look like his "pendant" -- any such villagers will be under the mental control of the aliens.

The android takes Adric and Tegan to an alien laboratory hidden behind another false wall, where they are questioned by the android's controller -- a Terileptil, a reptilian humanoid with terrible scarring on one side of his face. The Terileptil demands to know where they acquired the sonic screwdriver and their synthetic, machine-woven clothing, and under threat of torture Adric is forced to admit that they have travelled through Time. He and Tegan try to convince the Terileptil that they are vital members of the TARDIS crew, but the Terileptil points out that their friends have left the house, abandoning them. Tegan and Adric are locked up in a store room while the Terileptil sends three controlled villagers after the Doctor.

Moments after parting company from the Doctor and Nyssa, Mace calls for them again, having spotted the escape pod in the field behind the manor. The pod has been stripped bare, but the Doctor is still able to identify it as a Terileptil ship, and Mace finally accepts his claims and agrees to help him. As they set off for the TARDIS, however, the three controlled villagers arrive with orders to take the Doctor back to the manor house. The Doctor, Nyssa and Mace retreat into the pod, and the poacher fires a warning arrow through the closing doors. The axeman tries to cut open the door, and, fearing he may strike it lucky and hit the opening mechanism, the Doctor pries open the pod's emergency hatch with the poacher's arrow and flees with his friends out of the back of the pod into the woods.

Just as Tegan and Adric are about to give up all hope of escape, they spot a fanlight above the door, and with Adric's help Tegan is able to reach it and pull out the slats. After waiting for the android to pass by, they climb out of their cell and flee upstairs -- but their presence triggers security systems in the laboratory, and the Terileptil sends the android to investigate. The android catches up with them at the window, and Tegan gives herself up to delay the android and give Adric time to escape.

Mace, exhausted by running from his pursuers, suggests stealing the miller's horse, and it occurs to the Doctor to wonder why the miller was allowed to depart freely from the manor house when they spotted him earlier. He sends Nyssa to the TARDIS to begin work on the sonic booster while he and Mace go to the miller's. Upon arriving they find that his cart has been loaded with crates of caged rats -- and when the miller himself emerges from the back room they see he is wearing a control bracelet. The miller ignores them and sets off, and the Doctor searches the mill but finds no further evidence as to the Terileptils' intentions. Before he and Mace can leave, however, an angry mob of villagers storms into the mill and accuses them of bringing plague to the villagers. The Doctor's protests are ignored, and he and Mace realize that this is a lynch mob. They are forced to their knees as one of the villagers approaches with a scythe. “Oh no, not again!” groans the Doctor…

Part Three
(drn: 24'17")

At the last moment, the village Headman arrives, a control bracelet on his arm, and claims that the Doctor and Mace are known vandals and that there is a reward for their capture. The villagers reluctantly lock them up in the back room, where Mace recovers from the trauma of his near-beheading while the Doctor plans to remove the Headman's bracelet. The Headman and the poacher enter the back room, where the Doctor and Mace overpower them and remove the power packs from their bracelets; but in his confusion, the Headman staggers out of the back room before the Doctor can stop him, and collapses amidst the villagers.

The Terileptil fits Tegan with a control bracelet and puts her to work filling storage cases with chemical vials, warning her not to fumble -- the contents are capable of killing her instantly upon contact. It then detects the loss of the Headman's bracelet and angrily sends the android to complete his work. The Headman recovers and tells the other villagers that he heard a voice in his head which forced him to obey it, and the villagers conclude that the strangers are warlocks who have summoned the Devil. As they prepare to burn the strangers alive, the android arrives, once again in its guise of Death. The villagers flee in terror, and the android takes the Doctor and Mace back to the manor house.

Nyssa clears space in her room so as not to damage the TARDIS console and begins work on the sonic booster. Adric arrives in a panic over Tegan's predicament, and lashes out when he realizes the Doctor is nowhere to be seen. He rapidly grows frustrated when he realizes all he can do here is carry equipment for Nyssa, and despite Nyssa's advice to wait, he decides to set off in search for the Doctor. Upon leaving the TARDIS, however, he is almost immediately captured by a gang of villagers. Nyssa is forced to watch helplessly on the scanner as the villagers drag him away...

The Doctor and Mace meet the Terileptil, who contemptuously turns down the Doctor's offer to take him home. The scars on his face are the result of his prison sentence in the tinclavic mines on Raaga; he and the two other survivors of the crash are fugitives. The Terileptil also turns down the Doctor's offer to relocate it to an empty world; he has already laid plans to wipe out the human race and establish his new home on Earth. And once he has captured the Doctor's time machine, the Terileptils will be able to build more androids and travel the galaxy to collect slaves, creating their own empire. The Terileptil fits Mace with a control bracelet and the Doctor with a set of handcuffs, and locks the Doctor in the store room -- this time with the fanlight repaired and secure. Tegan, Mace and the miller are put to work loading crates and cages onto the cart outside.

The Doctor finds only a string, a safety pin, the two power packs he took at the mill and his sonic screwdriver in his pockets. He manages to hide most of them when the Terileptil returns, but is too late to pocket the sonic screwdriver, which the Terileptil destroys. The Terileptil brings Tegan, Mace, and a cage of rats into the cell, and informs the Doctor that he has genetically re-engineered the plague bacilli carried by the rats and their fleas; it is now capable of wiping out all life on Earth. Thousands of rats are awaiting release in a nearby city, a final visitation to wipe the planet clean. The Terileptil departs, and as Mace him back at gunpoint the Doctor desperately tries to talk Tegan out of opening the rat cage -- if she does, it will mean the end of them all.

Part Four
(drn: 24'28")

The Doctor discharges a power pack into Mace's pistol, stunning him, and when Tegan attacks him he overpowers her and removes the power pack from her bracelet. He does the same for Mace, who recovers and picks the lock of his handcuffs with his safety pin. The Doctor shoots out the door lock with Mace's pistol and heads for the laboratory, where the miller has been left on guard. The Doctor is able to short out the locking mechanism with his safety pin, and Mace and Tegan help him to surprise and overpower the miller. The Doctor removes the miller's power pack and enters the lab, only to find that it has already been stripped bare. The Terileptil is on his way to London, having sent the android to collect the TARDIS.

The android, in its guise as Death, encounters the villagers who are taking Adric back to town, and upon seeing it they scatter in terror, forgetting their captive. Adric follows the android back to the TARDIS, where Nyssa has just completed her initial tests on the sonic booster. She sees Adric approaching and opens the doors to welcome him back, only to be confronted by the android. Adric manages to hold it off for a moment while she rushes back into the TARDIS and activates the sonic booster. The android knocks him out and follows her inside, but the low-frequency vibrations from the sonic booster shake it apart and its power core explodes. The house is now undefended -- but as the woods are still full of angry villagers, Adric suggests piloting the TARDIS to the manor.

The Doctor, Tegan and Mace are unable to find any clues which might indicate the location of the Terileptil base in London. Before leaving the Doctor removes the control panel from the laboratory equipment, rendering it all useless and freeing the controlled villagers. In the house upstairs, they find that all of the doors and windows have been sealed shut, trapping them inside. As they search for a way out the TARDIS shimmers into partial existence before their eyes, but it doesn't fully materialize until the frustrated Adric mimics the Doctor and hits the console with his fist. The Doctor, irritated with Adric for nearly losing his ship, takes the others to London, where he hovers over the city until he locates an electrical emission -- obviously generated by the Terileptils' equipment.

The TARDIS materializes in a quiet London street, where the Doctor spots the miller's cart standing outside a bakery. The Doctor picks up a torch to light his way, but Adric still stumbles, alerting the Terileptils in the back room to their approach. When the Doctor and Mace enter the back room, two of the Terileptils try to leap out at them from hiding. Mace overpowers and shoots one of them, but the other attacks the Doctor, causing him to drop his torch into a pile of straw. Tegan beats off the Terileptil on the Doctor while Mace deals with the third. Adric and Nyssa try to extinguish the fire, but in the confusion the Terileptil's energy weapon is knocked into the flames and begins to overheat. As the fire spreads, the Doctor and his companions have no choice but to flee, leaving the Terileptils to their fate. The energy weapon soon explodes, and fire consumes the entire back room and all those within.

Outside, as Mace summons a night watchman to alert the fire brigade, the Doctor and his companions throw the material from the miller's cart into the flames, putting an end to the Terileptil's plan. Moments later, the Soliton gas machine explodes and the bakery becomes a raging inferno. The Doctor decides to depart before awkward questions are asked, and Mace bids him farewell, deciding to remain and help fight the fire. Tegan wants to stay and help as well, but the Doctor advises her to let this fire run its course. As the TARDIS dematerialises, the Great Fire is already spreading out of the bakery on Pudding Lane, and into its place in history...

Source: Cameron Dixon

Continuity Notes:
  • At the end of Pyramids of Mars, the Doctor said he didn’t want to be blame for starting fires as ‘he had enough of that back in 1666’.
  • Although the Sonic Screwdriver is destroyed in Part Three, The Seventh Doctor eventually rebuilds it at some point before The Harvest. It only returns on-screen in the 1996 TV Movie. A new version of it appears in the new TV series.
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