7th Doctor
Ghost Light
Serial 7Q

John Nathan-Turner

Script Editor
Andrew Cartmel

Nick Somerville

Written by Marc Platt
Directed by Alan Wareing
Incidental Music by Mark Ayres

Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Ian Hogg (Josiah), Sylvia Syms (Mrs Pritchard), Michael Cochrane (Redvers Fenn-Cooper), Sharon Duce (Control), Katharine Schlesinger (Gwendoline)*, John Nettleton (Reverend Ernest Matthews) [1-2], Carl Forgione (Nimrod), Brenda Kempner (Mrs Grose) [1-2], Frank Windsor (Inspector Mackenzie) [2-3], John Hallam (Light) [3].

* Katharine Schlesingerís first name was misspelled Katherine on the closing credits of Parts One and Two. (This has been corrected on the BBC Video release of the story.)

Earth 1883. At the heart of a Victorian house by the name of Gabriel Chase, lies an alien ship. For millions of years its owner has been asleep, unaware that part of the cargo has evolved into a malevolent creature.

When the Doctor brings his assistant Ace to the house to face and overcome a terrible fear from her past, he finds himself catapulted into the secrets lying dormant there. Who or what is the alien presence Josiah? What has he done with the real inhabitants of the house? More importantly, of what is Josiah so frightened and can it help the Doctor?

In order to combat Josiah's evil presence, the Doctor arranges the release of a more powerful entity called Light - the true owner of the alien ship. However, as events unfold the Doctor discovers he may have awoken an even more dangerous adversary. For Light means to destroy every living thing on Earth...

Original Broadcast (UK)
Part One		      4th October, 1989		7h35pm - 8h00pm
Part Two		      11th October, 1989		7h35pm - 8h00pm
Part Three		      18th October, 1989		7h35pm - 8h00pm
  • Released on video and DVD in episodic format. [+/-]

    U.K. Release U.S. Release

    • U.K. Release: May 1994 / U.S. Release: June 1996
      PAL - BBC video BBCV5344
      NTSC - CBS/FOX video 8369
      NTSC - Warner Video E1318

    • U.K. Release: September 2004 / U.S. Release: June 2005
      U.S. DVD Release PAL Region 2 - BBCDVD1352
      NTSC Region 1 - Warner Video E2218

      • Commentary by Sophie Aldred, composer Mark Ayres, writer Marc Platt and script editor Andrew Cartmel.
      • 5.1 remixed soundtrack.
      • 'Light in Dark Places' - Retrospective featurette.
      • 'Shooting Ghosts' - Behind the scenes look at the studio process.
      • 'Writer's Question Time' - Question and answer session with Marc Platt.
      • Extended and deleted scenes. U.K. DVD Release
      • Music only option.
      • Photo Gallery.
      • Production Information Subtitles.
      • Who's Who (Region 1 only).

      LINK: The Restoration Team work for Ghost Light DVD.

  • The music soundtrack has been released on CD by Silver Screen. [+/-]

      Ghost Light

    • Released: 1993
    • Silva Screen FILMCD 133
    • Running time: 51:34
      • 1. The Madhouse (3:44)
        2. Redvers, I Presume? (0:43)
        3. Uncharted Territory (1:42)
        4. Heart of the Interior (2:19)
        5. Enter Josiah (0:28)
        6. Indoor Lightning (1:39)
        7. Nimrod Observed (1:02)
        8. Time to Emerge (1:23)
        9. Burnt Toast (1:37)
        10. Ace's Adventures Underground (4:36)
        11. Where is Mamma? (0:44)
        12. Loss of Control (3:34)
        13. The Way to the Zoo (1:54)
        14. The Memory Teller (1:51)
        15. Lighting the Touchpaper (1:11)
        16. Homo Victorianus Ineptus (1:19)
        17. Out of the Shadows (4:03)
        18. Light Enlightened (1:58)
        19. Tropic of Perivale (2:10)
        20. Tricks of the Light (4:29)
        21. Judgement in Stone (2:19)
        22. Requiem (5:03)
        23. Passing Thoughts (1:26)

      The Best of Doctor Who - Volume 2

    • Released: 1992
    • Silva America SSD 1042
    • Running time: 79:25
      • 1. Doctor Who (Main Title Theme) (0:54)

        The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
        2. Invitation to Segonax (3:46)
        3. Bellboy and Flowerchild/Fellow Explorers (2:22)
        4. The Robot Attacks (1:04)
        5. Something Sinister (1:38)
        6. The Circus Ring/Eavesdropping (2:15)
        7. Stone Archway (1:45)
        8. The Well (1:04)
        9. Bellboy's Sacrifice (2:56)
        10. The Werewolf/`Request Stop'(5:49)
        11. Playing for Time (4:56)

        Ghost Light
        12. The Madhouse (3:26)
        13. Uncharted Territory (1:37)
        14. Heart of the Interior/Nimrod Observed (1:48)
        15. Time to Emerge (1:19)
        16. Burnt Toast/Ace's Adventures Underground (1:51)
        17. The Memory Teller (1:34)
        18. Homo Victorianus Ineptus (1:18)
        19. Out of the Shadows (2:37)
        20. Tricks of the Light (1:31)
        21. Judgement in Stone (2:14)
        22. Requiem/Passing Thoughts (3:42)

        The Curse of Fenric
        23. The Boats (0:43)
        24. Rat-trap (1:02)
        25. Sealed Orders (1:19)
        26. Commander Millington (0:46)
        27. Maiden's Point (1:16)
        28. The Translations (1:36)
        29. The Well of Vergelmir (1:15)
        30. The Ultima Machine (1:27)
        31. Stop the Machine! (2:23)
        32. Vampire City! (5:14)
        33. The Telegram (0:49)
        34. Evil from the Dawn of Time (1:10)
        35. Shadow Dimensions/The Great Serpent (1:02)
        36. Pawns in the Game (1:12)
        37. Black Wins, Time Lord! (2:18)
        38. The Final Battle (2:46)

        39. Doctor Who (End Title Theme) (1:12)

  • Novelised as Doctor Who - Ghost Light by Marc Platt. [+/-]

    Script Book W.H. Allen Edition

    • Paperback Edition - W.H. Allen.
      First Edition: September 1990.
      ISBN: 0 426 20351 8.
      Cover by Alister Pearson.
      Price: £2.50.

    • Script Book - Titan Books
      First Edition: June 1993.
      ISBN: 1 85286 477 X.
      Edited by John McElroy.
      Cover by Alister Pearson.
      Price: £4.99
  • Doctor Who Magazine Archive: #190.
Part One
(drn: 24'17")

Gabriel Chase, a Victorian mansion in Perivale. Reverend Ernest Matthews, Dean of Mortarhouse College, Oxford, arrives for dinner to challenge the blasphemous theories of the house's owner, Josiah Samuel Smith; the day housekeeper, Mrs Grose, shows him to the drawing room and then flees the house in terror, as it's closing in on six o'clock and nobody in their right minds stays in the house after dark...

The TARDIS materializes in the upper observatory of the house. Ace finds the surroundings creepy and hopes the Doctor hasn't brought her to a haunted house; one bad experience was enough for her. She and the Doctor explore the upper floors and find a radioactive snuffbox, and are confronted by an oddly intense explorer who identifies the snuffbox as the property of Redvers Fenn-Cooper, a man who vanished mysteriously while visiting Josiah Samuel Smith. The explorer turns out to be Redvers himself, who has been driven mad by his exposure to some kind of "light". The night housekeeper, Mrs Pritchard, takes Redvers back into the heart of the house for treatment, while a Neanderthal butler Nimrod shows the Doctor and Ace to the drawing room. The Doctor hands Nimrod the fang of a cave bear, a token of wisdom amongst the elders of Nimrod's tribe, and Smith, puzzled, orders Nimrod to the cellar to carry out his duties there. But Nimrod is attacked and knocked out by the creature which Smith keeps locked up in the cellar.

While Smith's ward Gwendoline shows Ace to her room to find suitable clothing, the Doctor and Matthews speak with Smith, whose treatises on Darwin's theories of evolution have provoked outrage amongst the God-fearing Victorians. Their discussion is interrupted by the sound of Redvers screaming, and the Doctor investigates to find that Redvers' snuffbox is glowing with a harsh white light which Redvers seems terrified of. Ace and Gwendoline, both dressed in mens' clothing, join the Doctor and Matthews at dinner, but Matthews' attempt to pontificate is interrupted by the sound of a telephone ringing. Smith answers the telephone and hears the voice of his captive from the cellar -- it's learned how to speak. Smith has Mrs Pritchard knock Matthews out with a chloroformed handkerchief, planning to continue their discussion later.

The Doctor offers his help, hoping to find out what's going on, but he is angrily confronted by Ace, who's learned that this house is the same haunted house she once told the Doctor she never wanted to return to. The Doctor has brought her back to force her to confront her own fear and to satisfy his own curiosity -- he's convinced that the evil force Ace sensed in the ruins of the house as a young girl is alien in origin. Ace admits that she entered the house on the worst day of her life, the day her friend Manisha's flat was firebombed by racist white kids, but before she can tell the Doctor what happened next Smith arrives to ask the Doctor for help, and Ace's nerve breaks and she flees.

Mrs Pritchard sees Ace taking the lift to the cellar, and once Ace has emerged Mrs Pritchard seals the lift, trapping Ace below the house. In the cellar she finds a large chamber with glowing alien control panels and stuffed animals, and two alien beings dressed in gentlemen's tuxedos emerge from behind a curtain and attack her, urged on by the gloating voice of Smith's enemy.

Part Two
(drn: 24'18")

The Doctor discovers that, in addition to the stuffed animals in his collection, Smith also has a human specimen -- police inspector Mackenzie, hypnotised and preserved in a collection drawer. Gwendoline is also under Smith's hypnotic control and believes that Mackenzie is a rare insect from Java; her own father "went to Java" after seeing what Smith was keeping in the cellar. Smith orders the Doctor to help him and threatens dire consequences should he refuse. Meanwhile, Nimrod recovers and saves Ace from the attacking husks, but when Ace threatens to smash a glowing membrane which the husks seem to be avoiding, Nimrod tries to stop her and accidentally stumbles against the membrane, disturbing the thing inside.

The resulting energy release is detected in the house, and while Smith is distracted the Doctor holds a radiation detector to his head, pretending it's a gun, and forces Smith to take him to the cellar. There, Smith orders the Doctor and Ace to help him stabilise the energy release, and the Doctor realizes that the "cellar" is in fact a stone spacecraft -- and Smith isn't the owner, but part of the cargo. He manages to stabilise the energy release and save England from destruction, but the creature controlling the husks then attacks them, and they retreat back to the lift with Nimrod.

The Doctor wonders whether the creature is the depraved monstrosity Smith claims it to be, but has no time to investigate; it's nearly daylight, and Smith destroys the lift and retreats to the upper observatory, shedding his skin. Ace, exhausted, falls asleep in the drawing room as Gwendoline follows Smith to the upper observatory. There, Smith awakens Matthews and causes him to transform into an ape whilst he denounces Darwin's theories of evolution. Smith soon tires of his new toy and hands Gwendoline a chloroformed handkerchief, ordering her to send Matthews to Java.

Ace awakens to find that it's nearly evening, and while she's been asleep the Doctor has been busy. He's awoken Mackenzie to provide himself with help investigating, but finds Mackenzie's mind utterly methodical and closed to the unusual. He and Ace awaken Nimrod, who recites legends of his tribe and announces that the Burning One, Light, will soon return. Ace discovers that while she was asleep the Doctor repaired the lift and made a deal with "Control", the creature from the cellar, to awaken Light; he suspects that Light is the true owner of the ship and wants to speak with it about what's been going on while it slept.

Ace and Mackenzie explore the house and reach the upper observatory, where they find Gwendoline and Mrs Pritchard frozen in hypnotic trances, the ape-like body of Matthews in a display cabinet, and the husk which used to be Josiah Smith. Matthews reveals that Gwendoline is Lady Pritchard's daughter -- the Pritchards used to live here before Smith invaded their house. The Doctor, hearing the lift approaching, turns the clock ahead and awakens the nocturnal denizens of the house ahead of schedule. Smith emerges from his hiding place, having fully evolved into a Victorian gentleman, and takes Ace prisoner while he goes to confront the Doctor. The Doctor admits that even he isn't sure what he's doing, and may have unleashed an even greater threat in his attempt to stop Smith. But it's too late to stop it now; the lift has arrived, carrying with it Control -- and Light.

Part Three
(drn: 24'17")

Light takes the form of an angel, and the Doctor explains to Ace and Mackenzie that it's on a mission to catalogue all forms of life in the Universe. Josiah is its survey agent, capable of evolving to mimic the native forms of life in any environment; Control is linked to the Survey Agent to prevent it from evolving too far and breaking free of Light. But while Light slept the Survey got out of Control. Light can't believe that this planet is Earth; it's changed so much since he surveyed it that his survey of the planet's life forms is out of date. He dissects one of the maids to find out how she works, and eventually realizes that this is indeed Earth -- and that due to evolution, his painstaking research has been wasted. Furious, he selects Mackenzie to start the change back.

Control, exposed to the upstairs environment, begins evolving into a beautiful young woman, but her personality remains largely instinctive and animal-like. The Doctor seeks her help in dealing with the situation but she flees from him, fearing he will take her newfound freedom away. While puzzling out his next move, the Doctor happens across Fenn-Cooper, who reveals that he's on a big game hunt funded by Smith -- to hunt the rarest animal of them all, the "Crowned Saxe-Coburg". Fenn-Cooper has a personal invitation to Buckingham Palace, and the Doctor realizes that Smith intends that Fenn-Cooper should assassinate Queen Victoria so Smith can rule the empire in her place.

Smith sends Gwendoline to dispose of Ace, but Ace overpowers her and flees to find Control huddled in a bedroom, terrified of the big open empty world outside the house. Ace urges Control to keep evolving and beat Josiah at his own game, and Control improves her diction and bearing, becoming a young lady. The Doctor and Fenn-Cooper arrive just in time to save Ace from Gwendoline, and the Doctor shows Gwendoline a cameo of herself and her mother, Mrs Pritchard. Gwendoline freezes in shock upon realizing what she has become. The Doctor then reveals the truth to Mrs Pritchard, sending her in tears to her daughter's side -- but Light, accusing them of "adapting to their situation to survive", kills them both, calcifying them in stone so they'll never change again.

The Doctor, Ace, Control and Fenn-Cooper go to dinner, where the Doctor reveals Smith's plans. Fenn-Cooper then offers his invitation to Control rather than Smith, ruining Smith's plans, and when Smith confronts Control she threatens to burn down the house. Ace is horrified and reveals that that's exactly what she did, in 1983, instinctively acting to erase the evil she sensed here. Control tosses the invitation into the fireplace, finishing Smith's plans.

But there's still Light to take care of. He's transformed Mackenzie into primordial soup as a prelude to his plans for Earth; to ensure that his catalogue remains up to date, he has programmed his ship to explode and eradicate all life on the planet. But the Doctor points out that Light too changes and evolves -- his shape, his attitudes, his location. Nimrod refuses to continue serving Light, pledging his allegiance to his planet; even Control has evolved beyond Light's control. Unable to cope with the rapid changes, Light calcifies himself.

The Doctor and his friends return to the stone ship, where Smith makes one last attempt to seize control -- but Control is having none of it, and when Smith collapses in a grovelling animal-like state, Ace realizes that their positions have now reversed for good. The energy from the imminent explosion is redirected to launch the ship with a new crew -- Redvers, Nimrod, and Control. The Doctor and Ace leave them to continue Light's survey, and return to the house just as the calcified body of Light explodes, irradiating the house with the evil energy which the young Ace will sense in a hundred years' time.

Source: Cameron Dixon

Continuity Notes:
  • In Blood Heat, Ace meets an alternate version of her friend Manisha, and we learn that she died of her injuries when her flat was firebombed.
  • The Doctor asks who was it that said Earthmen never invite their ancestors round to dinner. The answer is Hitchhiker's Guide and Doctor Who writer Douglas Adams.
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