‘Castrovalva’ (TV)

castrovalva new beginnings


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Castrovalvans – A New Beginning For ‘Doctor Who’

This is the third story of the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy and is the beginning of a new era. ‘Castrovalva’ sets up Peter Davison’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ superbly, as it shapes the Fifth Doctor through his post-regeneration trauma.

I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘Castrovalva’ signed by both Peter Davison at the ‘Regenerations 2016’ convention in Swansea, September 2016 and Sarah Sutton at the ‘Acceptable in the 80s’ convention in Chiswick, London, October 2011. I’ve also had a lovely photo of Nyssa and the Fifth Doctor in ‘Castrovalva’ signed by the lovely Sarah Sutton at the ‘Worcester Comic Con’ in August 2016.

This story follows on from ‘Logopolis’, as the Doctor and his companions escape and get caught in a trap by the evil Master. With Adric now gone, Nyssa and Tegan have to help the Doctor to get to Castrovalva.

I really like Peter Davison, as he’s one of my favourite Doctors. His first story where he recovers from his regeneration put me in mind of David Tennant’s regeneration from ‘The Christmas Invasion’.

I enjoyed the moments when Peter’s Doctor acts like the first three Doctors from William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton to Jon Pertwee. The Doctor travels in a box for most of the story, but gets to face the Master at the end.

I love the friendship shared between Sarah Sutton as Nyssa and Janet Fielding as Tegan in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. I really enjoyed the balance of Nyssa’s calmness and Tegan’s fieriness in this tale.

Sarah is lovely as Nyssa, as she gets to be resourceful when escaping danger from Event One, despite grieving over the loss of Traken and her father. She soon changes out of her fairy skirt into trousers.

Janet is equally a joy as Tegan. She gets to pilot the TARDIS and I like the moment when she suggests ‘looking up the index file’. Tegan is level-headed; resourceful and not so very bossy in this.

Matthew Waterhouse has a bad time as Adric. He gets used by the Master when he’s trapped inside the haldron web aboard his TARDIS. He soon gets freed and escapes with the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan.

Anthony Ainley as the Master is so evil and I like how he uses Adric to set up the traps for the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan here. The Master wears a disguise that I hadn’t realised and it took me by surprise.

I liked the concepts throughout this story by writer Christopher H. Bidmead. He uses of the TARDIS interior a lot; introduces us to the Zero Room and uses the theme of recursion which was an interesting concept to follow here.

Visiting the city of Castrovalva was interesting. It seems like a beautiful paradise, until the city folds in on itself. Chris Bidmead was inspired by the art works of Escher to create his world of Castrovalva.

The Castrovalvan cast are as follows. There’s Derek Waring as Shardovan; Michael Sheard as Mergrave and Frank Wylie as Ruther. There’s also Neil Toynay as the Portreeve, who appears to be a friendly elderly man.

castrovalva team pic

The DVD special features are as follows. There are three interviews with Peter Davison from ‘Swap Shop’; ‘Blue Peter’ and a recent one for this DVD. There’s ‘Directing Castrovalva’, an interview with director Fiona Cumming; a short documentary called ‘The Crowded TARDIS’ and a few deleted scenes.

There are trailers and continuities; a 1980s theme music video; a photo gallery of the story; a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story; a ‘Doctor Who Annual 1982’ PDF and an ‘info-text’ commentary option to enjoy.

There are also two audio options. There’s a commentary with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, writer Christopher H. Bidmead and director Fiona Cumming. There is also an isolated music option by Paddy Kingsland to enjoy. There’s also an ‘Easter Egg’ to look out for on this DVD which is on the main menu.


‘Castrovalva’ is a lovely opening story to begin the Peter Davison era of ‘Doctor Who’. It sets up the adventures of the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric well, as they embark on more adventure in time and space. I was looking forward to seeing more adventures of these characters after seeing this story.

The ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy has been tremendous! It’s the most enjoyable and thrilling collection of stories to tell the beginning of a new era of ‘Doctor Who’ from Tom Baker to Peter Davison. It’s worth watching the regeneration of one Doctor into the next and seeing my favourite compani Sarah Sutton as Nyssa.

Here are more thoughts on ‘The Crowded TARDIS’ by me.

‘Castrovalva’ rating – 8/10

Doctor_Who_Castrovalva  targetbook_castrovalva2 castrovalva audiobook


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Going Deeper Into The Recursive Occlusion

I thoroughly enjoyed this novelisation/audiobook of ‘Doctor Who – Castrovalva’!

This is another richer, in-depth exploration and experience of a TV story that begins a new era of ‘Doctor Who’ with such style and quality that is unlike any other. It explores more into the world of Castrovalva, as it describes the ins and outs of recursion and the recursive occlusion in greater detail.

I’ve had the CD cover of the ‘Doctor Who – Castrovalva’ audiobook signed by Peter Davison at the ‘Regenerations 2016’ convention. I enjoyed chatting with him about this audiobook. Peter recalled how challenging it was to read something like this. I concurred as there is a lot of detail in the story.

‘Castrovalva’ was novelised by Christopher H. Bidmead, the original author of this tale. It was published in 1983, a year after the story’s initial transmission in 1982. It is Chris’ second contribution to the Target range of novels and it features the debut appearance of Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor.

This book has been turned into a BBC audiobook and is read by Peter Davison. This is 4-disc CD set with the book divided into 12 chapters. Each of the four discs has 3 chapters that comprise one of the four episodes of the TV story. So 3 chapters; times 4; equals the 12 chapters found in the book.

I purchased the Target novel at the now deceased Up-Close ‘Doctor Who’ exhibition in Cardiff in 2008. I soon purchased the ‘Castrovalva’ audiobook at the ‘Regenerations’ Swansea convention in 2010. After enjoying ‘Doctor Who – Logopolis’, I wanted to enjoy a similar experience with this audio.

Beforehand, I read ‘The Fact of Fiction’ article on ‘Castrovalva’ in an issue of ‘Doctor Who Magazine’. I was able to pick up certain points and changes in the visualisation of the story from watching ‘Castrovalva’ in the ‘New Beginnings’ DVD box set. This gave me a better understanding of the story.

The story picks up from where ‘Logopolis’ ended and starts with Adric saying, “He’s changing! The Doctor’s regenerating!”, before we have a dynamic action opening sequence where the Doctor and his companions are escaping. It was pretty exciting to read/listen to, especially with Peter narrating.

Chris Bidmead writes a delightfully in-depth novel of the story that introduces the Fifth Doctor. His use of language and character development is impressive as I tapped into the minds of Tegan, Adric and Nyssa. Chris does well in describing the ins and outs of recursion and structure in ‘Castrovalva’.

Peter Davison was a joy to listen to. He’s a great narrator and this was the first time I heard Peter reading an audiobook. Peter would go on to read ‘Doctor Who – Earthshock’. He kept me enthralled and I love how he does the voices for Tegan; Adric; Nyssa and the Master as well as the Fifth Doctor.

Recursion is very strong theme throughout this book. I did an IT course with one my modules focusing on recursion. I found it confusing at first, but with help from an IT lecturer, I was able to get some understanding of what recursion is about with examples of burgers and pizzas to help me out.

There’s some lovely additional dialogue in an extended scene between Nyssa and Tegan where they’re trying to find the index file. I like Tegan’s definition of an ancestor and Bidmead’s use of a picture of hand drawing a hand. Art is also a special theme in this story where it concerns recursion.

I like how Chris utilises Escher when depicting Castrovalva. Chris has dedicated this book to Escher’s works of art. He’s delved into the integral workings of the occlusion and builds the tension and drama of something frightening. I don’t fully understand Escher, but it’s by no means invigorating.

I found Adric being connected to the Master’s haldron web quite graphic, as it emphasises how much he suffers. The theme of Block Transfer Computation continues from ‘Logopolis’ in this book. Adric’s insecurity about Nyssa and Tegan was interesting as it portrays his arrogance and immaturity.

I really enjoyed how Nyssa and Tegan’s friendship in this story is portrayed in the book. Bidmead plays on the dialogue between Nyssa and Tegan when they work out how to escape Event One and get to Castrovalva. Tegan’s bossiness is well-balanced as well as Nyssa’s calm, reassuring presence.

The Doctor’s recovery from his regeneration is well-written. There is a sense of confusion within the Doctor’s mind as he tries to figure out who he is. The moments of the Doctor acting like the previous Doctors and mentions other companions are missing from the TV story which I found disappointing.

There are more corridors of the TARDIS featured in the story and Bidmead describes the Zero Room in his introduction of it, as well as architectural configuration. The tension builds on how Nyssa and Tegan jettison the TARDIS rooms as they wonder whether they’ll jettison the console room as well.

The paradise of Castrovalva is very soothing when reading/listening to the story. It puts the reader under a false sense of security. I enjoyed reading/hearing the Italian-like atmosphere of Castrovalva in the book and how the characters of Ruther, Mergrave, Shardovan and the Portreeve are depicted.

The background music and sound design are the same ones used for the ‘Doctor Who – Logopolis’ audiobook. This is because both stories are in a continuous vein and BBC audiobooks wanted to use the same music and sounds for both stories as they are linked in being written by the same author.

‘Doctor Who – Castrovalva’ is wonderfully narrated by Peter Davison. It’s a great audiobook and experiencing these classic Fifth Doctor stories in book/audio form has been great. I’ve enjoyed audiobooks like ‘Doctor Who and the Visitation’ and ‘Doctor Who – Black Orchid’ that I recommend.

‘Doctor Who – Castrovlva’ rating – 8/10

The previous story

For the Fourth Doctor was

For Tegan was

For Nyssa was

For Adric was

The next story

For the Fifth Doctor is

For Tegan is

For Nyssa is

For Adric is

Return to The Fifth Doctor’s Timeline
Return to Tegan’s Timeline
Return to Nyssa’s Timeline
Return to Adric’s Timeline

6 thoughts on “‘Castrovalva’ (TV)

  1. Fantastic review Tim & again i love how you compare the transmitted tv episodes to the Target novel/audio.

    Your review’s take me back to 1982 all over again, i remember being extremely nervous at seeing a new actor as the Doctor but i was soon won over by Peter’s excellent performances.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Simon.

    I’m pleased you enjoy my Nyssa reviews in ‘Doctor Who’. I’m glad you approve of how I compared the TV stories with the Target novels/audiobooks. They are interesting to compare, both TV story and Target novel/audio. This is especially true in the case of Christopher H. Bidmead who delves deeper into his stories and makes them work better in the novels compared to the TV versions.

    I’m glad my review of ‘Castrovalva’ took you back to 1982 again. I’m sure it must have been a nervous time for you to see Peter taking over as the Doctor from Tom Baker. I’m glad he won you over, as he’s a very good actor, especially from his appearances in ‘All Creatures Great and Small’.

    Thanks again for your comments, Simon. Glad you enjoy my ‘Doctor Who’ reviews.

    Tim. 🙂


  3. Ah, Castrovalva, what a lovely little story you are ^_^

    While I don’t know much about recursion and all that, I could grasp enough to not be confused by the story. I really liked the setting of Castrovalva and even the exploration of the TARDIS in the early episodes.

    The guest cast was great and I do also appriciate Nyssa’s and Tegan’s relationship alot in this. Really, it was quite the girl power story, at least for the first couple episodes, as the girls had to take charge of the action, when Adric got captured and the Doctor was in a vulnerable state.

    I also ‘have a thing’ with seeng usually very strong characters being vulnerable. So, having that happen with the Doctor in this really got to me, but in a good way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Elinor. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on ‘Castrovalva’. I’m glad you like it and find it a ‘lovely little story’. 🙂

    I remember having to learn about recursion for my IT degree back in 2009. I’ve forgotten most of the stuff I learned, but it was fascinating and interesting especially when trying to understand it for my IT degree and when I re-watched ‘Castrovalva’. Chris Bidmead’s novelization/audiobook on the story certainly provides information on the themes of recursion and on the works of Escher that influenced ‘Castrovalva’ throughout the story.

    Yes, this story was easy to grasp compared to ‘Logopolis’. Thankfully because it was a story about regeneration and the aim of the story was trying to see that Peter Davison’s Doctor got better as he was weak from his regeneration, it made it watchable; enjoyable and easy to follow. I’m glad you like the setting of Castrovalva and exploring more of the TARDIS in this story.

    Yes I liked the guest cast in this story. Nyssa and Tegan’s friendship is well-established in this story. I liked it when they worked together to help the Doctor through his regeneration, escaping Event One and reaching Castrovalva. They certainly stand out as characters in this story compared to ones later on. Because the Doctor was inactive for most of the story, they were able to have their own voices and use their own initiative. I felt sorry for Adric who got captured by the Master and put in that horrible web.

    Yes poor Doctor indeed. It was interesting to compare both Peter Davison’s debut story with David Tennant’s debut story. Both were quite similar when they were suffering and recovering from regeneration, weren’t they?

    Thanks again Elinor. Glad you’re enjoying my reviews on these Nyssa stories.

    Tim. 🙂


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