‘State of Decay’ (TV)

state of decay dvd the e-space trilogy dvd


Please feel free to comment on my review.

An Adventure in E-Space with Vampires

This is the second story of ‘The E-Space Trilogy’ and it’s a gothic tale, full of blood-curdling proportions. The Doctor and Romana visit an alien planet, whilst journeying through E-Space in order to escape.

They discover the planet is in decay with scared villagers, under the rule of the vampires who want blood and to rise up into the sky. Can the Doctor and Romana stop the terror of the Three Who Rule?

I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘State of Decay’ signed by Matthew Waterhouse at the ‘London Film and Comic Con 2017’, Olympia, July 2017. I enjoyed hearing from Matthew how he considers ‘State of Decay’, ‘The Keeper of Traken’, ‘Kinda’ and ‘The Visitation’ as his favourite stories from the TV series.

This four-part story is by Terrance Dicks and was originally called ‘The Vampire Mutation’. In 1980, producer John Nathan-Turner asked writer Terrance Dicks to write this story for Tom’s final season.

I don’t like vampires, but I enjoyed watching this story and the world Terrance Dicks creates with the vampires. It’s a wonderfully directed tale by Peter Moffatt and suits the Tom Baker era beautifully.

There were behind-the-scenes tensions between Terrance Dicks and script editor Christopher H. Bidmead on the changes made during the story. Thankfully, Terrance’s story came out alright in the end.

Peter Moffatt was chosen to direct this story on the basis that it would be a gothic tale. Peter managed to persuade JNT to revert the script back to its gothic form after it became too futuristic and scientific.

Matthew Waterhouse as Adric appears in this story, after stowing away aboard the TARDIS. Adric soon gets lured by the vampire lords who offer him immortality. Will he serve the vampires forever?

I like Tom Baker’s Doctor, as he’s pretty aloof and has some funny lines. I liked it when the Doctor says “Hello!” to one of the villagers and he runs away . I also liked it when the Doctor reacts to Romana stepping on his toe.

Lalla Ward as Romana is pretty good too. I loved it when the Doctor and Romana climb into the inspection hatch. They both witness the chamber of dead bodies and fuel tanks dripping with blood.

K-9 (voiced by John Leeson) spends most of the time in the TARDIS. But he becomes useful when helping the Doctor to find out more about the vampires and he gets to overthrow the vampires’ castle.

The Three Who Rule vampires are terrifying and hungry for blood. These vampires include William Lindsay as Zargo the King; Rachel Davies as Camilla the Queen and Emrys James as Aukon the Councillor.

The frightened village is led by Clinton Greyn as Ivo. He’s a weary-beaten man looking after his people; keeping the village together and selects those victims who are to be taken for the feasting.

I liked the design work on this story as it feel pretty gothic and unnerving for a 1980s ‘Doctor Who’ story. I love the concept of a castle turning out to be a spaceship, even when it blasts off during ‘Part Four’.

state of decay

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s an enjoyable commentary with director Peter Moffatt, writer Terrance Dicks and Matthew Waterhouse. There’s also an isolated music option by Paddy Kingsland and an info-text commentary option to enjoy.

There’s a making-of documentary called ‘The Vampire Lovers’ with cast and crew interviews; film trims and two vampire documentaries called ‘Leaves of Blood’ and ‘The Blood Show’. There’s also ‘The Frayling Reading’ analysis on ‘State of Decay’, continuities announcements; a photo gallery of the story and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story.

There’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for the ‘The Rescue’ and ‘The Romans’ with William Hartnell, William Russell, Jacqueline Hill and Maureen O’Brien.

‘State of Decay’ is a chilling and disturbing gothic tale that started off a trend of vampire stories in ‘Doctor Who’. You’ll need a strong stomach and a bolt of steel to brave your fears against vampires!

‘State of Decay’ rating – 8/10



Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Vampire Lovers

The Wasting doesn’t get mentioned at all in this novelization of ‘State of Decay’!

I previously reviewed the ‘Full Circle’ novelization with my review of the TV story. So it was only fair that I reviewed the rest of ‘The E-Space Trilogy’ novelizations with ‘State of Decay’ and ‘Warriors’ Gate’. I was looking forward to reading the ‘State of Decay’ novelization and listen to the audiobook.

‘Doctor Who and the State of Decay’ was published in January 1982, over a year since the TV story was transmitted from November to December 1980. Terrance Dicks novelized his TV scripts into prose for the Target novelization range of ‘Doctor Who’ books, which he made a big contribution to.

I’ve read a number of Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’ by Terrance Dicks beforehand, so I knew what to expect with this one. I’m glad Terrance got to novelize ‘State of Decay’. It’s claimed to be a surprising straightforward novelization of the story, only I don’t see why anyone should be surprised.

It has been stated that Terrance never got on well with script editor Christopher H. Bidmead during the making of the story. It’s clear from this novelization of the story that Terrance Dicks decided to not include many technical terms added by Bidmead, wanting this to be straight-forward as possible.

The omission of the Wasting references is a good example of this. As Terrance Dick stated in ‘The Vampires Lovers’ DVD documentary for ‘State of Decay’, Chris Bidmead’s idea to call the story ‘The Wasting’ might be construed as many saying, ‘you’re ‘wasting’ everybody’s time with this nonsense’.

Also the term ‘the Wasting’ is only mentioned in one episode of the story – the first one. It was never mentioned again. So the threat of the villagers by something called ‘the Wasting’ is rather redundant afterwards. So it makes sense Terrance Dicks omitted ‘the Wasting’ from the novelization.

Plus, and this is an important note, I didn’t register Romana saying a lot of the technical terms given to her by Chris Bidmead when she’s in the throne room with the Doctor, Camilla and Zargo in the story. So this feels less a Chris Bidmead-influenced story and more a Terrance Dicks-influenced story.

The story was divided into 14 chapters for the book. This is unusual, since most Terrance Dicks novelizations are 12 chapters, with 3 chapters for each of the four episodes. But you can say Chapter 1 serves as the prologue and Chapter 14 serves as the epilogue for this ‘State of Decay’ novelization.

I did find it surreal that I was reading four chapters for ‘Part One’, then three for ‘Part Two’, three for ‘Part Three’ and finally four for ‘Part Four’. But this is of course based on Terrance Dicks’ scripts and he has the liberty to expand his TV story in any form he wants. And indeed he does expand the story.

I felt that Terrance Dicks allowed us to explore more of his world in ‘State of Decay’, by giving detailed descriptions of the vampire planet and allowing more of the characters’ perspectives to be developed. It is something not usually found in many of Terrance Dicks’ ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations.

The audiobook for the ‘State of Decay’ novelization was released in January 2016. It was read by Geoffrey Beevers with John Leeson as the voice of K-9. I purchased the audiobook for the ‘State of Decay’ as a download via Audible, which I enjoyed listening to on my tablet whilst reading the story.

Now I must admit, I was surprised and puzzled that Geoffrey Beevers was chosen to be the narrator of the ‘State of Decay’ audiobook. This is because Geoffrey Beevers had nothing to do with ‘State of Decay’. He was in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ where he played the Master. Same Season 18, wrong story.

But as I read the story with the audiobook in the background, it all made sense. Geoffrey Beevers was a fine choice to read the ‘State of Decay’ audiobook. I would have preferred Tom Baker, Lalla Ward or Matthew Waterhouse to read the story, but I can see why Geoffrey Beevers read this story.

This is a vampire story and you need someone with a rich voice to enhance the gothic atmosphere in the audiobook. Geoffrey Beevers provides that gothic atmosphere because of his rich voice, as he was scary as both the Master and the Melkur in ‘The Keeper of Traken’. Therefore I’m fine with this.

When Geoffrey Beevers provides the voices for the Three Who Rule – Aukon, Zargo and Camilla, he makes them sound creepy and disturbing as elegant vampires. His female voice for Camilla was delightfully eerie to listen to. I also enjoyed it when he voiced villagers like Ivo and Kalmar on audio.

I don’t think Geoffrey is good on the voices for Tom Baker’s Doctor, Romana and Adric in the audiobook, but they are passable to enjoy. Before this audiobook, I enjoyed Geoffrey Beevers’ reading of ‘The Space War’ novelization on ‘Frontier in Space’. The same applied with this audiobook.

I was pleased to hear John Leeson provide the voice of K-9 in this audiobook of ‘State of Decay’. As with the TV story, K-9 doesn’t appear much as he’s mostly confined inside the TARDIS. There were times when I forgot John Leeson was providing the voice of K-9, due to his lack of appearance in this.

But it was nice to hear K-9 interact with the Doctor when he returned to the TARDIS to find out more information about the Record of Rassilon. In fact, the whole scene with the Doctor and K-9 finding out about ‘vampires’ and ‘bowships’ inside the TARDIS is done in one scene and is without any cuts.

Yeah. In the TV story, we had to keep cutting from the Doctor and Romana inside the TARDIS to Romana and Tarak rescuing Adric in the Tower. In the novelization, Terrance has both scenes separately and not intercutting with each other. It made it seamless and easier to follow and enjoy.

I like how the story opens in the first chapter wit setting up the vampire world and how Ivo loses his son during the selection by Habris. Reading the chapter allowed me to explore the characters’ thoughts, feelings and motivations as well as how the Tower and the village ‘centre’ was portrayed.

There are subtle changes to the cliff-hanger endings for ‘Part One and Three’ of this story in the novelization. In the ‘Part One’ cliff-hanger, it ends with the Doctor and Romana being chased by a swarm of bats. In the TV version, ‘Part One’ ended with so many bats swarming toward our heroes.

‘Part Two’ resolved that cliff-hanger rather weakly with the bats swarming away. In the novelization however, Terrance Dicks combines both the cliff-hanger of ‘Part One’ and the resolution in ‘Part Two’ by having the Doctor and Romana see many bats swarm towards before they see them swarm away.

This works well in the novelization and I wish that had been achieved in the TV version with better editing. The image of the bats swarming for the Doctor and Romana is so well-defined in ‘State of Decay’ that it’s let down in the ‘Part Two’ resolution. Thankfully this isn’t the case in the novelization.

The ‘Part Three’ cliff-hanger is also different in that it has Adric throwing a sharp knife at Zargo to defend himself and Romana. Zargo however manages to pull the dagger out of his chest to show how ‘immortal’ he is. This was scary to read in the novelization and I wish that was in the TV version.

Speaking of Adric, Terrance Dicks doesn’t delve too much into the origins of where he came from in the previous story. There’s no mention of Alzarius and there’s no explanation of how and why Adric stowed aboard the TARDIS. But perhaps Terrance Dicks did not have access to the ‘Full Circle’ scripts.

There’s another change I like in the novelization where Romana corrects Tarak inserting the key card into the door of the Inner Sanctum where Zargo and Camilla live by reinserting it herself. The guard there has his lines changed when he realises that Tarak is ‘Tarak the traitor’ before he’s knocked out.

This works better in the novelization compared to what Romana said to the guard in the TV story by saying she’s Camilla’s ‘blood group separator’. I think having the guard recognise Tarak in the novelization works better than what the TV story did, and I’m certain Terrance Dicks thought so too.

During the climax where the Great One rises, his appearance is slightly better than the one in the TV story. Just slightly! In the TV story, all we got was a giant hand rising up and not doing much. In the novelization, the Great One struggles to get out from the ground and this goes as far as his shoulder.

I would have preferred if the Great One’s torso had got out and he showed his vampire glory before the scout ship stabbed him as the Doctor’s ‘bolt of steel’. At least that’s what I would have done if I novelized ‘State of Decay’. The version in Terrance Dicks’ novelization is a little better, but not much.

The last chapter of the story, which is three pages long, features a longer scene where Adric asks the Doctor what he’s going to do with him before the Doctor tells him he’s going straight home. This is a better in the novelization compared to the TV story, as it was quickly rushed before the tale ended.

At least Terrance Dicks didn’t have the Doctor pulling Adric by the ear as originally scripted for the TV story. Hopefully Terrance Dicks realised the mistake of writing that in the tale. In the novelization, there’s an extra scene where the Doctor, Romana, Adric and K-9 are in the TARDIS before take-off.

The story closes with Kalmar watching the TARDIS depart and being marvelled by it. It was interesting how Kalmar viewed the Doctor as a scientist in the story, especially when asking questions about whether the villagers can get off planet and find a way out of E-Space back to Earth.

‘Doctor Who and the State of Decay’ has been an enjoyable novelization of the TV story. It is a reasonably straight-forward novelization. I have been able to notice some of the subtle changes Terrance made in certain scenes, but it doesn’t change the plot and the characters in the actual tale.

I greatly enjoyed Geoffrey Beevers’ narration of the story via the audiobook. It was an interesting choice to have Geoffrey read the story when he had no part in the production of it. But it makes sense as he has a rich reading voice and it’s also a joy to have John Leeson providing the voice of K-9.

‘Doctor Who and the State of Decay’ rating – 8/10

The previous story

For the Fourth Doctor was

For Romana was

For K-9 MkII was

For Adric was

The next story

For the Fourth Doctor is

  • ‘The Eight Doctors’ (Book)

For Romana is

  • ‘The Eight Doctors’ (Book)

For K-9 MkII is

For Adric is

Return to The Fourth Doctor’s Timeline
Return to Romana’s Timeline
Return to The Timelines of K-9
Return to Adric’s Timeline

5 thoughts on “‘State of Decay’ (TV)

  1. This is the only story to feel like a authentic Fourth Doctor story as Tom’s back on form delivering get one liners & of course i love the gothic setting & the vampires with the three who rules backstory is excellently done, i just wish they’d improved the rocket piercing the vampire with new effects as that shot looks awful.

    If you notice Tom & Lalla rarely look at one another in this as they were on/off in there relationship & boy does it show lol.

    This is my favourite story of season 18 & once again Tim you written another detailed review.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Simon.

    I know this is a ‘Doctor Who’ story that meets your tastes with its gothic atmosphere and vampires in it. It suits the Fourth Doctor era superbly and I’m pleased Terrance Dicks got to write for ‘Doctor Who’ again in Tom Baker’s final season on TV.

    Yes, Tom and Lalla were having a lot of friction between them in this story and it’s clearly shown in this story. Pretty surprising that they got married after doing ‘Doctor Who’ isn’t it?

    Very pleased you enjoyed my review on this your favourite story of Season 18.

    Thanks Simon.

    Don’t forget, there’s my review on ‘The Invasion of E-Space’!

    Tim. 🙂


  3. Another excellent written review on the Target audio Tim, i was hoping John Culsaw would’ve narrated this because he does a awesome Tom Baker, as a narrator Geoffrey is superb but his impressions of the Doctor & Romana sadly took me out the story it just didn’t sound right.

    I did enjoy the additional content by Dicks who expands the story which gave it more depth & backstory.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my review on the novelization/audiobook on ‘State of Decay’.

      Yes it would have been nice if Jon Culshaw read this audiobook of the novelization of ‘State of Decay’. He does a very good Tom Baker impression indeed. I can’t understand the logic behind these choices for narrators when they had no part in the actual TV story. I’m glad it’s not just me that Geoffrey Beevers’ impersonations of the Doctor and Romana aren’t that great. Surprising really, since Geoffrey worked with Tom Baker both on TV and audio. But he’s still a good narrator.

      Glad you enjoyed the extra content given by Terrance Dicks in the novelization. I always enjoy it when Terrance Dicks adds more to his stories in ‘Doctor Who’ through the novelizations.

      I feel I’m having a tough time with reading the novelization of ‘Warriors’ Gate’. Hopefully I’ll be able to give a good review on it when I come to finish reading the book. Stay tuned for that.

      Thanks again Simon.

      Tim. 🙂


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