‘The King’s Demons’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

Bad King John

Ah, Kamelion – the robot companion of the Fifth Doctor!

I find it very easy to forget Kamelion at times. I’m afraid this was a ‘Doctor Who’ companion that didn’t work. Not because of lack of character, but the prop was malfunctioning a lot. Kamelion was an actual robot the production team thought they could utilise in being a fully-fledged companion.

There were high hopes for Kamelion, but these were sadly dashed. The robot only did two ‘Doctor Who’ stories on TV and they’re featured in the ‘Kamelion Tales’ DVD box set. This includes his beginning and his end aboard the TARDIS. Is Kamelion as a companion all worth it?! Let’s find out!

‘The King’s Demons’ is set in the past during the medieval period of 1215. This is a two-part story by Terence Dudley, who was also the writer of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ TV adventure ‘Black Orchid’.

The story has the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough meeting King John at the castle of Sir Ranulf Fitzwilliam. The King calls the Doctor and his friends ‘demons’ before he invites to stay at the castle.

But the Doctor suspects something is wrong at the castle and with King John. Very soon, the Doctor unravels the mystery when he discovers the King’s champion, Sir Giles Estram, is actually the Master!

Out of all the three ‘Doctor Who’ stories by Terence Dudley, I’m afraid that this one is by far his weakest. Now that’s not to say the story he wrote is bad. ‘The King’s Demons’ is very average story.

I like the 1215 historical setting during the reign of King John. It seems clear that Dudley did his research in presenting the historical accuracy of the castle; the supporting characters; the knights and so on.

But it feels pretty dull and was less exciting for me. Also, Dudley had the task of introducing Kamelion and having the Master appear. These sci-fi elements muddy the waters for this adventure.

The ending was also rather rushed. The conclusion was never justified with the Doctor simply stealing Kamelion from the Master, thinking that he wouldn’t be able to stop Magna Carta happening without Kamelion.

I like Anthony Ainley as the Master, but I did find him slightly underused in this story. His disguise as a French knight is rather pathetic. You can see it’s him through the disguise and the accent he does.

Peter Davison’s Doctor is great as always. I enjoyed Peter’s enthusiasm and energy in this. He gets to do a sword fight at the end of ‘Part One’, which are skills acquired from Jon Pertwee’s Doctor of course! 😀

I found Janet Fielding as Tegan and Mark Strickson as Turlough, the Doctor’s friends, poorly developed in this. They don’t seem to do much and are whining and complaining to the Doctor a lot.

At least Tegan gets to be with the Doctor most of the time and gets to fly the TARDIS. But she seems rather moody throughout. Turlough gets his chance to meet the Master for the first time in this story.

Of course, this story is famous for introducing Kamelion. Now to be fair, it’s not bad to have a robot ‘Doctor Who’ companion. It was paved with good intentions. But they soon subsided and laid waste.

The design’s great, but Kamelion couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t walk, move or talk as he was supposed to. But at least Kamelion had one fundamental quality. He could shape-shift into anybody he wants.

It was a good way to avoid having painful scenes where Kamelion had to walk, but couldn’t due to mechanical problems. This also adds a complication or a story point that sadly doesn’t make sense.

I enjoyed Gerald Flood (who also voiced Kamelion) as King John in this. He gives a fruity, extravagant performance. But I couldn’t understand why Kamelion and King John didn’t act in the same manner.

As Peter Davison pointed out, it’s one thing to have Kamelion acting robotic. It’s another thing to have King John who is full of life and exuberant, which is a contrast to how Kamelion behaved in this.

I did like it when we had the reveal of Kamelion in ‘Part Two’, as the Doctor comes into the King’s quarters. I also like how Kamelion looks up to see the Doctor enter and speaks to him in his King John voice.

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the ‘Kamelion – Metal Man’ documentary with behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews, the ‘Magna Carta’ documentary and a photo gallery of the story. There’s an audio commentary with Peter Davison, Isla Blair (Isabella) and script editor Eric Saward. There’s also a bonus commentary with director Tony Virgo for ‘Part One’ only. There’s an isolated music option by Jonathan Gibbs; an info-text commentary option to enjoy and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF for the story. There’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Dominators’ with Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury.

‘The King’s Demons’ is not a story I regard highly and consider one of my favourites. It’s okay, but it lacks pace and action. The story was pretty rushed in its ending and isn’t as ‘masterly’ for the Master.

It provided a decent introduction to Kamelion, who was a companion sadly not to be. The story became the Season 20 finale for ‘Doctor Who’. It’s not a fantastic finale for a season, but it’s alright.

‘The King’s Demons’ rating – 5/10

The previous story

For the Fifth Doctor was

For Tegan was

For Turlough was

The next story

For the Fifth Doctor is

  • ‘The Crystal Bucephalus’ (Book)

For Tegan is

  • ‘The Crystal Bucephalus’ (Book)

For Turlough is

  • ‘The Crystal Bucephalus’ (Book)

For Kamelion is

  • ‘The Crystal Bucephalus’ (Book)
Return to The Fifth Doctor’s Timeline
Return to Tegan’s Timeline
Return to Turlough’s Timeline
Return to The Doctors’ Timelines Index
Return to The Companions’ Timelines Index
Return to Doctor Who Timelines
Return to Doctor Who
Return to Sci-Fi

4 thoughts on “‘The King’s Demons’ (TV)

  1. Timelord007

    Well it’s certainly no Black Orchid that’s for sure, I completely agree with you Tim this was rushed & needed to be a four parter to flesh the story out, it’s not exactly bad just needed better pacing & stronger character development, maybe you could write a sequel…lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The King’s Demons’.

      I’m pleased you agree with me about this story. It needed to be a four-parter to flesh out the story. I must check out the novelization/audiobook of ‘The King’s Demons’ by Terrence Dudley with Mark Strickson to see whether it’s an improvement on the TV story, which I’m sure it s.

      I will need to check out the novelization/audiobook first before I write the sequel. 😀

      Tim. 🙂


  2. Williams Fan 92

    Hi Tim, and happy Mothers Day.

    ‘The Kings Demons’ was ok in my opinion, nothing special. The reveal of the Master was rather pointless. I think it would have worked better if it had been established at the beginning of the story that he was Sir Gilles Estram. I agree that Tegan and Turlough were under-developed and whiny in this story. Gerald Flood put in a good performance as King John, as well as Kamelion himself. It’s a shame that Kamelion didn’t appear in any other stories between this one and his final appearance in ‘Planet of Fire’. I hope to listen to ‘I, Kamelion’ soon, and there’s also ‘The Kamelion Empire’.

    Out of all of Terence Dudley’s ‘Doctor Who’ scripts, ‘The King’s Demons’ is the weakest, and not very good. That’s a sharp contrast, considering that his other two stories are among my favourite Fifth Doctor tv stories. I hope the Target novelisation is an improvement.

    I hope you enjoy my review of ‘The King’s Demons’ when it is published. I will be sharing my thoughts on ‘The Five Doctors’ soon.

    Take care, WF92.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi WF92,

      Hope you enjoyed Mother’s Day. I treated my Mum to a lunch trip at a cafe and a Domino’s Pizza meal in the evening. 😀

      I must check out ‘The King’s Demons’ Target novelization/audiobook by Terence Dudley, as I gather it’s much better compared to the TV story. I hope to update my review on ‘The King’s Demons’ someday when it comes Season 20 being released on Blu-ray. I also hope to check out other Kamelion stories such as ‘I, Kamelion’ and the Kamelion audios with the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough. I’m pleased you agree ‘The King’s Demons’ is the weakest out of the three ‘Doctor Who’ stories Terence Dudley wrote for TV. I’m pleased you agree with me about the Master’s reveal in the story, Tegan and Turlough being whiny, and Gerald Flood being good as King John and Kamelion.

      I look forward to your blog review on ‘The King’s Demons’ as well as your thoughts on ‘The Five Doctors’.

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim 🙂

      Liked by 1 person


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