‘THE HAND OF FEAR’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Sarah Jane’s Last Adventure in the TARDIS with the Fourth Doctor
Eldrad must live! You must understand! Eldrad must live! He must! He must! HE MUST!!!! (stops; clears throat) Sorry, I got carried away there. But still, a great catchphrase from a good ‘Doctor Who’ story! Anyway, we’ve now come to Sarah Jane’s last appearance (for now) in ‘Doctor Who’. So sad! 😦
It was quite moving how Sarah Jane’s adventures with the Fourth Doctor ended in ‘The Hand of Fear’, starring Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen. I know it’s not the greatest story to focus on Sarah Jane’s exit, but the way it was handled in the final scene between Tom Baker and Lis Sladen, it’s nice.
‘The Hand of Fear’ is a four-part adventure by Bob Baker and Dave Martin. Once again, they’re no strangers to ‘Doctor Who’, having written quite a number of adventures together during the 1970s. This includes ‘The Claws of Axos’, ‘The Mutants’, ‘The Three Doctors’ and ‘The Sontaran Experiment’.
This four-part adventure was also directed by Lennie Mayne. Lennie Mayne directed three ‘Doctor Who’ stories before this. This included ‘The Curse of Peladon’, ‘The Three Doctors’ and ‘The Monster of Peladon’. ‘The Hand of Fear’ was to be Lennie Mayne’s final ‘Doctor Who’ TV adventure to direct.
In the story, the Doctor and Sarah Jane return to Earth in the modern day – whether that’s the 1970s or 1980s, I don’t know. The two time travellers get caught up in an explosion in a quarry where explosives have been rigged. Surprised the Doctor and Sarah Jane didn’t realise with sirens going off.
After the explosion, a fossilised stone hand gets discovered. Sarah Jane, under a lot of rubble, grips it in her hand before she goes unconscious. Once in hospital, the menace of Eldrad takes over Sarah Jane. She takes the hand to the Nunton nuclear power station to regenerate and she keeps saying “Eldrad must live!”
The Doctor tries to save Sarah Jane and thankfully he does before Eldrad is fully formed into a walking, talking crystalline biped. Can the Doctor and Sarah Jane sort out Eldrad as they take her back to Kastria. Can our heroes rescue the planet Earth in time before Sarah Jane leaves the TARDIS?
Sarah Jane Smith was (and still is) a very popular ‘Doctor Who’ companion of the 1970s. This was due to Elisabeth Sladen’s lovely performances as the character and the chemistry that she had in her relationship with Tom Baker’s Doctor. But with good things, Sarah Jane’s TARDIS travels soon ended.
Lis Sladen made her first appearance as Sarah Jane in the story called ‘The Time Warrior’ with Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor. Since then, Sarah Jane has travelled with two Doctors that included Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. Mostly she travelled with Tom Baker and the two formed a sparkling duo. 🙂
It’s clear from the stories they did together that Tom Baker and Lis Sladen enjoyed each other’s company and that they were well-loved by the fans. I can imagine how electrifying Tom Baker and Lis Sladen were back in the day. They continue to be so by many fans that see them on DVD/Blu-ray.
The first time I encountered Lis Sladen as an actress was in an episode of ‘Some Mother Do ‘Ave Them’ with Michael Crawford as Frank Spencer. I didn’t register who Lis Sladen was at the time when I watched that ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’ episode as I hadn’t seen ‘Doctor Who’ by then.
It was when I saw her return as Sarah Jane Smith in ‘Doctor Who’ with David Tennant’s Doctor in the episode ‘School Reunion’ that I realised who Lis Sladen was. I was happy to see her in that episode and I’ve loved seeing Lis Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith ever since. I saw her on TV from 2006 to 2011. 🙂
It was after doing ‘School Reunion’ that Lis Sladen went on to be Sarah Jane in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’, which I loved watching on CBBC. I’m saddened that I never got to meet Lis Sladen at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions. I began going to conventions in 2010 and she sadly passed away in 2011.
I wonder what it would’ve been like to meet Lis Sladen at conventions. She seemed a lovely person when being interviewed for ‘Doctor Who’ DVDs in the stories she was in. I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed chatting to Lis Sladen at conventions, telling her how much I’ve enjoyed her being Sarah Jane Smith.
Like I said, ‘The Hand of Fear’, as a story, doesn’t necessarily focus upon Sarah Jane’s departure from the TARDIS. Instead, it focuses on the Doctor and Sarah Jane tackling an alien that comes to Earth. But Sarah Jane does drive this story forward and it allows Lis Sladen to deliver a lovely performance.
As stated, the alien threat first comes in the form of a ‘dead hand’ which Sarah Jane touches under rubble and goes unconscious. She’s taken over since “Eldrad must live!” and begins zapping people out with a ring. Lis Sladen as Sarah Jane under Eldrad’s control is mesmerising to watch in this story.
It was quite disturbing when Sarah Jane kept on repeating and insisting that “Eldrad must live!” The way she knocked out and stunned people like security guards is with a blue beam of light. Eventually, in a radiation chamber, Sarah Jane puts the hand in there with her and it comes to life. 😮
It was quite disturbing to see the ‘dead hand’ come to life and move by itself, ending ‘Part One’ with a cliffhanger. Even for 1976, it was impressive effects work for its time. I’m amazed they managed to do that with the small budget they had for ‘Doctor Who’. It has to be one of the best special effects.
Tom Baker delivers a superb performance as the Doctor in this adventure. I liked it when he rescued Sarah Jane from underneath the rubble, although he doesn’t seem worried about her until she leaves the hospital suddenly. I like it how he gets curious about Eldrad when Sarah Jane repeats the name.
The Doctor becomes willing to help Eldrad both in female and male form in order to find out what she/he’s up to. I liked that scene between Tom Baker’s Doctor and Lis Sladen’s Sarah Jane when they’re concerned about each other before going back into the Nunton power station to face Eldrad.
The story’s guest cast features Glyn Houston as Professor Watson. I’ve also seen Glyn Houston in an episode of ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’ and he played Bunter, Lord Peter Wimsey’s butler with Ian Carmichael. He later did ‘The Awakening’ with Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor. He’s also a Welsh actor. 🙂
I enjoyed Glyn Houston’s performance as Professor Watson in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. At first, he gets easily frustrated when a crisis occurs at the Nunton power station. There are times when he’s soft-hearted and I liked his phone conversation with his wife, asking her to ‘kiss the children’ for him.
The story also features Rex Robinson as Dr. Carter. Rex Robinson played Dr. Tyler in ‘The Three Doctors’. In this story, Dr. Carter is a pathologist who examines the dead hand found by the Doctor and Sarah Jane. Carter gets knocked out by Sarah Jane when she’s under Eldrad’s control in the story.
Carter sadly too gets under Eldrad’s control in the story. I say ‘sadly’ because he soon meets a sticky end once trying to thwack the Doctor with a very large spanner, saying “Eldrad must live!” I do think his demise was pretty undignified in the TV story and I’m sure it’s better in the Target novelization. 🙂
The guest cast also includes Frances Pidgeon (director Lennie Mayne’s wife) as Miss Jackson, Professor Watson’s assistant at the Nunton power station. There’s also John Cannon as Elgin and Roy Boyd as Driscoll, who gets taken over by that ‘hand of fear’ before he gets vaporised by radiation. 😮
The villain of the story is of course Eldrad…who must live! Eldrad is a crystalline-like, silicon-based life-form from Kastria. Eldrad managed to survive on Earth through Sarah Jane and he depends upon a massive amount of radiation that he absorbs. Eldrad even stops a bombing missile raid in the tale. 😐
Eldrad is played by two actors here. There’s Judith Paris as the female form of Eldrad. I enjoyed Judith’s performance as female Eldrad. She appears elegant when the Doctor and Sarah Jane meet her. She can also be dangerous and requests that the Doctor and Sarah Jane take her back to Kastria.
There’s also Stephen Thorne who plays the true male form of Eldrad on Kastria after he gets put through a regeneration chamber. Stephen Thorne previously played Azal in ‘The Dæmons’; Omega in ‘The Three Doctors’ and an Ogron in ‘Frontier In Space’. He also did Treebeard in ‘LOTR’ for radio.
Stephen delivers a rich, booming performance as Eldrad in this adventure. I don’t think his costume and make-up are convincing as Judith Paris’ female version of Eldrad, which was disappointing. But Stephen Thorne can still deliver a menacing, villainous performance brilliantly despite disappointments. 🙂
I enjoyed it when the Doctor and Sarah Jane tripped Eldrad up with the Doctor’s scarf before he fell into a deep dark abyss. I don’t think throwing Eldrad’s ring into the abyss after he fell in was a good idea, Doctor. After all, you could end up having another confrontation with Eldrad in ‘Eldrad Must Die’! 😀
The final scene where Sarah Jane and the Doctor parted company was very touching. I liked how the scene was built with Sarah Jane being frustrated and unhappy aboard the TARDIS. She threatens to go home, but the Doctor doesn’t hear her. This gets Sarah Jane angry, going off to pack her ‘goodies’.
Once Sarah Jane has gone, the Doctor receives a telepathic summons from Gallifrey. It seems serious and the Doctor says that he can’t take Sarah Jane to Gallifrey since humans aren’t allowed. He sets the TARDIS for Sarah Jane’s home in South Croydon, Earth before she returns to the console room. 😐
It was quite heart-breaking when the Doctor revealed to Sarah Jane that he’d been summoned back to Gallifrey and he can’t take her with him. Sarah Jane becomes apologetic about her recent harsh words to him, but the Doctor is serious in that he can’t take her with him. It was pretty sad to see. 😦
As I understand it, the final scene between the Doctor and Sarah Jane was rewritten by Tom Baker and Lis Sladen themselves when they felt the original version of that scene didn’t work. And quite right they rewrote it because it was important to emphasise the friendship that these two had here.
The goodbye between the Doctor and Sarah Jane was moving to watch. She asks him not to forget her and the Doctor will never forget her as long as Sarah Jane never forgets him. It was sad to see Sarah Jane leave, but as we all know, the Doctor will meet Sarah Jane again soon in future stories. 😀
It was funny when Sarah Jane said the Doctor ‘blew it’ in not taking her back to South Croydon. Aberdeen was where she ended up, I believe. Yeah, not far to travel to Croydon from Aberdeen by train, is it? 😀 I found it funny when the dog ran off after Sarah Jane chatted to him. The dog must’ve thought Sarah Jane was crazy. 😀
The original DVD special features were as follows. There was the making-of documentary called ‘Changing Times’ with behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews and it looks into the special relationship between the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith as well as ‘The Hand of Fear’. There were BBC continuity announcements of the story; a ‘Swap Shop’ interview with Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen by Noel Edmonds; and a photo gallery of the story. There was a stereo sound audio mix option for the story and a DVD audio commentary with Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Judith Paris, producer Philip Hinchcliffe and co-writer Bob Baker. There was an info-text commentary option to enjoy; the 1977 ‘Doctor Who Annual’ PDF and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story. There was also an Easter Egg to look out for on the DVD which was the ‘Nationwide’ interview with Elisabeth Sladen that can now be found on ‘The Masque of Mandragora’ Blu-ray disc.
On Disc 2 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 14’ Blu-ray, the ‘Changing Time’ making-of documentary; the ‘Swap Shop’ interview; the stereo sound audio mix option for the story and the DVD audio commentary can be found on there. The BBC continuity announcements for ‘The Hand of Fear’ have been updated into BBC trailers and continuity announcements for 2020 on the Blu-ray. The photo gallery and the info-text commentary option for ‘The Hand of Fear’ have been updated for 2020 on the Blu-ray. The 1977 ‘Doctor Who Annual’ PDF is sadly not included on ‘The Hand of Fear’ Blu-ray disc.
The new special features on Blu-ray include the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘The Hand of Fear’ with Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela) and producer Philip Hinchcliffe as well as Peter Purves (Steven) and Sophie Aldred (Ace). There’s a special tribute documentary called ‘Our Sarah Jane – The Life of Elisabeth Sladen’, featuring contributions from those who knew her. There’s the ‘Doctor Who Stories: Elisabeth Sladen – Part Two’ interview (taken from the ‘Terror of the Zygons’ DVD) and the audio story ‘Exploration Earth: The Time Machine’ with Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen. There’s also a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Deadly Assassin’ with Tom Baker.
On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story, there are also production documents and scripts.
‘The Hand of Fear’ is a moving departure story for Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. I enjoyed watching the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane in this adventure in defeating Eldrad. The farewell between the Doctor and Sarah Jane is one I won’t forget. It’s superbly played between the two stars.
As I said, this isn’t the end for Sarah Jane. She would return in ‘K-9 & Company’ with…K-9 of course as well as ‘The Five Doctors’ for ‘Doctor Who’s 20th anniversary before she returned in the new series via ‘School Reunion’ and have her own spin-off series in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’. Lovely! 🙂
‘The Hand of Fear’ rating – 8/10
‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE HAND OF FEAR’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Rise of Eldrad on Earth
Terrance Dicks does it again with a really good ‘Doctor Who’ Target novelization!
I enjoyed reading ‘Doctor Who and the Hand of Fear’! It’s a great novelization of the TV story by Terrance Dicks. Terrance does well in novelizing Bob Baker and Dave Martin’s scripts of the story that features Sarah Jane’s departure from the TV series as well as the introduction of the mysterious Eldrad.
‘The Hand of Fear’ is a ‘Doctor Who’ story that means a lot to people with featuring Sarah Jane’s departure. Sarah Jane is one of the most popular ‘Doctor Who’ companions in the series. So it must have been pretty heartbreaking for all those fans who love Sarah Jane to watch her leave the TARDIS.
I’m pleased I read the Target novelization of ‘The Hand of Fear’ by Terrance Dicks over the Christmas period in 2018. Terrance of course was there during the creation of Sarah Jane Smith with producer Barry Letts and writer Robert Holmes for ‘The Time Warrior’. So he’s a fitting choice to novelize ‘The Hand of Fear’.
‘The Hand of Fear’ book was published in 1979, four years after the TV story was transmitted in 1976. The story is divided into 14 chapters with a prologue at the beginning. I’m surprised this wasn’t a traditional 12 chapter book of a ‘Doctor Who’ novelization by Terrance. He usually does it like that..
Like most Target novelizations by Terrance Dicks, there’s not many changes made to the plot of the story. Terrance mostly sticks to what was in the original story by Bob Baker and Dave Martin. He does make a few subtle changes to certain scenes, but they don’t affect the story’s eventual outcome.
The prologue is mainly the first scene of the story shown on TV where the Kastrians are about to obliterate Eldrad before he escapes to Earth. I must admit I found the opening scene a bit confusing to watch whilst watching the TV story. Mainly because I found a lot of the dialogue muffled at times.
In the novelization, aspects of that scene are clearer especially when King Rokon is giving instructions to his technicians on the procedure to destroy Eldrad and when he gives the chant about who Eldrad is in being a transgressor; a carrier of evil and a destroyer. This also seems to have happened long ago.
An alteration is made in the novelization compared to the TV story. Apparently King Rokon instructs the technician Zazzka to give him control of the capsule containing Eldrad. He also reads Eldrad’s sentence before obliteration. This apparently didn’t happen in the same manner as in the TV story.
The first chapter of the story is of course the Doctor and Sarah Jane arriving in the quarry before the blast occurs. It was interesting to read the story from the Doctor and Sarah Jane’s point of view on how they arrive before they see the man waving at them, telling them to get out before the explosion.
Incidentally, the foreman Abbott is given a first name as he’s apparently called Tom. This was something not in the TV story as we didn’t know some of the character’s first names. The same goes for Professor Watson who is given the first name of Owen. Quite intriguing to discover in this book! 🙂
Sarah Jane’s survival of the blast in the quarry gets explained better in the book compared to the TV story. Apparently Sarah Jane found shelter under an overhang where the Doctor found her. This of course doesn’t help when Sarah Jane found herself trapped under rubble and couldn’t get out herself.
I felt for Sarah Jane in that moment when reading the book whilst she was trapped underneath all that rubble. It must have been pretty claustrophobic when you have limited breathing space. I think Terrance Dicks manages to portray that very well for Sarah Jane’s character as I read the scene in the book.
The scenes where Sarah Jane is under Eldrad’s possession and walking through the Nunton nuclear power station are somewhat brief in the book compared to the TV version. I know they slowed down the story somewhat on TV, but it was intriguing that Terrance decided not to elongate it in the book.
Another interesting omission in the Target novelization compared to the TV story is that Dr. Carter doesn’t describe Sarah Jane as wearing pink stripped overalls like Andy Pandy. He just describes her wearing a striped overall dress. Maybe it wasn’t in the original TV scripts when Terrance novelized it.
A change made in the Target novelization compared to the TV story is when the Doctor shows his U.N.I.T. credentials to Abbot at the quarry site to gain his co-operation. I don’t recall the Doctor doing that in the TV story. Perhaps Terrance saw a weakness for that scene and he amended it then.
I found it amusing when reading Chapter 4 which began the ‘Part Two’ segment of the story, Professor Watson shouted his head off and we have his shouts in BIG CAPITAL LETTERS! Like seriously, we didn’t need to have big capital letters for Professor Watson to shout his head off to make himself heard. 😀
I suppose it’s effective in order to demonstrate how annoyed and angry Watson is in that scene. I’m just glad Terrance didn’t have Watson shouting his head off all the time in those tense moments as the the Pirate Captain would in ‘The Pirate Planet’. The emotional scenes with Watson remain very effective.
It was interesting to discover in the book that Carter doesn’t seem affected by Eldrad’s influence until he hears the name mentioned by Sarah Jane Smith speaking over the intercom. Beforehand, Carter seemed very normal when with the Doctor after Sarah Jane zapped him with Eldrad’s ring in the lab.
This of course leads to a pretty obvious difference in the book compared to the TV story with how Carter’s demise is handled. Instead of attacking the Doctor on the stairs and overbalancing, Carter tries to pull the Doctor off a horizontal ladder before he ends up falling and plummets to the ground.
I actually prefer Terrance Dicks’ version of Carter’s demise in the novelization compared to the one in the TV story. Carter’s demise in the TV story seemed pretty undignified. It’s like he didn’t plan his attack on the Doctor properly and him falling to his demise from the stairs felt like no effort had gone into it.
Another difference in the novelization from the TV story is where Sarah Jane immediately forgets about Eldrad after the Doctor deprograms her from remembering again. She doesn’t make a joke to the Doctor like she was still in a trance in the TV story. She’s out of her trance and nothing happens.
I wish that moment where Sarah Jane play-acts she was in Eldrad’s influence to the Doctor was included in the Target novelization. It was both funny and a little bit scary when Sarah Jane joked on the Doctor. Maybe it wasn’t in the original TV scripts and Lis Sladen adlibbed it during the rehearsals.
There are small alterations made like the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Watson leaving in a jaguar rather than a landrover from the Nunton power station. It also gets established in the book that Professor Watson kept a gun in case of a terrorist attack, which was intriguing and never established in the TV version.
The ‘Part Four’ chapters of the story are quite a challenge to get through especially with the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Eldrad avoiding various booby traps to get to where they need to be. But when Eldrad gets seemingly killed and reformed into Stephen Thorne’s character, it gets interesting again.
I also enjoyed how the Doctor lures Sarah Jane to get across the chasm over a beam by pretending to be in trouble. I don’t recall that in the TV story off-hand, but it was fun how the Doctor uses certain means to persuade Sarah Jane to overcome her fears like he did to her in ‘The Ark In Space’.
I also noticed that the Doctor threw Eldrad’s ring into the abyss after Eldrad fell into it during the final chapter. This of course provides a nice tie-in to the Big Finish audio, ‘Eldrad Must Die!’ where Eldrad resurfaced. I agree with Marc Platt. Throwing Eldrad’s ring after he fell into the abyss was silly, Doctor.
The final chapter of the story is dedicated to Sarah Jane’s departure. A certain line is missing here and there in the novelization version of that scene. I’m disappointed the line Sarah Jane said to the Doctor about travel broadening the mind isn’t included in the Target novelization. It’s such a shame.
It was hinted at earlier in the story where the Doctor talked to Sarah Jane about travel broadening the mind. So why wasn’t it followed up in the final scene? It might not have been in the story’s original scripts and it was included when Tom Baker and Lis Sladen rewrote their last scene together.
Aside from that, the departure of Sarah Jane is well-handled in the Target novelization by Terrance Dicks. It was interesting how the Doctor prepared to take Sarah Jane back to South Croydon and how there was the misunderstanding between them about wanting to go home as depicted in the TV story.
At this point, I’m looking forward to hearing the audiobook for ‘The Hand of Fear’ Target novelization soon. It’ll be very intriguing to hear how Pamela Salem will read the story. I hope to add my thoughts on Pamela Salem’s audiobook reading when I get to updating my novelization review. 🙂
‘Doctor Who and the Hand of Fear’ is a faithful Target novelization by Terrance Dicks on the ‘Doctor Who’ story by Bob Baker and Dave Martin. I like how the novelization sticks mostly to the original TV scripts with a few subtle changes to improve the story such as Carter’s demise and a few little things.
I’m especially pleased that this Target novelization does well in handling Sarah Jane’s departure from the ‘Doctor Who’ series. I’m saddened the ‘travel does broaden the mind’ line isn’t included between the Doctor and Sarah Jane, but I greatly enjoyed reading the book over Christmas, December 2018.
‘Doctor Who and the Hand of Fear’ rating – 8/10
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