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Terileptils with the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric
This is one of my favourite stories from the Peter Davison era of ‘Doctor Who’!
It’s a lovely story with lots of things happening in it and features my favourite TARDIS team from ‘Doctor Who’ – the Fifth Doctor; Tegan; Nyssa and Adric. I couldn’t be happier with seeing this story, especially with seeing Peter Davison; Janet Fielding; Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse in this.
‘The Visitation’ was originally released on DVD back in 2004. It has now been re-released as a 2-disc Special Edition DVD in 2013. It has the story on Disc 1 and brand-new special features on Disc 2.
The Doctor and his friends visit Earth in 1666 England. The Doctor is trying to get Tegan back to Heathrow Airport in her own time, but they end up three hundred years too early. But the Doctor and his friends have more things to worry about as they’ve arrived in the midst of the Great Plague.
There are angry villagers who want to kill the Doctor and his friends. With the help of local highwayman and thespian called Richard Mace, the Doctor and friends manage to escape. They soon discover that the planet’s in danger as the lizard-like Terileptils have come to Earth to cause havoc.
This four-party story is by Eric Saward and was directed by Peter Moffatt. This is Eric Saward’s first contribution to ‘Doctor Who’ as he would later become script editor for the Peter Davison and Colin Baker eras. Here he delivers an exciting and intriguing tale set in a historical period with some aliens.
Peter Moffatt also directs a lavish tale with some splendid location work as well as fine pace and charisma. This is one of Peter’s many directing jobs in ‘Doctor Who’ and it’s one of his finest. I enjoy watching stories directed by Peter Moffatt as he’s a hit with the actors who enjoy working with him.
I like how this story utilises the historical backdrop of the Great Plague and how it affects society with the Doctor and his friends in danger from the villagers who try to kill them. Very soon the story leads to the Great Fire of London, which becomes a significant event in history as well as in the story.
I’ve had the original DVD cover of ‘The Visitation’ signed by Peter Davison; Janet Fielding; Sarah Sutton; Matthew Waterhouse and Michael Melia (the Terileptil Leader). I’m very happy to have met all four actors who were the original Season 19 TARDIS team at a convention in Slough, August 2013.
I first met Peter Davison in Slough and he was a delight to meet! It was a brief meeting as he’s was working on ‘The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot’ at the time. But I’m glad I’ve met him. I told him how much I liked ‘The Visitation’ and that Nyssa’s my favourite companion which he was pleased about.
I liked Peter Davison as the Doctor in this! Peter delivers so much energy, enthusiasm and integrity as the Doctor as he shows concern for his companions and clearly likes Nyssa. It was funny when the Doctor has to tolerate Tegan’s bossiness in the TARDIS as he doesn’t understand why she overreacts.
I also first met Janet Fielding in Slough and was delighted to meet her. She said “Hiya Tim” when I first met her. It was a lovely first meeting with Janet as I told her how much I enjoyed hearing her in the Big Finish audios she’d done in ‘Doctor Who’. I’ve met Janet more than once now at conventions.
Janet Fielding as Tegan has such vibe and fiery energy. She does moan at a lot I’m afraid, as she’s annoyed and angry with the Doctor for failing to return her to Heathrow Airport. She’s soon in danger in 1666 and has a bad time when getting imprisoned and mind-controlled by the Terileptils.
I’ve seen Sarah Sutton at conventions before and it was lovely to see her again in Slough in 2013. She seems happy to see me and I like it when we share friendly banter and jokes at these conventions. Sarah was pleased I liked this story, especially since she prefers the historical stories in ‘Doctor Who’.
Sarah Sutton is tremendous as Nyssa in this. I liked her scenes with the Doctor and when she’s building the sonic booster in the TARDIS. She gets to destroy the Terileptil android and I liked it when Nyssa feels sad about destroying the android as it demonstrates her empathy and compassion.
I’ve also seen Matthew Waterhouse at conventions before seeing him again in Slough in 2013. It was nice to meet Matthew again and I had finished read his invigorating memoirs in ‘Blue Box Boy’. I soon had a group photo with Matthew, Janet and Sarah at the end of the day and I was very happy.
Matthew Waterhouse as Adric is annoying and underused at times in this. He gets scolded by the Doctor, but has an interesting bond with Richard Mace. Adric does feel useless when he can’t help Nyssa out in the TARDIS. But Adric does get to fly the TARDIS to rescue the Doctor, Tegan and Mace.
I was pleased when I discovered that Michael Robbins was in this as Richard Mace. He’s well known as Arthur in the sitcom series ‘On the Buses’ – “What a lot of rot you talk!” Richard is brilliant as he does a fruity performance as Mace. Sometimes it was hard to take Michael Robbins seriously in this.
Richard Mace is a roughened, charming highwayman and a ‘once noted thespian’. It was great to see Michael Robbins as Mace have scenes with the Doctor as he helps him and his friends out with stopping the Terileptils. Michael does balance the comedy and drama well in his character of Mace.
The monsters are the lizard-like Terileptils. There are three of them in this story that range from different colours including red, blue and green. I liked the Terileptils as monsters as reptilian monsters are often pretty scary in ‘Doctor Who’. It’s such a shame they only appeared in one story.
Michael Melia (later known in ‘Eastenders’) guest stars as the Terileptil Leader. He looks amazing in his mask and costume as the Terileptil Leader and delivers an astounding performance. I’ve met and chatted to Michael at the ‘Valiant 2015’ convention in Sheffield, 2015. I also had a photo with him.
The Terileptils are a race of reptiles that have this obsessive love of art, beauty and war. They are advanced in their technology, keep snazzy-looking androids and breathe a hot atmosphere of soliton gas. They crash-land on Earth, 1666 and take over a country house as their base of operations in this.
These three Terileptils are on the run from the prison planet of Raaga. They want to colonise the Earth by destroying the human race with a deadly version of the plague using rats to enhance the infection. The Doctor is appalled by their viciousness, but the Terileptils justify themselves so easily.
I like the Terileptils a lot. The costumes were of the time in the 1980s. They could have looked more agile since they looked so rigid on screen. I look forward to when the Terileptils will return to ‘Doctor Who’ either on TV or audio. They have been mentioned recently in the new series of ‘Doctor Who’.
The Terileptil Leader keeps a snazzy-looking android that works for him when at the country house. The android is meant to be a thing of beauty, but didn’t turn out to be quite what writer Eric Saward envisaged. It looks too ‘discotheque’ as it had too many diamonds and crystals all over its body work.
The android should have been more human in appearance, as it looks more like a robot instead of an android. But appearances aside, the android does a good job in scaring the villagers when it dresses up as the Grim Reaper. It gives the Terileptils the advantage with getting what they want on Earth.
The sonic screwdriver gets destroyed in this. I was shocked as the Doctor was when he was helpless and dropped his sonic screwdriver to the floor. The Terileptil Leader destroys it and it bursts into flames. I couldn’t believe it! They can’t destroy the sonic screwdriver! I felt they ‘killed an old friend’.
In the end, it turns out the Doctor’s the one who caused the Great Fire of London. This is something that appealed to Peter Davison when he read the scripts. I liked how the story ends with Pudding Lane getting caught up in flames and the familiar ‘Doctor Who theme’ music that echoed at the end.
The original DVD special features are as follows. There’s ‘Directing Who – Peter Moffatt’, an interview with the director who looks back on the stories he directed in ‘Doctor Who’. There’s also ‘Scoring the Visitation’, that is an interview with composer Paddy Kingsland and was conducted by Mark Ayres.
There are also ‘film trims’; an audio commentary with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding; Sarah Sutton, Matthew Waterhouse and director Peter Moffatt and a music-only audio option by Paddy Kingsland.
There’s ‘Writing a Final Visitation’, an interview with writer Eric Saward; a photo gallery and an ‘information text’ commentary option to enjoy. There’s also an ‘Easter Egg’ to look for on this DVD.
On Disc 2 of the 2-disc special edition DVD, there’s an exciting making-of documentary called ‘Grim Tales’. This has Peter Davison; Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton, guided by Mark Strickson (Turlough in ‘Doctor Who’), revisiting ‘The Visitation’ locations as well as sharing their memories on this story.
There’s also ‘The Television Centre of the Universe – Part 1’ documentary with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson, guided by ‘Blue Peter’ presenter Yvette Fielding (‘Part 2’ is on ‘The Underwater Menace’ DVD). There’s also the ‘Doctor Forever – The Apocalypse Element’ documentary, focusing on the audio adventures of ‘Doctor Who’.
There are PDF files that include a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story and a BBC Enterprises Sales Sheet. There’s also a ‘coming soon’ trailer for the ‘Inferno – Special Edition’ DVD with Jon Pertwee, Caroline John and Nicholas Courtney.
‘The Visitation’ is a fabulous ‘Doctor Who’ story from the Peter Davison era. It’s one of my favourites as it contains a comedic feel in a historical period setting. I liked the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric, in this and I’m pleased that I’ve met all four actors who played their TARDIS characters in this story.
I enjoyed the Terileptils as they’re an interesting race of monsters in ‘Doctor Who’ and Michael Robbins delivers a splendid performance as Richard Mace! I highly recommend this TV story on DVD! It’s one of the best!
‘The Visitation’ rating – 9/10
‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE VISITATION’
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Terileptils in a Book
I enjoyed the audiobook of the novelisation of ‘Doctor Who and the Visitation’ by Eric Saward!
It was fun to read the Target novelization with the audiobook narrated by Matthew Waterhouse in the background. Saying that, I feel that this isn’t one of the best ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations/audiobooks I’ve read/heard. I was hoping to discover more about this amazing story!
The ‘Doctor Who and the Visitation’ audiobook is surprisingly a 3-disc set. This is rather unusual as ‘Doctor Who’ audiobooks are normally 4 or 5 discs on CD. This is because Eric’s novelization is slim and isn’t expansive as the novelizations/audiobooks of ‘Logopolis’; ‘Castrovalva’ and ‘Earthshock’ are.
This book is based on the original TV story, ‘The Visitation’ with Peter Davison’s Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric. It’s one of my favourite TV stories featuring the Terileptils and the Great Fire of London. I wanted to explore more of this story and I hoped this Target novel/audiobook would provide that.
I purchased the Target novelization at the ‘Stars of Time’ convention at Weston-super-Mare in July, 2012. I didn’t read the book until I purchased the audiobook. It was a treat to read the book and listen to the audio at the same time and note the differences between the TV story and the novel.
The novelization is divided into 11 chapters and was published in 1982 after the TV story was transmitted. This is unusual as ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations by Terrance Dicks are divided into 12 chapters with 3 chapters for each of the four episodes. Eric Saward didn’t do this for his novelization.
Eric Saward novelized ‘The Visitation’ with few changes. He more or less sticks to what was in the original TV story, though he compressed scenes to a minimum in each chapter. He’s removed all the cliff-hangers and it’s probably why the novel is shorter to make it for a 3-disc set than a 4 for audio.
But Eric manages to add some additional descriptions of certain scenes. This includes having the beginning of the story from a fox’s perspective of the Terileptil ship crash landing to Earth. He also removes the ‘Kinda’ links at the beginning, as he didn’t like including them he wrote the story for TV.
The four TARDIS regulars are well-written by Eric Saward in the book. The Doctor; Nyssa; Tegan and Adric are as they were in the TV story, although Eric has improved some of their dialogue when the characters interact with each other. The action scenes are also balanced with the characters in them.
I liked the change that Eric makes in the novelization with Nyssa and Adric’s exchange in the TARDIS. Instead of having Adric abruptly leaving the Doctor to go out and finding Tegan and the Doctor, Nyssa gives Adric a homing device before going out. I wish that was shown in the original TV story.
Matthew Waterhouse (who played Adric in the TV series and who I’ve met at conventions) is a very good narrator. Matthew is no stranger to audio, since he’s done Big Finish audios for the ‘Dark Shadows’ series. He has also recently returned to ‘Doctor Who’ as Adric in ‘The Fifth Doctor Box Set’.
Here, Matthew brings the story and characters of ‘The Visitation’ to life on audio. As Matthew knows Peter, Sarah and Janet very well, he’s able to articulate their voices for their characters. He manages to keep the reader/listener engaged throughout, especially for this 3-disc set of a slim novelisation.
I liked how Richard Mace is handled in the novelization. Eric didn’t like how Richard Mace was portrayed by Michael Robbins in the TV story. Over the years Eric has changed his mind about the performance and for me I couldn’t help thinking of Michael Robbins as Mace when reading the book.
I liked how Matthew Waterhouse does the voice of Mace in the audiobook. I’ve discovered that Matthew read the book without having Michael Robbins’ performance in mind. This rather shocked me, as I initially thought Matthew was doing a Michael Robbins version of Mace in the audiobook.
I was hoping to explore more of the Terileptils and their background in this novel. Sadly this isn’t provided and it’s a shame as Eric Saward could have given more detail about them including having names for them. Matthew does well with the voices of the Terileptils by giving them hissing tones.
There is one change from TV to book, and that is that the mansion’s cellar is illuminated with vintravic crystals. This wasn’t in the TV story as the cellar was gloomy on TV compared to the Terileptils’ control room. I wondered why that was made as it makes the scene so visually different.
This change shifts the dialogue the Doctor has about vintravic crystals to Mace. The dialogue is put into the cellar scene instead of the escape pod scene that occurs later with the Doctor; Nyssa and Mace. I’m unsure which is more effective to have vintravic crystals in the cellar or in the escape pod.
Eric Saward’s love for history is well-demonstrated in the book with the opening scenes and detailing the plague. The descriptions of the villagers’ hostility to strangers are very well written. The urgency of threat from the plague is well-emphasised, especially when the Terileptils enhance the infection.
The build-up and the reveal of the Great Fire of London are well handled. Eric doesn’t reveal the location of Pudding Lane until the very end. This provides readers the hint that this is where the Great Fire started. The climax between the Doctor and his friends vs. the Terileptils is well-written.
I did enjoy reading/listening to ‘Doctor Who and the Visitation’. It’s a nice if slim novelisation of the TV story. I wish that more could be delved into with the Terileptils, but Eric Saward writes well and is straight to the point. I also enjoyed Matthew Waterhouse’s narration of the story for the audiobook.
If you want more of the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric in a novelisation/audiobook with character development, check out ‘Doctor Who – Black Orchid’. That’s a brilliant audiobook to enjoy!
‘Doctor Who and the Visitation’ rating – 6/10
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