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Image of the Fendahl (TV story)

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Image of the Fendahl
Image title
Novelised as: Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl
Doctor: Fourth Doctor
Companion(s): Leela, K9
Main enemy: The Fendahl
Maximillian Stael
Main setting: Fetchborough, 1977
Key crew
Writer: Chris Boucher
Director: George Spenton-Foster
Producer: Graham Williams
Release details
Story number: 94
Number of episodes: 4
Season/series: Season 15
Premiere broadcast: 29 October - 19 November 1977
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 4x25-minute episodes
Production code: 4X
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Image of the Fendahl was the third story of Season 15 of Doctor Who.

Synopsis Edit

The present day: just as the Fourth Doctor and Leela arrive in Fetchborough, England, Professor Fendelman prepares to experiment on a fossilized skull which science says should not exist. The skull is actually an artefact of the Fendahl, a god-like being who feeds on the life force of others. It has begun to awaken and kill. Worse yet, others seek to exploit the Fendahl's dreadful power.

Plot Edit

Part 1 Edit

Image of the Fendahl

The skull takes control of Thea Ransome.

In Fetch Priory, scientists Thea Ransome and Adam Colby are examining a skull they have nicknamed "Eustace". The skull is twelve million years old and they are incredulous at the evolutionary implications. Meanwhile, lead scientist Dr. Fendelman and his collaborator, Maximillian Stael, begin their nighttime experiments with a time scanner. Its power seems to affect the skull, which they seem unaware of. The skull in turn has some sort of effect on Thea. In the woods outside of the Priory, a hiker walking by is attacked by an unseen creature.

Meanwhile, the Fourth Doctor and Leela are in the TARDIS, worrying over the damaged K9. The Doctor insists on referring to K9 as an "it," to Leela's chagrin. As the Doctor tries to repair K9, the TARDIS is affected by a Relative Continuum Displacement Zone — a hole in time. The Doctor traces it to Earth and the TARDIS lands near the Priory the next day. The Doctor and Leela find a man called Ted Moss. He says there are strange things going on in the Priory.

Adam finds the corpse of the hiker while out walking their dog, Leakey. Fendelman suggests covering this up, loathe to media and police interrupting their potentially groundbreaking work. Fendelman tells Stael to have armed guards posted and to do a postmortem on the body. Thea and Adam learn of the lockdown though guard David Mitchell after a loud argument between him and an old local woman, Martha Tyler. She is a white witch and the cook at the priory. Stael reports his inability to discover the cause of the hiker's death, but the body is decomposing rapidly. Fendelman orders him to dispose of the body.

The Doctor and Leela decide they must investigate the priory just as Thea switches on the time scanner. A compulsion draws her to the machine. The skull and she seem to merge. Leela has split up from the Doctor. As she investigates a nearby cottage, a shotgun is fired at her. Meanwhile, the Doctor feels the presence of the same unseen creature. He finds himself paralysed, unable to run as the creature is about to consume him.

Part 2 Edit

The Doctor regains control of his legs and runs from the creature. Ted Moss reloads his shotgun and moves to the door of the Tyler cottage, where Leela overpowers him. Jack Tyler gets rid of Ted Moss and talks with Leela.

Thea is being gradually taken over by the skull, the Fendahl. The Fendahl kills Mitchell, the security guard. Embryo Fendahleen briefly appear on the unconscious Thea as the Doctor and Adam watch. Fendelman has the Doctor locked up in a storage room on suspicion of Mitchell's murder. Jack Tyler talks to Leela about his "gran" and the old religion, and being involved with "something nasty."

Adam goes to talk to Dr. Fendelman about the disconnected telephone. Fendelman thinks the skull is extraterrestrial. He shows Adam a skull x-ray; a pentagram is part of the bone structure, and he believes it is a neural circuit that stores energy and then, eventually, signal to others that there intelligent life on the planet.

Mrs. Tyler returns to the cottage, terrified. Mother Tyler says that something was after her, "hungry" for her soul.

Thea is again drawn to the room where the time scanner is kept. She sees the x-ray of the skull. Stael appears and, revealed as the leader of the local coven, proclaims she is the key to his power, the chosen one.

Image of...3

The Doctor grabs hold of the skull.

The Doctor enters the room where the skull is kept. He finds the skull. It begins to "power up", glowing brightly. It forces him to touch it. He yells in pain as the skull glow ever brighter.

Part 3 Edit

Leela arrives and pries the Doctor away from the skull. The Doctor tells her it's a Fendahl's, a species he believed a myth. He rouses Mrs. Tyler from her shock and asks her about the being which attacked her. She has precognition as a result of growing up near a time fissure. She later tells Jack that the figure she saw in her mind was a woman.

Sacrifice of the image

The ritual begins.

Meanwhile, Stael pulls a gun on Dr. Fendelman and Adam. He shackles them to pillars in the cottage's basement. The Doctor and Leela use the TARDIS to follow the Time Fissure and find the Fendahl's home planet. It had been placed in a time loop — and only the Time Lords could do that. Stael assembles his cult, preparing their ceremony. Fendelman realises what is happening. The Fendahl has used his ancestors and him to regain life. He pleads desperately with Stael and his followers to stop, but Stael shoots him.

When they return, the Doctor, Leela and the Tylers head back to the Priory. Suddenly they find their legs cannot move. The group are all stuck as a full-grown Fendahleen bears down on them.

Part 4 Edit

The Doctor uses Jack's gun, loaded with rock salt, to kill the Fendahleen. The group concentrate and escape its telepathic influence. Meanwhile, the cult uses Thea's body as a host for the Fendahl core to manifest. The Fendahl turns the cult members into Fendahleen and paralyses Stael when he catches its gaze. The Doctor and Leela sneak into the cult's room and free Adam. The Doctor tells Leela to get Adam to safety and tries to help Stael. He begs the Doctor to bring him his gun. Stael kills himself.

Boom! Boom!

The building explodes.

The Doctor confers with the others. He realises the Fendahl requires thirteen Fendahleen to become an incredibly powerful gestalt entity, but with Stael and a Fendahleen dead, the creature is incomplete. While the Doctor works on the time scanner, he theorises the Fendahl may have guided human evolution. This may explain mankind's darker nature. Leela and Jack are attacked by the Fendahl's forces and kill one of the Fendahleen. The Doctor rigs the scanner to destroy the entire cottage. He and Leela enter the basement and take the skull. The Fendahl core tries to stop them, but in its weakened state, they avoid its paralytic effects. Without the skull, the core is rendered powerless, and is destroyed in the explosion.

The Doctor and Leela leave in the TARDIS to find a star about to go supernova and drop the Fendahl skull into it. The Doctor calls K9 a "him", saying that he can if he wants — after all, K9 is his dog. K9 nods in agreement.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Individuals Edit

  • Precognition is not unusual in anyone who spent their childhood near a 'time fissure'.
  • The Doctor declares a love of fruitcake.
  • Fendelman is said to be one of the richest men in the world, having made his money in electronics.

Objects Edit

  • The Doctor discovers "sodium chloride affects conductivity... and prevents control of localised disruption of osmotic pressures." "Salt kills it," clarifies Leela.
  • The TARDIS generates a low intensity telepathic field.
  • The Doctor indicates that there isn't a single part of the TARDIS that hasn't been adjusted or repaired.
  • The TARDIS is dragged by external factors towards a 'relative continuum displacement zone'.
  • The sonic screwdriver does not seem to be able to open the wooden door, at least initially.
  • Ten years ago, while working on a missile guidance system, Fendelman noticed what he calls a 'sonic shadow'. This discovery led him to build a sonic time-scanner.
  • A sonic time-scanner can look through time. It is hoped that eventually it may display images of the distant past. The scanner led Fendelman to discover the Fendahl skull. The machine only works after dark. The Doctor believes it could cause a 'direct continuum' implosion, resulting in the destruction of the planet, if used for around 100 hours.

Locations Edit

  • Fetch Priory is near the village of Fetchborough, situated about 2 hours from London. It is the location of a large time fissure.
  • The Fendahl skull was found in Kenya in volcanic sediment.

Fendahl Edit

  • Potassium-argon tests indicate the Fendahl skull is 12 million years old. This is apparently 8 million years older than it can conceivably be. A x-ray reveals it is marked with the shape of a pentagram which Fendelman thinks is a form of 'natural relay'.
  • After causing the priory's implosion, the Doctor intends to cast the skull into a supernova in the constellation of Canthares.
  • The Fendahl requires twelve Fendahleen and a core to form its gestalt.
  • A Fendahleen is psycho-telekinetic giving it the ability to control the muscles of its prey telepathically.
  • The Fendahl has apparently been manipulating humankind's evolution for millions of years.

The fifth planet Edit

  • The fifth planet was the original home of the Fendahl.
  • The Time Lords destroyed the fifth planet of the Sol system (possibly forming the asteroid belt) and then hid its existence in a time loop to prevent any knowledge of the Fendahl leaking out. The Doctor knows the story as a myth from childhood and is terrified by it.
  • The fifth planet was 107 million miles from earth, situated between Mars and Jupiter.

Allusions Edit

Story notes Edit

  • This story was the last to be commissioned by script editor Robert Holmes.[1]
  • Writer Chris Boucher was unable to complete rewrites to the script due to his appointment as script editor on the BBC television series Blake's 7 so incoming script editor Anthony Read took over. This fact explains why, for a Boucher script, the story is unusually full of info-dumps, whereas they tend to crop up in Read's work, such as TV: The Horns of Nimon.[2]
  • The god-like entity of the Fendahl does not speak. Boucher had been similarly resistant to writing lines for the messianic computer Xoanon in TV: The Face of Evil on the grounds that one could not write dialogue for God.[3]
  • This story introduced a new version of Leela's famous leather outfit. It was noticeably lighter in colour than the last. The new version was created because the original was wearing out. Furthermore, it had caused Louise Jameson some problems because it was a leotard. The new version, by contrast, was actually a dress. Producer Graham Williams had also instructed the designer, Amy Roberts, to make Louise look sexier in the new outfit. The original leotard appears briefly at the end of part four (mainly to facilitate the punchline to a joke in part one) and would return in the following story, The Sun Makers, before the new version came back for Leela's final two appearances.
  • K9 appears only briefly, in the opening and closing TARDIS scenes; he is suffering from circuitry corrosion and stays in the TARDIS. Image of the Fendahl had been written before it was known K9 would be joining the series on a regular basis. John Leeson was not recruited to voice the character, who had no dialogue.
  • According to the 2009 DVD release documentary After Image, Anthony Read was brought on as script editor to help in the transition during Robert Holmes's departure from the role. Only Holmes received screen credit.
  • Louise Jameson claims the reason her hair is done up in this episode is because a BBC hairstylist had mistakenly cut six inches off her hair just prior to filming. Her final scene in the story was filmed some five weeks after this incident, by which time her hair had grown long enough to allow her to wear it down for a single scene. (DCOM: Image of the Fendahl)
  • There is no clear on-screen indication in the story as to how the Doctor got out of the store room in part two. In Terrance Dicks's novelisation of the story, the Doctor opens the door with "a hearty kick", but he does no such thing on-screen. Prior to his exit, the Doctor is seen to be using the [sonic screwdriver]], but it does not appear to be having any effect at that time.
  • No year is given on-screen for the story, but in a trailer broadcast after part four of the previous adventure, The Invisible Enemy, the setting was given as "1977".
  • Tom Baker was credited as 'The Doctor' in Radio Times, as opposed to the usual 'Dr. Who'.
  • In the DVD commentary, Wanda Ventham states that her appearance in this story marked her first major acting job since giving birth to her son, future Sherlock star (and Big Finish Productions contributor) Benedict Cumberbatch.

Ratings Edit

  • Part one - 6.7 million viewers
  • Part two - 7.5 million viewers
  • Part three - 7.9 million viewers
  • Part four - 9.1 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • This story had a working title of The Island of Fandor. (It didn't. This myth originated when Gordon Blows, then editor of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society magazine TARDIS, misheard the title of the story over the phone and reported it incorrectly.)

Filming locations Edit

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

to be added

Continuity Edit

Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

  • Image of the Fendahl was released to DVD in the UK in April 2009 and in North America in September 2009.
  • Remastering for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
  • Bonus features:
    • After Image - making-of featurette with Louise Jameson, Edward Arthur, Wanda Ventham, Anthony Read (uncredited script editor), and visual effects designer Colin Mapson.
    • Deleted and extended scenes.
    • Audio commentary by Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Wanda Ventham and Edward Arthur.
    • BBC1 trailer.
    • Photo gallery
    • Easter Egg: Louise Jameson discussing the 12-inch Leela doll manufactured by Denys Fisher. To access this hidden feature, press left at 'Trailer' on the Special Features menu.
    • PDF material: Radio Times listings
    • Production note subtitles.

Video releases Edit

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit


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