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Li H'sen Chang

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Li H'sen Chang
Species: Human
Place of origin: China
Appearance: The Talons of Weng-Chiang
Main actor: John Bennett
Memorable moment
Stage Show Performance - The Talons of Weng-Chiang - BBC02:22

Stage Show Performance - The Talons of Weng-Chiang - BBC

Another memorable moment
The Cabinet of Death - The Talons of Weng-Chiang - BBC02:52

The Cabinet of Death - The Talons of Weng-Chiang - BBC

One more memorable moment
Hypnotised - The Talons of Weng-Chiang - BBC02:39

Hypnotised - The Talons of Weng-Chiang - BBC

Li H'sen Chang — who went by the stage name "the Celestial Chang" — did the bidding of Magnus Greel in return for powers beyond those of any human.

Biography Edit

Originally, Chang was a Chinese peasant farmer. He discovered Greel, who had escaped to this time period in a time cabinet. Believing Greel to be the god Weng-Chiang, Chang hid him from Imperial troops and later became the leader of the Tong of the Black Scorpion, a cult devoted to doing Greel's bidding.

Greel granted Chang mental powers "undreamed of in this century", amongst them hypnosis, telepathy, and telekinesis. Chang used these abilities as part of a magic act in London, where he was publicised as a "master of magic and mesmerism". During his performances at the Palace Theatre in Limehouse, Chang mesmerised his audiences by reading minds and levitating young women above the floor. Unknown to anyone, Chang was using his on-stage persona as a cover while he led the search for Greel's time cabinet. Chang's secondary duties included attending to his master, who hid in the basement of the Palace Theatre, and procuring young women to replenish Greel's bodily degeneration. During his act, Chang would hypnotise women volunteers. They would mindlessly do his bidding once the show was over.

The Fourth Doctor investigated the disappearances of women in the area. Chang tried to kill him on behalf of Greel, directly and through the Tong. His repeated failures earned him the wrath of his master, who summarily dismissed him. As a penalty, Greel secretly hid the body of a dead theatre custodian inside Li H'sen Chang's magic box. It tumbled onstage in front of Chang's stunned audience. Chang fled the scene, but was cornered by the Doctor. He threw himself to the giant rats created by Greel in the London sewers.

The rats ravaged him and tore off a leg, but Chang survived. His loyalty to Greel turned to hate when he realised Greel had ruined his performance. Chang surprised the Doctor and Leela by greeting them as they arrived at the Tong's hideout. While smoking opium to dull the pain, he explained how he had met Greel and helped smuggle him out of China. He lamented he had been scheduled to perform at Buckingham Palace for the Queen, then died of his wounds. (TV: The Talons of Weng-Chiang).

Legacy Edit

In 1890, Josephine Laws suspected that not even Li H'sen Chang could put a worked stone into a fossilised dinosaur hand. (PROSE: The Wheel of Ice)

Although Chang was dead, his daughter Hsien-Ko Chang returned to the Doctor's life in 1937. Her father's exposure to Zygma energy had resulted in her mutating in the womb to become apparently immortal, looking only twenty-five while her mid-sixties. Using the reactivated Mr Sin, Hsien-Ko tried to draw Greel to the present so she could punish him for his role in her father's death, but the Doctor halted this plan. (PROSE: The Shadow of Weng-Chiang)

Behind the scenes Edit

  • A Caucasian actor, John Bennett, portrayed Li H'Sen Chang, using makeup and an accent, a practice probably not acceptable today, but more widespread in 1976, when The Talons of Weng-Chiang was made and aired.
  • The story's writer Robert Holmes favoured breaking this six-episode Doctor Who serial into a four-episode story followed by a two-episode story (or vice versa). In the case of The Talons of Weng-Chiang, the first four episodes concentrate more on Li H'Sen Chang. Following Chang's death, the final two episodes of the serial centre more on Greel himself and on his other henchman, Mr Sin.

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