State of Decay was the fourth serial in season 18 of Doctor Who. It was written by Terrance Dicks, directed by Peter Moffatt and featured Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, Lalla Ward as Romana II, John Leeson as K9 and Matthew Waterhouse as Adric.
State of Decay followed Full Circle as the second part of the E-Space trilogy. Originally drafted in 1977, The Vampire Mutation — as it was then titled — was put on hold after the BBC commissioned an adaptation of Bram Stoker's Count Dracula. The script was kept by Nathan-Turner alongside a number of other unproduced serials. Decay was the only one he liked and he later suggested that it be redrafted for the trilogy; Dicks accepted. The serial's title changed many times before becoming State of Decay at the suggestion of Christopher H. Bidmead.
The original script was seen by director Peter Moffatt and, as Nathan-Turner had predicted, he loved it. However, when he was handed the script in Bidmead's adapted form, he found it completely different. It no longer had the Gothic atmosphere that had drawn him to the original. Moffatt told Nathan-Turner that he no longer wanted to direct it and so, in order to have him complete the job, the original was reinstated. (DOC: The Vampire Lovers)
Still trapped in E-Space, the Doctor's TARDIS materialises on a medieval planet. The townsfolk live in fear of the Three Who Rule, who govern from their mighty castle. Investigating, the Fourth Doctor discovers that the Three Who Rule are ancient astronauts who became vampires long ago, and their castle is actually their spaceship. When Romana and Adric are kidnapped, the Doctor must ally himself with a band of renegade peasants to stop the resurrection of one of Gallifrey's greatest enemies: the King Vampire itself.
A castle sits on a rocky peak. Inside, Captain of the Guard Habris reports to the Three Who Rule that it is again the time of selection. They instruct him to choose well and he leaves. Next morning, in the surrounding village, leader of the villagers Ivo collects the residents for the selection. Habris picks out various villagers, including Ivo and Marta's son Karl. Ivo protests, but Habris will not change his mind. He tells Ivo he will do his best to help Karl become a guard. Ivo and Marta know that if Karl goes on to serve the Lords directly, he will end up like all those who went before him, never to be seen or heard from again...
On board the TARDIS, the Fourth Doctor and Romana sight an isolated planet. K9 scans the world, finding it has one isolated settlement, which has high technology readings even though the people are primitive.
The TARDIS lands in a forest near the settlement. The Doctor and Romana set off to explore, leaving K9 behind. Adric has stowed away on the TARDIS and tries to leave. K9 confronts him, but Adric tells him that as he is a stowaway, it's best that he leaves. He follows the Doctor and Romana.
The Doctor and Romana arrive at the settlement as Ivo and Habris are arguing. The Doctor asks to speak to a scientist. His request is met with alarm. Habris mistakes them for lords and tries to serve them. After the travellers and Habris leave, Ivo opens a podium and takes out a rusting radio transmitter. He calls Kalmar and tells him of the two strangers and their unusual request.
Travelling through the forest, Romana and the Doctor are surrounded by men. They surrender and are taken to a hidden cave, where they meet the rebels led by Kalmar. Kalmar is trying to get an old computer system working. The Doctor helps him to repair it and Romana identifies the equipment as a data bank of Earth origin, from the cargo vessel Hydrax. Images flash up of three officers, Captain Sharky, Navigation Officer Lauren MacMillan and Science Officer Anthony O'Connor. Kalmar's deputy Tarak immediately recognises their pictures as the Three Who Rule. The Doctor and Romana are then allowed to leave, heading to visit the three.
In the village, Adric attempts to steal some food. Marta catches him and alerts Ivo. They pity him and offer him sanctuary because the outside world is evil at night.
The Doctor and Romana are making their way through the forest when they are attacked by bats. They look up to see a swarm descending upon them.
The bats retreat as Habris arrives and escorts the pair to an audience at the tower. They are taken to the throne room, where the Doctor remarks on the absence of windows. Zargo and Camilla welcome them. Zargo orders wine and they toast. Romana's glass shatters, cutting her finger. She licks the blood. Camilla wants to look at the cut but Romana pulls away. It becomes apparent the rulers are responsible for the lack of technology.
In the village, Adric is making preparations for dinner with the others when Habris enters. He tells them there will be another selection and that Aukon himself is coming to direct it. Aukon walks down the line of youths, stopping when he comes to Adric, declaring him a chosen one. Using his powers, he takes the entranced Adric to the castle.
The Doctor mentions the Hydrax. This disturbs Zargo and Camilla. Habris enters with news from Aukon: the Time of Arising is at hand. Left alone, the Doctor takes a look around. He pulls aside a drape to reveal a circular hatchway in a metal bulkhead. The castle is the Hydrax.
Back at the caves, some of the outlaws want to make a rescue attempt for the Doctor. Kalmar is reluctant without more technological knowledge, and the majority back him up. Tarak decides he will go alone, taking on the disguise of a guard.
The Doctor and Romana arrive at the top of the tower, where they see the Hydrax' three scout ships. They hear a thumping voice and descend. At the cargo bay they find a group of corpses drained of blood, all adolescents. The Doctor finds the blood stored in a fuel tank. The thumping is the sound of a creature feeding on the blood through tubes. The Doctor notes there are vampire legends on many planets. Dropping out of the Hydrax through an engine nacelle, they arrive in a large cave, the floor of which is moving with the sound of a heartbeat. A voice from the shadows tells them this is the Resting Place. Spinning round the Doctor and Romana are confronted by Aukon. The vampire greets them. "I am Aukon. Welcome to my domain!"
Aukon tries to persuade the Doctor to join them, to help at the Time of Arising. He says the Great One will reveal how to leave this universe; if the Doctor is wise, he will join them just like his companion. The Time Lords are distraught to hear that Adric is there, as they thought they had left him on Alzarius.
Aukon uses all his psychic powers to make the Doctor bend to his will, but Romana picks up a piece of the cave wall and throws it at Aukon, who quickly turns around and destroys it. The Doctor tells him they are Time Lords and his powers won't work on them. Aukon reacts strongly, calling them the ancient enemies. They try to escape but Zargo and Camilla stop them. Camilla is eager to feed on them, but Aukon listens to the Great One, who says they will be a sacrifice, and so they get put in jail.
Tarak has gained entry to the tower disguised as a guard and searches for the Doctor. The Doctor recounts to Romana how a hermit from the south of Gallifrey told him of a war between the Time Lords and the Great Vampires; their King escaped, and Time Lords are obliged to destroy him if ever they find him. They tracked him across the universe but the trail went dead. He had disappeared.
Tarak attacks the guards and rescues the Doctor and Romana, but Romana refuses to leave until she has found Adric. The Doctor asks Tarak to stay with her while he goes back to the TARDIS.
In the rebels' cave, Kalmar has discovered a scanner for viewing the territory around their base. It shows Ivo. He knows his son is dead, taken for his blood, and asks for help in an attack on the tower. Kalmar is undecided.
Tarak and Romana arrive at the inner sanctum. Zargo and Camilla are asleep and Adric is hypnotised. Romana wakes him as the sun sets and Zargo and Camilla awake and kill Tarak. They close in on the others.
Aukon prevents the pair killing them, proclaiming them sacrifices. After the arising, they will travel the universe and drain it of its life.
The Doctor lands the TARDIS in the rebels' cave and tells them that he needs their help in an assault on the tower. They are mostly ready to follow him, but Kalmar is still reluctant. The Doctor uses the scanners to show them the King Vampire below the tower, and Kalmar finally agrees to the plan.
In the throne room, Adric tells Aukon that he is willing to join him and is taken to be initiated. The Doctor puts K9 in control of leading the raid. K9 quickly disables the guards with his laser. Romana is hypnotised and led to an altar for sacrifice. Bats swoop and bite her.
Ivo confronts Habris and takes his revenge for the death of his son, killing him. The Doctor makes his way to the tower top and launches a scout ship.
K9 hears the sound and tells his force to evacuate. The noise distracts the Three Who Rule, and Adric helps Romana escape. The Doctor arrives as a giant hand bursts through the ground. The scout ship plummets, its steel frontage impaling the king. The three advance on the Doctor, but without the link to the Great One they crumble and die.
The Doctor installs Kalmar's computer with technological data and leaves in the TARDIS. He must return Adric home.
- Doctor Who - Tom Baker
- Romana - Lalla Ward
- Voice of K9 - John Leeson
- Adric - Matthew Waterhouse
- Aukon - Emrys James
- Camilla - Rachel Davies
- Zargo - William Lindsay
- Ivo - Clinton Greyn
- Marta - Rhoda Lewis
- Tarak - Thane Bettany
- Habris - Iain Rattray
- Kalmar - Arthur Hewlett
- Veros - Stacy Davies
- Karl - Dean Allen
- Roga - Stuart Fell
- Zoldaz - Stuart Blake
- Assistant Floor Manager - Lynn Richards
- Costumes - Amy Roberts
- Director's Assistant - Jane Wellesley
- Designer - Christine Ruscoe
- Executive Producer - Barry Letts
- Fight Arranger - Stuart Fell
- Film Cameraman - Fintan Sheehan
- Film Editor - John Lee
- Film Sound - Bryan Showell
- Incidental Music - Paddy Kingsland
- Make-Up - Norma Hill
- Producer - John Nathan-Turner
- Production Assistant - Rosalind Wolfes
- Production Unit Manager - Angela Smith
- Script Editor - Christopher H. Bidmead
- Senior Cameraman - Alec Wheal
- Special Sounds - Dick Mills
- Studio Lighting - Bert Postlethwaite
- Studio Sound - John Howell
- Technical Manager - Errol Ryan
- Theme Arrangement - Peter Howell
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Video-Tape Editor - Rod Waldron
- Video Effects - Dave Chapman
- Vision Mixer - Carol Johnson
- Visual Effects - Tony Harding
- Bats are serving the Great Vampire and bite humans. The Doctor thought they would have been not dangerous.
- When the Hydrax seems non-functional, the Doctor labels it as "dead as a dinosaur".
Cultural references to real world
- The Doctor thinks that the interior design of the Tower resembles the Rococo style.
- The Doctor talks about Brothers Grimm (familiar to Romana), who not only wrote stories, but discovered the law of consonantal shift, that explains how names change over time ("hard sounds turning soft, 'b's becoming 'v's..."). Thus explaining how "Sharkey" became "Zargo", "MacMillan became "Camilla", and "O'Connor became "Aukon".
Food and beverages
- Wine is drunk on the planet.
- Cheese is unknown to the people of the planet. (Though cheese can clearly be seen amongst the food offered to the Doctor and Romana at the castle.)
- The Doctor tells Romana, "There was once an old hermit from the mountains of Southern Gallifrey..." who used to tell him ghost stories, one of which was about the King Vampire.
- K9 sets the TARDIS co-ordinates and can remotely open the doors from within.
- The Record of Rassilon is held on magnetic card in Type 40 TARDISes. It refers to the construction and use of bowships.
- Romana used to work in the Bureau of Ancient Records and once saw a reference to the Record of Rassilon.
- The Great Vampire used the science officer Anthony O'Connor as a conduit to draw the Hydrax through to E-Space.
- K9 Mark II can switch into "aggression mode".
- According to applied socioenergetics, the planet is classified as a level 2, because of its "medieval" state.
- The Earth ship Hydrax was en route to Beta Two in the Perugellis sector when it was drawn through the CVE into E-Space by the Great Vampire.
- Rassilon created bowships which fired bolts of steel to kill the vampires.
- Among the equipment in the rebels' base, there are walkie-talkies and an environment scanner employing infrared and X-rays.
- K9's memory contains vampire legends from 17 inhabited planets.
- A directive (of Rassilon) states that the vampires are "the enemy of our people, and of all living things".
- Vampire cardiovascular systems are very complex. They can only be killed by a direct blow to the heart.
- During Rassilon's war against the vampires, all but one were destroyed (the King Vampire).
- The King Vampire hypnotised the Three Who Rule and gave them the power of mind control, in particular to Aukon.
- The story was originally entitled The Witch Lords and was written by Terrance Dicks to open Season 15. At that time (mid-1977), the BBC was preparing to mount a major production of Dracula and – fearing that a Doctor Who story about vampires would steal their thunder – cancelled the story. Dicks' replacement script was Horror of Fang Rock. The script that would become State of Decay was kept and then put into production by John Nathan-Turner. Dicks struggled to add Adric into it and so the character has little input to the main plot.
- The peasants in this story give a complex salute to their lords, covering their ears, eyes and mouths. This is a reference to the Three Wise Monkeys, "See no evil, hear no evil, say no evil."
- When the story was re-proposed, Dicks wanted to call it The Vampire Mutation but Christopher H. Bidmead prevented him from doing so. Bidmead proposed The Wasting at first but Dicks disapproved, believing it would lead to mockery about wasting everyone's time. They then settled on State of Decay, as proposed by Bidmead. (DOC: The Vampire Lovers) The Vampire Mutation was later used as a chapter title for Dicks' The Eight Doctors.
- When director Peter Moffatt received Bidmead's altered script, he demanded the original back, claiming it had lost its Gothic atmosphere. Nathan-Turner gave him the original, which he made.
- This is the second story in the E-Space Trilogy.
- For the only time during his tenure as the Doctor, Tom Baker had to have his hair permed before filming commenced. It had lost its natural curl due to the actor being in ill-health.
- State of Decay was the first serial which Matthew Waterhouse filmed.
- Part one - 5.8 million viewers
- Part two - 5.3 million viewers
- Part three - 4.4 million viewers
- Part four - 5.4 million viewers
- This story's location scenes were shot at Black Park near Iver Heath in Buckinghamshire. (They were shot at Burnham Beeches near Amersham, also in Buckinghamshire - it was Full Circle's location scenes that were shot at Black Park.)
- Burnham Beeches, Burnham, Buckinghamshire
- Lucas CAV, Acton, London
- KJP Trading, 250 Western Avenue, Acton, London
- BBC Television Centre (TC3 & TC6), Shepherd's Bush, London
- Mont Saint Michel
- In part three, Tarak bursts into the Doctor's cell, catching him across the nose with the door. Tom Baker appears slightly stunned, and misses his next cue because he was really struck by the door.
- PROSE: The Eight Doctors features a scene set just after the end of this story.
- PROSE: Blood Harvest is set on the same planet as this story several years following events of this story. PROSE: Goth Opera continues themes and events seen in both Blood Harvest and this story.
- PROSE: Vampire Science also includes some mention and thematic link to this story.
- The hermit mentioned by the Doctor was previously referenced in TV: The Time Monster and seen in TV: Planet of the Spiders.
- The Doctor and Romana previously met another vampire, Zoltán Frid, in Budapest, Hungary in 1980. (AUDIO: The Labyrinth of Buda Castle)
- Adric later read the novel Dracula so he would be prepared in case he encountered any more vampires. (AUDIO: Zaltys)
DVD, VHS and audio releases
- State of Decay was released as a box set alongside Full Circle and Warriors' Gate. The box set is titled The E-Space Trilogy.
- Editing for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
- Audio Commentary by actor Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), director Peter Moffatt and writer Terrance Dicks
- The Vampire Lovers - The making of State of Decay featuring Lalla Ward (Romana), John Leeson (K9), Clinton Greyn (Ivo), script editor Christopher H. Bidmead and designer Christine Ruscoe
- Film Trimms - Clips of model effects filming
- Leaves of Blood - A history of vampires in literary fiction with authors Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Gallagher, Kim Newman and Simon Clark
- The Blood Show - The use and meaning of blood in society and culture
- The Frayling Reading - Sir Christopher Frayling examines the story and references vampires in fiction
- Isolated Music Score
- Photo Gallery
- DVD-ROM PC/Mac feature - Radio Times billings
- State of Decay was released by BBC Worldwide on video as part of a boxed set featuring Full Circle, State of Decay and Warriors' Gate.
- State of Decay at the BBC's official site
- State of Decay at BroaDWcast
- State of Decay at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- State of Decay at The Locations Guide