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The Dæmons was the fifth and final story of season 8. It concluded a series-long succession of stories featuring the Master, ending with his incarceration. However, the character continued to appear on an occasional basis during season 9 and season 10.

Synopsis Edit

The Master, posing as a rural vicar, summons a cloven-hoofed demon in a church crypt. Seeking to gain the ancient titan's demonic power, he gathers a cult and then corrupts or controls the residents of Devil's End to bow to his will. Dark elemental forces begin to disturb the village on the eve of May Day: unexplained murders, a stone gargoyle come to life, and a nigh-impenetrable infernal energy dome. With the Master fully prepared to destroy the Earth, the Doctor and UNIT — aided by a benevolent practitioner of witchcraft — battle the wicked rites of a secret science wielded by an alien from another world.

Plot Edit

Episode one Edit

During a storm that whips through the rural English village of Devil's End, a dog gets away from its owner, Jim. He pursues it into a graveyard, only to encounter something unseen and die. The local doctor, Reeves, says that it was a heart attack, but Olive Hawthorne, the local white witch, insists that the man died of fright. She has cast her runes and fears that there is evil afoot.

Near the village, an archaeological dig is excavating the infamous Devil's Hump, a Bronze Age burial mound. The dig is being covered by BBC3. The interviewer, Alistair Fergus, speaks to the cantankerous Professor Horner, who claims that the hump holds the treasure and tomb of a warrior chieftain and that he plans to open the tomb at the stroke of midnight on 30 April, the date of the occult festival of Beltane.

The television coverage is being watched by the Third Doctor and Jo at UNIT HQ. While the Doctor scoffs at Jo's notions of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and her belief in the supernatural, he feels that something is wrong with the dig. On the television, they see Miss Hawthorne protesting about the dig, warning of great evil and the coming of the horned beast, but she is dismissed as a crank. The Doctor tells Jo that Olive Hawthorne is right — the dig must be stopped. They start off for Devil's End.

Miss Hawthorne returns to the village and a strong wind whips up out of nowhere. She raises her arms to command it to be still, not knowing that the local constable, PC Groom, has gone into a trance behind her and is about to strike her down with a stone. The wind dies away as she chants, and PC Groom regains his senses without landing the blow. She then goes to see the vicar, Canon Smallwood, but is told by Garvin the verger that Smallwood had been taken ill and had to retire; his replacement is the Reverend Mr Magister — actually the Master. "Magister" tries to assure her that her fears are unfounded, but his hypnosis fails to overcome her will, and she says she will find someone who will believe her.

The Doctor and Jo, driving to Devil's End, get lost when a wind springs up from nowhere and spins a signpost round to point in the wrong direction. Over at the Devil's Hump, nerves among the tv crew are beginning to fray as midnight approaches. When the Doctor and Jo call at the village pub to get directions, one of the villagers informs the Master of the Doctor's presence. The Master tells the acolyte to get dressed for the coming ceremony.

On the way to the Hump, the Doctor's car, Bessie, is blocked by a fallen tree. Unable to budge it, the Doctor and Jo rush to the mound on foot. The Master, dressed in ceremonial robes and with a coven of thirteen acolytes, starts a summoning ritual in the cavern beneath the church. As their chanting grows more frenzied, the Doctor and Jo reach the mound and the Doctor rushes inside to stop Horner, but it is too late. With the tomb open, icy gusts of wind rush out, and the ground begins to quake, toppling the camera crew — and even the members of the Master's coven, miles away. The Master laughs triumphantly and calls the entity's name, Azal. The eyes of a gargoyle, Bok, flare into life with a reddish glow. Jo enters the mound to find Horner and the Doctor motionless: apparently dead, and covered with frost...

Episode two Edit


Yates and Benton fly to Devil's End in the UNIT helicopter.

Horner is dead, and the Doctor seems dead as well. The Master uses a knife to indicate a stone covered in ritual markings as the "appointed place", dismissing the coven. Back at UNIT, Captain Mike Yates and Sergeant Benton were watching the end of the broadcast as it went dead. They try to find out what's going on while attempting to contact the Brigadier, who had earlier gone for a night at the opera. Meanwhile, the village doctor discovers that the Doctor may not be entirely dead after all, but he is puzzled when he hears the beating of two hearts. Jo telephones Yates, who tells her he will be there by helicopter in the morning, just as the line is cut off from the outside. The Master prays in the church as Jo watches over the still unconscious Doctor in the pub. At the dig, the ground shakes and the constable on duty sees something gigantic with heavy footsteps and falls.

The Daemons Hoof prints

Hoof prints seen by Yates and Benton from helicopter.

In the morning, Yates and Benton fly by helicopter to Devil's End and see burn marks on the fields before the village that resemble enormous footprints. Once in Devil's End, Benton decides to look around the village while Yates finally contacts the Brigadier, who is not pleased that Yates has commandeered his helicopter, and calls for a car. Benton, looking around in the church, finds Miss Hawthorne trapped in a cupboard, where the Master's verger, Garvin, had locked her. Down in the cellar to hide from Garvin, she tells Benton about Magister. Garvin comes down with a rifle, and Benton tries to disarm him. In the ensuing fight, Benton falls on the marked stone and seizes up. Garvin holds both of them at gunpoint and moves them outside, just as the ground starts to shake. Garvin fires up at something gigantic but is engulfed in a fireball. The heat wave extends even into the village, knocking Jo and Yates down, just as the Doctor awakens with a start. Miss Hawthorne and Benton make their way back to the pub, and the Doctor discusses the incident with Miss Hawthorne, who says that she saw the devil, 30 feet high and with horns. The Doctor is told of the new vicar, and realises who is behind this, as "Magister" is Latin for "Master".

The Brigadier finds himself unable to enter the village, as there is a barrier surrounding it that causes anything trying to enter to heat up and burst into flame. He contacts Yates and is briefed on the situation while the Doctor and Jo return to the dig, an act the Master seems to be able to sense. They find the constable dead and a small spaceship in the mound the same shape as the hump. Jo tries to lift it but cannot, as the Doctor explains that it weighs 750 tons. Suddenly, Bok leaps into the tent covering the entrance to the tomb, about to attack...

Episode three Edit

The Doctor wards him off with some words in a strange language and an iron trowel. The Doctor explains to Jo that he actually used the words of a Venusian lullaby — it was the gargoyle's own superstition that drove it back.


The Master sends Bok on a mission of death.

The Master, in the meantime, hypnotises the squire, Winstanley, as Miss Hawthorne and the Doctor debate about whether it is magic or science that is at work here. The Brigadier discovers that the heat shield is dome shaped, centred on the church, with a radius of ten miles out and one mile high. The Doctor shows the others pictures of various horned gods and demons from Miss Hawthorne's occult and history book collection and explains that the creature Miss Hawthorne saw was an extraterrestrial, one of the Dæmons from the planet Dæmos, 60,000 light years away, who came to Earth one hundred thousand years before. The small spaceship's actual size is 200 feet long and 30 feet across, and the heat and cold waves they have been experiencing are the result of the energy displaced when the ship shrinks or grows.

The Doctor further explains that the Dæmons have influenced Earth throughout its history, becoming part of human myth, and see the planet as a giant experiment. The Master has called the Dæmon up once, and right now, it is so small as to be invisible. The third summoning, however, could signal the end of the experiment and the world. The Master uses Bok to scare the church masses into helping him summon Azal.

The Daemons Doctor and Brig Heat barrier

The Doctor and the Brigadier with the heat barrier between them.

The Brigadier contacts Yates and says he is about to try attacking the heat shield from the air. The Doctor warns him not to, saying that it would only strengthen it, and suggests they use a diathermic energy exchanger. When UNIT technician Osgood fails to understand what the Doctor is getting at, he says he will come out and explain. When he does so, Tom Girton, one the villagers working with the Master, hijacks the UNIT helicopter and uses it to attack the Doctor. The Doctor swerves Bessie out of the way, and the helicopter explodes against the heat shield.

As the Doctor relates his instructions to Osgood, who protests that it goes against the laws of physics, the Master summons Azal again. A heat wave and an earth tremor once again sweep through the village as Azal curses the Master for daring to summon him again.

Episode four Edit

The Master tries to dismiss Azal with an iron candlestick holder, but it does not seem to work. He demands that Azal give him the power that is his right, but Azal warns him that he is not the Master's servant. Azal also senses the presence of another like the Master and wants to speak to the Doctor to see if he is worthy to take over the world. Azal says on his third appearance, he will decide if Earth deserves to continue existing (during which, he makes a passing remark about how they destroyed Atlantis). If so, he will give it to the Master. Azal then vanishes in another heat wave.


Azal reveals his horrible countenance to everyone in the church.

After explaining the process of creating the exchanger to Osgood, the Doctor returns to the village. However, the Master's agents are at work, and he is soon captured by a mob of villagers and tied up to a maypole, about to be burned alive. Miss Hawthorne goes to the mob and tells them that the Doctor is a mighty wizard, and with some help from Benton's silenced pistol and a remote controlled Bessie, convinces the mob that the Doctor does indeed have magical powers.

Jo has left the bed to investigate and encounters Yates, who tells her about the multiple traps laid throughout the catacombs. He demonstrates with the same force field that seized up Benton. The Master has gathered the people he had scared earlier to bring out as many negative emotions as possible. The Master begins to summon Azal. Jo tries to interrupt the ritual, but it is too late. Azal has summoned for his third and final time...

Episode five Edit

With another rush of heat, Azal manifests himself, and Jo and Yates are taken prisoner. Outside, the Doctor explains to the now calmer villagers that his "magic" was due to science, and so is the Master's trickery. The rituals are merely used to focus the psychokinetic energy of humans that the Master needs to summon the Dæmons.

As Jo is prepared as a sacrifice to Azal, the exchanger finally works, and UNIT forces go through the gap created in the heat shield, but the gap only lasts a few minutes and the exchanger soon overloads. Mike escapes and tells the Doctor about Jo, but Bok is guarding the entrance to the catacombs. The use of the exchanger momentarily weakens Bok and Azal, and the Doctor rushes by the gargoyle. He makes it down to the cellar, where the Master is expecting him.

Azal defeated

Azal wracked in agony.

Outside, UNIT troops start firing at Bok, who can disintegrate objects and people with a wave of his hand, but he is also bulletproof. Even a bazooka does not work, as the pieces of the gargoyle reform almost instantly. Inside the church, the Master makes his case to the Dæmon that he will rule the Earth experiment's people for their own good. The Doctor argues that man should be given a chance to grow up. Azal finally decides to give his power to the Master and fires electricity at the Doctor to kill him. However, Jo steps in front of the Doctor, asking Azal to kill her instead.

This act of self-sacrifice does not make sense to Azal, and the confusion sends him into an agony. He shouts for all of them to leave as he is dying. Bok reverts to his stone form, and as everyone runs out of the church, it blows up. The Master tries to escape in Bessie, but the Doctor's remote control brings the car back, and the Master is taken into custody, to be put in maximum security.

Miss Hawthorne hears the sound of bird songs and the smell of flowers once again, as the Earth is reborn each May Day. Miss Hawthorne takes Benton to dance around the maypole with the rest of the townsfolk, while Yates and the Brigadier go off to the pub for a drink. The Doctor and Jo join the dance as the May Day celebrations continue, and the Doctor remarks to Jo that perhaps there is magic in the world after all.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Story notes Edit

  • This story had the working title The Demons.
  • "Guy Leopold" (the writer) is a pen name for Robert Sloman and Barry Letts.
  • The Radio Times programme listing for episode one was accompanied by a black and white illustration by Frank Bellamy depicting Miss Hawthorne, along with the Doctor and Jo driving towards Devil's End in Bessie, with the accompanying caption "Dr. Who drives into a new adventure: 6.15". That for the omnibus rerun of the story on 28 December 1971 was accompanied by another black and white illustration by Bellamy depicting the Doctor with the Master in the background, with the accompanying caption "Dr. Who meets The Master in the Daemons: 6.20".
  • Although the filming location, the village of Aldbourne, is in the county of Wiltshire, there is no indication in the on-screen dialogue as to which county Devil's End is situated in. However, there is an in-joke reference in episode one to the Third Lord Aldbourne, during the television news report about the archaeological dig being conducted in the village by Professor Horner.
  • The shot of the exploding helicopter is actually an unused out-take from a James Bond film, possibly You Only Live Twice (1967) or From Russia With Love (1963). The sequence looked so convincing on-screen that a popular myth persists to this day that a helicopter was actually destroyed during the filming.
  • The area under the church is always referred to as "the cavern", never "the crypt". This was a BBC directive given to producer Barry Letts, to avoid the risk of causing offence to viewers with religious sensibilities. Similarly, much to director Christopher Barry's amazement, no mention of God was permitted to be made in the story's dialogue, in case this was considered to be blasphemous — although references to the Devil were acceptable.
  • The incantation used by the Master to summon the Dæmon is the nursery rhyme "Mary had a little lamb" spoken backwards. It was originally going to be the Lord's Prayer, spoken backwards, but BBC bosses objected.
  • In the DVD featurette Terrance Dicks: Fact & Fiction (included on the DVD of Horror of Fang Rock), Dicks confesses that in the script he originally cut out the famous "Chap with wings, five rounds rapid" line, but it was reinstated at writer Barry Letts' request.
  • It was believed by many viewers that the model of the church blown up in the final episode (a replica of the actual church in Aldbourne) was real, because the sequence looked so convincing on-screen. Complaints were received by the BBC deploring its destruction.
  • When the signpost pointing to Devil's End is shown in episode two, another part of the sign is seen pointing to a village named "Satanhall".
  • This is the only story to end an episode on a cliffhanger of the Master in peril.
  • The archæological dig is broadcast on BBC3. This revelation will be taken differently by different audiences. At the time The Dæmons was broadcast, there was no such thing as BBC3. Consequently, to the contemporaneous audience, this was an indication that the story was not set in the present day, but a few years in the future. The writers and producer perhaps felt that BBC3 was no more than a few years off, therefore allowing them to sneakily set the story in the late 1970s. It made sense, at the time, to include these little nods to the future, as it was the general intent of Sherwin/Letts/Hinchcliffe-era UNIT stories that they be set in the slight future. However, in this case, the trick falls flat on a modern audience. In real life, BBC3 wasn't launched until 2003, which only adds to the broader UNIT dating controversy, since the story is otherwise quite evidently not set in the same time period as, say, Rose. Young audience members won't be troubled by the remark at all, since, for them, BBC3 has always been around. Non-Britons will likely not understand the gag at all, regardless of their age.
  • To confuse matters still further, the most recent broadcast of this story on the BBC was on 21 and 22 October 2007 - not on BBC 3, but on BBC FOUR. (The broadcast compiled episodes one, two and three in one broadcast on October 21 2007, and episodes four and five the following evening.)
  • The symbols on the collar of the Master's ceremonial robe are from the sixteenth century occult alphabet known as Theban, and from left to right they translate to "Master".
  • Barry Letts' brief from the BBC's head of serials was to produce a 26 episode season for broadcast during 1971. To meet this requirement, The Dæmons should have been a six-part serial; but in the event, because of production difficulties, it was transmitted as a 5-parter.
  • This is the only televised story of Doctor Who to contain a typographic ligature in its title: æ.
  • Episode two of the story marks the 300th episode of Doctor Who.
  • The 625 line PAL colour videotapes of episodes one, two, three and five were either erased for reuse or lost. For some unknown reason, only episode four survived in this format. 16mm black & white film telerecordings, made for overseas sale, were retained for the other episodes.
  • This story was chosen by fans to represent the Jon Pertwee era, to be rebroadcast for Doctor Who @40.

Other publications Edit

  • In March 1971, The Daily Express newspaper reported on the location filming for this story as part of a feature article on Jon Pertwee, which included black and white photographs. This was one of a series of features they ran that month about well known TV personalities.
  • The Countdown Annual 1972, published in October 1971, contains an article (with photographs in colour) about the location filming in Aldbourne for this story. The article is listed on the contents page as "Filming Dr Who", but is actually entitled "A Day with Dr Who". The author was Countdown editor Dennis Hooper (who in it misspelled "Bessie" as "Betsy").

Ratings Edit

  • Episode one - 9.2 million viewers
  • Episode two - 8.0 million viewers
  • Episode three - 8.1 million viewers
  • Episode four - 8.1 million viewers
  • Episode five - 8.3 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • There was a sixth episode planned, where the Master escaped UNIT. (This was an April Fools' joke in the fanzine DWB.)

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.
  • During the struggle between Benton and Garvin in episode two, Garvin's shotgun breaks in two, forcing actor John Joyce (Garvin) to hold the shotgun together.
  • In episode two, when the baker's van strikes the heat barrier and explodes in flames, a road sign identifies the village as being one mile away. But in episode 3, the Brigadier says the energy barrier is circular and ten miles in diameter, centred on the village church.
  • When the Doctor runs into the church in episode five, he slams the door behind him, causing the wall to shake noticeably.

BBC holiday repeat Edit

On 28 December 1971, The Dæmons became the very first serial to be rebroadcast by the BBC in omnibus form (as an edited 90 minute repeat, shown between 4:20pm and 5:50pm). Billed as Dr Who and the Daemons in Radio Times, this was the first time a "complete adventure in one programme" — to quote the programme listing — had been shown. Open to misinterpretation, it did not mean the serial was being shown complete, only that this was not part of a multi-episode broadcast. (In the 1960s, when Doctor Who was being broadcast 48 weeks a year, there had usually been no opportunity, or imperative, to show repeats between one season and the next.)

The repeat broadcast attracted 10.5 million viewers, the show's highest rating since 1965. This was such a huge audience that the experiment was adjudged a great success, and it led to a policy of showing at least one omnibus repeat from every subsequent season for many years afterwards, until well into the Tom Baker era.

Continuity Edit

Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

The story was released on DVD on 26 March 2012.

Digital releases Edit

This story is available

  • in BBC Store (UK) as a standalone story or as part of Doctor Who bundle The Classic Series: Series 8;
  • for streaming through BritBox (US) as part of Season 8 of Classic Doctor Who.

VHS releases Edit

Episode five was included in black and white on the Pertwee Years video in 1992.

The Dæmons was released on VHS in the UK and Australia in 1993. This was an electronically restored colour version of the story completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.

Script book Edit

  • The Dæmons was released by Titan Books as a script book in November 1992.

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

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