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The Hand of Fear (TV story)

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RealWorld
The Hand of Fear
SJSRingActivatedHOF
Novelised as: Doctor Who and the Hand of Fear
Doctor: Fourth Doctor
Companion(s): Sarah
Main enemy: Eldrad
Main setting:
England, late 20th century
Kastria, late 20th century
Key crew
Writer: Bob Baker
Dave Martin
Director: Lennie Mayne
Producer: Philip Hinchcliffe
Release details
Story number: 87
Number of episodes: 4
Season/series: Season 14
Premiere broadcast: 2 October - 23 October 1976
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 4x25-minute episodes
Production code: 4N
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Until we meet again Sarah - Sarah Jane leaves - The Hand of Fear - Doctor Who - BBC04:07

Until we meet again Sarah - Sarah Jane leaves - The Hand of Fear - Doctor Who - BBC

The Hand of Fear was the second story of Season 14 of Doctor Who. It is most significant for being Elisabeth Sladen's final story as a member of the regular cast of Doctor Who.

The Hand of Fear was originally intended for the 1976 six-part slot that was taken by The Seeds of Doom. There were several versions of the script. One saw the hand as an advance guard preparing the way for an alien army. Another fixed upon two "Omegans" - represented the "hawk and "dove" - working against humanity. There were plans for the Brigadier and Harry Sullivan, with the former, much like in early draughts of Pyramids of Mars, bowing out from Who in a blaze of glory.

However, script editor Robert Holmes took issue with its complexity and commissioned another script to be the final story of Season 13, should this remain unresolved. Finally, in October 1975, The Hand of Fear was officially delayed and The Seeds of Doom was produced in its place.

After Elizabeth Sladen told the production team she wanted to leave early in the next season, Douglas Camfield was commissioned to write The Lost Legion, which would see Sarah killed at its conclusion. However, Holmes was unhappy with the script and, in a turn of fate, decided that The Hand of Fear might have to be used as a replacement. With UNIT and degenerating-humans removed from the plot, Bob Baker and Dave Martin produced a more linear story. Camfield fell behind on his own script and was discounted. Baker and Martin left the writing of Sarah's farewell scene to Holmes.

Director Lennie Mayne made his final contribution to Doctor Who. After finishing production on The Hand of Fear and an episode of Softly, Softly: Taskforce, he was drowned after a wave swept him overboard in the English Channel.[1]

Synopsis Edit

When the TARDIS lands in a quarry on Earth, the Doctor and Sarah are caught in a mining explosion. Sarah is found clutching what appears to be a fossilised hand, buried in one-hundred-fifty-million-year-old strata. Analysis shows the hand to be silicon-based and inert, but when Sarah begins to act as if possessed, the Doctor suspects that it may still be alive...

Plot Edit

Part 1 Edit

One hundred and fifty million years ago on the planet Kastria, a traitor named Eldrad is sentenced to death for crimes including the destruction of the barriers that kept the solar winds at bay.

Placed into a capsule and shot into space, Eldrad awaits obliteration. The capsule is detonated prematurely, despite the risk of particle survival. Conditions are deteriorating rapidly on Kastria. The remaining Kastrians await their fate on the desolate planet.

Handoffear part1

The Doctor examines an x-ray of the mysterious hand.

The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith arrive in the TARDIS in a modern-day quarry on Earth and are caught immediately in a quarrying explosion. The Doctor is slightly injured. Sarah is found unconscious in the rubble, clutching a fossilised hand. She is taken to a local hospital.

The hand is examined. Based on the strata of the rock in which it was found, it is one hundred fifty million years old. Pathologist Dr Carter dismisses these findings as ridiculous. Examining a sliver of the hand under an electron microscope, the Doctor observes a helix similar to DNA. The minuscule radiation of the microscope causes the sample to grow. The Doctor realises that this fossil might actually contain vestiges of life.

Sarah awakens in her hospital bed, holding a crystalline ring that slipped from the hand. The ring begins to pulse with energy. Sarah hears a voice in her head: "Eldrad must live". She steals the hand and flees the hospital, knocking out Carter with a flash from the ring. She heads for the nearest nuclear reactor, the Nunton Complex. With the aid of the ring, Sarah overpowers guards and workmen and enters the reactor room. She watches as the hand absorbs radiation, regenerates its missing finger and begins to move.

Part 2 Edit

Handoffear main

Sarah releases the hand of Eldrad.

The head of the complex, Professor Watson, stays bravely at his post when the reactor goes critical. He offers the Doctor aid and advice in trying to get to Sarah. Sarah sits serenely amidst the chaos and klaxons. The Doctor resolves to enter the chamber through a ventilation shaft, but is stopped by Dr Carter, now also under the hypnotic control of the ring. He tries to kill the Doctor but falls to his death.

The Doctor enters the chamber and finds there is no radiation whatsoever; the hand is absorbing the entire output of the reactor. Sarah is removed and the hand placed in a sealed cabinet. The Doctor breaks through Sarah's hypnosis.

The ring, however, is left behind in the chamber. It is found by a technician named Driscoll, who falls under its control. He takes the hand and walks into the main core. The reactor again nears critical.

Part 3 Edit

Eldrad and the Doctor

The Doctor persuades Eldrad to let Watson live.

Watson orders an RAF strike to destroy the hand and the reactor, but the missiles' impact cause an 'unexplosion'; that and the full power of the reactor are enough to complete the full regeneration of Eldrad.

Crystalline, silicon-based and female, she tells the story of how she created the spatial barriers that let Kastria thrive, but in an interstellar war the barriers were destroyed and she was disgraced and condemned. Eldrad persuades the Doctor to return her to Kastria so she can save her people; he agrees on the condition that they travel to Kastria in the present, a hundred fifty million years after she left.

Immediately afterwards, Watson arrives and attempts to attack Eldrad, firing a gun at her with no effect. She immediately retaliates and means to kill him, but is persuaded otherwise by the Doctor. Leaving Watson to work on getting Nunton back to normal, the Doctor, Sarah and Eldrad return to the quarry where the TARDIS landed, and depart for Kastria.

The planet is barren and ruined, but her ring activates some instruments. Eldrad's presence is detected by automatic sensors that trigger booby traps set long ago by her rival, King Rokon, on the minuscule chance of Eldrad's return. The Kastrian opens a door and triggers a booby trap. A syringe-like dart hits her.

Part 4 Edit

Sarah, Eldrad and 4

Sarah, Eldrad and the Doctor look upon the thermal chambers.

After she explains that the dart contained an acid of her own design, Doctor and Sarah take the dying Eldrad to a regenerator chamber deep below the surface of Kastria, in the thermal chambers. The regenerator chamber is rigged to destroy Eldrad, but a malfunction allows a full regeneration. The new form of Eldrad reveals he had based his earlier form on Sarah, the first human he encountered. Eldrad is now much taller and male. He boasts that he destroyed the solar barriers in a rivalry with King Rokon. They find Eldrad's ultimate goal, the Kastrian race bank, with which he intends to revive the dormant Kastrian people. The Bank, however, is empty.

An image of Rokon appears on a video screen, informing Eldrad that without the barriers, facing perpetual subterranean existence and a small possibility of his return, the Kastrian race elected to destroy themselves and the Race Bank. Rokon mockingly salutes Eldrad from the grave as "King of Nothing." A bitter Eldrad now decides to rule the Earth instead and demands that the Doctor return him. He refuses, stating that his obligation to Eldrad is now satisfied.

Eldrad pursues the Doctor and Sarah to an abyss. Tripping over the Doctor's scarf, which has been stretched out across the passageway by the Doctor and Sarah, Eldrad falls straight into the depths to his apparent doom. The Doctor drops Eldrad's ring into the abyss as well. He notes that Eldrad's fate is uncertain, as silicon-based lifeforms are difficult to kill.

The Doctor and Sarah depart in the TARDIS, and the Doctor sets about making repairs. Sarah bemoans her life in the TARDIS — bouncing around the universe, fleeing from bug-eyed monsters and needing a bath. The Doctor is focused on his work on the TARDIS console, which infuriates her. She demands to be returned home and storms off to her room to pack.

While she is gone, the Doctor receives a telepathic summons to return to Gallifrey and notes to himself that he cannot take Sarah with him. Sarah returns with her packed things and the Doctor informs her that he must return her to Earth, as he cannot take her with him to Gallifrey. With her idle threat suddenly becoming reality, Sarah is taken aback, especially at missing the chance to see Gallifrey.

SarahJaneAway

Sarah Jane walking away from the TARDIS.

The Doctor steers the TARDIS to bring her to Hillview Road, South Croydon — Sarah's home. She asks him not to forget her; he replies likewise. Once the TARDIS dematerialises, Sarah makes her exit noting that travel does indeed broaden the mind and The Doctor promises her that they will meet again.

After watching the TARDIS disappear to return the Doctor home, Sarah realises she hasn't been left on Hillview Road and guesses she's probably not even in South Croydon. However she is not angry, and playfully remarks to a nearby dog, "He blew it". Whistling and full of fond memories, Sarah walks off toward her new life...

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

The Doctor Edit

  • The Doctor brags about his own "superb sense of direction".

Individuals Edit

Gallifrey Edit

  • The Doctor is called back to Gallifrey and says he has to leave Sarah behind.

Planets Edit

  • Kastria was a cold and inhospitable planet, ravaged by the solar winds.
  • The Doctor states he has been in places colder than Kastria.

Species Edit

  • Eldrad has heard of the Time Lords, saying that they are pledged to uphold the laws of time and to prevent alien aggression.
  • Eldrad says he built barriers to keep out the winds and machines to replenish the soil and atmosphere, and devised a crystalline, silicon-based form for the Kastrians.
  • The entire Kastrian race committed self-genocide on the chance that Eldrad might return.
  • Provided always opportune conditions (such as a source of radioactive energy), Kastrian can undergo a regeneration process, like the Time Lord.

Science and technology Edit

  • Dr Carter administers an anti-tetanus serum to Sarah Jane.
  • The Doctor borrows an electron microscope from the Virology laboratory in order to study the hand.
  • The hand is found in a stratum of black stone dolomite, dating Jurassic (about 150000000 years before).

TARDIS Edit

Time travel Edit

  • According to the Doctor, bringing Eldrad back to its home time would contravene the first Law of Time.

Weapons Edit

  • A nuclear missile strike is performed on a nuclear reactor. However, the resulting energy is absorbed by Eldrad, who uses it to reconstitute a full body.

Story notes Edit

  • Working titles claimed for this story were The Hand of Death and The Hand of Time.[2] However, the production notes on the DVD release state that there were no working titles for this story.
  • In terms of 'seasons', Elisabeth Sladen was the longest serving companion with any Doctor, appearing for over three seasons and surpassing Katy Manning's record as Jo Grant. In terms of 'years', Janet Fielding holds the record for playing Tegan Jovanka for just under three years. Frazer Hines as companion Jamie McCrimmon holds the record for the longest serving companion in terms of the number of 'episodes' in which he appeared. These records do not take non-televised adventures into account, nor later "guest" reappearances.
  • When Sladen expressed her intention to leave the series, Sarah was originally supposed to be killed off in a pseudo-historical story involving aliens and the Foreign Legion. However Douglas Camfield, who was supposed to write the scripts, was unable to do so. This was much to Sladen's relief, as she did not want Sarah to be killed or married off. Sladen also asked that Sarah's departure not be the main focus of the story, as she felt the programme was about the Doctor, not the companion.
  • The nuclear power station was originally supposed to be the Nuton Power Complex of The Claws of Axos but was renamed the Nunton Experimental Complex instead. The real-life location was the Oldbury Nuclear Power Station in Gloucestershire.
  • In the original script, Miss Jackson was a nameless man. Director Lennie Mayne built up the part, changed the gender and cast his wife, Frances Pidgeon.
  • Eldrad's home was originally supposed to be the black hole of Omega 4.6. When Robert Holmes pointed out to Bob Baker and Dave Martin that the name Omega had already appeared in Doctor Who (in The Three Doctors; ironically this story was also written by Baker and Martin), they changed the name to Kastria.
  • The original script for the story featured an ageing Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, who had been moved from UNIT to the Extraterrestrial Xenological Intelligence Taskforce — EXIT for short — to study UFO activities. He was to sacrifice his life when he steered a commandeered experimental rocket into an Omegan kamikaze ship to prevent that ship from crashing into Earth. This plan did not go through as Nicholas Courtney was unavailable for filming. The original script also featured Harry Sullivan.
  • Baker and Martin intentionally did not write Sarah's departure scene. The script for that scene was rewritten by Sladen and Tom Baker from Robert Holmes's original version.
  • In the final scene, Sarah Jane whistles the tune, "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow". Since Elisabeth Sladen was unable to whistle, director Lennie Mayne provided the whistling while she mimed to it.
  • Elisabeth Sladen is credited as 'Sarah Jane' in Radio Times.
  • Frances Pidgeon and Roy Boyd are uncredited on-screen for part three, but are credited in Radio Times.
  • Dr Carter points out that Sarah's clothes make her look "just like Andy Pandy". Andy Pandy was a character from a 1950s British children's TV puppet show of the same name, who also wore a striped romper suit. (Andy Pandy's stripes were blue and white rather than red and white, but since the original Andy Pandy series was broadcast in black and white, few people would have known the colour of his stripes.)
  • Elisabeth Sladen reprised the role of Sarah Jane Smith on television in K9 and Company, The Five Doctors and Dimensions in Time. With the 2005 return of Who, and following an appearance in School Reunion, Sladen became the star of the spin-off show The Sarah Jane Adventures.
  • The fly that can be seen walking across Glyn Houston's brow in one scene was swallowed by Elisabeth Sladen in an outtake.
  • This serial was repeated in May 2011 on BBC Four across two days as a tribute to Elisabeth Sladen after her death from cancer a month previously.

Ratings Edit

  • Part one - 10.5 million viewers
  • Part two - 10.2 million viewers
  • Part three - 11.1 million viewers
  • Part four - 12 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • A real quarry explosion was filmed for the episode. Unfortunately, the crew badly underestimated the power of the explosion, and a rumour persisted for many years that a camera was totally destroyed in the blast. (In the DVD commentary it is made clear that this is just a fan myth. The camera was placed in a blast-proof box and although it was buried in the explosion, it was undamaged.)
  • This episode establishes the rule that only Time Lords and Gallifreyans are allowed on Gallifrey. (The Doctor never said that, he might have decided he couldn't take Sarah Jane there because he felt she wouldn't be safe there. He's taken other companions, all of whom were neither Time Lord nor Gallifreyan there and there wasn't any mention of this rule.)

Filming locations Edit

  • Cromhall Quarry, Cromhall, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire (Quarry where the TARDIS arrives at the start of the story)
  • Oldbury Nuclear Power Station, Oldbury Naite, Thornbury, Gloucestershire (Location of the 'Nunton Experimental Complex')
  • Stokefield Close, Thornbury, Gloucestershire (Where Sarah is dropped off by the Doctor)
  • Rickmansworth Road (A412), Croxley Green, Hertfordshire (This was reused stock footage of an ambulance)

Production errors Edit

  • In part two, when the Doctor and Dr. Carter enter the Nunton complex's Control Centre, Glyn Houston (Professor Watson) accidentally fluffs his scripted line "We have a full scale emergency here" — delivering it instead as "We have a full emergency scale here".
  • In part four, when Eldrad is ranting and raving following King Rokon's message, a camera can be seen in the dark doorway behind Sarah.
  • When Eldrad is telling the Doctor about the race banks in part four, the shadow of a boom mike moves over the wall behind Sarah (and its reflection can be seen in the wall to her left).
  • In part four, when the Doctor and Sarah are setting the trap for Eldrad, the Doctor bumps a large rock to his left, causing it to wobble noticeably.
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.

Continuity Edit

  • Sarah Jane stood in the street sadly watching the Doctor's TARDIS disappear from her life, and made a remark toward a dog. Her parting from the Tenth Doctor thirty years later was similar, and resulted in a new version of K-9 being left for her. (TV: School Reunion)
  • The Doctor mentions Zeus plugs again. (TV: The Girl in the Fireplace, Time Crash)
  • The Doctor's quip that Gallifrey "perhaps" is in Ireland is one he repeats. (TV: The Invisible Enemy,Human Nature)
  • The summons to Gallifrey which the Doctor was actually sent by the Master. (TV: The Deadly Assassin)
  • Sarah expresses a desire to see Gallifrey at the end of the serial. Her wish will be granted (after a fashion) when she is abducted to the Death Zone. Here, she is finally reunited with the Doctor - although initially with his third incarnation, at a point in his time when he had not yet parted company with her. (TV: The Five Doctors)

Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

This story was released as Doctor Who: The Hand of Fear.

Released:

Contents:

  • Commentary by Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Judith Paris, Bob Baker and Philip Hinchcliffe.
  • Changing Time - A 50-minute documentary, looking at the making of the story and the special relationship between the Doctor and Sarah.
  • Swap Shop - Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen are interviewed by Noel Edmonds and callers on the Saturday morning children's show.
  • Continuities - Rare surviving continuity announcements relating to the story.
  • Photo Gallery
  • Doctor Who annual 1977 (PDF DVD-ROM)
  • Radio Times billings (PDF DVD-ROM)
  • Production Information Subtitles
  • Easter Egg - Clip of an interview with Elisabeth Sladen. To access this hidden feature, press left twice at 'Play All' on the main menu.

Notes:

  • Editing for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
  • Mistakenly, the artwork of the Region 4 release states that the Tom Baker era lasted from 1974 to 1979

VHS Releases Edit

This story was released on VHS in February 1996, and was the final videocassette to include the diamond logo on the cover artwork in the United Kingdom and the US. It was available for only two weeks, being deleted along with much of the rest of the Doctor Who video range shortly after. The original videocassette thus became something of a collectors' item.

External links Edit

References Edit


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