The King's Demons was the sixth and final story of season 20 of Doctor Who. It introduced Kamelion, the first non-humanoid companion since K9. Furthermore, it centred on a genuine historical figure and a significant event — King John and the signing of the Magna Carta — a formula which had been all-but-unseen since William Hartnell left the show.
It also gave Peter Davison a chance to display his fencing skills The Fifth Doctor became the third consecutive incarnation of the Doctor to have some skill with a blade, his immediate predecessors having swashbuckled in The Sea Devils, The Masque of Mandragora, and The Androids of Tara. Indeed, Demons provided a kind of rematch for the Doctor and the Master, echoing the earlier duel between the Third Doctor and the Master. It was the last televised story to feature the Doctor-as-swordsman until David Tennant's debut in 2005.
Narratively, it ends with an unusual, "one-way, retrospective cliffhanger". That is, it's only visible if The Five Doctors is seen immediately after Demons. At the conclusion of Demons, the Doctor promises to take his companions to the Eye of Orion. Since the Doctor often makes promises of future adventures at the ends of stories, this doesn't appear to be a cliffhanger at all. It's only by seeing The Five Doctors that the audience realises he's kept a promise made in the previous story. Perhaps more crucial is the notion that the Master we see in The Five Doctors has been recalled to Gallifrey immediately after his 13th century defeat by the Fifth Doctor, a fact that, once known, can subtly change the viewer's perception of certain scenes in The Five Doctors.
For years, this connection was fairly obvious on home video, because home video viewers were forced to buy a version of The Five Doctors on VHS, where the two stories had been bundled together. Following 2010's separate release of this story on DVD, the cliffhanger will likely escape more viewers' attention.
Thanks to the dismal ratings for the first episode, this serial as a whole was the lowest-rated serial of the Fifth Doctor's run. It therefore contrasts with another two-parter, Black Orchid, which was the highest rated Davison story. (REF: The Fifth Doctor Handbook)
The Doctor and his companions arrive at a medieval joust and are surprised to be greeted warmly by King John, who calls them his demons. But when a young nobleman returns, having just left King John in London, the Doctor realises that this king must be an impostor! Then the Master makes an appearance and the Doctor's worst fears are confirmed...
Part one Edit
In March 1215, King John of England is at the castle of Sir Ranulf Fitzwilliam to extort more taxes. When the lord refuses to pay, the King declares himself insulted by this, and his champion issues a challenge. To defend his honour, his son Hugh takes on the King's champion, Sir Gilles Estram, in a joust. The latter wins easily, though the joust is disturbed by the arrival of the TARDIS. The Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough are greeted as demons and welcomed by the King.
Having established the date, the Doctor concludes the King is not himself - in fact, he is not the King at all. History records that John is actually in London, taking the Crusader's Oath. Sir Geoffrey de Lacy, the cousin of Sir Ranulf, arrives at the castle and confirms the Doctor's belief. Sir Gilles is about to torture him as a liar during a royal banquet when the Doctor intervenes. It seems the King's champion is not who he claims to be, either: Sir Gilles sheds his disguise and reveals himself to be the Doctor's arch-nemesis, the Master, who aims his tissue compression eliminator at the Doctor...
Part two Edit
The Master flees in his own TARDIS, which had been disguised as an iron maiden (torture device). The King knights the Doctor as his new champion, and he is given run of the castle. After a series of mishaps, including the death of Sir Geoffrey at the Master's hands, the Doctor confronts the King and the Master and discovers the truth. The monarch is really Kamelion, a war weapon found by the Master on Xeriphas, which can be mentally controlled and used to adopt disguises and personas. With Kamelion disguised as King John, the Master intends that he will behave so appallingly as to provoke a rebellion and topple the real king from his throne, thus robbing the world of Magna Carta, the foundation of parliamentary democracy. It is a small plan on the Master's usual scale, but nevertheless particularly damaging to the normal progress of Earth society.
The Doctor resolves the situation by testing the Master in a battle of wills for control over Kamelion. He takes control of the robot and steals it away in the TARDIS, thus foiling the Master's scheme. Kamelion reverts to its robot form and thanks the Doctor for his assistance and rescue. To Turlough's surprise and Tegan's dismay, the Doctor accepts Kamelion as a new travelling companion aboard the TARDIS. Tegan insists that she does not wish to be returned home, however, and the Doctor admits that the co-ordinates are already set for the Eye of Orion.
- The Doctor - Peter Davison
- Tegan Jovanka - Janet Fielding
- Turlough - Mark Strickson
- The Master - Anthony Ainley
- The King / Voice of Kamelion - Gerald Flood
- Ranulf - Frank Windsor
- Isabella - Isla Blair
- Hugh - Christopher Villiers
- Sir Geoffrey - Michael J. Jackson
- Jester - Peter Burroughs
- Assistant Floor Manager - Sue Hedden
- Costumes - Colin Lavers
- Designer - Ken Ledsham
- Fight Arranger - John Waller
- Film Cameraman - Remi Adefarasin
- Film Editor - Mike Rowbotham
- Film Sound - Simon Wilson
- Incidental Music - Jonathan Gibbs, Peter Howell
- Lute Player - Jakob Lindberg
- Make-Up - Elizabeth Rowell, Frances Hannon
- Producer - John Nathan-Turner
- Production Assistant - Sue Upton
- Production Associate - June Collins
- Production Manager - Jeremy Silberston
- Script Editor - Eric Saward
- Senior Cameraman - Alec Wheal
- Special Sounds - Dick Mills
- Studio Lighting - Peter Smee
- Studio Sound - Martin Ridout
- Technical Manager - Tony Troughton
- Theme Arrangement - Peter Howell
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Video Effects - Dave Chapman
- Videotape Editor - Rod Waldron
- Vision Mixer - Nigel Finnis
- Visual Effects - Tony Harding
Cultural references to real world Edit
- Tegan conjectures about the King being the Devil. Hell is mentioned.
- Christ is mentioned in the Crusade-themed chant sung by Kamelion.
- The Master used Kamelion, the tool of an earlier invader of Xeriphas, to escape from the planet and then impersonate King John.
- The Doctor mentions the Eye of Orion to Tegan.
- Kamelion plays a lute.
Psychic powers Edit
- Kamelion does have a mind of its own, but can be controlled psychokinetically.
- The Master's Tissue Compression Eliminator is referred to as a 'compressor' on several occasions.
- Several characters are threatened with an iron maiden, actually a disguise for the Master's TARDIS.
Story notes Edit
- This story had working titles of The Android, The Demons, A Knight's Tale and Demons Keeper. (The working title Demons Keeper appears on some publicity photographs for the story.)
- Part one was promoted by the BBC as the 600th Doctor Who episode, with readers of Radio Times (cover dated: 12-18 March 1983) being informed of this fact in a short article: "When Doctor Who arrives in 13th-century England to tackle The King's Demons on Tuesday (6.55 BBC1), he will have come a long way. / For Tuesday's episode is the 600th edition of Doctor Who to be screened. / In the two-part story which concludes the current series the Doctor discovers danger for King John, and a knight to remember."
- In order to conceal the fact that the Master featured in this story, John Nathan-Turner had Radio Times credit the role of Sir Gilles Estram (whose surname, Estram, was an anagram of 'Master') as being played by 'James Stoker' – an anagram of 'Master's Joke'.
- At least one of the story's central props, the Master's TARDIS in the form of an iron maiden, can be seen in Edmund's chamber in the second episode of The Black Adder (Born to be King), which gives more credit to the myth (see below) that The King's Demons used the same set as The Black Adder.
- This story marks the debut appearance of short-lived new 'companion' Kamelion – in reality a computer controlled, sound activated, animated robot created by software designer Mike Power and computer hardware expert Chris Padmore of a firm called CP Cybernetics.
- When the Doctor Who production office supplied the story information to Radio Times, it would appear that the 'Lute Player' credit for Jakob Lindberg was mistakenly assumed to refer to a character, as the programme listings for the story that were published – part one named the production crew, while part two listed the cast – credited Lindberg among the cast members instead of as part of the crew. Lindberg does appear on-screen playing the lute.
- Despite being added to the TARDIS's crew at the end of part two, Kamelion subsequently disappears from the series until his final appearance in TV: Planet of Fire.
- The King's Demons is one of the few stories from the original run of Doctor Who to contain an original song — in this case, "The King's Song" by Peter Howell.
- The serial's incidental music was unusually scored by two composers. Peter Howell was supposed to have done it all, but other commitments meant he was only able to work on the lute music. Jonathan Gibbs then tackled the rest of the score. (REF: The Fifth Doctor Handbook)
- Arranged by John Waller, the sword fight between the Doctor and the Master used no stunt performers — Peter Davison and Anthony Ainley did it all. (REF: The Fifth Doctor Handbook)
- The story was repeated on consecutive weeks on 6 July and 13 July 1984. The Radio Times programme listing for the reshowing of part one was accompanied by a black and white photographic cut-out image of Kamelion playing the lute, along with a black and white head-and-shoulders shot of the Master, with the accompanying caption "A strumming robot? Doctor Who gets a very different view of 13th-century England — and encounters an old rival (Anthony Ainley): 6.55".
- Part one - 5.8 million viewers
- Part two - 7.2 million viewers
- This story was originally to feature the Monk. (There is no evidence that this was the original intention. Fan speculation postulates this due to its medieval setting and the fact that the Master's scheme in this story is more similar to the Monk's modus operandi than his own usual more grandiose schemes. Whether it would have been as the Monk or a later regeneration of the same Time Lord, it would have involved recasting the part as Peter Butterworth, who originated the character in The Time Meddler, had passed away in January 1979.)
- The King's Demons used the same set as The Black Adder. (Not outside the realm of possibility - both were BBC productions, and were filmed at roughly the same time (late 1982/early 1983) – but there's no particular reason to think it's true, either, and no evidence that it's anything but an Internet rumour.)
Filming locations Edit
Production errors Edit
- Sir Geoffrey's left arm twitches and his corpse blinks after his death.
- Tegan initially fears that the TARDIS's arrival in 13th-century England is a trap set up as the Black Guardian's revenge for the Doctor's interference in TV: Enlightenment.
- In the final TARDIS scene of the story, the Doctor introduces Tegan to the android that is Kamelion. He says that Kamelion's story "appears to begin on Xeriphas" and that it will "end with the Master". This neatly ties together both the other televised stories that have anything to do with Kamelion: the introduction of the planet on which he was found (TV: Time-Flight) and his eventual demise. (TV: Planet of Fire)
- The Doctor re-establishes himself as a fair swordsman, having shown skill with a blade in both his third (TV: The Sea Devils, The Time Warrior) and fourth incarnations (TV: The Masque of Mandragora, The Androids of Tara). In fact, this is the second sword fight between the Doctor and the Master, although the Master is in disguise during this battle. As in the first such contest (TV: The Sea Devils), the Doctor shows the greater skill. His abilities in this arena are again displayed by his tenth incarnation. (TV: The Christmas Invasion)
- The story (and, thus, the season) ends in a minor cliffhanger, although it is unlikely initial viewers will have thought of it as such. Much like the link between TV: Invasion of the Dinosaurs and Death to the Daleks, the Doctor here offers to take his companions to a "wonder" of the universe, later referenced in the following story. Unlike the similar promise the Third Doctor makes to take Sarah Jane to Florana however, the Fifth Doctor's vow to Tegan and Turlough is actually fulfilled. He proposes to take them to the Eye of Orion, the initial setting for The Five Doctors.
- There probably was a real Sir Gilles, whom the Master killed and impersonated. In PROSE: Sanctuary, set in 1242, the Doctor meets a relative of the real Sir Gilles, whose true fate was never known.
- The First Doctor had previously met John's elder siblings Richard the Lionheart and Princess Joanna in Palestine during the Third Crusade. Ian Chesterton was knighted at that time by King Richard. (TV: The Crusade)
- The Doctor is knighted here, albeit not by the genuine King John. He would later be knighted by the actual Queen Victoria. (TV: Tooth and Claw)
Home video and audio releases Edit
DVD releases Edit
The disc set includes a restored version of the story, as well as the following special features:
- Commentary by Peter Davison, Isla Blair, and Eric Saward
- Secondary commentary by Tony Virgo (episode one only)
- Isolated music track
- Kamelion - Metal Man, an in-depth look at the creation and use of Kamelion in seasons 20 and 21, featuring Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant, Eric Saward and Chris Padmore
- Magna Carta, a factual documentary on the importance of the Magna Carta to western jurisprudence
- "Coming Soon" trailer for The Dominators
- Radio Times billings
- Production subtitles
- Photo gallery
- Editing for DVD release completed by Doctor Who Restoration Team.
Box sets Edit
Video releases Edit
- The King's Demons was released on video by BBC Worldwide in November 1995 as part of a boxed set with the Special Edition version of The Five Doctors.
Box sets Edit
- The King's Demons at the BBC's official site
- The King's Demons at BroaDWcast
- The King's Demons at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The King's Demons at The Locations Guide