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The Mind of Evil was the second serial of the eighth season of Doctor Who. It brought a radical change in the way UNIT was portrayed. Instead of being a primarily investigative body interested in alien or unexplained phenomena, here UNIT was mostly seen as a simple security force, guaranteeing the safety of international diplomats. In other words, the "United Nations" portion of their acronym was stressed over the "Intelligence Taskforce" bit — as later happened in such stories as Day of the Daleks and The Time Warrior. This forced the plot to partially concern itself with international espionage, thus lending an almost Bondian veneer to proceedings. The internationalism of the plot even allowed for highly unusual scenes of the Doctor conversing in a real language other than English. Indeed, as of the seventh BBC Wales series, Evil was the only story which used English subtitles for the Doctor's speech.

Meanwhile, the main plot about the mind-control device was something writer Don Houghton intentionally included as an homage to A Clockwork Orange.[1]

Behind the scenes, Evil went badly over budget, thanks in no small part to one of Doctor Who's rare usages of a real helicopter in the concluding episode. An unimpressed Barry Letts therefore withdrew director Timothy Combe from his informal "director's rota", and Combe never worked on the programme again.[1] Following the destruction of its colour telerecordings, Evil became the "most missing" serial of the Jon Pertwee era, in that not even a frame of it survived in colour on any broadcast-quality medium. Fortunately, the whole of it remained available in monochrome, due to the fact that some of BBC Enterprises' overseas customers required black-and-white transmission prints. Additionally, a few colour clips survived from an off-air home recording, which allowed for some scenes to be recoloured for the 1998 VHS release. Its DVD release marked its complete restoration, with all six episodes recoloured. [2]

Synopsis Edit

UNIT is handling the security for the World Peace Conference in London, but the Master is plotting to plunge the world into war by wrecking it.

Posing as Emile Keller, a Professor of Criminology, he goes to Stangmoor Prison in England with a machine that apparently removes the negative (or evil) impulses from the minds of hardened criminals. Actually, the Keller machine is a weapon: it contains an alien mind parasite that stores, and feeds on, these evil impulses.

Unsuspected because of his forged credentials, he secretly supplies guns to the prisoners and uses the mind parasite to start a riot by stirring up hostility among them, in which they take control of the prison. He plans to use them to seize a nerve gas missile being transported by UNIT, with which he hopes to destroy the Peace Conference.

In case his plan to hijack the missile is thwarted, he intends to use the mind parasite (once it has fed sufficiently) to wreck the Peace Conference by murdering the American and Chinese delegates, who are to be killed by the mind parasite's telepathic powers.

Plot Edit

Episode one Edit

The Third Doctor and Jo Grant arrive at Stangmoor Prison to view a demonstration of the Keller Machine, developed by Swiss scientist Emil Keller, which is claimed to cure anti-social behaviour by extracting evil impulses from the mind. Professor Kettering, acting on behalf of the absent Keller, reports over a hundred successful tests on European prisoners. The Doctor's open scepticism is apparently justified when the machine overloads, and the subject, a hardened criminal named Barnham, is rendered comatose.


Chin Lee burns the very documents she claims have been stolen.

Meanwhile, UNIT is busy overseeing security at the first World Peace Conference. Things are not going too well, as the Brigadier attempts to calm Captain Chin Lee, furious at the apparent theft of classified documents from the Chinese delegation. Later, Chin-Lee reports even worse news: the Chinese delegate is dead. Meanwhile, Captain Yates is assigned to lead a small UNIT platoon in disposing of the Thunderbolt, an outlawed nerve gas missile.

Arthur Linwood, a medical student witnessing the Keller demonstration, is found dead near the Keller Machine, his face frozen in terror, covered in bites and scratches. His medical history shows a morbid fear of rats. Professor Kettering is examining the machine when it becomes active on its own. Kettering has a vision of waves of water and dies of an apparent heart attack. Investigating his death, the prison medic, Dr Summers, is mystified that his symptoms are consistent with death by drowning. The machine's activity also appears to coincide with an increase in hostility in the prison population. The Doctor is worried that the machine has power over people's minds and is growing more powerful. As suspected, Kettering's medical files show a morbid fear of water.

Later, as the Doctor examines the machine, it activates again. He is seized by terror as the room appears to erupt in flames...

Episode two Edit

Jo bursts into the room, and the machine deactivates. The Doctor concludes that the machine possesses the ability to fill its victim's mind with visions of their greatest fear. He confesses a severe aversion to fire, rooted in his having recently witnessed a world consumed by flames. Yates arrives to escort the Doctor back to assist the Brigadier with events at the peace conference. Jo stays behind to monitor events at Stangmoor.

While the Doctor charms the new Chinese delegate Fu Peng with his fluent Hokkien and his claim to have been friends with Mao in the past, Sgt Benton shadows Chin Lee (who herself has disposed of the documents she earlier claimed had been stolen). When she notices him, she summons a mental power (sounding eerily similar to the noise of the Keller machine) to seize Benton and make him collapse. Meanwhile, a telephone repairman rigs up a control box to eavesdrop on UNIT's telephone line. It is the Master in disguise, and he listens in on Yates making plans for the disposal of the Thunderbolt.

In the prison sickbay, Jo visits the recovering Barnham, now childlike and docile — "Either an idiot or a saint," reflects Dr Summers. The Stangmoor prisoners riot, led by Mailer (who is next in line for processing), taking Jo and Dr Summers hostage.


Chin Lee lies in wait for the American senator.

The Doctor reports in to the Brigadier, and recalling the prison warden's reference to Keller's young attractive Chinese assistant, realises that Chin Lee is the connection between the Keller Machine and the disturbances at the World Peace Conference.

Under directive from the Master, Chin Lee contacts the American delegate, Senator Alcott, and asks him to meet her late that night concerning some important information. When he arrives, he sees Chin Lee appear to transform into an enormous Chinese dragon, which advances on him...

Episode three Edit

The Doctor, Brigadier and Fu Peng intervene just in time to save the Senator. They discover a telepathic amplifier, employing alien technology, attached to Chin Lee's neck. The Doctor realises that the Master is posing as Emil Keller and is also seeking to disrupt the peace conference.


Benton encourages his men to get on with moving Thunderbolt.

Once the Master learns his involvement has been discovered, he returns to Stangmoor to formulate a new plan. The prison guards have managed to subdue the rioters, but the Master provides Mailer with gas bombs, and the inmates overpower the guards and take over the prison.

Having learned of the trouble there, the Doctor arrives at Stangmoor but is apprehended by the inmates. He is brought before the Master, who coolly informs him of his plot to steal the Thunderbolt with the help of the prisoners, destroy the peace conference with it, and thereby plunge the world into war. The Doctor is handcuffed to a chair beside the Keller Machine, which activates and fills his mind with visions of his old enemies...

Episode four Edit

The Machine's activity affects the entire prison, and the Master is barely able to shut it off and revive the Doctor. The groggy Doctor warns the Master that the machine will soon be too powerful to control.

The Master's Greatest Fear

The Master meets his greatest fear: the Doctor laughing at him.

While Jo nurses the Doctor back to health, the Master himself is attacked by the machine, assaulted by an enormous vision of the Doctor looming over him laughing maniacally. The Master becomes terrified and bellows at both the vision and the machine, "No! No! You can't destroy me! I am too strong for you! I am too strong for you!" He blocks the doors to the lecture hall, intending to starve the machine into submission.


Yates spies on Thunderbolt's thieves, shortly before getting captured.

The Master persuades Mailer and his fellow inmates to help him hijack the Thunderbolt missile in exchange for their freedom, as the convoy will pass within a few miles of Stangmoor. They manage to overpower the escort and steal the missile, shooting all of the soldiers present. Yates, although shot in the arm, pursues the thieves to a remote airstrip, but is captured.

The Doctor and Jo escape from Vosper and Charlie and hide in the Governor's office. Meanwhile, the machine has learnt to move and kills Charlie in the hallway outside the process room. The Doctor and Jo leave the office and find Charlie's body. They enter the process room. Vosper and Mailer find them and hold them at gunpoint, intending to usher them into the hallway, but the machine arrives and kills Vosper. Mailer starts to shoot at it and runs, leaving the Doctor and Jo to become another feast for the mind parasite...

Episode five Edit


The Brigadier goes undercover as a lorry driver to infiltrate Stangmoor.

The machine teleports away, the Doctor theorising that the minds of the criminals elsewhere in the prison are more attractive to it, being more evil. Mailer blackmails the Master into returning to Stangmoor to deal with the menace of the machine, while Yates remains held as a hostage. The Master and the Doctor form an uneasy alliance to subdue the machine with a device that immobilises it for the time being, after it has once again tried to feed off the Doctor's fear.

The Brigadier realises the Stangmoor inmates are involved in the abduction of Thunderbolt. He leads a two-pronged UNIT assault, a "Trojan Horse" team in a supply van and a second team who use an underground passage into the prison courtyard. In the midst of the assault, Mailer aims his gun at the Doctor. A shot rings out...

Episode six Edit

Mailer falls dead, the shot having come from the Brigadier. Stangmoor is back under control, but the Master escapes and prepares Thunderbolt for launch. Yates also escapes and relays its location to the Brigadier.

The mind parasite overcomes the Doctor's device and is once again on the move. It corners the Doctor and Jo, but when Barnham wanders in, the machine suddenly loses power. The Doctor realises that Barnham's mind, devoid of all evil impulses because of his processing, acts as a neutralising influence on the machine, thus they have a tool to use against the Master to re-capture the Thunderbolt. They lift the lid off the machine and examine the pulsating organism inside.


Though safe inside a helicopter, Jo and the Doctor couldn't save Barhnam from going up in smoke with the Thunderbolt and the Keller Machine.

The Doctor bargains with the Master, offering to return the dematerialisation circuit he stole, but it's a ruse. He brings the machine and Barnham, and Barnham turns the machine loose on the Master. But in the confusion the Master escapes in a van, fatally running down Barnham in the process. The Doctor reactivates the missile's self-destruct circuit, and UNIT detonate the Thunderbolt, in an explosion which also destroys the mind parasite. Jo tearfully watches Barnham's body engulfed by the explosion as the hangar is blown to smithereens. Neither she nor the Doctor can bear to look at the carnage. The Doctor sees Jo is distraught and consoles her.

Stangmoor Prison has been put back in order, but Jo regrets Barnham's death and the fact they left his body behind. The Doctor sympathises with her and reminds her that he feels the same guilt as she does. The Brigadier is pleased that the Keller Machine is destroyed. Moreover, although the Master escaped, the Doctor didn't have to relinquish the dematerialisation circuit. Unfortunately, as soon as the Brigadier makes that comment, the Doctor checks his pockets and discovers the circuit was lost in his scuffle with the Master. Lethbridge-Stewart assures him the circuit likely was destroyed when the missile was detonated. However, the Doctor thinks it still could have survived.

A phone call from a familiar voice proves him right. The Master has recovered his dematerialisation circuit in the melee, leaving him free to travel time and space. He can't resist calling the furious Doctor to gloat. Jo tries to convince the Doctor he's won this round, but the Doctor is fixated on one thing: the Master is free to roam the cosmos in his TARDIS, while he remains in exile... stuck with the irksome Brigadier.

Cast Edit

Uncredited cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Cultural references from the real world Edit

Food and beverages Edit

The Doctor Edit

Individuals Edit

  • The Doctor says he once shared a cell in the Tower of London with Sir Walter Raleigh ("A very strange chap... kept going on about this new vegetable he'd discovered").
  • The Doctor says that he had a good enough relationship with Mao Tse-Tung that he was allowed to call the Chinese leader "Tse-Tung".

Story notes Edit

  • This story had the working titles The Pandora Machine, Man Hours, The Pandora Box and The Pandora's Box.
  • When the Doctor and Fu Peng are speaking Hokkien, a dialect of Chinese, English subtitles appear on screen — a first in Doctor Who history. English subtitles also appear in The Curse of Fenric, where they translate Russian language dialogue. In Remembrance of the Daleks, what appear to be Dalek subtitles appear (presumed to be a production unit joke).
  • Lenny Vosper was named after scriptwriter Don Houghton's agent, Margary Vosper (who was also producer Barry Letts' agent).
  • The Radio Times programme listing for episode one was accompanied by a black and white publicity photograph labelled "DOCTOR WHO in The Mind of Evil" showing the Doctor seated by the Keller Machine's control panel in the Process Theatre, with the accompanying caption "Jon Pertwee in a new story: 5.15".
  • The production team jokingly dubbed the unconvincing Chinese dragon into which Captain Chin Lee appears to transform in episodes two and three "Puff the Magic Dragon", after the title character of the song by 1960s singing trio Peter, Paul and Mary. Director Timothy Combe subsequently used only brief shots of the dragon in the finished programme.
  • Tommy Duggan (Senator Alcott) appears in episode three only in the reprise and is uncredited on-screen but credited in Radio Times.
  • William Marlowe (Mailer) appears in episode six only in the reprise and is uncredited on-screen but credited in Radio Times.
  • Richard Franklin (Captain Mike Yates) is credited as "Captain Yates" in Radio Times for episodes five and six.
  • Matthew Walters (Main Gate Prisoner) is credited as "Main Gates Prisoner" in Radio Times.
  • At the beginning of episode one, the episode number caption remains on-screen after the opening title sequence ends, being superimposed onto the opening scene of the Doctor and Jo en route to HM Prison Stangmoor in Bessie for a couple of seconds before it disappears. This was most probably a technical error.
  • With Mission to the Unknown, Doctor Who and the Silurians, The Daemons, The Sea Devils, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks and Midnight, this is one of only eight televised stories in the history of Doctor Who not to feature the Doctor's TARDIS. However, what appears to be the Master's TARDIS can be seen in the background near the end of episode six when the Master is on the phone to the Doctor, confirming that he has recovered his dematerialisation circuit.
  • The DVD recolourisation release of this serial features an additional set of credits for the restoration team that mimics the effects of the Keller Machine.
  • Stuart Humphryes, AKA Babelcolour, manually recoloured episode one, as it lacked suitable material to perform chroma-dot restoration.

Ratings Edit

  • Episode one - 6.1 million viewers
  • Episode two - 8.8 million viewers
  • Episode three - 7.5 million viewers
  • Episode four - 7.4 million viewers
  • Episode five - 7.6 million viewers
  • Episode six - 7.3 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • That the Doctor makes a comment in episode one which suggests he supports capital punishment. His comment is ironic and suggests precisely the opposite.

Filming locations Edit

Location filming took place in -

  • Dover Castle, Dover, Kent
  • RAF Swingate, Dover, Kent
  • Pineham Road, Pineham, Kent
  • Alland Grange, Manston, Kent
  • Archer's Court Road, Whitfield, Kent
  • Cornwall Gardens, London
  • Cornwall Gardens Walk, London
  • Commonwealth Institute, Kensington, London
  • BBC Television Centre (Studio 3 & 6), Shepherd's Bush, London

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.
  • In the office scene in episode four, a female sneeze from the studio is heard.
  • The hallway leading up to cell 7 (the cell where the Doctor and Jo are stashed at various points) has a different appearance, outside-looking-in than it does inside-looking-out.
  • When the Master's thugs throw the Doctor into the cell, the wall shakes.

Continuity Edit

  • The Master is still stranded on Earth when the story opens, in consequence of the Doctor having stolen the dematerialisation circuit from the Master's TARDIS in the previous serial. (TV: Terror of the Autons)
  • UNIT would subsequently provide the security for a second World Peace Conference. (TV: Day of the Daleks)
  • The Doctor mentions that he has recently witnessed an entire world consumed by fire. (TV: Inferno)
  • The Master uses gas grenades to knock out the prison guards but has a gas mask at the ready to protect himself. He would repeat this tactic in a later story. (TV: The Sound of Drums)
  • The Master plants a telepathic amplifier behind Captain Chin Lee's ear to control her mind. The Daleks would later utilise a human controlled remotely by a transmitter/receiver planted behind the victim's ear. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks)
  • The journalist James Stevens was present at the demonstration of the Keller Process at Stangmoor Prison. After spending almost a year collating reports of agents provocateur known as "the Doctor" who had been involved in numerous unusual incidents, he finally saw one of them in person (he thought). He actually describes Jo: "[a] small, mousy looking woman with a pleasant face." (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
  • A Northern Irish UNIT soldier named Francis Cleary was present for the riots at Stangmoor Prison and shot one of the inmates. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
  • Under the pseudonym "Victor Magister," the Master was charged with having caused the failure of the World Peace Conference, among other incidents, after being captured at Devil's End. Stevens notes that those terrorist activities were little remembered by most British people in 1996. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
  • In a parallel universe in which the Doctor's exile on Earth did not begin until 1997, the numerous deaths at the peace conference significantly damaged UNIT's reputation as an effective security endeavour. (AUDIO: Sympathy for the Devil)

Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

  • This story was released on DVD on 3 June, 2013, in the UK.

Digital releases Edit

This story is available:

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

Video releases Edit

  • This story was released as a double-cassette pack on VHS in 1998 in black and white — the only format in which it existed at the time. The only surviving colour footage from the story, approximately five minutes from the beginning of episode six, was included as a separate sequence at the end of the second tape.
  • Editing for the VHS release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
  • According to the Restoration Team, episodes two to six had very strong colour signals embedded in the 16mm black and white film telerecordings, making it a good candidate for the colour recovery process developed from 2007–2009 which was used on episode three of Planet of the Daleks, episode one of Invasion of the Dinosaurs, and episodes two to seven of The Ambassadors of Death. On Mind of Evil, episode one was telerecorded with a notch filter present, creating a cleaner 16mm black and white telerecording, but rendering the colour signal lost forever. The Restoration Team has since used the chroma dot technique to restore episodes two to six to colour. Episode one was recoloured manually by artist Stuart Humphreys (a YouTube user, known as Babelcolour), who worked from colour reference photos and from the five episodes restored with the chroma dot process.

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Shannon Sullivan on The Mind of Evil
  2. "The Mind of Evil - Recoloured". 20 September 2009.
  3. "Doctor Who" in episodes five and six
  4. In episode four, the credit is given as "Fights arranged by HAVOC", while in episode five the credit is "Action by HAVOC".

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