TARDIS Index File

The Mind of Evil (TV story)

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The Mind of Evil
Novelised as: The Mind of Evil
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companion(s): Jo
Featuring: The Brig, Mike Yates, Benton
Main enemy: The Master, Keller Machine
Main setting: Stangmoor Prison, England
Key crew
Writer: Don Houghton
Director: Timothy Combe
Producer: Barry Letts
Release details
Story number: 56
Number of episodes: 6
Season/series: Season 8
Premiere broadcast: 30 January - 6 March 1971
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 6x25-minute episodes
Production code: FFF
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Doctor Who television stories
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Official trailer
Mind of Evil - Doctor Who DVD01:25

Mind of Evil - Doctor Who DVD

Behind the scenes video
Doctor Who The Mind of Evil Event30:33

Doctor Who The Mind of Evil Event

The Mind of Evil was the second serial of the eighth season of Doctor Who. It brought a radical change in the way United Nations Intelligence Taskforce 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 would later happen 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, which is claimed to cure anti-social behavior by extracting evil impulses from the brain, developed by Swiss scientist Emil Keller. Professor Kettering, acting on the absent Keller’s behalf, 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 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, the Doctor examines the machine alone when it activates again. The Doctor 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 a person’s mind with visions of their greatest fear. He confesses a severe aversion to fire, which is rooted in his witnessing 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 to be stolen). When she notices him, she summons a mental power (which sounds eerily similar to the noise of the Keller machine) that seizes Benton and makes him collapse. A nearby telephone repairman rigs a control box so that he can monitor transmissions from the conference. It is the Master, 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 (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 with some important information. When he arrives, Chin Lee appears to transform into an enormous dragon and advances on him…

Episode three Edit

The Doctor, Brigadier and Fu Peng intervene in time and rescue the Senator. They discover a telepathic amplifier attached to Chin Lee’s neck. The Doctor concludes 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 that his role 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. 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 adversaries…

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 obtain the Thunderbolt in exchange for their freedom, as the missile convoy will pass within a few miles of Stangmoor. They manage to overpower Yates’ escort and succeed in stealing the missile, shooting all of the soldiers present. Yates, although he has been 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 make their way to the process room. They find Charlie's body and the Doctor realises the creature's learnt to move. They enter the process room. Vosper and Mailer find them and hold them at gunpoint and start 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 machine...

Episode five Edit


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

The machine teleports away, the Doctor theorising that there are more evil minds to feed on elsewhere in the prison. Mailer blackmails the Master into returning to Stangmoor to deal with the menace, while Yates is 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, just after the machine once again tries to feed off the Doctor's fear.

The Brigadier meanwhile figures out that 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 via 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 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. Meanwhile they lift the lid off the machine to examine the pulsating organism inside.


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

The Doctor bargains with the Master, offering the dematerialisation circuit he stole earlier, but it’s a ruse. He brings the machine and Barnham, and as Barnham steps back the machine attacks the Master. Barnham attempts to help him, but in the confusion the Master escapes in a van, fatally running him down in the process. The Doctor is able to reactivate the missile's self-destruct circuit in the confusion, and UNIT detonates 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, offering her a coffee cup from a tray of beverages - a tea break to unwind after the long conflict with the Master. The Brigadier is pleased that the Keller Machine is likely destroyed in the explosion. Moreover, though 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

Crew Edit

References Edit

Cultural references from the real world Edit

  • The Master, en route to Stangmoor Prison, listens to an excerpt from "The Devil's Triangle" by British progressive rock band King Crimson.

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", his personal name.

The Master Edit

  • The Master's innermost fear appears as a giant, malignant version of the Doctor, laughing mockingly.

Story notes Edit

  • This story had the working titles of The Pandora Machine, Man Hours, The Pandora Box, and The Pandora's Box.
  • When the Doctor and Fu Peng are speaking Hokkien, subtitles appear — a first in Doctor Who history. Subtitles also appear in The Curse of Fenric, where they translate Russian language dialogue.
  • Lenny Vosper was named after Don Houghton's agent, Margary Vosper.
  • 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 titled the 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. Timothy Combe subsequently used only brief shots of the dragon in the finished programme.
  • Richard Franklin is credited as "Captain Yates" in Radio Times for episodes five and six.
  • William Marlowe (Mailer) appears in episode six only in the reprise, and is uncredited on-screen but credited in Radio Times.
  • Tommy Duggan (Senator Alcott) appears in episode three only in the reprise, and is uncredited on-screen but credited in Radio Times.
  • 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 TARDIS.

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

  • The Doctor makes a comment in episode one that 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.
  • Alland Grange, Manston, Kent
  • Pineham Road, Pineham, Kent
  • Cornwall Gardens Walk, London
  • Cornwall Gardens, London
  • Archer's Court Road, Whitfield, Kent
  • RAF Swingate, Dover, Kent
  • 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

Doctor hovers over the Master- the Master's Greatest fear realised

The Master's greatest fear, shown in The Mind of Evil, is realised in Last of the Time Lords.

  • The Master's greatest fear (of the Doctor looming over him) becomes real physically (TV: Planet of Fire), and again metaphorically (TV: Last of the Time Lords). The Doctor does not become large and laugh menacingly at him at that time. He is pointedly forgiving of him, in fact. However, both contain the underlying themes of an all-powerful Doctor and the psychological defeat involved in dispelling the Master's superiority complex.
  • UNIT also provides security for the second World Peace Conference. (TV: Day of the Daleks)
  • The Master uses gas again to murder his entire Cabinet. In both instances, he has a gas mask at the ready. (TV: The Sound of Drums)
  • The Daleks would also utilise a human being controlled remotely with the use of a transmitter/receiver planted behind the victim's right 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 of collating reports of agent provocateurs known as "the Doctor" who had been involved in numerous unusual incidents, he finally saw one of them in person. He described Jo as 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 in Devil's End. Stevens notes that his terrorist activities were little remembered by most British people in 1996. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)

Home video and audio 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 was known to exist 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 have 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 and used on episode three of Planet of the Daleks and part one of Invasion of the Dinosaurs as well as episodes two to seven of The Ambassadors of Death. Episode one was telerecorded with a notch filter, creating a cleaner 16mm black and white telerecording, but rendering the colour signal lost forever. They have since used the chroma dot technique to recolourise episodes two to six, but the restoration produced mixed results, with further work required. It was announced in February 2012 that episode one was being recolourised frame by frame by Stuart Humphreys (a YouTube user, better known as Babelcolour).
  • This story was released on DVD on 3 June, 2013, in the UK.
  • This story was released as a download in BBC Store, opened for UK residents on 5 November 2015.

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

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