3 September 1977
|Written by||Terrance Dicks|
|Directed by||Paddy Russell|
|Produced by||Graham Williams|
It is the turn of the century, and the TARDIS materialises by the lighthouse on the desolate isle of Fang Rock. When the engineer dies in mysterious circumstances, the remaining crew blame the mythical Beast of Fang Rock – until the Doctor and Leela turn up… When a small clipper runs aground on the crags of Fang Rock, the lighthouse offers shelter to its desperate passengers.
But the Doctor soon discovers clues that suggest that no one is safe on the tiny island. Whilst a private drama unfolds between the survivors of the wrecked clipper, another death occurs. The Doctor suspects a ruthless alien lurks in the thick unnatural fog around the island, and secures the lighthouse. But has he really locked the horror out, or is it somewhere inside with them…?
- This story had the working titles; The Rocks Of Doom, The Monster Of Fang Rock and The Beast Of Rang Rock.
- Horror of Fang Rock was in fact a late replacement for the scripts Terrance Dicks had originally submitted, a vampire-based tale entitled The Witch Lords, which was canceled close to production as it was feared it could detract from the BBC’s high-profile adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic novel Count Dracula, which was due for transmission close to when the serial would have aired. A re-written version did, however, eventually see production in 1980 as State of Decay, part of Season 18 of Doctor Who.
- At the end of the final episode, as the TARDIS leaves the island, the Doctor recites some lines from “Flannan Isle” by Wilfred Gibson.
- The “pigment dispersal” scene at the end of the story when Leela‘s eyes change from brown to blue was a practical (rather than story) motivated event, it was so Louise Jameson did not have to continue wearing brown contact lenses. This was done to keep her as a member of the cast, as she found wearing the lenses uncomfortable and considered leaving the show.
- The story’s exact year is never made explicit, but a reference to the beast being seen “eighty years ago” in the “twenties” suggests the early 20th century, as does a reference to King Edward VII, who reigned from 1901-1910. Lance Parkin’s unofficial chronology A History dates it to c.1902. Colonel Skinsale also refers to his feeling uneasy in the presence of Balfour, Salisbury and Bonar Law while Lord Palmerdale makes him feel uneasy when he is not in his presence – Lord Salisbury died in 1903, Balfour was PM in the second half of the first decade of the 20th century and had been First Lord of the Treasury under Salisbury, and Bonar Law was a notable MP already in that decade and early that decade was Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, although yet to be in the cabinet. All three were prominent Conservatives who became Prime Minister. Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph prominently featured in the story and was the latest thing in the first decade of the 20th century most notably being used on the Titanic. Electric lamps in lighthouses started to replace oil at the turn of the 20th century.
- According to the DVD commentary supplied by Louise Jameson, a scene in Part 3 was crucial to the behind-the-scenes relationship between her and co-star Tom Baker. In one scene, he consistently came in ahead of his cue, thereby upstaging her. On the grounds that this move was “not what they had rehearsed” she insisted on three successive retakes until he came in at the rehearsed time. This eventually won his respect. From that point forward, she claims their working relationship was much smoother.
- This is the second of two serials in which Leela is not shown wearing either of her famous leather outfits. After this, however, it was decided to return her to her original, more revealing costume as introduced in The Face of Evil.
- This story marks the last time the Doctor travels with only a single companion until The Caves of Androzani in 1984 (although if the appearance of Nyssa The Keeper of Traken doesn’t qualify her as a companion, then the next occasion really occurs in that story.
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