OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 516
STORY NUMBER: 106
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 10 November 1979
WRITER: David Fisher
DIRECTOR: Christopher Barry
SCRIPT EDITOR: Douglas Adams
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 10.2 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Creature from the Pit
"How are we going to talk to each other, eh? Why can't we talk to each other? How do you communicate with your own kind?"
Driving Organon and the guards out of his cave the creature seals the entrance with metal. One of the guards informs Adrasta. The Doctor attempts to communicate with the creature, deducing it has chlorophyll in it's veins. The creature creates a metal shape in the rock which the Doctor recognises as a shield hanging on Adrasta's palace wall. As he does so the shield lights up, but just then the bandits arrive in the palace and start to loot it, taking the shield. Detected they flee into the mines. The Doctor finds pieces of the shell he saw on the surface in the cave, and Romana finds the cave blockage is also the same material. Two of the bandits become entranced by the shield and carry it away. With the metal weakened the Doctor bursts through, with Adrasta wanting to know how he communicated with the creature. Adrasta sends K-9, Romana & the guards to kill the creature, but they cannot find the creature. Adrasta starts to panic, and accidentally reveals the creature is a Tythonian. The Doctor and Romana attempt to escape using K-9, but as they do the creature approaches. The Doctor deduces that Adrasta put it in the pit. Adrasta holds the Doctor at knife point demanding that Romana has K-9 kill the creature. The bandits arrive and place the shield on the creature to Adrasta's screams of NO!
The more we find out about the creature in the pit the more intriguing it gets.
DOCTOR: Pure cadmium. That didn't come from this mine.We will not pass further comment on what Tom Baker appears to be doing to the creature's appendage while attempting to communicate with it, but I believe the actor himself has something to say on the matter in Doctor Who: The Tom Baker Years.
DOCTOR: A nugget of iron. Iron ore I could understand, but pure iron? I wonder where it came from?
DOCTOR: Hello. Friend. Friend. It's all right, it's all right. Look, you can see I'm not armed, eh? I won't hurt you. How could I hurt you? I mean, how? You've got beautiful skin. Extraordinary skin. Green veins. Chlorophyll? I wonder. Well, if it's chlorophyll you need, you've come to the right place. Chlorophyll? I wonder. No, don't get frightened. It's all right, it's all right. Shush. Shush.
DOCTOR: There. There, that's not so bad now, is it. Good girl. Good boy. You're a problem, you know. You're aware of me, yet you haven't got any eyes. Haven't got a mouth. At least, not one that I can see. Come to think of it, you haven't even got a head. So how do we communicate, hmm? Telepathy?
DOCTOR: Hello? I am the Doctor. Friend. Friend.
DOCTOR: Hello. I am the Doctor. Friend. Friend. Nothing. Not a thing. How are we going to talk to each other, eh? Why can't we talk to each other? How do you communicate with your own kind?
DOCTOR: Steady. Steady, friend. You don't know your own. Easy. Friend. Friend.
DOCTOR: What's that? A picture? I've seen that somewhere before.
Yup, obeying Chekov's Gun to the letter, it' been hanging on the wall behind Adrasta's throne for 2 and a bit episodes. And Because the secret of comedy is timing at precisely the moment we find out what it's use is the Bandits finally show their relevance to the plot by half inching it. Fortunately the two who lay fingers on it are seemingly possessed by the device and then spend the rest of the episode wordlessly carrying it about!
However it appears as if Adrasta may have may have known what her ornament was for all along:
ADRASTA: I demand you tell me how you broke through the shell.More emerges when she is confronted with the creature:
DOCTOR: Ah. I asked the Creature very nicely. My pleasure, it said.
ADRASTA: Liar! The Creature can't talk without..... Guardmaster, take a look!
KARELA: I'll go with him.
ORGANON: Your luck's still holding out.
DOCTOR: It is, rather, isn't it.
ORGANON: You must have been born under a particularly favourable conjunction of celestial circumstances.
DOCTOR: I was.
ORGANON: What sign were you born under?
DOCTOR: Crossed computers.
ORGANON: Crossed what?
DOCTOR: Computers. It's the symbol of the maternity service on Gallifrey.
GUARDMASTER: It's all clear, my lady.
ADRASTA: No sign of the Creature?
ADRASTA: Why did it let you get away? Why didn't it kill you?
DOCTOR: I don't know. Why don't you ask it? Incidentally, how did you know with such certainty that creature couldn't talk, eh? What do you know about it? And why do you want it killed so badly, hmm?
ADRASTA: You ask too many questions, Doctor.
ADRASTA: No! Get away from me! Ah!Unfortunately the story as it's unfolding on the screen is a little pedestrian to say the least.
DOCTOR: Frightening, isn't it?
ADRASTA: Don't let it get me. You mustn't let that thing get me! It'll kill me!
DOCTOR: What? An evil thing, killing. Why should it want to kill you? It didn't want to kill me, did you, old fellow? Do you know something? I believe he wants to kill you.
ADRASTA: Keep it away from me. It's, it's going to eat me.
DOCTOR: Oh, come on. You know it really doesn't eat people, don't you? But you know what it does eat and you haven't been letting it get any, have you. No, you just stuck it in a pit and threw people at it.
ORGANON: She did indeed.
DOCTOR: Yes, I wouldn't be surprised if it wanted to kill you. I wouldn't be surprised at all.
ADRASTA: Now, Doctor, I mean to have that creature dead. Romana, train K9's ray on it. Now!
DOCTOR: Don't do it, Romana.
ADRASTA: Or the Doctor dies. Six seconds, Romana.
ADRASTA: Get away from here! Get away! Or the Doctor dies.
ADRASTA: No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No!
With this episode, his 135th, Tom Baker takes the record for the longest serving Doctor in terms of episodes. He'll eventually extend that record to 172 broadcast episodes (or 178 ish if you count Shada) and nobody will ever get remotely close to braking that record again.
Although the actress playing Adrasta, Myra Frances doesn't have any Doctor Who form, indeed the only thing I can find that we might have seen her in is Survivors, lots of the rest of the cast do.
Playing Karela, her assistant, is Eileen Way who was the Old Mother in the very first Doctor Who story, An Unearthly Child, and was first character to die in the entire series. Although she hasn't been in the TV show since she played the old woman in the Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. film. She also appears in By the Sword Divided, which features many Doctor Who personnel, as the nurse Minty. A late entry on her CV is a role Russell T Davies children's drama series Century Falls.
Completing Adrasta's staff in David Telfer who plays the Huntsman, the Wolf Weeds human controller.
From the bandits, John Bryans, playing their leader Torvin, was Senator Bercol during the first two series of Blake's 7 (Seek Locate Destroy & Trial) returning in the third series as the torturer Shrinker (the superb Rumours of Death).
Edu is played by Edward Kelsey who was a slave buyer in The Romans & Resno in The Power of the Daleks. He was in the first season Doomwatch episode The Red Sky as Captain Tommy Gort which you can see on The Doomwatch DVD and in the first episode of the second series of The Tripodsas Professor Bernstein but to people of my generation he's best remembered as the voice of Colonel K & Baron Silas Greenback in Danger Mouse.
Ainu is played by Tim Munro who'll return as Sigurd in Terminus.
The Bandits ranks are boosted by a number of extras including Laurie Goode. He'd previously been a Mutt in The Mutants and a Time Lord in The Invasion of Time. He'll be back as a Tigellan in Meglos, a Peasant in State of Decay, a Tharil in Warriors' Gate, a Sailor on the Shadow in Enlightenment. a Colonist in Frontios and a British Unit Trooper in Battlefield. He'd been in Survivors as a Looter in The Chosen and would appear in Blake's 7 as a Hi-tech Patient in Powerplay, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as a Jogger in the sixth episode and Star Cops as the Dealer in Little Green Men and Other Martians. Another Bandit, Nick Joseph, is making his Doctor Who debut here but will return as Hardin's Aide in The Leisure Hive, a Cricket Player in Black Orchid, a Lazar in Terminus and a Luddite in The Mark of the Rani. He appears in the final season of Blake's 7 as an Animal in Animals and Muller's Corpse / the android in Headhunter. Jerry Judge is also making his Doctor Who debut as a bandit: He'll be back as a Kinda in Kinda, the Buccaneer First Officer in Enlightenment, the Man-At-Arms in The King's and a Soldier in The Caves of Androzani.
Somewhere amongst Adrasta's masked guards are the familiar features of John Cannon. He'd been a Miner in The Monster of Peladon, Elgin in The Hand of Fear, a Passer by in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, a Trog in Underworld, a Technician in The Pirate Planet and a Guard in The Armageddon Factor. He'll be back as an Extra in Time-Flight, a Striker's Helmsman in Enlightenment and Sir Raulf Fitzwilliam's 1st Servant in The King's Demons. He was a Moonbase 3 Technician in Castor and Pollux and is a Prison Inmate in the Porridge episode A Night In. He was in The Sweeney twice as a Constable in Supersnout and a Policeman in Thou Shalt Not Kill, in which he's directed by Doctor Who director Douglas Camfield. In I, Claudius he's a Cake Ship slave in A Touch of Murder. His Blake's 7 are a Federation Trooper in Project Avalon, Cevedic's Heavy in Gambit, a Labourer in The Harvest of Kairos and a Federation Trooper in Children of Auron. He's in The Professionals as Huey in It's Only a Beautiful Picture and the same year plays a Holographic Imperial Officer in The Empire Strikes Back. Camfield uses him again as a Legionnaire in Beau Geste.
Another guard is played by regular extra Barry Summerford. He'd already been a Golden Age Man in Invasion of the Dinosaurs part six, an Elite Guard in Genesis of the Daleks, a Vogan in Revenge of the Cybermen part one, Private Thurston in Terror of the Zygons part two, a UNIT Communications Soldier in The Seeds of Doom part six, a security guard in Hand of Fear, a Steaming Audience Member in The Sun Makers part four, a Shrieve in The Ribos Operation part four and a Guard in The Armageddon Factor part one. He'll be back as a Foster in The Keeper of Traken part one. His Blake's 7 include a Federation Trooper in The Way Back, a Rebel in Pressure Point, a Rebel in Voice from the Past, a Customer / Gambler in Gambit, a Federation Commando in Volcano, a Monster in Dawn of the Gods and Tando in Blake making him one of the four actors to appear in both the first and last episodes. He was also in the Castor and Pollux episode of Moonbase 3 as a Technician and played the same role in a later episode, View of a Dead Planet.
A third guard Derek Suthern first appeared as a Path Lab Technician in The Hand of Fear, followed by a Mentiad in The Pirate Planet, a Gracht Guard in The Androids of Tara and a Mute in The Armageddon Factor. He's in this season 3 times returning as a Mandrel in Nightmare of Eden and a Guard in The Horns of Nimon and would have made a fourth appearance as a Krarg in Shada if that hadn't have been cancelled. That also deprives him of appearances in five consecutive Doctor Who stories as he then plays a Argolin Guide in The Leisure Hive, the first story of the next season. He returns at the end of that season as PC Davis in Logopolis part one followed by playing a Cricketer in Black Orchid and a Man in Market in Snakedance. In Blake's 7 he was a Federation Trooper in The Way Back, a Scavenger in Deliverance, a Federation Trooper in Trial & Countdown, a Customer / Gambler in Gambit, a Hommik Warrior in Power and a Space Princess Guard / Passenger in Gold. He appears in the Roger Moore James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me as an Atlantis Guard and is in Fawlty Towers as a Hotel Guest in both The Germans and The Psychiatrist.
Finally Guardmaster Tommy Wright has an appearance in The Professionals to his name as a Race Official in Wild Justice.
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