The Dæmons part 1

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    Craig @craig

    It’s the TV event of the year. An excavation of a burial chamber is taking place near a sleepy English village called Devil’s End (in real life it’s Aldbourne in Wiltshire).

    A local man has died of fright and other strange things have been happening. The vicar has left in mysterious circumstances and his replacement, Rev. Magister, is someone who looks very familiar.

    Miss Hawthorne, a local white witch, is opposed to the excavation and feels everyone is in mortal peril.

    The Doctor thinks Miss Hawthorne is right and takes Jo to Devil’s End to try and stop the excavation. Will he get there in time?


    Remember, we’re watching this as it was first shown, one episode at a time, so NO SPOILERS for future episodes.

    The Dæmons is available on DVD for only £5.99 from the BBC:

    PaperMoon @papermoon

    @craig – I’m not sure if it’s the link you’ve posted or if the problem is at my end, but there are some issues. It’s either a green block, sound but no images, or you get sent somewhere else and a new window opens.

    Craig @craig

    @papermoon That’s weird. I have no problems. Here’s the link to it on DailyMotion:

    Hope that works.

    PaperMoon @papermoon

    @craig -I have now since watched it on Daily Motion, other than the link you provided. Thank you for looking into it.

    Anonymous @


    Thank you very much. How wonderful!  -I now realise that the ABC broadcast this during the 50th anniversary year and I had a great time being totally creeped out by that first scene – the windy dark, mossy and skewed grave stones.

    Isn’t the witch wonderful:

    “you…you rationalistic existentialist priest”

    I love how the Doctor’s progressed since from ‘science science science’ to the scene a few years ago by young Ameilia Pond’s bed where he talks about his blue box: something small, something blue, something that can be remembered back through the power of thought and then onwards to “we’re all stories in the end.”

    I always loved Pertwee -my first introduction to Doctor Who but I can see that he’s quite uncomplicated and young? The misty eyed, somewhat nostalgic era of Smithy is far away.

    One has to love the “now, now my dear lady” phrases and the general, women= emotional hysterics whilst men = practical and organised. But the Rev Magister is a different story entirely. Watch as the camera pans away and twists as the Master spreads his arms wide, laughing maniacally.

    This really sums up why I loved Who as a child -I was initially attracted to the indoor scenes in Who: winding grey corridors redolent of a future far removed from the brightly lit, pristine and optimistic sets from the Star Trek world. Here, the future held little relief:  a weary, empty place with cavernous, rusted and worn out space crafts. More Blade Runner than Trek.

    But the other tempting thing was exactly this type of episode -contradictory colours and textures and notably, the English countryside as backdrop. I was 5-7 years of age and intrigued by the bleak cemeteries (odd child I know, but I spent a lot of time at my mother’s cemetery arranging posies by her grave stone and polishing up the granite -I expect my father thought all this a healthy technique for ‘cleaning up’ grief), the gentle rolling hills peppered with curving rock walls, and quaint villages.

    A  very different landscape to the one in which I was born to in South Australia. But even this English countryside held contradictions -luminous, bright and cheery in its welcome but with an edge of menace provided by the ragged, calling winds across the moors creating an eerie, solitary vibe both alluring and mysterious.

    What an impressive location for Doctor Who -a very alien place -at least that’s what I imagined -the stories were a bonus, a stepping stone to my own late-night imaginings when, plagued by insomnia, and with the aid of a torch, I began to write clumsy scenes depicting witches and squawking ravens hovering on the outskirts of some picturesque English town. But the best tales often do that, building on stories which lead directly to our own.

    janetteB @janetteb

    This is a very different pace to the last story. Maybe it is just the change from B&W to colour or the acting style of Pertwee. Not sure.

    Like @Purofilion I loved the English setting. Half the appeal of Time Team was the stunning locations, so different to dust-dry South Australia. The village is the like of place where one expects to find magic, and with a past so deep who knows what may be lurking.

    The Master revelation was one of those ,Oh yes of course moments. Pertwee Doctor almost inevitably means that somewhere the Master is lurking rubbing his hands, eyes snapping menacingly. Delgado is an excellent master if a little over used. (Most of the stories I have seen anyway)


    One has to love the “now, now my dear lady” phrases and the general, women= emotional hysterics whilst men = practical and organised

    I find the Pertwee years to be the most sexist of BG Who. He has a rather patronising attitude to his companions, Jo in particular. Her role is to be the wide eyed innocent, who between providing tea and sandwiches for the men, asks the questions. Critics who make derogatory remarks about BG Who companions are, I suspect, basing their criticisms on Jo.

    Pertwee is very much the grand master, superior to all those mere mortals he deals with. He has flair but he lacks the warmth of Troughton’s Doctor. We know Pertwee’s Doctor will stand up for what is right but we are also reminded that ‘we” humans are his inferiors, to be protected and cared for but lesser beings still.



    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @janetteb — yes, Pertwee is a very much a neck-rubbing, condescending sexist arse.

    But this is definitely one of his finest hours. Again, my key base of reference for this era is the Target novelisations and this one — by Barry Letts — is particularly fondly remembered. And the Third Doctor comes out a lot better in print than on TV, I think.

    But this is a great story. It’s riffing on lots of stuff — from the Avengers (sinister goings-on in rural England) to the Wheatley-esque devil-worshipping conflated with the paganism of The Wicker Man. And it really works for Who — which is why they’d go back to this well so often — The Stones of Blood, The Awakening, The Image of the Fendahl, ven k9 and Company and so on.

    Not much happens in episode one, of course. It’s a five-parter so it’s taking its time with the set up and we get lots of nice character work. I’ve never been crazy about the screen portrayal of Miss Hawthorne compared to how I imagined her in the book but the BBC types are a great piece of mild self-satire and the Hoggart-esque archaeologist is wonderful too. And for once I think the constant presence of the Master works. The appeal of him in this episode is not that he appears but that he’s having to play at being the trendy vicar.

    All nicely set up and a great little script. A bit of a lacklustre cliffhanger though and Bok looks rather rubbish to modern eyes.

    Mudlark @mudlark

    I’m afraid my first reaction was ‘That’s no way to excavate a barrow’, quickly followed by ‘If a barrow has a stone chamber inside it, then it is (occult or extraterrestrial explanations aside) a Neolithic chambered tomb, and anyone who identifies it as Bronze Age in date has no business investigating it’.  And it is a rash and unprofessional archaeologist who predicts confidently that there will be treasure in a Neolithic or Bronze Age burial; the odds are very much against it.

    Oh dear! Bad Mudlark, to be raising petty objections!

    To be fair, this was written and first shown not long after the well publicised excavation into Silbury Hill, which was covered by the BBC; but Silbury Hill is colossal in size, and if one is going to excavate it at all, tunnelling is the only realistic option; with an ordinary sized barrow it is neither necessary nor desirable.

    Questions of archaeological accuracy aside, there is much here to enjoy, and Roger Delagado as the Master is wonderfully suave and demonic. I confess, though, that I never wholly took to Jon Pertwee as the Doctor.  It didn’t help that I had previously associated him with his role as CPO Pertwee in the radio comedy series ‘The Navy Lark’  and this was disconcertingly different, but I much preferred Patrick Troughton’s Doctor anyway.  There was too much ‘Avengers’ in Pertwee’s Doctor, and his arrogance and air of superiority was insufficiently leavened with humour; and I agree with  @janetteb   that he was too openly patronising towards his assistants.

    Mind you, I always found Jo particularly irritating for a number of reasons, but in particular it was her somewhat ‘little girly’ voice and manner, her frequent cluelessness and her seemingly willing acceptance of the way she was patronised and treated as a dogsbody.


    Mudlark @mudlark


    the BBC types are a great piece of mild self-satire

    Yes indeed, I meant to mention this;   and the presenter (whose name I didn’t catch) did a particularly good voice impression of Richard Dimbleby!

    Arbutus @arbutus

    So much watching to get caught up on. Local Hero, a long-time favourite. The John and Yoko story, seen once long ago. The Love Child, completely unfamiliar to me. Fun! Not to mention my Series 8 rewatch, which I haven’t even started. But first, The Daemons, an old fave of mine.

    After 6 weeks, Doctor Who in brilliant technicolour!   🙂  The Doctor at this point is still a hard-core scientist- nothing happens that isn’t based in science. I was never all that crazy about Jo, she just came across as such a ditz. Three was condescending toward everyone, not just his companions, but it’s hard to fault him for being that way toward Jo.

    And how I adored those soundtracks! My housemate and I used to have endless fun inventing Dudley Simpson-style incidental music and imitating the Brigadier. Good times, good times.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @jimthefish The Who stories drawing upon Britain’s pagan past are some of my favourites. I would like AG Who to re-vist some of that territory. There is so much to draw upon. This story also reminds me of another favourite TV series from the late 70 or early 80s which you might recall as it was made by BBC Scotland; The Omega Factor. It starred Louise Jameson post Leela. We watched it again recently. There was also from the same period Children of the Stones set in Avebury aimed at a younger audience.

    @mudlark enjoyed reading your reaction to the “archaeology” on display. I doubt much in the way of actual research was done but then I guess the budget in those days didn’t allow for it and few people outside the profession knew anything about the subject. So much harder to get away with inaccuracies now.




    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    There was also from the same period Children of the Stones set in Avebury aimed at a younger audience.

    It may have been aimed at a younger audience, but it certainly scared the cr*p out of thirteen-year-old me …

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @janetteb — do indeed remember both shows. From what I dimly remember, Stones was also very Who-like in some of its themes — time bubbles and recurring timelines. Plus it had the mighty Iain Cuthbertson in it, and Blake-in-waiting Gareth Thomas.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @bluesqueakpip I must have been about fifteen when I watched it and yes it was quite scary. Watched it recently and it stands up well to the test of time as does Omega Factor.



    WhoHar @whohar


    Not much happens in episode one, of course. It’s a five-parter so it’s taking its time with the set up and we get lots of nice character work

    The advantage of this of course is that we we are invested in the secondary characters, so we care what happens to them. One advantage of the slower pacing of the BG show, a disadvantage being the sometimes plodding nature of the stories (eg The Silurians).

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @purofilion – yes, I agree that the Doctor’s grown up a lot since then. Even within the BG series, there’s quite a movement from ‘everything can be explained by science’ to the Seventh Doctor’s snapped out ‘any sufficiently advanced magic cannot be distinguished from science.’ 😉

    And in Series 8 of AG, one of the underlying themes was the dangers of confusing a dogmatic faith in our particular conception of the world with the actual reality. I was rewatching Mummy tonight, and I noticed the scientist telling the Doctor that legends on Earth have no truth behind them. This to a guy who was chatting to Robin Hood a few episodes ago…

    @mudlark – according to the commentary, they couldn’t find the type of barrow they wanted – so I don’t know whether they were genuinely ignoring the science or had changed the script to explain why the outside location was an Early Bronze Age round barrow. They wanted a long barrow, which I’d guess would go much better with a stone chamber? But they couldn’t get one with a usable entrance.

    Roger Delgado is indeed wonderful – I think the AG scriptwriters and actors are wise to simply try and do their own take on the Master/Missy, rather than replicating that very still, precise, utterly controlled evil.

    @janetteb – yes, I find Pertwee’s Doctor a bit overbearing. Even as a child, he was never ‘my’ Doctor – though he’s the first Doctor that I remember. An authority figure, but not loveable.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    They wanted a long barrow, which I’d guess would go much better with a stone chamber?

    Thanks for that information. So evidently they did do some research!  Long barrows do indeed normally cover stone chambers or the remains of wooden structures, although various types of chambered tomb in Ireland and in parts of Wales and Cornwall are also found beneath circular mounds (and some of those in Ireland are very large and impressive).  But they are all, without exception, of Neolithic date.

    It occurs to me that there is no reason why a round barrow, carefully framed and shot, could not stand in for the front end and entrance of a chambered long barrow, so there appears to be no reason why it should be referred to here as Bronze Age in date, unless it was because  copper and bronze weapons and even gold objects (‘treasure’) have occasionally been found in undisturbed Bronze Age graves, whereas all you would expect to find in a Neolithic tomb is bones and, perhaps, a few offerings of pots and flint tools.  The question is of little importance, anyway, however much it jars my delicate sensibilities that a character purporting to be an archaeologist should be guilty of such an error 🙂

    In reality, the odds are that any barrow which survives intact as a highly visible monument will have been disturbed in some way, either by medieval or early post-medieval treasure hunters, or by nineteenth century antiquarians whose notion of excavation was to take a gang of labourers and a picnic for a jolly afternoon’s outing, hacking their way through any likely looking mound.



    johnnybear @johnnybear

    On the first pressings of this disc we get a blank spot for like five seconds but later editions have corrected this! Typical as I bought my copy on the day but never knew about it for quite a few years!


    Pez @pezwf

    Children of the Stones – Excellent program.  Scared me silly when I first watched it on ITV back in the 1970s.

    I don’t think it’s available to buy anymore, but here’s a link to a DVDRip.


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