Whovember: The Visitation


At the very end of Genesis of the Daleks, the Fourth Doctor reflects that out of the evil of the Daleks, must come something good. And I’m going to use that as a somewhat tenuous link to this story from Peter Davison’s first series in the TARDIS, because (spoilers?) the Doctor burns much of London to the ground, allowing it to get rid of the Black Death and gain an iconic church. But more on that story later.

In The Visitation, Tegan is packing her bags in readiness for the Doctor to drop her back at Heathrow, which he does – with 300-odd years to spare. Tegan stomps off in a huff, they get lost in the woodland that has yet to become the planet’s busiest international airport, and shenanigans ensue.


This is very much a typical capture/escape cycle Who story, with no great concept or philosophical substance to it other than that which would spoil the ending. This is your spoiler warning: WATCH IT FIRST!

This is one of those stories that makes me wonder how the Doctor always manages to show up where trouble is brewing. For instance, London in 1666 had enough problems as it was, without a ‘comet’ landing nearby and adding androids and terileptils into the mix, yet the Doctor still manages to turn up unexpectedly and track down the bad guys. I’m sure it’s all down to something wibbly wobbly timey wimey to do with the TARDIS having a mind of its own and taking the Doctor wherever he is needed.

Why are Earth people so parochial?

Anyway, the story: as i said this is your archetypal Saturday tea-time adventure, in this case set in a well known period of British history – I’m pretty sure that even as an 8-year-old viewer I got the significance of the Doctor’s final confrontation with the Terileptil taking place in London’s Pudding Lane.


Nyssa is very much the hands-on companion in this adventure; Tegan is too busy sulking about not being home yet, and Adric was pretty forgettable (possibly a good thing, as I find him a bit annoying). The Terileptils – fugitives on the run – were interesting aliens who should probably come back at some point, with or without their proto-Kryten android. They also smash the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver, because in their culture ‘Deus ex machina’ is one of the most offensive concepts imaginable. Possibly. Apparently they were the first animatronic aliens in Doctor Who as well, fact fans.

But, whether you like this story or realise that it’s just a plothole large enough to power a TARDIS, this is one that has to be watched for the ending. There is a hint of regret as the Doctor defeats his enemies, yet even as his companions urge him to help them put the fire out, he knows that history has to be left to play out. Presumably Time Lords know which battles they can win and which they can’t.

Watch this for the likeable and quite human Doctor, the 17th century atmosphere, some half decent aliens, and of course that ending.

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