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The Awakening

Production Code: 6M

First Transmitted

1 - 19/01/1984 18:40

2 - 20/01/1984 18:40

Plot

An alien war machine, the Malus, is affecting the inhabitants of the English country village of Little Hodcombe in 1984 so that a re-enactment of a Civil War battle turns into the real thing. The Malus's aim is to gather sufficient psychic energy to activate itself fully.

The TARDIS travellers arrive to meet Tegan's grandfather - one of the villagers - but become involved in the machinations of Sir George Hutchinson, who is in thrall to the Malus. The battle in 1643 becomes linked through time to 1984 and Will Chandler, a youth from the earlier time, finds himself in the present day. The Malus is defeated when Will pushes Sir George to his death.

Episode Endings

In the village church, the Doctor tells Will and school teacher Jane Hampden of the origins of the Malus. Suddenly a section of plaster falls from the wall. The Doctor pulls more of the surrounding plaster away to reveal a giant, green-eyed roaring demonic face. The Doctor is engulfed in smoke that emerges from its mouth.

The TARDIS dematerialises from the church, which is consumed in a huge explosion as the Malus is destroyed. The Doctor promises to drop the villagers off home and return Will to his own time. Tegan, however, suggests staying to spend some time with her grandfather. Outnumbered, the Doctor agrees. Turlough fancies a cup of tea. Will declares this to be 'an evil brew', but the Doctor replies that he quite likes it.

Roots

By the Sword Divided and other Civil War dramas.

Games echoing past evil and the psychic projections are very Sapphire and Steel.

Dialogue Triumphs

Will Chandler : "Doctor? Doctor bain't a proper name. Will Chandler be a proper name."

Turlough : "We're running out of places to run."

Tegan : "It's the story of our lives."

Continuity

Sir George wanders about with a piece of Tinclavic, which is mined by Terileptils on the planet Raaga (see The Visitation) for the almost exclusive use of the inhabitants of Harkol in the star system of Rifta. The Malus, the occupant of a Harkol computer controlled reconnaissance probe came to Earth in 1643, as the spearhead of an invasion fleet which never followed.

Yet another member of Tegan's cursed family, her grandfather Andrew Verney, appears: see also Logopolis, Arc of Infinity. (The implication would seem to be that Tegan's mother - Verney's daughter - is English.) The Doctor is fond of tea.

Location

Little Hodcombe, 1984

Links

Trivia

Polly James, one of the stars of The Liver Birds, appears as Jane Hampden.

There is a bravura performance from Keith Jayne as Will Chandler - one of the most convincing and memorable companions the Doctor never had.

This story bears the last credit on the series for its longest-serving designer - Barry Newbery.

Myth

The Awakening was originally written as a four-part story featuring the Daleks. (It wasn't.)

Goofs

The apparitions are accompanied by superimposed stars that seem to have been produced on a BBC Micro.

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - Peter Davison

Tegan - Janet Fielding

Turlough - Mark Strickson

Andrew Verney - Frederick Hall

Colonel Wolsey - Glyn Houston

Jane Hampden - Polly James

Joseph Willow - Jack Galloway

Sir George - Denis Lill

Trooper - Christopher Saul

Will Chandler - Keith Jayne

Crew

Director - Michael Owen Morris

Assistant Floor Manager - Marcus D F White

Costumes - Jackie Southern

Designer - Barry Newbery

Film Cameraman - Paul Wheeler

Film Editor - M A C Adams

Incidental Music - Peter Howell

Make-Up - Ann Ailes

Producer - John Nathan-Turner

Production Assistant - Rosemary Parsons

Production Associate - June Collins

Script Editor - Eric Saward

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Studio Lighting - Peter Catlett

Studio Sound - Martin Ridout

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Peter Howell

Visual Effects - Tony Harding

Writer - Eric Pringle

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'The toast of Little Hodcombe.' The theme of alien pseudo diabolist influence on an English village had previously been central to The Dæmons, but the energy of The Awakening is also its freshness. A beautiful and well scripted adventure.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

Considering that The Awakening is only a two-part adventure there is an awful lot packed into it; and indeed it comes across as being one of the more substantial stories of the season. 'From start to finish The Awakening positively reeked of class,' enthused Saul Nasse in TARDIS Volume 9 Number 1 in 1984. 'Whilst the script obviously had its roots in The Daemons, it had plenty of new ideas, and stood up well against the classic. The look was terrific, apart from the initial model shot. The larger Malus was especially excellent: it conveyed more menace than an army of plastic Sea Devils. It was good having so much of the story on film, which almost guarantees that "real" feeling.'

The idea of the threat to the village being an alien war machine was a nice twist on the familiar 'alien invasion' scenario, as was the concept of the creature (if it can be properly described as such) being able to create links through time and mix up past and present so as to obtain enough psychic power to become fully active. The other guest characters in the story are also strong and well acted, and special praise must go to Keith Jayne who manages to convey a kind of childlike innocence in his excellent portrayal of Will.

'Keith Jayne's Will Chandler and Polly James's Jane Hampden made for extremely amiable companions,' commented Mark Willis in Zygon Issue 1, dated August 1984, 'and did an effective job in eclipsing Fielding's and Strickson's regulars for this viewer. Given more screen time, I'm convinced Polly James would have been able to develop Jane to the admirable extent that her fellow ex-Liver Bird did... in Kinda. Glyn Houston was an amiable Colonel Wolsey, and while both Denis Lill and Jack Galloway went notably OTT this never really endangered the production's success.'

Another much-praised element of the story is its lavish visuals. 'The design of this story [was] excellent...,' wrote an uncredited reviewer in Capitol Spires Issue 1, dated spring 1993. 'The interior of the church [was] the pinnacle of excellence, but it should be mentioned that the other sets were [also] realistic and believable. My only gripe must be the Malus in the church, which was not as frightening or plausible as it could have been,... slightly letting the story down. The locations chosen were again superb and the village really echoed the storyline of a lazy summer afternoon.'

Given that the scripts called for the Malus to appear as a vast demonic face, the image seen on screen is actually a pretty fair representation of this. Also effective is the smaller Malus projection that manifests itself on a number of occasions, including at one point clinging to the interior wall of the TARDIS.

The Awakening actually has quite a strong horror content, particularly for this period of the series' history. The projections of soldiers from the past are eerie and disturbing, good use being made of lighting and sound effects to give them a threatening appearance. The scene in which a trooper is beheaded by three of the phantoms is gruesome enough to make even the most hardened of viewers wince, and serves to emphasis just how dangerous the Malus is.

On the downside, the action is occasionally a little too rushed, and it seems rather implausible that the other villagers would simply go along with Sir George when he decides to have all roads to the village blocked off (this story's rather more prosaic equivalent of The Daemons' heat barrier) and, more particularly, when he proposes to have Tegan burnt at the stake. The final scenes, with everyone bundled into the TARDIS, are also somewhat unsatisfactory. Once the TARDIS was a sanctuary, a safe haven, a home to the Doctor and his companions. Now it seems to be little more than a time and space taxi, ferrying all manner of people about in order to rescue them from danger and return them to their point of origin.

These, though, are only minor flaws in an otherwise excellent story. Willis summed things up well: 'The Awakening was a fast-paced tale in which a lot of good television was crammed into fifty minutes. It may well have achieved even greater success had it been allowed three episodes, but... it is a production which [proves] that there will always be a place in Doctor Who for an Earth story in which history is heavily embroiled.'

< Warriors of the DeepFifth DoctorFrontios >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.



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