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The Face of Evil

Production Code: 4Q

First Transmitted

1 - 01/01/1977 18:20

2 - 08/01/1977 18:30

3 - 15/01/1977 18:20

4 - 22/01/1977 18:25


The TARDIS arrives on a planet where a savage tribe called the Sevateem worship a god called Xoanon. The Doctor discovers that Xoanon is in fact a spaceship computer that he tried to repair at some point in his past and inadvertently drove mad by giving it a multiple personality.

It is tended to by another tribe of humanoids, the ascetic Tesh. These are the descendants of the ship's original technicians, while the Sevateem are the descendants of the original survey team. The Doctor, with the help of a Sevateem girl called Leela, manages to gain access to the ship and wipe the additional personalities from the computer, leaving it sane and in proper control once more.

Leela, deciding that she no longer wants to stay on her own planet, pushes her way on board the TARDIS. The Doctor has gained another companion.

Episode Endings

Leela takes the Doctor to see the image of the Sevateem's 'Evil One' carved into the side of a cliff. It is the Doctor's own face. The Doctor muses that he must have made quite an impression.

The Doctor and Leela climb into the carving of the Doctor's face through the mouth and see the shadow of a figure moving in the tunnel ahead of them. Xoanon meanwhile psychically attacks the Sevateem with invisible creatures.

A young man named Tomas attempts to hold the creatures off with a gun, and the energy it discharges reveals them to have the likeness of the Doctor's face. The tribe's leader Andor is killed and Tomas fires repeatedly in the creatures' direction in a desperate attempt to defend himself.

The Doctor tries to convince Xoanon of his identity but the computer determines not to listen and bombards him with images of his own face shouting out denials. Finally the image of the Doctor shouts in a child's voice: 'Who am I?'

The Doctor returns to the TARDIS, where Leela is waiting for him. She asks him to take her with him but he declines. She darts into the TARDIS ahead of him and refuses to come out. As the Doctor follows her in, she operates the controls and the TARDIS dematerialises.


The Three Faces of Eve (multiple personality disorder).

Star Trek episodes 'The Return of the Archons', 'The Changeling', 'The Omega Glory' and 'The Ultimate Computer'.

Forbidden Planet.

Lord of the Flies.

Night of the Demon (the immobile monster).

Harry Harrison's Captive Universe.

The Doctor quotes Kipling's Barrack Room Ballads ('Be thankful you're living, and trust to your luck'), mis-attributing it to Gertrude Stein.

Much biblical parody ('I created a world in my own image').

Dialogue Triumphs

The Doctor : "Would you like a Jelly Baby?"

Leela : "It's true then. They say the Evil One eats babies."

Leela : "The Evil One!"

The Doctor : "Well, nobody's perfect, but that's overstating it a little."

The Doctor : "Now drop your weapons or I'll kill him with this deadly jelly baby."

Neeva : "We start getting proof and we stop believing."

Tomas : "With this proof, we don't have to believe."

The Doctor : "You know the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit the views. Which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering."

The Doctor : "You can't expect perfection, even from me!"


The Doctor is trying to reach Hyde Park. He carries a clockwork egg timer. He describes the planet's development to Jabel: 'Outside the barrier, physical courage and strength. Inside the barrier, paraphysical development and the sort of psi-power you used on Leela. It's an experiment in eugenics.'

The Doctor notes that the invisible phantoms are 'projections from the dark side of Xoanon's id.' He also says Xoanon was a 'marvellous host I remember one of his dinner parties...' [He's probably being facetious.]

The Horda are carnivorous crab-like creatures. 'Ten of them could strip the flesh from a man's arm'.

Leela uses janis thorns which paralyse, then kill. There is said to be no cure, but the Doctor uses a bioanalyser to identify the poison and make an anti-toxin to save Leela.


An unnamed Earth colony, many centuries after the Mordee Expedition.

Future History

The Doctor states he helped the Mordee, which may be the name of the ship itself or a future human ethnic group. The ship seems to have originated on Earth (this is confirmed in The Invisible Enemy). According to the legends of the tribes, the Sevateem left the Place of Land while the Tesh remained. The Sevateem's holy gesture is the sequence for checking the seams on a Starfall Seven spacesuit.


The Doctor's first visit. He used Sidelian memory transfer to reprogram the Mordee computer with his own brain patterns. He claims to have been taught the crossbow by William Tell.


Pamela Salem and Rob Edwards provide two of the voices of Xoanon. Both actors were at the time rehearsing for the following story, The Robots of Death.

Anthony Frieze, credited as one of the voices of Xoanon, was the young winner of a competition to visit the Doctor Who studios. Philip Hinchcliffe arranged for a recording of his voice to be made shouting 'Who am I?' for the climax to Part Three.

This story was actually promoted in Radio Times as the first in a new season of Doctor Who. This was due to the fact that, unusually, the season had broken for five Saturdays at the end of 1976.


The TARDIS displays nexial discontinuity. Xoanon produced psi-tri projections.


Leela can't pronounce Calib's name on film ('Callib') but can in the studio ('Kaye lib')

She kills a Tesh guard, who throws his gun down the corridor. In the next shot, she picks it up from beside him.

Why do the invisible energy 'creatures' leave footprints?

Fashion Victim

Neeva wears a cricket glove on his head.

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - Tom Baker

Leela - Louise Jameson

Acolyte - Peter Baldock

Andor - Victor Lucas

Calib - Leslie Schofield

Gentek - Michael Elles

Guard - Tom Kelly

Guard - Brett Forrest

Jabel - Leon Eagles

Lugo - Lloyd McGuire

Neeva - David Garfield

Sole - Colin Thomas

Tomas - Brendan Price

Xoanon - Rob Edwards

Xoanon - Pamela Salem

Xoanon - Anthony Frieze

Xoanon - Roy Herrick


Director - Pennant Roberts

Assistant Floor Manager - Linda Graeme

Costumes - John Bloomfield

Designer - Austin Ruddy

Fight Arranger - Terry Walsh

Film Cameraman - John McGlashan

Film Editor - Pam Bosworth

Film Editor - Tariq Anwar

Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson

Make-Up - Ann Ailes

Producer - Philip Hinchcliffe

Production Assistant - Marion McDougall

Production Unit Manager - Chris D'Oyly-John

Script Editor - Robert Holmes

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Studio Lighting - Derek Slee

Studio Sound - Colin Dixon

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Visual Effects - Mat Irvine

Writer - Chris Boucher

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'An omniscient computer with schizophrenia - not a very pretty thought.' A little masterpiece, often undeservedly forgotten by the weight of the surrounding stories. A magnificent cast shake every ounce of subtlety and invention from the script. Pity they didn't use the working title 'The Day God Went Mad', however, as it fits wonderfully well.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

This story was at one point to have been called The Day God Went Mad, which is not a bad title for what is in essence an 'all-powerful machine runs riot' tale. Xoanon's multiple personality is excellently depicted. The computer itself is never seen, but the walls of its chamber consist of a series of large screens that display images and feed information from the surrounding environment - something that is used to very good effect, particularly at the end of Part Three in what must rate as one of the strangest and most unsettling of the series' cliffhangers. The only 'face' ever associated with Xoanon is the Doctor's own face, and the sequence in which the Sevateem battle huge roaring images of it is quite disturbing. The scripts by new writer Chris Boucher also make clever play of theme of schizophrenia, as David Richardson discussed in Skaro Volume Four Numbers Three/Four, dated February 1984:

'The battle between the two aspects of Xoanon's nature is reflected in the macrocosmic world by the conflict between the Tesh and the Sevateem; intelligence against strength. Xoanon wishes to combine these to obtain the optimum blend of the two qualities, but he can only conceive of doing this by separating them out and making them clash, like the two aspects of himself. Xoanon believes "we must become one" and requires that strength and intelligence become one through "racial" conflict.'

The first two episodes concentrate on the savage Sevateem and their battle to breach the 'wall' separating them from their god Xoanon so that they might rescue him from the clutches of the evil Tesh. The casting here is very good, with Brendon Price as Tomas and Leslie Schofield as Calib coming over particularly well. Less impressive is David Garfield as Neeva - partly because his slight Welsh accent is readily discernible in certain scenes, notably those where the tribe are required to 'speak the litany', and seems distinctly out of place.

By far the most memorable of the Sevateem is, naturally enough, Leela, a primitive but resourceful young woman who, for no apparent reason, decides to go off with the Doctor at the story's conclusion. The convenient coincidence of someone wanting to join the Doctor on his travels just after his last companion has parted from him has by this point become a familiar and somewhat overused device, but Leela herself seems to have been universally welcomed to the series. Andre Willey gave her the following enthusiastic reception in TARDIS Volume 2 Number 2, dated 27 February 1977: 'The introduction of Leela was good - I like the idea of a primitive girl who seems to be quite brave - it makes a nice change.' Keith Miller, writing in Doctor Who Digest Number 5, dated May 1977, commented a little more wryly: 'The first thing I noticed was her... [lack of] clothing, which I found out afterwards was noticed by quite a few million other people too.' The new companion was also a hit with an unknown writer in New Musical Express, dated 29 January 1977:

'About the most successful and apparently liberated lady in the current crop of telly heroines has to be Doctor Who's new sidekick Louise Jameson who plays the savage amazon Leela.

'Where all previous Doctor Who female interest seemed to have a taste for appalling Carnaby Street clothes, an inability to avoid being captured by the bad guys and a terrible tendency to cry "eek" every time danger threatens, Leela is a very different matter.

'Supposedly born into a primitive tribe of degenerate galactic colonists, she has so far proved a deft hand at throwing around hunky male opponents, wields a mean crossbow and has yet to utter a single "eek".

'She provides a much more cynically suitable back-up to Tom Baker's whimsical, almost Harpo Marx portrayal of the Doctor.

'Doctor Who, in fact, seems to get better and better.'

In the last two episodes the impressively-realised jungle gives way to the sterile corridors of the Tesh's spaceship. The Tesh are intentionally bland and emotionless characters, but unfortunately as a result make little impression. The prospect of these ascetic individuals being reconciled with the aggressive Sevateem after the story's conclusion seems somewhat unlikely, and one wonders if the Doctor realises what a mess he might have left behind on the planet even with Xoanon restored to normal.

At the end of the day, though, The Face of Evil is an impressive tale that manages to intrigue and delight, mainly due to some great performances from the cast. Like many other stories of this era it recalls some familiar science fiction sources - including 2001: A Space Odyssey with its deranged spaceship computer Hal - but as our unknown New Musical Express correspondent noted: 'Doctor Who may not be the most original show ever to come down the tube, but the way things are today, the very act of ripping off the best qualifies the Doctor Who writers and production team for a merit badge.'

< The Deadly AssassinFourth DoctorThe Robots of Death >

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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