BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014

BBC Homepage

Entertainment Cult

Contact Us


Production Code: 5Y

First Transmitted

1 - 01/02/1982 18:55

2 - 02/02/1982 19:05

3 - 08/02/1982 18:55

4 - 09/02/1982 19:05


The TARDIS visits the planet Deva Loka, where Nyssa remains behind in the ship to recover from a mild mental disorientation while the Doctor, Tegan and Adric explore. Tegan falls asleep under some wind chimes and becomes possessed by an evil force, a Mara.

Also on Deva Loka is a survey team assessing the planet for colonisation, but three of their number have disappeared and the remainder - Sanders, his deputy Hindle and the scientist Todd - are encountering difficulties in their dealings with the outwardly primitive but telepathically gifted native people, the Kinda. Hindle becomes mentally unstable, but his mind is eventually cleared by a Kinda device called the Box of Jhana.

Aided by the Kinda, the Doctor ultimately succeeds in banishing the Mara - which manifests itself in the form of a giant snake - by trapping it in a circle of mirrors.

Episode Endings

In the survey team's dome, Hindle turns his gun on the Doctor, Adric and Todd. Two of the silent male Kinda approach down the corridor, also aiming handguns at the trio. Todd argues that Hindle has no power to arrest them, but Hindle raves: 'You forget. I am now in command. I have the power of life and death over all of you!'

The Doctor, Sanders and Todd are locked in a cell with the Box of Jhana. Hindle, watching from a view screen in the dome's control room, orders the Doctor to open the Box, threatening to have him shot if he disobeys. Todd warns the Doctor that the Box could kill them, but he replies that the same could be said of Hindle. The Doctor's hands grasp the lid of the Box, and Todd screams in terror.

The Doctor realises that in order to thwart the Mara the Kinda's planned attack on the survey team's dome must be averted. He and Todd need the help of the wise old Kinda woman Panna to get them back to the dome through the forest. Todd runs into Panna's cave but finds the old woman sitting motionless. She calls the Doctor over. It appears that Panna is dead.

Todd tells the Doctor that Sanders intends to stay on Deva Loka but that it is a bit too green for her. As the Kinda arrive and look on, the Doctor bids farewell to Todd and follows his companions into the TARDIS, pausing on the threshold to note: 'I think paradise is a little too green for me, as well.'


Buddhist texts and symbolism (the wheel of life, the two Tegans story, character names).

Ursula LeGuin (The Word for World is Forest).

Alice (Aris) in Wonderland.

T.E. Lawrence.


The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.

Celtic religion (matriarchal tribe with the reincarnation of priestesses).

Dr Strangelove (nuclear paranoia, the Doomsday Clock at 11:55).

Yeats' The Second Coming ('That's how things fall apart').

1930s psychiatry (Not We Not Me).

Greek myth (Pandora's box).

Heart of Darkness.

Apocalypse Now (soldiers going native, thus colonial stories like Sanders of the River).

Christianity (Edenic planet, 'Paradise is a bit too green', a quote from Abide With Me ('Change and decay in all around I see'), apples, snakes, etc).

Kate Bush (particularly Breathing).

The Doctor misquotes The Tempest.

It's also a subversion of the traditional Doctor Who base under siege stories via Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris (base infiltrated by benign but utterly demolishing alien intelligence).


Dialogue Triumphs

Aris : "I am Aris! I have voice!"

Sanders : "Straight-down-the-line thinking, that's what this situation needs."

The Doctor : "An apple a day keeps the... Ah."

Karuna : "How many fathers do the "not we" have?"

The Doctor : "Well, on the whole, one!"


The Mara can only cross to reality through the dreaming of a solitary mind [one that isn't part of a collective mind like that of the Kinda]. The Mara can be contained between mirrors. The Kinda, aware that the Mara can reproduce itself, refer to it in the plural (Panna calls it 'he'.) Only women in the Kinda tribe speak. They employ a trickster to defuse conflict, are mutually telepathic, and follow a religion that embraces reincarnation. One of their devices is a box which removes aggressive impulses from the recipient. They play music on chimes based on the chromatic scale, and discourage individual dreaming. The Kinda have seven fathers.

Tegan, aged 3, didn't like ice cream.


Deva Loka, or S14 [probably a lost Earth colony as apples grow there; previously a part of the Sumaran Empire].



Well known British film star Richard Todd plays Sanders.

Nerys Hughes, better known for her starring roles in the BBC's The Liver Birds and The District Nurse, plays Todd.

Adrian Mills plays Aris - he later became a television presenter, including on the BBC's consumer programme That's Life.


Pop star Kate Bush wrote this story under a pseudonym. (She didn't.)

Playwright Tom Stoppard wrote this story under a pseudonym. (He didn't.)


Many camera wobbles.

Adric and Nyssa's draughts board is the wrong way round.

We never find out what's happened to Roberts and the other two missing crew [perhaps they joined the Kinda].

When Aris laughs, we see his fillings.

In episode four Tegan talks of Hindle as if she'd met him.

We'd mention the snake, but it's the reason why fanboys rate this story so little. If the Mara is a creature of false fears, then it's apt that its real form is a poor origami monster.

Fashion Victim

Pith helmets.

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - Peter Davison

Adric - Matthew Waterhouse

Nyssa - Sarah Sutton

Tegan - Janet Fielding

Anatta - Anna Wing

Anicca - Roger Milner

Aris - Adrian Mills

Dukkha - Jeffrey Stewart

Hindle - Simon Rouse

Karuna - Sarah Prince

Panna - Mary Morris

Sanders - Richard Todd

Todd - Nerys Hughes

Trickster - Lee Cornes


Director - Peter Grimwade

Assistant Floor Manager - Val McCrimmon

Costumes - Barbara Kidd

Designer - Malcolm Thornton

Incidental Music - Peter Howell

Make-Up - Suzan Broad

Producer - John Nathan-Turner

Production Assistant - Sue Plumb

Production Assistant - Rosemary Parsons

Production Associate - Angela Smith

Script Editor - Eric Saward

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Studio Lighting - Mike Jefferies

Studio Sound - Alan Machin

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

Visual Effects - Peter Logan

Writer - Christopher Bailey

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'The trees have no mercy.' One of the best Doctor Who stories ever, astonishingly directed and written as a theatrical piece brimming with allusions and parallels. It's also got a direct and unsilly performance from Simon Rouse, and a thoughtful one from Nerys Hughes.

It's not really an allegory, as, unusually for Doctor Who it's a very original piece of genuine SF. It's 'about' boxes (the healing device that cures colonialism, the tank that the colonists wander about in, the pigeonholes where they want to put the Kinda) and male/female relationships, with the Doctor the only man wise enough to know he's foolish. But then what do we know? One of us liked The Creature from the Pit.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The highlights of this story are, in keeping with the trend of the time, its images and concepts - particularly the aspects of Buddhist philosophy with which writer Christopher Bailey has infused his scripts. 'Everyone knows that Kinda is about Buddhism,' asserted Cassandra May in Matrix Issue 51, dated summer 1995. 'The names of people and things - the Box of Jhana, Panna and Karuna, the Mara - are Buddhist names, and they have meanings within Buddhist philosophy that have relevance to the plot. The escape from the Wheel of Time is the essence of the Buddhist Nirvana.' As May went on to point out, however, Buddhism is not the only source from which Bailey took his inspiration: 'The terror and temptations that the Mara draws on are based around classic Freudian theories and phobias: the Oedipus complex, the intuitive feminine unconscious, the logical masculine conscious, rape and castration fantasies/phobias and the dangers of unleashed individuality.'

Paul Cornell, writing in the Premiere Issue of DreamWatch, dated October 1994, also thought that the story's Buddhist influences have been overstated: 'A thousand repetitive articles about Buddhist imagery have muddied the waters by suggesting that there's a code to Kinda, that if you can understand what it's about, then it'll all click and you'll suddenly love it. That's untrue... The Buddhist articles also obscure the fact that the story is a Christian parable. Indeed, it elects not to be about any particular religion, inventing one of its own.' As Rion Deesold noted in TARDIS Volume 7 Number 1, dated March/April 1982: 'The more one thinks about the story the more [one] realises that there is to it.'

The downside to all this admirable conceptual and thematic depth is that little concession is made to the younger or more casual viewer in terms of plot exposition and clarity. Nicholas Setchfield, writing in Axos Issue 3 in 1982, was one of many who felt that 'like Warriors' Gate, it suffered from being just a shade too complex'. Even if one finds the story difficult to follow, however, there is much in Kinda to admire. One of the most notable aspects is the strong emphasis placed on the Mara-possessed Tegan.

Particularly memorable are the dream sequences in Part One, where she encounters in the 'Dark Places' of her own mind the mysterious and sinister figures of Anicca, Anatta and Dukkha (are they the Mara's representation of Adric, Nyssa and the Doctor, as one popular theory holds, or perhaps the missing members of Sanders' expedition?), and the later, erotically charged scene in which - in a clear parallel with the Garden of Eden story - she sits in a tree and drops apples on the Kinda male Aris below.

'Of course it is Tegan who is central to the plot,' noted Jim Sangster in In-Vision Issue Fifty-Seven, dated May 1995, 'and it's obvious that the director Peter Grimwade relished the chance to play around with the traditional focus of attention, deliberately giving us only tantalising glimpses of the scenes in the Dark Places of the Inside and slowly building up to the real villain of the piece, the Mara. Trapped within her own dreams, Tegan finds herself forced to question her very existence ("You, my dear, can't possibly exist, so go away!"), experiencing a challenge to her sense of identity ("Sooner or later, you will agree to be me - this side of madness or the other."), and finally being mentally tortured into surrendering her body to the Mara's possession. In what is at base a rape scene in all but the actual act, Janet Fielding is given a chance to run the gamut of emotions as Tegan changes from bolshie Australian to terrified victim.'

On the production front, Deva Loka is one of the less convincing alien environments to be presented in Doctor Who, probably the worst aspect of all being the very plastic-looking tree from which the possessed Tegan drops her apples on Aris. The snake prop used to represent the Mara's ultimate manifestation has also been much criticised by reviewers - 'To wait four episodes to see the ultimate evil only to be confronted with a novelty bouncy castle is a major disappointment,' suggested Sangster - although, as Doctor Who's visual effects go, it is actually not all that bad.

On the whole, the commendable intelligence and sophistication of Christopher Bailey's scripts, the deftness of Peter Grimwade's direction and the quality of the performances from a very strong cast - Janet Fielding being particularly outstanding - easily outweigh any less positive features that Kinda might possess. Deesold, for one, was well satisfied, and felt that even its much-discussed complexity was no barrier to the story being understood: 'Doctor Who is at last being presented to adults - never playing down to its audience. Kinda could be compared to last season's Warriors' Gate in that it was an unusual breed of adventure. While I enjoyed Warriors' Gate, I preferred Kinda which tied up virtually all the loose ends in the final episode and at a pace which could be easily followed.'

< Four to DoomsdayFifth DoctorThe Visitation >

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.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy