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The Stones of Blood

Production Code: 5C

First Transmitted

1 - 28/10/1978 18:25

2 - 04/11/1978 18:20

3 - 11/11/1978 18:20

4 - 18/11/1978 18:20

Plot

The Doctor, Romana and K9 are led by the tracer to the Nine Travellers, a circle of standing stones on Boscombe Moor in present-day England, but the third segment is nowhere to be found. They meet elderly archaeologist Professor Emilia Rumford and her assistant Vivien Fay, who are surveying the site, and learn that the circle appears to have had a variable number of stones over the years.

The Doctor encounters a group of Druids led by a man named de Vries and narrowly avoids becoming their latest sacrifice. De Vries is later killed by one of the stones from the circle - an Ogri, a life form that lives on blood. Miss Fay is the latest guise of the Cailleach, a being worshipped by the Druids, who has been on Earth for four thousand years. She transports Romana to a spaceship suspended in hyperspace at the same coordinates as the stone circle.

The Doctor follows and accidentally releases two justice machines called Megara, which sentence him to death for breaking the seal on their compartment. When they attempt to carry out their sentence, however, he tricks them into knocking Miss Fay unconscious. Reading her mind, they learn that she is really Cessair of Diplos - the alien criminal they were originally sent to try. Having established her guilt, they transform her into an additional stone in the circle, but not before the Doctor has grabbed her necklace - the Seal of Diplos, alias the third segment of the Key to Time.

Episode Endings

Romana, led by the sound of the Doctor's voice calling her, arrives at the edge of a cliff. Backing away as an unseen presence, apparently the Doctor, advances menacingly toward her, she falls over the edge of the cliff.

Miss Fay shoves Romana roughly into the middle of the stone circle and aims a long staff at her. The staff emits pulses of energy and Romana vanishes.

Miss Fay, now with silver skin and wearing long, flowing robes, arrives on the spaceship accompanied by two Ogri. She triumphantly tells the Doctor and Romana that they are trapped in hyperspace forever. The spaceship hovers in the void of hyperspace.

As Romana looks on, the Doctor uses the tracer to convert Miss Fay's necklace into the third segment. He then attempts to fit the segments together, but finds to his embarrassment that he is unable to do so.

Roots

Arthurian myths.

Ravens (Ovid onwards).

Hound of the Baskervilles (missing portrait).

Celtic/British mythology (Gog and Magog).

Einstein's special theory of relativity.

There are brief mentions of Tacitus and John Aubrey, and an oblique reference to Polonius in Hamlet.

Dialogue Triumphs

Vivien Fay : [Speaking of Professor Rumford's ownership of a police truncheon] "Last year, when she was lecturing in New York, she took it with her in case she got mugged."

Romana : "And did she get mugged?"

Vivien Fay : "No, she got arrested for carrying an offensive weapon."

Professor Rumford : "But I still don't understand about hyperspace."

The Doctor : "Well, who does?"

K9 : "I do."

The Doctor : "Shut up, K9!"

Professor Rumford : "Are you from outer space?"

The Doctor : "No. I'm more from what you'd call inner time."

Double Entendre

Romana : "What's it say?"

The Doctor : "I don't know, I can't read the script."

Continuity

The Doctor explains to Romana that it was the White Guardian, rather than the President of the Time Lords, who sent them on their mission. The third segment has powers of transmutation, transformation and the establishing of hyperspacial and temporal coordinates.

4000 years previously Cessair of Diplos, accused of murder and having stolen the Great Seal, evaded the Megara justice machines and left the [police/prison] ship in hyperspace (hyperspace, according to Romana, is a 'theoretical absurdity').

It is not indicated if Cessair directly contributed to the construction of the stone circle, which dates from a similar period, but over the ensuing centuries she adopted a number of different guises to ensure that she retained control of that part of Boscombe Moor.

Diplos is a G-class planet in the Tau Ceti system. Cessair was aided by Ogri, from the planet Ogros (this contravened article 7954 of the Galactic Charter). Ogros is covered with amino acid swamps, and is also in Tau Ceti. The Ogri are silicon based life forms (cf. The Hand of Fear) deficient in globulin, a protein found in blood plasma. Cessair is allergic to citric acid.

The Doctor mentions a Galactic Federation that appointed a justice machine, which, finding the Federation to be in contempt of court, blew up the entire galaxy.

Location

The stone circle known as the Nine Travellers, Boscombe Moor, near Boscawen, Damnonium (i.e. Cornwall), [1970s].

Links

Untelevised

The Doctor has met Einstein.

Trivia

There is the implication that Cessair of Diplos is an agent of the Black Guardian. Aside from the evidence of a warning given by the White Guardian at the beginning of Part One, there is also the fact that Cessair knows what the segment of the Key is and tells the Doctor in the closing stages of Part Four that if he lets the Megara turn her into stone, he will never find what he is looking for.

Technobabble

Type 40 TARDISes are fitted with molecular stabilisers: after an attack by an Ogri K9's circuits are regenerated by connecting this stabiliser to his circuit frequency modulator. Mending the hyperspace 'gun', amongst other things, involves linking the alpha circuit to the sine interphase.

Goofs

How does de Vries control the ravens, and what is their function?

At the start of the story there are three Ogri. One falls off a cliff, but later there are still three.

If Cessair has escaped from the prison ship, why does she stay on Earth? What's her plan?

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - Tom Baker

Romana - Mary Tamm

Voice of K9 - John Leeson

Camper - James Murray

Camper - Shirin Taylor

De Vries - Nicholas McArdle

Martha - Elaine Ives-Cameron

Megara Voice - Gerald Cross

Megara Voice - David McAlister

Professor Rumford - Beatrix Lehmann

Vivien Fay - Susan Engel

Crew

Director - Darrol Blake

Assistant Floor Manager - Carol Scott

Assistant Floor Manager - Nigel Taylor

Costumes - Rupert Jarvis

Designer - John Stout

Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson

Make-Up - Ann Briggs

OB Cameraman - Trevor Wimlett

OB Cameraman - Mike Windsor

Producer - Graham Williams

Production Assistant - Carolyn Montagu

Production Unit Manager - John Nathan-Turner

Script Editor - Anthony Read

Special Sounds - Liz Parker

Studio Lighting - Warwick Fielding

Studio Sound - Richard Chubb

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

Visual Effects - Mat Irvine

Writer - David Fisher

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

The first two episodes are delightfully Hammeresque, but the last half of the story, largely centred on the ship in hyperspace and the Doctor's defence of himself against the Megara, is woeful. There's a weird robot thing with eyelashes and red lips stuck next to Romana in her cell, and the Doctor just so happens to carry a barrister's wig with him. Ultimately the story disappoints as whole acres of motivation and background are glossed over.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

Doctor Who's one hundredth story is, fittingly, an extremely good one - and one that, in featuring a wide variety of different plot elements and two highly contrasting settings, manages to encapsulate much of what has made the series so successful over the years. 'The plot was great,' judged Chris Dunk in Oracle Volume 2 Number 5, dated February 1979, 'and although I was wary of an uninitiated author writing this centenary serial, my fears were quite unfounded... David Fisher rose magnificently to the occasion and turned in a very creditable story... This was very much a story of many facets, and from witchcraft and Druids we went on to the great contrast of gleaming metal sophistication in hyperspace... I suppose this was my favourite aspect of the show - the Doctor out on a limb, relying on his wits, and all the time gradually drawing nearer and nearer to death. Very witty too, of course.'

Geoffrey Saunders, writing in Baker's Best in 1981, liked the way the plot developed over the course of the four episodes: [Part One] was mainly an "atmosphere" episode, and the build up of mystery and tension was incredible... [This tension] mixed perfectly with [Part Two's] "run-around" feel... as the Doctor and Professor Rumford found out about Vivien Fay being... not of this world at the same time as Romana met up with her... The sudden change of focus from Earth to the hyperspace cruiser [in Part Three] was surprising, but did not spoil the feel of the story... The last episode was a real gem, with the Megara taking over as the Doctor's main worry. This switching of emphasis from one set of "baddies" to another was superbly achieved, as were the events leading up to the Doctor's "turning around" of the court case...'

Ann Summerfield, writing in In-Vision Issue 34, dated October 1991, thought that the story could be classed as 'female gothic': 'Just read this list of gothic themes from a recent companion to literature: "the flow of blood, caves, spirits without body, guilt, imprisonment, physical terror, hunted virgins, stolen inheritance, and discrepancy between authority and the evidence of one's own senses". Doesn't that sound just like a description of The Stones of Blood (especially if we assume Romana's lack of experience is sexual as well as worldly!)?...

'The Stones of Blood is a feminine adventure, and at times the Doctor himself seems... alienated and overwhelmed... It is only in the "theoretically absurd" territory of hyperspace that the Doctor's wit and ingenuity can come into play. Before venturing into hyperspace's futuristic and industrial environment it is the women who offer solutions or who solve problems.'

It is rather a pity that this proved to be the only Doctor Who story directed by Darrol Blake as he makes an excellent job of it, giving the scenes set on Earth a suitable degree of behind-the-sofa scariness and those set in hyperspace an appropriately claustrophobia-inducing hi-tech feel. Indeed, the whole production positively shines. There are several wonderful moments dotted throughout the story (although it is probably just as well that Graham Williams vetoed a scene of the Doctor celebrating his birthday, as this would have been too self-aware).

Examples include the scene in which Romana exits from the TARDIS and turns to see a number of ravens perched on its roof; and, perhaps best of all, a surprisingly graphic incident in which two campers find an Ogri standing outside their tent and are reduced to skeletons when they touch it. What makes this latter scene even more noteworthy is that it is completely irrelevant to the plot (the campers play no other part in the proceedings) and is included purely for the purposes of heightening the atmosphere and reinforcing the threat posed by the Ogri - the kind of thing that many lesser writers and directors would not think to do.

Jan Vincent-Rudzki summed it up nicely in TARDIS Volume 4 Number 1, dated February 1979: 'This was deservedly the one hundredth story, and an indication of [the] high standards the [series] is reaching these days. Roll on the next one hundred!'

< The Pirate PlanetFourth DoctorThe Androids of Tara >

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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