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24 September 2014

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Out of this world in Aldbourne
The village of Aldbourne
Aldbourne, the setting for a classic episode of Dr Who

Did you know that back in 1971, the village of Aldbourne was transformed into ‘Devils End’?

The village became the setting for a classic instalment of cult BBC TV show Doctor Who.


Colin Baker audio interview

Louise Jameson interview



BBC Cult: Doctor Who

The Daemons: location photos

Aldbourne Community Website

The Daemons: A guide

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Colour copies of the story were lost by the BBC in the late seventies. In 1993 the story was recolourised using the colour signal from domestic colour recordings made in the US.

For a scene where a helicopter is blown up, footage was borrowed from the James Bond film "From Russia with Love"

Cast members Jon Pertwee, Nicholas Courtney, John Levene & Richard Franklin went back to Aldbourne in 1992 to film a special video for Reeltime Pictures - "Return to Devils End".

Shortly before his death in 1996, Jon Pertwee made his final appearance at a Doctor Who convention in Aldbourne.

Actor Roger Delgado who so memorably portrayed the Doctor's enemy The Master was tragically killed in 1973 in a car accident in Turkey.

Dr Who ran for twenty-six years from 1963-1989. Eight actors in total have played the Doctor on televison including Tom Baker, Peter Davison and Paul McGann.

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Jon Pertwee was the incumbent Time Lord and the picturesque Wiltshire village was chosen as the location for the spooky five-part story, "The Daemons".

The Doctor travels to Devil's End to investigate the ancient secret of the Devil's Hump, a mysterious burial mound. The Doctor’s nemesis, The Master, is also there, masquerading as the local Vicar. Using the powers of black magic, he hopes to invoke the powers of the satyr-like alien Azal the Daemon and take over the world.

Katy Manning & Jon Pertwee
Katy Manning as Jo & Jon Pertwee as the third Doctor

Although the filming of "The Daemons" took place 31 years ago, it still has a special place in the hearts of Doctor Who fans and has often been considered one of the finest tales in the series’ unprecedented twenty-six year run.

Doctor Who conventions have been held in the village, fans have made pilgrimages to the area over the years and some of the actors even returned in 1992 to film a special retrospective video.

Aldbourne resident, Marion Deuchars, fondly remembered the Doctor Who production team descending on the village for filming.

She said: "It was such great fun. Much of the filming centred on the village green next to where I lived and the crew would use my house to go to the bathroom! Jon Pertwee was a great friend of mine as I had done some acting with him during the war."

Marion also admitted she had something of a crush on the dashing actor.

"Jon just made ones heart go bang, bang, bang," she laughed.

To thank Marion for her assistance during filming, she was given a blink-and-miss-it role in the last episode as a frightened villager.

St Michaels Church, Aldbourne (image copyright Jo Hutchings)
A model of St Michaels Church in Aldbourne was blown up at the climax of "The Daemons"

The episode culminated with the village church being destroyed. This was achieved via some rather effective modelwork, something the modestly budgeted Doctor Who was not usually renowned for.

Some viewers however, perhaps found the scene a little too realistic.

"I knew a local girl who wanted to get married in the village church," said Marion. "When she mentioned this to her fiancée’s father he said ‘you can’t. It was blown up in Doctor Who!’ He was convinced it had been destroyed."

Although the story was filmed in the spring of 1971, England’s typically unpredictable weather threatened to hamper production.

Katy Manning who played the Doctor’s naïve but loyal assistant Jo Grant recalled the obstacles the production team faced.

"I vaguely remember waking up the morning we were going to film a scene involving a ‘heat barrier’ and the area was covered in snow!" she said. "We always had to deal with problems like that."

The Daemon Azal
The Daemon Azal

Freak weather conditions aside, Katy found the villagers more than welcoming.

She said: "The villagers were absolutely delightful. They had their village completely taken over but they loved it, we were mobbed!"

Katy now lives in Australia and although she returns to England on a regular basis she regrets never returning to Aldbourne.

"I was never able to get to the reunions," she said. "I’d love to come back one day, the countryside was absolutely beautiful. Jon and I also went off one afternoon and had the best time at Avebury. We were always going off on little adventures."

Katy also remembered that there was a degree of consternation from the clergy after the story was televised.

"I suppose it was quite frightening for children. You had churches being blown up, the villain posing as a kindly vicar and me, the hapless heroine nearly being sacrificed to ‘the devil’. It didn’t go down too well with people of the cloth."

Actor Nicholas Courtney who played series regular, the gruff military man Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, remembers the story mainly because it is famous for containing one of the Brigadier’s most immortal lines.

Nicholas said: "My character ordered one of his soldiers to fire at a monster with the line, ‘Jenkins! Chap with wings there, five rounds rapid!’."

Amongst fans, the line became so synonymous with the character of the Brigadier that Nicholas actually titled his memoirs ‘Five Rounds Rapid’.

Nicholas is a regular face on the Doctor Who convention circuit and following the death of Jon Pertwee, he took over as honorary president of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society.

The Blue Boar, Aldbourne (image copyright Peter Thurston)
The Blue Boar pub became "The Cloven Hoof" for the story.

He said that filming next to The Blue Boar pub in the village, renamed ‘The Cloven Hoof’ for the story was quite convenient after a long days filming. There was even the opportunity to work a reference into the script.

"At the end of the story one of the characters jokingly asked the Brigadier if he fancied a dance around the maypole. Motioning towards the pub, my character said that he’d much prefer a pint!"

He agreed that the story was a classic Doctor Who and is certainly one of the most enjoyable stories he worked on.

So just what is it about "The Daemons" that still interests people all these years later?

Marion Deuchars summed up what she felt made this particular Doctor Who so memorable.

She said: "It was one of the classics. It was so different, no Daleks or spaceships. It was entirely to do with this little English village and the whole thing was just such great fun."

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