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The Fourth Dimension

The Hand of Fear


This is Sarah Jane Smith’s final adventure as a regular companion. Receiving a summons to return to Gallifrey where outsiders are forbidden, the Doctor has no choice but to return Sarah to Earth. But she would be back on several occasions in future stories and would ultimately have her own series, The Sarah Jane Adventures.


When asked how she would like to leave Doctor Who, one of the things that Elisabeth Sladen requested was that the final shot be a freeze frame like the end of American episodic TV dramas of the time.


At the beginning of the story, the TARDIS lands in a quarry. And for once, it really is a quarry and not pretending to be the surface of an alien planet!


Eldrad’s mental powers are unable to function inside the TARDIS. The Doctor explains that the interior of the ship is in a state of temporal grace which means nobody is able to harm anybody else. This notion is a questionable one as later stories see several weapons used in the time machine and more than one individual is harmed. In Let’s Kill Hitler, the Doctor admits that the concept was a ‘clever lie’ but it’s unclear whether this has been the case all along or intermittently.


Eldrad and his people are a silicon-based life-form, which basically means they are made from stone. The Doctor tells Sarah that silicon-based life is very rare in the galaxy. In The Stones of Blood he encounters the Ogri, another silicon-based species with deadly intentions.


As the final episode comes to a close, Sarah is heard whistling Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me a Bow-Wow but the whistling was actually done by director Lennie Mayne and not Elisabeth Sladen, who couldn’t whistle.


Stephen Thorne gives his final Doctor Who performance in Part Four of the story where he appears as the male form of Eldrad. Thorne had previously played the Daemon Azal in The Daemons, Omega in The Three Doctors and an Ogron in Frontier in Space. He would work with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor again in the Doctor Who BBC radio drama, The Ghosts of N-Space.


The Doctor claims to have returned Sarah to her home which is Hill View Road in South Croydon, England. However, as the TARDIS departs, Sarah realises that she isn’t on Hill View Road and suspects that it isn’t even South Croydon. Thirty years later in the Tenth Doctor adventure, School Reunion, we would learn that she is correct. She is, in fact, in Aberdeen in Scotland.


During one of the recording sessions, a fly had entered the studio and can be clearly seen walking across actor Glyn Houston’s brow at one point. The fly was eventually accidentally swallowed by Elisabeth Sladen as she performed a scene!


All four episodes of The Hand of Fear have been restored and remastered and are available on DVD. The story is accompanied by a commentary by actors Tom Baker (the Doctor), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah), Judith Paris (Eldrad), co-writer Bob Baker, and producer Philip Hinchcliffe. The disc also includes the documentary Changing Time which looks at the making of the programme and the special relationship between Sarah and the Doctor in particular.

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