Production Code: 4V
1 - 03/09/1977 18:15
2 - 10/09/1977 18:15
3 - 17/09/1977 18:15
4 - 24/09/1977 18:15
The TARDIS arrives on Fang Rock, a small island off the English coast, around the start of the 20th Century. The Doctor and Leela seek shelter at a lighthouse where the island's only inhabitants - Ben, Vince and Reuben - operate the recently-installed electric lamp to warn ships off the treacherous rocks.
Vince has just seen a bright object fall from the sky into the sea. Ben then disappears and his body is later discovered hidden behind the generator - he has been electrocuted. A passing ship crashes on the rocks as a freak fog bank descends, and the survivors - Colonel Skinsale, Lord Palmerdale, Adelaide Lesage and Harker - stumble into the lighthouse. There they find themselves prey to a Rutan - one of the race engaged in a perennial war with the Sontarans - whose spaceship has crashed in the sea.
The Rutan can change its form at will and has been masquerading as Reuben, having killed the old keeper and hidden his body. Vince and the wreck survivors are also killed but the Doctor fights back by blasting the Rutan, now reverted to its natural form of an amorphous jelly, with a makeshift mortar bomb.
The Doctor then rigs up the lighthouse lamp with a diamond taken from a cache held by the now dead Skinsale, thereby creating a powerful laser beam to destroy the approaching Rutan mothership.
With the lighthouse lamp out of action, a ship approaches the rocks in the thick fog. The Doctor sends up a flare and the fog-horn is sounded, but to no avail. The ship crashes onto Fang Rock.
Reuben is tending the lighthouse generator and goes into the coal store to fetch more fuel. Upstairs, Palmerdale is in the middle of explaining to Adelaide that nothing is happening when an horrific scream from Reuben echoes through the lighthouse.
The Doctor finds Reuben's body in the coal store and realises that the man they have seen walking about the lighthouse is in fact the Rutan. The Doctor has locked the enemy in with them.
The Doctor and Leela return to the TARDIS. As it leaves, the Doctor recites lines from Wilfred Gibson's poem 'The Ballad of Flannen Isle'.
'The Ballad of Flannan Isle' by Wilfred Gibson.
Campbell's The Thing.
Quatermass and the Pit (alien generated drops in temperature).
E.G. Jerome's Lighthouses, Lightships and Buoys (1966).
The Doctor : "... the localised condition of planetary atmospheric condensation caused a malfunction in the visual orientation circuits. Or to put it another way, we got lost in the fog."
Lord Palmerdale : "Are you in charge here?"
The Doctor : "No, but I'm full of ideas."
The Doctor : "The chameleon factor... sometimes called lycanthropy. Leela, I've made a terrible mistake. I thought I'd locked the enemy out. Instead I've locked it in... with us!'"
Leela : "You will do as the Doctor instructs, or I will cut out your heart!"
Leela : [Yells at Reuben] "Come out, old one!"
The Doctor : "He'll come out when he's ready."
The Doctor knows an anecdote concerning Gallifreyan lighthouses [probably marine ones!]. Leela's eyes change colour from brown to blue as a result of the explosion.
The Rutans are luminous green blobs with tentacles. They can drain electrical power and use it to kill. Small projectiles go through them. They can climb sheer rock, and are amphibious, having evolved in the ocean. Their spacecraft, spinning fireballs with crystalline infrastructures, are amphibious too, and can release a freezing fog to mimic home conditions, Rutans hating heat.
This particular scout from the army of the Rutan Empire has been equipped with new shape shifting technology, organic restructuring similar to Time Lord regeneration techniques, and can imitate a species having dissected an example. Sontarans ('rabble') use photonic missiles.
Fang Rock, possibly near Worthing, 1901-1910.
This was the only Doctor Who story to have studio scenes recorded at the BBC's Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham, rather than in London.
This story features the one and only appearance in the series of a Rutan - seen in its natural state as an amorphous green blob with trailing tentacles.
Designer Paul Allen researched the lighthouse sets from a book called Lighthouses, Lightships and Buoys by E G Jerrome. (He didn't. He visited two lighthouses, took lots of photographs of them, and based his designs on those.)
None: Leela wears sensible jeans.
Cast & Crew
The Doctor - Tom Baker
Leela - Louise Jameson
Adelaide - Annette Woollett
Ben - Ralph Watson
Harker - Rio Fanning
Lord Palmerdale - Sean Caffrey
Reuben - Colin Douglas
Skinsale - Alan Rowe
Vince - John Abbott
Director - Paddy Russell