Nightmare Of Eden
Working Title: Nightmare Of Evil.
Starring: Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor), Lalla Ward (The Second Romana), David Brierley (Voice of K-9).
Two spaceships collide in hyperspace, fusing the vessels together. Investigating the accident, the Doctor, Romana and K-9 meet Tryst, an eccentric scientist who is carrying samples of various planets in a machine of his. The machine malfunctions, however, unleashing monstrous Mandrels onto both ships. Meanwhile, the time travellers discover that someone on board has been smuggling the illicit, addictive drug vraxoin -- and the disastrous events are most certainly not unrelated.
Shortly after their Season Sixteen Doctor Who story The Armageddon Factor, Bob Baker and Dave Martin decided to dissolve their decade-long writing partnership. Although Martin would make no further efforts to write for the programme, Baker continued to submit proposals to the production office, including one about drug smuggling called Nightmare Of Evil which he felt was a modern hot-button issue the programme would do well to explore. On February 7th, 1979, Baker was commissioned to write the serial under the slightly modified title of Nightmare Of Eden, script editor Douglas Adams feeling that the original name was redundant.
Inflation in Great Britain was soaring in the late 1970s, and few sectors were harder hit than television production. By 1979, the rising costs of making Doctor Who far outstripped the seasonal budget hikes provided by the BBC. And, since the first half of Season Seventeen was already comparatively expensive (especially City Of Death, which had been partly recorded on location in Paris), producer Graham Williams decided that cuts would have to be made to the subsequent serials. Since Williams wanted an expensive-looking season finale, it would therefore have to be the fifth and -- in particularly -- fourth adventures which would suffer the most. Since Nightmare Of Eden was pencilled into this fourth slot, all involved would have to be frugal in preparing the serial.
Several content changes were made to Nightmare Of Eden shortly before the start of production. Lalla Ward was concerned about the impact of the various references to the drug trade on the younger element of Doctor Who's audience, and drew support from Williams. In particular, Ward was worried that the name of Baker's invented drug -- "zip", slang for "xylophilin" -- might sound exciting to children; consequently, it was changed to the more fearsome-sounding "vraxoin" (or simply "vrax"), although a reference by K-9 to vraxoin's scientific name having the abbreviation "XYP" was retained. Some use of drug jargon was also excised.
Nightmare Of Eden was an entirely in-studio production, incorporating two three-day recording blocks. The first began on Sunday, August 12th and the second a fortnight later on the 26th. The director assigned to Serial 5K was Alan Bromly, a BBC veteran now in semi-retirement who had previously handled The Time Warrior. Bromly had accepted the job believing that Doctor Who would have become more streamlined in the years since he last worked on the programme, but instead quickly realised that -- with a greater special effects requirement and the ever-present budget problems -- it had in fact become even more cumbersome. Bromly's unfamiliarity with the show's technical requirements soon ate into the recording schedule, and several unfortunate slips made it into the finished episodes as a result. For example, Geoffrey Hinsliff, playing Fisk, accidentally refers to Tryst as "Fisk" at one point; elsewhere, one of the Mandrel actors is seen to have forgotten to zip up the back of his costume.
Tom Baker, meanwhile, had become an increasingly powerful force on the Doctor Who set, and was used to being able to tailor the script and inject humorous ad-libs as he saw fit. Over the course of the two studio blocks, Baker clashed repeatedly with the old-fashioned Bromly. This, combined with Nightmare Of Eden's demanding schedule, finally became too much for Bromly on the final day of recording, August 28th. During the supper meal break, it was decided that Bromly would turn over the reigns of the serial to Williams, who completed the day's recording and also oversaw post-production. Bromly would not return again to Doctor Who.
The unpleasant atmosphere on Nightmare Of Eden also apparently cemented the decisions of Williams and Adams not to return to Doctor Who following the completion of the current season. Williams had endured three punishing years on the programme, while Adams' time was becoming increasingly occupied by the various Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy spin-offs. This was also Bob Baker's final Doctor Who story. Throughout the 1980s, Baker would work as a writer and script editor on show such as Shoestring and Bergerac. He then formed his own production company, which amongst other endeavours was responsible for the acclaimed Wallace and Gromit short films.