The Horns Of Nimon
Starring: Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor), Lalla Ward (The Second Romana), David Brierley (Voice of K-9).
Romana is kidnapped in space by a brutish captain transporting young Anethans to Skonnos, where they will be sacrificed to the bull-like Nimon. The Skonnans believe that the Nimon will bring their planet great prosperity but, with the help of two escaped Anethans, the Doctor learns that they are actually intergalactic locusts, ravaging each world foolish enough to believe their lies.
One of the strategies producer Graham Williams and script editor Douglas Adams had planned for Doctor Who's seventeenth season had been to seek out as many new writers for the series as possible, to keep the programme fresh. Unfortunately, every single storyline arising from this agenda eventually hit a snag. As a result, such Doctor Who stalwarts as Terry Nation, David Fisher, Bob Baker and Adams himself were assigned the task of scripting the bulk of the season. Eventually, the only story slot left for newcomers was the penultimate adventure for the year, for which several storylines were considered. These included ex-director's fantasy tale Errinella, The Doomsday Project by John Lloyd, an untitled Alan Drury work, and Valley Of The Lost from Williams' predecessor, Philip Hinchcliffe.
Unfortunately, it slowly became apparent that none of these would be in a suitable condition for production in time for the start of work on Serial 5L. Consequently, Williams and Adams turned to Anthony Read, whom Adams had replaced as Doctor Who's script editor. Read had become very interested in the Greek myths -- a Season Fifteen story made during his time on the programme, Underworld, had been an adaptation of the Argosy -- and had proposed an updated version of the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur in the Cretan Labyrinth. Called The Horns Of Nimon, this was commissioned on March 23rd, 1979.
As with Underworld, Read indulged in corrupting the Greek names for his story. Theseus became the young Anethan Seth; Minotaur was shortened and anagrammed to Nimon; Daedalus, inventor of the Labyrinth, was reversed to make Soldeed; Athens turned into Aneth; the palace of Knosses turned into Skonnos; and the Greek state of Corinth became Crinoth. Originally, Read had included some provision for location filming in his scripts, and in fact had hoped that this might take place at night. However, spiralling inflation took its toll on Doctor Who in 1979, and with the first three serials of Season Seventeen already running overbudget, Williams decided to make significant savings on the fourth and fifth serials -- Nightmare Of Eden and Nimon -- in order to have enough money left over for a glossy-looking finale. Consequently, Nimon lost its location allotment, and Read was asked to design his scripts so that they could be filmed as cheaply as possible.
The director assigned to The Horns Of Nimon was Kenny McBain, his only Doctor Who work. To further ease strain on the programme's budget, McBain was instructed to cast primarily unknowns in supporting roles. Despite this, one notable actor hired for the serial was Graham Crowden, playing Soldeed, who at one point had been considered for the role of the Fourth Doctor in 1974. With no location material needed, Nimon's recording took place over two three-day studio blocks, the first beginning on Monday, September 24th, and the second on Sunday, October 7th.
As with Nightmare Of Eden, the rushed conditions on the set of The Horns Of Nimon resulted in several unfortunate gaffes. Because of out-of-order recording, Soldeed's body is missing from the furnace set in several scenes. Malcolm Terris, playing the Co-pilot, accidentally split his trousers very visibly during his death scene. Part of the TARDIS set was erected incorrectly, resulting in some of the roundels emerging from the wall rather than being indented into it. And, most famously, Crowden mistook the final taping of Soldeed for a rehearsal, and began laughing.
Unexpectedly, The Horns Of Nimon became the concluding serial of Season Seventeen when industrial action at the BBC forced the abandonment of the half-completed Shada, originally intended to end the season. Nimon also brought Anthony Read's involvement with Doctor Who to a close. He would continue to write for television and print, and also held the script editor's post on other series, such as Hammer House Of Horror.