State Of Decay
Working Titles: The Witch Lords, The Vampire Mutations, The Wasting.
Starring: Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor), John Leeson (Voice of K-9), Lalla Ward (The Second Romana), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric).
Still trapped in E-Space, the TARDIS materialises on a medieval planet governed by the Three Who Rule, who keep the townsfolk in a grip of fear. When Romana and Adric are captured, the Doctor teams up with a band of renegade peasants, and discovers the Three Who Rule are vampires, preparing to resurrect one of the greatest enemies the Doctor's people have ever faced.
When John Nathan-Turner became Doctor Who's producer in late 1979, he discovered that very few scripts in any state of readiness had been left for him by the departing producer/script editor team of Graham Williams and Douglas Adams. The closest to completion was David Fisher's The Argolins and so, still without a script editor of his own, Nathan-Turner commissioned this to be the first into production for Season Eighteen; it eventually saw transmission as The Leisure Hive. The next most likely candidate was Terrance Dicks' The Vampire Mutations. This had begun life as The Witch Lords, which had been commissioned from Dicks by then-script editor Robert Holmes to be the first story of Season Fifteen.
The Vampire Mutations saw the Doctor and his companion at the time, Leela, land on a planet whose civilisation has regressed from very advanced to virtually medieval. The townsfolk live in a perpetual state of fear, at night people become transformed into zombies, and troublemakers turn up dead in the morning with bite marks on their neck. The planet's rulers have been in power for a thousand years, and it turns out that they are really vampires. Dicks had planned that The Vampire Mutations would be a direct homage to Bram Stoker's Dracula novel and, in particular, the Hammer Films version of the character. Unfortunately, while Dicks was midway through scripting the serial, Head of Serial Graeme McDonald ordered its cancellation, because he feared it would be seen as a send-up of an expensive serious version of Dracula then in production at the BBC. As a result, Dicks was hastily commissioned to write a replacement story; this became Horror Of Fang Rock.
Nathan-Turner was aware that Dicks was a fast worker with an excellent understanding of Doctor Who, and that he could make the necessary updates to The Vampire Mutations in short order. Dicks was commissioned to begin work on a revised storyline on December 13th. In January 1980, Nathan-Turner finally acquired a script editor in the person of Christopher H Bidmead. Bidmead was unhappy with The Vampire Mutations, because he felt it ran contrary to the efforts he and Nathan-Turner were making to introduce more "real" science into Doctor Who. Bidmead and Dicks found themselves butting heads as the script editor encouraged the script writer to steer away from cliche. As a result, various changes were made, including the decision to have the vampires' castle turn out to be a spaceship in disguise and the inclusion of the material on phonetic shift with regard to the vampires' names. The title was also changed, to The Wasting, to avoid giving away the adventure's hook.
Dicks had to make a number of modifications to bring the 1977 concept in line with the requirements of 1980. Not only did Leela have to be replaced with Romana and K-9 given a part to play, but Dicks also had to incorporate a new companion devised by Nathan-Turner and Bidmead. This was Adric, introduced in a document dated January 30th. Adric was conceived as a "cosmic Artful Dodger" who would be more vulnerable than the potent combination of Romana and K-9; his name was an anagram of Dirac, referring to the quantum physicist and Nobel Prize-winner Paul Dirac. It was decided that Adric should be introduced in a story that would showcase the character; since The Wasting was clearly not that story, this meant that the serial could not be second in transmission order. Eventually, Bidmead decided that, to give him suitable time to massage the character, Adric would not be introduced until the season's third adventure, pushing The Wasting back to fourth.
Another addition Dicks needed to make was the TARDIS's being marooned in the small universe of E-Space. Nathan-Turner had decided to reintroduce the concept storylines running through multiple adventures, having appreciated the way this was handled on series such as Coronation Street. Around this time, Nathan-Turner started working with an unofficial "fan adviser", Ian Levine, and Levine also encouraged Nathan-Turner to bring back the sequential feeling of each adventure (as had been the case during the programme's early years), rather than the more isolated format which had been prevalent throughout the Seventies. Bidmead created the E-Space concept, which would run through three serials, of which The Wasting would be the second.
The director chosen for the serial was Peter Moffatt; it was his first work on the show, although he had been approached on three earlier occasions by Williams, having been unable to fit the show into his schedule at those times. Moffatt was a veteran of the medium, having worked on programmes like Dial M For Murder, Juliet Bravo and All Creatures Great And Small. It was on this latter show that Nathan-Turner, then a production unit manager, had met Moffatt, leading him to consider the director for Doctor Who.
Unusually, when it came time to cast the role of Adric, Nathan-Turner and executive producer Barry Letts were approached about the part, via internal casting adviser Jenny Jenkins, by a BBC clerk in the News Information Department named Matthew Waterhouse. Waterhouse was a fan of Doctor Who, even holding a membership in the Doctor Who Appreciation Society. Despite his only prior acting experience being in two episodes of To Serve Them All My Days, Waterhouse ultimately won the role.
Unfortunately, because Adric's character was still being worked on as The Wasting went before the cameras, Dicks inadvertently accentuated some character traits which would soon be abandoned -- most notably Adric's untrustworthiness and selfishness. As with the updated version of the Doctor's outfit introduced in The Leisure Hive, Nathan-Turner asked that Adric be given a costume which he would wear regularly and which could be exploited for merchandise possibilities; this was created by Amy Roberts. The new companion was formally announced to the press on May 9th.
As with The Leisure Hive, The Wasting required only a small amount of location footage. This was taped on April 30th and May 1st at Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire. The severe illness from which Tom Baker had suffered during the making of The Leisure Hive had not improved; in fact, his condition was so bad that his hair had gone flat and had to be permed to regain its usual curl. Around this time, Dicks convinced Bidmead to change the serial's title, fearing the insults that "The Wasting" would inspire. He was, however, scarcely happier with Bidmead's new suggestion, State Of Decay.
Studio work on Serial 5P took place on Thursdays and Fridays: May 15th and 16th, and 29th and 30th. Bidmead visited the set on the day that scenes inside the vampires' castle were recorded, and he was aghast to discover that designer Christine Ruscoe had failed to realise the castle as an abandoned spaceship, instead portraying it very much as a standard medieval Saxon structure. Of note, the ship was originally to have been called the Hyperion. This was changed to Hydrax when Levine made the (rather dubious) suggestion that longtime fans might confuse it with the ship of the same name in 1972's The Mutants.