Image Of The Fendahl
Starring: Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela).
The activation of a time scanner sends the Doctor, Leela and K-9 to modern-day Earth, where a team of scientists has uncovered an ancient skull. The skull is that of the Fendahl, a creature which thrives on death and which was thought to have been destroyed by the Time Lords. One of the scientists, Thea Ransome, is converted into a host for the Fendahl, and she creates minions, the deadly Fendahleen, to deliver her lethal message across the planet.
Ironically, the final Doctor Who story script-edited by Robert Holmes would also be the last, for all intents and purposes, in the Gothic tradition Holmes had established with former producer Philip Hinchcliffe. Image Of The Fendahl was commissioned by Holmes in early 1977, just before new producer Graham Williams officially took over from Hinchcliffe. Boucher had written two consecutive stories, The Face Of Evil and The Robots Of Death, for Season Fourteen and had greatly impressed Holmes.
Holmes had been offered another script editing post, on the fledgling BBC science-fiction series Blake's 7, but had declined because he wanted to return to freelance writing full-time. In his place, Holmes suggested Boucher for the role. Consequently, Boucher found himself with little time to perform necessary rewrites on Image Of The Fendahl, and these duties went to Anthony Read, Holmes' replacement who was trailing him on Doctor Who. Robert Holmes left the series in July 1977. However, he would continue writing Doctor Who scripts, contributing several adventures to the programme in subsequent seasons.
One important addition to the scripts was K-9, the robot dog character who had been a late addition to the regular cast during the making of The Invisible Enemy. Because K-9 was inappropriate to the story, his appearances were kept to a minimum, and John Leeson, who provided the mechanical mutt's voice, was not required for the serial. Originally, Image Of The Fendahl was planned to go out in the same slot as it was to be made, namely fourth. However, Williams elected to shift it to third in the season's running order in order to split up two futuristic stories he felt would be perceived as rather similar, The Invisible Enemy and The Sun Makers.
Because Boucher was still a relative newcomer to scriptwriting, he had inadvertently included several night scenes in Image Of The Fendahl, without realising the expense and production difficulties these entailed. Instead of rearranging the storyline, Graham Williams decided to assign a veteran director to the story, George Spenton-Foster. This was Spenton-Foster's first Doctor Who serial, but he had considerable experience as both a producer and director on such programmes as Doctor Finlay's Casebook, Z-Cars and Survivors.
Location filming occurred from August 1st to 5th. Unusually, the setting was one which featured previously on Doctor Who: Stargroves, the Hampshire mansion once owned by Mick Jagger, which had been used during the making of Pyramids Of Mars two years earlier. Despite Spenton-Foster's expertise, the production was still plagued with problems. Most notably, at one point the generator which powered the lighting equipment caught fire. Fortunately, a replacement was obtained from London by 4am, enough time to finish the night's material before dawn. Later, the end of an episode one location sequence in which the Doctor and Leela first encounter Ted Moss, was accidentally lost during editing. The scene, as intended, ended with Ted removing a pentagram locket from beneath his shirt after the Doctor and Leela had left.
Image Of The Fendahl was granted five studio days -- first on Saturday August 20th and Sunday the 21st, and then from Sunday September 4th to Tuesday the 6th. Before this, on Saturday August 6th, the very first convention organised by the Doctor Who Appreciation Society was held. Called simply "Convention '77", the affair was held at Broomwood Church Hall in Battersea and was attended by Williams, Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, visual effects designer Mat Irvine, and others. (Amusingly, Baker performed a total reversal of his opinion of his co-star's character, telling the crowd that he thought Leela needed to be more violent, with a bigger knife!)
Image Of The Fendahl was Boucher's last Doctor Who serial. He submitted a further idea -- about the invasion of an isolated Earth outpost -- but BBC Head of Drama Ronnie Marsh informed Boucher that he did not want people working on both Doctor Who and Blake's 7 at the same time. Much later, in 1985, Boucher made a further story suggestion to then-script editor Eric Saward, but this went nowhere. After leaving Blake's 7, Boucher continued writing and script editing, working on programmes such as Juliet Bravo and The Bill. He also created the science-fiction programme Star Cops and has written two original Doctor Who novels featuring the Fourth Doctor and Leela, Last Man Running and Corpse Marker. A third such book, Pscience Fiction, is scheduled for 2001.
Of note, Image Of The Fendahl is also the source of one of the most popular missing-story rumours of the 1970s. One adventure often listed as being planned for Season Fifteen but abandoned for one reason or another is The Island Of Fandor. In fact, this is none other than Image Of The Fendahl, the title having been misheard during a telephone conversation.