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The Awakening was the second serial of season 21 of Doctor Who. It was the third and final story to be produced as a two-parter during the Davison era. It was, indeed, the final two-parter in the traditional twenty-five-minute format. From this point forward in Doctor Who history, any two-parter would be at least forty-five minutes per episode.

Despite its brevity, the serial boasted a few milestones. It was the first (and only) contribution by its writer and director. It offered the first outing of the Fifth Doctor's second costume, most notably differentiated by an obviously altered cricket jumper. It was the first time in the show's history that the Doctor set his TARDIS on course to meet a member of a companion's family — in this case, Tegan's grandfather. It was also the final story designed by Barry Newbery, one of Verity Lambert's original designers.

Unusually, this serial had a certain measure of infamy in Britain for one of its out-takes from part two, in which a horse-drawn carriage was seen to apparently destroy a lychgate. The scene became one of the few Doctor Who out-takes to actually be broadcast on the BBC and was also seen internally on BBC safety videos as an example of how not to film scenes involving animals. (DCOM: The Awakening) Naturally, for the transmitted version of the episode, the sequence cut before the disaster.


The year is 1984. The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough arrive in Little Hodcombe, a small English village, looking forward to spending some time with Tegan's grandfather. They soon discover that all is not well - Tegan's grandfather is missing and the locals are re-enacting English Civil War battles from 1643.

With the past mixed up with the present, can the Doctor stop the games before an evil entity hidden in the village church awakens?


Part one[]

On 13 July 1643, two forces came to the village of Little Hodcombe during the English Civil War and destroyed each other. As the story begins, Roundheads are riding horses in the village of Little Hodcombe with little regard to the villagers around them. However, it is not 1643, but 1984.

A schoolteacher, Jane Hampden, is convinced that her fellow villagers, led by the local magistrate, Sir George Hutchinson, have taken their re-enactment of a series of battles too far. Hutchinson tries to assure her that the games are a harmless event to celebrate the war. When Hampden asks him to stop the games, Hutchinson ignores her.


What the Doctor calls a "psychic projection" spies on the recently-landed time travellers.

The Doctor promises to take his companion, Tegan, to 1984 so she can spend some time with her grandfather, Andrew Verney. He sets the coordinates to Little Hodcombe, where Verney resides, but the TARDIS experiences some turbulence and lands in what appears to be a structurally unstable church. The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough, watching on the scanner, see a man in 17th-century clothing flee from the church. The Doctor dashes out to help him, but the man has vanished. Tegan is convinced that they have landed in the wrong time, but Turlough has checked the TARDIS co-ordinates and they are in 1984. As the Doctor and his companions pursue the man, smoke billows from a crack in the wall.

Eventually, the three travellers are captured by Captain Joseph Willow and taken before Hampden and Colonel Ben Wolsey, who apologise for the poor treatment. Hutchinson arrives and explains the town is celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of Little Hodcombe. He urges him to join the celebration. Tegan is told her grandfather is missing and runs outside. The Doctor follows but loses her. Tegan, upset, is crying when someone steals her handbag. She tries to get it back and runs into a barn where she finds the ghost of an old man.

The Doctor returns to the church and meets a 17th-century peasant, Will Chandler, who emerges from a wall. He has been hidden in a priest hole and believes the year to be 1643. Turlough rescues Tegan from the barn and they return to the TARDIS. There is a sparkly projection on one of the walls. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Will investigate the church. Tegan and Turlough leave the TARDIS and are re-captured. Turlough is locked in a building with Verney. Willow forces Tegan to change into a 17th-century costume. She is to be Queen of the May.


The Doctor investigates a secret underground passage.

The Doctor and Will find a secret passage to Ben Woolsey's living room under a slab marked with a picture of a creature that Will identifies as the Malus. Coming the other way through the passage, the Doctor and Will meet up with Hampden, who found the passage's other end after being locked in Colonel Wolsey's office. They avoid Hutchinson, who has followed Jane down the passage, and the Doctor finds a small ball of metal. The Doctor identifies the metal as tinclavic, a metal mined by the Terileptils on the planet Raaga for the almost exclusive use of the people of Hakol, a planet in the star system Rifta, where psychic energy is a force to be harnessed.


The Malus - Doctor Who - The Awakening - BBC

The Malus attacks.

Returning to the church, the Doctor and Hampden are astonished when a massive alien face pushes its way through the crack on the wall.

Part two[]

The creature roars and spews smoke. They escape from the psychic projection of a cavalier and return to the house via the tunnel. The Doctor realises that the Malus in the church was discovered by Verney and Hutchinson. The latter tried to exploit the creature, but it used him by organising the war games. The psychic energy released by the war games has fed the Malus.

The Doctor and Jane again try to persuade Hutchinson to stop the games; the final battle will be for real. He refuses and orders Woolsey to kill the Doctor. Once Hutchinson leaves, Woolsey joins forces with the Doctor.


Jane and Tegan, the Queen of the May.

The Queen of the May is taken in a horse-drawn cart to the village green, where she is to be burned. Hutchinson suddenly notices that the Queen is not Tegan, but a straw dummy that has been put in her place by Woolsey. Hutchinson becomes angry and orders his men to kill Woolsey and the others. Will appears in the nick of time and uses a flame torch to cause a distraction. This allows the Doctor, Hampden, Woolsey and Tegan to escape to the TARDIS.

The Doctor locks the signal conversion unit on the frequency of the psychic energy feeding the Malus, hoping to direct it. Willow and a trooper try in vain to break their way into the TARDIS, and Turlough and Verney knock them unconscious with lumps of masonry. The Doctor blocks the energy, and the projection of the Malus in the TARDIS dies. The real Malus desperately tries to drain all the psychic energy from the villagers. He creates a corporeal projection of three Roundheads who try to kill the Doctor and his allies. However, the dazed and confused trooper stumbles away from the TARDIS and into the main church area, where he becomes surrounded by the Roundheads; they decapitate him, then vanish.


Turlough and Andrew Verney, Tegan's grandfather, in the church

Hutchinson arrives and holds them all at gunpoint. When the Doctor tries to talk Hutchinson out of the thrall of the Malus, Willow attacks the group. In the scuffle, Will pushes Hutchinson into the mouth of the Malus, destroying its medium. Realising it has failed, the Malus prepares to destroy itself and everything around it. The church begins to collapse and the Doctor leads the others, including Willow, into the safety of the TARDIS.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor's companions are surprised to see Will still among them. The Doctor explains he must have been wrong in his assumption that Will was a psychic projection. The Malus must have created a temporal rift which allowed Will to slip into the future. The Doctor will take Will back to 1643. Tegan objects and asks the Doctor to allow her some time to visit her grandfather. The Doctor is disgruntled but is persuaded to stay in Little Hodcombe for a while for a rest.



Uncredited crew[]


  • Tinclavic is mined by Terileptils on the planet Raaga for the almost exclusive use of the inhabitants of Hakol in the star system of Rifta.
  • The Malus, the occupant of a Hakol computer-controlled reconnaissance probe, came to Earth in 1643 as the spearhead of an invasion fleet which never followed.
  • The Doctor and Turlough are both fond of tea.


  • The story shares similarities with the first serial of Sapphire & Steel in that images of the past are projected forwards by a malevolent force and are capable of interacting with the present.
  • The exchange "You speak treason?/Fluently" is from The Adventure of Robin Hood.

Story notes[]

  • This story had the working titles of War Game and Poltergeist.
  • A scene involving Tegan and the Doctor's robotic companion Kamelion in a corridor in the TARDIS in part one was filmed for this serial, but edited out before transmission due to the episode overrunning. It would have been the character's first appearance since The King's Demons. The character would not appear again until Planet of Fire.
  • Script editor Eric Saward implemented several elements from his own story The Visitation, such as tinclavic and Raaga, thereby making The Awakening a loose sequel to The Visitation.
  • Will Chandler was considered for a new companion, but Eric Saward and John Nathan-Turner felt viewers might become tired of him. [1] When directly questioned about this in about 2010, however, Saward remarked that he knew nothing of any plans to make Will a companion. (DCOM: The Awakening)
  • Compared with his long odyssey to return Tegan to Heathrow Airport in the early 1980s, the Fifth Doctor is apparently much better at landing in her grandfather's village. Part one suggests he got it right on the first go.
  • The story also exists in the BBC Archives as the 50-minute compilation repeat broadcast on Friday 20 July 1984. It is fortunate indeed that the compilation version was made and still exists on 625 line PAL colour videotape to this day, as the master 625 line PAL videotape of part one was accidentally badly scratched during a duplication session in 1987 and is now no longer broadcastable. No actual material has been lost; a completely new undamaged transmission master 625 line PAL videotape of part one has been made using the still existing 16mm colour film of the location sequences and the compilation repeat.
  • The Radio Times programme listings for the original transmissions of parts one and two featured no synopses. However, that for the 50-minute compilation version bore the following item: "What evil sleeps in the church of a quiet country village?"
  • Due to an oversight, Frederick Hall (Andrew Verney) was uncredited in Radio Times for the original transmission, but credited for the 50-minute compilation version.
  • During the credits, each letter features a light blue outline (in hollow letters, the outline is present inside them as well). This serial is the only one to use such a feature for reasons unknown.
  • The story was one of two considered for this slot. The other was The Darkness, which was also written by Eric Pringle and would have featured the Daleks. In the event, The Awakening was chosen over The Darkness due to Eric Saward's forthcoming story featuring the Doctor's arch-enemies, Resurrection of the Daleks.
  • This is the first story since Black Orchid to not feature a returning adversary, though Terileptils are mentioned.
  • Eric Pringle was unhappy with Eric Saward's rewrites, believing that they made the story confusing and rushed.
  • This was originally intended to be a four-part serial, but cut to two early in the script editing stage.
  • Lynda Bellingham, Honor Blackman, Eleanor Bron, Pauline Collins, Judi Dench, Diane Keen, Jean Marsh, Helen Mirren, Diana Rigg, Sheila Ruskin, Pamela Salem, Barbara Shelley, Sylvia Syms, Wanda Ventham, Fiona Walker and Penelope Wilton were considered for Jane Humpden.
  • Joss Ackland, Terence Alexander, Michael Craig, James Ellis, Peter Gilmore, John Hallam, Donald Houston, Jeremy Kemp, Conrad Phillips, Patrick Stewart, John Stratton and Peter Vaughan were considered for Colonel Ben Wolsey.
  • Alun Armstrong, Nicholas Ball, Geoffrey Bateman, Jim Broadbent, Tom Chadbon, Scott Fredericks, John Hallam, Prentis Hancock, Del Henney, Roy Holder, Alan Lake, Terry Molloy, Edward Peel, Jeff Rawle, Carl Rigg, Paul Shelley, Donald Sumpter, Ian Talbot and Malcolm Tierney were considered for Joseph Willow.
  • Jack Galloway claimed to be an experienced rider. During one take, he was quickly dumped by his horse into the drink.
  • For the first time, Peter Davison donned a slightly redesigned costume: while his hat and frock coat remained the same, his jumper was given larger black and red stripes along the top and bottom; his trousers had thick orange and white stripes; and green lining was added to his shirt collar in place of the original red.
  • This was the last story that set designer Barry Newbery worked on. He designed the lych gate because there wasn't one available on location.
  • Eric Saward provided the Malus with a backstory connected to the Terileptils. He also hoped to lay the groundwork for their return appearance.
  • In the original script, the Malus emerged from the fabric of the church wall.
  • Sir George Hutchinson's first name was originally John.
  • A press photocall was held, although John Nathan-Turner was irritated to observe that the reporters were less interested in Doctor Who than in Peter Davison's wife Sandra Dickinson, who had accompanied him to the location shoot.
  • Eric Pringle was inspired by his interest in the English Civil War.
  • The cast traveled to Tarrant Monkton a day early so they could practise their horse riding.
  • This was Michael Owen Morris' first directing assignment, although it would be his only contribution to the series.
  • On the story's audio commentary, moderator Toby Hadoke mistakenly stated that Polly James' son Adam James was in Voyage of the Damned. In fact, he was in Planet of the Dead.


  • Part one - 7.9 million viewers
  • Part two - 6.6 million viewers


  • Eric Pringle took the ideas of a sealed-off village and the church exploding from TV: The Dæmons. (He didn't; in fact, he had never even seen that particular story. The inclusion of the aforementioned is pure coincidence.)

Filming locations[]

  • Tarrant Monkton, Dorset
  • Shapwick, Dorset
  • Martin, Hampshire
  • Damer's Farm, Martin Cross, Hampshire
  • St Bartholomew's Church, Shapwick, Dorset
  • Bishops Court Farm, Dorset
  • Martin Down, Martin, Hampshire
  • BBC Television Centre (TC6), Shepherd's Bush, London

Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • The opening and closing credits are noticeably off-centre, appearing slightly lower than usual.
  • A hand is visible pushing one of the wall pieces as the face of the Malus appears.
  • The trooper that was killed by the three Roundheads is visibly moving when the Doctor and the others run to the TARDIS prior to the Malus exploding.


DVD and VHS Releases[]

VHS release[]

This story was released on video in episodic format alongside Frontios.

DVD release[]

The Awakening was released in the Earth Story box set alongside The Gunfighters. It was the last Fifth Doctor story to be released in the DVD format.


Special Features[]


External links[]