Production Code: 4N
Season 14, Story Number 87
No episode stills are currently available for this story.
Each episode is identified with date of transmission, duration, ratings in millions, and (for 1963-1974 only) archive status.
02 October 1976 | 24'50" | 10.5
29 October 1976 | 24'48" | 10.2
16 October 1976 | 24'22" | 11.1
23 October 1976 | 25'00" | 12
Archive Status: All four episodes exist in color as PAL 2" videotape, as held by the Film & Videotape Library when audited in 1978.
(Doctor Who), Elisabeth Sladen
(Sarah Jane Smith), Judith Paris
(Eldrad), Stephen Thorne
(Kastrian Eldrad), Rex Robinson
(Dr. Carter), Renu Setna
(Intern), Roy Skelton
(King Rokon), David Purcell
(Abbott), Glyn Houston
(Professor Watson), Roy Pattison
(Zazzka), Robin Hargrave
(Guard), Roy Boyd
(Driscoll), Frances Pidgeon
(Miss Jackson), John Cannon
The Doctor and Sarah return to present-day Earth when the TARDIS arrives in a deserted quarry, silent except for the howl of a warning klaxon. Too late they realise that the quarry has been set with explosives. Sarah is buried under rubble from a massive explosion.
As the miners and the Doctor frantically search for her she regains consciousness to find herself entombed. Seeing a hand reaching for her she grasps it only to find that it is a fossil. Some sort of energy moves from the hand into her mind, knocking her unconscious once more.
Sarah is found and taken to hospital where nothing appears to be wrong with her. She comes round and takes a blue-stoned ring from the fossil hand and places it on her own. Light from the ring stuns Doctor Carter, and Sarah leaves the hospital in a trance, taking the fossil hand with her and heading for the nearby Nunton Complex for Research and Development, where she enters the core of the nuclear reactor.
The stone hand soaks up all the deadly radiation, comes alive and grows into an alien creature from the planet Kastria. Eldrad was a criminal who plotted to destroy Kastria when he was denied power. He disabled the spatial barriers which held back the solar winds, so that life on the surface became impossible. Caught and sentenced to death, he was placed in a Syllenic Obliteration Module - a space capsule - which was sent out into deep space. Before the last surviving Kastrians lost contact, the capsule was blown up. However Eldrad's hand was not totally destroyed and this part of the silicone-based body drifted to Earth where it lay for centuries.
Eldrad, who appears to all intents and purposes female - he patterned his regenerated body on Sarah's - persuades the Doctor to take him back to Kastria where he might reclaim his heritage. There he discovers that his heritage is a dead planet: the Kastrian race is long gone and the race banks of his people were destroyed by the last King, Rokon, and the Kastrian people in a final act of defiance in case Eldrad should ever return. He has his wish - he is King ... of nothing.
Furious, Eldrad, whose body has now been reconfigured into its proper form, tries to get the Doctor to return him to Earth so that he might rule there instead. The Doctor and Sarah run and when Eldrad storms after them, they trip him into a deep crevasse using the Doctor's scarf.
The Doctor and Sarah return to the TARDIS where without warning the Doctor receives a summons to return to Gallifrey. He tells Sarah that she must leave him as humans are not permitted on his home world. Sarah is let off the TARDIS supposedly in her home town of Croydon, but does not recognise the street - the Doctor has done it again!
Synopsis from Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Handbook by David J. Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker, reprinted with permission; further reproduction is not permitted.
(Assistant Floor Manager), Barbara Lane
(Costumes), Christine Ruscoe
(Designer), Max Faulkner
(Fight Arranger), Max Samett
(Film Cameraman), Christopher Rowlands
(Film Editor), Dudley Simpson
(Incidental Music), Judy Neame
(Make-Up), Philip Hinchcliffe
(Producer), Marion McDougall
(Production Assistant), Chris D'Oyly-John
(Production Unit Manager), Robert Holmes
(Script Editor), Dick Mills
(Special Sounds), Derek Slee
(Studio Lighting), Brian Hiles
(Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire
(Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer
(Title Music), Colin Mapson
The Hand of Fear is special in that it marks the departure of Elisabeth Sladen's Sarah Jane Smith, who at the time was chronologically the longest-serving Doctor Who companion (though Jamie actually had more episodes); originally she was to die at the end of a Douglas Camfield story about the Foreign Legion but to Sladen's delight she was not killed off when this story replaced it. The working titles of this story were "The Hand of Time" and "The Hand of Death". During the explosion in the quarry, one of the cameras recording material from ground level was destroyed. Luckily the film in the case was salvaged and footage was used in the completed programme. The Obliteration Module was based on the design of the Martian War Machines in George Pal's 1952 film The War of the Worlds. The story was filmed at the Oldbury Nuclear Power Station in Avon. The miniature work on the Kastrian waste is magnificent, though the interiors suffer from overproduction (the fall of Eldrad at the end is rather lame). Stephen Thorne, who played the strong Eldrad, was also Omega in "The Three Doctors" and various other Doctor Who roles. Upon her departure, Sladen returned to other work, returning in the 1980 spinoff "K-9 and Company," the anniversary story "The Five Doctors" and the charity special "Dimensions in Time"; she also worked on two Jon Pertwee Doctor Who radio dramas, "The Paradise of Death" and "The Ghosts of N-Space" and returned to the role for Big Finish in the five-part "Sarah Jane Smith" audio series.
For more in-depth information about the contents of this story, a complete episode-by-episode detailed breakdown can be found at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
Due for release in the UK in July 2006, Australia/New Zealand in August 2006, and US/Canada in November 2006. Will include commentary by Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Judith Paris (Eldrad), Bob Baker (writer) and Philip Hinchcliffe (producer); "Changing Times," a 50-minute documentary charting the special relationship between the Doctor and his companion Sarah Jane Smith; "Swap Shop," a very rare clip of Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen's appearance on the first ever edition of Noel Edmonds' Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, shown in October 1976; plus PDFs of the 1977 Doctor Who Annual and the Radio Times listings for The Hand of Fear, a photo gallery, continuity announcements, information text subtitles and easter egg.
Released as “The Hand of Fear” in the UK [February 1996] and Australia/New Zealand [February 1997] (BBC catalog #5789), US/Canada [May 1997] (WHV catalog #E1351); episodic format, cover illustration by Colin Howard.
Novelised as “Doctor Who and the Hand of Fear” by Terrance Dicks (Target #30), first released in 1979 with cover art by Roy Knipe.
For more details on the various novelizations of this story, with additional background material, artwork and details of both UK and foreign releases, visit On Target