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Each episode is identified with date of transmission, duration, ratings in millions, and (for 1963-1974 only) archive status.
03 September 1977 | 24'10" | 6.8
10 September 1977 | 24'10" | 7.1
17 September 1977 | 23'12" | 9.8
24 September 1977 | 23'49" | 9.9
The TARDIS arrives on Fang Rock, a small island off the English coast. It is the first decade of the 20th Century and the island's only inhabitants are a trio of lighthouse keepers who operate the recently-installed electric light to warn ships off the treacherous rocks close by.
Earlier that evening, the youngest of the keepers, Vince Hawkins, saw a light in the sky which fell in the sea, but little realised that it was in fact a Rutan spacecraft, and that the lighthouse would soon have three unearthly visitors.
The Doctor and Leela seek shelter at the lighthouse and are made welcome by Vince and old Rueben. The third keeper, Ben, disappears and his body is later discovered hidden behind the generators - he has been electrocuted.
A passing ship fails to heed the warnings and crashes on the rocks. The survivors stumble into the lighthouse to find that they are now all prey to an alien creature which is picking them off one by one. Ben was first, and Rueben is next. The Doctor realises that the creature can change its form and is actually masquerading as Rueben, but this realisation comes too late as the Rutan kills Vince followed by the survivors from the wreck.
The Doctor fights back by blasting the Rutan, now reverted to its natural form of an amorphous jelly-creature, with a makeshift mortar bomb which kills it. However, it has been sending a homing signal to its mother ship which is now close to Earth.
The Doctor rigs up the lighthouse lamp with a diamond taken from a cache held by one of the now-dead survivors of the shipwreck and creates a powerful laser beam. He focuses it on the Rutan mothership, destroying it.
The Doctor and Leela take their leave of the now deserted lighthouse, leaving only bodies and a mystery in their wake.
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), Joyce Hawkins
(Costumes), Paul Allen
(Designer), John Walker
(Film Cameraman), Dudley Simpson
(Incidental Music), Jackie Hodgson
(Make-Up), Graham Williams
(Producer), Peter Grimwade
(Production Assistant), John Nathan-Turner
(Production Unit Manager), Robert Holmes
(Script Editor), Dick Mills
(Special Sounds), Bob Gell
(Studio Lighting), David Hughes
(Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire
(Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer
(Title Music), Peter Pegrum
Horror of Fang Rock introduced the Rutans, who had been mentioned in the two previous Sontaran stories as being involved in a long and bitter war with them. Terrance Dicks sold the story on the merits of being a small cast, stuck in a lighthouse; it replaced a story Dicks had been working on, "The Vampire Mutations" (also known as "The Witch Lords"), because the vampire story might be considered a parody of a BBC adaptation of the Dracula mythos. This story was shot second in season order to give ample time for it to be written and filmed. Louise Jameson stopped wearing brown contact lenses at the end of this story; the reason given for Leela's consequent change of eye colour was that the flash from the explosion of the Rutan ship caused pigment dispersion in her eyes, changing them from brown to blue. The working titles were "The Rocks of Doom," "The Monster of Fang Rock" and "The Beast of Fang Rock." At the end of the serial, the Doctor recites The Ballad of Flannen Isle by Wilfred Gibson. Colin Douglas also provided the voice of the Rutan in Part Four. This was the only Doctor Who story to have studio scenes recorded at the BBC's Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham, rather than in London. "Horror of Fang Rock" was seen by Philip Segal, executive producer of the 1996 television movie, as a ‘model' Doctor Who story, and was used by him to sell the idea to Fox in 1995. The Rutans were later used in various spinoff productions at BBV, including the video "Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans".
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
Released in the UK [January 2005] and Australia/New Zealand [April 2005] (BBC DVD catalog #1356), US/Canada [September 2005] (WHV catalog #E2317); episodic format, photomontage cover by Clayton Hickman. Includes commentary by Louise Jameson, John Abbott and writer Terrance Dicks; "Terrance Dicks: Fact & Fiction" documentary; "Paddy Russell: A Life in Television" documentary; "The Antique Doctor Who Show" 1993 short film; photo gallery, production subtitles, digitally remastered picture and sound.
Released as “Horror of Fang Rock” in the UK [July 1998] and Australia/New Zealand [November 1998] (BBC catalog #6536), US/Canada [March 1999] (WHV catalog #E1018); episodic format, photomontage cover.
Novelised as “Doctor Who and the Horror of Fang Rock” by Terrance Dicks (Target #32), first released in 1978 with cover art by Jeff Cummins. Released in hardcover in 1978. Originally planned to be re-released in 1994 with cover art by Alister Pearson; the release was canceled.
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