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Each episode is identified with date of transmission, duration, ratings in millions, and (for 1963-1974 only) archive status.
29 October 1977 | 24'38" | 6.7
05 November 1977 | 24'44" | 7.5
12 November 1977 | 24'22" | 7.9
19 November 1977 | 20'32" | 9.1
A 12 million-year-old human skull has been discovered by archaeologists and is being used by Professor Fendelman in his Time Scanner experiments at Fetch Priory on contemporary Earth. Drawn by the operation of the Scanner, the Doctor arrives as the experiments reach a peak. A strange force is called into existence when the Scanner operates, and a hiker has been killed in the woods as well as a security guard at the house which is being used as a base by the scientists.
One of the scientists, Thea Ransome, is also affected. The skull is exerting an influence over her mind and each time the Scanner operates, the skull glows with power as the connection is strengthened.
The Doctor realises that the skull is a channel through which a powerful and ancient creature called the Fendahl will manifest on Earth. The Fendahl lives by sucking the life from others and it had been thought destroyed by the Time Lords when, following its destruction of life on Mars, it was trapped on the fifth planet in the solar system which disappeared when the Time Lords threw it into a time loop. Since then the creature has been subtly affecting and influencing life on Earth, guiding it to a point where the Fendahl could manifest. It is no coincidence that the scientist in charge of the Time Scanner is called Fendelman, nor that Thea is sensitive to the ancient skull. This is all a part of the Fendahl's plan.
Thea is transformed into the Fendahl core, and a group of acolytes assembled by Maximillian Stael, another scientist who is trying to harness the power of the Fendahl, are all converted into snake-like Fendahleen. The Doctor organises the remaining scientist, Colby, together with a local wise-woman Granny Tyler and her son, Jack, to defend themselves against the Fendahleen using rock salt loaded into shotgun cartridges. The Doctor then takes the skull back to the TARDIS as the Time Scanner is operated for a final time. The resultant power surge destroys the house and the Fendahl Core, while the Doctor aims to dump the skull into a super nova in space and thus destroy the Fendahl's bridgehead.
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), Amy Roberts
(Costumes), Anna Ridley
(Designer), Elmer Cossey
(Film Cameraman), Dudley Simpson
(Incidental Music), Pauline Cox
(Make-Up), Graham Williams
(Producer), Prue Saenger
(Production Assistant), John Nathan-Turner
(Production Unit Manager), Robert Holmes
(Script Editor), Dick Mills
(Special Sounds), Jim Purdie
(Studio Lighting), Alan Fogg
(Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire
(Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer
(Title Music), Colin Mapson
Image of the Fendahl was the final story script edited by Robert Holmes. Leela wore a new costume for this adventure. There were two sizes of Fendahleen created for the show. Several small hand-operated versions were made for the sequence in which the Fendahl core converts her followers into the creatures, and one full sized monster was also built. This was the first story in which Radio Times credited the lead character as 'The Doctor' rather than 'Doctor Who'. This did not happen again until The Power of Kroll. When news of this story was first released by the production office, the title was mis-heard down the telephone by an over-eager fan, who though it was The Island of Fandor. Ever since then, many people have believed this to be a 'lost' story. K-9 appears only briefly, in the opening and closing TARDIS scenes, suffering from corroded circuitry; the story had been written before it was known that K9 would be joining the series on a regular basis.
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 as “Image of the Fendahl” in the UK [March 1993] and Australia/New Zealand [July 1993] (BBC catalog #4941), US/Canada [June 1996] (WHV catalog #E1321); episodic format, cover illustration by Andrew Skilleter.
Novelised as “Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl” by Terrance Dicks (Target #34), first released in 1979 with cover art by John Geary. Released in hardcover in 1979.
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