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Episode Guide
The Creature from the Pit
Production Code: 5G
Season 17, Story Number 106
Written by David Fisher
Directed by Christopher Barry
No episode stills are currently available for this story.
Archives

Each episode is identified with date of transmission, duration, ratings in millions, and (for 1963-1974 only) archive status.

Part One
27 October 1979 | 23'32" | 9.3
Part Two
03 November 1979 | 24'03" | 10.8
Part Three
10 November 1979 | 23'55" | 10.2
Part Four
17 November 1979 | 24'07" | 9.6
Archive Status: All four episodes exist as PAL 2” colour videotape, always held by the BBC’s Film and Videotape Library. A 71-edit of episode three also exists.
Cast
Tom Baker (Doctor Who), Lalla Ward (Romana), David Brierley (K9), Myra Frances (Lady Adrasta), Eileen Way (Karela), Geoffrey Bayldon (Organon), John Bryans (Torvin), Edward Kelsey (Edu), Tim Munro (Ainu), David Telfer (Huntsman), Morris Barry (Tollund), Terry Walsh (Doran), Tommy Wright (Guardmaster), Philip Denyer (Guard), Dave Redgrave (Guard)
Synopsis
The TARDIS picks up a distress call on its Mark III Emergency Transceiver and brings the Doctor and Romana to the planet Chloris to investigate. Chloris is a lush and verdant world but has a chronic shortage of all metals, resulting in a band of scruffy thieves organising raids on the palace of the planet's ruler, Lady Adrasta, to steal whatever metal they can get their hands on. Adrasta keeps order with her wolfweeds and guards and controls the planet's supply of metal.

The Doctor discovers that the distress signal is actually coming from a large eggshell-like structure in the forest at the Place of Death, but before he can investigate further he is taken by Adrasta's guards and sentenced to be thrown into the Pit - a fate that befalls all who oppose the Lady.

The Doctor manages to cling to the sides of the Pit when he is thrown in and makes his way safely to the bottom. There he meets Organon, formally Adrasta's astrologer, who fell foul of the Lady when his predictions did not come true. The Pit is also home to an immense green globular creature which oozes through the passages and suffocates those who are fed to it.

The Doctor realises that this monster is not an unthinking killer, but an ambassador from the planet Tythonus. Tythonus has a lack of chlorophyll but has much metal and the Tythonians hoped to trade with Chloris. Unfortunately the first person their ambassador Erato met was Adrasta who realised that if more metal was brought to her planet then her monopoly on it would be broken. Instead she took Erato's communicator device and trapped him in the Pit.

Adrasta is trapped and killed by Erato in the Pit. The bandits, who were robbing Adrasta's palace while she was otherwise occupied, come across Erato's communicator. It exerts an influence over them when they touch it and they are compelled to carry it to the Tythonian. Erato then tells the Doctor that his own people have already retaliated for his imprisonment by setting a neutron star on course for Chloris.

The Doctor takes Erato and the TARDIS out into space, where the Tythonian spins an aluminium shell around the star and pulls it off course, thus saving Chloris.

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.

Production Team
David Tilley (Assistant Floor Manager), Kate Osborne (Assistant Floor Manager), June Hudson (Costumes), Valerie Warrender (Designer), David Feig (Film Cameraman), M A C Adams (Film Editor), Dudley Simpson (Incidental Music), Gillian Thomas (Make-Up), Graham Williams (Producer), Romey Allison (Production Assistant), John Nathan-Turner (Production Unit Manager), Douglas Adams (Script Editor), Dick Mills (Special Sounds), Warwick Fielding (Studio Lighting), Anthony Philpott (Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Mat Irvine (Visual Effects)
Story Notes
Filmed entirely in studio, "The Creature from the Pit" was the first filmed story for the seventeenth season, although it was transmitted first. David Brierly replaced John Leeson as of this story as the voice of K-9. The story was directed by Christopher Barry, one of the longest-serving contributors in Doctor Who history, though it was his last contribution to the show. Eileen Way, who had appeared in the very first Doctor Who story in the role of Old Mother, returned to Doctor Who to play Lady Adrasta's right-hand-woman Karela, while former Doctor Who director Morris Barry played the small part of Adrasta's engineer Tollund in Part One. The costume for Erato was too phallic in appearance, so a hasty redressing was in order.
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.
Additional, more detailed information about the production of this story can be found at Shannon Patrick Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel).
Video release
 
Released as “The Creature from the Pit” in the UK [July 2002] and Australia/New Zealand [October 2002] (BBC catalog #7133), US/Canada [October 2003] (WHV catalog #E1860); episodic format, photomontage cover. US/Canada version sold individually as well as part of the "End of the Universe Collection" 13-tape set [October 2003] (WHV catalog #E1840).
In Print
Novelised as “Doctor Who and the Creature From the Pit” by Terrance Dicks (Target #11), first released in 1981 with cover art by Steve Kyte. Released in hardcover in 1981.
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.