120) BLACK ORCHID

1 - 2 March 1982

Average Viewing Figure: 10M

Plot

During a fancy-dress ball in 1925, The Doctor is framed for murder and a horrible secret is kept in an upstairs bedroom 

Cast

Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa/Ann), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)

Barbara Murray (Lady Cranleigh), Moray Watson (Sir Robert Muir), Michael Cochrane (Lady Cranleigh), Timothy Block (Tanner)

Ahmed Khalil (Latoni), Brian Hawksley (Brewster), Ivor Slater (Sergeant Markham), Andrew Tourell (Constable Cummings)

Gareth Milne (The Unknown/George Cranleigh)

Uncredited Cast

David Wilde (Digby), Jim Morris (Station Master), Caron Heggie (Alice [Ann's Maid]), Amanda Carlson (Maid), Derek Hunt (Footman James)

Frederick Wolfe (Footman Henry), James Muir (Police Driver)

Crew

Terence Dudley (Writer), Roger Limb (Incidental Music), Dick Mills (Special Sound), Jim Capper (Production Manager)

Angela Smith (Production Associate), Juley Harding (Production Assistant), Val McCrimmon (Assistant Floor Manager)

Peter Chapman (Film Cameraman), Ron Blight (Film Sound), Mike Houghton (Film Editor), Tony Auger (Visual Effects Designer)

Dave Chapman (Video Effects), Carol Johnson (Vision Mixer), Alan Jeffrey (Technical Manager), Alec Wheal (Senior Cameraman)

Rod Waldron (Videotape Editor), Fred Wright (Studio Lighting), Alan Machin (Studio Sound), Rosalind Ebbutt (Costume Designer)

Lisa Westcott (Make-Up Designer), Eric Saward (Script Editor), Sid Sutton (Title Sequence), Tony Burrough (Designer)

John Nathan-Turner (Producer), Ron Jones (Director)

Broadcast

Filming Locations

  • Quainton Road, Quainton, Bucks

  • Quainton Road Railway Station, Bucks

  • Buckhurst Park, Withyham ,E Sussex

  • Television Centre: Studio 3

Deaths

  • Latoni [killed by George Cranleigh]

  • George Cranleigh [falls to his death from a roof]

  • Digby [killed by George Cranleigh]

  • James [killed by George Cranleigh]

Production Days

  • 7 Days between Monday 5 October - Wednesday 21 October 1981

Production Errors

  1. George Cranleigh's hunchback physique miraculously disappears when he puts on The Doctor's harlequin costume

  2. The production was met with numerous changing weather problems, this becomes evident during the dance exterior shots which go from bone-dry to wet to sunny to windy repeatedly 

  3. Police Box did not exist back in the 1920s, so why do the various Policemen recognise it?​​

Working Titles

  • The Beast

Verdict

By all accounts, Black Orchid should not be liked by even the most die-hard Doctor Who fans simply because there is nothing Doctor Who-ish about it. No evil plan, no monsters from outer space, no science or technology to save the day, no danger to Earth. Once you get past the graphic opening and confusing edited scenes then its full steam ahead for a pleasant viewing. The reason that Black Orchid works is because the story slows right down and allows The Doctor times to spend quality time with his companions without the need to save the Earth. The 'pointless' scenes of The Doctor having a drink, wandering about the place, and playing cricket becomes an interesting direction for any Doctor Who story to take. However, the murder mystery which is the main plot point of the story is not really a mystery. Impressive plot pacing and a gruesome face mask for the ‘monster’ help the story along. The story does enough to get a pass mark but is just not long or big enough to be anything special. Still good. ***​