Famous for introducing a new companion named Leela and taking the series into very mature territory, The Face Of Evil represents that last remnants of Tom Baker’s tenure where he allowed the character to shine through rather than it just being an exaggerated and bored looking or over confident version of himself.
When the TARDIS arrives on a jungle planet, the Doctor encounters two warring tribes, the Sevateem and the Tesh. The Sevateem worship a God called Xoanon and the Tesh are supposedly keeping Xoanon prisoner. But why do the Sevateem call the Doctor the Evil One? And what are the invisible creatures in the jungle? The Time Lord, with the help of a girl called Leela, is about to find out.
Dark with a sinister and rather ghoulish theme running through it this was first shown January 1977 (it actually started on New Year’s Day) and it’s quite a sobering piece. The introduction of Leela, a scantily clad warrior (one for the dads, nudge nudge) is subtly done and Louise Jameson is wonderful as the innocent and slightly child-like killer. Baker is at his most powerful, giving a turn that was one of his strongest but highlighted some of the foibles he would continually emit, such as staring directly into camera and talking.
The story is a made up of two themes, war and religion, two subjects that regularly influence each other but its strange to see them covered in such an adult way for what is, to be honest, a show aimed at youngsters. It also looks stunning, the filmed sequences stand up to today’s techniques with the sets looking lush, colourful and best of all alien.
The Pygmalion influence is evident from the start and whilst Doctor Who is always good at “being influenced” by other stories it does make it a tad predictable. The original name for the story was “The Day God Went Mad” which is quite something and a shame they changed it though The Face Of Evil is pretty cool. This was a tough story to get over to the viewers, not only did they have to replace Sarah Jane but also keep viewers hooked. It achieved what it set out to do with great style.
Commentary – New Doctor Who hero of mine Toby Hadoke moderates yet another corker of a gag-track that has contributions from Louise Jameson, Leslie Schofield, David Garfield, camerman John McGlashan and Harry H. Fielder. All are very vocal here but Hadoke allows everyone to shine.
Into The Wild: The Making Of The Face Of Evil – Philip Hinchliffe, Louise Jameson, Mat Irvine, designer Austin Ruddy and director Pennant Roberts (from an interview conducted in 2003) are all on hand to chat about the creation of the classic piece of Doctor Who. Their reaction to the costume is very funny and how Louise insisted on having a flap to cover her “huge arse” (her words not mine) and how the publicity for her character was a bit wrong.
From The Cutting Room Floor – A great selection of film trims which show glimpses of how the serial was put together. Experience the odd outtake with the infamous “quack quack oops” sound effect that Dave Lee Travis used on the radio to drown out any fruity language. A great extra.
Tomorrow’s Times – Wendy Padbury introduces a quick look through the newspaper stories that cropped up in the tabloids during the fourth Doctor’s reign.
Doctor Who Stories: Lousie Jameson – Taken from 2003’s The Story Of Doctor Who, this short piece has Louise chatting about her role on the show.
Swap Shop – A gentle and innocent interview with Louise Jameson about her role on the series from a rather young looking Noel Edmonds. Not deep in any sense of the word but it’s wonderful to see, a rather more relaxed form of children’s entertainment and is all the better for it. It’s a strange thing for when Edmonds asks her about working on the show we now know that it wasn’t the easiest job she had taken on.
Denys Fisher Toys Advert – More nostalgia this time from the range of figures that bared little resemblance to Tom or Louise. The Dalek and Giant Robot looked good though!
Info Text – A must view for everyone. The usual TARDIS-load of information and facts about the adventure.
PDF Materials – More Radio Times listings for you to check out plus something I’d totally forgotten about, the 1976 Typhoo Tea Doctor Who Promotion. Classic stuff.
Coming Soon – A cracking trailer for much anticipated release of The Daemons. Burn him! Burn him!
A classic in every sense of the word The Face Of Evil is dark Doctor Who at its best with performances that match the sombre tone of the script. A golden age was drawing to a close but not before it allowed a few more gems out of its bag.
Released on March 5th, you can pre-order The Face of Evil from Amazon now for just £14.99!