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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

"Alas, poor skull..."
―The Doctor
Image of the Fendahl
Series: Doctor Who - TV Stories
Season Number: Season 15
Story Number: 94
Doctor: Fourth Doctor
Companions: Leela
Enemy: The Fendahl
Maxamillion Stael
Setting: Earth, 1977
Writer: Chris Boucher
Director: George Spenton-Foster
Broadcast: 29th October - 19th November 1977
Format: 4 25-minute Episodes
Previous Story: The Invisible Enemy
Following Story: The Sun Makers



An anachronistic twelve-million-year-old human skull has been discovered by archaeologists and is now being used by Professor Fendelman in his time scanner experiments at Fetch Priory in contemporary England. The skull is actually an artifact of the Fendahl, an ancient creature that feeds on the life force of others.

Drawn by the operation of the scanner, the Doctor and Leela arrive as the experiments reach a peak. The skull is exerting an influence over the mind of Thea Ransome, one of the scientists in Fendelman's team, and glowing with power each time the scanner is activated. Thea is eventually transformed into the Fendahl core, and a group of acolytes assembled by Maximillian Stael - another of Fendelman's team, who is trying to harness the creature's power for his own ends - are converted into snake-like Fendahleen.

The Doctor shows the remaining scientist, Adam Colby, and two locals, Martha Tyler and her son Jack, how to defend themselves against the Fendahleen using rock salt. By activating the scanner once more, he triggers an implosion that destroys both the Priory and the Fendahl core.



Part 1

The Doctor and Leela are in the Tardis and arguing whether they can call K9 a man seeing as he is a robot. Meanwhile a Skull has been found and is in a lab that two palaeontologists Thea Ransome and Adam Colby are examing it. As Colby walks out she suddenly becomes engrossed by the skull. Dr. Fendelman the man in charge of the project says that the skull is over twelve millions years old which Adam thinks is wrong as humans where supposed to have evolved 4 million years before that. In the forest there is a man walking and an unseen creature follows him and begins to consume him. All of a sudden the Tardis is affected by a Time Hole. The Doctor traces it to Earth and the Tardis lands at the Priory. Thea is still being controlled by the power of the skull then faints. The next morning she wakes up to find that Adam has gone to walk the dog. Meanwhile the Doctor and Leela find a man called Ted Moss who says there are strange things going on in the Priory. Adam finds the body of the Hitchhiker dead which and tells all the people at the Priory. This leads to Dr Fendelman saying he must cover it all up as he does not want to attract media and police. Dr Fendelman gets his co worker Maximillian Stael to do a post mortem on the body. Dr. Fendalmen organises an secruirity team to cover the base. And a guard called David Mitchel gets into a disagrement with an old local woman Martha Tyler who is a white witch and the cook at the priory. The Doctor and Leela decide they must investigate the priory just as Thea switches on the time scanner she then begings to Merge with the skull agian. Leela and the Doctor have split up there search as Leela goes into a country cottage a gun goes of. The Doctor meanwhile is walking in the woods presumibly towards the Priory when he looses the power in his legs and begins to stop moving.

Part 2

The Doctor regains control of his legs. Ted Moss, reloads his shotgun and starts to walk out of the Tyler cottage, when Leela overpowers him. Jack Tyler gets rid of Ted Moss and talks with Leela. Thea is being gradually taken over by the skull (the Fendahl). The Fendahl kills Mitchell, the secuiry guard. An unconscious Thea briefly transforms into a group of embryo Fendahleen. Doctor Fendahlman has the Doctor loced up in a storage room. Jack Tyler talks to Leela about his "gran" and the old religion, and being involved with "something nasty" Leela tells him that she thinks the Doctor can help. Thea and Adam go to talk to Dr. Fendahlman about the disconnected telephone. Fendahlman explains that he thinks the skull is extraterrestrial. Mrs. Tyler returns to the cottage, terrified. Max Stael is secretly the leader of a local coven. Fendahlman shows Adam the skull x-ray.

There is a pattern of a pentagram on surface of the skull. Mother Tyler says that something was after her, "hungry" for her soul. Thea enters the room where the time scanner is kept. She sees the x-ray of the skull. Max shows up and says that she is the key to his power, the chosen one. The Doctor enters the room where the skull is kept. He finds the skull. It begins to "power up", glowing brightly. It forces him to touch it. He yells in pain as the skull glow ever brighter




  • The TARDIS generates a low intensity telepathic field.
  • The Fendahl skull was found in Kenya in volcanic sediment.
  • The Time Lords destroyed the fifth planet of the Sol system (possibly forming the asteroid belt) and then hid its existence in a time loop to prevent any knowledge of the Fendahl leaking out. The Doctor knows the story as a myth from childhood and is terrified by it.
  • The Fendahl requires twelve Fendahleen and a core to form its gestalt.
  • The Doctor discovers that "sodium chloride obviously affects conductivity... and prevents control of localised disruption of osmotic pressures." "You mean, salt kills them?" asks Leela.
  • After causing the priory's implosion, the Doctor intends to cast the skull into a supernova in the constellation of Canthares.

Story Notes

  • This story marks the first appearance of a new version of Leela's famous leather outfit, which is lighter in colour than the last. The new version was created because the original was wearing out, and had caused Louise Jameson some problems due to it being a leotard (the new version was a dress to rectify the problem). Producer Graham Williams had also instructed the designer, Amy Roberts, to make Louise look sexier in the new outfit. The original leotard appears briefly at the end of Episode 4 (mainly to facilitate the punchline to a joke in episode 1) and would return in the next story, 'The Sun Makers', before the new edition came back for Leela's final two outings.
  • K9 appears only briefly, in the opening and closing TARDIS scenes. Image of the Fendahl had been written before it was known that K9 would be joining the series on a regular basis. John Leeson was not recruited to voice the character, who had no lines of dialogue.
  • According to the 2009 DVD release documentary After Image, Anthony Read was brought on as script editor to help in the transition during Robert Holmes' departure from the role. Only Holmes received screen credit.
  • Also on the DVD, Louise Jameson says the reason why her hair is done up in this episode is because a BBC hairstylist had mistakenly cut 6 inches off her long hair just prior to filming. Her final scene in the story was filmed some five weeks after this incident, by which time her hair had grown long enough to allow her to wear it down for a single scene.


  • Part 1 - 6.7 million viewers
  • Part 2 - 7.5 million viewers
  • Part 3 - 7.9 million viewers
  • Part 4 - 9.1 million viewers


  • This story had a working title of The Island of Fandor. (It didn't. This myth originated when Gordon Blows, then editor of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society magazine TARDIS, misheard the title of the story over the phone and reported it incorrectly.)

Filming Locations

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • In episode four the Doctor says that the Fendahl killed the hiker and Mitchell, but he cannot possibly know their occupations or names. (There are several opportunities for him to have learned that information from characters off-screen.)
  • How does the Doctor get out of the locked cupboard in episode two? (He had been using the sonic screwdriver on it in the previous scene.)
  • Why did the Time Lords take such an extreme measure of time-looping the 'fifth planet' in order to contain the Fendahl but did not take similar precautions with the Sutekh (See Pyramids of Mars), who was surely no less of a potential threat to the cosmos? By the time the Time Lords did time-loop the fifth planet the Fendahl had already destroyed all life there, so there was no harm in doing it, whereas there were millions of people living on Earth at the time of Sutekh's imprisonment and it would have meant condemning the entire human race to eternal imprisonment.



DVD, Video and Other Releases

  • Image of Fendahl was released to DVD in the UK in April 2009 and in North America in September 2009.
  • Remastering for DVD release completed by Doctor Who Restoration Team.
  • Bonus features:
    • After Image - making-of featurette with Louise Jameson, Edward Arthur, Wanda Ventham, Anthony Read (uncredited script editor), and visual effects designer Colin Mapson.
    • Deleted and extended scenes.
    • Audio commentary by Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Wanda Ventham and Edward Arthur.
    • BBC One trailer.
    • Photo gallery
    • Easter egg: Louise Jameson discussing the 12-inch Leela doll.
    • PDF material: Radio Times listings
    • Production note subtitles.


Main article: Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl

See Also

External Links

  • BBC Episode Guide to Image of the Fendahl
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide: Detailed Synopsis - Image of the Fendahl
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel) Guide: Image of the Fendahl
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl
Season 15
Horror of Fang Rock  • The Invisible Enemy  • Image of the Fendahl  • The Sun Makers  • Underworld  • The Invasion of Time

This article uses material from the "Image of the Fendahl" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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