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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

"I feel a chill..."
―The Squire
The Visitation
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 19
Story Number: 120
Doctor: Fifth Doctor
Writer: Eric Saward
Director: Peter Moffatt
Broadcast: 15th February - 23rd February 1982
Format: 4 25-minute episodes
Previous Story: Kinda
Following Story: Black Orchid

The Fifth Doctor manages to get Tegan back to Heathrow as per his promise. The problem is that the TARDIS has arrived at Heathrow in 1666.



The Doctor attempts to take Tegan back to Heathrow Airport but the TARDIS arrives in the 17th Century instead of the 20th. The time travellers discover that a space capsule has crash-landed nearby and that its alien occupants, three Terileptil prison escapees, intend to wipe out all indigenous life on Earth by releasing rats infected with an enhanced strain of the great plague.

The creatures are also using a sophisticated android to strike terror into the local villagers. Aided by itinerant thespian Richard Mace, the Doctor tracks the Terileptils to their base in Pudding Lane, London. The creatures are ultimately destroyed when a fire breaks out and the Terileptil leader's weapon explodes - also setting off the Great Fire of London.


At the manor home of a 17th century family, an unwelcome visitor arrives.

In the console room, the Doctor is talking with Adric about the events of their previous adventure on Deva Loka (Kinda). The Doctor then notices that there is a fault in the console. Meanwhile, Nyssa is assisting Tegan Jovanka in getting ready to leave as they are preparing to land at Heathrow right after she left (Logopolis). Tegan and Nyssa enter the console room to find that they have landed at Heathrow… just 300 some years early. Tegan is distressed and storms out of the TARDIS.

The four gather outside the TARDIS and immediately smell sulphur and head off to find the source. They are then attacked by villagers, but escape. In the confusion, Adric dropped his homing device to find the TARDIS and the group is separated. A highwayman and proclaimed thespian, Richard Mace next encounters the group and takes them to safety inside a barn.

While questioning Mace, they find out that some kind of comet recently landed nearby. The Doctor knows it was no comet and immediately takes interest in the necklace Mace is wearing. It is actually a bracelet used for prisoner control. The group begins searching the barn and comes across several power packs, and since they are far more fragile than the necklace, it means there were survivors. And so they set off to the nearby manor of the person who owns the barn.

No one answers the front door, so the Doctor and Nyssa find a way in through a window. While searching the manor, they find more power packs, gunpowder, and a mark from a high energy weapon. The Doctor also notices that there is a wall where there shouldn’t be one. And while he continues his investigation of the wall, Nyssa heads to the front door and lets the others in. But when they return to the wall, the Doctor is no where to be found. And as the four stand there trying to figure out where he’s gone, a figure shuts and locks the door behind them.

The Doctor then appears through the wall and explains it is a holographic energy barrier. The group walks through and joins the Doctor. Once in the cellar, they notice the place smells of Soliton gas. Also in the cellar are several caged rats and the device emitting the Soliton gas. While the five are searching the room, the figure from before, an android, sneaks up on them. It succeeds in stunning Tegan and Adric, while the Doctor, Nyssa and Mace are forced to retreat.

The survivor is a Terileptil fugitive and interrogates Tegan and Adric about the Doctor. Meanwhile, the Doctor and the others find the Terileptil’s ship near the manor while they plan on how to deal with the android: A sonic booster set up in the TARDIS might just deal with it. As they leave the ship, a group of villagers, all wearing the same device Mace found, approach them. They demand that the Doctor come with them, and when he refuses they attack. The three run back into the ship, now under siege by the villagers. The Doctor blasts open the rear hatch of the ship and the group escapes into the forest to find the TARDIS. The controlled villages follow them at a distance.

Back in the manor, Tegan and Adric have been placed in a locked room. And while Nyssa heads back to the TARDIS to work on the sonic booster, the Doctor and Mace go to appropriate a horse from a nearby mill to make their way back to the manor. Tegan and Adric eventually escape from the room and head up into the manor proper. Adric succeeds in jumping out a window before Tegan is recaptured by the android. And just before leaving the mill, the Doctor and Mace are confronted by real villagers and are about to be killed for being “plague carriers”.

But the Terileptil still needs the Doctor and sends his controlled villagers in to stop them. The villagers then throw the Doctor and Mace into a room in the mill. At the manor, the Terileptil has placed one of the bracelets on Tegan. And back at the TARDIS, Adric arrives and assists Nyssa in setting up the sonic booster. The Doctor succeeds in disabling two of the bracelets and the Terileptil dispatches the android to retrieve them.

Minutes later, the android, in the guise of the Grim Reaper, bursts into the mill, frightens off the villagers, and takes the Doctor and Mace back to the manor where they find Tegan under the control of the bracelet. The Doctor encounters the Terileptil and his offer to take him away from Earth fails. The Terileptil instead plans to kill everyone on Earth and take the planet over. Mace is also equipped with a bracelet and the Doctor is thrown in a room where the Terileptil destroys his sonic screwdriver. The Terileptil brings in a cage with a rat and explains his plan: he is going to use genetically enhanced plague carried on the rats to devastate the population. The Terileptil leaves the room and the controlled Tegan prepares to open the cage.

The Doctor manages to disable the bracelets and stop both of them. The Terileptil leaves for his base in the nearby city and sends the android to take control of the TARDIS. The Doctor, Tegan, and Mace escape from the room and search the Terileptil’s lab to find it completely empty. Mace tells the Doctor that the nearby city the Terileptil was referring to was London. The android arrives at the TARDIS but is successfully dealt with by the sonic booster Nyssa finished. Adric and Nyssa then move the TARDIS to meet the Doctor and the others at the manor.

Using the TARDIS scanner, the Doctor locates the Terileptil in London. The TARDIS rematerializes there and the five enter the building. With the Terileptil leader are two other Terileptils who get the jump on the Doctor and Mace. They manage to stop them, but of the Terileptil’s weapons become overloaded and detonate. The resulting explosion destroys the building and starts a raging fire. Mace stays behind to fight the blaze as the Doctor, Tegan, and Nyssa leave in the TARDIS.

It is revealed that the fire is at Pudding Lane, the location where the Great Fire of London started.

Cast & Characters



  • Tegan assumes that the Terileptil's interest in the TARDIS means that, like Monarch, he wants to "ride in it".
  • Whilst in the TARDIS prior to landing Tegan is talking to Nyssa about her recent possession by the Mara on Deva Loka.

Races and species

  • The Terileptils are very intelligent semi-reptilian creatures who have a heightened appreciation of aesthetics and warfare.
  • These Terileptils have escaped from the Tinclavic mines on Raaga, where they have been sentenced to life imprisonment.
  • Terileptils cannot last for long without breathing soliton gas: the substance is volatile when mixed with oxygen (it smells a bit like sulphur).


  • The explosion of the Terileptil leader's weapon is the cause of the 1666 Great Fire of London beginning in Pudding Lane.


  • The TARDIS' lateral balance cones are "playing up" (probably "temperamental solenoids"), foiling the Doctor's attempt to get Tegan back to 1981 Heathrow.
  • Adric drops his TARDIS homing device in a fight.
  • When the Doctor is searching for the Terileptils' London base, the scanner shows a 'brown and white' 17th century print of London's streets


  • The Doctor's sonic screwdriver is destroyed.
  • The Doctor finds the Terileptils' escape pod half buried.
  • Adric and Nyssa are able to pilot the Doctor's TARDIS on their own.
  • The Terileptils construct an energy barrier to hide their workshop from the rest of the house.
  • The Terileptils' control bracelets are made of polygrite: the substance, and the power packs, are found in many parts of the Universe. Their usual form of lighting - vintaric crystals - is also common.
  • The Terileptils have developed advanced androids.

Story Notes

  • The working titles for this story were The Invasion of the Plague Men and Plague Rats.
  • The opening sequence in the TARDIS follows on directly from Kinda. Since The Visitation was filmed before Kinda, the cast had to act out their characters' responses to the events of Kinda based solely on the script.
  • In use since the 1968 Second Doctor serial, Fury from the Deep, the Doctor's sonic screwdriver was destroyed by the Terileptil leader. This was on the direction of producer John Nathan-Turner, who felt that the tool was too easy a way of solving the Doctor's problems, vetoing a scene at the end of the story where the Doctor would simply get a replacement from a room full of the devices in the TARDIS. This was the last time the sonic screwdriver was seen in the series before its next appearance in the 1996 Doctor Who television movie.
  • The Terileptil mask marks the first use of animatronics in the series.
  • Features a guest appearance by John Savident, some years prior to his achieving fame as one of the cast of Coronation Street.
  • Eric Saward attributes the name 'Terileptil' to the words "territorial reptiles". (Doctor Who: The Making of a Television Series)
  • Writer Eric Saward originally created the character of Richard Mace for several radio plays broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in the 1970s. The initial idea for this story was suggested to Saward by a former girlfriend who had recently read about the plague and the fire.
  • An outtake from filming, in which a horse pulling a cart demolishes a covered bridge, was later broadcast on an episode of The Noel Edmunds Saturday Roadshow during a "Clown Court" segment otherwise devoted to Sylvester McCoy bloopers. This segment was later released as a bonus feature with the DVD release of Delta and the Bannermen.


  • Part 1 - 9.1 million viewers
  • Part 2 - 9.3 million viewers
  • Part 3 - 9.9 million viewers
  • Part 4 - 10.1 million viewers


to be added

Filming Locations

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • Believing the Doctor and Richard Mace to be warlocks, the villagers attempt to burn them by setting fire to the mill. This is somewhat historically incorrect, as while persons accused of witchcraft were burned on the Continent, in England and Scotland they were more often hanged. ("More often", perhaps - but sometimes, they were burned. This is one of those instances.)
  • During the fight in the first episode, the Doctor apparently loses his trademark stalk of celery from his lapel. But a short time later inside the barn when he goes behind a pillar, a replacement stalk appears in his hand. (The Doctor often carries an odd assortment of useful items in his pockets. The fact that it is in his hand indicates that we are meant to assume he picked it up somewhere, from pockets or elsewhere, and it was not simply an oversight by the production crew.)
  • When the doors open in the interior of the crashed ship, you can clearly see that the forest is not there.
  • The ornaments in Nyssa's and Tegan's room disapear in episode four. They were damaged during the destruction of the robot.
  • The Terileptil Leader's refusal to accept the Doctor's offer of help seems rather irrational. Even if they do wipe out the human race, they will still face the prospect of a primitive existence on Earth, and will be forever in danger of the authorities of their homeworld recapturing them. Plus, isn't the whole Earth a bit big for just three of them?


DVD, Video, and Other Releases

DVD Releases

Released as Doctor Who: The Visitation.


NTSC - Warner Video E2157



Video Releases

Released as Doctor Who: The Visitation / Black Orchid with Black Orchid as part of a two tape set.


PAL - BBC Video BBCV5349

Doctor Who Illustrated Guides

The Making of a Television Series is a guide to the production of this story.


Main article: Doctor Who and the Visitation

External Links

  • BBC - Doctor Who - The Classic Series - Episode Guide: The Visitation
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - The Visitation
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): The Visitation
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - The Visitation
Season 19
Castrovalva  • Four to Doomsday  • Kinda  • The Visitation  • Black Orchid  • Earthshock  • Time-Flight
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at The Visitation. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the TARDIS Index File, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

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


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