OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 516
STORY NUMBER: 106
TRANSMITTED: 10 November 1979
WRITER: David Fisher
DIRECTOR: Christopher Barry
SCRIPT EDITOR: Douglas Adams
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 10.2 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Creature from the Pit
Driving Organon and the guards out of his cave the creature seals the entrance with metal. One of the guards informs Adrastra. The Doctor attempts to communicate with the creature, deducing it has chlorophyll in it's veins. The creature creates a metal shape in the rock which the Doctor recognises as a shield hanging on Adrastra's palace wall. As he does so the shield lights up, but just then the bandits arrive in the palace and start to loot it, taking the shield. Detected they flee into the mines. The Doctor finds pieces of the shell he saw on the surface in the cave, and Romana finds the cave blockage is also the same material. Two of the bandits become entranced by the shield and carry it away. With the metal weakened the Doctor bursts through, with Adrastra wanting to know how he communicated with the creature. Adrastra sends K-9, Romana & the guards to kill the creature, but they cannot find the creature. Adrastra starts to panic, and accidentally reveals the creature is a Tythonian. The Doctor and Romana attempt to escape using K-9, but as they do the creature approaches. The Doctor deduces that Adrastra put it in the pit. Adrastra holds the Doctor at knife point demanding that Romana has K-9 kill the creature. The bandits arrive and place the shield on the creature to Adrastra's screams of NO!
The more we find out about the creature in the pit the more intriguing it gets. Unfortunately the story as it's unfolding on the screen is a little pedestrian to say the least. We will not pass further comment on what Tom Baker appears to be doing to the creature's appendage while attempting to communicate with it, but I believe the actor himself has something to say on the matter in Doctor Who: The Tom Baker Years.
With this episode, his 135th, Tom Baker takes the record for the longest serving Doctor in terms of episodes. He'll eventually extend that record to 172 broadcast episodes (or 178 ish if you count Shada) and nobody will ever get remotely close to braking that record again.
Although the actress playing Adrastra, Myra Frances doesn't have any Doctor Who form, indeed the only thing I can find that we might have seen her in is Survivors, lots of the rest of the cast do. Playing Karela, her assistant, is Eileen Way who was the Old Mother in the very first Doctor Who story, An Unearthly Child, and was first character to die in the entire series. A late entry on her CV is a role Russell T Davies children's drama series Century Falls. From the bandits, John Bryans, playing their leader Torvin, was Senator Bercol during the first two series of Blake's 7 (Seek Locate Destroy & Trial) returning in the third series as the torturer Shrinker (the superb Rumours of Death). Edu is played by Edward Kelsey who was a slave buyer in The Romans & Resno in The Power of the Daleks while Ainu is played by Tim Munro who'll return as Sigurd in Terminus.
By far the most recognisable face in this story is someone who could have been in Doctor Who hundreds of times, but this is actually his first & only appearance: playing the astrologer Organon, with more than a hint of William Hartnell, is Geoffrey Bayldon. It seems that every time the Doctor was cast his name was mentioned in connection with the role! Years later he would play an alternate version of the first Doctor in two Big Finish audio plays. By this point he was famous for playing the lead role in Catweazle and had recently appeared in the film version of Porridge. He was, at the time this series was made, appearing in Worzel Gummidge, as the Crowman, with third Doctor Jon Pertwee. His partner was actor Alan Rowe, who appeared in the Doctor Who stories The Time Warrior & Horror of Fang Rock. Aged 88 he is, at time of writing, still going strong!