OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 541
STORY NUMBER: 112
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 01 November 1980
WRITER: Andrew Smith
DIRECTOR: Peter Grimwade
SCRIPT EDITOR: Christopher H. Bidmead
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 3.7 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The E-Space Trilogy (Full Circle / State of Decay / Warrior's Gate)
Romana gives Adric a homing device for the Tardis as he leaves to warn the other outlers. In the short time in the Tardis his injuries have healed. The Outlers decide to use the homing device to find the Tardis to shelter from the mists where they take Romana prisoner. The Doctor has K-9 follow the Marshmen. Decider Nefred, now in charge, has read the secret system files and is burdened but what he has read. Login accepts the offer to join the Deciders. From within the Tardis sudden lurches violently and when the Doctor returns he finds it gone. Exposed in the mists the Doctor uses the Sonic Screwdriver to break into the Starliner. He is followed in by a juvenile Marshman. Nefred speaks to the the people of how the Starliner brought them from Terradon and how they must labour to get it functional again. The Tardis comes to rest, Romana discovering the Marshmen have carried the Tardis to the cave the Outlers use. The Doctor and the Marshman are captured on the ship and taken before the Deciders. K-9 tracks the Tardis to the cave but the Marshmen smash his head off. Romana deduces that the Marshmen intend to use the Tardis as a battering ram to breach the Starliner. Romana goes outside to find why the Marshmen have left but he Outlers, scared by the spiders hatching from marsh fruit, shut the Tardis doors on her and accidentally dematerialise, leaving Romana in the cave where she is bitten by one of the spiders and falls unconscious.
Not bad there, with some background to the humans on the planet revealed: they're the descendants of the crashed starliner trying to escape from the planet. We've seen the Tardis physically removed before (Space Pirates & Frontier in Space spring to mind) as the Marshmen do in this episode but is this the first time the Tardis has dematerialised without the Doctor or another Time Lord aboard? The Marshmen coming out the swamp would seem to owe something to the Sea Devils coming out of water many years before. We've got a case of a familiar household object turning up in the story as something else: The walls of the Deciders room are obviously milkcrates!
All locations for this story are found in Black Park in Buckinghamshire. The director is first timer Peter Grimwade. He'd risen through the ranks at the BBC, serving as a production assistant on Spearhead from Space, The Dæmons, Robot, Pyramids of Mars, The Robots of Death (where he gave his name to the medical name for Robophobia, Grimwade's syndrome) and Horror of Fang Rock. He's almost certainly the best new director found at this stage of the season and ends up directing Tom Baker's swansong.
At 3.7 million viewers this episode has the second smallest audience of any Doctor Who episode so far and the smallest since the 3.5 million recorded for The War Games part 8!