The TARDIS brings the Doctor and his friends to a railway station in 1925, where a car is waiting for them – and the Doctor seems to be expected by name. He and his companions are taken to Lord Cranleigh’s estate, where the Doctor turns the tide in a game of cricket. But as all the guests prepare for a fancy dress party, the Doctor’s costume is stolen and his curiosity leads him down a hidden passage in the house. By the time the Doctor emerges, he is the prime suspect in at least two murders – and due to his own disappearance into the house’s secret passageways, he has no alibi. Someone in the house does know who the real killer is, but if she tips her hand, other dreadful secrets could destroy the Cranleigh family.
Guest Cast: Vanessa Paine (Ann Talbot), Barbara Murray (Lady Cranleigh), Michael Cochrane (Lord Cranleigh), Gareth Milne (George Cranleigh), Moray Watson (Sir Robert Muir), Ivor Salter (Sergeant Markham), Ahmed Khalil (Latoni), Brian Hawksley (Brewster), Andrew Tourell (Constable Cummings), Timothy Block (Tanner), James Muir (Police driver), Caron Heggie (Ann’s maid), Derek Hunt (Footman), David Wilde (Digby)
Broadcast from March 1 through 2, 1982
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: Though it’s a very short story by Doctor Who standards, and features virtually no science fiction elements, there are quite a few interesting moments in Black Orchid, and let’s face it, it’s just an amusingly charming little story. We find out that, despite the fact that she doesn’t appear to be appreciably older than Adric and Nyssa, Tegan seems to be of legal drinking age (she orders a screwdriver, and Nyssa unwittingly asks for the same, which gets a quick “ahem” from the Doctor), and there is at least one scene that lends some credence to fan speculation that Adric has a bit of a crush on Nyssa. (It always surprised me, in fact, that this element wasn’t played up more often.) When his host refers to “the master,” the Doctor is gripped by a momentary fear that this is a reference to the Master (as in Anthony Ainley), a rather humorous continuity non-sequitur.
All in all, I really enjoy this two-parter, just the right length for a show which avoids Doctor Who’s usual science fiction trappings. It’s a charmingly parochial and utterly British tale.