The Doctor brings Ace to a house called Gabriel Chase in the year 1883 – a house which a younger Ace firebombed in 1983, long before she joined the Doctor but long after anything had lived in the house. Gabriel Chase’s original owner is a very unusual man named Josiah Samuel Smith, infamous in the 19th century for his controversial theories of evolution, and these theories have brought the Reverend Matthews to Gabriel Chase. But something else has brought the missing explorer Redvers Fenn-Cooper there – a offer of glory in exchange for an assassination. At the heart of all of these events lies a sinister secret of a far less earthly nature, something which could result in the destruction of Earth…but the Doctor’s hands are already full when Ace discovers that he has brought her to her dreaded home town of Perivale a century before her birth.
Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred, Ian Hogg (Josiah Samuel Smith), Sharon Duce (Control), John Hallam (Light), Carl Forgione (Nimrod), Sylvia Syms (Mrs. Pritchard), Katharine Schlesinger (Gwendoline), Michael Cochrane (Redvers Fenn-Cooper), Frank Windsor (Inspector Mackenzie), John Nettleton (Reverend Matthews), Brenda Kempner (Mrs. Grose)
Broadcast from October 4 through 18, 1989
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: Though it’s quite atmospheric, one almost needs the Target novelization of Ghost Light to tell what’s going on. It almost seems as if it was originally intended to be a four-parter, but wound up being squashed into three parts instead. There’s a considerable amount of narrative and wonderfully witty dialogue in those three parts, though, and it’s worth the time it takes to watch it.
Sophie Aldred really comes into her own in Ghost Light, and quickly makes herself the most interesting person to travel in the TARDIS since Turlough. Fortunately, Ace was generally graced with far better scripts than Turlough, and Aldred rises to the challenge admirably. In sharp contrast to the usual portrayal of Ace – which had been seen as recently as Battlefield – she is given maturity and a much more realistic dose of teenage angst. These elements continued through the remainder of Doctor Who’s final season on the air, and it was a welcome change.
If Ghost Light provides just one major irritation, it is that the Doctor seems to know what’s going on, and he remains tight-lipped on the subject. The unfortunate result here is that the viewer may not know what’s going on. On the good side, there’s yet another great musical score by Mark Ayres, which Silva Screen thankfully released on CD in 1993.