The Daemons

Doctor WhoA live television broadcast from an archaeological dig at Devil’s End – which Dr. Reeves plans to excavate at midnight – draws the interest of the villagers and of U.N.I.T., though the Doctor is unconvinced that there is any supernatural significance to these events until a local woman, claiming to be a white witch, interrupts the broadcast to protest the dig. Miss Hawthorne believes that the dig could unearth the devil himself. The Doctor and Jo rush to Devil’s End, arriving just as Dr. Reeves opens the barrow – and brings it crashing down on everyone inside. When the Doctor recovers, all hell has quite literally broken loose in the village, thanks to the new vicar – the Master in disguise – who is calling upon the powers of what most people could only describe as the devil.

written by Guy Leopold (a.k.a. Barry Letts & Robert Sloman)
directed by Christopher Barry
music by Dudley Simpson

Guest Cast: John Levene (Sergeant Benton), Richard Franklin (Captain Yates), Damaris Hayman (Miss Hawthrone), Eric Hillyard (Dr. Reeves), David Simeon (Alastair Fergus), James Snell (Harry), Robin Wentworth (Professor Horner), Rollo Gamble (Winstanley), Don McKillop (Bert), John Croft (Tom Girton), Christopher Wray (Groom), Jon Joyce (Garvin), Gerald Taylor (Baker’s man), Stanley Mason (Bok), Alec Linstead (Osgood), John Owens (Thorpe), Stephen Thorne (Azal), Matthew Corbett (Jones), Robin Squire (TV cameraman), Patrick Milner (Corporal)

Broadcast from May 22 through June 19, 1971

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Review: This wonderfully atmospheric five-parter builds brilliantly upon legends both Pagan and Christian, and those roots lend the story a lot of its impact. It’s also a rare chance for the UNIT regulars to shine on their own as both Benton and Yates scuffle with the unruly locals (who are under the hypnotic influence of the Master), and the Brigadier is forced to deal with the situation on his own while the Doctor is locked inside a lethal thermal barrier. (After poor Sgt. Osgood blows up Roger Delgado as The Mastera vital piece of equipment, the Brigadier probably realizes how lucky he is to have the Doctor as his scientific advisor…)

The Daemons could well be Roger Delgado’s best outing as the Master, what with all of the vibes of pure evil that are conjured up by the plot elements of devil worship, witchcraft, and the occult, and Delgado’s appearance is perfectly suited that sort of thing. If this had been the Master’s first appearance, we still would’ve been pretty sure that he was up to no good.

For several years, especially for those of us who saw this one on PBS, The Daemons was in black & white, which in some cases – see also the review of Doctor Who and the Silurians – added to the creepy atmosphere, but BBC Video also released the Daemons in a re-colorized format on VHS in the 1990s.