The Leisure Hive : Part One
First Broadcast 30th August 1980 @ 6.15pm (5.9m viewers)
The Leisure Hive marks a new era in Doctor Who on television. Tom Baker and Lalla Ward both returned to their roles for Season 18. But it was behind the camera, and more accurately in the Production Office, where change was afoot.
John Nathan-Turner, a production manager on the show, was elevated to the role of Producer, taking over from Graham Williams. He would be responsible for triggering perhaps the biggest overhaul in the show for a decade. Stylistic alterations provided the most obvious indication of a new direction for the show. Part One of ‘The Leisure Hive’ opened with a new theme tune, a new title sequence, a new costume for the Fourth Doctor and even a new TARDIS exterior prop.
Also departing the production was script editor Douglas Adams who was replaced by Christopher H Bidmead. Under his control, the series moved into the realms of hard science with tacyonics providing a significant focus for this story. Bidmead was also keen to tone down the use of ‘magical’ objects such as the sonic screwdriver and K9, leading to an explosive accident for the tin dog.
Behind the scenes the K9 prop had often been problematic and filming on Brighton beach would prove no different. Outside the safe environment of a BBC studio with flat floors the possibility of K9 navigating the rocks and pebbles of the beach was verging on the impossible. As a result, the prop had to be pulled along on a wire for certain shots. The crew probably were in fits of delirium when Romana accidentally instructs K9 to fetch the beach ball, inadvertently plunging the robot dog into the sea. Children across the country, however, were likely devastated but fortunately K9 would return in the next story ‘Meglos’. The prop was however rebuilt in the meantime by Mat Irvine and Charlie Lunn with radios and drive mechanism replaced.
Part One of ‘The Leisure Hive’ is a bold, fresh direction for a series rapidly approaching its 20th Anniversary. The early scenes on the drab and dreary English coast represent what has gone before. As the world had now entered the 1980’s so too did Doctor Who embrace a bright, colourful and vibrant new era. This would be demonstrated by the first planet visited, Argolis, populated by the Argolins with their yellow and green appearance. Further colourful beings would appear such as the Foamasi and in the next story, Meglos. The garish 1980’s was being fully embraced.
This episode, therefore, represents a significant moment in the continued development of Doctor Who. A fresh reinterpretation of the programme brought the show into a new decade, one which would eventually prove turbulent and very divisive.
Doctor Who – Tom Baker
Romana – Lalla Ward
Voice of K9 – John Leeson
Brock – John Collin
Mena – Adrienne Corri
Vargos – Martin Fisk
Pangol – David Haig
Hardin – Nigel Lambert
Morix – Laurence Payne
Klout – Ian Talbot
Guide – Roy Montague
Tannoy Voice – Harriet Reynolds
Director Lovett Bickford
Executive Producer Barry Letts
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Writer David Fisher
Also First Aired On This Day…
- Terror of the Zygons : Part One
- Into the Dalek