Doctor Who and the Visitation - Target Books
Doctor Who and the Visitation – Target Books

Poor Tegan. All she wanted to do was go to Heathrow in 1981, so she could finally begin her job as an air stewardess. The Doctor takes her to the right spot – but misses the right time, once again. Tegan, Nyssa, Adric, and The Doctor arrive at Heathrow, but its five busy terminals won’t be ready for at least 300 years. It’s 1666. Cue one of the funniest lines in Doctor Who history: when Tegan realises she’s not in 1981, she roars: ‘Call yourself a Time Lord,’ she shouted. ‘A broken clock keeps better time than you. At least it’s right twice a day, which is more than you are!’

The Visitation was written by Eric Saward, a former estate agent with a genius for radio dramas. Saward was asked to write a screenplay for Peter Davison’s first series on Doctor Who. Saward wrote The Visitation and was immediately hired as the script editor for Doctor Who. The four-part series was broadcast 15 – 23 February 1982 and featured the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, and companions Tegan (Janet Fielding), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), and Adric (Matthew Waterhouse).

The Visitation was originally published by Target in 1982. For Classic Doctor Who fans, Target was the only book publisher that mattered in the 1970s and 80s. Target Books released 156 Doctor Who titles from 1973 to 1994.

This story begins with a local family finishing dinner. The daughter notices bright flashing lights, but they soon disappear. The family plays a leisurely game of cards after dinner, until they are interrupted by a creature dressed as the Grim Reaper. Death is actually an alien Terileptil, one of several who have crashed on Earth. They are all criminals, and they decide to take over the Earth, using the Black Plague as a starting point for the evil work.

The Terileptil soon find the Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa, Adric, and a local actor named Richard Mace, who had been helping the Doctor and his friends hide from the Terileptils. The group is quickly separated, and Tegan and Mace are taken over by the evil race of aliens.

Fights and excitement ensue, as The Doctor finds himself imprisoned by the nasty aliens. Their plan is to unleash rats infected with an even deadlier strain of bubonic plague, and The Doctor struggles to free himself and Tegan from the alien control before they can get the rats to London.

The Doctor prevails – but at great cost. His sonic screwdriver is destroyed. In fact, the screwdriver will not appear on Doctor Who again until the Eighth Doctor’s television movie starring Paul McGann.

The struggle escalates when the four companions meet the Terileptils in their London lair. A fire breaks out in the room, destroying the aliens and the rats – and The Doctor walks away. Tegan asks The Doctor why he let the fire rage, and as they walk past an old street sign marked Pudding Lane, he promises to explain it all one day.

The Visitation is an absolutely delightful read, and the cover art by Chris Achilleos is simply fantastic. Another brilliant read from Target Books.

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