Which One : Ace revisits an old house from her childhood.
Cast : The Doctor : Sylvester McCoy
Ace : Sophie Aldred
Josiah Samuel Smith : Ian Hogg
Redvers Fenn-Cooper : Michael Cochrane
Nimrod : Carl Forgione
Control : Sharon Duce
Rev Ernest Matthews : John Nettleton
Gwendoline : Katharine Schlesinger
Inspector Mackenzie : Frank Windsor
Mrs Grose : Brenda Kempner
Mrs Pritchard : Sylvia Syms
Light : John Hallam
Written By : Mark Platt
Produced By : JNT
First UK Broadcast : 4 – 18 October 1989.
Length : 3 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : The Doctor takes Ace back to a traumatic event in her childhood. A Victorian period house in Perivale, called Gabriel Chase which Ace firebombed and destroyed. The duo arrive at the turn of the century to witness events unfolding in the house’s past.
Whats good : It starts as a Poirot episode with lots of odd characters present. It also develops Ace a bit further, by uncovering a little bit more of her past.
Whats bad : It’s a muddled, overacted and complex mess.
Review With Spoilers : Ghost Light is the second episode of a 4 episode run – in the final 26th season. It was notable as the last ever episode produced in the classic series; although Survival was the last episode ever broadcast.
Unfortunately, Ghost Light isn’t in itself notable. It is a poor, muddled mess of a story. It begins with promise, as a Poirot-style mystery story – with a number of oddball characters present in Gabriel House. Leaving the Doctor – as Poirot, to work out their motives and intentions.
It then turns into a sci-fi number. With a spaceship in the basement guarded by two weird dehydrated fly creatures and the appearance of an all powerful angel entity – called “Light”; who appears and threatens Earth.
The main problem with Ghost Light is that none of these pieces sit together, very well. The early promise of the Poirot-style episode, gives way to a disjointed sci-fi piece.
“It was all falling down, last time I saw it in 1983. You tricked me! This is Perivale…..!” Ace
“Light” appears so late in the episode, that we have no time to get to know this new character – or his motivations. He just seems slotted into the final act as a plot device, to create a bit of tension.
Light is more like a poor imitation of the much superior; Black Guardian, from the Key To Time and Black Guardian Trilogy stories.
The only plus on offer here, is we get a bit more character development for companion Ace. As the house; Gabriel Chase, forms a pivotal part of Ace’s early life growing up, many years after she and the Doctor visit.
So muddled is this story, that whilst shooting it, the producers had to regularly contact the writer for background and explanations. Even the hardcore Who contingent needed a number of rewatches, to try and understand all of what was going on here.
This was partly due to a number of explanatory scenes excised from the script, prior to shooting – for timing and pacing reasons.
A very good example as to why Who got cancelled; promising but too clever for its-self by far and running out of steam.