The Daemons – 1971 – S8 – E5/5

image Number : Season 8, episode 5 of 5.

Which One : Demons and Morris Dancers.

Cast : The Doctor : Jon Pertwee
Jo : Katy Manning
Brigadier : Nicholas Courtney
Captain Mike Yates : Richard Franklin
Sergeant Benton : John Levene
The Master : Roger Delgado
Azal : Stephen Thorne
Bok : Stanley Mason
Miss Hawthorne : Damaris Hayman
Prof. Horner : Robin Wentworth
Alastair Fergus : David Simeon
Sgt Osgood : Alec Linstead
Winstanley : Rollo Gamble
Bert the Landlord : Don McKillop
Garvin : John Joyce
Tom Girton : Jon Croft
Jones : Matthew Corbett
Harry : James Snell
PC Groom : Christopher Wray
Dr Reeves : Eric Hillyard
Thorpe : John Owens
Baker’s Man : Gerald Taylor
Morris Dancers : The Headington Quarry Men

Written By : Barry Letts & Robert Sloman

Produced By : Barry Letts

First UK Broadcast : 22 May – 19 June 1971.

Length : 5 x 25 minute parts.

Plot : The Master, masquerading as the clergy in Devils End village, attempts to summon a powerful alien being, called Azal, a “Daemon” – into being.

Whats good : Weird village setting. The Master. Hammer horror overtones.

Whats bad : the defeat of Azal is a bit uninspired and weak.

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Review With Spoilers : The Daemons is the fifth episode of season 8 and the season finale – written by producer Barry Letts.

With a potentially controversial devil worshipping theme (for the time), The Daemons boldly and skillfully blends – Olde English folklore and science fiction, into one episode.

It’s also the only episode of Who to weigh in at 5 parts. Rather than the usual format of even numbered parts – 2, 4, 6 & 8 etc.

The Daemon’s introduces the concept of demons and devils in superstition, actually being related to images of Daemon aliens. Which visited Earth during different time periods – in the past, influencing folklore through the ages

It also sets down a Who template for the “something is evil in the village” type feel. Akin to the wierdness of something like The Wickerman, whilst throwing every Hammer Horror cliche into the mix – lightening, thunder, high winds, etc.

Many Who’s have since tried to recapture this feel. Episodes like The Android Invasion, Stones Of Blood, The Awakening and Mark Of The Rani.

None have quite captured the atmosphere as successfully as The Daemons did.

Added to this mix is a stone gargoyle – which come to life and creepy Morris Dancers henchmen, under evil influence. It all adds to a quintessentially dose of British weirdness, which only Who firing on all cylinders – could replicate.

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“There is something strange about Devil’s End. Is Professor Horner being as foolish as his critics would suggest? I must admit, standing here in this unquiet place, I’m beginning to wonder myself!” Fergus

The BBC even parodies itself with a BBC “Three” special within the episode (yes – BBC Three the recently created and soon to be defunct real station!) from Devils End about the ongoing archeology of a local mound, which is blamed for all of the events in Devils End.

After a so-so turn in Colony In Space, the Master is back in his element here; playing the High Priest of devil worshipping weirdness, as he attempts to revive the Daemon – Azal.

The only weak point in The Daemons is the defeat of Azal, which seems out of place with such a powerful being. Whilst attempting to kill the Doctor with Jedi electricity bolts, Jo strays in the way and the resulting rebound mortally wounds Azal. No explanation is given as to why this is, other than that Jo is probably somehow pure of heart – or something.

Damaris Hayman is also rather good in this, playing local village busybody – Miss Hawthorne. Hilariously, she seems immune to the Master’s attempts to hypnotise her, for poking around the local church.

Being that the SFX in old Who is usually derided as cheap looking. It is perhaps more surprising that the model SFX of the church exploding – at the end sequence, generated a number of complaints from viewers. Who were angry that a real church had been blown up for the programme.

The Gargoyle – Bok is an effective secondary monster in this, much more effective than Azal. Probably due to being a live stone Gargoyle or perhaps just due to the weird sticky out tongue. A forerunner of the Weeping Angels from the new series.- no doubt.

If The Daemons point is to lay on a huge slab of English folklore-themed weirdness, then it succeeds in spades, throwing every hammer horror cliche into the mix.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5)

Old Doctor Who


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