Number : Season 19, serial 5 of 7.

Which One : 1920’s ‘who’-dunnit.

Cast : The Doctor : Peter Davison
Tegan : Janet Fielding
Nyssa / Ann Talbot : Sarah Sutton
Adric : Matthew Waterhouse
Lord Cranleigh : Michael Cochrane
Lady Cranleigh : Barbara Murray
George Cranleigh : Gareth Milne
Sir Robert Muir : Moray Watson
Sergeant Markham : Ivor Salter
Constable Cummings : Andrew Tourell
Latoni : Ahmed Khalil
Brewster : Brian Hawksley
Tanner : Timothy Block


Written By : Terrence Dudley

Produced By : JNT

First UK Broadcast : 1 – 2 March 1982.

Length : 2 x 25 minute episodes.

Plot : The Doctor lands the Tardis in the 1920’s; in the middle of a cricket game and a ‘Miss Marple’ style murder plot – during a masquerade party.

Whats good : A refreshingly non-alien Doctor Who story. Well told.

Whats bad : It was a bit rushed – pacing and suspense wise, due to shorter running time. Could have been a 4-part story.

Review With Spoilers : Black Orchid is an odd story among Davison’s – and for that matter, all of the Doctor’s adventures.

Not since Hartnell’s era, has Doctor Who been ballsy enough; to dispense with aliens – in favour of an Earth yarn. Black Orchid is a murder mystery story, set in the 1920’s – during a fancy dress ball. Thats not to say, though – it doesn’t have a touch of the weird, about it.

With the heavy breathing unidentified murderer, whose disfigurements – although seemingly steeped in some exotic disease – or alien affliction; actually turn out, to have a very Earthly origin.

Borrowing heavily from Miss Marple, with the Doctor as Poirot; we have a house full of secret passageways and a number of murders and disappearing bodies.

“Why do I always let my curiosity get the better of me?” The Doctor

The Doctor is accused of murder, when the Murderer borrows the Doctor’s fancydress costume and carries out a killing. For which, the Doctor is later accused and arrested.

Davison impresses, in a game of Cricket aswell. By bowling out a batsman and hitting the stump on his first throw (if the trivia around this story – is to be believed).

Black Orchid is another short 2 episode story, which is a little rushed – pacing wise. Considering the possibilities on offer here.

It would have been a good contender for a 4-parter, as there is enough going on here; to stretch it out – and build more suspense.

Considering the viewer is conditioned to expect an alien-angle to every story. It’s refreshing that for a change, there isn’t one provided; which might sound wrong for Doctor Who – but was a commom-ace feature of Hartnell period-Who.

The companions get a bit more involvement, in this one too. Especially Nyssa, who gets to play two parts; Nyssa and Ann Talbot.

An interesting diversion from the alien stories and a harkback to Hartnell’s – earthly based period dramas. Could have been longer.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5)

Old Doctor Who

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