Doctor Who
The Horns of Nimon

Starring: Tom Baker
BBC Video
RRP 12.99
BBCV 7334
Certificate: U
Available now

While the TARDIS is immobilised for repairs, the Doctor, Romana and K9 come across a Skonnon spaceship bearing tributes for an alien benefactor, the bull-headed Nimon. These tributes comprise radioactive hymetusite crystals from the planet Aneth - and human sacrificial victims...

This is the final Tom Baker story to make it onto video. But the BBC certainly haven't saved the best for last.

In its favour, The Horns of Nimon offers a larger than usual role to Lalla Ward as Romana, who is separated from the Doctor during the second episode and most of the fourth. She comes across as an adventuress in her own right, and makes a good template for a female Doctor, although she does defer rather too readily to the male character of Sezom (John Bailey) in Part Four. The change of emphasis in the fourth and final episode, in which Romana is transported to the planet Crinoth, is also refreshing in terms of plot.

However, many of the most risible aspects of the Graham Williams-produced era of Doctor Who are all-too vividly on display. These range from budgetary shortcomings - including cheap-looking sets and the Co-Pilot's (Malcolm Terris) split trousers at the end of Part Two - to some extra-hammy acting from Tom Baker and Graham Crowden, whose villainous Soldeed famously laughs during this death scene. There's further comic excess when the TARDIS console explodes, accompanied by a montage of comedy sound effects.

Evidently the production team thought they could have a bit of a laugh with this story before concluding the seventeenth season with the more level-headed Shada. Sadly, industrial action put paid to that, and the Williams era ended here, with this load of bulls. Not a high note to end on at all.

Richard McGinlay

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