Back in 1979, this story was traumatic. No wonder I resented Leela. But the last 2 times I've watched it... nothing. Oh good.

Noticed something interesting tonight (probably as a result of reading the tardiseruditorumis blog). "THE HAND OF FEAR" is Sarah's "PLANET OF THE SPIDERS". It's like "Sarah's greatest hits". Like "THE TIME WARRIOR" (Sarah's debut!), you have an alien stranded on Earth who goes to extreme lengths to return to where they belong. Then there's this "recurring event" thing. In "THE ANDROID INVASION", we more-or-less saw the invasion twice. In "THE SEEDS OF DOOM", we saw the Krynoid take over someone twice. Here, we see someone who's possessed walk into the reactor-- TWICE! Like "THE MASQUE OF MANDRAGORA", Sarah goes thru part of the story hypnotized (brainwashed, whatever). In fact, we got a moment of this sort of thing all the way back in "THE TIME WARRIOR". Isn't it odd (or ironic) that such a strong-willed, independant career woman wind up a victim of possession so many times, not to mention being in the position of being a screaming "damsel in distress" FAR more times than sweet Jo Grant ever was??? Further, "PYRAMIDS OF MARS" has 3 episodes on Earth, the 4th on another planet, as our heroes attempt to race thru dark corridors lined with one death-trap after another. (I tend to think of "PYRAMIDS" as the 2nd story of the previous season, not the 3rd; "HAND" is this season's 2nd. Coincidence?)

Baker & Martin are also having their own "greatest hits", as Rex Robinson had earlier been in "THE THREE DOCTORS". Also, blink and you'll miss it, this story apparently is supposed to take place at the SAME nuclear complex seen in "THE CLAWS OF AXOS"!!!

Lots of fun dialogue in here. "Careful, it's not as 'armless as it looks." and "What do we do, use HAND signals?"

My understanding is that it wasn't JUST Lis Sladen, Tom Baker was ALSO improvising dialogue during rehearsals. So NOBODY on this show was getting "character arcs" (or had, really, SINCE Ian and Barbara!!! --nor would again, really, until ACE!). It's a sad tradition. Patrick Macnee said in an interview, describing THE AVENGERS, "There WAS no great writing." He explained that he and his co-stars wrote their own dialogue in rehearsals-- and THAT's why the show was so good. It's fiting that in Tom Baker's 1st story, Harry Sullivan dresses up like John Steed and someone says "He's from the Ministry!"

Finally, I always believed that of all the companions, Sarah was the ONE The Doctor most loved. (Romana came in a close 2nd.) That's why, to me, "SCHOOL REUNION" was such a powerful, emotional experience. Took me 2 days to come down from that. Strangest thing... I think I've gotten over her now. Last time I watched my entire collection, ALMOST every girl on the show had a stronger effect on me. (Except for Tegan, of course. What a B****!)

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And good old Stephen Thorne as the male Eldrad - what an unmistakable voice that man had.

"Eldrad must live!"

I love this one.  My favorite Sarah Jane story of all time.

A couple of the serial's plot elements (the explosion in space that only Eldrad's hand survives, the role of possession in the story) suggest it was particularly influenced by The Crawling Hand (which I haven't seen), but the hand also recalls the one from The Beast with Five Fingers. A trailer for the former can be found at Internet Archive. Reviews of both movies can be found here.

I kinda figured something like that. As has been pointed out a lot over the years, much of the Hinchcliffe-Holmes era consisted of DOCTOR WHO doing WHO versions of classic old horror stories... like FORBIDDEN PLANET, DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB,  INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, FRANKENSTEIN, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT, DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, and THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH.  (Not to mention "Man-Eater Of Surrey Green" from THE AVENGERS.)

I remember Terrance Dicks saying regarding stories: "You have to have a good idea - it doesn't necessarily have to be yours."

Watched this again last night. Just a few thoughts to add to the above.


1)One of the in-jokes in this is that after all the times quarries have stood in for alien planets in this show, the TARDIS lands in an actual quarry and Sarah suspects it's an alien planet!


2)Sladen apparently got comments on the striped outfit she wore in this for the rest of her life.  Dr. Carter compares it to Andy Pandy, who looked like this:



3)I gather they filmed this in an actual nuke plant.  You'd have to bribe me pretty good to get me into one of those places.


4)I gather Sladen was given some input into how her character left. She asked for three things:

  • Not to be married off. She thought that would be lame.
  • Not to be killed off. She thought that would traumatize the kiddies.
  • Her departure was not to be the focus of the story


5)Frances Pidgeon, who played Miss Jackson, was director Lennie Mayne's wife. Also, the dog at the end was her dog, Fifi.  Never afraid of a little neoptism, was our Lennie.


6)The wrench Carter waved at the Doctor was pretty obviously made of rubber. A little jarirng, that.


7)I quite liked Judith Paris as "Lady Eldrad".  If you listen to the DVD commentary, she has alot of fun going back and forth with Baker.


8)I liked the bit where Baker crossed both his hearts to indicate he was telling the truth.


9)More Fun Quotes:

  • "Wonderful thing, pain. Without it no race could survive."   Odd "bedside manner" this doctor had.
  • "Gallifrey? No, I've not heard of it. Perhaps it's in Ireland."
  • "And kiss the children for me, would you?"  Glyn Houston did a good job as Professor Watson, I thought.
  • "Eldrad must live." "What?" "Just testing."  That was apparently an ad lib by Sladen that caught even Baker off guard, but they kept it in.
  • "You are pledged to uphold the laws of time and prevent alien aggression."  What happened to non-interference?
  • "We're in a state of temproal grace."  Shame no one told the Cybermen in "Earthshock" that.
  • "He modeled himself on you." "Oh, thanks."
  • "I salute you from the dead. Hail Eldrad, King of Nothing!" Even the "Good guy" Kastrians seem kind of nasty.
  • "The gravity of the law finally caught up with him."  It's only re-watching these that I realize how often Baker used his scarf as a prop.
  • "Well, I quite liked her, but I couldn't stand him."
  • "I'm going to pack my goodies and I'm going home."  In my opinion, Sarah got the best "leaving scene" of any companion that I've seen, and I'm pretty sure that I've seen all of the surviving ones. Apparently that final scene was not written by the Bristol Boys (who wrote the rest of the story), but by Bob Holmes, with a good deal of inpout from Tom Baker and Lis Sladen.
  • "I bet it isn't even South Croydon."  In fact, it was some place in Gloucestershire called Thornbury, and not Aberdeen.



  • Part  One:  The hand begins to move!
  • Part Two: The control panel explodes!
  • Part Three: Eldrad is shot with an arrow!
  • Part Four: Sarah walks away, whistling... The song Sarah whistles at the end is "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow", which is pretty funny considering that the Doctor would eventually send her a "bow-wow" of sorts. That's not actually her whistling. Sladen couldn't whistle, so it's actually Mayne whistling.  Mayne died about a year after this in a boating accident.


11)The freeze frame at the end was one more thing that Sladen asked for, and Mayne gave it to her.



A good story for a favorite character to go out on.  Little did anyone know at the time that we hadn't seen the end of Sarah Jane...

3) I gather they filmed this in an actual nuke plant.  You'd have to bribe me pretty good to get me into one of those places.

And that was back in the days when they built nuke plants out of spit and baling wire ...

Always liked this one a lot.  I agree that Sladen got the good one to go out on. 

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