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Nightmare of Eden

The Doctor and Rom ana discover that the planet Eden is far from being a paradise…
In August 1979 Tom Baker (as the Doctor) rehearses being attacked by some vicious vegetation.

Nothing’s inexplicable,” the Doctor tells beleaguered space captain Rigg at the start of Part Tw o of Nightm are of Eden. “Then explain it!” counters Rigg – not unreasonably, given that he’s just seen a glow ing-eyed horror em erge from the infrastructure of his recently collided cruise liner.

How, though, to explain certain aspects of Nightm are of Eden itself? It is, after all, notorious for those less-than-im pressive m onsters, for the fact that its director jum ped ship (or was pushed) tow ards the end of production, but above all, perhaps, for that extraordinary m om ent tow ards the end of Part Four when the unseen Doctor, concealed by quivering foliage, cries out as he wrestles with a num ber of those underw helm ing m onsters: “O h, m y ngers! M y arm s! M y legs! M y everything!”

The M andrels them selves, all frills and claw s and strangely stum py legs, are easy to account for. They weren’t m eant to look like that, for a start. W riter Bob Baker’s stage directions for the Part One cli hanger described “a blue m ist, out of which lurches a M andrel, a slim y m ud creature from the sw am ps of Eden… ” Early in Part Three, another M andrel was supposed to be seen em erging from its m arshy habitat, “dripping with slim y m ud”. In som e exo-universe, then, the M andrels m ight have ended up looking not entirely unlike the M arshm en from the follow ing year’s Full Circle (1980) – which, ironically enough, were originally conceived as horrible hum an-ish cavem en. (See Doctor W ho M agazine 535.)

Captain Rigg (David Daker) demands an explanation from the Doctor.

They weren’t m eant to lum ber blindly tow ards their victim s, claw s outstretched, either. At one stage, they had stinging tendrils to lash out with – perhaps not unlike the whip-like tendrils wielded by the lum py Axon m onsters in The Claw s of Axos (1971; by Bob Baker and Dave M artin). At one point in Part Tw o, for instance, at rehearsal script stage: “K9 is being probed by M andrels… a tendril m oves tow ards him, then another, and another.”

Sim ilarly, in Part Four, Azurian excisem an Costa nearly cam e a cropper when, having helped herd the m arauding M andrels back into the CET projection they cam e from, he relaxed too soon – w hereupon a M andrel tendril shot out from the depths of Eden’s jungle and w rapped itself around his neck, causing him to fall scream ing. His colleague Fisk rushed over, “blasting aw ay at the M andrel” – which prom ptly released the now -unconscious Costa. “He’s badly stung,” said Fisk – and so undercover agent Stott handed over one of the capsules we’d previously seen him drop into the m outh of the unconscious Rom ana (early in Part Tw o, after she’d been stung by a m oth, another exam ple of Eden’s toxic fauna). “It’ll help his body to ght the poison,” explained Stott.

But to show probing tendrils, and/or tendrils shooting out and w rapping them selves around the necks of hapless Custom s m en, would have required pauses in recording to set up so-called ‘insert shots’. Nightm are of Eden was a technically com plex production as it stood, packed full of highly sophisticated (for 1979) video e ects. M onsters with claw s m ight, perhaps, have seem ed like m uch less hassle.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

This issue includes: • An exclusive interview with new composer Segun Akinola • A candid interview with Eric Saward, Doctor Who’s longest-serving script editor. • Former showrunner Steven Moffat discusses Eric’s legacy. • Robert Allsopp describes his unusual contributions to Doctor Who’s prop and costume departments – from the Sylvester McCoy episodes to the present day. • Alex Mercer describes what it’s like to be one of the current producers of Doctor Who. • Storyboard artist James Iles talks us through some of his stunning illustrations. • Jacqueline King – aka Sylvia Noble – answers questions from the TARDIS tin. • A tribute to Shane Rimmer, who guest starred in The Gunfighters in 1966. • Part Four of Herald of Madness, a new comic strip adventure featuring the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends. • How one cosplayer became the War Doctor’s companion. • The Fact of Fiction explores the 1979 story Nightmare of Eden. • The Blogs of Doom, audio reviews, previews, news, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!