Doctor Who
The Visitation

Starring: Peter Davison
BBC Worldwide
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: PG
Available now

The Doctor tries to return Tegan to Heathrow in 1981 but the TARDIS manages to miss its location by some 300 years. However, the pre-airport peace is soon shattered: first by villagers afraid of the plague and then by something altogether more sinister... an alien presence whose plans for humanity will make the plague seem like a minor outbreak of sniffles...

The Visitation is a simple story well told and although it's not a thoroughbred classic it's lack of an over-complex narrative and techno-babble plotting means that it stands up far better than a good number of its contemporaries. At heart it has the feel of a second Doctor story, right down to the final sequence of the TARDIS occupants leaving before the authorities arrive to ask them questions.

However, perhaps the best things about The Visitation (what a unhelpful title!) is Richard Mace, played by a wonderfully over the top Michael Robbins. The unemployed actor turned highwayman is a work of comic genius who manages to be both heroic and cowardly in equal measure. And for once, the alien menace, the Terileptils, are also more than just two-dimensional power-mad conquerors.

The disc features all the usual extras and trimmings. A great-looking picture, clean sound, commentaries and some excellent documentaries. These include "Directing Who", a 26-minute interview featurette with Peter Moffatt; "Writing a Final Visitation", a 12-minute interview with author Eric Saward conducted in the story's location, Black Park; "Scoring the Visitation", an interview with composer Paddy Kingsland talking about his score; plus photo gallery and production subtitles.

So it's yet another quality production, albeit for a story that perhaps wouldn't make it into many fans' top 10 favourites list. But that shouldn't stop you buying this DVD as its entertainment value is far greater than just the four episodes at its heart.

Anthony Clark

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