It’s a new beginning for ‘eighties Who...


THE dawn of the 1980s brought a period of dramatic change for Doctor Who, with the advent of a new producer, music, logo and title sequence and a shift towards more serious, sci-fi focused stories which bore little resemblance to the humorous tone of before.

The Fourth Doctor, too, was far more brooding and sombre, Tom Baker’s flamboyance brought under tight restraint and ultimately contributing to his departure from the show at the end of this series.

But before regeneration comes renewal, and it is perhaps not more evident than in David Fisher’s script for The Leisure Hive, which is given a completely different tone than it would have had under the aegis of the previous producer, and loaded with so much extensive techno-babble that it puts Star Trek to shame.

When the planet Argolis was devastated by nuclear war between the Argolin and the reptilian Foamasi, its inhabitants recreated their world as a tourist attraction, with the Tachyon Recreation Generator at the heart of the Leisure Hive able to duplicate and manipulate organic matter, acting as an artificial fountain of youth.

The Doctor and Romana are soon arrested on suspicion of murder, and the Doctor is unnaturally aged by 500 years, just part of an insidious plot to restore the Argolin to their previous war-like selves and wreak bloody revenge on the Foamasi.

As is the case in many Target novelisations, Fisher takes the opportunity to supplement his story with vast amounts of background material and historical notes, with the final result being a work which is substantially different from the narrative seen on screen in terms of pace, although this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Far less jarring as a book than TV serial, The Leisure Hive marks the onset of what might be seen as the final era of classic Who, the epic reign of John Nathan-Turner, and for many fans, the beginning of the end…

Romana actress Lalla Ward admirably lends her dulcet tones to the reading, supported by John Leeson as the voice of K9, and proves once again how she can read the back of a cereal box and still make it sound interesting.

Simon Power’s score was unfortunately never going to meet the high standards set by Peter Howell’s original, but he makes up for its shortcomings with some of the most inventive sound effects heard for an age.

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