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The Stones Of Blood
The quest for the third segment of the Key To Time takes the TARDIS to modern-day Earth, near a stone circle called the Nine Maidens. The circle has been the site of renewed worship of a Druidic goddess called the Cailleach, and has also attracted the interest of archaeologist Emilia Rumford. When someone tries to kill Romana, the Doctor realises that something is amiss at the Nine Maidens, and that the Cailleach may not be quite as mythical as he believed.
Amongst the new writers approached by script editor Anthony Read for Doctor Who's sixteenth season was David Fisher. Originally a script reader at Ealing Film Studios, Fisher later joined Scottish Television as a writer, during which time he and Read had worked together. In 1963, Fisher had been invited to contribute an adventure to Doctor Who's first season by its original story editor, David Whitaker. More recently, Fisher had been a freelance writer. His credits included programmes such as The Troubleshooters, Dixon Of Dock Green and Sutherland's Law, the latter having brought him into contact with Graham Williams, who was now Doctor Who's producer.
Fisher was delighted with the Doctor Who production office's request that he write an adventure with supernatural overtones. It was decided to base the story around a stone circle, a number of which were dotted around the British isles. Some of these dated back as far as the Neolithic period, and a great body of mythology had sprung up around them. Fisher was inspired by several of these legends, such as tales of stones (called cycloliths) leaving a circle to travel back and forth across the countryside, as well as the belief that the number of stones in some circles varies depending upon the observer. He was also instructed to include strong female characters in his storyline, which was commissioned under the title “The Nine Maidens” on December 8th, 1977. It was positioned as the third story of Season Sixteen, in order to ensure that it would be broadcast around Hallowe'en.
Around the start of 1978, Williams and Read decided to emphasise the fact that the year would be themed around the Doctor's search for the six segments of the Key To Time by giving each serial a title of the form “The [Something] Of Time”. Consequently, when the full scripts were commissioned from Fisher on January 10th, his adventure was renamed “The Stones Of Time”. This idea was subsequently abandoned, however, and by the end of March the scripts carried the title The Stones Of Blood.
Fisher drew heavily upon British mythology for the names he used in his serial. Vivien Fay and her past alias, Lady Morgana Montcalm, recalled Morgan le Fay, King Arthur's sorceress half-sister. The word “Cailleach” itself was a Gaelic term meaning “old woman”, and was associated with numerous entities in Celtic mythology. Dr Thomas Borlase was an homage to two celebrated historians, Thomas Price and William Borlase. The Megara, on the other hand, were named for Megaera, one of the Furies (also called the Erinyes or Eumenides) of Greco-Roman mythology; these were goddesses who persecuted those they perceived as guilty of a terrible crime. Two names were modified during scripting: Leonard De Vries was originally called Charles, while the Nine Maidens became the Nine Travellers.
The director assigned to The Stones Of Blood (now designated Serial 5C) was Darrol Blake. This would be Blake's only Doctor Who assignment; his other credits included The Tomorrow People, Doomwatch and Coronation Street. Blake elected to make a significant change to Fisher's conception of the Ogri, which the writer had envisioned as rocky-skinned humanoids who looked like regular stones only when stationary. To save costs, Blake elected to have the Ogri appear as large blocks throughout, although elements of Fisher's original idea -- such as the large footprint found by the Doctor and Romana -- remained in the script.
Also altered was the way that the Ogri killed their victims. Initially, they were to simply crush people, but this was replaced by their ability to absorb blood. The scene with the two campers was written at a late stage as an illustration. The Megara were also altered; rather than floating lights, Fisher had depicted them as flying metal orbs, but Blake felt that this was too similar to some elements of the feature film Star Wars.
John Leeson was contracted to provide the voice of K·9 in The Stones Of Blood on May 15th. Four weeks later, on June 12th, location work on Outside Broadcast videotape began at Reed College in Little Compton, Warwickshire, where one of the buildings featured as the exterior of De Vries' house. The next day, the Nine Travellers were represented by an authentic stone circle dating from the early Bronze Age called the King's Men, part of the Rollright Stones complex near Long Compton, Warwickshire. Amusingly, a group of schoolchildren visiting the site that day to count the cycloliths were confused to find that the number was not what they had expected. While this appeared to lend credence to myth about the shifting populations of stone circles, it turned out that they had inadvertently included the Ogri props in their tally.
On June 14th, the scenes on the moorland were recorded on the grounds of the Manor Farm in Little Rollright, Warwickshire. During the night, the TARDIS was stolen by students from Reed College, who hid it nearby. The 15th was spent at Little Rollright Quarry for the material on the cliffs. Tom Baker refused to appear in shot for the scene where the faux Doctor forces Romana off the clifftop, since he was concerned that younger viewers would lose their trust in the Doctor. Blake agreed to frame his shots so that only the Doctor's voice would be heard.
By now, it had been realised that The Stones Of Blood would be the one-hundredth broadcast Doctor Who story. Because episode one was underrunning, the regular cast encouraged Blake to write an extra scene in which Romana and K·9 would celebrate the Doctor's 751st birthday, complete with a cake and a birthday present (a new scarf, identical to the one the Doctor was already wearing). However, Fisher was concerned about the skit's irrelevance to his storyline, while Williams and Read ultimately agreed that it was too self-congratulatory. The sequence was dropped, with Williams scripting the White Guardian's pronouncement in its place. Blake was disappointed with this decision, and had already ordered a specially-made birthday cake.
Studio 3 at BBC Television Centre was home to the recording of The Stones Of Blood, beginning with a two-day session on July 3rd and 4th. The first day was dedicated to nighttime scenes at the Seven Travellers and on the moors, as there had been no provision for night shooting on location. The next day dealt with sequences in De Vries' house, as well as on the clifftop.
The second studio block spanned July 16th to 18th. The first two days were principally concerned with all of the material on the Megara spacecraft. To establish the vessel as a prison ship, it was decided to feature old Doctor Who monsters amongst the deceased convicts. In the event, only a Wirrn (from The Ark In Space) was seen, although permission had been obtained to feature a Sea Devil (from The Sea Devils). Also taped on the 16th was the White Guardian's dialogue. This was read by Gerald Cross (who was already playing one of the Megara) in order to avoid having to rehire Cyril Luckham, who had portrayed the Guardian in The Ribos Operation. The 17th, meanwhile, also saw the completion of all the material in Vivien's cottage, as well as various effects sequences.
Recording on The Stones Of Blood then concluded on July 18th. In addition to some remaining effects work, the sequences set within the TARDIS were taped on this day. Although the planned birthday segment had been excised, the cake ordered by Blake arrived anyway. Fittingly, this was enjoyed by the cast and crew to celebrate the serial's completion. Little could anyone suspect at the time that The Stones Of Blood would not be the only centenary reached by Doctor Who, although it would take longer than fifteen years for the programme to reach its two hundredth adventure...
|Updated 28th March 2011|
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