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State of Decay

State of Decay was the fourth story in the eighteenth season of Doctor Who and the second story of the E-Space trilogy. It saw the final contribution of a script written by Terrance Dicks three years prior.

State of Decay followed Full Circle as the second part of the E-Space trilogy. Originally drafted in 1977, The Vampire Mutation — as it was then titled — was put on hold after the BBC commissioned an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula. The script was kept by Nathan-Turner alongside a number of other unproduced serials. Decay was the only one he liked and he later suggested that it be redrafted for the trilogy; Dicks accepted. The serial’s title changed many times before becoming State of Decay, a title suggested by Christopher H. Bidmead.

The original script was seen by director Peter Moffatt and, as Nathan-Turner had predicted, he loved it. However, when he was handed the script in Bidmead’s adapted form, he found it completely different. It no longer had the Gothic atmosphere that had drawn him to the original. Moffatt told Nathan-Turner that he no longer wanted to direct it and so, in order to have him complete the job, the original was reinstated.

Unusually, there are three versions of this story which have been made available commercially: this one, an audio adaptation and the Target print novelization.


Episode 1

A castle sits on a rocky peak. Inside, Captain of the Guard Habris reports to the Three Who Rule that it is again the time of selection. They instruct him to choose well and he leaves. Next morning, in the surrounding village, leader of the villagers Ivo collects the residents for the selection. Habris picks out various villagers, including Ivo and Marta’s son Karl. Ivo protests, but Habris will not change his mind. He tells Ivo he will do his best to help Karl become a guard. Ivo and Marta know that if Karl goes on to serve the Lords directly, he will end up like all those who went before him, never to be seen or heard from again…

On board the TARDIS, the Fourth Doctor and Romana sight an isolated planet. K9 scans the world, finding it has one isolated settlement, which has high technology readings even though the people are primitive.

The TARDIS lands in a forest near the settlement. The Doctor and Romana set off to explore, leaving K9 behind. Adric has stowed away on the TARDIS and tries to leave. K9 confronts him, but Adric tells him that as he is a stowaway, it’s best that he leaves. He follows the Doctor and Romana.

The Doctor and Romana arrive at the settlement as Ivo and Habris are arguing. The Doctor asks to speak to a scientist. His request is met with alarm. Habris mistakes them for lords and tries to serve them. After the travelers and Habris leave, Ivo opens a podium and takes out a rusting radio transmitter. He calls Kalmar and tells him of the two strangers and their unusual request.

In the throne room, Habris is berated for not taking action against the Doctor and Romana. Aukon summons his bats to hunt down the two.

Travelling through the forest, Romana and the Doctor are surrounded by men. They surrender and are taken to a hidden cave, where they meet the rebels led by Kalmar. Kalmar is trying to get an old computer system working. The Doctor helps him to repair it and Romana identifies the equipment as a data bank of Earth origin, from the cargo vessel Hydrax. Images flash up of three officers, Captain Sharky, Navigation Officer Lauren MacMillan and Science Officer Anthony O’Connor. Kalmar’s deputy Tarak immediately recognizes their pictures as the Three Who Rule. The Doctor and Romana are then allowed to leave, heading to visit the three.

In the village, Adric attempts to steal some food. Marta catches him and alerts Ivo. They pity him and offer him sanctuary because the outside world is evil at night.

The Doctor and Romana are making their way through the forest when they are attacked by bats. They look up to see a swarm descending upon them.

Episode 2

The bats retreat as Habris arrives and escorts the pair to an audience at the tower. They are taken to the throne room, where the Doctor remarks on the absence of windows. Zargo and Camilla welcome them. Zargo orders wine and they toast. Romana’s glass shatters, cutting her finger. She licks the blood. Camilla wants to look at the cut but Romana pulls away. It becomes apparent the rulers are responsible for the lack of technology.

In the village, Adric is making preparations for dinner with the others when Habris enters. He tells them there will be another selection and that Aukon himself is coming to direct it. Aukon walks down the line of youths, stopping when he comes to Adric, declaring him a chosen one. He takes the entranced Adric to the castle.

The Doctor mentions the Hydrax. This disturbs Zargo and Camilla. Habris enters with news from Aukon: the Time of Arising is at hand. Left alone, the Doctor takes a look around. He pulls aside a drape to reveal a circular hatchway in a metal bulkhead. The castle is the Hydrax.

Back at the caves, some of the outlaws want to make a rescue attempt for the Doctor. Kalmar is reluctant without more technological knowledge, and the majority back him up. Tarak decides he will go alone, taking on the disguise of a guard.

The Doctor and Romana arrive at the top of the tower, where they see the Hydrax‘ three scout ships. They hear a thumping voice and descend. At the cargo bay they find a group of corpses drained of blood, all adolescents. The Doctor finds the blood stored in a fuel tank. The thumping is the sound of a creature feeding on the blood through tubes. The Doctor notes there are vampire legends on many planets. Dropping out of the Hydrax through an engine nacelle, they arrive in a large cave, the floor of which is moving with the sound of a heartbeat. A voice from the shadows tells them this is the Resting Place. Spinning round the Doctor and Romana are confronted by Aukon. The vampire greets them. “I am Aukon. Welcome to my domain!”

Episode 3

Aukon tries to persuade the Doctor to join them, to help at the Time of Arising. He says the Great One will reveal how to leave this universe; if the Doctor is wise, he will join them just like his companion. The Time Lords are distraught to hear that Adric is there, as they though they had left him on Alzarius.

Aukon uses all his psychic powers to make the Doctor bend to his will, but Romana picks up a piece of the cave wall and throws it at Aukon, who quickly turns around and destroys it.The Doctor tells him they are Time Lords and his powers won’t work on them. Aukon reacts strongly, calling them the ancient enemies. They try to escape but Zargo and Camilla stop them. Camilla is eager to feed on them, but Aukon listens to the Great One, who says they will be a sacrifice, and so they got put in jail.

Tarak has gained entry to the tower disguised as a guard and searches for the Doctor. The Doctor recounts to Romana how a hermit from the south of Gallifrey told him of a war between the Time Lords and the Great Vampires; their King escaped, and Time Lords are obliged to destroy him if ever they find him. They tracked him across the universe but the trail went dead. He had disappeared.

Tarak attacks the guards and rescues the Doctor and Romana, but Romana refuses to leave until she has found Adric. The Doctor asks Tarak to stay with her while he goes back to the TARDIS.

In the rebels’ cave, Kalmar has discovered a scanner for viewing the territory around their base. It shows Ivo. He knows his son is dead, taken for his blood, and asks for help in an attack on the tower. Kalmar is undecided.

Tarak and Romana arrive at the inner sanctum. Zargo and Camilla are asleep and Adric is hypnotized. Romana wakes him as the sun sets and Zargo and Camilla awake and kill Tarak. They close in on the others.

Episode 4

Aukon prevents the pair killing them, proclaiming them sacrifices. After the arising, they will travel the universe and drain it of its life.

The Doctor lands the TARDIS in the rebels’ cave and tells them that he needs their help in an assault on the tower. They are mostly ready to follow him, but Kalmar is still reluctant. The Doctor uses the scanners to show them the King Vampire below the tower, and Kalmar finally agrees to the plan.

In the throne room, Adric tells Aukon that he is willing to join him and is taken to be initiated. The Doctor puts K9 in control of leading the raid. K9 quickly disables the guards with his laser. Romana is hypnotized and led to an altar for sacrifice. Bats swoop and bite her.

Ivo confronts Habris and takes his revenge for the death of his son, killing him. The Doctor makes his way to the tower top and launches a scout ship.

K9 hears the sound and tells his force to evacuate. The noise distracts the Three Who Rule, and Adric helps Romana escape. The Doctor arrives as a giant hand bursts through the ground. The scout ship plummets, its steel frontage impaling the king. The three advance on the Doctor, but without the link to the Great One they crumble and die.

The Doctor installs Kalmar’s computer with technological data and leaves in the TARDIS. He must return Adric home.


The Fourth Doctor
Romana II