CRRRRS 499 Doctor Who: Terminus

By Roy Mathur, on 2023-08-31, at 23:05:10--23:44:37 BST, for Captain Roy's Rusty Rocket Radio Show

Revisit Journal

Greetings from Castle Royenstein, fellow Whovians. It has been a troubling few days, something I'll address in 501, and other factors conspired too. Excuses, basically.

I said in 498 that I'm running my spoken audio through a declicker. I've listened to that pod several times and it isn't great. The beginning and ends of many of my words are cut off, so I won't be doing that again. I'll be going back to running the declicker only where the clickiness is most egregious. Editing audio isn't easy. Still on audio, the Shure SM7B is definitively a better mic than the Shure SM58, but I'm sticking to the latter for now.


Fifth Doctor: Peter Davison
Companion(s): Nyssa: Sarah Sutton, Tegan: Janet Fielding, Vislor Turlough: Mark Strickson
Notable Cast: Black Guardian: Valentine Dyall (prolific actor: The Avengers, Blake's 7, Deep Thought in The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy TV series, etc.), Kari: Liza Goddard (also Tales of the Unexpected, etc.)
Director: Mary Ridge (Blake's 7: Terminal)
Writer: Stephen Gallagher (Warriors' Gate, author of whom I am a fan: Saturn Three, Chimera, Silver Dream Racer, Follower, Valley of Lights, Oktober, The Boat House, etc.)
Producer: John Nathan-Turner
Locations: Ealing Film Studios and BBC Television Centre, Shepherd's Bush in 1982.
Broadcast: Season 20, serial 4, story 126, following Mawdryn Undead covered in 497, 4 x c. 25 minute episodes, first broadcast 15--23 February 1983.
Media: Target novelisation by Stephen Gallagher (1983), VHS (1993), DVD Black Guardian Trilogy (Mawdryn Undead, Terminus, Enlightenment (2009), DVD Doctor Who DVD Files Issue 140 (2014).


The number one song in the UK was Too Shy by Kajagoogoo, a song I have absolutely no recollection of. Isn't this the worse Zeitgeist yet?

What Happens

The Black Guardian tells Turlough to disable the TARDIS console. He does and the TARDIS becomes unstable, but emergency circuits attach it to passing spaceship. The Doctor tells Nyssa to escape through a door that materialises in her room. Aboard the ship, the Doctor and Nyssa meet raiders searching for valuable cargo.

The raider ship leaves their colleagues behind because the larger craft is a plague ship full of Lazars on its way to Terminus for a cure. Nyssa is infected.

The Terminus slaves-guards, the Vanir, paid with hydromel, a drug that allows them to live on the irradiated structure at the centre of the universe.

Nyssa is taken by the Garm beast to a room where she is cured.

The Doctor finds out that the ship's engines caused the Big Bang and now, at the end of time, is building up to another explosion that will end the universe.

Freed from servitude, the Garm's immense strength helps the Doctor to turn off the throttle lever in the cockpit and the explosion is averted.

Nyssa says she will stay and make hydromel for the Vanir, and together they will convert Terminus into a hospital. She says goodbye, the Doctor and Tegan leave, and the Black Guardian warns Turlough that he has only one last chance to kill the Doctor.

What I Thought

Turlough's a slimy one. Tegan's right not to trust him. The Doctor's a bit of a tosspot for being taken in my Turlough's smartarsery and not seeing through his self-serving and rather amoral smarminess.

Stephen Gallagher likes his noble beasts, both inside and outside DW. Garm, the strong wolf-man of Terminus (with a slightly comic design and funny gait), Warriors' Gate's leonine men, Chimera's good apeman, Oktober's enslaved wolves, The Boat House's murderous, but misunderstood, Rusalka.

The spaceship models and practical effects were glorious.

Nyssa ditching her skirt is tonally weird and not really as sexy as it should be. After all, she's infected with a leprosy-like plague.

On the other hand, Liza Goddard is a damn sexy space raider, like someone out of Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip's (I Lost My Heart to a) Starship Trooper (1978). Tight white costume, bubble helmet, ray gun, and cool spacey makeup.

Terminus: end of the line, what an incredibly depressing and sinister name for a hospital, used in much the same way in The Walking Dead, with that place of the same name populated by cannibals.

The Vanir's need for hydromel reminded me of Blake's 7's Federation's Mutoids need for blood serum and Deep Space 9's Dominion's Jem'Hadar need for Ketracel-white, as indeed did their method of feeding. In point of fact, B7 got there first in the episode Duel from 1978.

The Vanir originate in real world Norse mythology as prosperity gods like Freyr. The name, however, is also used by Thulsa Doom's vicious henchmen in Conan the Barbarian (1982), and here, of course, as the irradiated slave-guards of Terminus. I suppose the warrior-like radiation armour reminiscent of the battle armour used in Conan may have something to do with their naming.

Judgement! Okay, I thought this was a quick, simple Old Who story, with the usual sympathy and admiration for the beast that is highly characteristic of Gallagher's work (fitting in with the general Doctor Who ethos), enjoyable scenes in space with fabulous spacecraft model work, and an abrupt and sad goodbye to Nyssa; there are hugs and tears and then our friends part. Goodbye Nyssa, we'll miss you! Maybe try trousers?


Even more on Valentine Dyall to make up for 497's dearth of information. In Hammer's Lust for a Vampire (1971), Mike Raven's Count Karnstein's voice was dubbed in by Valentine Dyall.

Liza Goddard (Kari the space raider) dated Frazer Hines and was briefly married to Colin Baker.

Regarding the skirt dropping incident, in Doctor Who: 25 Glorious Years, Sutton says:

I still smile when I remember how the Production Office kept getting letters of complaint about Nyssa being too covered up. So that's why when I left the series in "Terminus" I decided to drop my skirt as a parting gesture to all those fans who had written in.

Mind you, it caused such a stir at the time, and as I'm still being asked about it when I am interviewed, I'm not sure it was a wise thing to have done!

Prepare for Three Days of Podcasting

I'm taping this tonight, the 500th episode special tomorrow, and our regular giant everything geek show the day after.

Please help motivate me by sharing my show on the socials, getting in touch to prove to me that the audience still exists, and maybe, if it's not to much to ask, tipping me a few galactic credits at Ko-fi.