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The Leisure Hive is the first serial of the 18th season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts on BBC1 from 30 August to 20 September 1980. It marks the return of John Leeson as the voice of K9.

109[1]The Leisure Hive
Doctor Who serial
Leisure Hive.jpg
After a test of the Tachyon Recreation Generator, the Doctor grows decrepit.
Directed byLovett Bickford
Written byDavid Fisher
Script editorChristopher H. Bidmead
Produced byJohn Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s)Barry Letts
Incidental music composerPeter Howell
Production code5N
SeriesSeason 18
Length4 episodes, 25 minutes each
First broadcast30 August – 20 September 1980
← Preceded by
Shada (unbroadcast)
The Horns of Nimon (broadcast)
Followed by →
Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

In the serial, a criminal organisation of alien Foamasi called the West Lodge attempt to buy the planet Argolis from the Argolin people there as a West Lodge base. Meanwhile, the young Argolin Pangol (David Haig) seeks to start a war against the Foamasi his people had previously lost to with an army made up of clones of himself.


The Fourth Doctor and Romana's holiday in Brighton is brought to a sudden end when K9 goes after a ball and takes in sea-water and explodes. They instead venture to the Leisure Hive of Argolis, a holiday-complex-cum-peace-message built by the surviving Argolins following their devastating twenty-minute war with the Foamasi forty years earlier. They arrive at a point of crisis. The Leisure Hive is facing bankruptcy because of falling tourist trade (through stiff competition from other Leisure Planets) and the Argolin's Earth agent, Brock, arrives with his lawyer Klout, bearing an offer to buy the planet outright. Regrettably the offer is from the Foamasi, the only species that could live on the radiation-infused surface of Argolis, and so the Argolin Board will not consider it. Hit by the shock of events, the ageing Board Chairman Morix succumbs to a rapid death – the Argolin war-curse of advanced cellular degradation – and his consort Mena is declared the new Chairman. The Doctor is intrigued by the manipulation of the tachyon in the Hive’s Tachyon Recreation Generator, which is the main tourist attraction and is able to duplicate and manipulate organic matter. He witnesses the Generator kill a human tourist after it has been sabotaged, the latest in a series of acts of wilful damage.

No sooner has Mena returned to Argolis to replace her spouse than her own body clock begins to speed up (a side-effect of the radiation-heavy atmosphere). Earth scientist Hardin has been brought to Argolis to help her and her people by using time experiments to rejuvenate a people rendered sterile by the war. Recognising the value of scientists, instead of confining them Mena engages the Doctor and Romana to help Hardin with his work. The time travellers know Hardin has been faking his work, but Romana feels the experiments should have worked.

After discovering a skin of Klout in a wardrobe, Stimson, Hardin's financier who travelled with him and persuaded him to fake the demonstrations, is brutally murdered and his murder is pinned on the Doctor. The Time Lord is put on trial while Romana and Hardin perfect the Time Experiments. Just in time, they manage it and succeed in bargaining the Doctor's freedom. However, after they leave, the hourglass of their experiment shatters. Mena wants to be the first guinea-pig for the time experiment due to her worsening condition, but the Doctor is instead selected. As he is inside the machine, there is a malfunction and he emerges five hundred years older—an old man with flowing white hair. Pangol, Mena's son, is the most warlike and vindictive of the Argolin and orders the Doctor and Romana to be confined. Hardin later frees them, which is when the slower-witted Doctor sees something odd in the name of the Recreation Chamber. Romana sees it too eventually. Recreation; re-creation, the repeated creation of things, or people.

The three of them, sneaking back to the Recreation Room, find that some Argolins, led by Pangol, are performing dangerous experiments, trying to perfect a secret project using the entertainment as a blind. Meanwhile, Brock and Klout bring a new offer from a mysterious organisation calling themselves the West Lodge. It is then, in tearing up the offer, that Pangol reveals the secret of his past and the reason that he is the only young Argolin in the Hive. He was the only successful, un-deformed child of a cloning experiment meant to save the Argolin using the Recreation Generator. But Pangol has been driven insane by hatred of the Foamasi and a xenophobic fear of all aliens, lusting after a war-forged empire like their ancestor Theron (who started the war and doomed the Argolin to extinction). He needs an alien witness to see his taking Mena's place after her death and the beginning of what he called the "New Argolis".

The Doctor, Romana and Hardin find Foamasi agents in the Hive and escort them to the council chamber, where the agents reveal Brock and Klout to be Foamasi impersonators. The lead agent reveals the West Lodge to be a criminal group who needed Argolis as a base of operations. With the leader (Brock) captured, the organisation was doomed to fold and the Foamasi prepare to take the rogues for trial. Pangol refuses to let them pass and, taking the Helmet of Theron (a sacred symbol on Argolis, reminding the Argolins to espouse peace and understanding) and rallying the Argolins to his cause. The Doctor, seeing what Pangol is up to, takes the Randomiser from the TARDIS and attaches it to the Recreation Chamber, hoping to destabilise the mechanism.

Romana tries to stop Pangol from using the Generator, but she cannot persuade him or the Argolins to do so. The Foamasi shuttle tries to leave and is destroyed by Pangol before he dons the Helmet of Theron and uses the Generator to create an army of Tachyon replicas to rebuild the Argolin race. He orders Romana to be put outside, while Hardin finds Mena dying and carries her to the Generator room. As Romana is taken, the clone Pangols are revealed to be merely Tachyon images of the rejuvenated Doctor built up in a FIFO stack; first in, first out. She and the first Doctor to emerge (the real Doctor) go back to the Generator Room, where Hardin has put Mena into the Recreation Generator.

Pangol, enraged that the Doctor has foiled his first attempt to create an army, goes back into the Generator, which closes behind him. The Doctor reveals that he set the machine on "rejuvenate", but it cannot be stopped. Pangol and Mena seem to be merging, so the Doctor grabs the Helmet of Theron and throws it into the visualising crystal, stopping the mechanism. Mena exits rejuvenated, holding Pangol, who has regressed back to being a baby. It is now that the Foamasi agents make their appearance and reveal that the West Lodge criminals tried to escape in the shuttle (so, in the words of the Doctor "Brock and Klout are kaput"). Against Romana's wishes, the Doctor leaves the Argolin and Foamasi to make up and the Randomiser attached to the Recreation Generator (thus leaving the TARDIS and time-travellers vulnerable from the Black Guardian).


EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [2]
1"Part One"23:3330 August 1980 (1980-08-30)5.9
2"Part Two"20:456 September 1980 (1980-09-06)5.0
3"Part Three"21:2113 September 1980 (1980-09-13)5.0
4"Part Four"21:1920 September 1980 (1980-09-20)4.5

Working titles for this story included The Argolins and Avalon. Writer David Fisher conceived of the Foamasi as a race of organised criminals. "Foamasi" is a near-anagram of "mafioso". The episode was written as a satire of the decline of tourism in the United Kingdom in the 1970s. The alien costume used for the Foamasi was later reused in the 1981 BBC The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as the leader of the G'Gugvuntt.

A new TARDIS prop is introduced in this episode which replaces the one used since The Masque of Mandragora (1976). This prop would be used right until the end of the original series' production in 1989. This was also the first story to use the Quantel DPE 5000 digital image processing system. Filming on the story ran badly over budget.[3] The opening sequence on Brighton beach is John Nathan-Turner's paean to Visconti's celebrated 1971 feature film "Death in Venice".[citation needed]

Format changesEdit

This was the first Doctor Who story which John Nathan-Turner produced.[4] Nathan-Turner was keen to get away from what he considered the excessive silliness of recent Doctor Who stories, and wanted to increase the series' production values, because he felt that they were poor when compared with glossy American science-fiction series. Among the changes Nathan-Turner instituted was the scaling back of K9's appearances (the unit is out of commission for most of this serial), eventually writing the character out in Warriors' Gate. Nathan-Turner would produce Doctor Who until 1989.

In a further attempt to update the image of the series, the original 1963 Delia Derbyshire arrangement of the theme music was replaced by a more contemporary-sounding arrangement by Peter Howell,[4] and a new, '80s-styled neon tubing logo (which was en-vogue at the time) designed by Sid Sutton[5] replaced the diamond logo most associated with the Fourth Doctor. The updated title sequence is most associated with the Fifth Doctor.

Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, Barry Letts and Christopher H. Bidmead all protested about John Nathan-Turner's decision to add question-marks to Baker's shirts, arguing that it was gimmicky. Baker in particular was unhappy with it and told Nathan-Turner that it was "annoying, absurd and ridiculous", while Bidmead later called it "a silly, quite absurd gimmick really". Bidmead, who found working with Tom Baker "difficult to say the very least", supposedly told Baker and Nathan-Turner during recording of The Leisure Hive that exclamation marks would have been more appropriate for Baker's shirts. The Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy would later protest his question-mark adorned jumper in similar terms, but the question-mark motif would remain until the end of the classic series in 1989. Baker also disliked his new scarf, requesting that his old multi-coloured one be re-instated, but expressed gratitude to costume designer June Hudson for refusing to adhere to Nathan-Turner's demands to ditch the trademark scarf altogether and managing to find a compromise.

The show's stars took exception to many of John Nathan-Turner's other changes as well, with Tom Baker and Lalla Ward criticising the change in theme music and opening titles. Baker also criticised the new synthesised incidental music, comparing it unfavourably with Dudley Simpson's earlier scores. Ward later complained that Nathan-Turner had "removed all the lovely humour", while Baker said that he wanted the scripts to improve and regain some of the quality of those of the Philip Hinchcliffe era, as he felt that the quality of the scripts and storylines had declined under Graham Williams. He later said that he felt such improvements did not by and large occur, and that most of Nathan-Turner's changes were either cosmetic or misguided. Many of the new special effects introduced in this story were never used again to the extent on display here.

Cast notesEdit

Laurence Payne had previously played Johnny Ringo in The Gunfighters (1966)[6] and later played Dastari in The Two Doctors (1985).

Commercial releasesEdit

In printEdit

Doctor Who and the Leisure Hive
AuthorDavid Fisher
Cover artistAndrew Skilleter
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
22 July 1982

A novelisation of this serial, written by David Fisher, was published by Target Books in July 1982. The novelisation retains many elements of the original script that was intended as a spoof on the Mafia. The original name of Argolis is given as Xbrrrm.

Home mediaEdit

The Leisure Hive was released on VHS in January 1997, on DVD in July 2004, and as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files (issue 98) in October 2012. Peter Howell's incidental music for the serial was released as part of the compilation album Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume 3: The Leisure Hive in 2002.


  1. ^ From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this as story number 110. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  3. ^ Howe, David J.; Walker, Stephen James (1998). "The Leisure Hive: Analysis". Doctor Who: The Television Companion. London: BBC Worldwide. p. 382. ISBN 0-563-40588-0. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  4. ^ a b 12:00 AM, 14 March 2011 (2011-03-14). "The Leisure Hive ***** | Radio Times". Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  5. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Leisure Hive - Details".
  6. ^ "Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Gunfighters - Details". BBC. Retrieved 2019-09-10.

External linksEdit