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Masque of Mandragora DVD

Saturday, 13 February 2010 11:24

Featuring Tom Baker as the fourth incarnation, “The Masque of Madragora” is a Doctor Who historical adventure of sorts. After an encounter with the deadly Mandragora Helix, the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) land the TARDIS in 15th Century San Martino. In the midst of danger, secrecy and intrigue, they witness the flowering of the Italian Renaissance.

As the masque to celebrate the accession of the new Duke approaches, the Doctor realises that a third visitor has arrived with him in the TARDIS. It is a force with the power to wipe out human civilisation forever. The Doctor has brought it to Earth – and only the Doctor can stop it.

Masque of Mandragora DVD

This serial was broadcast from 4-25 September 1976, and opened Season 14 of the show.  It is an important episode in that The Doctor shows Sarah Jane some of the other areas within the TARDIS. One of these is the older, secondary console room, decorated with wood panelling which gives it the aura of a Victorian study. It was designed by Barry Newbery.

This is also the story where Sarah Jane questions why she can understand 15th Century Italian. The Doctor is reticent to explain directly, but eventually confirms that this is “a Time Lord gift I allow you to share”. This strange ability for The Doctor and his companions being able to understand people who should not really be speaking the Queen’s English has been touched upon in the 21st Century incarnation of Doctor Who - but this is one of the only examples from the original run of the series.

In terms of the look and feel of this serial, one of the defining aspects is that the location shooting was done in North Wales, at the Clough Williams-Ellis engineered peninsula of Portmeirion. For appreciators of The Prisoner, and indeed the area itself, it is fun comparing and contrasting what we see here to what was utilised in the 1966-1967 shooting for the iconic series from Patrick McGoohan. It has to be admitted that this is one hell of a distraction from the on-screen action, but adds a unique and fun element to the viewing experience!

Guest stars to look out for in this story include Norman Jones (Dero in The XYY Man) as Hieronymous, Gareth Armstrong (Bill Pritchard in Yes, Minister) as Giuliano, and Tim Pigott-Smith (Harry Hutchinson in Holby Blue) as Marco.

This release features the following DVD extras:

  • Commentary by Tom Baker (The Doctor), Gareth Armstrong (Giuliano), Philip Hinchcliffe (Producer) and Chris D'Oyly-John (Production Unit Manager).
  • The Secret of the Labyrinth - Cast and crew look back at the making of The Masque of Mandragora
  • Bigger on the Inside - The history of the TARDIS
  • Now and Then - A return visit to the locations used for The Masque of Mandragora
  • Beneath the Masque - Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman take the Masque to task
  • Radio Times Billings (PDF DVD-ROM – PC/Mac)
  • Production Information Subtitles
  • Photo Gallery
  • Coming Soon Trailer

“The Masque of Mandragora” is out now, with a ‘PG’ certificate and a run time of 100 minutes approx, priced at £19.99, or less from


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37