The Mind of Evil

056 The Mind of Evil
Doctor Who serial

The Doctor and Jo find themselves locked in a prison cell
Directed by Timothy Combe
Written by Don Houghton
Script editor Terrance Dicks
Produced by Barry Letts
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Dudley Simpson
Production code FFF
Series Season 8
Length 6 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 30 January6 March 1971
← Preceded by Followed by →
Terror of the Autons The Claws of Axos

The Mind of Evil is the second serial of the eighth season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in six weekly parts from 30 January to 6 March 1971.

The Doctor and Jo visit Stangmoor Prison in England to witness a demonstration of the Keller Machine. This machine, invented by Emil Keller, a professor of criminology, extracts the negative (or evil) impulses from the minds of hardened criminals. But Keller is really the Master in disguise, and the so-called machine actually contains an alien mind parasite that feeds on, and can destroy, living minds. The Master is plotting to start World War III by destroying the World Peace Conference in London, using a nerve gas missile hijacked by the prisoners, and using the mind parasite (once it has fed sufficiently) to murder the American and Chinese delegates.

This serial was formerly lost from the BBC's television archive, the colour PAL videotapes on which it was made having been wiped in the 1970s. Only a monochrome telerecording, made on film for overseas sale of the programme, survived. But the serial has been restored using advanced computer technology to recolour one episode (by manually colouring key frames, then applying motion estimation to recolour the other 90%) and by extracting a colour signal - thought lost, but recorded by accident onto the monochrome film negatives - to restore colour to the other five episodes.


The Third Doctor and Jo Grant visit Stangmoor Prison to examine a new method of treating criminals, whereby negative impulses are removed from the mind using the Keller Machine. Professor Kettering, who is managing the use of the process at the behest of the absent Emile Keller, reconditions a number of inmates including Barnham, a hardened criminal who reverts to an innocent and childlike state due to the process. The Doctor’s suspicions about the Keller Machine are heightened following a string of deaths, including that of Kettering himself, which occur when the machine is operated. Each death seems to involve personal phobias – and the Doctor is threatened by an inferno when he gets too close to the machine.

Meanwhile, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and the troops of UNIT are handling the security arrangements for the first World Peace Conference. Captain Chin Lee of the Chinese delegation, whose delegate leader is dead, is behaving strangely and attempting to heighten tension in relations with the United States. It emerges that her actions are under the influence of the Master. She uses the transmitted power of the Keller Machine against the American delegate, Senator Alcott, who barely survives the attack. Captain Chin Lee is deconditioned by the Doctor, and tells him that Emile Keller is in truth the Master, whom the Doctor has previously trapped on Earth by stealing the dematerialisation circuit of his TARDIS.

Back at Stangmoor a riot has broken out and resulted in a dangerous criminal who was next in line for the Keller process, Harry Mailer, seizing control of the prison. Jo is briefly taken hostage, but she enables the guards to retake the prison. The Master, who has heard of the Stangmoor riot by eavesdropping on UNIT's radio communications, arrives and meets Mailer, to whom he supplies enough gas grenades for Mailer and his prisoners to retake control of the prison. The Doctor returns to the prison only to be captured by the Master, who sets the Keller Machine loose on the mind of his old foe, weakening the Doctor considerably. But the Master is losing control of the Keller Machine, which contains an alien Mind Parasite that is dangerous even to a Time Lord, and forces the Doctor to help him contain its power. This done, the Doctor is returned to his cell.

The Master has come to Stangmoor to recruit the prisoners as a private army, and uses them to hijack a UNIT convoy transporting a deadly Thunderbolt nerve gas missile, which he intends to fire at the Peace Conference. Captain Mike Yates, who was in charge of the convoy, is taken prisoner by the criminals. Left in the dark, the Brigadier decides the Thunderbolt missile must be at Stangmoor and comes to the rescue in a "Trojan Horse" style assault. UNIT troops take control of the prison, killing Mailer and the other leading rioters. But the Keller Machine is growing stronger, and now breaks free of the temporary restraints placed on it by the Doctor, who discovers by chance that Barnham, having previously been subjected to the Keller process and thus having no evil left in his mind, has become immune to the Mind Parasite.

Yates manages to contact UNIT, and informs them that the Thunderbolt is hidden on an abandoned airfield near the prison. The Doctor contacts the Master, offering to return his dematerialisation circuit in exchange for the missile. The Master agrees on condition he will come alone. But the Doctor uses Barnham to transport the Keller Machine to the airfield and turn the Mind Parasite loose on the Master. With the Master helpless, the Doctor is able to trigger the missile's self-destruct circuit and the Thunderbolt and the Keller Machine are destroyed. The Master uses the chaos to escape with his dematerialisation circuit, killing Barnham in the process. He contacts the Doctor by telephone to taunt him that he is now free while the Doctor remains trapped in his exile on Earth.


An insight into the Master's motivation and his relationship with the Doctor is given when the Mind Parasite turns on him and attacks him with images to evoke his deepest fear: the Master is confronted with and recoils from images of a gigantic Doctor towering over him and laughing uproariously at him.

The Mind Parasite attacks the Doctor on three separate occasions. The first visions are tongues of flame, enveloping the Doctor's terror-stricken face. He tells Jo as he recovers, "Not long ago I saw an entire world consumed by fire..." This is a reference to the recent serial Inferno (also written by Don Houghton).[2] The images in the two later incidents are of past monsters (including the War Machines, a Cyberman and a Zarbi). During these latter hallucinations, Dalek voices are heard chanting for subjugation, extermination, and destruction.


Working titles for this story included The Pandora Machine, Man Hours and The Pandora Box.[3]

The serial features a guest appearance by Michael Sheard, who had previously appeared with William Hartnell in The Ark, and would later appear with Tom Baker in Pyramids of Mars (as Lawrence Scarman) and in The Invisible Enemy (as Lowe), and with Peter Davison in Castrovalva (as Mergrave), and with Sylvester McCoy in Remembrance of the Daleks (as the Headmaster at the Coal Hill School). See also Celebrity appearances in Doctor Who.

The production filmed in Kent where some exteriors, primarily for Stangmoor Prison, were filmed in and around Dover Castle. The junction of Archer’s Court Road with Pineham Road in Whitfield was the location where the Master’s troops ambush the missile convoy. The hangar at the former RAF Swingate was used as the Master’s hiding place for his deadly missile. And Stone Hill Park, formerly Manston Airport, was the base for the helicopter company providing the choppers and aerial footage in the series.[4] [5] This serial went so excessively over budget - primarily due to the use of the helicopter in episode 6 - that its director, Timothy Combe, was banned by Barry Letts from being considered for any subsequent Who work.[6]


James F. McGrath of the Patheos religion blog notes that the serial poses the question of pacifism (in relation to Barnham's mental state after the Mind Parasite has extracted all of the negative impulses from his mind), and asks: "Can pure unadulterated kindness ultimately prevail? Or does it take evil, in whatever small a measure, to effectively combat evil?"[7] In the serial itself, the prison's medical officer tells Jo Grant that Barnham, his mind largely a blank, is "either an idiot... or a Saint, depending how you look at it".

Pacifism as a theme had previously been explored in much greater depth in the William Hartnell serial, The Daleks, in the context of the conflict between the peace-loving Thals and the warlike Daleks, in which companion Ian Chesterton had resolved the question for the audience: "Pacifism? That only works where everyone feels the same".

Broadcast and reception

Serial details by episode
EpisodeBroadcast dateRun timeViewers
(in millions)
"Episode One" 30 January 1971 (1971-01-30) 24:39 6.1 Manual colourisation
"Episode Two" 6 February 1971 (1971-02-06) 24:31 8.8 Chroma dot colour recovery
"Episode Three" 13 February 1971 (1971-02-13) 24:30 7.5 Chroma dot colour recovery
"Episode Four" 20 February 1971 (1971-02-20) 24:40 7.4 Chroma dot colour recovery
"Episode Five" 27 February 1971 (1971-02-27) 23:34 7.6 Chroma dot colour recovery
"Episode Six" 6 March 1971 (1971-03-06) 24:48 7.3 Chroma dot colour recovery

David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker, in their 1998 book Doctor Who: The Television Companion, noted that the Master's plan was "so convoluted that it seriously lacks credibility". However, they wrote that "the action is brought to the screen with such style and panache that the viewer hardly notices them", with the direction and the alien menace being the highlights.[11] In 2009, Mark Braxton of Radio Times praised the direction and Delgado's Master, though he noted there was a high body count.[12] SFX reviewer Ian Berriman gave the serial three out of five stars, finding it enjoyable if one did not concentrate on the Master's plan, noting that the "two aspects of the plan never dovetail satisfactorily".[13] DVD Talk's John Sinnott rated The Mind of Evil three and a half out of five stars, writing that it kept a good pace and had "all of the elements that made Pertwee's run so enjoyable".[14] Actress Katy Manning has stated that this is her favourite story from her three years on the show.[15]

Commercial releases

In print

The Mind of Evil
Author Terrance Dicks
Cover artist Andrew Skilleter
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
11 July 1985
ISBN 0-426-20166-3

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in March 1985.

Home media

The original soundtrack for this serial was released on CD in the UK in February 2009. The linking narration was provided by Richard Franklin.[16]

For many years, this story was unique amongst the BBC's holdings of Pertwee-era serials in that the BBC held no complete colour copies of any of its episodes. However, about four and a half minutes of colour footage from episode six existed on an off-air domestic NTSC Betamax recording. The serial was released on VHS in May 1998 using the BBC's black-and-white 16mm film recordings. The colour scenes, restored by combining the colour signal from the off-air recording and the geometry from the film recording, were included as a bonus extra after the story. Several colour clips from the story were included on the 2011 DVD release Day of the Daleks as part of the UNIT family history.[17]

The serial was released on DVD in June 2013.[18] Episodes two to six were restored to colour via the chroma dot colour recovery technique used for other black-and-white Pertwee-era stories.[19] The telerecording of episode one does not contain chroma dot information (this was filtered out at the time it was made) and was recoloured using colour referenced from the other restored episodes. Keyframes, including the first frame of a shot and every fifth frame thereafter (approximately 7,000 in total) were hand coloured by Stuart Humphryes. Motion-estimation software was then used to interpolate the extrapolated colour from the key frames into the intervening frames.[20]


  1. "Dr Who in Detail 3". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  2. Cornell, Paul, Martin Day and Keith Topping, Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide, Virgin Books, 1995, p. 122.
  3. Howe, David J.; Walker, Stephen James (1996). Doctor Who The Handbook - The Third Doctor. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 77. ISBN 0-426-20486-7.
  4. Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office The Mind of Evil Article".
  5. Unsigned, "The UNIT Story: Part One," Doctor Who Magazine Winter Special (UNIT Exposed), 1991, Marvel Comics, Ltd., p. 15, col. 2.
  6. Unsigned, "The UNIT Story: Part One," Doctor Who Magazine Winter Special (UNIT Exposed), 1991, Marvel Comics, Ltd.,, p. 15, col. 3.
  7. McGrath, James F (6 August 2012). "Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil". Patheos. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  8. Shaun Lyon; et al. (2007-03-31). "The Mind of Evil". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-05-18. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
  9. "The Mind of Evil". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
  10. Sullivan, Shannon (2005-05-15). "The Mind of Evil". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
  11. Howe, David J & Walker, Stephen James (1998). Doctor Who: The Television Companion (1st ed.). London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-40588-7.
  12. Braxton, Mark (21 October 2009). "Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil". Radio Times. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  13. Berriman, Ian (31 May 2013). "Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil Review". SFX. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  14. Sinnott, John (11 June 2013). "Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil". DVD Talk. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  15. The Mind of Evil DVD commentary (episode two), BBC DVD
  16. "Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil". Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  17. BBC Warner DVD. B0051V55XA. 13 September 2011
  18. "UK DVD schedule confirmed to September". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
  19. On February-19-2012 (2012-02-19). "Doctor Who: Radio Free Skaro » Blog Archive » Radio Free Skaro #296 – Cleaning Up the Corn Field". Radio Free Skaro. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
  20. "Pertwee DVD". Babelcolour. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
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Target novelisation

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