Doctor Who: Black Orchid (Story #120)

7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Different type of Doctor Who episode

A little underdeveloped


Clowns…harlequins…whatever you call them, they’re always trying to kill you

The Doctor (Peter Davison), Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), and Tegan (Janet Fielding) have arrived in England in 1925 and just in time for a party.  When the Doctor is mistaken for a fill-in for a game of cricket, the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan, and Adric are invited to the home of Lord Cranleigh (Michael Cochrane).  Nyssa discovers she is a twin to Ann Talbot, the fiancée of Lord Cranleigh, and Nyssa, Tegan, Adric, and the Doctor find themselves at a masquerade.  Unfortunately, murder occurs and the Doctor has become the most likely suspect.  With the threat of arrest and a real killer on the loose, the Doctor must prove his innocence!


She will be mine…oh yes, she will be mine!

Doctor Who:  Black Orchid aired during the nineteenth season of the popular BBC series.  The episode was a two part serial running on March 1, 1982 and March 2, 1982.  Following Doctor Who:  The Visitation, Doctor Who:  Black Orchid was collected as part of The Peter Davison Years as Story #121 (or Story #120 depending on if you count the unaired Doctor Who:  Shada story).  Doctor Who:  Black Orchid is currently out-of-print on DVD.

The series is a bit of a standout simply because of the structure.  It is the first two part story since Doctor Who:  The Sontaran Experiment and it is also the first story since the missing Doctor Who:  The Highlanders (which introduced the Doctor’s companion Jamie) to not have a science fiction story.  In this sense, it is a nice break.

I kind of enjoyed this storyline.  With the countryside setting and a scarred unseen villain, it rather felt like a Hammer Horror storyline.  This feeling is combined with a story which feels like an episode of Mystery! but instead of Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, or Ms. Marple, you get the Doctor as the detective…and a kind of racist looking South American.


Don’t turn around, but there is a kind of racist South American behind us

The story is short and sweet.  There is an odd twist in the storytelling which goes against a lot of other Doctor Who episodes.  When the Doctor becomes trapped, he uses the TARDIS as almost a deus ex machina excuse to get out of trouble…it is very un-Doctor like.  Normally, the Doctor keeps himself rather secret to others, but here, he leads the police into the TARDIS and even uses it to speed up the ending story by taking them back to Lord Cranleigh’s estate.

This is one of the better stories for all the characters because there isn’t much for them to do.  With only two short episodes, you don’t get a lot of time with three of the Doctor’s worse companions and the time you do get with them is pretty minimal.  I liked the idea of the Nyssa duplicate and feel that more could have been done with that…like some explanation.

Doctor Who:  Black Orchid is one of Peter Davison’s better entries simply because it is kind of strange.  I like the story and I like the quick pacing, but it could have been better with some more development.  Doctor Who:  Black Orchid was followed by Doctor Who:  Earthshock.

Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  The Visitation (Story #119)

Followed By:

Doctor Who:  Earthshock (Story #121)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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