Doctor Who: The Face Of Evil [DVD]

“The Face of Evil” (1976) was the fourth story in the 14th season of Dr Who. Tom Baker was well and truly established in the role of the heroic Time Lord, but the Doctor’s popular assistant, Sarah Jane Smith played by Elizabeth Sladen had departed at the end of “The Hand of Fear”. This story was inspired by HG Wells’ The Time Machine (filmed in 1960) with its future society split in two: one group descended into primitive superstition the other surviving as a technological elite. Adding a crashed spaceship, a computer with multiple personalities and a mysterious carving of the Doctor, this would have been a routine adventure but for one thing; the first appearance of a new assistant played by Louise Jameson. An instant hit with the audience, Leela was a different kind of Dr Who companion. Confident, not adverse to violent self-defence, scantily-clad and unselfconsciously sexy, Leela was part-way between Tarzan’s Jane and The Avengers‘ Emma Peel. Writer Chris Boucher acknowledged The Avengers influence, also noting that he named the character after Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled! Leela stayed with the Doctor until the end of “The Invasion of Time” (1978). –Gary S. Dalkin