Doctor Who – Black Orchid (1982) starring Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton
Doctor Who – Black Orchid is a short, entertaining Doctor Who story arc. It features the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, involved in a murder mystery. Two of his companions, Nyssa and Teegan, have a large role as well.
In Black Orchid, mistaken identities abound. Firstly, mistaken for a different “doctor”, the Crasleieghs of Cranleigh Hall ask the Doctor to play cricket. Later, he and his companions join them for a masked ball. There, Nyssa is mistaken for the fiancee of the young Cranleigh. However, A murder is committed in Cranleigh Hall. By someone dressed as a harlequin. The same costume that the Doctor is wearing! The masked ball permits the murder to hide in plain sight.
Now, The Doctor is accused of murder. Despite Lady Cranleigh knowing that he is innocent. What secret is she protecting, that allows an innocent mail to go to jail, while a murderer goes free?
- Peter Davison (All Creatures Great and Small, Doctor Who: Earthshock) … The Doctor. In 1925, he’s mistaken for a different doctor. He wins the cricket tournament. Then, they’re all invited to a masquerade party. Where someone, wearing his harlequin costume, commits murder!
- Sarah Sutton (Logopolis) … Nyssa / Ann Talbot. One of the Doctor’s companions. She bears an uncanny resemblance to Sir Robert’s fiancée. Which nearly gets her assassinated by the mysterious murderer.
- Janet Fielding (Doctor Who: Castrovalva) … Tegan. Another of the Doctor’s companions.
- Matthew Waterhouse (Doctor Who: The Keeper of Traken) … Adric. The Doctor’s young companion. A mathematical prodigy, who’s a fish out of water in 1925 England.
- Barbara Murray (Tales from the Crypt) … Lady Cranleigh. Mother of Robert …. And the missing George, who brought the titular Black Orchid back from his explorations. But disappeared some time back. He had been engaged to Ann Talbot, before his disappearance. She acts very strangely after the murders, as if she’s trying to protect someone …
- Moray Watson (The Quartermass Experiment TV series) … Sir Robert Muir. The young lord, who brings the Doctor home. A nice enough young man, engaged to Ann.
- Michael Cochrane … Lord Cranleigh. Father of Robert and George, married to Lady Cranleigh. He’s also chief constable of the area, and arrests The Doctor for murder.
- Brian Hawksley … Brewster. The family butler.
- Timothy Block … Tanner
- Ahmed Khalil … Latoni. The Indian servant, attacked by a mysterious assailant in the first part. He’s keeping the family secret.
- Gareth Milne … The Unknown. The mysterious “gurgling man” committing the murders.
- Peter Davison often cites this story as an example of substandard writing for the series during his tenure. He even claimed Terence Dudley told him he had written it for a murder mystery series, found it in a bottom drawer and just turned it into a Doctor Who story.
- Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding enjoyed taking part in the dance sequences. Matthew Waterhouse was less enthusiastic. He suggested that Adric should be more interested in the food so that he would not have to participate in the choreography.
Editorial review of Black Orchid courtesy of Amazon.com
In Black Orchid, Landing in Cranleigh Halt in England in 1925, the Doctor and his companions receive a warm reception from the local inhabitants … And an invitation to a masked ball at the house of Lady Cranleigh and her son Charles. It is there that Nyssa discovers her startling resemblance to Charles’ fiancee Ann. Then events take a more sinister turn when Ann is attacked and two servants murdered. Will the Doctor and his companions stand accused for murder?