The Leisure Hive

Region 1

Region 2
VHS Video
(Doctor Who Story No. 110, starring Tom Baker)
  • written by David Fisher
  • directed by Lovett Bickford
  • introducing producer John Nathan-Turner
  • music by Peter Howell
  • 4 episodes @ ~ 25 minutes each
Story: The Doctor and Romana visit the Leisure Hive on the planet Argolis, whose inhabitants are desperate to find new anti-aging applications for the science of Tachyonics that they have discovered, before they are forced to declare bankruptcy. But mysterious forces lurk in the shadows, sabotaging their every move. The Doctor gets caught in the middle, and must solve the mystery before he gets all the blame....

DVD Extras include:

  • Audio commentary by actress Lalla Ward (Romana), director Lovett Bickford, and script editor Christopher H. Bidmead.
  • "A New Beginning" featurette (30 min.) on the new producer's changes to the show and the making of "The Leisure Hive",
    with Bickford, Bidmead, Tom Baker (The Doctor), John Leeson (Voice of K9), costume designer June Hudson,
    assistant floor manager Val McCrimmon, graphic designer Sid Sutton, composer Peter Howell,
    and archive interviews of the late producer John Nathan-Turner.
  • "From Avalon to Argolis" writing featurette (14 min.) with Bidmead, Nathan-Turner, and writer David Fisher.
  • "Synthesizing Starfields" featurette on the new title sequence and theme music (9 min.) with Peter Howell and Sid Sutton
  • "Leisure Wear" costume featurette (6 min.) with June Hudson
  • Music Only and Dolby 5.1 Surround audio options
  • Photo Gallery sound effects montage (6 min.)
  • Pop-up Production Note Subtitles
  • Doctor Who exhibition with John Nathan-Turner on Blue Peter (4 min.)
  • "Who's Who" text actor biographies (may feature on Region 1 only)
  • Easter Egg - trailers and continuity (3 min.)

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

"The Leisure Hive" is most often remembered as the story in which John Nathan-Turner, just promoted from Production Unit Manager to full Producer, left his mark on the program by giving it some of its most radical style changes in its long history. In this respect, I think "The Leisure Hive" overdoes it, getting so focused on style that it begins to show a lack of substance.

Oh, there are a lot of grand sci-fi and social ideas in the piece. Mena's speech about the purpose of the Hive might equally apply to what the producer wants to achieve during his run - and very noble at that. But, once the Doctor wakes up and gets out of his lounge chair on the beach, the pace feels badly rushed. Important dialogue flies by too quickly for the audience to truly absorb it, what little escaped trimming on the script itself. As evidenced by the different versions of "Shada" (the previous story), fleshing out ideas and character motivation through dialogue, and painting pictures with words, is an important part of a successful Doctor Who story. "The Leisure Hive" would have needed most to develop in this area.

The director seems keen to make his visual efforts noticeable instead, which often feel like a distraction from the actually story. Large chunks of dialogue scenes are carelessly thrown at the audience, while less significant tidbits like humorous gags or idle suspense are given much more attention and screen time than they deserve. Altogether, there seem to be too many tight shots in this story, not allowing the sets and Foamasi costumes to get away without looking cheap as they might have done in mid- to long-shot.

And the finished story must take a hit for not really involving the Doctor as much as it should. Tom Baker hardly gets any screen time in this one. Romana gets a little more to do, but not much. K9 bows out of the adventure early on, and the TARDIS interior decides this is the only season eighteen story that it will not feature in. The guest characters own this story, and could almost have proceeded without our time-travelling regulars.

The materialization of the TARDIS is rather lacklustre - you need to be savvy about the limitations of certain effects to notice that something innovative has been attempted here. I feel a better example of the TARDIS materializing in the middle of a motion shot was achieved in the opening episode of "The Ark" (story no. 23), way back in black-and-white season 3. Technically, they did cheat slightly, but the overall effect and flow of the shot was much more graceful and satisfying.

I like the new title graphics. I like the new title music, and the new style of incidental music by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Perhaps there is a bit too much music in Peter Howell's score this time around; by using less, the music may have had greater impact each time it actually was used. But it is a great score, highly enjoyable to listen to.

There's a whole sequence in episode two that seems devised to reassure fans of producer Philip Hinchcliffe's era that tense horror moments will be done with seriousness and finesse, and not descend to the jokey levels witnessed during producer Graham Williams' more recent tenure. I'm reassured to see that horror moments such as we have in this sequence do not become the focus of each entire story, as so often happened in the Hinchcliffe era. It is instead just a small piece of a whole that integrates much more variety.

The complete Musical Score by Peter Howell and Special Sound by Dick Mills
from this story are available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Volume 3 - The Leisure Hive

More info & buying options

For me, I feel the story is really rather lost in the first two episodes, but the real dramatic tension builds nicely in the latter half of the story, and comes to a nice conclusion, giving the Doctor his due.

A good but hasty first effort, achieving only a low ranking in the season because, enticingly, there are even better things to come....

This story has become available on DVD and VHS video:
DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
for the U.K.
VHS Video
NTSC A in the U.S.
NTSC B in the U.S.
NTSC in Canada
PAL for the U.K.

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "Meglos"

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