STATE OF DECAY
November – December 1980
“There are vampire legends on almost every inhabited planet: creatures that stalk in the night and feast on the blood of the living”
The Doctor to Romana, episode 3
Tom as the Doctor outside the TARDIS
Picture © BBC
Imprisoned in the isolated universe of E-space the Doctor and Romana land on a strange world ruled by King Zargo (William Lindsay) and Queen Camilla (Rachel Davies), who live in barbaric luxury high atop their Tower, while holding their starving peasants in poverty. Scientific enquiry has been suppressed, but hidden in the hills is a team of rebels led by the scientifically curious Kalmar (Arthur Hewlett). They have made their headquarters within a dump of rusting technology of mysterious origin.
The Time Lords are captured by Kalmar’s rebels, but manage to persuade them, as fellow scientists, they should be allowed to go free. Later the King and Queen receive the pair with superficial cordiality, a veneer which soon erodes when the Doctor mentions the contents of a thousand year old space ship’s log he glimpsed at the rebels’ HQ. Proceedings are interrupted by the Royal Councillor, Aukon (Emrys James), giving the Doctor and Romana a chance to explore.
Meanwhile, stowaway Adric (see Full Circle synopsis) is caught stealing a loaf of bread from the peasant villagers’ hall. He falls into the clutches of Aukon, who has come to make his selection of youths for service in the Tower.
Romana and the Doctor discover the Tower is really a flora-encrusted spacecraft which originally left Earth 1,000 years ago and, like the TARDIS, got drawn into E-Space. The scout ships, forming the three turrets, are the only parts of the vessel still in working order. They also discover the three rulers are the original officers of the ship. But how could they have lived so long?
Further searching yields the horrific truth. Drained bodies of village youths, fuel tanks filled with blood – Zargo, Camilla and Aukon are vampires, and their master, one of the Great Vampires of Time Lord legend, sleeps beneath the Tower, almost ready to awaken after hundreds of years of dormancy.
After Romana is caught and prepared for sacrifice, the Doctor persuades Kalmar to lead a concerted attack on the Tower. While this diverts the guards, the Doctor programmes one of the needle-nosed scout ships to launch and skewer the Great Vampire through its heart, killing it permanently. Zargo, Camilla and Aukon’s unnaturally extended lives come to an end, liberating the villagers.