Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Daemons of Devils End

The Daemons is probably the most fondly remembered of the UNIT stories of the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who. Let's face it, it had everything - UNIT (and that classic line "Chap with wings, five rounds rapid"), the Master, and the most English of English villages, with church, village green and pub, and morris dancers for May Day. Plus, of course, archaeology, black magic and the Daemon of the title. Every member of the regular cast had a chance to shine.
And there was also the white witch of the village, Miss Hawthorne, played by the wonderful Damaris Hayman.

Thanks to Reeltime, a small company which made Doctor Who videos during the time that the series was not on the BBC, we can now find out what happened to Miss Olive Hawthorne in a DVD set called The Daemons of Devil's End.
The project started in 2010, with Damaris Hayman already in her eighties, and was only finished recently, with the addition of dramatization of some of the scenes from the stories Damaris narrates. The project was first thought of as a "talking heads" sort of production, like the Alan Bennett monologues, since the actress can't do too much running around at her age! It was also the first time she had ever used an autocue, but she takes to it like the true professional she is.

So there are six linked short stories telling important episodes from Miss Hawthorne's life - she knows she is close to death, and is telling her tale to a spirit she has summoned, because of her concern about who will be the protector of Devil's End when she is gone. We start with her childhood, when she gets her Grimoire and her vocation in life (based on a memory from Damaris's own childhood), and how she got her cat - the apple thief in that story, a good looking lad with very pale hair, is Sophie Aldred's son. There's a doomed love affair, a rival witch, the aftermath of the Daemons story, and finally a very satisfying conclusion.
Bonus features have the making of the series, interviews, and a music video for the title music of the series.

The second and third discs have documentaries, starting with the 1992 Return to Devil's End, which brought many members of the original cast and crew back to Aldbourne in Wiltshire, where the original story was filmed. They even track down the morris dancing team, and speak to some of the dancers who took part in the filming. There's also footage of a question and answer session at one of the conventions that was held in the village.

I really enjoyed this DVD set, and it's a great addition to my classic Doctor Who collection. There's also a paperback, made to look as much like the old Target paperbacks as possible, which expands on the six episodes of Miss Hawthorne's story, with a few extra features like photos from the filming of the original story. I actually bought that first, by mistake, but I'm glad I did.

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