The Hand of Fear


Previous Next Previous Next




The Hand of Fear

Serial Code


First Transmitted

2 October 1976

Final Ratings






previous arrow
next arrow


Regular Cast

Tom Baker (Doctor Who), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith)

Guest Cast

Rex Robinson (Dr. Carter) [1-2], Renu Setna (Intern), David Purcell (Abbott) [1], Roy Pattison (Zazzka), [1], Roy Skelton (King Rokon) [1, 4], Robin Hargrave (Guard) [1], Glyn Houston (Professor Watson) [2-3], Roy Boyd (Driscoll) [2], Frances Pidgeon (Miss Jackson) [2]*, John Cannon (Elgin) [2], Judith Paris (Eldrad) [3-4], Stephen Thorne (Kastrian Eldrad) [4].


Written by Bob Baker And Dave Martin
Directed by Lennie Mayne
Produced by Philip Hinchcliffe


Eldrad was once hailed as the saviour of the world of Kastria. He erected force-barriers around the planet, preventing its imminent destruction. However, when the Kastrians refused to submit to his dictatorship, he removed his force-fields, condemning an entire civilisation to a slow and agonising death. For this, the mightiest of crimes, the people of Kastria sentenced Eldrad to obliteration. Millions of years later, The Doctor’s TARDIS materialises in an English quarry.

A freak accident traps The Doctor’s young friend, Sarah Jane Smith, under tons of rock. When she is rescued, she is frantically clinging to a large stone hand. Taken to a local hospital, it soon becomes clear that Sarah has been possessed. After she goes missing – still clutching the hand – Fourth Doctor follows the trail of death and destruction to a nearby atomic power station. What strange power does the hand have over Sarah? Why has she fought her way to the very core of the nuclear reactor?

How can she possibly survive the normally lethal radiation? To answer these questions, The Doctor must travel across the galaxy to a long-dead world – after which, life will never be quite the same again…


1 “Part One” 24:50 2nd October 1976 10.5m
2 “Part Two” 24:48 9th October 1976 10.2m
3 “Part Three” 24:22 16th October 1976 11.1m
4 “Part Four” 25:00 23rd October 1976 12m



One hundred and fifty million years ago on the planet Kastria, a traitor named Eldrad is sentenced to death for crimes including the destruction of the barriers that kept the solar winds at bay.

Placed into a capsule and shot into space, Eldrad awaits obliteration. The capsule is detonated prematurely, despite the risk of particle survival. Conditions are deteriorating rapidly on Kastria. The remaining Kastrians await their fate on the desolate planet.

The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith arrive in the TARDIS in a modern-day quarry on Earth and are caught immediately in a quarrying explosion. The Doctor is slightly injured. Sarah is found unconscious in the rubble, clutching a fossilised hand. She is taken to a local hospital.

The hand is examined. Based on the strata of the rock in which it was found, it is one hundred fifty million years old. Pathologist Dr Carter dismisses these findings as ridiculous. Examining a sliver of the hand under an electron microscope, The Doctor observes a helix similar to DNA. The minuscule radiation of the microscope causes the sample to grow. The Doctor realises that this fossil might actually contain vestiges of life.

Sarah awakens in her hospital bed, holding a crystalline ring that slipped from the hand. The ring begins to pulse with energy. Sarah hears a voice in her head:”Eldrad must live.” She steals the hand and flees the hospital, knocking out Carter with a flash from the ring. She heads for the nearest nuclear reactor, the Nunton Complex. With the aid of the ring, Sarah overpowers guards and workmen and enters the reactor room. She watches as the hand absorbs radiation, regenerates its missing finger and begins to move.


The head of the complex, Professor Watson, stays at his post when the reactor goes critical. He offers The Doctor aid and advice in trying to get to Sarah. She sits serenely amidst the chaos and klaxons. The Doctor resolves to enter the chamber through a cooling duct in Cooling systems control. His progress is interrupted by Dr Carter, now also under the hypnotic control of the ring. He tries to strike The Doctor while on a stairwell, but his own momentum carries him over the railing, and he falls to his death.

The Doctor enters the chamber and finds there is no radiation whatsoever, the hand is absorbing the entire output of the reactor. Sarah is removed, and the hand placed in a sealed cabinet. The Doctor breaks through Sarah’s hypnosis.

The ring, however, is left behind in the chamber. It is found by a technician named Driscoll, who falls under its control. He takes the hand and makes his way to the reactor core. He uses the ring against the security personnel who attempt to stop him. The Doctor pursues him, closely followed by Sarah, and narrowly avoids becoming a victim of the ring. They catch up with Driscoll just as he is about to enter the core and set off a chain reaction. The Doctor pulls Sarah to the ground to await the explosion.

Inside the control room, the panels explode, knocking Professor Watson to the floor…


It seems they are waiting in vain, as nothing happens. The Doctor enters the reactor chamber where the level of radiation is, surprisingly, still normal. He explains that sort of “unexplosion” happened. They close the reactor core and hurry out as Watson has ordered an RAF strike to destroy the hand and the reactor. The missiles’ impact, however, have no effect because the hand absorbed all the energy. The nuclear missiles and the full power of the reactor are enough to complete the regeneration of Eldrad.

Crystalline, silicon-based and female, she tells the story of how she created the spatial barriers that let Kastria thrive, but in an interstellar war the barriers were destroyed, and she was disgraced and condemned. Eldrad persuades The Doctor to return her to Kastria so she can save her people, he agrees on the condition that they travel to Kastria in the present, a hundred fifty million years after she left.

Immediately afterwards, Watson arrives and attempts to attack Eldrad, firing a gun at her with no effect. She immediately retaliates and means to kill him, but she is persuaded otherwise by The Doctor. Leaving Watson to work on getting Nunton back to normal, The Doctor, Sarah and Eldrad return to the quarry where the TARDIS landed, and depart for Kastria.

The planet is barren and ruined, but her ring reactivates some instruments. The Kastrian opens the door to the underground thermal caves looking for survivors and triggers a trap. A syringe-like dart hits her in the chest.


After she explains that the dart contained an acid of her own design, The Doctor and Sarah take the dying Eldrad to a regenerator chamber deep below the surface of Kastria, in the thermal chambers. Booby traps have been set along, targeting silicon-based beings. The regenerator chamber is rigged to destroy Eldrad, but a malfunction allows a full regeneration. The new form of Eldrad emerges and reveals he had based his earlier form on Sarah, the first human he encountered. Eldrad is now much taller and male. He boasts that he destroyed the solar barriers in a rivalry with King Rokon. They find Eldrad’s ultimate goal, to rule Kastria. He enters the Kastrian race bank, where he intends to revive the dormant Kastrian people. The bank, however, is empty.

An image of Rokon appears on a video screen, informing Eldrad that without the barriers, facing perpetual subterranean existence and a small possibility of his return, the Kastrian race elected to destroy themselves and the race bank. It was Rokon who long time ago set the booby traps. Rokon mockingly salutes Eldrad from the grave as “King of Nothing”. A bitter Eldrad now decides to rule the Earth instead and demands that The Doctor return him. He refuses, stating that his obligation to Eldrad is now satisfied.

Eldrad pursues The Doctor and Sarah, but they stretch out The Doctor’s scarf across the passageway. Tripping over it, Eldrad falls into an abyss to his apparent doom. The Doctor drops Eldrad’s ring into the depths as well. He notes that Eldrad’s fate is uncertain, as silicon-based lifeforms are difficult to kill.

The Doctor and Sarah depart in the TARDIS, and the Doctor sets about making repairs. Sarah bemoans her life in the TARDIS – bouncing around the universe, fleeing from bug-eyed monsters and needing a bath. The Doctor is focused on his work on the TARDIS console, which infuriates her. She demands to be returned home and storms off to her room to pack.

While she is gone, The Doctor receives a telepathic summons to return to Gallifrey and notes to himself that he cannot take Sarah with him. Sarah returns with her packed things, and the Doctor informs her that he must return her to Earth, as he cannot take her with him to Gallifrey. With her idle threat suddenly becoming reality, Sarah is taken aback, especially at missing the chance to see Gallifrey.

The Doctor steers the TARDIS to bring her to Hillview Road, South Croydon – Sarah’s home. She asks him not to forget her, he replies likewise. Once the TARDIS dematerialises, Sarah makes her exit, noting that travel does indeed broaden the mind, and the Doctor promises her that they will meet again.

After watching the TARDIS disappear to return The Doctor home, Sarah realises she hasn’t been left on Hillview Road and guesses she’s probably not even in South Croydon. She playfully remarks to a nearby dog, “He blew it “, and, whistling, walks off toward her new life…


  • After leaving the Fourth Doctor, Sarah will meet him again in The Five Doctors, Downtime, Interference: Book One and Book Two, and Bullet Time. She also appears briefly in a sequence in Millennium Shock.
  • Sarah whistling ‘Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me A Bow Wow’ shall have some significance when The Doctor sends her K9 Mark III in K9 and Company.
  • In School Reunion, Sarah finally gets to tell the Tenth Doctor that it wasn’t South Croydon. It was Aberdeen.
  • Sarah mentions giving The Doctor’s love to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Harry Sullivan when she leaves the TARDIS. She also says she’s going to tell Professor Watson that The Doctor is alright.
  • Sarah Jane’s home is Hill View Road, South Croydon.
  • The Doctor’s quip that Gallifrey is “perhaps” in Ireland is one he repeats in The Invisible Enemy and Human Nature.
  • Eldrad has heard of the Time Lords, saying that they are pledged to uphold the laws of time and to prevent alien aggression.
  • Order the DVD
  • media clip

    error: Content is protected
    Skip to content