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Doctor Who - The Hand of Fear [DVD] [1976]

4.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

Price: £6.94 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: 2 Entertain Video
  • DVD Release Date: 24 July 2006
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FPV8KG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,303 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

The TARDIS materialises in an English quarry where Sarah is involved in a rock fall. When she is rescued, she is clutching a stone hand, which takes control of her and forces her to take it into the core of a nuclear reactor. The Doctor (Tom Baker) arrives too late to stop the hand from regenerating into an alien lifeform known as Eldrad, who demands to be returned to her home planet of Kastria. The Doctor obliges, but all is not as it seems with Eldrad. This was Sarh Jane Smith's last adventure with the Doctor, although she later returned in 'K-9 and Company', 'The Five Doctors' and 'Downtime'.


Doctor Who fans must take the bittersweet with the suspenseful in this four-part story arc from 1976, which pits the Doctor (Tom Baker) and companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) against the fossilized hand of an alien criminal which possesses a hideous will to live again. Discovered by the Doctor and Sarah during a trip to Earth that puts them in the middle of a mining blast, the hand belongs to Eldrad, a fugitive criminal from the planet Kastria who desires to regain his bodily form and return to his home. To do so, he possesses Sarah and the staff of a nearby nuclear reactor in order to use its power to regenerate, which leads to several eerie scenes with the reanimated hand that nicely evoke British horror features from the '60s and '70s. Well-liked by Baker-era fans, The Hand of Fear is best remembered as Sladen's final turn as Sarah (though she has frequently returned to the role on both radio and TV), and her final scenes with Baker (largely written by the two actors) have an endearing sort of wistfulness.

As with all Doctor Who DVD releases, The Hand of Fear features a number of well-produced extras that flesh out the production history of the episodes. The commentary by Baker, Sladen, co-star Judith Paris (who plays the reconfigured Eldrad in an early female form), co-author Bob Baker, and producer Phillip Hinchcliffe is an excellent place to start for first-time viewers and longtime fans; all except Paris are also featured in an informative 50-minute featurette titled "Changing Time," which illuminates the warm working relationship between Baker and Sladen, as well as her reasons for departing the series. An 11-minute videotape clip from the U.K. children's show Swap Shop featuring Baker and Sladen before the broadcast of The Hand of Fear is also included, as well as the now-standard photo gallery, text-only commentary, and PDF of the 1977 Doctor Who Annual and Radio Times. --Paul Gaita

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Back in the mid 1970's when I was just a nipper, I would skip gaily home from the newsagents in my little shorts with some penny chews and a lurid red string of liquorice packed with E numbers to watch Saturday's instalment of Doctor Who. I count myself lucky to have experienced the Baker/Sladen partnership first time round. It is the best ensemble acting the show has ever produced. Week in week out, I would be enthralled by the brave, kind and just a little bit unsettling Doctor and the pretty, spunky Sarah-Jane as they battled Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen and Zygons in a crazed-out monsterfest which was compulsory viewing for any child in Great Britain who grew up in that magical era. Then it all came to an end with the Hand of Fear and I wrote a rude letter to the BBC (which my Mum helped me to write), which they never replied to.

The story is not outstanding, but contains a popular template still retained by the series, namely setting the initial story on Earth in recognisable surroundings (yes, it's THAT quarry again), before shifting the action to outer space. One interesting fact is that Sarah is given a chance to be mean as she is possessed by the power of Eldrad's ring. The highlight is of course her leaving scene, made all the more poignant by being underplayed by both actors.

Elisabeth Sladen is the best actor or actress ever to have played the Doctor's companion, and struck just the right degree of balance between vulnerability and independence, while all the while creating a likeable and entirely believable character. There has not been a companion like her since (although I have to say I was very impressed with Billie Piper). This was her swansong.

Happy days.
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Format: DVD
The first thing that strikes me on viewing this story again is Lennie Mayne's impressive directorial flourishes. Doctor Who often suffers from it's studio-bound nature and an inability of many directors to be able to do anything interesting with the camera rather than just point and shoot. But with The Hand of Fear, Mayne nicely utilizes the location shooting in particular, with the opening scenes of the quarry and the later nuclear plant being very well shot and the high and low angles help to add an extra dimension to the proceedings. As for the story itself, hand is well realised and helped by some strong performances from the central cast. Elizabeth Sladen is brilliant, very eerie when possessed by Eldrad and both her and Tom are particularly excellent in the stories famous closing scenes, they really underplay it to perfection. Judith Paris and Glyn Houston also turn in great performances for two characters that could have been quite uninteresting in the hands of less skilled actors. The Hand itself, although a simple effect is nicely achieved, the female Eldrad's costume looks great and there is some good model work too. Overall the story is always entertaining, but falls apart a little towards the end and just seems to come to a juddering halt rather than a satisfactory conclusion and this is a shame considering the absorbing and atmospheric first three episodes. But this is made up for with Sarah's superb leaving scene ( one of the best any companion has received on the show) and all in all this is an immensely satisfying adventure that comes highly recommended.

Sadly the extra features don't quite live up to their potential and prove something of a disappointment.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It is not surprising that this classic four-parter is coming out on DVD soon, what with the recently aired 'School Reunion' episode. It gives the BBC a chance to cash in on the younger fans who want to know more about Sarah's departure.

This is written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin who also penned the excellent 'The Sontaran Experiment'. It is set on modern day Earth, where the Tardis lands in a quarry where a controlled explosion is just about to take place. The Doctor and Sarah get caught in it, but it is Sarah who gets trapped underneath the rubble, where she comes across a fossilised hand. Sarah then gets pulled out by the Doctor and taken to the local hospital for observation where she becomes more and more hypnotised by the hand. Sarah, clutching the hand, travels to the nuclear research and development complex where the hand soaks up the radiation from the reactor core to then evolve into a female Alien lifeforce etc.

The extras on this DVD include: a commentary featuring Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Judith Paris (Eldrad), Bob Baker (co-writer) and Philip Hinchcliffe (Producer), plus a 50 minute documentary about the changing relationship of the Doctor and Sarah.

This is good solid entertainment that is gripping and full of tension. Thoroughly recommended.
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It's Tom Baker's Doctor so hey automatically worth watching, but not one of the best. The commentary extra by the actors involved is fun. The story itself makes little sense. The earth bound part of the story is quite well done, if a little drab to look at, mainly because it's set in Britain at the time of filming and largely set in and around a nuclear power station. In that sense it has the look of a 3rd doctor story. The woman Eldrad costume is quite cool, but once Eldrad becomes an over acting man, it's pretty silly and once we leave Earth, things generally become more generic seventies tv sci-fi. Not that that's necessarily all a bad thing in my book. It's by no means not entertaining and if you like the fourth doctor and Sarah Jane, you will enjoy it. It's just not the best of the fourth doctor. Definitely of its time, though this probably adds to its appeal now as something to look back on. Not sure that i wouldn't have been thinking this looks cheapo nonsense at the time though!
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