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on 16 February 2013
I have never been able to understand the slating this clever, complex story often gets. In my opinion this is one of the very best Doctor Who stories ever. The guest cast are uniformly excellent and the guest characters are all engaging. The sets and costumes are wonderful and Alan Wareing's direction is strong. People tend to criticise this story for not making sense, in reality the story does make sense but it may take several viewings before you understand the intelligent story completely.

The Doctor and Ace are both superbly characterized with the Doctor acting as a manipulative father figure to Ace and taking her to a hated place from her childhood in order to get her to open up about what happened there. It's also clear that Ace has matured since her first appearance on the show, she has achieved genuine character development, something most companions fail to do.

It baffles me that people choose to dismiss this story while these are often the same people who will talk about how excellent the sloppy 'The Ark in space' and other overrated stories from the same era were. These people would also claim to be Doctor Who fans but they then criticise stories such as this for no reason. Ghost light is an excellent demonstration of how varied and clever Doctor Who can be. Highly Recommended.
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on 28 August 2013
It's very good this. To start with, very finely written; all the characters are pursued by demons of their own particular madnesses (except for that nice Mrs Grose), generally not chiming in tune with anyone else's. The result is often more of a mad house than a haunted one, with Redvers breathlessly quoting Joseph Conrad, while Gwendoline (a name cribbed from TIOBE if ever there was one) smartly sings 'That's The Way To The Zoo' where there's 'such a lot of nuts', but it's no peaceful asylum; there's a gibbering wraith in the cellar, a cruel housekeeper attended by black-uniformed maids that enter via secret panels, and only after sunset; meanwhile the vicar has come to tea, and he is not happy.

The background to all this seems to be the dawn of Darwinism; Josiah is trying to evolve into a human so he can escape his ship, Control does evolve, Light cannot cope with evolution, Nimrod is stuck on one of its lower rungs, as are the husks, and the cream of Scotland Yard turns back into primordial soup. Oh, and the vicar regresses into an ape.

It's not always easy to know just what is going on, nor what the intended relationship was between Josiah, Control and Light, but with Josiah out to kill 'The Crown Saxe-Coburg' and thus take over the British Empire, it's quite clearly gone badly wrong. Actually, the story goes at such a clip that and is told with such style that I'm not too bothered about the details - I can take them on trust. The more Control becomes a 'ladylike', the less happy Josiah seems to be, so that has to be a good thing, and while Light sets a certain amount straight, he also does huge damage, and we're all better off when he's back in his box.

It's told with almost gleeful relish, and has something of the feel of an MR James ghost story. Gabriel Chase is a deeply unsettled house, where really very nasty stuff is going down; it's little wonder that Ace set fire to it in 1983. I only wonder that the Dr had the gall to take her back there. I can fully understand her being annoyed - I would be.

Michael Cochrane is clearly having great fun as the loopy Redvers, and Sharon Duce is making a fine meal of Control. Sylvia Sims is delightfully horrible as Mrs Pritchard, and John Nettleton is very good as the representative of the Royal Society, who turns into a banana munching ape. I do like Gwendoline, though I don't know why she associates killing people with 'sending [them] to Java'.

The only slight problem in this improbable Victorian pastiche is that Ian Hogg's Josiah is in genuine danger of vanishing from view in the general sea of eccentricity; he simply isn't the weirdest of the weird, or the scariest of the scary, and I'm not sure who that would be - Ace or Gwendoline.

Which leads me to speculate if anyone's used the term 'girl on girl' about his story.
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on 13 August 2017
This story is often criticised because of its confusing plot but if you read the target novelisations and watch/read some of the reviews online they explain it all very well. This story is extremely dark with people being evolved back into monkeys and people being drunk as they are primordial soup! Ghost Light is often overshadowed but once people watch it they should see how much atmosphere and a feeling of death in the air this story has. This has no negatives apart from the fact it is extremely confusing which I can understand. Many people don't have this DVD as it is often forgotten about so please ignore negative reviews and focus on the brilliant positive reviews! :)
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on 22 October 2014
What's the USP of this review? Well, it's by someone who is not a McCoy fan and who until now was quite dismissive of the whole McCoy era. That is until 'Ghost Light'. Like many a fan, I've selectively bought those DVDs from the so-called Classic era of the programme featuring my favourite portrayals of the Timelord (Troughton, Pertwee, Baker - yeah, I'm 46, can you tell?) before considering others. I never caught much of the McCoy era on original broadcast having being put off by the first episodes of 'Time and the Rani' (now there is a complete dog of a show) and McCoy's clowning around. Yeah, I got all the hype about the later Dark Doctor portrayal but much of this was primarily in the New Adventures novels rather than on screen.

Anyway...'Ghost Light'. I'd caught snatches of this over the years but nothing prepared me for the experienced of watching the complete story. 'Ghost Light' has to be one of the very best stories in the entire 1963-1989 run of the original series. I'd put it up there with many of the Pertwee/Baker classics No, really. A wonderfully intelligent script which doesn't spoon-feed the viewer with heaps of exposition whilst still being easy to follow (I have no idea why people, including some of the cast on the DVD extras, say it's difficult to follow). In that respect it is rather similar to PJ Hammond's 'Sapphire and Steel' with which it shares an eerie atmosphere. The cast and design are of an exceptionally high standard with the only misfires being some of the special effects (late 80s special effects see more dated than mid 70s for some reason) and the music. Don't get me wrong - Mark Ayres incidental music is atmospheric and acts as a great cue for the action but for some reason has been dubbed SO LOUDLY THAT IT DROWNS OUT THE CAST'S LINES AT SOME POINTS (something which in fairness Ayres himself acknowledges in one of the DVD extras).

So if like me you also have avoided buying a McCoy for whatever reason, think again and buy 'Ghost Light'. It is an absolute classic of very high quality indeed representing the best of the original series.
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on 7 February 2014
Ghost Light suffered from a need to condense a plot so much that it got a bit too chopped up, but rewatching it shows a story that is much better than the confusion I remember from my teens. The production values are fantastic (with the possible exception of the monsters in the basement), the Victorian noir is done very well, and McCoy and Sophie Aldred are top notch. The supporting cast list is a great one to look back on.
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on 14 September 2011
Ghostlight was the last Classic doctor Who story to be produced, ( Although Survival was screened later) and it is also one of the seventh Doctor's best stories.
The main stumbling block that gets in people's enjoyment of the serial, is that it is abit hard to follow! I would say that you need to watch it, then preferably read a synopsis of the plot somewhere, and then watch it agian to really get it.

To be honest, it should have been a 4-parter, maybe starting with a flash-back sequence showing the alien attack on the house. Or maybe a 13-year-old Ace being spooked out by its apparitions, as a teaser.
It is certainly a contender for the title of weirdest Doctor Who story ever, but there is a method behind the madness, and the story does make sense, though does also make considerable demands on the viewer.

The period setting is top-notch, as is the casting, with veteran actors such as Sylvia Siims and Frank Windsor on top form.

However, this is really Ace's story, andSophie aldred gives a believable and emotional performance in a story that sees her character manipulated by the Doctor and made to face ehr fears.
McCoy in the most part is great, though there is oe scene that spoils it all, when he does that ridiculous gurning at Light.
He's so much better playing the mysterious, quizical doctor, always a case of more is less with him. When he's good he's very,very good. When he's bad he's awful. But thankfully 98% of the time he's good, and so is "Ghostlight"
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on 12 May 2013
One of the greatest Doctor Who stories ever, with a fascinating plot and a script where every line is a joy. This story perfectly demonstrates the genius of the McCoy Doctor, his manipulation and his wit. The image quality on this DVD is not so good but it somehow adds to the ambiance. The score is FANTASTIC. I can't believe the laziness of people who claim this story is confusing or not understandable; the story may suffer from being cut into just three episodes but it's all there you just have to make sure you hear and understand every line of dialogue. This story provides key Ace backstory and the performances are terrific.
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on 3 February 2018
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on 18 January 2015
I really enjoy Sylvester's Doctor and this episode showed a very dark side of him. Trouble was the VTR to DVD had caused the story to become fuzzed a little, not as crisp as what I expected. The storyline was as difficult as I remembered to follow. But overall was good to re-watch it.
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on 30 May 2013
This story from the very end of the original series run is a real gem. Genuinely creepy and thought provoking, although at times a bit hard to follow, primarily because the three episodes a bit tight for the amount of material. Visually excellent but terrible sound - the score often makes it very hard to hear what is being said. A tantalising glimpse of where the series might have gone if it hadn't been off the air for all those years ... Caspar
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