Doctor Who-The Leisure Hive (1980)

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Released 6-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Lalla Ward (Actor), Lovett Bickford (Dir), Chris. H. Bidmead
Featurette-A New Beginning
Featurette-From Avalon To Argolis
Informational Subtitles
Featurette-Synthesising Starfields
Featurette-Leisure Wear
Featurette-Blue Peter
Isolated Musical Score
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1980
Running Time 97:11 (Case: 172)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Lovett Bickford

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Baker
Lalla Ward
John Leeson
David Haig
Nigel Lambert
Adrienne Corri
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Radiophonic Workshop

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Information
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Tom Baker stars as the fourth Doctor in The Leisure Hive, a serial more notable for its technical achievements and the very visible tweaking of the series by new producer John Nathan-Turner than its rather pedestrian plot. The Doctor and Romana (Lalla Ward) visit the planet Argolis to enjoy a well deserved holiday in the Leisure Hive. A nuclear war between the Argolins and the reptilian Foamasi has left the planet desolate and uninhabitable and made the Argolins sterile. The last of their race run a recreation facility for intergalactic tourists, using their advances in tachyonic science to entertain their guests. Tachyonic particles travel faster than the speed of light, allowing Argolins who enter to be transported through a tachyon generator and arrive before they leave. The body of the copy can be manipulated (separating body parts is the game of choice) without harming the original. Secretly the Argolins hope to use the technology to regenerate their race. Pangol, soon to be Argolin leader, has hidden designs of his own. . .

    The Doctor's plans for relaxation are naturally thwarted and the arrival of secret Foamasi agents in the Hive create more than a few dramas. What could have been an exciting plot, filled with all kinds of intrigue, falls just a little flat. Dialogue tends to wallow in cliché (even more than Dr Who should) and the resolution, complete with a convenient deus ex machina or two, feels somewhat glib and unconvincing. The serial has its moments though, and I imagine some of the imagery caused nightmares for young viewers when The Lesiure Hive first screened. Overall, though, the serial doesn't quite work and plays as a decidedly average Who adventure.

    As mentioned above, though, The Leisure Hive was the first serial from producer John Nathan-Turner who wasted no time in leaving his mark. Ron Grainer's theme music scores a new arrangement and incidental music duties have been passed to the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop. The opening credits ditch the time tunnel effects in favour of star-fields and a new logo. A new design for the TARDIS was also used for the first time. The Doctor finds himself a new burgundy outfit (keeping his famous scarf though) and has taken more of a quiet air. Every Who fan has their opinion on Nathan-Turner's fiddling, I'm sure, for better or for worse. Personally I prefer the old-school credit sequence, but life (and the Doctor's adventures) goes on.

    The Leisure Hive also marked the BBC's first use of digitally manipulated imagery. Having shelled out for the new Quantel 5000 technology, the BBC were eager to test out their investment. The Quantel was used to realize the dismemberment effects and the zero-gravity squash game. The technology also allowed for the camera to zoom out a lot further than possible in the studio, as seen in the zoom out to space effect in episode one. Perhaps excitement about the technology led to some over-reliance on special effects in the serial to the detriment of plot and character development, but there's something nostalgic about watching early digital effects in all their unconvincing glory. Cute technology can't save the day though: despite its "historical" significance, The Leisure Hive ranks only average on the Dr Who scale.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    As usual, the restoration team behind the Dr Who releases have done a great job transferring The Leisure Hive to DVD. The serial is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio of 1.29:1.

    Sharpness is good but not perfect, although the video segments fare better than the few scenes shot on film. Shadow detail is also good, but there is some low level noise and grain to be seen. Solid blacks (space shots and inside the tachyon generator) show a little macro-blocking. Contrast is also satisfactory.

    Colours have been rendered accurately. Model shots appear a little oversaturated and video segments are far more vibrant than the Brighton Beach scenes shot on film. Warm oranges and yellows are used to suggest the planet's radioactive environment. Some very minor colour-bleeding is apparent.

    MPEG artefacts have been all but eliminated. The only issue of note is the minor macro-blocking in solid blacks. Some edge enhancement is visible, especially in the effects shots. Some very minor aliasing and microphony can be seen, along with comet trails. The actors have been lit in such a way that they often create barely visible comet trails as they move. The effect is not terribly bad, though. The source appears to be clean other than a few spicks and specks.

    The Leisure Hive includes English subtitles for the hard of hearing in a white and readable font. The audio commentary is subtitled and informational titles have also been included.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio transfer has been well executed. Sound is provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 (not surround encoded) and in a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. An audio commentary and an isolated music track have also been included in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    The 5.1 track naturally has more presence and depth than the 2.0. Dialogue is clean and audible in both and the difference between each track in dialogue is small. Audio sync is accurate. Emphasis has been placed on the score and ambient effects for the 5.1 track, creating a nicely immersive soundstage without going overboard on directional effects. The score sits solidly in the fronts and is supported subtly in the rears and subwoofer. Echos and other effects fill out the rears. The subwoofer rumbles nicely at appropriate moments but doesn't draw attention to itself. The 5.1 remix is very satisfactory, but points go to the restoration team for also including the original sound in 2.0.

    The score was provided for the first time by the Radiophonic Workshop. I wouldn't call the music anything special, but it suits the action well. If you enjoy the score, you can listen to the isolated track in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Introduction

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Audio Commentary

    Actor Lalla Ward, director Lovett Bickford and script editor Chris Bidmead chat amiably about very little. Consists of a lot of "Isn't that a nice shot," sort of comments. It's pleasant, though, to hear Bickford and Bidmead acknowledge elements that clearly didn't work. They're both quite critical of each other.


    A New Beginning (30:20) - Talking heads, including John Nathan-Turner, discuss the changes and their rationale. Nathan-Turner had very good intentions and his attempt to move away from humour toward drama and tragedy, at least, was justifiable. Tom Baker also contributes to the featurette and discusses the tensions that were developing between him and the producers as the end of his run drew near. The new mix for the credits theme is also covered.


    From Avalon to Argolis (14:20) - Writer David Fisher and script editor Bidmead describe the development of The Leisure Hive's script and the changes in development after the departure of Douglas Adams.

Informational Subtitles

    If you don't want to watch all the featurettes, most of the information is contextualised in these subtitles.


    Synthesizing Starfields (9:15) - Lots of information about the development of the opening credits imagery and music. Also includes archive footage of the synthesizers used. Interesting stuff.


    Leisure Wear (6:50) - June Hodgson reminisces about her costume designs for the serial and her inspirations.


    Blue Peter (3:58) - An old BBC featurette from the BBC exploring the Longleat Dr Who Monsters exhibition. Very nostalgic.


    (6:01) - Picture gallery with audio

Isolated Musical Score

    The score is isolated in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Easter Egg

    There is an easily found Easter Egg on the front menu page.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Both the Region 1 and Region 2 releases appear identical to ours. Region 1 scores different cover art and NTSC formatting. No reason to favour any particular release.


    The Leisure Hive marks several big changes for Dr Who but the plot is only average at best (but far from the worst).

    Video and audio have been transferred nicely and the 5.1 audio is a nice inclusion.

    The extras are expansive and very informative.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Adam Atkinson (read my bio)
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S336, using Component output
DisplayLG Flatron Widescreen RT-28FZ85RX. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V357
SpeakersDB Dynamics Belmont Series: Fronts: B50F, Centre: B50C, Rears: B50S, Sub: SW8BR

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