Me: Here, grab this firmly and pull, love.
Don’t worry, it’s not what you think.
Sue: A Christmas cracker? What’s this for?
Me: It’s Christmas 1979!
We pull the cracker. It doesn’t go bang.
Sue: I’m not putting the hat on.
The story begins with a large spaceship ploughing its way through the cosmos. Hang on… didn’t I start the last one like this?
Sue: Doctor Who always begins with a wobbly model shot these days. It’s a shame. It’s just inviting viewers to switch over to ITV.
The ship is piloted by an old man.
Sue: William Hartnell’s brother.
…and his aggravated copilot.
Sue: A fat Keifer Sutherland.
The copilot is in a hurry to return to his home planet, Skonnos.
Sue: He wants to get back for his favourite TV show. They probably don’t have Sky Plus where he comes from.
In the hold of this ship, a group of youngsters are cowering in fear.
Sue: Oh, it’s whatsherface from Blue Peter.
Me: Oh, come on, you can do better than that.
Sue: Jennifer Ennis? No, she won the pentathlon, didn’t she? Janet Ennis? No, wait… Jennifer Ellis. Oh, I don’t ****ing know. I know that you fancy her daughter, though.
Me: It’s Janet Ellis. And if it’s any consolation, I used to have a schoolboy crush on her as well.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is tinkering with his TARDIS and Romana isn’t impressed.
Sue: Is she going fox hunting?
Me: I think it’s more likely that Romana would sabotage a fox hunt.
Sue: If you ask me, Lalla suits that outfit a bit too much. She looks like she might have been on one or two fox hunts in her time.
Me: Well, she is the daughter of a viscount. Technically, she’s the Honourable Lalla Ward.
Sue: I knew it! They are probably her own clothes!
The Doctor’s tinkering results in a small explosion and K9 winds up with his head facing the wrong way. But when the Doctor starts blowing into K9’s nozzle, effectively giving the robot dog CPR, I can’t help myself.
Me: I’m sorry but that was bloody ridiculous.
Sue: Have you never blown into the back of your computer when it stops working? You know, to blow out all the fluff? It makes perfect sense to me. Poor K9.
Elsewhere, black-clad troops are making one hell of a racket on the steel floors of Skonnos.
Sue: That rattling is really going to get on my tits, isn’t it?
We are introduced to Sorak, Captain of the Skonnos Military.
Sue: Oh, it’s him from Howard’s End.
Me: You mean Howard’s Way. And it isn’t him. It just looks like him. But if you wish hard enough, you might get the real thing one day.
We also meet Soldeed.
Sue: Is it the Master?
Me: Do you really want to go down that road?
Sue: Look at him! They could be brothers. Oh dear. Is he drunk?
She couldn’t place Graham Crowden at first, but as soon as I mentioned A Very Peculiar Practice (which she loves adores), the penny dropped.
Sue: Hang on, wasn’t he always drunk in that programme as well?
The TARDIS slams into the ship from Skonnos.
Sue: That’s two stories on the trot where we see spaceships crashing into each other. That’s bad script editing again.
The copilot takes some time out from repairing his ship to shout at the children trapped in the hold.
Copilot: Weakling scum!
Sue: Dial it back a bit, mate. He really isn’t happy about missing that TV show, is he?
And then she begins to worry.
Sue: We had drugs last week so I’m scared to ask this, but are they running an intergalactic paedophile ring?
The Doctor and Romana enter the crippled ship and they are press ganged into fixing its engines. We learn that Romana has built her very own sonic screwdriver and Sue is very amused when the Doctor tries to steal it from her.
Sue: I bet it has a lot more settings than his.
Back on the TARDIS, K9 is hidden beneath a mountain of tape.
Sue: I see they had some bunting that left over from the Silver Jubilee.
The Doctor asks K9 for an update.
The Doctor: How’s the dimensional stabiliser?
K9: Fused, master.
The Doctor: Gravitic anomoliser?
K9: Functioning normally.
Sue: For a moment there, I thought K9 was going to say “****ed, master”.
Suddenly, everyone’s voices begin to distort as the gravity increases.
Sue: Is there something wrong with the DVD?
Me: No, that’s supposed to happen.
Sue: Are you sure one of the cats hasn’t sat on the remote control?
With the he Doctor tinkering in his TARDIS, it’s left to Romana to sort things out. Sue likes this a lot.
Sue: You go, girl.
The Skonnan copilot locks Romana in the hold with the Anethan children.
Copilot: The Nimon waits for no man!
Sue: Okay, they are just taking the piss, now.
And then Sue meets her very first Nimon. It’s a profoundly moving moment for everyone concerned.
Sue: No ****ing way. What is the **** is that supposed to be?
The episode concludes with the Doctor cradling K9 in his arms as a planet hurtles towards his broken TARDIS.
Sue: That was a terrible cliffhanger. Is Tom Baker working his notice at this point? Does he regenerate at the end of this one? I don’t think he can be arsed any more.
Sue: What a load of bollocks.
The Doctor is preparing to face death.
Sue: The Doctor wouldn’t just give up like that. What’s he playing at?
When the Doctor pinned a rosette to K9, Sue turned to me and scowled.
Sue: This is ****ing stupid.
Me: It’s not my fault!
The TARDIS spins off the planet like a cricket ball spinning off a cricket bat, but it just isn’t tennis as far as Sue is concerned.
Sue: If that planet was supposed to be nine kilometres wide, the TARDIS was at least two kilometres wide according to that model shot. Have they never heard of scale?
The Nimon and Soldeed meet up so they can discuss their nefarious plans.
Me: I like the way the bull is having a crafty dance whenever Soldeed isn’t looking. He can’t stop grooving. Look at those rapper hand movements. He is down with the kids.
Of course, Nicol has to choose this moment to walk in on us.
Nicol: Is he the Master?
Me: For ****’s sake.
Sue: At least Romana is taking this seriously. She’s holding this together.
Sorak informs Soldeed that the missing ship has reappeared on their scanners.
Sue: His uniform would be a bastard to iron. I bet they have to use a lot of starch.
Me: You can get something very similar to what he’s wearing from Ann Summer’s 50 Shades range. Allegedly.
Sue: You are obsessed with that bloody book.
Me: I’m writing a sequel.
One of the young Aneth prisoners, a boy named Seth, confides in Romana that he isn’t everything he’s cracked up to be.
Sue: Aw, bless him. He’s not even a real prince. I’m actually interested in this story now. It’s only taken me 45 minutes to get into it.
Seth doesn’t want his pushy girlfriend finding out that he’s just an ordinary bloke.
Sue: Aw, bless him. Is he a new companion? I do hope so.
She doesn’t like what Seth is wearing, though.
Sue: It looks like someone has kidnapped a Judo team.
Sue: We used to have curtains made from the same material as that when I was growing up. Same colour, too.
The Doctor tries to fly his TARDIS without a gravitic anomoliser and the TARDIS reacts by playing a BBC Sound Effects record at him at full blast.
Sue: What the hell was that?
Me: Don’t worry, it’s Christmas.
Romana takes charge of the situation.
Sue: Are they edging Tom Baker towards the exit? Are they trying to sideline him, like they did William Hartnell? At least the Doctor is making a concerted effort to get his TARDIS fixed, I suppose. Is the Black Guardian still chasing him or has he given up?
On Skonnos, the military escort Romana and the Anethan children to Soldeed.
Sue: It’s a planet where everyone evolved from the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The Doctor finally fixes his TARDIS and he puts it in a parking orbit above the power complex on Skonnos.
Sue: That’s made from egg boxes. The old grey egg boxes you used to get in the seventies.
Me: Stay tuned because Janet will show us how to make our very own Skonnan power complex in the next edition of Blue Peter.
Sue: Ha bloody ha.
The Doctor arrives on Skonnos and he is immediately surrounded by troops.
The Doctor: How is it wherever I go in the universe there are always people like you pointing guns or phasers or blasters?
Sue: (As the Doctor) And why are you always dressed as sex pests?
Romana and the Anethans are placed in a maze and they discover the mummified remains of a corpse that crumbles to dust as soon as Janet Ellis touches it.
Sue: Wow. That was an excellent special effect. This story is actually getting better as it goes along.
Soldeed and the Doctor finally come face to face.
Sue: This should be interesting.
She isn’t disappointed.
Sue: He’s definitely drunk.
The episode concludes with the Nimon threatening Romana and the kids.
Sue: That was a bit crap.
Me: Bull shitt.
Me: We have reached the 1980s!
We do our eighties dance. It’s not pretty.
Sue: So, does everything change overnight?
Me: Ha! That would be silly.
Sue: This is a ****ing long recap. That’s never a good sign.
As the Nimon advances on Romana and the kids, Sue identifies the monster’s Achilles heel.
Sue: (as the Nimon) Arg! These bloody heels are killing me! I knew I should have put some trainers on instead.
The Doctor races in and while he distracts the Nimon with a red rag, Romana starts shooting up the place.
Sue: Have they got a new pyrotechnic guy working on the programme? He’s really keen, isn’t he? And I bet it’s a he, too. It’s the 1970s. I don’t think I’ve seen this many explosions in a Doctor Who story before.
I set off a party popper (I forgot to release it during our virtual News Year celebrations earlier) and Sue nearly jumped out of her skin.
In the confusion, Romana manages to escape with Seth and Teka.
Sue: At least she managed to save two of them. And they’re the best two. They can talk.
The Nimon roars in anger.
Sue: He has to roar like that. No one will take him seriously otherwise.
I ask her if she remembers the Matt Smith story that features a minotaur in a maze, and she does. So I tell her that the Nimon are distantly related to the monster from that story.
Sue: That’s very nice, dear, but it doesn’t make this one any better, does it? I bet the Nimon are the sort of relations you are always too embarrassed to talk about.
The Nimon adjusts some knobs on his equipment racks.
Sue: He’s the Nimon version of Orbital.
The Nimon powers up his machines.
Sue: Considering they have a monster who can’t walk properly, they are going out of their way to show it walking around ALL THE BLOODY TIME! Just stand still! You are much scarier when you don’t look like you are going to fall over onto your big, flat face. Actually, that probably explains why its face is so flat in the first place.
Soldeed is examining the TARDIS when K9 chooses to exit it.
Sue: No, K9. It just looks like him.
The Doctor starts poking around the Nimon’s gear and Sue has a confession to make.
Sue: I tell you what I really like about this story.
Me: Go on.
Sue: The sets. The Nimon’s place of work looks great. All that chunky equipment that looks like it’s been salvaged from a submarine. It looks like this stuff might actually work for a change.
It turns out that the Nimon is double-crossing Soldeed.
Sue: Are you sure he isn’t the Master? That happens to him all the time.
Soldeed address the council leaders of Skonnos and he tells them to prepare for war.
Sue: I wouldn’t want that lot fighting for me. What a shambles.
As they leave the council chamber, Sorak questions Soldeed about the Nimon’s motives for helping them.
Sue: Oh dear. The boom operator couldn’t reach them all the way down that corridor. I couldn’t hear a bloody thing at the end of that scene.
The Nimon is rapidly approaching our heroes and Seth sends Teka to warn the Doctor.
Sue: He doesn’t want her around when he wets himself.
The Nimon enters the laboratory and everyone hides.
Sue: Just hypnotise it. Or sing a lullaby to it. Or play your whistle to it. You’ve dealt with worse than this.
The Nimon adjusts the settings on his equipment one more time. Seriously, he can’t get enough of it.
Sue: Oh look, a squatting bull with flatulence. I think I’ve seen it all now.
Suddenly, a round capsule appears.
Sue: Wait! Is it the Sontarans? They love to turn up at the end.
No, it’s even more Nimons.
Sue: He finally got the band back together.
It’s at this point that Sue notices the Doctor has been carrying a teaspoon around with him.
Sue: Is that Tom Baker’s coke spoon?
Soldeed decides to have a little chat with his Nimon overlord.
Sue: (as Soldeed) Coo-eee! Nimon, I’m home!
The episode concludes with Romana trapped on the planet of the Nimons and Soldeed threatening to blow the Doctor’s head off.
Sue: This is starting to pick up now.
Romana isn’t very happy not to be on Skonnos any more.
Sue: Just reverse the polarity, love. It’s dead easy.
Romana runs into an old man named Sezom. He tells her how the Nimon arrived on the planet Crinoth promising peace before they cruelly sucked it dry.
Sue: This is very sad. It’s quite tragic, really.
And for a short while at least, Sue is utterly engrossed by The Horns of Nimon.
But Soldeed has to spoil it.
Sue: He’s got more ham than Ye Olde Oak! What is he on?
As a Nimon shuffles down a corridor, Sue gets up off the sofa to mimic its shambling gait.
Me: They hired ballet dancers to play the Nimon.
Sue: Ballet dancers! Are you joking? They have no finesse! The might as well have hired builders for all the good they’re doing. Ballet dancers! I’ve heard it all now.
The Nimon fails to spot Romana hiding a few yards away and I’m surprised when Sue doesn’t bring it up.
Sue: For all we know, the Nimon are an alien race that don’t have any peripheral vision. This could explain why it always looks like they are about to topple over.
Romana and Sezom try to escape from the planet.
Sue: Just give Romana her own show and be done with it.
Sue is gutted when Sezom is killed by a Nimon.
Me: He was only in it for five minutes!
Sue: He’s the best thing in this.
The Doctor is trying to override the controls to the transporter when he is interrupted by a Nimon.
Sue: Does he do anything in this story besides fiddle with stuff?
The Nimon isn’t pleased to see the Doctor.
The Nimon: You will be questioned, tortured and killed.
The Doctor: Well, I hope you get it in the right order.
Sue: That was very funny. Douglas Adams must have written that line. He does have his uses.
At the final, crucial moment, Seth becomes the hero that Teka wants him to be.
So Soldeed shoots him.
Sue: He can’t die! He’s the new companion!
Luckily, the shot isn’t fatal but Seth is gutted when he discovers that Teka has been lined up as a Nimon ready meal.
Sue: When fans go to conventions, do they go to Indian restaurants together so they can shout “Teka! Teka!” as if they are in The Horns of Nimon?
Me: That’s all we ever do. How did you guess?
Soldeed realises that he has been betrayed by the Nimon.
Sue: He has progressed from alcohol to class A drugs. Vrax, probably.
Soldeed’s death scene definitely makes an impression on Sue.
Sue: Well, I won’t forget that in a hurry. What was he thinking?
Me: Graham Crowden almost played the fourth Doctor.
Sue: Really? That was a lucky escape. Tom Baker is relatively sane compared to him.
Teka continues to big up her beau.
Sue: She’d be very high maintenance. Just listen to her droning on. She’d be very difficult to please and very demanding in bed, I shouldn’t wonder.
Me: I bet she’d be murder on the dance floor.
The Nimon chase our heroes down.
The Nimon: Pursue them!
Sue: Pursue? That’s easier said than done when you are wearing high heels, love.
As the creatures pass through an archway, Sue has some advice for them:
Sue: Duck or you’ll chip your horns!
As the chase intensifies, I notice that Sue is humming to Dudley Simpson under her breath. Again.
Me: You really like Dudley, don’t you?
Sue: I can’t imagine Doctor Who without him. He has a lot of different styles but there is always an underlying Dudliness to everything he does. Dum-de-dum-de-dum-dum-dum.
The power complex explodes. A lot.
Sue: Somebody working on this story really enjoyed blowing things up. Look at those poor egg boxes.
Me: It’s one that Janet made earlier.
Sue: Stop it.
And then it dawns on her that Seth and Teka didn’t get a proper farewell scene.
Sue: They would have been brilliant companions! Janet Ellis would put Seth in danger every week by bigging him up to the villains. It could have been very funny.
The Doctor makes a reference to the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.
Me: See, it’s all based on something that kids might have studied at school. Isn’t that nice?
Sue: You can call The Horns of Nimon many things but educational isn’t one of them.
The episode concludes with the Doctor gently teasing Romana.
Sue: They are definitely shagging at this point. No question about it.
Sue: That was average. The plot was silly, the Nimon were silly and some of the acting was pretty silly, too. But it had its moments and it got better as it went along, which is strange, because in my experience these things usually get a lot worse. Lalla was great, which is a good job because Tom clearly couldn’t be arsed. They are running out of money, too, by the look of it. I think they all need a good lie down.