It constantly surprises me how few people love Black Orchid. Yes, the plot is thin, and it relies on some very problematic disability/racial/colonialist/gender tropes from the time period it is set in. But – oh. It’s Doctor Who in the 1920’s! It’s a tiny slice of a murder mystery romp with cricket on the village green, cocktails and the Charleston.
And, I’ll admit, a big part of the reason I have an affection for it is because the TARDIS crew gets to dress up. I really am that shallow.
The opening is one of my favourites – in a clever bit of timing, the TARDIS arrives on the railway platform a moment after a train has come through. As the crew wander around the station, they are met by a chauffeur who has come to bring ‘the Doctor’ to play cricket on the village green. It’s one of those odd coincidences that the TARDIS does rather enjoy, doesn’t she?
Thanks to the Doctor’s topping performance on the cricket pitch, and Nyssa’s odd similarity to the daughter of the house, Ann Talbot, they are all invited back into the home of the Cranleighs, only to become enmeshed in a costume ball and a sinister mystery…