On July 13, 1643, two forces came to the village of Little Hodcombe during the English Civil War and destroyed each other. As the story begins, a group of Roundheads are riding horses in the village of Little Hodcombe, with little regard to the villagers around them. The only problem is that it is not 1643, it is 1984.
A schoolteacher, Jane Hampden, is convinced that her fellow villagers, led by the town’s leader, Sir George Hutchinson, have taken their reenactment of a series of war games too far. Hutchinson attempts to assure her that the games are a harmless event which are merely to celebrate the English Civil War. When Hampden asks him to stop the games, Hutchinson blows her off.
Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor promises to take his companion, Tegan to 1984, so she could spend some time with her grandfather, Andrew Verney. The Doctor sets the coordinates to Little Hodcombe, where Verney resides. However, the TARDIS experiences some turbulence and arrives in what appears to be a structurally unstable church. The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough, while watching on the scanner, sees a man in 17th Century clothing, fleeing from the church and the Doctor dashes out to help him. However, the man has now vanished. Tegan is convinced that they have landed in the wrong time zone. However, Turlough tells her that he had checked the TARDIS’ coordinates and they were in the correct time zone, 1984. As the Time Lord and his companions continue pursue the man, smoke starts to billow from a crack in the wall. Eventually, the three travellers are then captured by Captain Joseph Willow and taken to Sir George Hutchinson.
The Doctor and his companions are first brought before Hampden and Colonel Ben Woolsey, who apologizes for the poor treatment that they received. Hutchinson arrives and explains to the doctor why everyone is dressed in 1643 apparel. He tells the Time Lord that the town is celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of Little Hodcombe and then he urges the Doctor to join the celebration. The Doctor says “You know, I would love to, after I find Tegan’s grandfather.” Willow asks who her grandfather is. Tegan then explains that they have come to this village to see her grandfather, Andrew Verney. She is informed that her grandfather is missing, and runs outside the room, upset. The Doctor follows but loses her. Tegan, still upset, is crying when someone steals her purse. She tries to get it back and she runs into a barn where she finds the ghost of an old man.
The Doctor returns to the church and meets a 17th Century peasant, Will Chandler, who emerges from a wall. He has been hidden in a priest hole and believes the year to be 1643. Turlough eventually rescues Tegan from the barn and they return to the TARDIS, where they see a sparkly projection on one of the walls. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Will investigate the church. Tegan and Turlough leave the TARDIS and they are re-captured. Turlough is locked in a building with Verney. Willow gives Tegan a 17th Century dress and he forces her to change into the costume. He informs her that she is to become the Queen of the May.
The Doctor and Will continue to investigate. Eventually they find a secret passage back to Ben Woolsey’s living room under a slab marked with a picture of a creature that Will identifies as the Malus. Coming the other way through the passage, the Doctor and Will meet up with Hampden, who found the passage’s other end by accident after being locked in Colonel Wolsey's office. They avoid Hutchinson, who has followed Jane down the passage, and the Doctor finds a small ball of metal. The Doctor identifies the metal as “tinclavic,” a metal “mined by the Terileptils on the planet Raaga for the almost exclusive use of the people of Hakol,” a planet in the “star system Rifta,” where “psychic energy is a force to be harnessed.”
Returning to the church, the Doctor and Hampden are astonished when a massive alien face pushes its way through the crack on the wall, roaring and spewing smoke. They manage to escape from the psychic projection of a cavalier, and head back to the house via the tunnel. The Doctor realises that the Malus in the church was discovered by Verney and Hutchinson. The latter tried to exploit the creature, but instead, the creature began to use him by organizing the war games. He deduces that the psychic energy released by the war games has fed the Malus. The Doctor and Jane again try to persuade Hutchinson to stop the games, as the final battle will be for real. He refuses and accuses the Doctor of speaking "Treason." The Doctor replies by saying "Fluently! Stop the games!" Hutchinson orders Woolsey to kill the Doctor and he leaves the room. However, once Hutchinson leaves, Woolsey joins forces with the Doctor.
The Queen of the May is taken in a horse-drawn cart towards the village green, where she is to be burned. When the cart arrives, Hutchinson suddenly noticed that the Queen is not Tegan, but a straw dummy that has been put in her place by Woolsey. Hutchinson becomes angry and he orders his men to kill Woolsey and the others. Will appears in the nick of time and uses a flame torch to cause a distraction which allows the Doctor, Hampden, Woolsey and Tegan to escape and get back to the TARDIS. The Doctor locks the signal conversion unit on the frequency of the psychic energy feeding the Malus, hoping to be able to direct it. Willow and a trooper try in vain to break their way into the TARDIS, and Turlough and Verney knock them unconscious with lumps of masonry. The Doctor succeeds in blocking the energy, and the projection of the Malus in the TARDIS dies. The real Malus, in an act of desperation, attempts to drain as much psychic energy from the villagers as possible. He creates a corporeal projection of three roundheads who try to kill the Doctor, Woolsey, Tegan, Turlough, Hampden, Verney and Will. However, when they were about to strike, the dazed and confused trooper stumbles from the TARDIS and into the main church area where the three roundheads are. The trooper becomes surrounded by them and they raise their swords and they decapitate him and then vanish.
Hutchinson arrives and holds them all at gunpoint. When the Doctor tries to talk Hutchinson out of the thrall of the Malus, Willow attacks the group. In the scuffle, Will pushes Hutchinson into the mouth of the Malus, destroying the Malus's medium. Realizing it has failed, the Malus prepares to destroy itself and everything around it. Subsequently the church begins to collapse and the Doctor leads the others, including Willow, to safety in the TARDIS.
Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor's companions are surprised to see Will still among them. The Doctor explains that he must have been wrong in his assumption that Will was a psychic projection. He then says that the Malus must have created a temporal rift which allowed Will to slip into the future. The Time Lord then says that he will take Will back to 1643. Tegan objects and ask the Doctor to allow her some time to visit her grandfather. The Doctor is initially disgruntled but he is persuaded to stay in Little Hodcombe for a while for a rest. Turlough mentions that the stay would give him a chance to drink some tea. Will asks what "tea" is. The Doctor explains the organical make up of tea to him. Will is convinced that it is a "wicked brew." The Doctor acknowledges the fact, but he indicates that he likes it anyway.
Doctor Peter Davison (Fifth Doctor)
Companions Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka)
Mark Strickson (Vislor Turlough)
Polly James — Jane Hampden
Denis Lill — Sir George Hutchinson
Glyn Houston — Colonel Ben Wolsey
Jack Galloway — Joseph Willow
Keith Jayne — Will Chandler
Frederick Hall — Andrew Verney
Christopher Saul — Trooper
Writer Eric Pringle
Director Michael Owen Morris
Script editor Eric Saward
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s) None
Production code 6M
Series Season 21
Length 2 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast January 19–January 20, 1984