There must be something about the story of the Spanish Armada that inspires writer Marc Platt: The Flames of Cadiz, his tale of the First Doctor and the early TARDIS crew’s involvement with the Armada in 1587 is one of the best of the Companion Chronicles, and this story, adapted from a story by Philip Hinchcliffe, is one of the best of the Tom Baker stories of any variety.
Baker and Louise Jameson are at the top of their game in this story – they’re separated for part of the time, and each is given plenty to do during those bits, but when they’re together, there’s a crackling energy that’s nothing to do with the imps and others they’re facing. Baker lets rip with everything he has when the Doctor is faced with bigotry, and when he needs to be at his most encouraging, and there’s quite a scary moment when the Doctor contemplates losing everything (which is comparable to a scene near the start of The Twin Dilemma, but is handled considerably better here).
As with The Ghosts of Gralstead, it seems as if there are a lot more locations for director Ken Bentley and sound designer Howard Carter to contend with than normal, and there’s never any doubt about where we are, even from the ambience of the rooms. It’s a strong cast too, and without the cast list, you’d probably not guess who was doubling which part.