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Doctor Who story number 20

Terry Nation had been commissioned to write yet another Dalek story, and it was going to be a six episode story. WAS. It got blown up to a monstrous 12 episodes, which doesn't include the teaser episode Mission to the Unknown, which can be tacked on to this one for a horrible 13 episode "epic" which is far too long and tedious for what amounts to a Dalek vehicle. Why 12 episodes? The managing director wanted the story to be longer - either trying to push Doctor Who by using the popularity of the Daleks, or in the other version of events.... Because his mother-in-law liked them.

This story had been started a long time before it was to be made, but the scripting of this one was still going on when The Myth Makers was in production, and so scripts were turned in that were just general guides as to what was happening - for example Nation was told there was to be a new female companion for the Doctor, but he didn't know anything about the character. In the meantime the producion team decided people could not identify with the new character (a girl from the city of Troy) and she had to be killed off. Much of the script involving Katarina in this story was sent in with "I'll leave this up to you" since he didn't know what the character was like. After that they added another interesting character, Sara Kingdom, who also got killed off quickly because she "wasn't working out" - this is quite funny because the idea of a ruthless female assassin with unclear motives is just the sort of thing we love on television today - and hey wait a minute, everyone was into Emma Peel so why did they lose Ms. Kingdom?

As per usual with a Nation script the story ended up looking like a pulp sci fi story, complete with a Flash Gordon style journey through various locations with the villains in pursuit (much like The Chase). I personally think having he Daleks turn up in ancient Egypt is the most ridiculous idea yet, but there are other silly things. Something that really irks today is seeing what seems to be an Asian character played by a European actor in makeup (Though it's widely considered that Kevin Stoney does a great job - he comes back and aids other aliens in betraying mankind later). It's hard to tell who is responsible for it, but it looks like Terry Nation came up with the idea that you can just merrily push someone out of a spacecraft - opening the outer and inner doors of an airlock would of course kill everyone inside.

The seventh episode was transmitted on Christmas Day (the only time Doctor Who was first broadcast on Christmas Day), and so they took time out from the normal story to make a farcical runaround in various time zones. This was done because it was felt people would not want to be taking the time to absorb all the plot elements - certainly fans might not have been able to watch that day, or there might be people watching who didn't normally watch. One thing that was hoped for was a crossover with the police show Z Cars, but the producer of that show didn't like the idea. This also marks the first time in the series that the TARDIS returns to contemporary Earth under normal circumstances. The Christmas episode ends with the Doctor turning to the camera and wishing the people at home a merry Christmas, which is a breaking of the fourth wall that would have been quite radical for the time.

Another point in favour of this story is the return of the Monk from The Time Meddler, played again by Peter Butterworth. He betrays the Doctor, but the Doctor takes the directional unit from the monk's ship and uses it in his TARDIS to return to Kembel (it breaks, so the Doctor can't control the TARDIS after this story). This makes the Monk the first proper returning villain, as opposed to the Daleks, who come back in a "recurring monster" aspect.

Sadly this one is lost, with two surviving episodes, Counter Plot and Escape Switch. Short clips from the first four episodes also exist, and somehow the Blue Peter people managed to lose all of The Traitors, the fools. The audio track survives, with linking narration again provided by Peter Purves.

Joy of joys, episode two was just returned (15/1/03) by someone who nicked it from a room filled with junk at the Ealing studios in the 70's.

The transcript is available online here:

Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner

This story has 12 episodes with individual titles:

  • The Nightmare Begins
  • Day Of Armageddon
  • Devil's Planet
  • The Traitors
  • Counter Plot
  • Coronas Of The Sun
  • The Feast Of Steven
  • Volcano
  • Golden Death
  • Escape Switch
  • The Abandoned Planet
  • Destruction Of Time

Plot Overview
The Doctor worries over Steven, who was injured at the end of The Myth Makers and seems to be poisoned as well, and the TARDIS materialises in the year 4000. Meanwhile Bret Vyon and Random Soon To Die Human (Gantry) are running through a jungle trying to radio Earth, but the listening station staff are, well, watching the Guardian of the Solar System, Mavic Chen, leave for a vacation on TV, while the others are on the run from Daleks - they are on Kembel looking for Marc Cory. Gantry tells Bret to leave him, and when Bret is gone two Daleks roll out of the jungle and exterminate him. Vyon finds the Doctor, and tries to steal the TARDIS, but Steven recovers briefly and knocks him out, and the Doctor traps him in a kinky forcefield chair. The Doctor leaves again and while he's gone Bret tells Katarina he has pills which negate poison. The Doctor manages to walk right into the middle of the Dalek city (oh for gods sake, it didn't even make it through one episode without getting silly and there's 11 to go!) and sees them greeting their new ally - Mavic Chen. As the Doctor returns to the ship he finds a tape recorder that the viewers recognise - and then at the TARDIS he gets cut off by a Dalek....

The Daleks are on to him and put Operation Inferno into action, whatever the hell that is, and Mavic Chen meets with Zephon, Master of the Fifth Galaxy and they discuss the drive for power and move outside - but they have been overheard by two Daleks hiding in the shadows (okay this is just silly), and they do not trust Chen. Out in the jungle Steven comes round and is not too pleased when he hears about the Daleks. The Doctor finds them, and is exasperated that Katarina let Bret go, but understands Bret didn't realise they were safe in the TARDIS. Meanwhile the Daleks start burning the jungle with pyro-flames! The travellers move off and run into Bret again, who says "I'm evading my capture" - Who the hell says that? Steven concludes that the burning of the jungle is a ploy to push them to the TARDIS, while Bret is keen to warn Earth, but the Doctor says they might as well beat the Daleks themselves, and Earth can just look to history to see how to deal with them (which is crap). With he burning drawing close the Doctor suggests they go the last place the Daleks will look - the Dalek city. Meanwhile, the most brilliant line from Zephon, Master of the Fifth Galaxy: "The solar system is so far behind that it believes the Daleks need to eavesdrop?" - Yes, Zephon, we just saw that they do indeed need to eavesdrop. In fact they're listening to you now....

Meanwhile the others have seen the parking lot, and Bret is appalled to see Mavic Chen's SPAR ship here. He wants to figure out why Chen is here, but now the Doctor wants to warn Earth. Bret knocks out Zephon, Master of the Fifth Galaxy, and while Steven comments how hideous Zephon looks the Doctor now wants to find out what Chen is doing here, and uses Zephon's helmet and cloak to sneak in while the others steal Chen's ship. The Doctor learns in the conference that the Daleks have completed something called a TIME DESTRUCTOR and all it needs is the core - the rarest metal, taranium, only to be found on Uranus (quite why the moronic Daleks didn't steal it when they were there in 2170...). Outside the city Zephon, Master of the Fifth Galaxy comes around and triggers an alarm - Inside, the Doctor grabs the taranium core and runs for the ship - but Bret thinks he's been caught and tries to take off....

Of course the outer airlock hatch is not shut, and it turns out the Doctor was in the ship. Though "all is ready for space extinction" the Daleks do not destroy the ship - it took 50 years to gather one emm of taranium - they must take the ship whole. The Daleks exterminate Zephon, Master of the Fifth Galaxy, so I won't be using his name in bold type anymore. Meanwhile the travellers are checking out the taranium with protective goggles (though Katarina hides from it's glow), and then they listen to the tape. As the Spar ship passes close to the planet Desperus the Daleks use something called a randomiser to scramble the instruments and cause them to crash - and Desperus is a penal planet filled with convicts. Some of them have seen the ship and are hoping to escape, but the SPAR is damaged. Bret is amazed to hear the Doctor carrying on about primitive craft (the SPAR is the most advanced ship yet made), but the Doctor gives up when Steven ribs him about the TARDIS and goes to find Katarina has figured out how to open the airlock - and they see the torches drawing near. The Doctor rigs up he ships cactic power supply to the ladder, though it will not kill anyone the shock knocks them out. Unfortunately they only get two of the convicts.... As the Dalek ship lands they take off, but Kirksen is in the ship with them and he takes Katarina hostage.

Kirksen holds a knife to Katarina's throat and demands the course of the ship be changed from Earth to Kembel (Which we established in Mission to the Unknown as the most hostile planet in the universe). Kirksen drags Katarina into the airlock and is unimpressed by the news that the Daleks are on Kembel - he's never heard of them and will do anything to avoid being returned to Desperus. As they change course Steven comes up with a stupid plan to push Kirksen out of the outer door of the ship (poor scripting, the character would surely know better). The Doctor tries to bluff that he will dump Kirksen into space, but Kirksen knows he won't kill the girl, and delights in tormenting her. Seeing they will go back to the Daleks to save her Katarina then opens the outer doors herself, understanding that she has to die to save her friends, and the others watch in shock as she and the convict are blasted into space.

Bret plans to land at an experimental station of some sort to meet a contact, but Mavic Chen is on to him. Having returned to Earth Chen has mobilised the Space Security Service to hunt down the people who stole his ship and recover the taranium. Security chief Karlton is in on the deal, and he is surpised to see that Chen is trying to get to the right hand side of the Daleks to govern the universe (by telling the Daleks that Trantis is allied with the ones who stole the taranium). He sends Sara Kingdom to recover the taranium and execute the traitors, commenting to Karlton as she leaves: "A heroic war cry to an apparent peaceful end is one of the greatest weapons a politician has." Meanwhile the good guys have met Daxtar, and the Doctor has told him everything that's been happening - apart from the fact that the core of the Time Destructor is taranium, which Daxtar mentions anyway - they have been betrayed, but Bret shoots his friend before they can find out who else knows where they are. Sara Kingdom turns up and blows Bret away.

The Doctor and Steven run away and hide in a room with some mice in a funny box. But oh no! They are in the DISTEMUNATION CHAMBER! Whatever that is. I think we'll find out soon though, since the scientists are about to start the thing, oh look just as Sara comes in too. Some other agents open the door as the machine turns on and find the room empty. They have been sent through space to the planet.... Mira, which is also like Kembel (how convenient for the set builders); the experiment was to see if they could transmit matter over long distances. Mavic Chen is not too happy, but decides that since Mira is close to Kembel it will pay off - now he's scheming to off the Daleks and rule the universe himself. Back on Mira the Daleks have arrived and promptly exterminate the mice and discover that the wildlife is invisible. The Doctor sees invisible things (Visians) causing movement and realises where he is, and Steven gets Sara to see what's gong on - Not too hard as she has just killed her own brother, Bret.

The Daleks corner the humans but the Visians cause a distraction. The humans run and the Doctor comes up with a sophisticated plan: He will distract the lone guard on the Dalek ship and Steven will hit it with a rock. This leads to a bent eye stalk, and so they can get on board the saucer. Back on Kembel Mavic Chen winds up the Daleks about this, which just makes them angrier. The Doctor plans to copy the taranium in case they are captured again, and Steven suggests using the gravity-force power outlet. All he gets is laughter and Sara telling him that though it might have been used in Steven's time it's comparable to the Romans using treadmills. While Sara and the Doctor try to deal with a tractor beam Steven tries it anyway, and nearly kills himself, but it works. Steven now has a force field on him as well, which is convenient, as he's going to hand over the fake taranium - in front of the TARDIS. The Doctor and Sara go inside, and the Daleks cannot destroy Steven as he enters. The TARDIS takes off only to land with a broken scanner on a planet with a poisonous atmosphere.

But it's not, because we're up to the Christmas episode. The TARDIS has landed in the middle of a street in 1965. The poisonous atmosphere is the pollution, more pollution than the Doctor has seen in years (that's a firm kick up the arse for British industry). The Doctor can survive outside, but Steven and Sara cannot. When the Docor sees two policemen outside he tells Sara and Steven to repair the broken scanner, then he gets hauled off to the police station for an extremely obscure joke: He recognises a man in the police station as having been in the marketplace in Jaffa (it's an actor who was an extra in a previous story). After much idiocy they get back to the TARDIS, and the Doctor does the only plot-relevant thing in the story and reminds everyone that the Daleks have time machines. They then land and see on the scanner an evil man with a long black moustache tie a girl to a log that's about to be cut up by a circular saw. Steven and Sara rush out to save her, only to get set on by a camera crew. They fight them off and run into the 1920's studio (all the cuts in this setting are preceded by silent movie narration cards). Steven and the Doctor hide in a wardrobe while Sara ends up fighting off double entendres in a desert epic. Steven gets press-ganged into a Keystone Cops movie, much to his horror, while the Doctor is mistaken for an expert on Arabian customs, and isn't too impressed with the inaccuracies. As the travelers head back to the TARDIS a whole bunch of people chase them around the studio (including Charlie Chaplin, though Sara is probably a bit old for him). the Doctor stops with a clown, who is lamenting that he isn't allowed to do anything anymore, because it's all been done by Chaplin. He considers singing, but what kind of singer is (anachronism alert!) named Bing Crosby? The time travellers escape in the TARDIS and wish everyone a happy Christmas.

Thank god that's over.

The Daleks organise a time machine, while the Doctor finds himself being followed. He first materialises in the middle of a test match at Lords, and then on the planet Tigus, which is cooling down in the last stages of formation. The Monk has followed them there, and as they explore he refits the TARDIS lock, then confronts the Doctor, tells him he bypassed the dimensional control of his own craft, and leaves. The Doctor fixes the lock and leaves, and they materialise in Trafalgar Square, just after midnight on January 1, 1966. the Doctor thinks they're in London witnessing he celebration of the relief of Mafeking, unaware that the Daleks are about to land where he is - right in the middle of 1960's London.

Of course the TARDIS has moved by the time the next episode starts, and now we're in ancient Egypt next to the pyramids. Sara and Steven go off to deal with the Monk when they think he lands, but it turns out to be the Daleks. Before they can warn the Doctor they are seized by Egyptian guards and taken away while more soldiers attack the Daleks and are killed. The Doctor sees the Monk arrive while Steven and Sara are accused of being tomb robbers. The Monk is captured by Chen and the Daleks, and forced to help them. Meanwhile the Doctor gleefully changes the shape of the Monk's TARDIS into a police box and steals the directional control from it. The Monk meets the Doctor in the tomb where the Doctor's craft has been taken and chides the Doctor about how much more useful a working chameleon circuit would be, but he's not so happy when the Doctor points out that he just left his TARDIS in the shape of a block of stone at the work face of the pyramid....

Steven and Sara get free and find the monk wrapped in bandages in a sarcophagus with the Doctor nowhere to be seen. They force the Monk to come with them but they are all caught and the Doctor must hand over the taranium. He makes the exchange take place on his terms - Mavic Chen and one Dalek. The Daleks ignore this, but the Doctor has his friends and the Monk released and tries to avoid handing the taranium to Chen, who grabs it anyway as the Egyptians attack. The Doctor however can now go to Kembel to try and stop the Daleks - and if they pursue him they might find the Monk, who now has a TARDIS identical to the Doctors. The Daleks dematerialise and the Doctor tries to wire the new directional unit into his console - if he gets it wrong it will fuse the entire thing and leave him with a useless TARDIS. As for the Monk, he is now stuck wandering the universe, as lost as the Doctor always is.

The Doctor's TARDIS makes it to Kembel but the directional unit burns out. As they move off to look for the Dalek city the Doctor goes missing for no reason (for no story reason, Hartnell had been largely written out of the episode as punishment). Chen thinks he's been given control of the alien council, but in reality the Daleks are just letting him think he's in control before imprisoning him with the other delegates to make it that much more bitter. Steven and Sara find the Dalek city but it's deserted. They free the aliens, who agree to destroy the Dalek invasion forces (this is getting weird, they all rule through military might), mainly so that their peoples do not kill them for allying with the Daleks in the first place. Mavic Chen's ship is destroyed when he tries to leave, and Sara and Steven start to search for the Doctor. They find the Daleks in hiding underground, but are surprised by Chen, who forces them to lead the way into the mountain.

Chen tells the humans that he guessed their plan. Sara says he can't have known they were going to free the aliens, but Chen thinks their plan was for the Doctor to take his position as ruler of the universe. The Daleks find them, and Chen does not realise the Dalek is covering him with it's gun as well as his prisoners - he really believes he's still in control of the situation. As they come into the vast control room Mavic Chen acts like he's running the show, but the Dalek Supreme tell him the alliance is over. Chen replies that he will decide when the alliance is over, and starts ordering Daleks, who all stare unmoving at him as he barks orders. When he is not obeyed he tries to kill a Dalek, but the blaster is useless. He flees, still convinced he is a godlike ruler of the universe, and the Daleks move out to hunt him down. They corner him and he tries to tell them - and himself - that they will pay for the crimes against their "ruler"....

The Doctor has slipped in the midst of the confusion and passes Steven the key to the TARDIS, telling him to to take Sara and get back to the ship where they will be safe - while he activates the Time Destructor. The Dalek forces return, but they cannot fire for fear of damaging the equipment with the wide angle of their lasers. The Doctor has the Time Destructor though, and it accelerates time over a local area - all he has to do it turn it up and it will wipe the Daleks out. He has them let Steven and Sara go, and drops his cloak (which the script didn't mention he had with him until now) over the contacts of the door and pulls it closed - it thinks it's open and so the Daleks are stuck inside. He runs off and finds Sara has come back to help him. As they run the Doctor tells them he knows how the Time Destructor works. It will keep running until it has burned up all the power from the taranium, and it's area of effect will increase the longer it runs. As they run Sara ages from a young woman into a crone and the Doctor grows older, but at a slower rate....

The Daleks manage to leave their base, seemingly unaffected by the Time Destructor, and the Doctor and Sara reach the TARDIS. Sara collapses, staring into the Time Destructor, and withers away to dust as Steven comes out to help them. He starts to age, his hair growing grey as he moves to the Doctor, who refuses his help. Steven tries to deactivate the Time Destructor but makes it run in reverse, bringing himself and the Doctor back to their normal ages, but Sara does not come back. Steven gets the Doctor into the TARDIS and they watch as the Daleks arrive and try to destroy the Time Destructor, which starts working on them now, they go haywire and their travel machines fall apart and the mutants inside evolve backwards into vaguely humanoid shapes and then dissapear while the jungle grows in reverse and Kembel is returned to a dusty wasteland.

The Doctor and Steven come out of he TARDIS now that the Time Destructor has burnt out, and the Doctor is quite pleased with himself, having beaten the Daleks - until Steven reminds him that their friends have died. Steven returns to the TARDIS and the Doctor reflects on this....

Main Cast

  • Kevin Stoney - Mavic Chen
  • Peter Butterworth - Monk
  • Nicholas Courtney - Bret Vyon
  • Brian Cant - Kent Gantry
  • Pamela Greer - Lizen
  • Phillip Roald - Roald
  • Michael Guest - Interviewer
  • Julian Sherrier - Zephon, Master of the Fifth Galaxy
  • Roy Evans - Trantis
  • Douglas Sheldon - Kirksen
  • Dallas Cavell - Bors
  • Geoffrey Cheshire - Garge
  • Maurice Browning - Karlton
  • Jack Pitt - Gearon
  • Roger Avon - Daxtar
  • James Hall - Borkar
  • Bill Meilin - Froyn
  • John Herrington - Rhynmal
  • Terrence Woodfield - Celation
  • Roger Brierley - Trevor
  • Bruce Wightman - Scott
  • Jeffrey Isaac - Khepren
  • Derek Ware - Tuthmos
  • Walter Randall - Hyksos
  • Brian Mosley - Malpha
  • Robert Jewell, Kevin Manser, Gerald Taylor, John Scot Martin - Daleks
  • Peter Hawkins, David Graham - Dalek Voices
  • Clifford Earl - Sergeant
  • Norman Mitchell, Malcolm Rogers - Policemen
  • Kenneth Thornett - Inspector
  • Reg Pritchard - Man in Mackintosh
  • Sheila Dunn - Blossom Lefavre
  • Leonard Graham - Darcy Tranton
  • Royston Tickner - Steinberger P. Green
  • Mark Ross - Ingmar Knopf
  • Conrad Monk - Assistant Director
  • David James - Arab Sheik
  • Paula Topham - Vamp
  • Robert G. Jewell - Clown
  • Albert Barrington - Professor Webster
  • Buddy Windrush - Prop Man
  • Steven Machin, Jack le White - Cameramen
  • Paul Sarony, Malcolm Leopold - Keystone Cops
  • Harry Davies - Makeup Man
  • William Hall - Cowboy
  • Jean Pastell - Saloon Girl
  • M. J. Matthews - Chaplin
  • May Warden - Sara Kingdom, aging to death
  • Notes

    • There's some nice emphasis on Steven's character in the second episode, where he admires the craft on Kembel - this ties in to his space pilot character, and builds on him and the Doctor appraising the Drahvin ship in Galaxy 4. At the end we see the beginning of some new character development for him which will be continued in the next story.
    • Taranium is incredibly rare, takes 50 years to gather one emm (a container rought the size of two film cannisters), and is highly radioactive - opening the container would blind Steven without protective eyewear.
    • Forty Billion people live in our solar system, and their "precise chemical details" are recorded in a huge computer.
    • "To put it in lay language, Cellular distemunation means that our bodies were broken up by some purpose or other, shot through into the fourth dimension and at a given point reassembled again on this planet." - This took up a whole chapter in Timeline, so if you want some more likely explanations go and read it.

    A heroic war cry to an apparent peaceful end is one of the greatest weapons a politician has - Mavic Chen

    I've made no node for Sara Kingdom or Katarina, they are too minor to bother with, though they get "Companion" status for travelling in the TARDIS with the Doctor

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