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Serial MMM:
The Curse Of Peladon

Plot

The Doctor and Jo are sent by the Time Lords to Peladon, a planet attempting join the interstellar Federation. Someone is sabotaging the negotiations, however, and the Doctor suspects it is the Ice Warrior delegates. But as the mystery deepens and the body count mounts, the Doctor may prove to be disastrously mistaken.

Production

In the spring of 1971, Brian Hayles submitted two story ideas to the Doctor Who production office. Hayles had last written for the programme two years earlier, with The Seeds Of Death being broadcast toward the end of Season Six. Unfortunately, script editor Terrance Dicks was underwhelmed by both of Hayles' submissions, “The Brain-Dead” and “The Shape Of Terror”. Nonetheless, Dicks did like elements of both -- the presence of the Ice Warriors in “The Brain-Dead” and the “closed-door mystery” nature of “The Shape Of Terror”. Following a meeting between Hayles, Dicks and producer Barry Letts, a new storyline which combined these aspects was devised. Originally called “The Curse” and then “Curse Of The Peladons”, the scripts for the story were commissioned under the title The Curse Of Peladon on May 14th.

In crafting The Curse Of Peladon, Hayles, Dicks and Letts had come up with the idea of confounding audience expectations by revealing that the Ice Warriors were not the villains of the piece after all. Hayles was also asked to keep the story relatively inexpensive, as it was anticipated that The Sea Devils -- the story which would precede The Curse Of Peladon into production, but follow it in the transmission order -- would be very costly. As such, The Curse Of Peladon (accorded the production code Serial MMM) would be the first story since Second Doctor Patrick Troughton's penultimate adventure, The Space Pirates, to feature no location shooting.

The director assigned to The Curse Of Peladon was Lennie Mayne. Originally a dancer, Mayne had subsequently moved into television, earning directing credits on programmes such as The Troubleshooters and Vendetta. A key casting decision made by Mayne was to allocate the role of King Peladon to David Troughton. Troughton was the son of Patrick Troughton, and had previously appeared in small roles in two of his father's Doctor Who stories, The Enemy Of The World and The War Games.

Work on The Curse Of Peladon got started with three days of model filming at the BBC Television Centre Puppet Theatre, from December 15th to 17th. The latter two days also saw filming take place at the Ealing Television Film Studios, for material on the cliffs as well as the fight between the Doctor and Grun. Subsequently, it was noted that Katy Manning's costume was more formal than Jo's usual garb, and so Dicks added dialogue to part one explaining that she was getting ready for a date with Mike Yates. Another line was inserted later in the episode commenting on the “weird” storm on Peladon which featured lightning but no rain. This was felt necessary to account for the fact that no rainmaking machine had been pressed into service at Ealing; the segment was later excised during editing, however.

Production resumed following New Year 1972 with the first recording session in Television Centre Studio 4; this spanned Monday, January 17th (covering episode one) and Tuesday the 18th (for episode two). During rehearsals, Mayne was appalled to discover what the costume department had constructed for Alpha Centauri, believing it to be obviously phallic. Costume designer Barbara Lane elected to outfit Centauri in a yellow cloak to mask the body shape. Meanwhile, although Hayles had conceived of Aggedor as ape-like, the finished costume was more ursine in appearance.

The second taping session occurred exactly two weeks later, this time in TC3; again, each day was devoted to one episode. As scripted, the scene where the Doctor soothes Aggedor was to feature the Doctor intoning the Tibetan chant “Om mane padme hum”, but it was decided to instead use an expanded version of the Venusian nursery rhyme “Kokleda partha mennin klatch” introduced in The Daemons at the end of the previous season. Pertwee sang this to the tune of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

Sources
  • Doctor Who: The Handbook: The Third Doctor by David J Howe and Stephen James Walker (1996), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 0 426 20486 7.
  • Doctor Who: The Seventies by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1994), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 1 85227 444 1.
  • Doctor Who Magazine #215, 3rd August 1994, “Archive: The Curse Of Peladon” by Andrew Pixley, Marvel Comics UK Ltd.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #2, 5th September 2002, “Family Affair” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
Episode 1
Date 29th Jan 1972
Time 5.52pm
Duration 24'32"
Viewers (more) 10.3m (36th)
· BBC1 10.3m
Episode 2
Date 5th Feb 1972
Time 5.52pm
Duration 24'33"
Viewers (more) 11.0m (20th)
· BBC1 11.0m
Episode 3
Date 12th Feb 1972
Time 5.53pm
Duration 24'21"
Viewers (more) 7.8m (49th)
· BBC1 7.8m
Episode 4
Date 19th Feb 1972
Time 5.50pm
Duration 24'16"
Viewers (more) 8.4m (27th)
· BBC1 8.4m


Cast
Doctor Who
Jon Pertwee
Jo Grant
Katy Manning
Peladon
David Troughton
(more)
Hepesh
Geoffrey Toone
Torbis
Henry Gilbert
Izlyr
Alan Bennion
Ssorg
Sonny Caldinez
Alpha Centauri
Stuart Fell
Voice of Alpha Centauri
Ysanne Churchman
Arcturus
Murphy Grumbar
Voice of Arcturus
Terry Bale
Grun
Gordon St Clair
Aggedor
Nick Hobbs
Guard Captain
George Giles
Amazonia
Wendy Danvers


Crew
Written by
Brian Hayles
Directed by
Lennie Mayne
Produced by
Barry Letts
(more)

Title Music by
Ron Grainer and
BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Incidental music by
Dudley Simpson
Special Sounds by
Brian Hodgson
Fight arranger
Terry Walsh
Fight Arranged by
Profile
Film Cameramen
Fred Hamilton
Peter Sargent
Film Editor
Michael Sha-Dyan
Visual Effects
Ian Scoones
Bernard Wilkie
Costume Designer
Barbara Lane
Make Up
Sylvia James
Lighting
Howard King
Sound
Tony Millier
Script Editor
Terrance Dicks
Designer
Gloria Clayton


Working Titles
The Curse
Curse Of The Peladons


Media
DVD Releases
Doctor Who: The Curse Of Peladon (2010)
Buy: Canada · USA
Doctor Who: Peladon Tales (boxed set; 2010)
Buy: UK
Audio Releases
Doctor Who: The Curse Of Peladon narrated by Katy Manning (2007)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA
Doctor Who: Tales From The TARDIS: Volume One narrated by Jon Pertwee (2004; novelisation talking book)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA
Doctor Who and The Curse Of Peladon narrated by David Troughton (2013; novelisation talking book)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA
Novelisation
Doctor Who and The Curse Of Peladon by Brian Hayles (1975)

Updated 24th March 2013