The Androids Of Tara
While the Doctor has a rest, Romana finds the fourth segment of the Key
To Time on Tara, only to be kidnapped by the villainous Count Grendel.
It transpires that Romana is an exact double of Tara's Princess Strella.
Grendel has aspirations to the Taran throne, and has kidnapped Strella
in an attempt to force her to marry him; now he believes he can make
Romana pose as Strella and accomplish the deception that way. But the
Doctor allies himself with Reynart, Strella's true love, in a desperate
attempt to stop the throne from falling into Grendel's cruel grasp.
Producer Graham Williams had designed Doctor Who's sixteenth
season to be comprised of six serials detailing the Doctor's search for
the missing segments of the Key To Time. Consequently, many of the
year's details had to be nailed down at an early stage. By January 1978,
five of the six stories had already been decided upon. The first four
adventures would be The Ribos Operation by
Robert Holmes, The Pirate Planet by Douglas
Adams, The Stones Of Blood by David Fisher
and “Shield Of Zarak” (also called “The
Doppelgangers”) by Ted Lewis. The season would conclude with Bob
Baker and Dave Martin's The Armageddon
Factor, leaving only the fifth slot undecided.
Script editor Anthony Read had been very pleased with Fisher's work on
The Stones Of Blood, and as the writer
completed that serial, Read decided to approach him about contributing
the season's remaining adventure. At about the same time, “Shield
Of Zarak” fell through, as Lewis battled personal demons. This
adventure had dealt with the notion that legendary figures like Robin
Hood might not be as benevolent as their tales allege. Read asked Fisher
to come up with a storyline in the same swashbuckling vein, and
suggested a send-up of Anthony Hope's 1894 novel The Prisoner Of
Zenda. Fisher agreed, and was commissioned to write “The
Androids Of Zenda” on May 26th.
The same day, Robert Holmes was contracted to write The Power Of Kroll, which was intended to
replace “Shield Of Zarak” as the season's fourth story
(designated Serial 5D). A Doctor Who veteran (and Read's
predecessor as script editor), it was felt that Holmes would be able to
put together a workable adventure in short order. By now, Michael Hayes
had been assigned to direct Serial 5D. Originally an actor, Hayes
subsequently began to take off-stage duties in theatre, radio and
television. He co-produced the early BBC science-fiction serial A For
Andromeda and later directed episodes of programmes such as Z
Cars and Play For Today. He had previously worked with Read
on The Troubleshooters and with Williams on Softly, Softly:
Task Force. Unfortunately, as Holmes' scripts for The Power Of Kroll began arriving in mid-June,
Hayes became very concerned about the feasibility of its technical
By this point, Fisher had also started submitting his scripts for Serial
5E. This was now called The Androids Of Tara; in the interim,
other titles considered had apparently included “The Androids Of
Zend”, “The Prisoners Of Zend” (or “The Prisoner
Of Zend”) and “The Seeds Of Time”. (The latter was
part of a short-lived effort to unify the titles of all the Key To Time
stories under the format “The [Something] Of Time”.) After
speaking with Hayes, Williams agreed to interchange The Androids Of
Tara and The Power Of Kroll in both the
production and broadcast schedules. This meant that Fisher's adventure
was now identified as Serial 5D, and chronicled the search for the
fourth segment of the Key To Time.
In constructing his scripts, Fisher broadly followed Hope's outline for
The Prisoner Of Zenda, and included many analogous characters.
Prince Rudolf became Prince Reynart (so called after Renart the fox, the
French folkloric character popularised in Pierre de Saint Cloud's
twelfth-century novel Le roman de Renart), Antoinette de Maubin
became Madame Lamia (named for a female demon in Greek mythology), Sapt
became Zadek, Fritz von Tarlenheim became Farrah, and Princess Flavia
became Princess Strella. The novel's two chief villains, Duke Michael
and Rupert of Hentzau, were combined into the person of Count Grendel
(whose name was drawn from the antagonist of the epic poem
Beowulf). The role of the novel's hero, Rudolf Rassendyll, was
essentially shared by the Doctor and the android “George”.
The Archimandrite's title, meanwhile, was actually that a senior abbot
in orthodox Christian churches.
Fisher set his scripts on the planet Tara, after the ancestral seat of
the kings of Ireland (and, according to mythology, of the supernatural
Tuatha dé Danann). He had hoped that Tara might be populated by
animals resembling creatures of legend, such as unicorns (which might be
natural or mechnical), and originally envisaged Till as a dwarf rather
than a hunchback. Fisher was very proud of Count Grendel, and decided to
have him escape death at the climax of The Androids Of Tara so
that he might potentially be brought back for a return appearance
(although, in the event, no such story was ever formally planned).
Although Fisher had constructed his scripts so that Castle Gracht could
be realised in the studio, Hayes was able to secure permission to film
in and around Leeds Castle in Leeds, Kent. This would serve as both
Castle Gracht and the Taran countryside. The first day at Leeds was July
24th. One of the scenes recorded on this day was of the Doctor fishing.
During one take, Tom Baker inadvertently tossed the antique fishing rod
he was using into the water; stunt arranger Terry Walsh had to dive in
and rescue it. Later that day, Hayes engaged his son, Patrick, to make
the bushes rustle to signify the approach of the Taran Beast. Filming
continued at Leeds Castle through to the 28th. On this day, another
water-related mishap occurred when the sound recordist fell into the
moat while shooting the scenes of K-9 in the boat.
Studio recording on The Androids Of Tara was divided into a pair
of two-day sessions. The first of these took place in BBC Television
Centre Studio 6 on August 14th and 15th. Scenes recorded on the 14th
included those in the TARDIS, the android surgery, Strella's room in the
palace and Strella's cell. The next day dealt with some of the material
in and around the dungeon, particularly Prince Reynart's cell.
The second studio block encompassed August 28th and 29th, and was now
situated in TC1. The first day completed the dungeon sequences, as well
as those in the surgery corridor and the coronation room. Finally, the
29th was dedicated to scenes in the great hall, the hunting lodge, the
tunnel and the Pavilion of the Summer Winds. Unusually, the opening
credits for The Androids Of Tara were recorded such that the
episode number appeared prior to the author's name, rather than the
other way round.
- Doctor Who: The Handbook: The Fourth Doctor by David J Howe,
Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1992), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 0
426 20369 8.
- 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 #293, 26th July 2000, “Archive: The
Androids Of Tara” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.
- Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #9, 22nd December 2004,
“I'll Put You Together Again” by Andrew Pixley, Panini
- In-Vision #35, December 1991, “Production” edited
by Justin Richards and Peter Anghelides, Cybermark Services.
||25th Nov 1978
||2nd Dec 1978
||9th Dec 1978
||16th Dec 1978
|Voice of K-9|
|Incidental Music by|
|Production Unit Manager|
|Visual Effects Designer|
|Electronic Effects Operator|
|The Androids Of Zenda|
|The Androids Of Zend|
|The Prisoner[s] Of Zend|
|The Seeds Of Time|
|Doctor Who: The Androids Of Tara Special
|Doctor Who: The Key To Time Special
Edition (2007; boxed set)|
|Doctor Who: The Androids Of Tara narrated
by John Leeson (2012; talking book)|
|Doctor Who and The Androids Of Tara by
Terrance Dicks (1980)|