The Curse Of Peladon
The planet Peladon is attempting the join the interstellar Federation.
Delegates from several worlds have come to meet with King Peladon --
including the Ice Warriors, led by Lord Izlyr. However, the high priest
Hepesh warns that the King's plans are risking the anger of the mythical
beast Aggedor. The delegates are saved from a falling statue only by the
intervention of the Doctor and Jo, whom the Time Lords have sent to
Peladon. When the life support system of delegate Arcturus is sabotaged,
the Doctor suspects Izlyr. But are his past experiences with the Ice
Warriors blinding him to the real villains?
In early 1971, Brian Hayles submitted two story ideas -- “The Brain-Dead”
and “The Shape Of
Terror” -- to the Doctor Who production office. Hayles'
last contribution to the programme had been the troubled The Seeds Of Death in late 1968. Although
script editor Terrance Dicks was underwhelmed by both of Hayles'
proposals, he liked certain aspects of them, such as the presence of the
Ice Warriors in “The
Brain-Dead” and the “locked-room mystery” nature
of “The Shape Of
Terror”. Following a March 1st meeting between Hayles, Dicks
and producer Barry Letts, a new storyline was devised which incorporated
these elements. Apparently called “The Curse” and then
“Curse Of The Peladons” at a preliminary stage, the scripts
were commissioned as The Curse Of Peladon on May 14th.
The Curse Of Peladon saw Letts and Dicks taking another step
towards reestablishing the Doctor as a traveller in space and time,
moving away from the Earthbound format which had been introduced in
1970. Having included a single trip to an alien planet during Doctor
Who's eighth season -- in Colony In
Space -- Hayles' tale would be one of two far-future serials for
Season Nine, alongside The Mutants. The
involvement of the Ice Warriors was part of the production team's
decision to embrace more of the programme's past -- as would also be
evidenced by the return of the Daleks, originally in “The Daleks In London” but
ultimately in Day Of The Daleks. However,
it was decided to confound audience expectations by having someone other
than the heretofore villainous Ice Warriors turn out to be the Doctor's
adversary. For his part, Hayles drew upon the premise of Arthur Conan
Doyle's 1902 Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound Of The Baskervilles,
by having a seemingly mythical beast ultimately revealed to be a hoax
perpetrated by the antagonist.
The Curse Of Peladon would be
the first story since 1969 to feature no location shooting
Hayles was asked to avoid a requirement for location filming, since
The Curse Of Peladon was scheduled to be the third serial into
production for Doctor Who's ninth season, and hence would be
recorded in early winter. The cast and crew had suffered while making The Claws Of Axos on location in January
1971, and Letts was determined to avoid the same kind of situation in
the future. As such, The Curse Of Peladon would be the first
story since 1969's The Space Pirates to
feature no location shooting whatsoever.
However, Letts and Dicks also wanted Season Nine to alternate between
adventures set on Earth and those on alien worlds. Consequently, they
decided that The Curse Of Peladon would be the second story in
transmission order: made after The Sea
Devils but airing before it. This would be the first example of
serials being recorded out of sequence in Doctor Who's history.
Their studiobound nature was just one example of the budget-conscious
approach Hayles was told to apply to his scripts. The production team
was anticipating that The Sea Devils would
be a very expensive story to make, and so money would have to be saved
on The Curse Of Peladon.
The director assigned to The Curse Of Peladon was Lennie Mayne,
who was working on Doctor Who for the first time. One of his key
casting decisions was to hire David Troughton to play King Peladon.
Troughton was the son of Patrick Troughton, who had played the Second
Doctor; he had previously enjoyed small roles in two of his father's
stories, The Enemy Of The World and The War Games. At the time he made The
Curse Of Peladon, Troughton's roommate was actor Colin Baker -- who
would become the Sixth Doctor more than a decade later.
Work on The Curse Of Peladon began with three days of model
filming, from December 15th to 17th, at the BBC Television Centre Puppet
Theatre in White City, London. The 16th and 17th also saw filming take
place at the BBC Television Film Studios in Ealing, London, for material
on the cliffs as well as the fight between the Doctor and Grun.
Subsequently it was noted that Katy Manning's dress was more formal than
Jo's usual garb. Dicks added dialogue to Episode One which explained
that Jo was getting ready for a date with Mike Yates -- a rare vestige
of the romantic relationship which had originally been contemplated for
the pair when they were being developed.
As usual, studio recording took place in fortnightly two-day blocks on
Mondays and Tuesdays, with each day devoted to an individual
installment. Episodes One and Two were taped on January 17th and 18th.
During rehearsals, Mayne was appalled to discover what the costume
department had constructed for Alpha Centauri, which he believed to be
unambiguously phallic. To compensate, costume designer Barbara Lane
outfitted the hexapod with a yellow cloak. For Aggedor, Hayles had
envisaged an ape-like creature, but the finished costume was more akin
to a bear.
Jon Pertwee sang the Venusian nursery rhyme to the tune of
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
The concluding installments were recorded on January 31st and February
1st, this time in TC3. As scripted, Episode Three featured the Doctor
soothing Aggedor by intoning the Tibetan chant “Om mane padme
hum”. Instead, it was decided to use an extended version of the
Venusian nursery rhyme “Kokleda partha mennin klatch”
introduced in 1971's The Daemons. Pertwee
sang the nonsense words to the tune of the Christmas carol God Rest
Ye Merry, Gentlemen.
The first two parts of The Curse Of Peladon continued to attract
the large audiences which had watched Day Of The
Daleks. With Episode Three on February 12th, however,
large-scale industrial action caused periodic power outages to affect
various areas. As a result, viewing figures were significantly lower for
the last two installments, although some regions tried to compensate by
prefacing Episode Four on February 19th with a short summary of Episode
Three. The same night, the BBC dropped the Disney Parade cartoon
short which had been airing between the news and Doctor Who
since the start of the season.
- 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.
- Doctor Who: The Complete History #18, 2018, “Story 61:
The Curse Of Peladon”, edited by John Ainsworth, Hachette
- Doctor Who: The Handbook: The Third Doctor by David J Howe and
Stephen James Walker (1996), Virgin Publishing.
- Doctor Who: The Seventies by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and
Stephen James Walker (1994), Virgin Publishing.
||29th Jan 1972
||5th Feb 1972
||12th Feb 1972
||19th Feb 1972
|Jon Pertwee (bio)|
|Katy Manning (bio)|
|Voice of Alpha Centauri|
|Voice of Arcturus|
|Gordon St Clair|
|Brian Hayles (bio)|
|Lennie Mayne (bio)|
|Title Music by|
|Ron Grainer and|
|BBC Radiophonic Workshop|
|Incidental music by|
|Special Sounds by|
|Fight Arranged by|
|Terrance Dicks (bio)|
|Barry Letts (bio)|
|Curse Of The Peladons|