The Space Pirates
When the space beacon on which the TARDIS has materialised is stolen by
the cruel pirate Caven, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe team up with an aging
pioneer named Milo Clancy to recover their ship. Along the way, they must
survive attempts by Caven to destroy them, avoid the Earth officials who
have mistaken them for the thieves, and discover the truth behind the
Issigri Mining Company's operations on the planet Ta.
Serial YY was originally intended to be Robert Holmes' The Krotons. When “The Prison In
Space” -- the story assigned as Serial WW -- had to be abandoned at
a late stage, however, The Krotons was pushed
up in the schedule to replace it. Holmes quickly submitted a new idea to
the Doctor Who production office, entitled “The Aliens In The
Blood”. This was turned down, but Holmes soon set about developing a
new idea which would serve as a futuristic homage to the Western genre.
This was more to the liking of script editor Terrance Dicks, and a
storyline was commissioned under the title of The Space Pirates on
November 9th, 1968. It was planned to be a six-part adventure, although
Holmes recalled that he had originally envisioned the story as running
only four episodes.
At this point, Peter Bryant was still Doctor Who's producer, but
former script editor Derrick Sherwin was taking on more and more of
Bryant's responsibilities as he prepared to take over the post himself.
Bryant was also experiencing a bout of poor health. A fourth member joined
the production team at around this time in the form of Trevor Ray, Dicks'
new assistant. Ray was also an actor; one of his credits was for an
episode of Z Cars written by Sherwin. As work began on The Space
Pirates, however, Dicks was very busy working on the two stories which
would go into production on either side of it -- he was rewriting The Seeds Of Death, and collaborating with
Malcolm Hulke on the massive ten-part The War
Games, which would be both the season finale and the last story of
Patrick Troughton's tenure as the Doctor. Consequently, Sherwin returned
to the script editor's post for The Space Pirates.
There were concerns that the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe were
not featured enough in The Space Pirates
Despite concerns that the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe were not featured enough
in Holmes' storyline, the scripts for The Space Pirates were
commissioned on December 3rd. Early in the new year, director Michael Hart
joined the production. This was Hart's only Doctor Who serial; he
had also worked on series such as Z Cars and Softly, Softly
and his career would continue with credits on programmes including
Crossroads and Thirty Minute Theatre.
Filming began at the Ealing Television Film Studios on February 7th, 1969
with scenes at the beacon and in the tunnels on Ta; it appears that some
of this may have been remounted on the 10th. The bulk of February 10th to
14th, however, was taken up with filming all the episode six scenes
featuring the regular cast. This was because the lengthy The War Games would require an extra week of
filming, which would occur during the week normally devoted to part six of
The Space Pirates. Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines and Wendy
Padbury had been specially contracted for these sessions on January
Unfortunately, a portion of the film shot on the 14th was damaged during
processing; a remount of some of the sequences set in the atomic fuel
stores was consequently held on February 19th, requiring only Troughton's
presence. The model shots, meanwhile, were accomplished by the Bowie Group
in Slough. With Hart too busy working on the rest of the serial, special
effects designer John Wood supervised this element of the recording.
Studio taping then began on February 21st. As was standard, each episode
was recorded on consecutive Fridays. Part one was recorded in Doctor
Who's usual home of Lime Grove Studio D. However, this would be the
final episode taped in those facilities, marking the end of an association
which dated back to 100,000 BC, the very first
Doctor Who serial. Episode one also saw the addition to the crew of
a floor assistant named John Turner. More commonly credited as John
Nathan-Turner, he would become Doctor Who's producer a decade
Doctor Who's new studio home
was the more modern BBC Television Centre
The programme's new recording home was the more modern Television Centre
Studio 4; part two was the first episode taped there, and was captured on
35mm film instead of videotape to make the editing process easier. The
remaining installments of The Space Pirates were also taped in TC4
with the exception of part five, recorded on March 21st, which saw a
temporary shift to TC6; this brought an end to the regular cast's
involvement in the serial. The guest actors, however, returned to TC4 the
following week to complete episode six.
The penultimate story of the Troughton era was also the last to feature a
credit for producer Peter Bryant, although Bryant would continue to share
the job with Sherwin until October (indeed, Bryant was originally
intended to receive the producer's credit on The
Silurians). At that time, Bryant was moved to the thriller series
Paul Temple along with Sherwin and Ray; this was an expensive
German coproduction which was finding itself in serious creative trouble.
Bryant left the BBC in the early Seventies and became an executive
producer for an independent production company. Bryant later became a
literary agent. He passed away on May 19th, 2006, following an
- Doctor Who: The Handbook: The Second Doctor by David J Howe,
Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1997), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 0
426 20516 2.
- Doctor Who: The Sixties by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and
Stephen James Walker (1992), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 1 85227 420 4.
- Doctor Who Magazine #242, 28th August 1996, “Archive:
The Space Pirates” by Andrew Pixley, Panini UK Ltd.
- Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #4, 4th June 2003,
“Paradise Lost” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.
||8th Mar 1969
||15th Mar 1969
||22nd Mar 1969
||29th Mar 1969
||5th Apr 1969
||12th Apr 1969
|Major Ian Warne|
|Music Composed by|
|Title Music by|
|Ron Grainer and|
|the BBC Radiophonic Workshop|
|Special Sound by|
|Brian Hodgson, BBC Radiophonic Workshop|
|Special Effects Designer|
|Episodes 1, 3-6|
|Episode 1 (1'05" in 2 clips)|