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The Androids of Tara
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Synopsis


The Android Duplicate of Prince Reynart
The Android Duplicate of Prince Reynart
 The Doctor, Romana and K9 continue their search for the six disguised segments that make up the powerful Key to Time.

 The TARDIS lands on the seemingly peaceful planet of Tara, The Doctor claims he is owed a holiday. While he takes time off to go fishing, Romana quickly locates the Fourth Segment. All is going well until the time-travellers are drawn into the complex political intrigues of Tara.

 The benevolent Prince Reynart is soon to be crowned king, but the wicked Count Grendel wants both the throne, and Reynart's bride-to-be, the Princess Strella, for himself. Grendel plots with the android builder Madame Lamia, and soon both Reynart and Strella are replaced by robotic duplicates. Unfortunately for Romana, she also bears a startling resemblance to the princess - which makes her enormously valuable to the Count.

 With time running out, The Doctor is unwillingly thrust into the roles of android repair-man, king-maker and, ultimately, swash-buckling hero, when he finds himself duelling with Grendel, famous for being the finest swordsman on Tara...

Source: BBC VHS Video


General Information

Season: Sixteen
Production Code: 5D
Story Number: 101
Episode Numbers:492 - 495
Number of Episodes: 4
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Working Titles:"The Prisoner of Zend", "The Androids of Zend", "The Androids of Zenda" and "The Seeds of Time"
Production Dates: July - August 1978
Broadcast Started: 25 November 1978
Broadcast Finished: 16 December 1978
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: BBC Television Centre (TC1 and TC6)
Location: Leeds Castle, Kent
Writer:David Fisher
Director:Michael Hayes
Producer:Graham Williams
Script Editor:Anthony Read
Editor:David Yates
Production Assistant:Teresa-Mary Winders
Production Unit Manager:John Nathan-Turner
Assistant Floor Manager:Rosemary Webb
Designer:Valerie Warrender
Costume Designer:Doreen James
Make-Up Designer:Jill Hagger
Cameraman:John Walker
Incidental Music:Dudley Simpson
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:Richard Chubb
Lighting:Brian Clemett
Visual Effects:Len Hutton
Fights Arranged By:Terry Walsh
Title Sequence:Bernard Lodge
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Delia Derbyshire
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 2The Companions: Mary Tamm (Romana 1) and John Leeson (voice only) (K9 Mk II) Additional Cast: Peter Jeffrey (Count Grendel), Neville Jason (Prince Reynart), Lois Baxter (Lamia), Simon Lack (Zadek), Paul Lavers (Farrah), Declan Mulholland (Till), Cyril Shaps (Archimandrite), Martin Matthews (Kurster)Setting: Planet Tara Villain: Count Grendel

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
492Part 125 November 197824'53"8.5PAL 2" colour videotape
493Part 202 December 197824'27"10.1PAL 2" colour videotape
494Part 309 December 197823'52"8.9PAL 2" colour videotape
495Part 416 December 197824'49"9.0PAL 2" colour videotape

Total Duration 1 Hour 38 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 9.1
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)67.79%  (Position = 81 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)70.89% Higher (Position = 95 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)72.52% Higher (Position = 98 out of 241)


Archives


 All four episodes exist as PAL 2" colour videotapes.



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Notes


This is the fourth of six linked stories that comprise the whole of Season Sixteen, known collectively as The Key to Time.

A submission for this slot by author Ted Lewis was originally in development, but was cancelled in favour of this submission by David Fisher who had also penned the previous story "The Stones of Blood".

"The Androids of Tara" is an obvious parody of the Anthony Hope novel "The Prisoner of Zenda". In fact, among the working titles were "The Androids of Zenda", "The Androids of Zend" and "The Prisoners of Zend". Another working title was "The Seeds of Time".

In constructing his scripts, David Fisher broadly followed Anthony Hope’s outline of his novel including 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.

David 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 mechanical), and originally envisaged Till as a dwarf rather than a hunchback. It has been revealed that David Fisher was very proud of Count Grendel, and decided to have him escape death at the climax of this story so that he might potentially be brought back for a return appearance (although, in the event, no such story was ever formally planned).

Peter Jeffrey, who played Count Grendel, previously played the colony pilot in the 1967 Second Doctor story "The Macra Terror".

Declan Mulholland, who played the part of Till, previously played Clark in the 1972 Third Doctor story "The Sea Devils".

The part of Archimandrite was played by Cyril Shaps. This is Cyril Shaps’ fourth and final appearance in Doctor Who, the others being the 1967 Second Doctor story "The Tomb of the Cybermen" and the Third Doctor stories "The Ambassadors of Death" (1970) and "Planet of the Spiders" (1974). This is his only appearance in which his character is not killed over the course of the story.

This story contains some excellent location footage shot at Leeds Castle in Kent - although the glass-painted additions to the Castle, intended to give it a more fairytale quality, never look anything other than false. There were however, several problems with recording around the castle moat. One of the scenes recorded was of The Doctor fishing. During one take, Tom Baker inadvertently tossed the antique fishing rod he was using into the water resulting in Stunt Arranger Terry Walsh having to wade into the water to rescue it. Another water-related mishap occurred when a sound engineer accidentally fell into the moat while shooting the scenes of K9 in the boat.

The first episode was original broadcast just days after the fifteenth anniversary of the broadcast of the first episode of "An Unearthly Child" – the very first Doctor Who story.

Unusually the opening titles for this story were in a different order from others at this point in the show’s history. The order was story title, episode number, writer’s name, as opposed to story title, writer’s name, episode number.

The dating of this story is not explicitly stated in the story itself. A comment by The Doctor that he is entitled to a holiday every 500 years has been taken literally by some fans who have dated this story 500 years after "The Stones of Blood", in 2478.

Mary Tamm is able to show off her acting skills in this story by playing four roles. She doubles as both Romana and Princess Strella as well as their android duplicates.

K9 it seems is programmed with all world chess championships since 1866.

Tara is obviously an ex-colony of Earth, since, even though they’ve given their zodiac 16 houses, a lot of the signs are the same. Tara is also the name of the capital where coronations are held. A monarchy exists, justified by the Archimandrite. Numerous small powers however, support the throne feudally. Hunting, particularly of native mammalian beasts, is a sport. Swords are electrified, and crossbows fire energy bolts.

The peasants are looked down on, but are the only android creators. It is revealed the androids were developed androids to replace the nine tenths of the population who were wiped out in a plague 200 years previously. Some horses may also be androids.

One amusing scene is where it is revealed that Romana does not know what a horse is and is seen looking for the starter!

Although Mary Tamm is a skilled horse-rider, she refused to do the horse-riding sequence herself because she could not wear a helmet and felt that the potential of an accident was too great.

It is revealed that the TARDIS has an alphabetical wardrobe, including the latest Taran fashions (although the frock that Romana chooses is different from everything else on the planet!).

According to the DVD commentary for this story, Mary Tamm herself designed Romana’s distinctive purple outfit after the originally planned costume proved unsuitable.

It is very clear that Romana in this story was made to look like a princesses so that she is the spitting image of Princess Strella. Later on in the 1979 story "Destiny of the Daleks", the second incarnation of Romana takes the form of Princess Astra of Atrios at the end of "The Armageddon Factor".

Look out for the scene in episode three when The Doctor enters the Pavillion of the Summer Winds and shuts the door. As it slowly swings open again a hand appears from behind the set wall and pulls the door closed.

Another error can be seen when Count Grendal is inspecting Romana’s android duplicate, his arm crosses the line where the screen is split (to allow Mary Tamm to be in two places at once) and so disappears.

This story was repeated on BBC One in August 1979.

The Short Trips short story, "The Trials of Tara", is a sequel to this story set some months after this story and has Count Grendel recruiting the Kandy Man to assist in his schemes, making this story contemporary with the 1988 Seventh Doctor story "The Happiness Patrol".



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first Doctor Who story to be directed by Michael Hayes.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
The Doctor and Romana
The Doctor and Romana

When the fourth segment of The Key to Time is traced to the lush planet of Tara, The Doctor opts for a spot of fishing leaving Romana to find it on her own.

Using the tracer Romana finds the fourth segment easily and discovers it is disguised as part of a statue. But before she can return to the TARDIS with the segment she is attacked by a Taran wood beast and then rescued by Count Grendel of Gracht who sees off the beast and confiscates the segment as an unregistered mineral.

As she tries to leave she twists her ankle and Count Grendel insists on taking her to his castle for treatment. When they arrive, Count Grendel and Madame Lamia, a surgeon-engineer, are all set to disassemble Romana but are astonished when her ankle is seen to be swollen. She is a creature of flesh and blood and not an android as they had thought.

Romana
Romana

The Doctor, meanwhile, is captured by Swordsman Farrah and Swordmaster Zadek, two men loyal to Prince Reynart, rightful heir to the throne of Tara. They are interested in his knowledge of science and enquire if he can repair androids. They lead him off to meet Prince Reynart who explains that his coronation as King is due to take place the following day and that Count Grendel will do anything to stop the ceremony as if it does not go ahead as planned then Count Grendel will become King by default. An android of the Prince is intended as bait to safeguard Prince Reynart, and The Doctor is forced at swordpoint to help repair it.

Count Grendel though manages to kidnap the Prince Reynart and The Doctor is forced to modify the android so that it may be crowned in place of the genuine article. The Doctor summons K9 from the TARDIS and sends it off to Castle Gracht to check on Romana. Meanwhile he arranges to get the android version of Prince Reynart to the throne room in time for the coronation.

Count Grendel
Count Grendel

Romana finds herself placed in a cell with the injured Prince Reynart. She learns that Count Grendel is also holding the Princess Strella captive and that she is the exact double of Romana - hence his and Madame Lamia’s astonishment that Romana was not an android. - but she will not cooperate in any of his plans. Count Grendel devises a plan to arrange for the real Prince Reynart to marry Romana after he has persuaded her to pose as Princess Strella and then kill him, following which he will then marry Romana before also killing her - thus ensuring that he becomes the ruler of Tara.

Prince Reynart’s coronation goes ahead but Princess Strella arrives towards the conclusion. The Doctor realises that this is an android copy sent to destroy the android version of Prince Reynart, and disables it. The ceremony is put on hold until the following day and Count Grendel begins plotting another way of achieving his plan. He constructs another android copy of Romana - this time equipped with a lethal ray operated by The Doctor’s voice - and arranges for The Doctor to come and get her at the Pavilion of the Summer Winds.

K9 though recognises the trap and so saves The Doctor. Meanwhile the real Romana manages to escape from the castle and in turn she rescues The Doctor and K9, who have been trapped by Count Grendel’s men.

Grendel, Romana and Madame Lamia
Grendel, Romana and Madame Lamia

Count Grendel turns the tables when he destroys the Prince Reynart android with a spear and re-captures Romana. He arranges for his twin marriage ceremonies to be conducted by the Archimandrite while The Doctor, K9 and the Prince Reynart’s men prepare to attack his castle.

The Doctor enters the castle via the moat and manages to disrupt the ceremony, having first found and pocketed the fourth segment that he discovers in Madame Lamia’s workshop, and battle is joined as the Prince Reynart’s men attack.

In the confusion, Romana saves Princess Strella from being killed and The Doctor fights with Count Grendel on the castle battlements. Just as The Doctor manages to gain the upper hand Count Grendel, realising that he has been defeated, dives into the moat and swims to safety leaving The Doctor and Romana to work out a way of rescuing K9 who is still on a raft on the moat.

 
The Doctor in Trouble
The Doctor in Trouble
Romana is Attacked by a Taran beast
Romana is Attacked by a Taran beast
The Archimandrite Counsels Count Grendel
The Archimandrite Counsels Count Grendel
In the Arms of Count Grendel
In the Arms of Count Grendel
 
Madame Lamia
Madame Lamia
Princess Strella the Android
Princess Strella the Android
Romana with Count Grendel and Her Android
Romana with Count Grendel and Her Android
Romana with the Fourth Segment
Romana with the Fourth Segment




Quote of the Story


 'Count, far be it from me to query this woman's competency as a doctor, but where I come from, you don't cut off a patient's head if you wish to cure their ankle!'

Romana



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
VHS
The Tom Baker YearsSeptember 1992BBCV 4839PhotoClip only Introduced and commented on by Tom Baker Double cassette release
Video
VHS
The Androids of TaraApril 1995BBCV 5610Colin Howard with spine art by Andrew Skilleter
Video
DVD
The Androids of TaraSeptember 2007BBCDVD 2335 (D)Photo-montagePart of the "Key to Time" limited edition box set (15,000)
Video
DVD
The Androids of TaraNovember 2009BBCDVD 2335 (D)Photo-montagePart of the re-released "Key to Time" box set


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Androids of TaraApril 1980Target No. 3Terrance DicksAndrew SkilleterISBN: 0-426-20108-6
CD
CD
The Androids of TaraJuly 2012BBC AudioTerrance DicksOriginal audio novelisation written specially for audio and read by John Leeson (voice of K9).
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 35 (Released: December 1991)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 293 (Released: July 2000)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 363 (Released: December 2005)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 483 (Released: March 2015)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 72 (Released: October 2011)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions

 
Tom Baker
The Fourth Doctor

   

Mary Tamm
Romana 1
 
John Leeson (voice only)
K9 Mk II
   




On Release

Tom Baker Years VHS Video Cover
Tom Baker Years VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
VHS Video Cover
VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Re-released DVD Box Set
Re-released DVD Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
   



In Print

Target Book Cover
Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
 
Original Audio CD Cover
Original Audio CD Cover

BBC
CD
   


Magazines

Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 35
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 35

CMS
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 293
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 293

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 363
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 363

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 483
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 483

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 72
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 72

GE Fabbri


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