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Tom Baker
The Power of Kroll
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Synopsis


The Kroll
The Kroll
 The Doctor, Romana and K9 continue their search for the six disguised segments that make up the powerful Key to Time.

 The TARDIS brings The Doctor and Romana to Delta 3, the third moon of the planet Delta Magna. Romana is captured by the Swampies, the original inhabitants of Delta Magna, displaced from their home world by human colonists. They intend to sacrifice Romana to their god, the mighty Kroll.

 The Doctor's search for his companion brings him to a massive refinery in the middle of the swamp, which is extracting protein from under the water to feed the people of Delta Magna. The Doctor is mistaken for Rohm-Dutt, an amoral gun-runner who is supplying the Swampies with weapons to aid them in their plan to attack the refinery and force the workers to leave Delta 3.

 The Doctor escapes the refinery in time to rescue Romana from the sacrificial altar, discovering in the process that Kroll is just a myth, a story to frighten children. They resolve to find the Fifth Segment and leave the moon, avoiding the intrigues of the refinery workers and the attentions of the fanatical Swampies.

 However, all is not as it initially seems. What is stirring on the floor of the swamp and can the instruments on the refinery really be correct in saying that it is five miles across? The Doctor realises that Kroll is more than a mere legend and its centuries-long slumber has been disturbed by the refinery. Now it is awake, the time-travellers find that it is very large, and very hungry...

Source: BBC VHS Video


General Information

Season: Sixteen
Production Code: 5E
Story Number: 102
Episode Numbers:496 - 499
Number of Episodes: 4
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Working Titles:"Moon of Death", "The Horror of the Swamp" and "The Shield of Time"
Production Dates: September - October 1978
Broadcast Started: 23 December 1978
Broadcast Finished: 13 January 1979
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: Bray Studios, Slough and BBC Television Centre (TC6)
Location: The Maltings (Snape, Suffolk) and Iken Cliff (Iken, Suffolk)
Writer:Robert Holmes
Director:Norman Stewart
Producer:Graham Williams
Script Editor:Anthony Read
Editor:Michael Goldsmith
Production Assistant:Kate Nemet
Production Unit Manager:John Nathan-Turner
Assistant Floor Manager:Chris Moss
Designer:Don Giles
Costume Designer:Colin Lavers
Make-Up Designer:Kezia Dewinne
Cameraman:Martin Patmore
Incidental Music:Dudley Simpson
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:Richard Chubb
Lighting:Warwick Fielding
Visual Effects:Tony Harding
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) Guest Cast: Philip Madoc (Fenner) Additional Cast: Neil McCarthy (Thawn), John Abineri (Ranquin), Glyn Owen (Rohm-Dutt), Carl Rigg (Varlik), Frank Jarvis (Skart), John Leeson (Dugeen), Grahame Mallard (Harg), Terry Walsh (Mensch)Setting: The third moon of Delta Magna Villains:Ranquin and Thawn

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
496Part 123 December 197823'16"6.5PAL 2" colour videotape
497Part 230 December 197823'57"12.4PAL 2" colour videotape
498Part 306 January 197921'56"8.9PAL 2" colour videotape
499Part 413 January 197921'58"9.9PAL 2" colour videotape

Total Duration 1 Hour 31 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 9.4
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)54.47%  (Position = 145 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)55.40% Higher (Position = 174 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)57.75% Higher (Position = 212 out of 241)


Archives


 All four episodes exist as PAL 2" colour videotapes.



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Notes


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

"The Power of Kroll" was a last-minute replacement for a cancelled story and features what would be known at the time as ‘the biggest monster ever’ in Doctor Who’s history.

The request to include the largest monster in the show's history came from Script Editor Anthony Read. Anthony Read also requested that writer Robert Holmes minimised the humour that many scripts from this era were renowned for. This second requirement originated from higher up at the BBC.

As reported by Doctor Who Magazine, this story was a replacement for one entitled "The Lords of Misrule" by distinguished screen writer Ted Willis. However, it has been reported that Ted Willis never worked on Doctor Who but thriller writer Ted Lewis, best known for the seminal "Get Carter", did work on an unused story for this season.

One of the working titles for this story was "The Shield of Time". This was based on a short lived idea that all stories in Season Sixteen were going to be entitled "The (Something) of Time".

Given the story’s marshy setting, writer Robert Holmes had avoided using K9. Therefore to compensate for the fact that K9 was stuck inside the TARDIS and did not appear, John Leeson, who voices K9, was given the role of Dugeen in this story after Martin Jarvis, who had originally been approached to play Dugeen, dropped out before recording commenced. This is John Leeson’s only on-screen appearance in Doctor Who.

Neil McCarthy, who played Thawn. and Philip Madoc, who played Fenner, were also both replacements for actors who had to drop out before recording commenced. Neil McCarthy had previously played Barnham in the 1971 Third Doctor story "The Mind of Evil" while Philip Madoc, had previously played several villainous lead roles in Doctor Who over the years ("The Krotons", "The War Games" and "The Brain of Morbius"). Philip Madoc had thought he had been offered the more substantial part of Thawn and so therefore was very disappointed to find himself consigned to a more minor role. This story proved to be his last involvement with Doctor Who.

John Abineri, who played Ranquin, had previously played Van Lutyens in the 1968 Second Doctor story "Fury From the Deep", General Carrington in the 1970 Third Doctor story "The Ambassadors of Death" and Richard Railton in the 1974 Third Doctor story "Death to the Daleks".

The Director allocated to "The Power of Kroll" was Norman Stewart, who had helmed the previous season’s "Underworld" which is another story with intense effects requirements.

"The Power of Kroll" suffered from a number of mishaps during location work that took place in Suffolk. Visual Effects Designer Tony Harding intended to achieve the Kroll using a model which would be inserted into the filmed material via split-screen (with the model on the top of the frame and the location footage on the bottom). However, film cameraman Martin Patmore, acting on poor advice, elected not to expose the upper portion of the film. This meant that a hard line would appear in the completed effect, making the join between the model work and the location footage obvious.

Effects problems continued to plague the story as Tony Harding also discovered that his model for the refinery could not be photographed from the correct angle due to problems with the tank facilities.

Also during location work the green make-up (made with a special water-resistant dye) that was used on the actors playing the Swampies proved particularly difficult to remove from the actors as the solvent required to remove it had been forgotten, causing the cast to retire to a nearby American air base to remove it with industrial solvents.

Producer Graham Williams was taken badly ill during the recording of this story and so for several weeks, Script Editor Anthony Read and Production Unit Manager John Nathan-Turner assumed many of Graham Williams’ duties. They were aided by Blake’s 7 producer David Maloney, who had directed a number of Doctor Who stories – the most recently being "The Talons of Weng-Chiang".

The BBC’s Head of Serials, Graeme McDonald was so unimpressed by the set designs in this story that he ordered that Designer Don Giles was never to work on the show again. By coincidence, in the third episode The Doctor is heard criticizing the decor of the Swampies’ execution chamber and recommending that its architect be fired.

The episodes of this story are noticeably shorter than average. While it was normal at the time for individual episodes to fluctuate between 23 and 25 minutes in length, the last two episodes of this story clocked in at only just under 22 minutes. In addition these episodes began with longer-than-usual reprises of the events leading up to the preceding cliff-hangers, both clocking in at close to 90 seconds each.

It is revealed that the atmosphere of the third moon of Delta Magna is thin, and the gravity tiny. However, during this story we see evidence of neither.

According to the Swampies the fifth segment of The Key to Time allows one to see the future. As the Symbol of Power, it was brought by the Swampies to third moon of Delta Magna, where it was swallowed by a giant squid, causing it to mutate and grow.

In the second episode a Swampie is heard referring to the altar, where Romana was to be sacrificed, as the Stone of Blood. "The Stones of Blood" was the title of the third story in The Key to Time season.

At one point The Doctor makes a reed-flute and starts playing Johann Sebastian Bach’s "Badinerie" from his Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor. The Doctor’s reed flute playing though does not match the music.

The Doctor is heard talking to himself, before his final encounter with Kroll, in which he states that he is 760 years old. This suggests he is either rounding up (as his age was given as 759 in "The Ribos Operation") or he has had a birthday since the beginning of the quest for The Key to Time. The latter may actually be the case, as a birthday scene was originally planned for "The Stones of Blood" but this idea had been dropped as Producer Graham Williams had felt this scene would have been too self-congratulatory.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
The TARDIS Lands in the Swamp
The TARDIS Lands in the Swamp

The TARDIS arrives on the third moon of Delta Magna and The Doctor and Romana are forced to leave K9 behind as it soon realised that the ground is very marshy and so unsuitable for K9 to navigate.

Shortly after leaving the TARDIS, and while using the tracer to get an accurate reading for the fifth and penultimate segment of The Key to Time, The Doctor is shot at by two men, Fenner and Thawn, who are from a nearby methane catalysing refinery, while Romana is captured by a group of green-skinned natives, called Swampies.

They soon discover that the Swampies are buying guns from a gun-running human called Rohm-Dutt. Rohm-Dutt is supplying the Swampies guns ostensibly on behalf of an anti-colonial organisation sympathetic to their cause. This however, is part of a plot by Thawn to discredit the pro-Swampie Sons of Earth organisation and open the way for the Swampies to be wiped out.

Romana and The Doctor in the Reeds
Romana and The Doctor in the Reeds

But unknown to Thawn the Swampies intend to attack the refinery the following day and, after capturing Romana, they are now also planning to sacrifice her to their god Kroll that evening.

The Doctor is taken back to the refinery where, hearing the sacrificial drums, he learns from Mensch, a Swampie working at the base, that someone is to be sacrificed. Fearing the worse The Doctor leaves and makes his way towards the Temple of Kroll to rescue Romana. He arrives at the Swampies’ temple just in time to rescue his companion and while making their escape they discover a passageway in the ground, and in it a book which tells of Kroll. Meanwhile the refinery crew notice that the lake bed is shifting, as if there is something massive moving beneath the surface.

Romana and The Doctor
Romana and The Doctor

The Swampies, led by Ranquin, prepare their attack on the refinery but they are stopped in their tracks when an enormous squid-creature appears on the horizon. This is the creature seen moving under the lake bed; it is the Swampies great god Kroll. Kroll starts to attack them while The Doctor, Romana and Rohm-Dutt are captured by the Swampies.

Kroll then heads for the refinery and starts to attack it while The Doctor, Romana and Rohm-Dutt discover that they are sentenced to be sacrificed to the Swampies’ god. They are to be stretched to death by being tied hand and foot to some steadily contracting vines. Fortunately a storm breaks outside and The Doctor manages to shatter the window so that rain enters, slackening the vines and so allowing them to escape.

As they make their way across the swamp, Rohm-Dutt is seized and killed by one of Kroll’s tentacles but The Doctor and Romana manage to reach the refinery. There they discover that Thawn is planning to kill Kroll by aiming an orbital plasma rocket at the creature - the rockets are normally used to seed the moon’s atmosphere thus producing more methane.

Sacrifices
Sacrifices

Horrified at this course of action The Doctor and Romana go to the rocket silo where The Doctor is able to disable the missile. This though angers Thawn, who takes The Doctor and Romana prisoner once more. But then the Swampies launch their attack on the refinery, killing Thawn.

Kroll then returns to attack the refinery once again. It is then that The Doctor realises that Kroll must have ingested the fifth segment disguised as a Swampie relic, and that it was the segment which was responsible for Kroll growing to such mammoth proportions.

Armed only with the tracer The Doctor goes outside and when he points the tracer at the Kroll the huge creature is transformed into the fifth segment so ending the threat on the refinery.

Having converted Kroll into the fifth segment The Doctor and Romana head back towards the TARDIS with another segment of The Key to Time in their possession.. On there way they discover that in place of the giant Kroll there are countless smaller creatures left lying in the marshes.

 
The Doctor Hushes Romana
The Doctor Hushes Romana
The Doctor
The Doctor
Rohm-Dutt with the Swampies
Rohm-Dutt with the Swampies
Ranquin
Ranquin
 
The Kroll
The Kroll
The Kroll Attacking the Swampies
The Kroll Attacking the Swampies
The Refinery is Attacked
The Refinery is Attacked
The Fifth Segment
The Fifth Segment




Quote of the Story


 'The authorities are far too soft. Once they start interfering, you can never get rid of them. We'll handle this one by ourselves, and in my way. Final. We get rid of the problem once and for all.'

Thawn



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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 Power of KrollApril 1995BBCV 5611Colin Howard with spine art by Andrew Skilleter
Video
DVD
The Power of KrollSeptember 2007BBCDVD 2335 (E)Photo-montagePart of the "Key to Time" limited edition box set (15,000)
Video
DVD
The Power of KrollNovember 2009BBCDVD 2335 (E)Photo-montagePart of the re-released "Key to Time" box set


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Power of KrollMay 1980Target No. 49Terrance DicksAndrew SkilleterISBN: 0-426-20101-9
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Power of Kroll1982Target No. 49Terrance DicksBook: Andrew Skilleter
Box: Bill Donohoe
Re-released as part of The First Dr Who Gift Set
ISBN: 0-426-19270-2
Audio Download
Audio Download
Doctor Who and the Power of KrollDue: October 2021Target No. 49Terrance DicksAndrew SkilleterAudio version of the Target Novel read by Geoffrey Beevers.
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 36 (Released: February 1992)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 312 (Released: January 2002)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 363 (Released: December 2005)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 497 (Released: April 2016)

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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
The First Dr Who Gift Set
The First Dr Who Gift Set

Target
NOVEL
Target Audiobook Cover
Target Audiobook Cover

BBC
AUDIO DOWNLOAD
   


Magazines

Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 36
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 36

CMS
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 312
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 312

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 497
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 497

Marvel Comics
   


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