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Tom Baker
Meglos
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Synopsis


Meglos
Meglos
 On the planet Tigella, the mysterious source of all power - the Dodecahedron - is failing. Zastor, the leader of the planet, decides to call on an old friend to help them. An old friend who travels the universe in a blue police box...

 On the nearby dead planet of Zolfa-Thura, a rag-tag band of space raiders form an uneasy alliance with the cactus-like alien, Meglos. Their first goal is to prevent a certain Time Lord from arriving on Tigella...

 Aboard the TARDIS, The Doctor,. Roman and K9 find themselves trapped in a Chronic Hysterisis - a time loop that keeps them captive in the same few minutes in time again, and again, and again. And double trouble awaits them on Tigella...

Source: BBC VHS Video


General Information

Season: Eighteen
Production Code: 5Q
Story Number: 110
Episode Numbers:530 - 533
Number of Episodes: 4
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Working Titles:"The Golden Pentangle", "The Golden Pentagram", "The Golden Star", "The Last Sol-Fataran" and "The Last Zolfa-Thuran"
Production Dates: June - July 1980
Broadcast Started: 27 September 1980
Broadcast Finished: 18 October 1980
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: BBC Television Centre (TC3 and TC8)
Location: None
Writers:Andrew McCulloch and John Flanagan
Director:Terence Dudley
Producer:John Nathan-Turner
Executive Producer:Barry Letts
Script Editor:Christopher H Bidmead
Production Assistant:Marilyn Gold
Production Unit Manager:Angela Smith
Assistant Floor Managers:Karen Loxton and Val McCrimmon
Designer:Philip Lindley
Costume Designer:June Hudson
Make-Up Designer:Cecile Hay-Arthur
Cameraman:Alec Wheal
Incidental Music:Paddy Kingsland and Peter Howell (Uncredited)
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:John Holmes
Lighting:Bert Postlethwaite
Visual Effects:Steven Drewett
Title Sequence:Sid Sutton
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Peter Howell
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 2The Companions: John Leeson (voice only) (K9 Mk II) and Lalla Ward (Romana 2) Guest Cast: Jacqueline Hill (Lexa) Additional Cast: Edward Underdown (Zastor), Bill Fraser (General Grugger), Christopher Owen (Earthling), Frederick Treves (Lieutenant Brotadac), Colette Gleeson (Caris), Crawford Logan (Deedrix), Simon Shaw (Tigellan Guard)Setting: The Prion system, containing Zolpha Thura and Tigella Villains:General Grugger and Meglos

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
530Part 127 September 198024'43"5.0PAL 2" colour videotape
531Part 204 October 198021'24"4.2PAL 2" colour videotape
532Part 311 October 198021'19"4.7PAL 2" colour videotape
533Part 418 October 198019'30"4.7PAL 2" colour videotape

Total Duration 1 Hour 27 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 4.6
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)56.68%  (Position = 138 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)52.11% Lower (Position = 188 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)53.87% Higher (Position = 231 out of 241)


Archives


 All four episodes exist as PAL 2" colour videotapes.



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Notes


"Meglos" was written by writing partners Andrew McCulloch and John Flanagan. This though would be their only contribution to Doctor Who although another story of theirs, "Project Zeta-Sigma", was at one point planned to open Season Nineteen. Following its abandonment, the pair went on to write for programmes such as Robin of Sherwood, Peak Practice and Heartbeat. Andrew McCulloch also continued acting, including an appearance in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

As with Peter Moffatt, the director for the following story "State of Decay", Producer John Nathan-Turner chose a former colleague (Terence Dudley) on All Creatures Great and Small to direct this story. Terence Dudley’s other credits included Doomwatch and the original Survivors (both of which he also produced), Softly Softly and Secret Army. Terrance Dudley was also a writer, and had been invited to contribute to the show for Season One, although nothing had come of this.

One of Terence Dudley’s friends was director Alvin Rakoff, whose wife, Jacqueline Hill, was eager to resume her acting career after a long absence spent rearing their children. Terence Dudley agreed to cast Jacqueline Hill to play the part of Lexa - the leader of the Deons.

Jacqueline Hill had originally played companion Barbara Wright during the first two years of the show ("An Unearthly Child" in 1963 to "The Chase" in 1964). This marked the only time that a former regular character would later return to Doctor Who playing the part of a new character. By contrast, Peter Purves, Lalla Ward, Colin Baker, Freema Agyeman and Karen Gillan all played guest characters in the show before returning as full-time regulars Steven Taylor, Romana, the Sixth Doctor, Martha Jones and Amy Pond respectively.

In Andrew McCulloch and John Flanagan’s original storyline, Lexa had simply vanished from the action once she had served her purpose within the narrative. However, Script Editor Christopher H Bidmead suggested her act of self-sacrifice as a more dramatic end for the character.

During the recording of this story Tom Baker had finally begun to slowly recover from the illness which had plagued him since recording began for Season Eighteen.

The part of the Earthling (aka George Morris) was played by Christopher Owen. The name ‘George Morris’ was not given on-screen or in the credits, only in the Target novelisation written by Terrance Dicks.

It has been reported that Bill Fraser agreed to play Gruggar only if he could kick K9 and that his request was granted. Bill Fraser later appeared in the 1981 spin off-story "K9 and Company: A Girl's Best Friend" which stared Elizabeth Sladen reprising her role as Sarah Jane Smith.

This story had a number of working titles but originally this story was to be called "Meglos".

With the obvious exceptions of the 1963 First Doctor story "The Edge of Destruction" and the single episode stories (the 1965 First Doctor story "Mission to the Unknown", the twentieth anniversary special "The Five Doctors" and the 1996 television film "Doctor Who: The Movie") this is the only story in the shows’ original run in which all the credited cast members appear in all the episodes.

Even though Paddy Kingsland is credited for providing the Incidental Music, Peter Howell also composed the music for the cliffhanger ending to the first episode but was uncredited on screen.

As well as K9 experiencing problems with sea water (see "The Leisure Hive") he now needs a battery recharge every two hours.

Meglos occupies a xerophyte (a cactus) initially, but can exist using any lifeform as a host, as a blob, or as a wavelength of light. He can duplicate someone after observing them, but needs a similar host to do it. He has the technology to cause a time loop in a TARDIS when it is in flight.

The Doctor previously faced a villainous doppelganger of himself in the 1967/68 Second Doctor story "The Enemy of the World".

It is revealed that the Tigellans know of the Time Lords and that Time Lords are Time Sensitive enough to be aware of being in a Time loop.

Romana has heard of the screens of Zolpha Thura.

Some of the Gaztak costumes came from a BBC production of Macbeth.

The Gaztaks reappear in the BBC Books’ The Past Doctors Stories novel "Warmonger", written by Terrance Dicks.

The scenes set on the surface of Zolfa-Thura were realised by way of a new effects technique referred to as Scene-Sync – A more advanced version of the ChromaKey (or Colour Separation Overlay (CSO)) technique used on the show throughout the Seventies. This involved two cameras being electronically synchronised to follow identical movements so that they could be made to track in unison and maintain the composite image (created in the usual way), whereas previously CSO shots had almost invariably been static. This allowed cameras on the actors to be moved, while the cameras on the miniature set moved the equivalent scaled amount automatically. This was an untested process at the BBC and so it was offered to Doctor Who for use on this story, free of charge, as a test case. Despite being judged to be a success this was the only time this technique was used on the show.

The sound effect created for the approach of the Fendahl in the 1977 story "Image of the Fendahl" was re-used as background atmosphere for the Tigellan jungle.

The closing theme in the fourth episode was transposed to the lower key of the original theme music.

Errors and anomalies in this story include: In episode one the wires holding the planet up over Zolpha Thura are rather obvious; Grugger is heard to say that he lost 50% of his six man crew on Tigella, but there’s more than three of them when they arrive on Zolpha Thura; In the first episode The Doctor states that he wasn’t allowed to see the dodecahedron on his previous visit, but in the third episode he remembers seeing it; The cactus gloves show Tom Baker’s wrists quite often. When handling the dodecahedron in the Gaztak spacecraft in the third episode, somebody off-screen audibly coughs.

Shortly before this story was broadcast the popular London waxworks museum Madame Tussauds unveiled a display called The Doctor Who Experience to celebrate the debut of the programme’s Season Eighteen. This exhibit included a waxwork of Tom Baker, in costume as the Fourth Doctor. Following the broadcast of "Meglos", this was joined by a statue of The Doctor’s Meglos doppelganger, making Tom Baker the first person to be simultaneously represented with two different waxworks at Madame Tussauds.

A novelisation of this story, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in February 1983. Terrance Dicks names Meglos’ unfortunate human host (as ‘George Morris’) and bookends the novel with his kidnapping and subsequent return to Earth. This novel also answers the question as to why Meglos asked for an Earthling to use as a Host body rather than a (much closer) Tigellan. This was because Meglos considered Earthlings to be more ‘malleable’.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 Jacqueline Hill's first story playing a character other than former companion Barbara Wright (since leaving the show in 1965).

 The first Doctor Who story to be co-written by Andrew McCulloch and John Flanagan.

 The first Doctor Who story to be directed by Terence Dudley.

 Paddy Kingsland's first involvement in the show providing the incidental music.

 The first use in Doctor Who of Scene-Sync - a more advanced version of ChromaKey.


The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 The last Doctor Who story to be co-written by Andrew McCulloch and John Flanagan.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
Romana Inside the TARDIS
Romana Inside the TARDIS

The Prion planetary system contains two habitable planets which have supported civilisations: Zolfa-Thura, a desert world devoid of life bar five giant screens; and Tigella, a jungle seemingly world inhabited by the humanoid, white haired Tigellans.

But the inhabitants of Tigella have a problem: their power source - a mysterious giant dodecahedron - which has powered their underground city since it fell to their planet is now failing. The Tigellans believe that unless they can find a solution to the power loss they are doomed. The race however, is split into two factions: the Savants, led by Deedrix, are scientists who believe that the dodecahedron is an artefact which was manufactured, and the Deons, led by Lexa, are religious worshippers who believe it to be a gift from their god Ti.

The Tigellans’ weary leader, Zastor, has become concerned about the disputes between his people’s two opposing factions. Being an old friend of The Doctor, Zastor invites The Doctor to visit the planet and help investigate what is causing their power source to start fluctuating.

Lexa
Lexa

Having received Zastor’s summons The Doctor, Romana and K9 try to land the TARDIS on Tigella but someone intervenes, trapping them in a time bubble known as a chronic hysteresis, causing them to repeat their words and actions over and over again.

The TARDIS has been intercepted by the megalomaniac Meglos, the last survivor of Zolfa-Thura, whose race built the dodecahedron. The Doctor and Romana eventually manage to free the TARDIS and so are able to continue their journey to Tigella.

Zastor
Zastor

Meanwhile Meglos, whose true form is that of a xerophyte, has summoned help in the form of an unruly band of Gaztak mercenaries, led by General Grugger. They kidnap a human and then Meglos, using the body of the kidnapped Earthling, transforms himself into a duplicate of The Doctor. Posing as The Doctor, Meglos then arrives on Tigella and tricks the Tigellans into allowing him access to the dodecahedron. However, when he is alone, he miniaturises the dodecahedron and absconds with it.

The Doctor and Romana finally manage to break the TARDIS out of the time bubble, by throwing it out of phase, and they materialise on Tigella – but in the middle of the hostile jungle rather than near the city. As The Doctor heads off to find Zastor, Romana stumbles across the dangerous vegetation – deadly bell plants – and then the Gaztak mercenaries.

When The Doctor finally meets the Tigellans he is of course accused of stealing the dodecahedron. However, The Doctor manages to escape and, with Romana and K9, follows Meglos back to Zolfa-Thura where the cactus creature reveals his race perished in a civil war over the control of the crystal, which can power a weapon strong enough to destroy planets and that he plans to use the dodecahedron to power an apocalyptic device with which he intends to destroy Tigella.

Romana and The Doctor Exit the TARDIS
Romana and The Doctor Exit the TARDIS

The Doctor, although at first hindered by the activities of the group of Gaztak mercenaries, is able to use a little impersonation and fools them into believing that he is Meglos. This allows The Doctor to change the settings of the super-weapon.

After Meglos resorts back into a cactus, so abandoning the Earthling, The Doctor rushes back to the TARDIS, taking the Earthling with him. Meglos is unable to stop him nor is he able to persuade General Grugger not to fire the weapon. From the safety of the TARDIS, The Doctor and his friends witness the destruction of Zolfa-Thura along with the Gaztaks, Meglos and the Dodecahedron.

With Meglos destroyed, the Tigellans are left with the task of rebuilding their lives by reclaiming their planet’s surface from the vegetation now they no longer have the help of the dodecahedron.

As The Doctor and Romana prepare to take the Earthling home, The Doctor claiming that he can get him home before he left, Romana receives a message from the Time Lords stating that she must return to Gallifrey…

 
Meglos in The Doctor's Form
Meglos in The Doctor's Form
Brotadac and General Grugger
Brotadac and General Grugger
Romana
Romana
General Grugger
General Grugger
 
The screens of Zolfa-Thura
The screens of Zolfa-Thura
Transformation
Transformation
The Earthling
The Earthling
The Doctor with Meglos (as The Doctor)
The Doctor with Meglos (as The Doctor)




Quote of the Story


 'Some fifty years ago I knew a man who solved the insoluble by the strangest means. He sees the threads that join the universe together and mends them when they break.'

Zastor



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Audio
LP
Science-Fiction Sound Effects No. 261981REC 420Sound Effects
Audio
Tape
Science-Fiction Sound Effects No. 261981ZCM 420Sound Effects
Audio
LP
Doctor Who: The Music1983REC 462Music score
Audio
Tape
Doctor Who: The Music1983Music score
Audio
CD
Doctor Who - Earthshock - Classic Music From The BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume 11992FLMCD 709Alister PearsonMusic score
Video
VHS
The Tom Baker YearsSeptember 1992BBCV 4839PhotoClip only Introduced and commented on by Tom Baker Double cassette release
Audio
CD
30 Years at the Radiophonic Workshop1993BBC CD 871Photo-montageSound effects
Audio
CD
The Worlds of Doctor Who1994FLMCD 715Photo-montageMusic score
Audio
CD
Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume Three - The Leisure HiveMarch 2002WMSF 6052-2Music and sound effects
Audio
CD
Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume Four - Meglos and Full CircleMarch 2002WMSF 6053-2Music and sound effects
Video
VHS
MeglosMarch 2003BBCV 7332Photo-montage
Video
DVD
MeglosJanuary 2011BBCDVD 2852Photo-montage
Audio
CD
sci-fi Sound EffectsApril 2013CD release of the Science-Fiction Sound Effects No 26 LP
Video
Blu-Ray
Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 18 (Limited Edition)Mar 2019BBCBD 0462Photo-montageBlu-Ray Limited Edition boxed set containing 7 specially restored stories


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
MeglosMay 1983Target No. 73Terrance DicksAndrew SkilleterISBN: 0-426-20136-1
Novel
Novel
Meglos1986Target No. 73Terrance DicksBook: Andrew Skilleter
Box: Photo
Re-released as part of The Doctor Who Gift Set
ISBN: 0-426-32410-8
Novel
Novel
MeglosApril 1993Target No. 73Terrance DicksAlister PearsonVirgin new cover reprint.
ISBN: 0-426-20136-1
CD
CD
MeglosJuly 2021Target No. 73Terrance DicksAndrew SkilleterAudio version of the Target Novel read by Jon Culshaw and John Leeson (K9).
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 47 (Released: November 1993)
Doctor Who Monthly - Article/FeatureIssue 46 (Released: November 1980)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 285 (Released: December 1999)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 369 (Released: May 2006)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 470 (Released: March 2014)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 109 (Released: March 2013)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions

 
Tom Baker
The Fourth Doctor

   

John Leeson (voice only)
K9 Mk II
 
Lalla Ward
Romana 2
   




On Release

Audio LP - Sound Effects No. 26
Audio LP - Sound Effects No. 26

BBC
AUDIO
Audio Tape - Sound Effects No. 26
Audio Tape - Sound Effects No. 26

BBC
AUDIO
Audio LP - Doctor Who: The Music
Audio LP - Doctor Who: The Music

BBC
AUDIO
Audio Tape - Doctor Who: The Music
Audio Tape - Doctor Who: The Music

BBC
AUDIO
   
Doctor Who - Earthshock CD Cover
Doctor Who - Earthshock CD Cover

Silva Screen
AUDIO
Tom Baker Years VHS Video Cover
Tom Baker Years VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Sound Effects CD Cover
Sound Effects CD Cover

BBC
AUDIO
Worlds of Doctor Who CD Cover
Worlds of Doctor Who CD Cover

Silva Screen
AUDIO
   
Audio - Volume 3: The Leisure Hive
Audio - Volume 3: The Leisure Hive

BBC
AUDIO
Audio - Volume 4: Meglos and Full Circle
Audio - Volume 4: Meglos and Full Circle

BBC
AUDIO
VHS Video Cover
VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
   
sci-fi Sound Effects
sci-fi Sound Effects

BBC
AUDIO
The Collection Season 18 Limited Edition Blu-Ray Cover
The Collection Season 18 Limited Edition Blu-Ray Cover

BBC
VIDEO



In Print

Target Book Cover
Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
The Doctor Who Gift Set
The Doctor Who Gift Set

Target
NOVEL
Reprinted Virgin Book Cover
Reprinted Virgin Book Cover

Virgin
NOVEL
Target Audio CD Cover
Target Audio CD Cover

BBC
CD
   



Magazines

Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 47
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 47

CMS
Doctor Who Monthly - Article/Feature: Issue 46
Doctor Who Monthly - Article/Feature: Issue 46

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 285
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 285

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 369
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 369

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 470
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 470

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 109
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 109

GE Fabbri
   

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