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Colin Baker
Vengeance on Varos
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Synopsis


Sil and the Governor
Sil and the Governor
 The Doctor visits the planet Varos to obtain supplies of a rare ore called zeiton 7, vital to the functioning of the TARDIS. Varos was once a colony for the criminally insane and the descedants of the orginal guards still rule over the rest poverty-striken population.

 The Doctor and Peri meet two rebels, Jondar and Areta, and Peri and Areta are captured by Qullam, the Dome's sadistic commandant...

Source: BBC DVD


General Information

Season: Twenty Two
Production Code: 6V
Story Number: 138
Episode Numbers:629 - 630
Number of Episodes: 2
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Working Titles:"Domain" and "Planet of Fear"
Production Dates: July 1984
Broadcast Started: 19 January 1985
Broadcast Finished: 26 January 1985
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: BBC Television Centre (TC6)
Location: None
Writer:Philip Martin
Director:Ron Jones
Producer:John Nathan-Turner
Script Editor:Eric Saward
Production Assistants:Jane Whittaker and Pat Greenland
Production Associate:Sue Anstruther
Assistant Floor Manager:Sophie Neville
Designer:Tony Snoaden
Costume Designer:Anne Hardinge
Make-Up Designers:Cecile Hay-Arthur and Dorka Nieradzik
Incidental Music:Jonathan Gibbs
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:Andy Stacey
Lighting:Dennis Channon
Visual Effects:Charles Jeanes
Title Sequence:Sid Sutton and Terry Handley
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Peter Howell
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 1The Companion: Nicola Bryant (Peri) Guest Cast: Martin Jarvis (Governor), Jason Connery (Jondar) Additional Cast: Nabil Shaban (Sil), Nicholas Chagrin (Quillam), Forbes Collins (Chief Officer), Stephen Yardley (Arak), Sheila Reid (Etta), Geraldine Alexander (Areta), Graham Cull (Bax), Owen Teale (Maldak), Keith Skinner (Rondel), Hugh Martin (Priest)Setting: Planet Varos (late 23rd century) Villains:Quillam and Sil (from Thoros-Beta)

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
629Part 119 January 198544'42"7.2PAL 1" colour videotape
630Part 226 January 198544'43"7.0PAL 1" colour videotape

Total Duration 1 Hour 29 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 7.1
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)69.51%  (Position = 72 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2003)312 Points (Position = 49 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)66.57% Lower (Position = 124 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)69.98% Higher (Position = 135 out of 241)


Archives


 Both episodes exist as PAL 1" colour videotapes. Also held in four 25-minute format episodes.



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Notes


"Vengeance on Varos" is the second story of Season Twenty Two and introduced the alien Sil (from Thoros-Beta) to the show.

This story was written by Philip Martin - his first Doctor Who story. Philip Martin had originally been an actor, including a role in the feature film The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. In the late Sixties, he turned his hand to writing, with material including episodes of Z Cars and the series Gangsters. After watching the show with his seven year-old daughter, who was a fan of the show, Philip Martin was inspired to submit ideas to the programme’s production office. This resulted, in 1982, to a commission to write a scene breakdown for a storyline entitled "Domain". It had been planned that this story would form a part of Season Twenty and, when this did not pan out, Season Twenty One. This meant that Philip Martin had to frequently adjust his scripts to account for the changing regular cast, his story having started out as an adventure for the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan Jovanka.

After being renamed to "Planet of Fear" it became clear that this story would be held over until Season Twenty Two. Because of the change in the show’s format, Philip Martin needed to reformat his scripts, changing them from four 25 minute episodes to two 45 minute episodes. He also had to change it to being a Sixth Doctor story with just Peri as the companion. This story was also renamed again to "Vengeance on Varos" when it was realised that the title "Planet of Fear" was very similar to the 1984 Fifth Doctor story "Planet of Fire".

Further rewrites were requested from the writer in early 1984, when Eric Saward and Producer John Nathan-Turner decided that Philip Martin did not have an acceptable grasp on the characters of the Sixth Doctor and Peri.

It was not until another story "Song of the Space Whale" was cancelled that "Vengeance on Varos" became the second story of Season Twenty Two. "Song of the Space Whale", by comics writer by Patrick Mills, had first been offered to the production office in 1980. But due to continued problems with another long-developing set of scripts "Song of the Space Whale" was abandoned (although it was not officially rejected until July 1985).

The director originally planned to helm the second story of Season Twenty Two was Michael Owen Morris, who had worked on "The Awakening" a year earlier. However, when the decision was made to drop "Song of the Space Whale", Michael Owen Morris moved on to an episode of Tenko. His replacement, to direct "Vengeance on Varos", was Ron Jones, who had recently directed last season’s Fifth Doctor story "Frontios".

Ron Jones’ biggest casting requirement was an actor to play the diminutive Sil. Philip Martin had originally envisioned the character as floating in a tank of water, but it was realised that this would be too difficult to and so the scripts were revised to having Sil instead sitting on a platform above his water tank. Nonetheless, a performer of unusual proportions would be needed for the role, and so Ron Jones auditioned several dwarves and midgets. Ultimately, he settled on Nabil Shaban, an actor who had suffered from the brittle bone disease osteogenesis imperfecta all his life and had badly underdeveloped legs as a result.

Also amongst the guest cast list is Jason Connery, the son of James Bond star and famed actor Sean Connery, playing the part of Jondar.

Well known actor Martin Jarvis makes his third Doctor Who appearance as the Governor of Varos - previously he had played the part of Hilio, in the 1965 First Doctor story "The Web Planet", and the part of Butler, in the 1974 Third Doctor story "Invasion of the Dinosaurs".

Stephen Yardley (who played the part of Arak) previously played the part of Sevrin in the 1975 Fourth Doctor story "Genesis of the Daleks".

Owen Teale (who played the part of Maldak) later appeared as Evan Sherman in the 2006 Torchwood story "Countrycide".

This story was entirely a studio-based story, requiring two three-day studio sessions.

The script dates this story to the latter half of the 23rd century, although this is not confirmed on screen.

From the opening sequence of The Doctor and Peri in the TARDIS it appears that a short period of time has elapsed since the previous story "Attack of the Cybermen", during which The Doctor has set about some TARDIS repairs. Peri lists a number of problems The Doctor has caused since they left Telos. These include: three electrical fires, a total blackout, a near collision with a storm of asteroids, The Doctor getting lost twice in the TARDIS corridors, wiping the memory of the flight computer, and the jettisoning of three quarters of the storage hold (after this and the events in the 1982 Fifth Doctor story "Castrovalva" one wonders how much of the TARDIS is left?). In this amusing sequence Peri also accuses The Doctor of burning her ‘cold dinner’.

The TARDIS’ latest fault occurs when the transitional elements stop generating ‘orbital energy’, leaving the TARDIS midway between Cetes and Scalpor.

The Doctor says Zeiton-7 is needed to repair the transpower system. In an attempt to help The Doctor repair the TARDIS, Peri finds a huge Type 40 TARDIS manual in a workshop. She suggests that the fault with the time machine might be the comparator (see "Planet of Fire").

It is revealed that Sil (a Galatron negotiator) is from the planet Thoros Beta and is on Varos in an attempt to exploit the ongoing political vacuum caused by the succession of Governors who are appointed and eventually killed. Galatron’s chief rivals are Amorb.

It is revealed that Varos is a former prison planet for the criminally insane, ostensibly ruled by the descendants of the officers. Despite the poverty of the populace, it has been politically stable for over 200 years. Varos though is owned or policed by a body known as Comtech.

It has been revealed that the ‘marsh minnows’, that were eaten by Sil, were actually peaches dyed green.

The characters of Arak and Etta were late additions and were initially conceived as silent observers, merely observing and commenting on the proceedings as a Greek chorus. Their dialogue was added into the script by Script Editor Eric Saward. All the scenes including Arak and Etta are completely detached from the story and the two are never encountered by the main characters. Their scenes act as a satire on televised violence.

This whole story is an allegory about violence on television. Public torture and execution as entertainment go back as far the Romans. The idea of television and manipulation of the media to control the masses has been used in many works of dystopian science fiction.

Ironically, during the original broadcast, this story, along with the previous story "Attack of the Cybermen" drew criticism for being too violent and both have been used by critics who complained the show had become too dark and violent.

The scene in which two the Varos guards fall into a vat of acid echoes the 1970 film Scream and Scream Again which stars Peter Cushing. This sequence had to be filmed several times, and although Ron Jones was satisfied with the final result, he was aware that it had been taped in such a way as to make it appear that The Doctor was directly responsible for the men’s demise. In fact, Philip Martin had scripted this as an essentially comedic routine and was dismayed by the manner in which it was portrayed onscreen. This sentiment was compounded by the fact that most of the cuts to the finished story, due to time constraints, consisted of the more humorous material, making this story into a far bleaker story than he had intended.

This particular scene resulted in controversy as it looks as if The Doctor pushed them into the acid bath. However, The Doctor does not actually push the guards into the acid. One falls in by accident and then pulls the other in. The fact that The Doctor does not react with horror, but instead tosses off a quip, unfortunately, exacerbates the controversy.

This story contains a number of errors. Namely: How can the TARDIS so suddenly run out of something so vital?; The cuffs lock around the Governor’s wrists at different moments in the first two votes that we see; Why are the cannibals wearing nappies?

During the first recording of the noose execution scene, part of the set collapsed under the weight of the actors. Fortunately, this did not happen when Colin Baker and Jason Connery actually had their necks in the nooses (although it has been revealed that for safety reasons the nooses were not actually tied up).

Residual effects of her experiences on Varos cause Peri to once again assume birdlike features in Virgin Book’s The Missing Adventures novel "State of Change" that was written by Christopher Bulis.

The character of Sil was originally to have returned in a story, written by Philip Martin, called "Mission to Magnus" that was planed for the original Season Twenty Three. When the season was postponed and all the planned stories scrapped, Sil’s return instead occurred in the 1986 story "Mindwarp" - part of The Trial of a Time Lord season - which is set on his home planet of Thoros Beta. Philip Martin later novelised "Mission to Magnus", which was published in 1990. In 2009, Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Nabil Shaban returned for the Big Finish Productions audio adaptation of "Mission to Magnus".

Virgin Books’ The Missing Adventures novel "Time of Your Life", written by Steve Lyons, the 1988 Seventh Doctor story "The Happiness Patrol" and the 2005 Ninth Doctor story "Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways" all have themes and motifs very similar to those used in this story.

Despite being produced as two 45-minute episodes this story, when sold to other countries such as Australia and America, the episodes were re-edited into four 25-minute episodes.

The Target novelisation of this story, published in January 1988, was originally due two years before it was released, but was held up due to delays in the delivery of the manuscript by Philip Martin, rights issues and for other various reasons. When it did appear, it kept its original number of 106. In addition, although Target had launched a new cover design format for the books with the previous release, "Time and The Rani", reflecting the show’s logo of the Seventh Doctor’s era, "Vengeance on Varos" was published with the earlier book cover format using the neon-tube logo of the Fifth and Sixth Doctor eras.

In 1995 an abridged version of the novel was read by Colin Baker for the BBC Radio Collection as a single 90-minute cassette. It was produced by Chris Wallis as a Watershed Production for BBC Worldwide Publishing (the umbrella label for all BBC products by the end of the 1990’s). This audio book was not released until late 1997.

The DVD of this story, released in October 2001, originally had a slightly different cover which included Peri. This was a BBC Worldwide mockup rather than the intended final version of the cover.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first appearance in the show of Sil played by Nabil Shaban.

 The first Doctor Who story to be written by Philip Martin.


The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 The last involment in the show for Martin Jarvis.


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The Plot

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

While The Doctor is carrying our repairs to the TARDIS console his companion Peri complains to him that he has caused three electrical fires, a power failure, nearly caused the TARDIS to collided with a storm of asteroids, has become lost in the TARDIS corridors twice, wiped the memory banks of the flight computer, jettisoned three quarters of the storage hold, and burned her ‘cold dinner’ - all since they left Telos (see "Attack of the Cybermen"). Then suddenly without any warning they become stranded in space when the transitional elements within the TARDIS stop producing orbital energy.

After nearly giving up all hope The Doctor eventually discovers that there is a small residue of power remaining and this enables The Doctor to direct the TARDIS to the planet Varos in the constellation of Cetes, where he hopes to obtain some Zeiton 7 with which to realign the power systems and so enable the TARDIS’ power to be restored.

The planet Varos however, is a bleak world, formerly a penal mining colony for the criminally insane. The descendants of the original guards still rule, while people, like Arak and his wife Etta, live and work in hunger and squalor, entertained by continuous television transmissions from the Punishment Dome, a labyrinth of traps and deadly games where enemies of the state are tortured and executed in a variety of imaginative ways.

Sil
Sil

When the TARDIS materialises inside the Punishment Dome, The Doctor and Peri are just in time to prevent the execution of the rebel leader Jondar. They are then chased by the guards into the tunnels where they are helped by Jondar’s wife Areta and Rondel, one of the guards and a friend of Jondar. Rondel however, is killed and The Doctor, Peri, Jondar and Areta are forced to head deeper into the Dome’s tunnels in order to shake off the guards. They enter the Purple Zone, where they are confronted by a giant fly. The Doctor though realises it is just an illusion and, by shutting their eyes, they manage to get past it. They make their way back to where they left TARDIS but discover that it has disappeared. After being chased by guards again The Doctor becomes separated from Peri, Areta and Jondar, who are recaptured.

The Doctor and Peri though are not the only visitors to Varos. Sil (from Thoros-Beta), a representative of the Galatron Mining Corporation, is there for negotiations with the Governor to try to fix a new price for the planet’s zeiton ore. The Governor though wants to raise the price to pay for a better lifestyle for his people, but Sil threatens that unless the price is cut he will refuse to buy any at all which will leave the Varosians unable to afford essential supplies. This forces the Governor to make a television broadcast to explain to his people his decision to hold out for a better price for the ore, arguing that there would otherwise have to be further food rationing. The people of Varos then vote on the Governor’s plan but he is defeated, causing him to submit to a short bombardment of human cell disintegrator rays. The Governor manages to survive the bombardment - his third - but next time though the effects will be fatal.

The Governor
The Governor

Sil believes The Doctor to be a rival negotiator from the AMORB Prospect Division and demands that he be killed. Peri and Areta, meanwhile, are placed in the custody of the sadistic head of the Punishment Dome, Mr Quillam, who wears a half-mask to cover his disfigured face. Mr Quillam uses a transmogrifier to alter the physical appearance of Areta and Peri so that they will come to resemble the creatures that they subconsciously aspire to be. Areta starts to change into a scaly lizard-like creature, Peri into a feathered bird.

Unaware of his travelling companion’s predicament The Doctor wanders into a No-Options Kill Centre in the Punishment Dome and suffers a hallucination, believing himself to be dying of thirst in a desert. He collapses, apparently dead and his body is carried away by two Varosian mortuary attendants, who prepare to tip him into a vat of acid. The Doctor comes round just in time and surprises the workers, one of whom accidentally falls into the acid and then pulls the other in after him. Unable to save them The Doctor leaves to find his friends, but is soon recaptured.

The Doctor finally discovers what is happening to Peri and Areta and, having piqued the Governor’s interest with hints about what he may have to offer, insists that the girls are freed before he will say more. Mr Quillam however, refuses to help and so The Doctor destroys the control panel before forcing a guard, Maldak, to take him to the girls. With the transmogrifying power switched off, Peri and Areta’s metabolism resets itself, the change thankfully not having had time to become permanent.

The Chief Officer
The Chief Officer

Meanwhile Sil has been getting nowhere in his negotiations and so makes arrangements for an armed force from his home planet of Thoros-Beta to invade Varos. At the same time the Chief Officer forces the Governor to a final poll. The people again vote against the Governor and the cell-disintegrator bombardment begins. Maldak, who is on guard, destroys the equipment before the process is completed - the Governor having convinced him that Varos’s future prosperity lies with the knowledge possessed by The Doctor.

The Doctor and the rebels re-enter the Punishment Dome closely pursued by Mr Quillam and the Chief Officer, both of whom are secretly in the pay of the Galatron Mining Corporation and are desperate to stop The Doctor revealing the true worth of Zeiton 7 to the Governor. But arriving in the Punishment Dome’s End Zone, The Doctor and his friends are attacked by two cannibals and enter a forest-like area to escape. The Doctor notes that there are poisonous tendrils in amongst the foliage and lays a trap for their pursuers. As Mr Quillam, the Chief Officer and a guard approach, Jondar releases a cluster of the tendrils and they are killed.

Sil, who is still awaiting his invasion force, is surprised when The Doctor and the Governor return to the control room together. He brags to the Governor of the impending arrival of his troops, but The Doctor then draws Sil’s attention to an incoming message from the Galatron invasion force: the invasion is cancelled due to the discovery of traces of Zeiton 7 on the asteroid Bio Sculptor, and Sil is ordered to secure supplies of the ore from Varos at whatever price the Governor wants. Back in full control the Governor thanks The Doctor and Peri for their help, and The Doctor requests a small amount of the ore for the TARDIS. The Doctor and Peri then bid the Governor farewell, taking the replacement ore with them.

Shortly afterwards the Governor broadcasts an announcement that there will be no more injustice, torture, and executions and so no more transmissions from the Punishment Dome. Arak and Etta watch in disbelief, wondering what they will do with their new-found freedom, as the screen in their apartment then shows nothing but static…

 
Jondar Being Tortured
Jondar Being Tortured
Quillam
Quillam
The Governor, Jondar and The Doctor
The Governor, Jondar and The Doctor
Jondar and Areta
Jondar and Areta
 
Peri Turning into a Bird
Peri Turning into a Bird
Doctor Dying of Thirst
Doctor Dying of Thirst
The Doctor Confronts the Governor
The Doctor Confronts the Governor
Arak and Etta
Arak and Etta




Quote of the Story


 'It's all right for you, Peri. You've only got one life. You'll age here in the TARDIS and then die. But me, I shall go on regenerating until all my lives are spent.'

The Doctor



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
VHS
Vengeance on VarosMay 1993BBCV 4962Andrew SkilleterReleased as part of the Doctor Who 30th Anniversary celebrations
Video
VHS
The Colin Baker YearsMarch 1994BBCV 5324PhotoClip only Introduced and commented on by Colin Baker
Video
DVD
Vengeance on VarosOctober 2001BBCDVD 1044Photo-montage
Video
DVD
Vengeance on VarosSeptember 2012BBCDVD 3512Photo-montageSpecial Edition


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
Vengeance on VarosJanuary 1988Target No. 106Philip MartinDavid McAllisterISBN: 0-426-20291-0
Novel
Novel
Vengeance on VarosJanuary 1993Target No. 106Philip MartinAlister PearsonVirgin new cover reprint.
ISBN: 0-426-20291-0
Tape
Tape
Vengeance on Varos1997BBC AudioPhilip MartinAbridged version read by Colin Baker. Single Cassette. ZBBC 1832
MP3
MP3
Tales From The TARDIS - Volume 2July 2004BBC AudioPhilip MartinPhoto-montageMP3 version read by Colin Baker. Release includes 7 stories read by various actors and actresses from the show.
ISBN: 0-563-52377-2
Novel
Novel
Vengeance on VarosJuly 2016Target No. 106Philip MartinBBC Reprint. ISBN: 978-1-78594-040-8
CD
CD
Vengeance on VarosNovember 2019Target No. 106Philip MartinAlister PearsonAudio version of the Target Novel read by Martin Jarvis.
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 80 (Released: October 1998)
Doctor Who Magazine - PreviewIssue 94 (Released: November 1984)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArticleIssue 96 (Released: January 1985)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 144 (Released: January 1989)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 309 (Released: October 2001)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 392 (Released: March 2008)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 68 (Released: August 2011)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companion

 
Colin Baker
The Sixth Doctor

   

 
Nicola Bryant
Peri
 
   




On Release

VHS Video Cover
VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Colin Baker Years VHS Video Cover
Colin Baker Years VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Special Edition DVD Cover
Special Edition DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
   



In Print

Target Book Cover
Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
Reprinted Virgin Book Cover
Reprinted Virgin Book Cover

Virgin
NOVEL
Audio Cassette Cover
Audio Cassette Cover

BBC
TAPE
   
MP3 Cover
MP3 Cover

BBC
MP3
Reprinted BBC Book Cover
Reprinted BBC Book Cover

BBC
NOVEL
Target Audio CD Cover
Target Audio CD Cover

BBC
CD
   


Magazines

Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 80
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 80

CMS
Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 94
Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 94

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Article: Issue 96
Doctor Who Magazine - Article: Issue 96

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 144
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 144

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 309
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 309

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 392
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 392

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 68
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 68

GE Fabbri


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