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Tom Baker
Pyramids of Mars
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Synopsis


The Doctor Examines the Sarcophagus
The Doctor Examines the Sarcophagus
 When the TARDIS is infiltrated by a mysterious force, The Doctor and Sarah Jane are drawn off course and arrive in England at the turn of the 20th Century.

 Dark forces from aeons ago are beginning to stir, and the whole future of life on Earth is at stake. Sutekh, last of the Osirians, is breaking free from his ancient prison, and no power in the universe can stand in his way…

Source: BBC DVD


General Information

Season: Thirteen
Production Code: 4G
Story Number: 82
Episode Numbers:410 - 413
Number of Episodes: 4
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Working Titles:"Pyramid of Mars"
Production Dates: April - June 1975
Broadcast Started: 25 October 1975
Broadcast Finished: 15 November 1975
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: BBC Television Centre Puppet Theatre and BBC Television Centre (TC3 and TC6)
Location: Stargrove Manor (East End, Hampshire).
Writer:Stephen Harris (Pseudonym for Robert Holmes and Lewis Griefer)
Director:Paddy Russell
Producer:Philip Hinchcliffe
Script Editor:Robert Holmes
Editor:M A C Adams
Production Assistant:Peter Grimwade
Production Unit Managers:George Gallacio and Janet Radenkovic
Assistant Floor Manager:Paul Braithwaite
Designer:Christine Ruscoe
Costume Designer:Barbara Kidd
Make-Up Designer:Jean Steward
Cameraman:John McGlashan
Incidental Music:Dudley Simpson
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:Brian Hiles
Lighting:Ron Koplick
Visual Effects:Ian Scoones
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: 1The Companion: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith) Additional Cast: Bernard Archard (Marcus Scarman), Michael Sheard (Laurence Scarman), Gabriel Woolf (Sutekh), Peter Copley (Dr. Warlock), Peter Mayock (Namin), Michael Bilton (Collins), Vik Tablian (Ahmed), Nick Burnell (Mummy), Melvyn Bedford (Mummy), Kevin Selway (Mummy), George Tovey (Ernie Clements)Setting: The Old Priory (1911), Alternate Earth (1980) and Mars (1911) Villains:Marcus Scarman, Robot Mummies and Sutekh

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
410Part 125 October 197525'22"10.5PAL 2" colour videotape
411Part 201 November 197523'53"11.3PAL 2" colour videotape
412Part 308 November 197524'32"9.4PAL 2" colour videotape
413Part 415 November 197524'52"11.7PAL 2" colour videotape

Total Duration 1 Hour 39 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 10.7
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)86.90%  (Position = 4 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2003)1,102 Points (Position = 4 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)88.97% Higher (Position = 7 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)88.26% Lower (Position = 8 out of 241)


Archives


 All four episodes exist as PAL 2" colour videotapes.



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Notes


This story is considered by many fans to be one of the best of the Fourth Doctor’s era.

The onscreen credit for this story states the writer as being ‘Stephen Harris’. This is a pseudonym for Robert Holmes and Lewis Griefer. However, "Pyramids of Mars" was originally written by Lewis Greifer, but the submitted scripts were considered unworkable. As Lewis Greifer was unavailable to do the required rewrites, the scripts were completely rewritten by Script Editor Robert Holmes. The only things used from Lewis Greifer’s original scripts were the title and the setting. Therefore Lewis Greifer requested the removal of his name from this story as it no longer bore a resemblance to what he had written. Hence the use of the pseudonym.

The frustrating series of events that led to Robert Holmes having to write a completely new version of "Pyramids of Mars" prompted Producer Philip Hinchcliffe to secure from Head of Serials, Graeme McDonald, a special dispensation for Robert Holmes to write up to two Doctor Who stories per season. This was highly unusual, given the disapproval with which the BBC viewed script editors writing for their own stories.

This story features a guest appearance by Michael Sheard. He revealed on the DVD release for this story that he was cast by director Paddy Russell without any audition, purely on the recommendation of production assistant Peter Grimwade.

George Tovey, who played Ernie Clements, was the father of Roberta Tovey, who appeared as Susan, Doctor Who’s granddaughter, in the 1960's Amicus Doctor Who films Doctor Who and the Daleks and Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD, staring Peter Cushing as Doctor Who.

Gabriel Woolf, who played Sutekh, also provided Sutekh's voice in Part Two and Horus's voice in Part Four, both uncredited. He would go on to provide the voice of The Beast in the 2006 Tenth Doctor story "The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit". He also provided the voice of Governor Rossitor in the Big Finish Productions audio stories "Arrangements for War" and "Thicker Than Water", alongside the Sixth Doctor.

The exterior scenes were shot on the Stargroves estate, East End in Hampshire, which was owned by Mick Jagger (lead singer of the Rolling Stones) at the time. The same location would be used again during the filming of "Image of the Fendahl". Mick Jagger however, was not the only famous person to have lived at Stargrove; by curious coincidence, the estate had previously been owned by Lord Carneveron, the archaeologist who led the dig which ultimately unearthed the tomb of Tutankhamun.

"Pyramids of Mars" was scheduled to be the first story of Doctor Who's thirteenth recording block, and given the production code Serial 4G. Initially, it was also envisioned as the first adventure to air as part of Season Thirteen, but these plans changed when the BBC decided to bring forward the broadcast of the new season to autumn 1975 rather than early 1976. With "Terror of the Zygons" now being held over from the twelfth production block to begin Season Thirteen, consideration was given to pushing "Pyramids of Mars" as far back as fourth. Ultimately, it was decided to swap it in the running order with "Planet of Evil", the next story to be made, to avoid beginning the season with two Earthbound stories.

All the stories from this season were tributes to classic horror and science fiction films. This story has an obvious tribute to, and was influenced by the original ‘Mummy’ films produced by Universal Studios during the 1930s and 40s, which in turn were partly inspired by the legends about the supposed ‘King Tut's Curse’.

This is one of several stories produced during the 1970s which suggested powerful aliens having influenced the technical development and mythologies of early humans. Others include the 1971 Third Doctor story "The Dæmons" and the Fourth Doctor stories: "Image of the Fendahl" and "City of Death".

Although the name of Sutekh's race is pronounced ‘Osiran’ throughout this story, the scripts and publicity material spell it as ‘Osirian’ in some places and as ‘Osiran’ in others. Many fans have used the ‘Osirian’ spelling, as do some reference works such as The Discontinuity Guide (written by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping and published in 1995), the Battles in Time collectable card game and the Virgin Book’s Missing Adventures novel "The Sands of Time" (written by Justin Richards and published in May 1996). Another member of the Osirian race also appears in the Fifth Doctor Big Finish Productions audio story "The Bride of Peladon" released in January 2008.

The Doctor notes that the Osirians had ‘dome-shaped heads, and cerebrums like spiral staircases’. However, the unmasked form of Sutekh seen at the end of this story (resembling the Set animal) does not have a domed head.

The Osirans were led by Horus and his brother Sutekh (also known as the 'Typhonian Beast'), who destroyed the home planet of Phaester/Osiris and left a trail of havoc across half the galaxy (variations of Sutekh's name including Set, Satan and Sadok are reviled on many worlds). He was captured on earth by Horus and ‘the 740 gods named on the tomb of Thuthmosis III’ and was imprisoned for 7000 years.

When asked directly by Sarah, The Doctor admits that not even the Time Lords would be able to stop Sutekh if he were to be freed.

Sutekh is aware of the Time Lords by reputation. The Doctor tells Sutekh that the TARDIS is isomorphic (can only be operated by him). As Sutekh would see through this if it were a lie, The Doctor must therefore be talking about a safety feature that can be switched on or off.

The new TARDIS console, which actually debuted in the preceding story "Planet of Evil" even though it was built for this story, does not appear again until "The Invisible Enemy". Owing to the cost of setting up the TARDIS Console Room for the filming of only a handful of scenes, a new console set was designed for the following season.

The TARDIS' relative continuum stabiliser is discussed. We also have references to a parallax coil, a cytronic particle accelerator, etheric impulses, a decadron crucible and 'triobiphysics'.

At the start of the story, when Sarah Jane Smith enters the TARDIS Console Room wearing a dress that she has just found in the wardrobe, The Doctor is heard referring to her as ‘Vicky’, The Doctor then notes that this dress belonged to Victoria. Although Sarah jokes about Prince Albert wearing the gown, The Doctor is in fact referring not to Queen Victoria but rather to his former companion Victoria Waterfield. Although Sarah is wearing an old dress of Victoria Waterfield's, it is not a costume which had previously been used in the show.

The Doctor claims he has lived ‘for something like 750 years’ and agrees with Sarah that this is middle aged. It is also revealed that The Doctor has a respiratory bypass system.

This story contains the classic line ‘Deactivating a generator loop without the correct key is like repairing a watch with a hammer and chisel. One false move and you'll never know the time again’. The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to deactivate the loop.

Sarah is heard to say that the complex design of the eye of Horus ‘reminds me of the city of the Exxilons’. Even though she never set foot in the Exxilon’s city she did see some of walls outside of it in the 1974 Third Doctor story "Death to the Daleks.

The Doctor's babblings over a puzzle in the pyramid, involving seven stitches, binary figures and centimetres, are mere showing off over an ‘odd man out’ puzzle. It also contains a mathematical error: 120.3 (should be 20.3) cm multiply by the binary figure 10 zero zero.

The puzzle in which Sarah is imprisoned in a tube is a variation of the classic logic puzzle, Knights and Knaves.

This is one of several stories in which everyone who The Doctor and his companion meet are dead by the end of the story. The only character who does not die is Ahmed, who is not present for anything except the opening scene in Egypt.

It has been revealed that Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen improvised a number of moments in this story, most notably a scene in Part Four where The Doctor and Sarah start to walk out of their hiding place and then when they see a mummy, quickly dart back into it. Tom Baker has confirmed he based this scene on a Marx Brothers routine.

Several scenes were deleted from the final broadcast. A model shot of the TARDIS landing in the landscape of a barren, alternative 1980 Earth was to be used in Part Two, but director Paddy Russell decided viewers would feel more impact if the first scene of the new Earth was Sarah's reaction as the TARDIS doors opened. Three scenes of effects such as doors opening and The Doctor materializing from the sarcophagus were removed from the final edit of Part Four because Russell felt the mixes were not good enough. These scenes were included on the DVD, along with an alternate version of the poacher being hunted down in Part Two, and a full version of the Osirian rocket explosion.

At the end of this story The Doctor accidentally causes the fire that destroys the Old Priory, on which one of the UNIT HQ’s was later built. He is heard to say to Sarah ‘We don't want to be blamed... There was enough of that in 1666’. The Doctor is alluding to having been blamed for starting the 1666 Great Fire of London, which was shown to have been sparked by an exploding hand weapon in the 1982 Fifth Doctor story "The Visitation".

In an attempt to reconcile these two different accounts of how the fire started Big Finish Productions published "The Republican's Story", in the book "Short Trips 8: Repercussions", in which it is explained that The Doctor was at some point blamed for starting the fire even though he had not, and then much later (in his personal time stream) the events in "The Visitation" eventually reveal how it actually did start.

This story has the unfortunate distinction of contributing to one of the biggest and most widely discussed contradictions in The Doctor Who universe - the "UNIT dating controversy".

The story was repeated on BBC One as a 60-minute omnibus in November 1976. It was also repeated, in its episodic form, on BBC Two in 1994.

A novelisation of this story was written by Terrance Dicks and published by Target Books in December 1976. The novelisation contains a substantial prologue giving the history of Sutekh and the Osirians and features an epilogue in which a future Sarah researches the destruction of the Priory.

Sarah Jane Smith refers to her encounter with mummies in the scene with Rose Tyler, in the 2006 Tenth Doctor story "School Reunion", where they are comparing the monsters they have encountered during their respective travels with The Doctor.

Gabriel Woolf reprised his role as Sutekh in the Faction Paradox audio dramas "Coming to Dust" (2005), "The Ship of a Billion Years" (2006), "Body Politic" (2008), "Words from Nine Divinities" (2008), "Ozymandias" (2009) and "The Judgment of Sutekh" (2009), from Magic Bullet Productions.

The Virgin Books’ Decalog short story "Scarab of Death" (written by Mark Stammers and published in March 1994) is set immediately after this story and has The Doctor and Sarah visiting the ruins of Phaester Osiris in the future.

The Virgin Book’s Missing Adventures novel "The Sands of Time" (written by Justin Richards and published in May 1996) is a direct sequel to "Pyramids of Mars".



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first (and only) appearance of Sutekh.

 The first Doctor Who story to be written under the pseudonym of Stephen Harris.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
The Doctor Examines the Sarcophagus
The Doctor Examines the Sarcophagus

Sarah Jane Smith, while travelling in the TARDIS, finds a dress previously worn by the Second Doctor's companion Victoria Waterfield. She is showing it off to The Doctor when the TARDIS is buffeted by an external force and a hideous jackal-like face appears in the Console Room, terrifying Sarah.

Soon after the TARDIS materialises on Earth, but the alien contact has pushed the TARDIS off course slightly, and instead of arriving at UNIT HQ in the present day, The Doctor and Sarah find themselves in an old priory in the year 1911. The Doctor realises that the priory stands on the same site that UNIT HQ will occupy in the future.

The priory belongs to Professor Marcus Scarman, an archaeologist and Egyptologist. Professor Scarman is in Egypt and a mysterious Egyptian, Ibrahim Namin, is looking after his affairs until he returns. Laurence Scarman, Marcus's brother, grows suspicious when he finds that he is unable to contact him. He confronts Ibrahim Namin in the priory but can get no information from him. When Laurence Scarman has left, Ibrahim Namin activates his servants - walking mummies - and prepares to speak to his true master via an upright sarcophagus.

Namin is Killed
Namin is Killed

The sarcophagus is actually the portal to a space/time tunnel through which Sutekh the Destroyer, an Osiran worshipped as a god by the ancient Egyptians, plans again to walk the Earth. Sutekh has taken over the mind and body of Professor Scarman when the latter excavated the pyramid in which he was trapped, and he sends this walking cadaver back to Ibrahim Namin via the space/time tunnel. Ibrahim Namin, despite claiming to be loyal servant, is killed and Sutekh, through Professor Scarman, sets about making arrangements to free himself from the pyramid where his brother Horus trapped him aeons ago.

Sutekh seals off the priory from the outside world and instructs his servicer robot servants (the mummies) to construct a rocket which he plans to use to destroy a pyramid on Mars which is sending a signal holding him trapped on Earth.

Professor Marcus Scarman
Professor Marcus Scarman

After being chased by the mummies The Doctor and Sarah team up with Laurence Scarman and hide inside the priory. It is then that they learn of Sutekh’s plans. The Doctor, with Sarah’s help, manages to break through the barrier surrounding the priory so as to obtain a box of dynamite from a poachers shed. Then, disguised as a mummy, The Doctor places the box of dynamite in the missile being prepared for launching. Sarah then fires a rifle at it. The box ignites but there is no explosion. The Doctor realises that Sutekh is mentally containing the blast by his force of will.

The Doctor therefore has no choice but to travel to Sutekh's pyramid, in Egypt, via the space/time tunnel. On arriving he distracts Sutekh so enabling the explosion to take place thus destroying the rocket. Furious at being so easily tricked, and because of The Doctor’s interference in his plans, Sutekh blasts The Doctor with light from his eyes. However, he stops when he realises that he can use The Doctor. He therefore takes control of The Doctor’s mind and learns of the TARDIS.

Under Sutekh's control The Doctor returns to the priory in order that he may transport Professor Scarman to Mars so that the bonds which hold Sutekh can be finally broken. Leaving The Doctor for dead Professor Scarman, with Sutekh's help, navigates the puzzles which guard the way into the pyramid on Mars to switch off the power.

The Servicer Robots (Mummies)
The Servicer Robots (Mummies)

The Doctor, now free of Sutekh's influence recovers and follows Professor Scarman navigating the same puzzles. He reaches the centre of the pyramid just as Professor Scarman disables the power supply putting a stop to the controlling signal.

The Doctor however, realises that there is a time delay between Mars and Earth. He rushes back to Earth and connects equipment from the TARDIS to the space/time tunnel, extending its end point into the far future. Sutekh, travelling down the tunnel, is therefore unable to reach the end in his lifetime, and dies.

However, the energy from the tunnel sets fire to the priory just as The Doctor and Sarah depart in the TARDIS.

 
Sarah, Laurence Scarman and The Doctor
Sarah, Laurence Scarman and The Doctor
Marcus Scarman and a Mummy
Marcus Scarman and a Mummy
Death by Mummy
Death by Mummy
The Doctor and Sarah
The Doctor and Sarah
 
Sarah with a Disguised Doctor
Sarah with a Disguised Doctor
Mummies Guarding the Missile
Mummies Guarding the Missile
Sara is Trapped
Sara is Trapped
Sutekh
Sutekh




Quote of the Story


 'Well, you see, Mr Scarman, I have the advantage of being slightly ahead of you. Sometimes behind you, but normally ahead of you.'

The Doctor



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Audio
LP
Science-Fiction Sound Effects No. 191978REC 316Sound Effects
Audio
Tape
Science-Fiction Sound Effects No. 191978Sound Effects
Video
VHS
Pyramids of MarsFebruary 1985BBCV 4055Photo-montageOmnibus format Released on VHS and Betamax
Video
VHS
The Tom Baker YearsSeptember 1992BBCV 4839PhotoClip only Introduced and commented on by Tom Baker Double cassette release
Audio
CD
Pyramids of Mars (Classic Music from the Tom Baker Era)1993FLMCD 134Music score
Video
VHS
Pyramids of MarsFebruary 1994BBCV 5220Photo-montageEpisodic format
Audio
CD
The Worlds of Doctor Who1994FLMCD 715Photo-montageMusic score
Video
DVD
Pyramids of MarsMarch 2004BBCDVD 1350Clayton Hickman


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Pyramids of MarsDecember 1976Target No. 50Terrance DicksChris AchilleosISBN: 0-426-11666-6
(1st Edition Target Cover)
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars1982Target No. 50Terrance DicksAndrew SkilleterISBN: 0-426-11666-6
(Reprinted Target Book Cover)
Novel
Novel
Pyramids of MarsMarch 1993Target No. 50Terrance DicksAlister PearsonVirgin new cover reprint.
ISBN: 0-426-11666-6
CD
CD
Doctor Who and the Pyramids of MarsAugust 2008Target No. 50Terrance DicksChris AchilleosAudio version of the Target Novel read by Tom Baker.
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 9 (Released: October 1988)
Doctor Who Monthly - ArchiveIssue 59 (Released: December 1981)
Doctor Who Magazine - NostalgiaIssue 122 (Released: March 1987)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 300 (Released: February 2001)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 348 (Released: October 2004)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 419 (Released: March 2010)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 33 (Released: April 2010)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companion

 
Tom Baker
The Fourth Doctor

   

 
Elisabeth Sladen
Sarah Jane Smith
 
   




On Release

Audio LP - Sound Effects No. 19
Audio LP - Sound Effects No. 19

BBC
AUDIO
Original VHS Video Cover
Original VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Tom Baker Years VHS Video Cover
Tom Baker Years VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Pyramids of Mars CD Cover
Pyramids of Mars CD Cover

Silva Screen
AUDIO
   
Re-released VHS Video Cover
Re-released VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Worlds of Doctor Who CD Cover
Worlds of Doctor Who CD Cover

Silva Screen
AUDIO
DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO



In Print

Original Target Book Cover
Original Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
Reprinted Target Book Cover
Reprinted Target Book Cover

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 9
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 9

CMS
Doctor Who Monthly - Archive: Issue 59
Doctor Who Monthly - Archive: Issue 59

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Nostalgia: Issue 122
Doctor Who Magazine - Nostalgia: Issue 122

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 300
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 300

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 348
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 348

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 419
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 419

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 33
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 33

GE Fabbri


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