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Tom Baker
The Brain of Morbius
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Synopsis


Morbius
Morbius
 The Doctor and Sarah arrive on the desolate planet of Karn amid a graveyard of crashed space-ships. As they explore they come to a ruin and are welcomed by Professor Solon and his strange servant Condo. Solon is seemingly the perfect host but his underground laboratory holds a hideous secret... Morbius, exiled Time Lord, greatest criminal mind in the galaxy and long presumed dead, is not entirely dead, and Solon is in the process of bringing him back to life.

 The only other inhabitants are the ancient sect of the Sisterhood of Karn who are out to avenge themselves against the Time Lords. Can The Doctor prevent the evil Morbius from regaining absolute power or will he be sacrificed by the Sisterhood?

Source: BBC VHS Video


General Information

Season: Thirteen
Production Code: 4K
Story Number: 84
Episode Numbers:418 - 421
Number of Episodes: 4
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates: October 2005
Broadcast Started: 03 January 1976
Broadcast Finished: 24 January 1976
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: BBC Television Centre (TC1 and TC3)
Location: None
Writer:Robin Bland (Pseudonym for Terrance Dicks and Robert Holmes)
Director:Christopher Barry
Producer:Philip Hinchcliffe
Script Editor:Robert Holmes
Production Assistant:Carol Wiseman
Production Unit Manager:Janet Radenkovic
Assistant Floor Manager:Felicity Trew
Designer:Barry Newbery
Costume Designer:L Rowland Warne
Make-Up Designer:Jean McMillan
Incidental Music:Dudley Simpson
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:Tony Millier
Lighting:Peter Catlett
Visual Effects:John Horton
Title Sequence:Bernard Lodge
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Delia Derbyshire
Movement By: Geraldine Stephenson
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 1The Companion: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith) Additional Cast: Philip Madoc (Solon), Colin Fay (Condo), Michael Spice (Voice of Morbius), Cynthia Grenville (Maren), Gilly Brown (Ohica), Sue Bishop (Sister), Janie Kells (Sister), Gabrielle Mowbray (Sister), Veronica Ridge (Sister), John Scott Martin (Kriz), Stuart Fell (Monster)Setting: Planet Karn (Far Future) Villains: Morbius and Solon

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
418Part 103 January 197625'25"9.5PAL 2" colour videotape
419Part 210 January 197624'46"9.3PAL 2" colour videotape
420Part 317 January 197625'07"10.1PAL 2" colour videotape
421Part 424 January 197624'18"10.2PAL 2" colour videotape

Total Duration 1 Hour 40 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 9.8
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)75.04%  (Position = 38 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2003)412 Points (Position = 40 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)80.08% Higher (Position = 40 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)81.31% Higher (Position = 41 out of 241)


Archives


 All four episodes exist as PAL 2" colour videotapes.



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Notes


As with the all the stories from this season "The Brain of Morbius" contains elements that are attributed to classic horror and science fiction films. This particular story was influenced by Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, and particularly to the James Whale Frankenstein film released by Universal Studios, (the mad scientist and the stitched up corpse, the young girl's/blind woman's ignorance of the monster, the creature being chased over a cliff by torch-carrying villagers/women), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Condo's infatuation with Sarah) and Forbidden Planet (the name Morbius).

The original script was written by Terrance Dicks, using some ideas from his script of the 1974 stage play "Doctor Who and the Daleks in Seven Keys to Doomsday". However, he was out of the country when production limitations required Script Editor Robert Holmes to make substantial changes to the story. Upon returning to the UK Terrance Dicks learnt of the changes and disliked them; as a result, he demanded the replacement of his name on the credits with ‘Robin Bland’ - a pseudonym for Terrance Dicks and Robert Holmes.

The director assigned to this story was Christopher Barry, whose last Doctor Who work had been on the previous season story "Robot" – which introduced Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor.

The story was recorded entirely in studio without any location filming.

Philip Madoc, who plays Solon, has previously appeared in the Second Doctor stories "The Krotons" and "The War Games". He would return to the show in "The Power of Kroll". He also had a role in the 1966 Amicus Doctor Who film, Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD, staring Peter Cushing as Doctor Who.

Colin Fay, who played the part of Solon’s servant Condo, was an opera singer.

The headless monster seen in the first and second episodes was played, un-credited, by Alan Crisp.

This story introduces the Sisterhood of Karn and delves a bit more into the history of Gallifrey – The Doctor’s home planet which is revealed is within a few billion miles of Karn. The Virgin Books’ New Adventures novel "Lungbarrow", written by Marc Platt, places Karn in Gallifrey's solar system.

Morbius was one-time leader of the High Council and tried to steer the Time Lords down a path towards destruction and conquest. He promised eternal life to his fanatical followers, many of whom were mercenaries, and came to Karn to seize the Elixir of Life. The Sisterhood was involved in his capture and Morbius was seemingly destroyed in a dispersal chamber.

It is explicitly stated that Morbius was the first Time Lord to be sentenced to execution in the race's history. Morbius is also heard to claim he is a Time Lord of the ‘First Rank’, implying levels of Time Lords.

It is revealed that the crashed spaceships are caused by the Sisterhood of Karn who guard the Sacred Flame of Life. Uniquely in the galaxy the Sisterhood are equal to Time Lords in terms of mental prowess, and in the past the Time Lords occasionally used the elixir. It is also suggested that The Doctor is sent to Karn by the Time Lords.

The Virgin Books’ New Adventures novels "Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible" (also written by Marc Platt) and "Lungbarrow" expands on who the Sisterhood are and how they came to be and their animosity with the Time Lords/Gallifrey. These stories establish that the Sisterhood of Karn are the remnants of an all-female cult that once ruled Gallifrey, which was led by the Pythia, and was outlawed when Rassilon came to power.

The Doctor is heard to state his age is 749.

Kriz, a creature killed by Condo in Part One, after its spaceship crash-lands on Karn, is identified as a Mutt, an insect species from the 1972 Third Doctor story "The Mutants". The reuse of a Solonian mutant was due to the fact that the production team did not want to spend the money to create an entirely new costume for a small role.

The Hoothi, briefly mentioned in this story, play a significantly greater role in the Virgin Books’ The New Adventures novel "Love and War" written by Paul Cornell.

The Doctor's killing of Solon marks one of the few occasions in shows history (and possibly the first) in which the character is shown directly and deliberately killing another humanoid being (although he does this while trying to stop Morbius). Other similar examples include the Fifth Doctor shooting the Cyberleader in "Earthshock" and the Sixth Doctor smothering Shockeye in "The Two Doctors". In addition similar incidents have occurred in "Day of the Daleks", "The Invasion of Time", "The Ribos Operation" and "Vengeance on Varos".

In the fourth episode images of The Doctor's previous three incarnations appear on the screen of the mind-bending machine during the battle between The Doctor and Morbius. The images of both Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee came from "The Three Doctors", while William Hartnell was represented by a photograph from "The Space Museum".

Various other images also appear during this battle of wills. While the identity of these other faces are never explicitly stated there has been a long running speculation that these are earlier incarnations of The Doctor, that precede the First Doctor. This though has since been countermanded by other information (especially in the 1983 Twentieth Anniversary Special "The Five Doctors" - also written by Terrance Dicks - where the Fifth Doctor states he is the fourth regeneration therefore confirming that the there were no previous incarnations prior to the First Doctor when the show started in 1963). The myth persists to this day, despite other stories ("Mawdryn Undead", the 1996 film "Doctor Who: The Movie" and "The Next Doctor") clearly stating that all of The Doctors' incarnations have been accounted for in the television show.

These additional images may be ‘phantom pasts’ created by The Doctor in order to fool Morbius into prolonging the struggle, thus maximising the chance of overloading his mind. Or they could be younger images of the First Doctor. It is far more likely that they are other incarnations of Morbius. In fact during the Mind Bend, we see the present day faces of Morbius and The Doctor switching back and forth, giving further credibility to the idea that the unknown faces were incarnations of Morbius, not of The Doctor.

The photographs used are of Directors; Christopher Barry and Douglas Camfield, Script Editor; Robert Holmes, Production Unit Manager; George Gallaccio, Producer; Philip Hinchcliffe, Writer; Robert Banks Stewart and Production Assistants; Chris Baker and Graeme Harper.

At the end of this story the TARDIS is seen to dematerialises instantaneously, with a flash and a puff of smoke, rather than fading away gradually. The dematerialisation sound is also played at a higher speed than usual.

As with "Genesis of the Daleks", from the previous season, this story drew criticism from National Viewers' and Listeners' Association president Mary Whitehouse who was becoming increasingly vocal in her opposition to Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes' more horrific slant on the show. It would not be the last time that Mary Whitehouse and the Doctor Who production team would come into conflict.

Australian Censors originally categorised this story as for Adults Only and the ABC screened it after their 8.30pm watershed. Subsequently the rating was revised and the story has since been screened pre-watershed in Australia.

Interestingly in the 1984 Fifth Doctor story "Planet of Fire" The Doctor visits the planet Sarn where he discovers the Numismaton Flame. Given the similarity of the planets’ names (Karn and Sarn) they may be the same planet at very different periods of history. (Sarn is equivalent with twentieth century Earth while Karn is far in Sarah's future).

The story was repeated on BBC One as a sixty minute omnibus in 1976.

The initial home-video release of this story (released in July 1984) used a heavily edited omnibus movie print, with a running time of less than an hour. This was apparently in an attempt to make the story acceptable for young viewers. This edit was heavily criticised and eventually an uncut version was released in July 1990. Similar edits have not been released for any of the other stories.

The BBC Books’ The Past Doctors Stories novel "Warmonger", written by Terrance Dicks, is both a sequel and prequel to this story and covers much of Morbius's reign before he was captured by the Time Lords. This story also explains how Morbius's brain survived his execution and the Fifth Doctor's involvement in the surrounding events.

Morbius is briefly resurrected, after the events of this story, and comes much closer to overthrowing the Time Lords in the Eighth Doctor Big Finish Productions audio story "Vengeance of Morbius".

The audiobook, read by Tom Baker, of the Target novelisation of this story, which was released by the BBC in February 2008, was broadcast, in eight parts, on BBC Radio 7 in April 2010.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first Doctor Who story to be written under the pseudonym of Robin Bland.

 The first (and only) Doctor Who story to have a heavily edited omnibus home-video release.


The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 Janet Radenkovic's last involvement in the show as Production Unit Manager.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
Morbius
Morbius

When The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith arrive on the planet Karn they discover a large number of crashed spaceships. They also spot a castle which they decide to investigate. Inside they discover it is occupied by Solon, a fanatical scientist, and his servant, Condo, a large man with a hook for a hand. Solon is delighted that he has humanoid visitors as he has decided that The Doctor's head is just what he needs to complete his work. He offers them hospitality but The Doctor and Sarah are unaware that the wine offered to them has been drugged. As they talk The Doctor realises who Solon is. The Doctor also recognises the clay bust, which Solon had been working on when they arrived, as that of the executed Time Lord criminal Morbius. But his realisation is too late as the drugged wine takes its affect and The Doctor falls into a deep sleep.

Sarah however, not liking the wine, is not affected by the drug. But on realising what has happened to The Doctor she plays along by pretending to fall asleep. Solon and Condo take the drugged Doctor off to Solon's laboratory where Solon's examination confirms that The Doctor is a Time Lord. Not realising that Sarah was only feigning unconsciousness, and has followed them, Solon and Condo leave The Doctor in the labratoty so as to fix the power generator. However, unbeknown to them both, and also to Sarah, as soon as they leave the laboratory the sleeping Doctor disappears into thin air. He has been transported to a nearby shrine occupied by the Sisterhood who believe The Doctor has been sent by the Time Lords to steal the last drops of Elixir produced by the dying Sacred Flame.

As Sarah sneaks into Solon's laboratory, left in partial darkness by the lack of lighting, to rescue The Doctor. She pulls aside some curtains around a bed, thinking that The Doctor must have been left there. She sees a humanoid figure lying on a raised platform and initially believes that this is The Doctor, but suddenly the power comes back on and she sees that it is in fact a hideous monster with no head and a huge claw in place of its right hand. This creature has been constructed by Solon using the remnants of spaceship crash victims to put together a new body for the still-living brain of Morbius. Sarah though is even more shocked to discover that this headless monster is alive when it lunges towards her.

Solon
Solon

On discovering that The Doctor has disappeared Solon concludes that it must be the work of the Sisterhood. Swearing revenge he and Condo go to get The Doctor's body back unaware that Sarah is following them. Meanwhile, having being kidnapped by the Sisterhood, The Doctor awakens and discovers that they plan to burn him at the stake. Solon and Condo however, interrupt the ceremony but Solon is unable to convince the Sisterhood to let him have The Doctor – or at least his head. However, Solon’s interruption allows a disguised Sarah to sneak up behind The Doctor and cut his bonds. But as The Doctor and Sarah try to slip away, they are spotted and Maren, the leader of the Sisterhood, hits Sarah with a blue bolt, from her ring, blinding her.

With Sarah seriously injured The Doctor has no choice but to return to Solon’s castle and ask for his help in curing Sarah. While Solon examines Sarah, The Doctor finds the headless body hidden behind the curtain. Solon then tricks The Doctor into believing that his companion's condition is permanent. The Doctor therefore decides to ask the Sisterhood to allow him to use some of the Elixir of Life to cure Sarah.

Condo
Condo

Still unable to see, and while left on her own, Sarah discovers Morbius when trying to locate the source of a guttural electronic voice that she can hear. On entering a secret laboratory Sarah locates a cylindrical tank in which Morbius's brain is suspended in bubbling green fluid. Morbius however, thinks that Sarah is one of the Sisterhood and rants that she has been sent to destroy him before his vengeance can begin...

Meanwhile The Doctor has managed to convince Maren that he is not here to steal their Elixir but is concerned that Solon is trying to resurrect Morbius. The Doctor also discovers that the Sacred Flame is dying. The Doctor is puzzled, as the Flame is fed by gases from deep within the planet and should last for millions of years and that if the gases are sealed in, the mountain could explode. Maren allows The Doctor to take a look at the Sacred Flame. Without any warning The Doctor uses a firework to clear its blocked chimney so restoring the Sacred Flame back to its former glory. Realising that The Doctor is telling the truth they agree to help him. They also inform him that Sarah’s eyesight will return on its own accord and that Solan was lying.

Back in the castle Morbius, on learning of The Doctor’s presence and thinking that the Time Lords have tracked him down, insists that he be transferred into an artificial brain casing Solon once constructed and then placed on the headless body straight away. Solon protests as there is no way to stop static electricity building up, which could result in severe pain and seizures that could drive Morbius mad. Morbius however, tells Solon that he will take this risk as he is desperate not to be caught again by the Time Lords.

The Doctor is Drugged
The Doctor is Drugged

After completing the operation Solon discovers that the Sisterhood have returned the apparently dead body of The Doctor. Left alone in the laboratory, with Morbius, the blind Sarah is unaware that Morbius is quickly recovering from the operation. As Morbius rises from the operating table he scares Sarah, whose eyesight has started to recover. She escapes and warns Solon that the creature is on the loose. As he heads off back to the laboratory Sarah spots The Doctor and is relieved to discover that he is not dead. However, when he explains that he is here to stop Solon, Sarah tells him it is too late.

Condo, on discovering that his missing arm has been used on Morbius, becomes angry with his master, Solon. Condo has also become infatuated with Sarah and so when Motbius goes on a rampage within the castle Condo is killed when he tries to stop the creature from killing Sarah. Despite the fact that Morbius is in intense pain, making him insane and very dangerous, The Doctor fails to persuade Solon to detach Morbius’ Brain so that it can be returned to the Time Lords. Trapped in the secret laboratory The Doctor releases cyanide fumes into the ventilation system and Solon is killed.

The cyanide however has no effect on Morbius and so The Doctor challenges him to a mind-bending contest – which Morbius accepts. However, this takes a heavy toll on both of them. As The Doctor collapses, Morbius stumbles out of the castle in a daze. The Sisterhood then arrive and hunt the crazed creature down. With lit torches they herd Morbius over a cliff where he falls to his death.

Meanwhile Ohica, one of the Sisterhood, enters the castle and goes down to the secret laboratory. There she finds Sarah cradling the dying Doctor. The Doctor is taken back to the Sisterhood’s shrine so that he can be given some of the Elixir of Life as it is only this that can save him. The Elixir is given to The Doctor, who revives almost immediately. After handing over some of the fireworks, so that the Sisterhood can use to keep the Sacred Flame alight, The Doctor and Sarah enter the TARDIS and it vanishes in a flash and a puff of smoke.

 
Examining The Doctor's Head
Examining The Doctor's Head
The Brain of Morbius
The Brain of Morbius
Maren
Maren
The Sisterhood of Karn
The Sisterhood of Karn
 
Solon Operates On Morbius
Solon Operates On Morbius
Look Behind You!
Look Behind You!
Solon Struggles with Morbius
Solon Struggles with Morbius
The Mind-bending Contest
The Mind-bending Contest




Quote of the Story


 'I am still here. I can see nothing, feel nothing. You have locked me into hell for eternity. If this is all there is, I would rather die now... Trapped like this, like a sponge beneath the sea. Yet even a sponge has more life than I. Can you understand a thousandth of my agony? I, Morbius, who once led the High Council of the Time Lords, reduced to this - to the condition where I envy a vegetable.'

Morbius



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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
The Brain of MorbiusJuly 1984BBCV 2012Photo58min heavily edited omnibus format. Released on VHS, Betamax and Video 2000
Video
Laser Disc
The Brain of MorbiusJuly 1984Photo58min heavily edited omnibus format
Video
VHS
The Brain of MorbiusJuly 1990BBCV 4388Alister PearsonEpisodic format
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
Audio
CD
The Worlds of Doctor Who1994FLMCD 715Photo-montageMusic score
Audio
CD
Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume Two - New Beginnings 1970-1980May 2005WMSF 6024-2Music and sound effects
Video
DVD
The Brain of MorbiusJuly 2008BBCDVD 1816Photo-montage
Audio
CD
The 50th Anniversary CollectionDecember 2013Photo-montageOriginal Television Soundtracks


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Brain of MorbiusJune 1977Target No. 7Terrance DicksMike LittleISBN: 0-426-11674-7
(1st Edition Target Cover)
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Brain of MorbiusOctober 1978Target No. 7Terrance DicksMike LittleISBN: 0-426-11674-7
(Reprinted Target Book Cover)
Novel
Novel
Junior Doctor Who and the Brain of MorbiusNovember 1980Target No. 7Terrance DicksJunior Doctor Who Range.
ISBN: 0-426-20063-2
Novel
Novel
The Brain of MorbiusJanuary 1991Target No. 7Terrance DicksAlister PearsonVirgin new cover reprint.
ISBN: 0-426-11674-7
CD
CD
Doctor Who and the Brain of MorbiusFebruary 2008Target No. 7Terrance DicksMike LittleAudio version of the Target Novel read by Tom Baker.
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 12 (Released: January 1989)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 329 (Released: April 2003)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 349 (Released: November 2004)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 508 (Released: February 2017)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArticleIssue 541 (Released: September 2019)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 40 (Released: July 2010)

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Photo Gallery


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Tom Baker
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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
Laser Disc Cover
Laser Disc Cover

Encore Entertainment
VIDEO
Re-released VHS Video Cover
Re-released 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
Worlds of Doctor Who CD Cover
Worlds of Doctor Who CD Cover

Silva Screen
AUDIO
Audio - Volume 2: New Beginnings
Audio - Volume 2: New Beginnings

BBC
AUDIO
   
DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
The 50th Anniversary Collection Cover
The 50th Anniversary Collection Cover

BBC
AUDIO



In Print

Original Target Book Cover
Original Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
Reprinted Target Book Cover
Reprinted Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
Junior Doctor Who Book Cover
Junior Doctor Who 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 12
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 12

CMS
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 329
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 329

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 349
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 349

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 508
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 508

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Article: Issue 541
Doctor Who Magazine - Article: Issue 541

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 40
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 40

GE Fabbri
   

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