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Tom Baker
Underworld
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Synopsis


The Seers
The Seers
 Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the Time Lords of Gallifrey began exploring space and time with their new TARDIS technology. The first alien race they encountered were the Minyans, who treated the Time Lords as gods. In return, the Time Lords gave medical and scientific help, until the Minyans became advanced enough to reject the Time Lords and renounce their former gods. The war that followed destroyed the planet Minyos, and set the Time Lords forever on the path of non-interference with the affairs of the universe.

 Before Minyos was totally destroyed, a single lone ship - the P7E - escaped, carrying with it the future of the Minyan species, locked into its onboard Race Bank. But the P7E disappeared into deep space and was lost without trace…

 The last of the Minyans embarked on a Quest to recover the lost Race Banks. The quest would bring the Minyans into contact with the Time Lords of Gallifrey once more. One Time Lord in particular, to. be precise. A renegade Time Lord known as. The Doctor…

Source: BBC VHS Video


General Information

Season: Fifteen
Production Code: 4Y
Story Number: 96
Episode Numbers:470 - 473
Number of Episodes: 4
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Working Titles:"Underground"
Production Dates: October 1977
Broadcast Started: 07 January 1978
Broadcast Finished: 28 January 1978
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: BBC Television Centre (TC3 and TC4)
Location: None
Writers:Bob Baker and Dave Martin
Director:Norman Stewart
Producer:Graham Williams
Script Editor:Anthony Read
Editor:Richard Trevor
Production Assistant:Mike Cager
Production Unit Manager:John Nathan-Turner
Assistant Floor Manager:Gary Downie
Designer:Dick Coles
Costume Designer:Rupert Jarvis
Make-Up Designer:Cecile Hay-Arthur
Incidental Music:Dudley Simpson
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:Richard Chubb
Lighting:Mike Jefferies
Visual Effects:Richard Conway
Title Sequence:Bernard Lodge
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Delia Derbyshire
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 2The Companions: Louise Jameson (Leela) and John Leeson (voice only) (K9 Mk I) Additional Cast: James Maxwell (Jackson), Alan Lake (Herrick), Jonathan Newth (Orfe), Imogen Bickford-Smith (Tala), James Marcus (Rask), Godfrey James (Tarn), Jimmy Gardner (Idmon), Norman Tipton (Idas), Jay Neill (Guard Klimt), Frank Jarvis (Ankh), Richard Shaw (Lakh), Stacey Tendeter (Naia), Christine Pollon (Voice of the Oracle)Setting: The P7E and R1C (Far Future) Villain:The Oracle

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
470Part 107 January 197822'36"8.9PAL 2" colour videotape
471Part 214 January 197821'27"9.1PAL 2" colour videotape
472Part 321 January 197822'21"8.9PAL 2" colour videotape
473Part 428 January 197822'53"11.7PAL 2" colour videotape

Total Duration 1 Hour 29 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 9.6
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)47.27%  (Position = 153 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)43.54% Lower (Position = 197 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)46.68% Higher (Position = 236 out of 241)


Archives


 All four episodes exist as PAL 2" colour videotapes.



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Notes


"Underworld" is the penultimate story of Season Fifteen, and the first which Script Editor Anthony Read had complete creative control.

As requested by Anthony Read writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin based this story on Greek mythology - in particular to Jason and the Argonauts, and their quest for the Golden Fleece. The borrowing of many elements and parallels from Greek mythology was repeated in the 1979/80 story "The Horns of Nimon" - although "Underworld" is the more subtle of the two. References in this story include the "Minyan" race (related to the Minoans), the search for P7E (Persephone) the R1C (Argosy), and character names such as Jackson (Jason), Orfe (Orpheus), Herrick (Heracles), Tala (Atalanta), Idmon and Idas.

This connection is also highlighted in the cliffhanger at the end of the first episode where the R1C is pummelled by asteroids - a reference to Jason’s encounter with the Symplegades, also called the Clashing (or Cyanean) Rocks. These were large boulders situated along the Bosphorus which haphazardly smashed into one another, destroying any ship which was caught in-between. The grove on the island of Colchis in which the Golden Fleece hung was guarded by serpents, and this was the inspiration for the P7E’s defence system. The name for the Oracle itself was borrowed from a number of Greek prophetesses (often associated with the god Apollo), the most famous being the Oracle at Delphi. Finally at the end of the story The Doctor is actually heard likening Jackson and his journey to Jason and the Argonauts, and the quest for the Golden Fleece.

Greek mythology was not the only source used for this story. Ankh was named for an Egyptian symbol for life, while Lakh is an Indian word for ‘one hundred thousand’, referring to the timespan of the Minyans’ search for the P7E. More modern figures were also referenced: Rask was named for nineteenth-century Danish philologist Ramus Rask, Tarn for nineteenth-century French poet Pauline Tarn (who wrote under the nom de plume Renée Vivien), and Klimt for early twentieth-century Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. Each of these had engaged in various works associated with ancient Greece. The Leibemann maser weapons were named for early twentieth-century German painter Max Liebermann. Finally, writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin drew upon their own recent Doctor Who scripts by giving the Minyans a motto: ‘The Quest is the Quest’. This followed in the tradition of their previous catchphrases, ‘Eldrad must live’ (from "The Hand of Fear") and ‘Contact has been made (from "The Invisible Enemy").

This story was directed by Norman Stewart who had just gone freelance after working at the BBC for a number of years, having handled shows such as The Newcomers. He had also worked on several Doctor Who stories as a Production Assistant, most recently "The Invisible Enemy".

The DVD feature Into the Unknown, that accompanies this story, reveals that budget restrictions were so tight during Season Fifteen that the idea of cancelling this story altogether, and allotting its budget to "The Invasion of Time", was suggested, but was ultimately rejected as an option by Graham Williams.

To enhance the visual appeal of this story, due to the fact that the film Star Wars was due be released in the UK 10 days before "Underworld" was scheduled to air, Producer Graham Williams and Director Norman Stewart decided to abandon any pre-filming and instead invest the majority of the budget for this story into two impressive sets: the R1C (which could be redressed as the P7E) and the caverns.

However, it was soon realised that the Minyan spacecraft set turned out to be more expensive than anticipated so leaving no scenery budget for the scenes set inside the new planet. Therefore in an attempt to save money on production costs, and to preserve the production of "The Invasion of Time", virtually all of the cavern scenes were filmed using Colour Separation Overlay (CSO) in conjunction with models to give the impression of caves and tunnels - thus saving on the costs involved in set construction. "Underworld" therefore became the story that used by far the most CSO in the programme’s history.

Throughout Season Fifteen, Graham Williams had been campaigning for a ‘gallery-only’ effects day to be allocated to each Doctor Who story. To this point, electronic effects work had to be carried out during the regular studio sessions, which put pressure on the effects supervisor and was tedious for the cast. Due to the amount of CSO used in the recording of this story "Underworld" the Electronic Effects Supervisor, AJ ‘Mitch’ Mitchell, was given access to a recording gallery while another programme was being set up on the studio floor. Despite this, however, the CSO proved not to be as successful as the production team had hoped, leading to a great deal of disappointment with the finished story.

There are a few occasions in which characters can be seen moving through supposedly solid rock, and during the second episode there are a couple of moments where people’s heads can be seen to ‘vanish’ and K9 appears to float in midair in a few of the cave scenes.

Other noticeable errors include: in episode one where Leela uses a ray gun to blast away a door. Unfortunately Tom Baker wasn’t in the correct position when the camera started rolling again when the door was removed and so his body placement is seen to change instantly.

Furthermore all four episodes ran short of their allotted running time, forcing the use of extended shots and repeated shots for padding. This particularly affected episodes two and three were so much in need of padding that the reprises, of the previous episode, were much longer than usual.

Look out for the cliffhanger resolution in Episode Three as it includes a rare moment where Tom Baker directly addresses the camera, one of the few occasions in shows history that The Doctor is seen addressing the viewer directly. The most notable occurrence was in the 1965/66 First Doctor story, "The Daleks' Master Plan", episode "The Feast of Steven", which was broadcast on Christmas Day and had William Hartnell turning to the camera and wishing everyone a happy Christmas.

During this story it is revealed that the TARDIS landing sound is actually that of its relative dimensional stabiliser. The TARDIS, at least sometimes, flies through real space (see also "The Tomb of the Cybermen").

It is revealed that K9 can interface with other computers through bulldog clips on his ‘ears’.

This story sees Leela once again wearing her lighter ‘savage’ outfit that she first wore in "Image of the Fendahl". She would continue to wear this costume for one more story, "The Invasion of Time", before leaving The Doctor.

Leela again is seen operating certain TARDIS controls (see "The Invisible Enemy").

The Minyans own ingeniously designed shield guns - which, strangely, Leela knows how to operate apparently without having to be shown.

It is during this story that we finally learn the origin of the Time Lords’ policy of non-intervention.

This was the first story to show regeneration being applied by non-Time Lords. A key difference is that the Minyans’ regeneration process but, unlike the Time Lords, does not result in complete physical change and new personalities, just a reversal of the aging process. Another example of Time Lord technology allowing for perpetual regeneration is seen in the 1983 Fifth Doctor story "Mawdryn Undead".

The Doctor mentions that he's gone through regeneration ‘two or three times’ and further remarks it’s ‘not pleasant’.

The regeneration effect used for Tala is the same as the one used for The Doctor’s regeneration into the Fourth Doctor in the 1974 Third Doctor story "Planet of the Spiders".

The Doctor is heard to reveal that he has been to Aberdeen and Blackpool. As it is finally revealed in the 2006 Tenth Doctor story "School Reunion", that at the end of "The Hand of Fear" he had dropped Sarah Jane Smith off in Aberdeen rather than South Croydon, could this mean he knew perfectly well where he’d had left her? The Doctors mention of visiting Blackpool, where he implies he ate rock, must be a reference to an untelevised story. Although the Sixth Doctor and Peri later visited Blackpool in "The Nightmare Fair" - the 1985 story that was due to be part of the originally planned Season Twenty Three. "The Nightmare Fair" would finally be released as a Target Books novel, written by The Nightmare Fair, and by Big Finish Productions in their ‘The Lost Stories’ series of audio dramas.

The Doctor refers to the Oracle as ‘another machine with megalomania; another insane object; another self-aggrandizing artefact’. He is referring to his previous encounters with several similarly insane machines before, namely WOTAN ("The War Machines"), BOSS ("The Green Death") and Xoanon ("The Face of Evil").

The Doctor mentions Ulysses whom he met in the 1965 First Doctor story "The Myth Makers".

The first episode was broadcast only a few days after the Terry Nation-created series Blake’s 7 debuted. Composer Dudley Simpson worked on both shows and, according to the DVD production notes, he included a reference to the Blake’s 7 theme music into the score for this story.

A novelisation of this story, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in January 1980. This novelisation opens with a lengthy history of the Minyans and the P7E.

The truth behind the destruction of Minyos is revealed in the Big Finish Productions audio drama "Gallifrey: The Inquiry".

Despite the production problems which had plagued this story Bob Baker and Dave Martin remained enthusiastic about their ideas for the story and for a time, they even considered spinning off the R1C crew into their own science-fiction programme, in which the Minyans would travel through space becoming involved in other adventures based upon ancient mythology. Ultimately, however, nothing would come of this idea.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first story to show regeneration being applied by non-Time Lords.

 Anthony Read's first credited involvement in the show as Script Editor.

 The first Doctor Who story to be directed by Norman Stewart.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
Leela in the TARDIS
Leela in the TARDIS

At the edge of expanding universe The TARDIS arrives on board a Minyan spacecraft, the R1C, commanded by a man named Jackson. Jackson and his crew are on a long quest to recover the Minyan race banks from a ship called the P7E which left Minyos aeons ago.

The Minyans are suspicious of The Doctor as they know his race of old. In the history of the Time Lords, their involvement with the Minyans is regarded as a disaster. The Minyans looked on them as gods but, having learnt much from their science, later expelled the Time Lords who thereafter adopted a policy of non-intervention. The Minyans resented the Time Lords for their dominion over Minyos. Subsequently, the Minyans engaged in a civil war, using the advanced weapons the Time Lords gave them.

In the final conflict, the Minyans destroyed their world. Two ships left Minyos before the final conflict, one carrying the race bank of the Minyans, the other intended to find the race bank and bring the Minyans to a new homeworld - Minyos II. The Minyan civilisation retained some Time Lord gifts, not least cellular rejuvenation and the use of pacifier guns to alter the mental state of the aggressor.

The Doctor and Herrick
The Doctor and Herrick

On visiting visit the bridge of the R1C, The Doctor, Leela and K9 find a crew of four, Jackson, Herrick, Orfe and Tala, who are on a quest that has taken many millennia - The Minyans having rejuvenated many times so as to continue with their aim to find the missing spaceship, the P7E, which disappeared en-route to Minyos II while carrying the genetic race banks of their entire species.

They have, however, finally traced the P7E’s signal and head into a nebula to locate the missing spaceship. In the process the R1C is nearly destroyed, and is almost transformed into a planetoid as small space rocks become attracted to it and so nearly crush the hull. The Doctor helps the Minyans to free the R1C. However, it then crashes into another newly formed planet at the heart of which they discover is the P7E.

Meeting the Minyans
Meeting the Minyans

Inside the new planet the time travellers and the Minyans discover a maze of tunnels and passages. They also discover that civilisation on the P7E planetoid has taken a curious turn. Most of the population live as slaves digging rock for fuel and sustenance, but they are culled and killed in rock collapses called Skyfalls. This situation is overseen by guards who are in turn responsible to two robots called Seers.

In overall control is the Oracle, a powerful super-computer which has shaped this perverse society. The Oracle, is in fact the P7E’s computer. Evidently the P7E became trapped in the planet millennia earlier and the entire basis of the mission was lost over time. The computer was originally programmed to protect the race banks but has gone insane and dominated the Minyan survivors and their descendants.

The Doctor and Leela venture into this perverted society and encounter Idas, a young man nearly killed in a Skyfall, learning how the local population is managed and terrorised. The Seers and Oracle exist in a protected Citadel at the heart of the planetoid (the P7E) and The Doctor, Leela and Idas venture there, in the process rescuing Idas’ father Idmon who was due to be sacrificed to the Oracle. Other slaves are freed too, and flee to the R1C where Jackson makes them welcome.

Leela with the Minyans
Leela with the Minyans

However, the crucial race banks remain in the control of the Oracle. The Doctor, Leela, and Idas venture to the Citadel again to get the precious cargo. But unknown to them the Seers have managed to capture Herrick and have given him what he thinks are the two race banks to take back to the R1C. Jackson, Orfe and Tala are overjoyed, little realising that Herrick has actually brought primed fission bombs back to the R1C.

The Doctor has meanwhile made it to the core of the Citadel and confronted the Oracle. He succeeds in locating and stealing the real race banks and then heads off with Leela and Idas to get back to the R1C. The guards try but fail to defeat their flight. The Doctor gives the real race banks to Jackson, and then takes the fission bombs out of the spaceship. Idas takes advantage of the situation to round up the other slaves or Trogs and lead them to the safety of the R1C while The Doctor engineers the fission grenades are returned to the Oracle.

With moments to spare, the R1C blasts away, loaded with the slaves and the race banks, and is pushed outward from the planetoid by the explosion of the fission grenades. The TARDIS crew depart, wishing the Minyans well as they journey on to Minyos II, their quest complete.

 
The Doctor and Herrick
The Doctor and Herrick
Jackson and Idas
Jackson and Idas
Idmon
Idmon
The Seers
The Seers
 
The Doctor with Jackson and Tala
The Doctor with Jackson and Tala
Herrick
Herrick
Tala Before Her Regenerative Process
Tala Before Her Regenerative Process
The Doctor Confronts the Oracle
The Doctor Confronts the Oracle




Quote of the Story


 'You're just another machine with megalomania, heh, another insane object! Another self-aggrandizing artefact! You're nothing! Nothing but a mass of superheated junk with delusions of grandeur!'

The Doctor



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
VHS
The Tom Baker YearsSeptember 1992BBCV 4839PhotoClip only Introduced and commented on by Tom Baker Double cassette release
Video
VHS
UnderworldMarch 2002BBCV 7264Photo-montage
Video
DVD
UnderworldMarch 2010BBCDVD 2581Photo-montagePart of the "Myths and Legends" box set along with "The Time Monster" and "The Horns of Nimon"


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the UnderworldJanuary 1980Target No. 67Terrance DicksBill DonohoeISBN: 0-426-20068-3
CD
CD
Doctor Who and the UnderworldMay 2021Target No. 67Terrance DicksBill DonohoeAudio version of the Target Novel Read by Louise Jameson (Leela)
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 28 (Released: November 1990)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 243 (Released: September 1996)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 358 (Released: July 2005)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 561 (Released: March 2021)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions

 
Tom Baker
The Fourth Doctor

   

Louise Jameson
Leela
 
John Leeson (voice only)
K9 Mk I
   




On Release

Tom Baker Years VHS Video Cover
Tom Baker Years VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
VHS Video Cover
VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
   


In Print

Target Book Cover
Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
 
BBC Books Target CD Cover
BBC Books Target CD Cover

BBC
CD
   


Magazines

Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 28
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 28

CMS
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 243
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 243

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 358
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 358

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 561
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 561

Marvel Comics
   


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