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The Daleks' Master Plan

Production Code: V

First Transmitted

The Nightmare Begins - 13/11/1965 17:50

Day of Armageddon - 20/11/1965 17:50

Devil's Planet - 27/11/1965 17:50

The Traitors - 04/12/1965 17:50

Counter Plot - 11/12/1965 17:50

Coronas of the Sun - 18/12/1965 17:50

The Feast of Steven - 25/12/1965 18:35

Volcano - 01/01/1966 17:50

Golden Death - 08/01/1966 17:50

Escape Switch - 15/01/1966 17:50

The Abandoned Planet - 22/01/1966 17:50

The Destruction of Time - 29/01/1966 17:50


The TARDIS materialises on Kembel. There the Doctor and his friends meet Space Security Service agent Bret Vyon, who has been sent in search of Marc Cory. Learning of the Daleks' scheme, which hinges on the use of a weapon called the time destructor, they determine to warn the authorities on Earth. This proves problematic as the human leader Mavic Chen, Guardian of the Solar System, is a traitor in league with the Daleks.

Fortunately the Doctor has managed to make off with the taranium core of the time destructor, disrupting the Daleks' plans. In one of a number of attempts to regain the taranium, Chen dispatches Space Security Service agent Sara Kingdom to track down the Doctor's party.

Sara, unaware of Chen's treachery, kills Bret - her own brother - before the time travellers can convince her of the truth. She then joins forces with them and, after an encounter with their old adversary the Monk, they all arrive back on Kembel. There, the Doctor contrives to steal the time destructor and turn it against the Daleks, annihilating them. Sara has ignored his instruction to return to the TARDIS, however, and she too is killed.

Episode Endings

The Doctor, having learned that there are Daleks on Kembel and discovered Marc Cory's skeleton and recorded warning message, hurries back to the TARDIS. He is stopped in his tracks when he sees that there are three Daleks standing guard on the ship. Horrified, he whispers 'Steven... Katarina...'.

Having snatched the taranium core from the Daleks, the Doctor heads back to the Spar spaceship. On board, however, Bret Vyon decides that he can wait no longer. Ignoring protests from Steven and Katarina, he starts the take-off procedure.

Having escaped from the prison planet Desperus in the Spar just as the Daleks arrive, the Doctor asks Katarina to check that the airlock door is secure. As she does so, the convict Kirksen emerges holding a knife. Katarina screams.

The Doctor and his friends are confronted by Sara Kingdom, who appears to be in league with Mavic Chen. The Doctor and Steven make a run for it, but Bret tries to appeal to her. She casually shoots him dead. Summoning Borkar, she tells him that two fugitives are still at loose and must be shot on sight - 'But aim for the head.'

The Doctor, Steven and Sara have been transported to the planet Mira, where they hide in a cave from the invisible Visians and invading Daleks. As the Daleks surround them, the Doctor concedes that the creatures have won.

The travellers have escaped once more from the Daleks. The TARDIS arrives at their next destination and, checking the controls, the Doctor discovers that the atmosphere outside is completely poisonous.

The travellers journey on in the TARDIS. Realising that they never got a chance to celebrate Christmas during their recent visit to Earth, the Doctor produces a bottle of champagne and some glasses. He toasts Steven and Sara and then turns and wishes everyone at home a happy Christmas as well.

Escaping from New Year revellers at Trafalgar Square in London, the TARDIS moves on again. The Daleks despatch a ship in pursuit. They are confident that they will conquer the universe.

The TARDIS has arrived in ancient Egypt and materialised in a tomb. Steven and Sara return to the ship to find the lid of a nearby sarcophagus moving. From inside, a bandaged hand emerges.

The Doctor fits within the TARDIS control console a directional circuit stolen from the Monk's ship. He warns Steven and Sara that its operation will be very dangerous. Nevertheless, he comes to a decision and activates the controls. Suddenly a bright light explodes from the console.

Back on Kembel, Steven and Sara are captured by Mavic Chen and marched at gun-point into the Dalek base.

With the Daleks destroyed and Sara dead, the Doctor and Steven return to the TARDIS and leave the planet Kembel.


The seventh episode is a mixture of Z Cars, silent Hollywood movies and 1930s serials.

James Bond.

The Avengers (Sara Kingdom).

She (Kingdom's death).

Dan Dare.

Flash Gordon.

Dialogue Triumphs

Mavic Chen : "... you must admit, the Daleks have a genius for war!"

The Doctor : [On the death of Katarina.] "She didn't understand... She couldn't understand. She wanted to save our lives. And perhaps the lives of all the other beings of the solar system. I hope she's found her perfection. We shall always remember her as one of the daughters of the gods. Yes, as one of the daughters of the gods."

The Doctor : "Your ideas are too narrow, too crippled. I am a citizen of the Universe, and a gentleman to boot."

Steven : "Let's go, Doctor, I've seen enough of this place."

The Doctor : "Well, my boy, at last we've rid this planet of Daleks."

Steven : "Bret... Katarina... Sara..."

The Doctor : "What a waste... What a terrible waste."

Dialogue Disasters

The Doctor : "Here's a toast, a happy Christmas to all of us."

Steven : "The same to you, Doctor, Sara."

The Doctor : "And incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home!"

The Doctor : "Get me out of this place, it's full of Arabs!"

The Doctor : "Pull yourself together, madam!"

The Doctor : "Are these tablets? Do you think they're lollipops?"

Double Entendre

Sarah : "A strange man kept telling me to take all my clothes off."

"You seem to know all the queer people."


Searching for Marc Cory, missing for six months (see Mission to the Unknown), Kert Gantry and Bret Vyon instead find the Daleks' alliance, holding its seventh meeting. Members include Guardian of the Solar System Mavic Chen, Trantis, Zephon 'Master of the Fifth Galaxy' [see The Monster of Peladon] (a new arrival since Mission to the Unknown), Celation, Beaus, Warrien, Sentreal, and Malpha.

When the Doctor and his friends steal a Dalek scout ship, the Doctor says he is getting used to Dalek technology. During the Hollywood sequence the Doctor meets Bing Crosby.

The Monk is aware of the Daleks by reputation. The Doctor fiddles with the Monk's chameleon circuit, changing his TARDIS from a block of stone to a motor cycle, a stage coach, a Western waggon, a tank and a Police Box. He also steals the Monk's directional unit to enable his own TARDIS to return to Kembel. Without this, the Monk can only wander randomly [Presumably the unit then fails, as the Doctor still can't control his TARDIS (cf The Three Doctors).]

The Time Destructor contains a core of one emm of Taranium (a mineral only found on Uranus).

Chen notes that the people of the planet Tisar and the entity Gris have both tried to depose Zephon recently. The indigenous population of Mira are the Visians (who are invisible and, according to the Doctor, eight feet tall and extremely vicious).


The First History of the Daleks


The Doctor's Ring

Dating the Segments of Time

The TARDIS Scanner



Desperus (the solar system's prison planet).

Earth in the year 4000.


Liverpool, 25 December 1965.

London, 1 January 1966.

A cricket test match between England and Australia.

Hollywood, c.1925 (first talkies)/1930 (Bing Crosby's first film).


Egypt, during the Fourth Dynasty (2613BC -2494BC).

Future History

Chen states that there has been continuous peace in the solar system since 3975. Earth is developing long distance teleportation technology [based on T-Mat principles: see The Seeds of Death]. Earth has a class system, a concept of luxury, broadcast news, penal colonies, and a place called Central City. The Technix are all bald. Bret Vyon was raised on Mars Colony 16.



The Doctor comments that he saw the relief of Mafeking in the Boer War [1900].


Brian Cant plays the hapless Kert Gantry in the first episode. Cant later went on to become a popular children's presenter, appearing in shows like Playaway and Play School.

The green-uniformed Technix all have bald heads - for which parts the actors involved had to agree to their heads being shaved.

Nicholas Courtney makes his first appearance in Doctor Who. Courtney's next role was in The Web of Fear as Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, a character who was subsequently to appear with all but the eighth Doctor, and who was one of the regular characters during the early seventies.

The Doctor is seemingly unaware of what cricket is when the TARDIS materialises at the Oval during a Test Match between England and Australia.

The date of the Dalek invasion of Earth is given as 2157 AD.

The starfish-like Dalek creatures seen after the time destructor has done its work in the final episode; are implied to be the form from which the Daleks evolved over a period of millions of years.

The death scene of Katarina, shot as a film insert at Ealing during the week beginning 27 September 1965, was the first work that Adrienne Hill had done in the role.


Sara Kingdom was going to be a replacement companion for Katarina. (Not quite true. When it was realised that the character of Katarina would not work as a regular, Nation was asked to write her out as soon as he could. A replacement 'companion' character was then requested for the remainder of this story. There was never any intention for Sara to continue past the end of The Daleks' Master Plan.)

The incident at the end of the seventh episode when the Doctor looks directly into camera and proposes a toast to everyone at home was an unscripted ad lib on William Hartnell's part and outraged the production team. (This action was scripted and rehearsed. It was in fact a tradition in the sixties for scenes of this kind to be included in special Christmas editions of popular series. Besides which, if the production team had really disliked it they could simply have edited it out.)


The Doctor places Bret Vyon in a force field that works on an 'electromagnetic principle' (episode six also features g-force force fields). The Doctor, Steven and Sara become trapped in a cellular disseminator. The Daleks use a 'randomiser' and a 'magnetise beam' (sic) to try to stop the various escape ships the Doctor uses.


Marc Cory's tape message is different from the one he left in Mission to the Unknown.

If the Grand Alliance is so expendable, why have it in the first place?

The Doctor gurns during cellular dissemination.

A police box would look very out of place outside a police station.

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - William Hartnell

Katarina - Adrienne Hill until The Traitors

Steven Taylor - Peter Purves

Arab Sheikh - David James

Assistant Director - Conrad Monk

Blossom Lefevre - Sheila Dunn

Borkar - James Hall

Bors - Dallas Cavell

Bret Vyon - Nicholas Courtney

Cameraman - Steve Machrin

Celation - Terence Woodfield

Clown - Robert G Jewell

Dalek - Kevin Manser

Dalek - Robert Jewell

Dalek - Gerald Taylor

Dalek - John Scott Martin

Dalek Voice - Peter Hawkins

Dalek Voice - David Graham

Darcy Tranton - Leonard Grahame

Daxtar - Roger Avon

Detective-Inspector - Keneth Thornett

First Policeman - Norman Mitchell

Froyn - Bill Meilen

Garge - Geoffrey Cheshire

Hyksos - Walter Randall

Ingmar Knopf - Mark Ross

Interviewer - Michael Guest

Karlton - Maurice Browning

Kert Gantry - Brian Cant

Khepren - Jeffrey Isaac

Kirksen - Douglas Sheldon

Lizan - Pamela Greer

Malpha - Bryan Mosley Bryan Mosley and Buddy Windrush are the same person

Man in Macintosh - Reg Pritchard

Mavic Chen - Kevin Stoney

Professor Webster - Albert Barrington

Prop Man - Buddy Windrush Bryan Mosley and Buddy Windrush are the same person

Rhymnal - John Herrington

Roald - Philip Anthony

Sara Kingdom/Sara - Jean Marsh

Scott - Bruce Wightman

Second Policeman - Malcolm Rogers

Station Sergeant - Clifford Earl

Steinberger P Green - Royston Tickner

The Meddling Monk - Peter Butterworth

Trantis - Roy Evans

Trevor - Roger Brierly

Tuthmos - Derek Ware

Vamp - Paula Topham

Zephon - Julian Sherrier


Director - Douglas Camfield

Assistant Floor Manager - Catherine Childs

Assistant Floor Manager - Caroline Walmsley

Associate Producer - Mervyn Pinfield

Costumes - Daphne Dare

Costumes - Tony Pearce

Designer - Raymond P Cusick

Designer - Barry Newbery

Fight Arranger - Derek Ware

Fight Arranger - David Anderson

Film Cameraman - Peter Hamilton

Film Editor - Keith Raven

Incidental Music - Tristram Cary

Make-Up - Sonia Markham

Producer - John Wiles

Production Assistant - Viktors Ritelis

Production Assistant - Michael E Briant

Special Photographic Transparencies - George Pollock

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Story Editor - David Whitaker

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Writer - Terry Nation

Writer - Dennis Spooner from an idea by Terry Nation

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'A terrible waste.' An epic story, though one with a plot that was worthy of six episodes at most.

Nevertheless, it seems that the story's ambition was justified, despite the seventh episode being a pantomime for Christmas day. A television episode about a television series, the Doctor's acknowledgement of the 'fourth wall' at the climax was 20 years ahead of its time.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

'An all-round masterpiece,' was Ian Levine's assessment of The Daleks' Master Plan in A Voyage Through 25 Years of Doctor Who dated December 1988. 'The direction of Douglas Camfield combined with the scripting of Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner gelled in... a way that defied description... Rich characters, such as Kevin Stoney's Mavic Chen, and tense moments, such as the pathetic Katarina's self-sacrifice - the first time we discovered that a companion could actually die - abounded.'

The story, telling over twelve episodes of the Daleks' attempt to conquer the empire of the solar system, is indeed a remarkable one with a genuinely epic quality quite unmatched by anything else in this era, and perhaps in the entire history of Doctor Who. The events depicted span a wide variety of different times and places as the Doctor and his friends try to foil the master plan, and a whole host of intriguing and well-conceived characters are introduced, most of them ultimately to perish during the course of the action.

The story's success is all the more impressive considering that it was written by two people working on different episodes, and that its unprecedented episode count was a result of the production team being instructed by one of their BBC superiors (reportedly because his mother was a fan of the Daleks) to make it double the length originally intended.

In many ways the central character is the evil Mavic Chen, who engages in a battle of wits both with the Doctor and with the Daleks and - aside from the regulars - is given the most screen time. Kevin Stoney's inspired portrayal of a man driven by greed and ambition makes him one of the greatest Doctor Who villains ever. Chen is already 'Guardian of the Solar System' and yet wants more. He has forged an alliance with the Daleks to supply them with the taranium they need to power their fearsome time destructor weapon. All along, however, he plays his cards close to his chest, never trusting the Daleks completely and always allowing himself an escape route, as he works toward his ultimate goal of taking charge of the alliance. Of course, the Daleks are doing exactly the same thing and, in this story more than most, they come over as a scheming and devious race, prepared to sacrifice almost anything in order to achieve their objectives.

The imagination and quality of the scripting is well matched by Douglas Camfield's excellent direction, and the succession of fantastic settings - from the jungles of Kembel to the Dalek headquarters, from spacecraft interiors to the prison planet Desperus, from Earth Control to the steaming tropics of Mira, from a police station in Liverpool to a pyramid in Egypt - are all realised with consummate ease by two of the show's most prolific and talented scenic designers, sharing the massive workload between them.

If the story has a failing, it is that - perhaps inevitably, given its length - the plot tends to meander at times; and matters are not helped in this respect by the inclusion of what can almost be seen as a two episode interlude in the form of The Feast of Steven and Volcano.

The Feast of Steven, transmitted on Christmas Day, is intentionally distinct from the rest of the story. It features, amongst other things, the TARDIS arriving on a film set and the travellers becoming involved in a madcap, silent film-style encounter with the likes of Charlie Chaplin and the Keystone Kops. Ian K McLachlan, writing in Gallifrey Issue 9 dated winter 1979, recalled his feelings on watching this episode: 'I did not enjoy The Feast of Steven. Up to then I had believed in Doctor Who. Not in the sense that it really was happening, but rather that it could happen... This episode, which was rather far-out and artificial, temporarily shattered the illusion.'

Contemporary reaction recorded in the BBC's Audience Research Report on the episode was similarly unfavourable: '"One of the worst programmes I have seen and definitely not Christmas material," commented a laboratory assistant, one of a large number of viewers (in fact, close on half the sample audience) who had no good word for this Christmas Day edition of Doctor Who. These viewers would certainly have taken issue as to the entertainment value of The Feast of Steven with anyone from the minority group (about one out of every five supplying evidence) who really enjoyed watching what happened when the crew of TARDIS deserted space travel for some Earthly adventures. These involved them with a "brush" with the police ("I thought Doctor Who and co had joined Z-Cars at the beginning of the story") and much further tribulation when TARDIS "materialised" (circa 1919, apparently) in a Hollywood film studio with a Keystone Kops feature at "shooting" point.'

The following episode, Volcano, continues in the same light hearted vein, with the TARDIS arriving first at a cricket match and later during New Year festivities in Trafalgar Square. It is only after these diversions that the focus returns to the main plot. Worth mentioning here, though, is the reappearance of the Doctor's old acquaintance the Monk from The Time Meddler - the first instance in the series' history of a (non-regular) character from one story returning in a later one.

The contemporary verdict on Volcano, as evidenced in a further Audience Research Report, was certainly more favourable than that on the previous week's instalment: 'This episode in which Doctor Who met up again with his enemy the Monk and the Daleks [was] increasingly menacing [and] appealed a good deal to a large minority, about of the quarter of the sample evidently finding it thoroughly gripping and entertaining - "A very good episode, particularly the well thought out difficulties and the solving of them by Doctor Who". More often, reporting viewers were only moderately attracted by the episode which had apparently only just about held their interest, although several whose enjoyment was not particularly keen were bound to admit that children watching with them were of a different turn of mind - "Unable to fully appreciate, being in my fifties, but junior members of family delighted."

Although various viewers found fault with this particular episode as padded out, lacking in suspense, somewhat confusing ("The storyline gets more and more complicated. Only Who addicts would follow this episode.") or too absurd, criticisms were often directed against the series as a whole as having "gone off"; it had got into a rut, was repetitive, becoming too fantastic, and the Daleks were getting played out, according to comment from viewers whose interest was on the wane - "I'm fed up with Doctor Who and the Daleks and such impossible situations."'

The Audience Research Report on Escape Switch suggests that the length of the story was proving increasingly irksome to viewers as the weeks went by: 'There was a sizeable amount of feeling, apparently, that this particular story is running out of good, solid ideas, that it is becoming confusingly meandering in plot. "Gets more involved every week and I continue to find difficulty in understanding it"; "Now needs something new. We have just Daleks, Daleks, Daleks. For a programme with a wealth of possibilities it has become very dull." Evidently these [viewers] are tiring a bit of Doctor Who's adventures with the taranium core, finding them now rather protracted and predictable, and they seem to have found this episode just "the mixture as before", and lacking in excitement or novelty. The others, however, apparently continue to find Doctor Who either quite exciting, admirably ingenious or just amusing as "picturesque nonsense".'

One particularly notable aspect of the story is the large number of characters who come to a nasty end. The Trojan handmaiden Katarina is killed after four episodes when she ejects herself into space through an airlock, as is Bret Vyon when he is shot by his own sister Sara Kingdom. Sara, who fulfils the 'female companion' role for the remainder of the adventure, is also killed at the end, aged to death by the time destructor. The Daleks exterminate most of their allies, and then are killed themselves when the Doctor turns the time destructor against them.

All things considered, it is a very bleak tale indeed - a point that attracted comment in the generally favourable Audience Research Report on the climactic final episode: 'This episode, in which Doctor Who finally succeeded in engineering the destruction of the Daleks, appealed a good deal to roughly two thirds of the sample audience, many of whom remarked that, in their opinion, this had been the most thrilling and exciting episode for a very long time.

Packed with action and momentous events, not the least of which was the "horrifyingly" rapid ageing and final disintegration of Sara caused by the activating of the "time destructor", this episode had brought Doctor Who's adventure on the planet Kembel to a spectacular close, they thought. A good many other viewers, however, considered this episode "much as usual": the Doctor Who series was not of much interest to them and many, in fact, said they only tolerated it for the sake of their children, who were "absolutely crazy about Doctor Who". The disintegration of Sara caused them some unease - this was a "bit too nasty" even for such a juvenile space-fiction adventure as Doctor Who, in their opinion - but again the whole serial was so naive it was impossible to take even this "horrible" event seriously. Nevertheless, it may be said that if adult viewers start by "tolerating" this serial for the sake of their children, it seems clear that they often find that it has its attractions and on this occasion there were, in fact, plenty who considered Doctor Who excellent entertainment by any standards.'

Like most of the longer Doctor Who stories, The Daleks' Master Plan is perhaps best appreciated at the rate of an episode per week, as was originally intended; it is simply too much to take in all in one go. As Gary Russell commented in Ark in Space No. 7 dated May 1983: 'It had its lame bits, [including] the nonsensical Monk character; and its strong bits, such as Katarina's unexpected demise; it had seriousness, [as in] the Doctor's final thought; and humour, notably the marvellous cricket match scene.'

For a single story to encompass as much as this one did was indeed quite an achievement.

< The Myth MakersFirst DoctorThe Massacre >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.

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