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24 September 2014

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The Dominators

Production Code: TT

First Transmitted

1 - /08/1968 17:15

2 - /08/1968 17:15

3 - /08/1968 17:15

4 - /08/1968 17:15

5 - /09/1968 17:15


The TARDIS materialises on the planet Dulkis, currently under threat from two alien Dominators, Rago and his subordinate Toba, who have landed in a spaceship.

Aided by their robotic servants, the Quarks, and slave workers drawn from the native Dulcian population, the Dominators set about drilling bore holes, through which they plan to fire rockets into the planet's molten core. Their intention is then to drop an atomic seed capsule into the resulting eruption, turning Dulkis into a radioactive mass - fuel for the Dominators' space fleet.

The Dulcian Councillors, being pacifists, refuse to retaliate, although Cully, the rebellious son of their leader Senex, has already joined forces with the time travellers. The Doctor eventually defeats the Dominators by intercepting the seed capsule as it is dropped and placing it on board their ship, which is then destroyed shortly after take off.

Dulkis suffers only a minor volcanic eruption, as a result of the rockets fired into its magma.

Episode Endings

The Doctor and Jamie have discovered the Dominators' spaceship. Jamie points out that they are being observed by two Quarks from a nearby hilltop. Toba joins the Quarks and they ask him if they should destroy.

Zoe and Cully are trapped in the Dulcian survey unit as it is fired upon by the Quarks. Explosions rock the building and rubble crashes down around them.

Toba orders the Quarks to destroy totally the Dulcian museum in which Jamie and Cully are taking cover. The Quarks fire and the building collapses around the two friends. A smiling Toba is informed by a Quark that the task has been completed.

Toba tells his prisoners that they will die one by one unless they reveal where Jamie is. They refuse to answer, and the Dulcian Educator Balan is the first to be gunned down by a Quark. The Doctor is next in line, and the Quarks get ready to fire again.

The Doctor tells Jamie that Dulkis is safe; there will be just a minor eruption confined to one island. Jamie points out that they themselves are on the island and the Doctor reacts in horror as lava flows towards them.


Aesop's fables (the boy who cried wolf).

Lewis Carroll.

Dialogue Triumphs

Cully : [Speaking of Zoe] "She can't be a Dulcian - she has an enquiring mind."

Rago : [To Senex] "You will provide me with certain statistics..."

Tensa : "Really, sir, I must protest."

Rago : "Protest? You defy a Dominator?"

Tensa : "Senex is our leader, and as such demands respect."

Rago : "I warn you. A Dominator must be obeyed. Your leader means nothing to me. I respect only one thing - superior force."

The Doctor : [Explains his plan to a baffled Jamie] "An unintelligent enemy is far less dangerous than an intelligent one, Jamie. Just act stupid. Do you think you can manage that?"


The second Dulcian council under Director Olvin banned the production of all nuclear weapons many years ago. The seventh council under Director Manus approved further atomic research and used the island as a test site. This was subsequently abandoned and the radioactive island has remained uninhabited except for occasional scholarly visitors for 172 years (the island reminds Zoe of 'the old atom test islands on Earth'). The Dulcians have a dual cardiovascular system [like that of the Time Lords]. Dulcians are unaware of extraterrestrial life.

Toba thinks that the Dominators should have visited Epsilon 4 instead of Dulkis in their search for slave labour. The Dominators' ship stores radioactive particles and converts them into fuel. The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver as a cutting tool.





The Doctor has been to Dulkis before. He remembers the Dulcians as a very advanced, gentle people, and was reluctant to leave.


There are some impressive explosions on location, perhaps most notably that of Cully's ship in the first episode.

A surprisingly gruesome disintegration effect is used for the Quarks' killing of the Dulcians Etnin and Tolata in the first episode. (A simpler, but still quite horrific, smoke effect was substituted for the later deaths.)

Chris Jeffries doubles for Patrick Troughton in all location-shot scenes featuring the Doctor.

Ronald Allen, then better known for his starring role in the soap opera Compact and for his role in Crossroads, plays Rago, and Kenneth Ives, once a HAVOC stuntman and now a distinguished director, plays Toba.

Brian Cant, better known as a presenter of children's programmes including Play School, returns to Doctor Who - this time playing the minor Dulcian character Tensa.


The location scenes of this story were shot on colour film as a test exercise. (They weren't. Despite persistent rumours to the contrary, the BBC did no colour filming or recording on any of the sixties Doctor Who stories.)


Episode three has no 'episode three' caption.

The rubble over a hatch in episode four vanishes.

Toba [exaggerating?] says that the Dominators are the 'masters of the Ten Galaxies'; Rago says that they control an entire galaxy.

The zip at the back of Zoe's skirt causes her problems on numerous occasions, being open in episodes two, three and five.

There's a whacking great close up of Troughton's location double in episode five.

Fashion Victim

The Dulcians: women in leotards and curtain skirts (which leave little to the imagination).

Men in padded skirts or Roman togas.

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - Patrick Troughton

Jamie - Frazer Hines

Zoe - Wendy Padbury

Balan - Johnson Bayly

Bovem - Alan Gerrard

Council Member - John Cross

Council Member - Ronald Mansell

Cully - Arthur Cox

Etnin - Malcolm Terris

Kando - Felicity Gibson

Quark - John Hicks

Quark - Gary Smith

Quark - Freddie Wilson

Quark voices - Sheila Grant

Rago - Ronald Allen

Senex - Walter Fitzgerald

Teel - Giles Block

Tensa - Brian Cant

Toba - Kenneth Ives

Tolata - Nicolette Pendrell

Wahed - Philip Voss


Director - Morris Barry

Assistant Floor Manager - Barbara Stuart

Costumes - Martin Baugh

Designer - Barry Newbery

Film Cameraman - Peter Hamilton

Film Editor - Chris Hayden

Make-Up - Sylvia James

Producer - Peter Bryant

Production Assistant - John Bruce

Script Editor - Derrick Sherwin

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Studio Lighting - Sam Neeter

Studio Sound - Richard Chubb

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

Visual Effects - Ron Oates

Writer - Norman Ashby This was a pseudonym for Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln. Script editor Derek Sherwin also made a significant input to the writing of Episode 5.

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'They're a bloodthirsty lot, these Dominators.' 60s concerns like unilateralism, the hippy movement and the decadence of the bourgeoisie are handled with reactionary disdain via the unavoidable Doctor Who motif of alien invasion. A study in sadism, The Dominators is also very dull.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The Dominators makes a disappointingly lacklustre start to the sixth season. 'We are faced with nothing more terrifying than a couple of intergalactic bully boys with very large chips on their shoulders,' complained David Miller in DWB No. 82, dated October 1990. 'The plot (for want of a better word)... goes something like this. Some nasty men in strange costumes land their flying saucer on the planet Dulkis. They get out, stamp about, shout a bit and generally duff up the indigenous population... After five mind-shattering episodes, in which we discover nothing whatsoever about the invaders and precious little about the Dulcians, the nasty Dominators are defeated by a bit of fancy footwork on the part of the Doctor.'

In fairness, the two Dominators, although hardly amongst the best of the series' alien creations, are at least quite well realised on screen; and, as Chris Marton and Mark Woodward observed in Cerebration Mentor Number 2 in 1982, the running disagreements between them provide much of the story's interest: 'The aliens are portrayed as a quirky, dispassionate duo with distinct bloodlust traits, and there is a great deal of interplay between the two. Navigator Rago, the senior..., is the more responsible..., being more aware of [their] critically low energy levels and accordingly careful, and is determined to make a success of his mission. Toba is the sadist... [who] casually wastes the sparse energy of the Quarks in the self-gratification of his sadistic tendencies.'

'The Quarks were also well done,' asserted Martin Wiggins in Wheel in Space Issue Two in 1977, 'with very good retractable arms and rather odd feet, which [were effective] because, [rather than] gliding along or shuffling, [they] walked. It was also good to have the Quarks talking with squeaky female voices rather than the usual boring monotone.' In essence however the Quarks are really no more than robot drones with guns and spiky heads, and Miller had rather more mixed feelings about them: 'Their appearance at the end of Episode 1 is at once compelling and ridiculous. The initial reaction is to laugh, but considering that we have already seen a demonstration of their colossal fire power, there is something genuinely macabre in their childlike [question] "Shall we destroy?"... [However, all] hope of menace is lost as they have the living daylights kicked out of them by Jamie and Cully.'

The Dulcians, it must be admitted, are a singularly dull bunch, and, as Miller noted, it is difficult for the viewer to get overly worked up about their plight: 'The story hinges on the conflict between aggression and pacifism... [which] is not a very televisual [one] - the aggressors arrive, pacifists give in, end of drama... [One wonders] what might have happened had... [the Doctor] not been around...'

Contemporary viewers whose reaction was recorded in the BBC's Audience Research Report on the opening episode were similarly unenthusiastic:

'In the opinion of dissatisfied viewers, this particular episode... was typical of the recent trend in the series, by which the idea of going backwards in time to various historical events (which several much preferred) had been largely discarded in favour of concentrating on the science-fiction stories. Consequently, in order to maintain interest, the non-human characters had become more and more fantastic and improbable, it was said, and at least three in ten of those reporting dismissed this latest story as absolute rubbish. The series had long since lost all element of surprise, they declared, as, apart from minor details, each adventure followed the same pattern ("they arrive, separate, someone gets captured and the rest of the story is taken up with their rescue"); the new Quarks were nothing but "square Daleks", and the development of the plot was much too slow: "this sort of thing needs to get off to an exciting start".

'According to just over a third, however, Doctor Who, which they had long enjoyed as an entertaining "escapist" serial, continued to maintain a good level of inventiveness. The writers always seemed able to come up with something new, it was said, and The Dominators, with its interesting collection of characters, including a race of robots even more terrible than the Daleks, would seem to possess the ingredients of another first class space adventure. At the same time, it was clear that a further number (while less critical than the majority) were beginning to lose interest: "although I am a Doctor Who fan of many years standing, my enjoyment is steadily decreasing every week," commented one typically, and some doubts were expressed as to its ability to appeal even to children.'

Fortunately, better was to come as the season progressed.

< The Wheel in SpaceSecond DoctorThe Mind Robber >

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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