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29 October 2014

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Galaxy 4

Production Code: T

First Transmitted

Four Hundred Dawns - 11/09/1965 17:40

Trap of Steel - 18/09/1965 17:50

Air Lock - 25/09/1965 17:50

The Exploding Planet - 02/10/1965 17:50


The Doctor, Vicki and Steven arrive on an arid planet where they meet the occupants of two crashed spaceships: the beautiful Drahvins and the hideous Rills. The latter prove to be friendly, compassionate explorers while the former are a group of mindless cloned soldiers terrorised by a warlike matriarch, Maaga.

Both ships were damaged when the Drahvins precipitated a confrontation in space, but whereas the Rills' is almost ready to take off again (having been repaired by their robot drones, which Vicki nicknames 'Chumblies'), the Drahvins' is irreparable. When the planet is discovered to be on the point of disintegration, Maaga tries to force the time travellers to help her steal the Rills' ship. Instead, the Doctor allows the Rills to draw power from the TARDIS in order to refuel and escape, leaving the Drahvins to their fate.

Episode Endings

Inside the TARDIS control room, the Doctor consults his instruments while Steven waits impatiently. The Doctor announces that the Rills were correct; but the planet has even less time left than they thought. They must leave immediately, for tomorrow is the last day this planet will ever see!

The Doctor and Vicki make their way through the Rill Centre, pursued at a distance by a Chumbley. They enter a chamber where they discover a deactivated Chumbley. Suddenly Vicki screams; from behind a cloudy glass partition a pair of eyes are looking out at them.

Steven, trapped in the air-lock of the Drahvins' ship as Maaga has the air drawn out, collapses slowly to the floor.

The travellers relax in the TARDIS following their ordeal. They see a planet on the scanner screen and Vicki wonders what is happening on it... On a planet, a man named Garvey is lying on his back on the ground in a jungle. There is a terrifying animal screech and he wakes with a start, muttering: 'I remember, now. I must... I must kill... I must kill... I must kill.'


The forceful women of The Avengers.

Beauty and the Beast.

Brave New World.

Queen of Outer Space.

Journey into Space.


Dialogue Triumphs

Rill Voice : "It is easy to help others when they are so willing to help you. Though we are beings of separate planets, you from the solar system and we from another space, our ways of thought, at times, do not seem all that different. It has been an honour to know you and serve you."


The TARDIS provides a power source for the Rills' ship. Drahvin society has two castes: Officers, bred in the usual manner (a small number of males are kept for reproduction, the rest are killed to preserve food supplies), and Warriors, who are fertilized in test tubes. [They aren't necessarily clones. Do the women undergo the indignity of childbirth? Perhaps the Drahvin reproductive system is in the males.]

The Rills, despite an ugly appearance, are curious travellers interested in meeting other races. They are telepathic, breathe ammonia and have advanced technology, creating robots which Vicki christens 'Chumblies'.

Vicki can cut hair (she does Steven's).


The story does not take place in Galaxy Four. Maaga says Drahva is in Galaxy Four, indicating that this nameless planet is not (Maaga says it is '400 dawns' from Drahva [presumably a reference to the time taken to travel between the two]). All that is known about the planet is that it has three suns and is dying.



The Chumblies were very cleverly designed by scenic designer Richard Hunt. Four of the robots were made. Each was around a metre tall - just large enough to accommodate one of the small actors who operated them - and consisted of a fibreglass shell mounted on castors. A light was positioned at the top to indicate when the Chumbley was communicating with its Rill masters, and several rod-like arm attachments were fixed between the dome sections to represent ray-guns and other instruments. A number of pendulum-like objects were suspended around the base to represent the robot's motive units. Whenever a Chumbley was attacked or deactivated, its dome sections collapsed on top of each other; a dummy version was used for these shots.

The Drahvins' uniforms were predominantly green, with white leather accessories.

The trailer for this story, broadcast the day before the first episode's transmission, was narrated by Shaw Taylor, better known for his work on Police 5.

Contemporary documentation indicates that the Drahvins were created jointly by William Emms and Verity Lambert - presumably due to the latter deciding that they should be female rather than male, as they had been in Emms' draft scripts - and that the BBC is therefore part-owner of the rights to them.


The Rill voices were originally to have been provided by Anthony Paul, and the change of casting was so late that he was still credited in the Radio Times listing for the third episode. (Robert Cartland, the voice artist who replaced Paul, was correctly listed in Radio Times.)

William Emms, who scripted this story, was a schoolteacher who wrote only in his spare time. (Emms had once been an English teacher but had been a full-time freelance writer for some four years by the time he submitted his unsolicited idea for Galaxy 4 to the Doctor Who production team.)

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - William Hartnell

Steven Taylor - Peter Purves

Vicki - Maureen O'Brien

Chumblies - Jimmy Kaye

Chumblies - William Shearer

Chumblies - Angelo Muscat

Chumblies - Pepi Poup

Chumblies - Tommy Reynolds

Drahvin One - Marina Martin

Drahvin Three - Lyn Ashley

Drahvin Two - Susanna Carroll

Garvey - Barry Jackson

Maaga - Stephanie Bidmead

Rill Voice - Robert Cartland


Director - Derek Martinus The director originally assigned to this story was Mervyn Pinfield; he selected the cast and carried out some initial work on the shooting of film inserts at Ealing. Failing health meant that he was unable to continue, so he was replaced and received no credit on the finished production.

Assistant Floor Manager - Marjorie Yorke

Assistant Floor Manager - Sue Willis

Costumes - Daphne Dare

Designer - Richard Hunt

Film Cameraman - unknown

Film Editor - unknown

Incidental Music - stock

Make-Up - Sonia Markham

Producer - Verity Lambert

Production Assistant - Angela Gordon

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Story Editor - Donald Tosh

Studio Lighting - Derek Hobday

Studio Lighting - Ralph Walton

Studio Sound - George Prince

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

Writer - William Emms

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'Importance lies in character, and what use is made of intelligence. We respect you as we respect all life.' Galaxy 4 presents an interesting if flawed twist on the traditional bug eyed monster tale.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

At the heart of Galaxy 4 is a relatively simple and straightforward moral message: never judge by appearances. The Rills are hideously ugly reptilian creatures (although their full forms are generally obscured as they lurk in smoky compartments within their ship), but they are eventually revealed to be civilised, peaceful and highly advanced travellers.

Even the Doctor, before he learns their true nature, makes the false assumption that they are aggressive and almost brings about their deaths by sabotaging the machine that converts the planet's air into the ammonia that they need to survive. To be fair, though, he has not properly met them at this stage and is having to rely on information supplied by the Drahvins, which misleadingly suggests that their intentions match their appearance; and he may well believe that his sabotage will only inconvenience rather than kill them.

The treacherous Drahvins provide the contrast to the Rills, and Verity Lambert's decision to make them beautiful women was an astute one - not only because it has the effect of demonstrating that beauty may be only skin deep, and thereby reinforcing the basic moral of the story, but also because it guaranteed a considerable amount of advance publicity in the popular press for the start of the series' third season.

The only downside to this was that the press reports also highlighted the Drahvins' villainous tendencies - the Daily Mail of 25 June 1965, for example, ran a story headlined 'Enter Dr Who's new foes: The ray-gun blondes', claiming that their 'one aim in life [is] to kill with their ray guns' - tipping readers off to what would otherwise have been a surprising plot twist.

The Drahvins in fact constitute one of the most interesting and well thought out of the series' early attempts at representing an alien culture. We learn that on their planet Drahva women are the dominant sex, with men bred for specific purposes in captivity; that Maaga, the leader of the group encountered by the Doctor and his friends, is a 'true' Drahvin who has been sent on a mission to 'conquer space', but her crew are just unintelligent soldier drones 'cultivated' in test tubes; and that Maaga has a 'special' type of food and ray-gun, while the others have to eat what look like leaves and twigs and carry ineffective weapons. The Doctor immediately observes that the Drahvins' technology is relatively primitive; he is able to scratch the outer hull of their ship with ease.

'The serial was rather daring for its day,' noted John Peel in Fantasy Empire Issue 4 in 1982, 'treating subjects such as cloning, which was new to TV then, and the possibility of a world [with] men [subservient to women].' These factors have indeed led some reviewers to draw parallels between Galaxy 4 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. (Another frequently expressed view that the depiction of the Drahvins represents a reactionary comment on feminism - or 'women's lib' as it was commonly referred to in the mid-sixties - is arguably misconceived, given that they were originally to have been male characters and that only minor amendments were made to the scripts to reflect the late change of plan.)

In dramatic terms, however, the fact that the Drahvins are less advanced than the Rills, with only Maaga capable of intelligent thought, means that their potential as adversaries for the Doctor is somewhat diminished, as Trevor Wayne observed in Doctor Who - An Adventure in Space and Time in 1981:

'Besides the Doctor... and his... companions, the only real 'character' per se in the production is the belligerent Drahvin leader, Maaga. She is simply the bellicose product of a military society; indeed, the hints we are given about Drahva indicate that life there is not too different to that in a huge army barracks, where the strong lord it over the weak.'

Even the rather appealing Chumbley robots, which initially seem quite menacing, turn out to pose no threat at all to the travellers once they are revealed to be servants of the peaceful Rills.

The story is nevertheless an entertaining one boasting some fresh ideas - including the effective concept of an unstable planet on the point of disintegration - and high production values. Wayne summed it up well: '[Galaxy 4] remains both memorable and extremely enjoyable. Its simple plot, coupled with inspired direction and lavish work on the models, props and costumes, all added up to a very impressive start to the third season.'

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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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