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The Massacre

Production Code: W

First Transmitted

War of God - 05/02/1966 17:15

The Sea Beggar - 12/02/1966 17:15

Priest of Death - 19/02/1966 17:15

Bell of Doom - 26/02/1966 17:15


The TARDIS materialises in Paris in the year 1572 and the Doctor decides to visit the famous apothecary Charles Preslin. Steven, meanwhile, is befriended by a group of Huguenots from the household of the Protestant Admiral de Coligny.

Having rescued a young serving girl, Anne Chaplet, from some pursuing guards, the Huguenots gain their first inkling of a plan by the Catholic Queen Mother, Catherine de Medici, to have all French Protestants massacred.

A further shock is in store for Steven, as it appears that hated Catholic dignitary, the Abbot of Amboise, is actually the Doctor in disguise. Held responsible for the failure of a plot to assassinate de Coligny, the Abbot is executed by the Catholic authorities and his body left lying in the gutter.

To Steven's relief, it transpires that the Abbot was not the Doctor after all, but merely his physical double. The two time travellers meet up again at Preslin's shop, where Steven has gone in search of the TARDIS key, and regain the safety of the ship just as the massacre begins.

The TARDIS then lands on Wimbledon Common in 1966 and the Doctor and Steven gain a new companion, Dorothea 'Dodo' Chaplet.

Episode Endings

Simon Duvall brings the Abbot of Amboise news that Anne Chaplet has taken refuge at Admiral de Coligny's house. As the Abbot speaks, demanding that the girl be brought to him the next day, the viewer sees him for the first time: he is apparently the Doctor in disguise.

Admiral de Coligny tells his assistant Nicholas Muss that he has seen the King and almost persuaded him to ally with the Netherlands against the Spanish. The King told him that he would go down in history as the 'Sea Beggar'. De Coligny, unaware that Marshal Tavannes has given orders that the 'Sea Beggar' be assassinated the next day, reflects that it is a title he would be proud of...

The Abbot of Amboise lies dead in the gutter, a crowd of angry Catholics gathering around his body. When Steven protests that the Huguenots were not responsible, Roger Colbert incites the crowd against him. Steven flees for his life through the Paris streets...

A young girl enters the TARDIS, believing it to be a real police box. Steven, having previously stormed out in a rage at the Doctor's failure to rescue Anne Chaplet, returns and warns him that two policemen are approaching. The old man closes the doors and dematerialises the ship. Steven is shocked by his actions, but the young girl herself is unconcerned. She introduces herself as Dorothea Chaplet, or Dodo for short. Steven expresses astonishment at her surname - could she be Anne's descendant? The TARDIS journeys on with a new crew member.

Dialogue Triumphs

Marshal Tavannes : "At dawn tomorrow this city will weep tears of blood."

The Doctor : "My dear Steven, history sometimes gives us a terrible shock, and that is because we don't quite fully understand. Why should we? After all, we're too small to realise its final pattern. Therefore don't try and judge it from where you stand. I was right to do as I did. Yes, that I firmly believe. " [Steven leaves the TARDIS] " Steven... Even after all this time, he cannot understand. I dare not change the course of history. Well, at least I taught him to take some precautions; he did remember to look at the scanner before he opened the doors. And now, they're all gone. All gone. None of them could understand. Not even my little Susan. Or Vicki. And as for Barbara and Chatterton - Chesterton - they were all too impatient to get back to their own time. And now, Steven. Perhaps I should go home. Back to my own planet. But I can't... I can't..."

Double Entendre

The Doctor : "You'd be surprised what I've got in my wardrobe."


Dodo (Dorothea) Chaplet has no [living] parents, and is looked after by an uncaring great aunt. She has a French grandad. Steven is English and Protestant. The Doctor knows of the history of microscopy and the events of the massacre [His abandonment of Anne seems almost a reaction to the loss of Katarina, as if he's been taught a lesson about interfering].


Paris, 19-23 August 1572.

[Wimbledon] Common, the 1960s [1964? Dodo is surprised to see the Post Office Tower completed in The War Machines].



Leonard Sachs turns in a fine performance as Admiral de Coligny. He was better known as presenter of The Good Old Days music hall show and would appear again in Doctor Who in the season twenty story Arc of Infinity.

Michael Young's design work is excellent, including a large split-level set for the Ealing film sequences of the Paris streets.

William Hartnell appears only in pre-filmed inserts in the second episode as he was on holiday during the week when it was recorded.


Donald Tosh was credited as co-writer on Bell of Doom because he supplied the final scene introducing Dodo. (Tosh wrote the final draft scripts of all four episodes, amending John Lucarotti's originals extensively. He was credited only on Bell of Doom because during production of the first three episodes he was still on BBC staff as Doctor Who's story editor.)

Anne's surname was Chaplette. (It was Chaplet - the same as Dodo's - according to the scripts.)

1st Man was played by Roy Denton. (He was played by Will Stampe - Denton, who was originally due to take the role, dropped out the day before recording and was credited in the Radio Times as it was too late for this to be changed.)

The tolling of the tocsin bell is heard at the beginning and end of each episode. (It isn't.)


If Dodo is related to Anne Chaplet, why is her name is still Chaplet? [Anne had an illegitimate son, and called him by her own surname.]

Anne's Cornish accent is an odd way to communicate working-class French.

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - William Hartnell

Steven Taylor - Peter Purves

1st Guard - Jack Tarran

1st Man - Will Stampe

2nd Guard - Leslie Bates

2nd Man - Ernest Smith

Abbot of Amboise - William Hartnell William Hartnell also appeared as the Abbot in War of God, but was credited only as the Doctor. He was credited only as the Abbot for The Sea Beggar and Priest of Death.

Admiral de Coligny - Leonard Sachs

Anne - Annette Robertson

Captain of the Guard - Clive Cazes

Catherine de Medici - Joan Young

Charles IX - Barry Justice

Dodo - Jackie Lane from Bell of Doom

Gaston - Eric Thompson

Landlord - Edwin Finn

Marshal Tavannes - André Morell

Nicholas - David Weston

Officer - John Slavid

Old Lady / Old Woman - Cynthia Etherington

Preslin - Erik Chitty

Priest - Norman Claridge

Roger - Christopher Tranchell

Servant - Reginald Jessup

Simon - John Tillinger

Teligny - Michael Bilton


Director - Paddy Russell

Assistant Floor Manager - Fiona Cumming

Assistant Floor Manager - Richard Valentine

Costumes - Daphne Dare

Designer - Michael Young

Film Cameraman - Tony Leggo

Film Editor - Bob Rymer

Incidental Music - stock

Make-Up - Sonia Markham

Producer - John Wiles

Production Assistant - Gerry Mill

Script Editor - Gerry Davis From The Bell of Doom

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Story Editor - Donald Tosh Up until The Priest of Death

Studio Lighting - Dennis Channon

Studio Sound - Gordon Mackie

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

Writer - John Lucarotti

Writer - Donald Tosh

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

Hartnell as the Abbot doesn't giggle, or go 'hmm'. It's a solid, sinister performance that makes one realise how much of the Doctor's bluster is characterisation.

An atmosphere of doom prevails, miles away from the usual panto runaround. Peter Purves excels as somebody who finds himself marooned in time.

Individual deaths are given such force that the oncoming massacre is horrifying. Screams sound over illustrations of the purge.

Steven's disgust, his departure and the Doctor's subsequent tortured monologue are beautiful, and the redeeming arrival of Dodo is a great coda.

Not only the best historical, but the best Hartnell, and, in its serious handling of dramatic material in a truly dramatic style, arguably the best ever Doctor Who story.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve is the last of the three historical stories contributed to the series by arguably the genre's finest exponent, John Lucarotti. In this case though the final version of the scripts was written by departing story editor Donald Tosh (whose idea it had been in the first place to base a story around the St Bartholomew's Eve massacre of Huguenots by Catholics in Paris 1572) and did not entirely meet with Lucarotti's approval.

Perhaps the story's most well remembered aspect is the dual role it affords William Hartnell as both the Doctor and the Abbot of Amboise. The actor's icily intense performance as the cruel Abbot is excellent, and such a contrast to his familiar portrayal of the Doctor that it serves to remind the viewer just how great that is, as well as giving the lie to the oft-made assumption that the time traveller's doddery and eccentric manner is merely a reflection of Hartnell's own.

The Abbot and the Doctor never actually meet during the course of the story, and in some respects it is misleading to describe this as a dual role at all: the Doctor disappears part-way through the first episode and does not turn up again until part-way through the fourth; in the meantime it is only the Abbot that is seen. The Doctor's absence from much of the action allows Steven to take centre stage for once - in fact, this can be seen as the first time in the series' history that a companion is accorded the lead role in a story. Peter Purves rises to the occasion and, as always, gives an excellent performance, emphasising just what a good companion he makes.

John Lucarotti later recalled that in his original scripts he had given the Doctor a much more prominent role in the action, and that it was this aspect of Donald Tosh's subsequent rewriting to which he had particularly objected. If this was indeed the case, one can only conclude that - in this instance at least - Tosh had the better judgment. Quite apart from the fact that the limited nature of the editing facilities available to the series at the time would have made it very difficult if not impossible to achieve the frequent switches between the Doctor and the Abbot that Lucarotti had apparently envisaged, one of the most appealing aspects of the story as transmitted is that the viewer, like Steven, is kept guessing until virtually the last minute as to the Abbot's true identity - is he the Doctor in disguise, as it at first appears, or simply his physical double? To have had the Doctor popping up at regular intervals during the course of action would have made it impossible for this element of mystery to have been sustained - at least for the viewer, if not for Steven.

Another aspect that arguably works in the story's favour - and another that Lucarotti disliked - is that the historical events depicted are relatively little known, as Robert Tweed observed in DWB No. 117, dated September 1993: 'While the average sixties schoolchild or Mum or Dad might be expected to know at least something about the travels of Marco Polo or the warlords of the Third Crusade, the horrific slaying of 3,000 Protestants in sixteenth century France is hardly in common cultural currency... Crucially... it is Steven's ignorance of the significance of his surroundings that propels the narrative to its heart-rending conclusion.'

Whatever differences there may have been between Lucarotti and Tosh, their creative conflict gave birth to a story that is full of incident, atmosphere and fascinating period detail, with some rich and finely-drawn characters accorded some wonderful lines of dialogue. Paddy Russell's accomplished direction complements the scripts very well, and there are some fine performances from a high-powered cast.

'The atmosphere is perhaps more grim than that of any other story,' noted Tweed. 'Each episode shows the events of one day... The stock incidental music, crashing drums and cymbals, goes a long way towards heightening the tension. The performances are all excellent, with particular credit to Leonard Sachs and former Quatermass, André Morell.'

The production team gave some consideration to the possibility of making Anne a new regular. In the end however they decided against this, both because of the problems inherent in having a companion from the past - as they had realised with Katarina, the Doctor would have had to explain to her many things of which the viewer would already have been aware - and because her rescue from the massacre could have been seen as undue interference with history on the Doctor's part. Consequently they decided instead to introduce a possible descendent of Anne's, namely Dodo Chaplet. This did however present a slight conundrum: 'What I've never been able to work out,' mused John Peel in Fantasy Empire Issue 4 in 1982, 'is how Dodo is descended from Anne, unless Anne married someone with the same surname as herself.'

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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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