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28 October 2014

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The Savages

Production Code: AA

First Transmitted

1 - 28/05/1966 17:35

2 - 04/06/1966 17:35

3 - 11/06/1966 17:35

4 - 18/06/1966 17:35


The TARDIS has arrived on a far-distant and seemingly idyllic world, but the Doctor, Steven and Dodo discover that it hides a terrible secret: the apparently civilised Elders maintain their advanced society by draining off and transferring to themselves the life-force of a group of defenceless Savages.

Outraged at this exploitation, the Doctor is seemingly helpless to prevent it when some of his own life-force is tapped by the Elders' leader, Jano. In the process, however, Jano also acquires some of the Doctor's attitudes and conscience. Turning against his own people, he enlists the help of the Savages to destroy the Elders' transference laboratory - a task with which the time travellers gladly assist.

Steven agrees to remain behind on the planet to become leader of the newly united Elders and Savages.

Episode Endings

Seeing the dishevelled figure of one of the Savages, Wylda, approaching her down the corridor, Dodo screams.

On Jano's orders, Senta prepares to subject the Doctor to the transference process. As power builds up around the Doctor's prostrate body, Senta comments that this will be the Elders' greatest achievement yet...

Dodo and Steven struggle to get the semi-conscious Doctor clear of the corridor as gas pours in. They begin to cough and choke as the gas engulfs them...

The TARDIS dematerialises from the surface of the planet.

Dialogue Triumphs

Jano : "Doctor, do you realise that with our knowledge we can make the brave man braver, the wise man wiser, the strong man stronger. We can make the beautiful girl more beautiful still. You see the advantages of that in the perfection of our race."

Jano : "We do not understand you, Doctor. You have accepted our honours gladly. How can you condemn this great artistic and scientific civilisation because of a few wretched barbarians?"

The Doctor : "So, the rewards are only for the people that agree with you?"

Jano : "No. No, of course not. But if you are going to oppose us..."

The Doctor : "Oppose you! Indeed I am going to oppose you - just as in the same way that I oppose the Daleks, or any other menace to common humanity!"

Jano : "Do you not realise that all progress is based on exploitation?"

The Doctor : "...This, sir, is protracted murder!"


The Elders live as parasites, draining the 'life energy' from the Outsiders. This process seems to involve the extraction not only of tangible biological elements but also of psychological qualities and character traits. When Jano absorbs the Doctor's life energy, he begins to exhibit many of the Doctor's characteristics.

The Elders know of the Doctor, calling him 'the Traveller from Beyond Time'. They say they have watched his progress through Time and Space and awaited his arrival. [The planet, run along similar lines to the Capitol, may be a Gallifreyan colony, similar to Minyos, Dronid, or the planet of Mawdryn. See Underworld, Shada , Mawdryn Undead.]


The planet is never named.



The arrival of the TARDIS crew has unusually been anticipated by the Elders, who afford the travellers a warm welcome - they have been tracking the ship's journeys for 'many light years' and have accorded the Doctor the title of 'The Traveller from Beyond Time'.

Frederick Jaeger's mimics Hartnell excellently in the scenes after some of the Doctor's life-force is transferred to Jano - a performance in which he was extensively coached by Hartnell himself.


The Elders' 'light guns' were realised on screen simply by means of a powerful light positioned at the end of the prop. (Although they did incorporate a light, the guns also emitted 'dry ice' smoke.)


If the Elders are such a danger to the Savages, why do they continue to live just outside the city?

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - William Hartnell

Dodo - Jackie Lane

Steven Taylor - Peter Purves

Avon - Robert Sidaway

Captain Edal - Peter Thomas

Chal - Ewen Solon

Exorse - Geoffrey Frederick

First Assistant / Assistant - Andrew Lodge

Flower - Kay Patrick

Guard - Tim Goodman

Jano - Frederick Jaeger

Nanina - Clare Jenkins

Savage - John Dillon

Second Assistant - Christopher Denham

Senta - Norman Henry

Third Assistant - Tony Holland

Tor - Patrick Godfrey

Wylda - Edward Caddick


Director - Christopher Barry

Assistant Floor Manager - Gareth Gwenlan

Costumes - Daphne Dare

Designer - Stuart Walker

Film Cameraman - unknown

Film Editor - unknown

Incidental Music - Raymond Jones

Make-Up - Sonia Markham

Producer - Innes Lloyd

Production Assistant - Norman Stewart

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Story Editor - Gerry Davis

Studio Lighting - Graham Sothcott

Studio Sound - Norman Greaves

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

Writer - Ian Stuart Black

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'How can you condemn this great, artistic and scientific civilisation because of a few wretched savages?' The Savages (a story in which nobody dies) plays intelligent games with witless SF clichés. Whilst not aspiring to greatness it does create an effective atmosphere. The Face of Evil of the 60s?

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The Savages, like many stories of this era of the series' history, boasts a very interesting central premise; specifically that of a seemingly civilised and admirable society owing its advancement to the parasitic leeching of life-force from a group of apparent savages - another variation on the 'never judge by appearances' theme explored in Galaxy 4 and, to a certain extent, The Celestial Toymaker. This was, nevertheless, the third story in a row to receive a distinctly less than enthusiastic response from viewers whose opinions were reflected in the BBC's Audience Research Report on its final episode:

'"At least this particular adventure wasn't one of those boring historical ones and it was miles better than that awful Wild West affair but even so I couldn't work up much interest. The plain truth of the matter is I've got tired of the series which I think is overdue for a long rest."

'This comment was typical of the majority, rather unenthusiastic response to this [story], and to the series as a whole. Even if this was the sort of adventure they preferred in that the action had taken place in the future rather than the past, and even if, considered dispassionately, the story compared favourably with most of Doctor Who's previous expeditions into the future, many viewers in the sample admitted that they had lost their appetite for a series which, in their opinion, had gone on far too long. At the same time not a few of these viewers remarked that their children were certainly not losing interest - "The kids liked this adventure and said it was 'super smashing' but then they still think the series is marvellous, unlike me, who tired of it long since". And there were plenty of adult viewers who evidently still have a taste for this "imaginative" and "exciting" serial. According to this group, this particular expedition had been "one of Doctor Who's most eventful, thrilling and exciting to date". More generally, however, viewers were somewhat indifferent. No matter how ingenious the plot and how eventful the development - and no matter how inventive the "inhabitants" of the planet the TARDIS happened to arrive on - for them Doctor Who had now outstayed his welcome.

'Whatever their opinion of the series as such, viewers clearly considered the standard of acting on this occasion most satisfactory. There was praise in plenty, for instance, for Ewen Solon (Chal) and also to a lesser extent for Frederick Jaeger (Jano) and Peter Thomas (Captain Edal). There was little specific praise for the regulars but it was sometimes said that they had, as usual, given of their best.'

While the Audience Research Reports in general often seem unduly critical of the series - perhaps not surprisingly, given that they recorded the reactions of members of the viewing public at large rather than of those with a particular affection for Doctor Who or for science-fiction as a genre - it is difficult not to agree with the sentiments expressed on this occasion. Interesting though the central premise of the story is, the way in which it is developed and realised on screen leaves something to be desired.

'Though there are nice ideas in this story,' commented John Peel in Fantasy Empire Issue 4 in 1982, 'it is slow and dry, and Ian Stuart Black seemed never to really understand the show. I could never understand how the TARDIS could be tracked through its journeys, as it wandered randomly, but that was only one of the minor points of this dull story.' A similar assessment was delivered by Trevor Wayne in Doctor Who - An Adventure in Space and Time in 1983: 'For all its sincerity, high production values - such as the skilful use of the quarry location for the Savages' domain - The Savages remains "forgettable". There is no visual hook for the viewer's imagination, and the story contains nothing new. It is ultimately a rather tired reworking of a cliched Doctor Who formula, which in itself is clearly derived from much earlier sources.'

Another source of sadness in this story is the departure of Steven, excellently portrayed throughout by Peter Purves. Fortunately he is given a good exit, presented with the formidable task of leading the now reconciled Elders and Savages - a challenge befitting his abilities.

The overall impression left by The Savages is of a series in need of a fresh approach. Fortunately, such a change was just around the corner.

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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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